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History and Philosophy of Media 2012 Seminar 6

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  1. 1. MECM90015 History and Philosophy of Media 2012 6. Mediated Politics
  2. 2. Baudry founded his critique of the cinematic appa-ratus on its inheritance of Quattrocento perspec-tive construction, which, he claimed, constitutesa viewing subject as centre and origin of meaning.Cinematic camera movement only serves to aug-ment the viewer’s feeling of power and control. ForBaudry, the spectator identifies less with what isrepresented on the screen, than with the apparatusthat stages the spectacle. The crucial illusion thatcinema fosters, then, is not so much the illusoryworld represented, as the fantasy it engenders of a‘transcendental subject.’ Just as the infant in Lacan’smirror stage assembled the fragmented and unco-ordinated body in an imaginary unity, so also theimaginary transcendental self of cinema unites thediscontinuous fragments of film into a unified senseMargaret Iverson, The Discourse of Perspective in theTwentieth Century: Panofsky, Damisch, Lacan, Oxford ArtJournal 2005 28(2):191-202 perspective in a typical snapshot
  3. 3. Benthams Panopticon is the architectural figure of this com-position. We know the principle on which it was based: atthe periphery, an annular building; at the centre, a tower; thistower is pierced with wide windows that open onto the innerside of the ring; the peripheric building is divided into cells,each of which extends the whole width of the building; theyhave two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to thewindows of the tower; the other, on the outside, allows thelight to cross the cell from one end to the other. All that isneeded, then, is to place a supervisor in a central tower andto shut up in each cell a madman, a patient, a condemned man,a worker or a schoolboy. By the effect of backlighting, one canobserve from the tower, standing out precisely against thelight, the small captive shadows in the cells of the periphery.They are like so many cages, so many small theatres, in whicheach actor is alone, perfectly individualized and constantly visi-ble. The panoptic mechanism arranges spatial unities that makeit possible to see constantly and to recognize immediately. Inshort, it reverses the principle of the dungeon; or rather of itsthree functions - to enclose, to deprive of light and to hide -it preserves only the first and eliminates the other two. Fulllighting and the eye of a supervisor capture better than dark-ness, which ultimately protected.Visibility is a trap.Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison trans Alan Sheri-dan (NY:Vintage Books 1977) pp. 195-228
  4. 4. Aristotle: the political animal it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, andthat man is by nature a political animalHobbes: Bellum omnium contra omnes the war of each against all therefore is consequent to a time of war, whereevery man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to thetime wherein men live without other security than what theirown strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal.In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruitthereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth;no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be importedby sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving andremoving such things as require much force; no knowledge ofthe face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; nosociety; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger ofviolent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish,and short. chapter 13Rousseau: the social contract of us puts his person and all his power in common underthe supreme direction of the general will; and in a body we re-ceive each member as an indivisible part of the whole
  5. 5. Rawls: principles of justice 1. each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others 2. Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that a) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society (the differ- ence principle). b) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportu- nity John Rawls (1971), A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard Uni- versity PressHabermas: Legitimation Theory, Communicative Rationality The style of the formal arrangements and procedures of democracy is such that administrative decisions may be taken relatively independently of the aims and motives of the citizens . . . This is brought about by a process of legitimation which secures the loyalty of the masses but avoids participation. In the midst of a society which is political in itself the citizens enjoy the status of passive participants, with the right to withhold their approval. Private liberty to decide on in- vestments is complemented by the people’s position as merely private citizens. Jürgen Habermas 1976 [1973]), ‘Problems of Legitimation in Late Capitalism’, in Paul Connerton (ed), Critical Soci- ology, Penguin, Harmondsworth.363-387.
  6. 6. Modern democracy’s specificity lies in the recog- Routledge, Londo: 30. On the Political Mouffe, Chantal (2005)nition and legitimation of conflict and the refusalto suppress it by imposing an authoritarian or-der. Breaking with the symbolic representationsof society as an organic body. . . a pluralist liberaldemocratic society does not deny the existenceof conflicts but provides the institutions allow-ing them to be expressed in an adversarial form.It is for this reason that we should be wary ofthe current tendency to celebrate a politics ofconsensus, claiming that it has replaced the sup-posedly old-fashioned politics of right and left.A well functioning democracy calls for a clash oflegitimate democratic political positions . . . Sucha confrontation should provide collective formsof representation strong enough to mobilize po-litical passions. If this adversarial configuration ismissing, passions cannot be given a democraticoutlet and the agonistic dynamics of pluralism arehindered. The danger therefore arises that demo-cratic confrontation will therefore be replacedby a confrontation between essentialist forms ofidentification or non-negotiable moral values . . .nationalist, religious or ethnic forms of identifica-tion
  7. 7. CosmopolitanismHomo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto; “I am human: nothing human is alien to me.” Terence c.160 BCEThe Satanic Verses “celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and un-expected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelisation andfears the absolutism of the Pure. Mélange, hotch-potch, a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters theworld.” (Salman Rushdie)“The Law of World Citizenship Shall Be Limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality” Hospitality means theright of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he arrives in the land of another. One may refuse toreceive him when this can be done without causing his destruction; but, so long as he peacefully occupies hisplace, one may not treat him with hostility. It is not the right to be a permanent visitor that one may demand. Aspecial beneficent agreement would be needed in order to give an outsider a right to become a fellow inhabit-ant for a certain length of time. It is only a right of temporary sojourn, a right to associate, which all men have.They have it by virtue of their common possession of the surface of the earth, where, as a globe, they cannotinfinitely disperse and hence must finally tolerate the presence of each other. (Kant, Perpetual Peace Realism vs idealism
  8. 8. Sovereign is he who decides on the exceptionSchmitt, Carl (2004), Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans George D. Schwab, intro Tracy B. Strong, Univer-sity of Chicago Press, Chicago. Original publication: 1922, 2nd edn. 1934, MIT Press, 1985.
  9. 9. the ultimate ground of the ex- ception here is not necessity but the principle according to which “every law is ordained for the common well-being of men, and only for this does it have the State of Exception force and reason of law; if it fails trans Kevin Attell, University of Chicago Press, Chicago. in this regard, it has no capacity to bind”. In the case of necessity, the vis obligandi [power to bind] of the law fails, because the goal of solus hominum [the individual man] is lacking. . . . it is a question of a paerticular case in which vis and ratio of the law find no appli- cation (p. 25)Agamben, Giorgio (2005), pp 3-4
  10. 10. old newunequal exchange peer-to-peer (P2P)universality diversity consensus post-identityterritory, networks territorialisation post-communitysecurity precarity privacy publicnessmonopolies on power multitude rhizomes, nomads, swarms
  11. 11. The social landscape . . . is characterized . . . by a flowering of free coop-eration, where individuals experience their own identity intimately relatedto others with whom they create the networks through which they builttheir connective world. This is a functioning anarchy, understood as vol-untary cooperation built on mutual trust. Though, its a bourgeois anarchy,one which exists within the domiinant system, rather than as a revolution-ary alternative to it. This development takes place through an infrastruc-ture whose very design aggregate power in the hands of those who controlthe foundation of this new landscape: means of communication. And, thistakes place within the framework of the state rebuilding its legitimacyaround an authoritarian core promising security against the vagueries offree cooperation.Whether or not this makes the glass half full or half empty is a meaning-less question, we are currently pouring into it as water is leaking out.The key question when we try to think about a world without privacy ishow we can promote free cooperation, which involves a high degree ofvisibility and identifiability of individuals, while limiting social sortingand preventing the state to rebuild itself around a deeply authoritariancore. If we manage that, I believe we can really say: goodbye privacy.To: nettime-l {AT} kein.orgSubject: <nettime> Our New Public Life: Free Cooperation, Biased Infra-structures and Authoritarian StatesFrom: Felix Stalder <felix {AT}>Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2007 12:48:36 +0200slightly edited (original on your CD-ROM)
  12. 12. millan, Basingstoke, 2004. Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979, ed Michel Senellart, trans Graham Burchell, Palgrave Mac- The Birth of Biopolitics Michel Foucaultthe problem of liberal policy was precisely to de-velop in fact the concrete and real space in whichthe formal structure of competition could func-tion. So it is a matter of a market economy withoutlaissez-faire, that is to say, an active policy withoutstate control. Neo-liberalism should not thereforebe identified with laissez-faire but rather with per-manent vigilance, activity and intervention (132)in the social contract, all those who will the socialcontract and virtually or actually subscribe to itform part of society until such a time as they cutthemselves off from it. In the idea of an economicgame we find that no one originally insisted on be-ing part of the economic game and consequently itis up to society and to the rules of the game im- :posed by the state to ensure that no one is exclud-ed from this game in which he is caught up withoutever having explicitly wished to take part (202)
  13. 13. . . . either the rights of man are the rights This is what the democratic process implies:of the citizen, that is to say the rights of the action of subjects who, by working thethose who have rights, which is a tautol- interval between identities, reconfigure theogy; or the rights of the citizen are the distributions of the public and the private,rights of man. But as bare humanity has the universal and the particular. Democ-no rights, then they are the rights of racy can never be identified with the simplethose who have no rights, which is an domination of the universal (Rancière 2006: 61-2)absurdity Rancière, Jacques (2006), Hatred of Democ-racy, trans Steve Corcoran,Verso, London: 61 Politics is not made up of power relationships; it is made up of relationships between worlds. (Rancière, Jacques (1999), Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans Julie Rose, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis: 42)
  14. 14. In 1943, in a small Jewish periodical, The Menorah Jour- It is worth reflecting on the sense of this analysis,nal, Hannah Arendt published an article titled "We Ref- which today, precisely fifty years later, has not lost anyugees." In this brief but important essay, after sketching of its currency. Not only does the problem arise witha polemical portrait of Mr. Cohn, the assimilated Jew the same urgency, both in Europe and elsewhere, butwho had been 150 percent German, 150 percent Vien- also, in the context of the inexorable decline of thenese, and 150 percent French but finally realizes bitterly nation-state and the general corrosion of traditionalthat "on ne parvient pas deux fois," Arendt overturns legal-political categories, the refugee is perhaps thethe condition of refugee and person without a coun- only imaginable figure of the people in our day. At leasttry - in which she herself was living - in order to pro- until the process of the dissolution of the nation-statepose this condition as the paradigm of a new historical and its sovereignty has come to an end, the refugee isconsciousness. The refugee who has lost all rights, yet the sole category in which it is possible today to per-stops wanting to be assimilated at any cost to a new ceive the forms and limits of a political community tonational identity so as to contemplate his condition come. Indeed, it may be that if we want to be equallucidly, receives, in exchange for certain unpopularity, to the absolutely novel tasks that face us, we will havean inestimable advantage: "For him history is no longer to abandon without misgivings the basic concepts ina closed book, and politics ceases to be the privilege which we have represented political subjects up toof the Gentiles. He knows that the banishment of the now (man and citizen with their rights, but also theJewish people in Europe was followed immediately by sovereign people, the worker, etc.) and to reconstructthat of the majority of the European peoples. Refugees our political philosophy beginning with this uniqueexpelled from one country to the next represent the figure.avant-garde of their people." Giorgio Agamben We Refugees Symposium. 1995, No. 49(2), Summer, Pages: 114-119, English, Translation by Michael Rocke.
  15. 15. if I know, for example, what the causes and effects of what I am doing are,what the program is for what I am doing, then there is no decision; it is aquestion, at the moment of judgement, of applying a particular causality. . . . If Iknow what is to be done . . . . then there is no moment of decision, simply theapplication of a body of knowledge, or at the very least a rule or a norm. Forthere to be a decision, the decision must be heterogeneous to knowledge assuch (Derrida 2001: 231-2)
  16. 16. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 9 The Human Condition Hannah Arendt, (1958),the new beginning inherent in birth canmake itself felt in the world only becausethe newcomer possesses the capacity ofbeginning something anew, that is, of acting.In this sense of initiative, an element of ac-tion, and therefore of natality, is inherent inall human activities. Moreover, since actionis the political activity par excellence, natal-ity, and not mortality, may be the centralcategory of political, as distinguished frommetaphysical, thought.
  17. 17. QUESTIONSHow can media intervene in the relations between individuals and societies?Is there an alternative to the mass aggregation of individuals in markets?Is there an alternative to the nation as the primary source of political identity?Can there be any democracy in the 21st century which is not mediated?What should an ‘informed citizen’ be informed about?In an increasingly fragmented world, what groupings and identifications could be brought about tocontest the political?Is the network the characteristic new terrain of politics?