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Identity Wars:
the End of Human Society
 How internet culture challenges
       the identity mappings
 that human society depends on.


                        Christian Heller / plomlompom
                                            2009-12-29
                              c-base, Berlin, Germany
overview
●   Top-Down-Imposition of Identities
●   Self-Imposition of Identities
●   Liberty of Identities

●   The Forging/Crafting of the Individual
●   The Dissolution of the Individual
●   Enter the Borganism
life: original nameless viriditas




„Stro
      m
petri atolites,
     fie         t
in the d biofilm hat is pre
                             -
Glac Siyeh roc about on cambrian
     ie          k          e
http: r Nationa formatio billion ye
     //en.                               ars o
           wikip l Park, M n of                ld
                edia.       onta
                      org/w      n
                           iki/Fi a, USA.“
                                 le:St
                                       roma
                                            tolite
                                                  s.jpg
life: original nameless viriditas
●   life force evolutionarily permeates the universe
●   chaotical start, without „order“ / taxonomy
●   no purpose, no interest, no identity: no politics
●   structures and differentiates itself into organical
    hierarchies and networks
    ●   diversities of micro-machines → diversities of cells
        compose diversities of plants/animals/etc. …
    ●   all interacting with each other in many complex
        ways, not one clear hierarchy
societies: made up of people




     Frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes' „Leviathan“ by Abraham Bosse, 1651
societies: made up of people
●   differentiated into hierarchies of:
    ●   discrete animal units (human individuals) and
    ●   superorganisms (societies) made up of
        configurations of these
●   determined taxonomically by a symbolic
    intelligence; orderly
peoples, cultures, nations, states




„John Bull and his Friends by Fred W Rose, 1900“
Uploaded by peacay / Paul K, Licence: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibliodyssey/3668664529/
peoples, cultures, nations, states
●   identitary nature of social superorganisms
    ●   peoples, cultures, nations, states, organized
        religions, classes, guilds/unions, political parties,
        gender?, ...
●   superhuman superorganisms != free
    memeplexes
●   strive for stability
●   often strive for clear borders
●   their relations are powerful and political
superorganisms imposing identity




„ID card in Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia – 1943“
Author: „scanned by Krokodyl“, Licence: CC-BY-3.0 Unported
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protektoratni_obcanka_1943.jpg
superorganisms imposing identity
●   credentials (by the state, the club, the guild, the
    university): ID card, membership, certificates
●   legal identification and accountability
●   cultural education
●   „Gleichschaltung“ organically downwards
●   authoritarian identity lock-ins
    ●   Behave according to your identity!
    ●   Your identity is what I say it is! (By order of God,
        Nature, History, Society.)
the subjective turn
citizen / citoyen




                                „Painting of a typical sans-culotte“ / Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761–1845)
                                                       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sans-culotte.jpg
„Roman clad in toga, from 1891 Dictionary of Classical Antiquities.“
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toga_Illustration.png
citizen / citoyen
●   subjective internalization of, identification with
    society; pride
●   strong identification with superorganism, but
    bottom-up; responsible, creative
    shareholdership
●   illusion (!) of responsibility for identity (e.g.
    nationality, education hardly ever freely chosen)
●   top-down vs bottom-up: yet another political
    power struggle
„Vitruvian Man“ by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg

                                                              humanism and personalism




„Bildnis der Mutter“, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dürer_-_Bildnis_der_Mutter.jpg
humanism and personalism
●   individual personality
●   Christianity: absolute human dignity, equality,
    incommensurability; Human Rights
●   glorifying, romanticizing the individuals, their
    inner selves and their relations
●   individual human ego as the new bottleneck for
    identity
    ●   (previously: the upper superorganic hierarchies)
„Werther aus Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers“ ( Author: Chodowiecki
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:WertherAusDieLeiden
DesJungenWerthersZeichnungChodowiecki.jpg
                                                          The Individual Identity




„L1001521“ / Author: Guido van Nispen
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vannispen/3232494530/
The Individual Identity
●   complex society with conflicting guidelines for
    behaviour →
●   individual identity as the necessary new guiding
    scheme
●   identity = responsibility
●   create your own identitary, biographical
    narrative of goals, guilts, bindings
●   draw on available identity resources
    ●   not the same choices available for everyone
the fight for identitarian diversity




„San Francisco Pride Parade“ / Author: Jere Keys
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tyreseus/2623090047/
the fight for identitarian diversity
●   broaden the inventory of identity resources
●   broaden the social acceptance of certain
    identities in existing spaces
●   create new spaces accepting certain identities
enter the internet
„Klingon“ / Author: Official Star Wars Blog
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/starwarsblog/937407832/
„Cosplay – AWA14“ / Author: Michael Mol
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28208534@N07/2874725130/
„Bowser cosplay“ / Author: Scott Rubin
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/apreche/212104671/
„Cosplay Candid: Next Generation“ / Author: Dave Fayram
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/davefayram/3756732259/
„Lucca Comics 2008 Cosplay“ / alessino
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/alessino/3000513168/
„Parade42“ / Author: Neil McIntosh
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/harlequeen/3319976312/
„Tron Guy @ ROFLcon“ / Author: Jeff Dlouhy
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlouhy/2449300778/
Licence: CC-BY 2.0
„Pedobear“ / Author: Dave Fayram
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/davefayram/3764302067/
„Parti Gras '09 in Clearwater“ / Author: Anonymous9000
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/anonymous9000/3300270063/
„Zombie March Chicago 2008 - Image 067“ / Author: Eric Ingrum
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericingrum/2600378644/
„zombie walk“ / Author: zenobia_joy / License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenobia_joy/4005031407/
empowering identitarian liberty?
●   multiplication of identity resources
●   endless space for every imaginable identity
●   new socialities for identities give strengthening
    social feedback
●   traditional identity bottlenecks get goatsed
identitarian bottleneck incongruities




„Operation Tea Party Hard 84“ / Author: Anonymous9000
License: CC-BY-2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/anonymous9000/3453159535
identitarian bottleneck incongruities
●   acceptance of imposed identity bottlenecks
    diminishes
    ●   choose the democracy that votes your way
    ●   have your cake and eat it, too
●   superorganisms lose control over flow of
    identity resources in their territory
    ●   loss of common background, socialization
●   digital globalization and its discontents
    ●   how to block? censorship? national internet?
„politics 2.0“ (for real)
„politics 2.0“ (for real)
●   citizenships in superorganisms that surpass the
    size of most states, languages, religions
    ●   Facebook: 350.000.000, MySpace: 100.000.000
    ●   USA: 300.000.000, German language: 200.000.000
    ●   Judaism: 13.000.000
●   non-binding, multiple citizenships
●   freedom of movement
„politics 2.0“ (for real)




Screenshots
from sign-up dialogue
of FetLife.com
(300.000 members)
reality of new identity structures




                              FetLife.com
reality of new identity structures
●   internet communities provide basic structure for
    identity, communication, action
●   importance is ever growing
●   'digital' identity not much more artifical than the
    'real' one
dissolution of individual integrity
dissolution of individual integrity
●   open-sourcing of identity
    ●   fake accounts, fake interpersonality of interactions
    ●   identitarian chat and twitter bots
●   post-private information overload destroys
    illusion of coherent personality
●   loss of individual predictability and responsibility
„Anonymous. Only 1000 of them. No more.“ / Author: Anonymous
http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Image:Bdespairanonymous1000ks2.png
humanistic / personalistic racism




                               FetLife.com
humanistic / personalistic racism
●   prove your humanity!
●   forced registration, identification, login
●   one account only for one e-mail address!
●   map everything to legally seizable social units
●   surveillance for identification
    ●   data retention laws / „Vorratsdatenspeicherung“
information politics?
slashdot.org
information politics?
●   new legal persons?
●   citizen rights and responsibilities for bot nets,
    fake accounts, borganisms, memes ...?
●   problems: non-binding, transient nature of new
    identity patterns
●   new legal bottlenecks will get bypassed quickly:
    new structures grow faster
information
  society:
 society of
informations
information
  society:
 society of
informations
           X
information
  society:
 XXXXXXX
 society of
informations
           X
information
Literature
●   Accelerando (Charles Stross)
    ●   http://www.antipope.org/charlie/accelerando/
●   L'invention de soi. Une théorie de l'identité / Die Erfindung
    des Ich (Jean-Claude-Kaufmann)
●   The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the
    Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes)
●   We, Borg. Speculations on Hive Minds as a Posthuman
    State (Anders Sandberg)
    ●   http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Global/Posthumanity/WeBorg.html
●   Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: „Personalism“
    ●   http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/personalism/

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Identity Wars: the End of Human Society

  • 1. Identity Wars: the End of Human Society How internet culture challenges the identity mappings that human society depends on. Christian Heller / plomlompom 2009-12-29 c-base, Berlin, Germany
  • 2. overview ● Top-Down-Imposition of Identities ● Self-Imposition of Identities ● Liberty of Identities ● The Forging/Crafting of the Individual ● The Dissolution of the Individual ● Enter the Borganism
  • 3. life: original nameless viriditas „Stro m petri atolites, fie t in the d biofilm hat is pre - Glac Siyeh roc about on cambrian ie k e http: r Nationa formatio billion ye //en. ars o wikip l Park, M n of ld edia. onta org/w n iki/Fi a, USA.“ le:St roma tolite s.jpg
  • 4. life: original nameless viriditas ● life force evolutionarily permeates the universe ● chaotical start, without „order“ / taxonomy ● no purpose, no interest, no identity: no politics ● structures and differentiates itself into organical hierarchies and networks ● diversities of micro-machines → diversities of cells compose diversities of plants/animals/etc. … ● all interacting with each other in many complex ways, not one clear hierarchy
  • 5. societies: made up of people Frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes' „Leviathan“ by Abraham Bosse, 1651
  • 6. societies: made up of people ● differentiated into hierarchies of: ● discrete animal units (human individuals) and ● superorganisms (societies) made up of configurations of these ● determined taxonomically by a symbolic intelligence; orderly
  • 7. peoples, cultures, nations, states „John Bull and his Friends by Fred W Rose, 1900“ Uploaded by peacay / Paul K, Licence: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibliodyssey/3668664529/
  • 8. peoples, cultures, nations, states ● identitary nature of social superorganisms ● peoples, cultures, nations, states, organized religions, classes, guilds/unions, political parties, gender?, ... ● superhuman superorganisms != free memeplexes ● strive for stability ● often strive for clear borders ● their relations are powerful and political
  • 9. superorganisms imposing identity „ID card in Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia – 1943“ Author: „scanned by Krokodyl“, Licence: CC-BY-3.0 Unported http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protektoratni_obcanka_1943.jpg
  • 10. superorganisms imposing identity ● credentials (by the state, the club, the guild, the university): ID card, membership, certificates ● legal identification and accountability ● cultural education ● „Gleichschaltung“ organically downwards ● authoritarian identity lock-ins ● Behave according to your identity! ● Your identity is what I say it is! (By order of God, Nature, History, Society.)
  • 12. citizen / citoyen „Painting of a typical sans-culotte“ / Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sans-culotte.jpg „Roman clad in toga, from 1891 Dictionary of Classical Antiquities.“ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toga_Illustration.png
  • 13. citizen / citoyen ● subjective internalization of, identification with society; pride ● strong identification with superorganism, but bottom-up; responsible, creative shareholdership ● illusion (!) of responsibility for identity (e.g. nationality, education hardly ever freely chosen) ● top-down vs bottom-up: yet another political power struggle
  • 14. „Vitruvian Man“ by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg humanism and personalism „Bildnis der Mutter“, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dürer_-_Bildnis_der_Mutter.jpg
  • 15. humanism and personalism ● individual personality ● Christianity: absolute human dignity, equality, incommensurability; Human Rights ● glorifying, romanticizing the individuals, their inner selves and their relations ● individual human ego as the new bottleneck for identity ● (previously: the upper superorganic hierarchies)
  • 16. „Werther aus Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers“ ( Author: Chodowiecki http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:WertherAusDieLeiden DesJungenWerthersZeichnungChodowiecki.jpg The Individual Identity „L1001521“ / Author: Guido van Nispen License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/vannispen/3232494530/
  • 17. The Individual Identity ● complex society with conflicting guidelines for behaviour → ● individual identity as the necessary new guiding scheme ● identity = responsibility ● create your own identitary, biographical narrative of goals, guilts, bindings ● draw on available identity resources ● not the same choices available for everyone
  • 18. the fight for identitarian diversity „San Francisco Pride Parade“ / Author: Jere Keys License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/tyreseus/2623090047/
  • 19. the fight for identitarian diversity ● broaden the inventory of identity resources ● broaden the social acceptance of certain identities in existing spaces ● create new spaces accepting certain identities
  • 21. „Klingon“ / Author: Official Star Wars Blog License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/starwarsblog/937407832/
  • 22. „Cosplay – AWA14“ / Author: Michael Mol License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28208534@N07/2874725130/
  • 23. „Bowser cosplay“ / Author: Scott Rubin License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/apreche/212104671/
  • 24. „Cosplay Candid: Next Generation“ / Author: Dave Fayram License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/davefayram/3756732259/
  • 25. „Lucca Comics 2008 Cosplay“ / alessino License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/alessino/3000513168/
  • 26. „Parade42“ / Author: Neil McIntosh License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/harlequeen/3319976312/
  • 27. „Tron Guy @ ROFLcon“ / Author: Jeff Dlouhy http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlouhy/2449300778/ Licence: CC-BY 2.0
  • 28. „Pedobear“ / Author: Dave Fayram License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/davefayram/3764302067/
  • 29. „Parti Gras '09 in Clearwater“ / Author: Anonymous9000 License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/anonymous9000/3300270063/
  • 30. „Zombie March Chicago 2008 - Image 067“ / Author: Eric Ingrum http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericingrum/2600378644/
  • 31. „zombie walk“ / Author: zenobia_joy / License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenobia_joy/4005031407/
  • 32. empowering identitarian liberty? ● multiplication of identity resources ● endless space for every imaginable identity ● new socialities for identities give strengthening social feedback ● traditional identity bottlenecks get goatsed
  • 33. identitarian bottleneck incongruities „Operation Tea Party Hard 84“ / Author: Anonymous9000 License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/anonymous9000/3453159535
  • 34. identitarian bottleneck incongruities ● acceptance of imposed identity bottlenecks diminishes ● choose the democracy that votes your way ● have your cake and eat it, too ● superorganisms lose control over flow of identity resources in their territory ● loss of common background, socialization ● digital globalization and its discontents ● how to block? censorship? national internet?
  • 36. „politics 2.0“ (for real) ● citizenships in superorganisms that surpass the size of most states, languages, religions ● Facebook: 350.000.000, MySpace: 100.000.000 ● USA: 300.000.000, German language: 200.000.000 ● Judaism: 13.000.000 ● non-binding, multiple citizenships ● freedom of movement
  • 37. „politics 2.0“ (for real) Screenshots from sign-up dialogue of FetLife.com (300.000 members)
  • 38. reality of new identity structures FetLife.com
  • 39. reality of new identity structures ● internet communities provide basic structure for identity, communication, action ● importance is ever growing ● 'digital' identity not much more artifical than the 'real' one
  • 41. dissolution of individual integrity ● open-sourcing of identity ● fake accounts, fake interpersonality of interactions ● identitarian chat and twitter bots ● post-private information overload destroys illusion of coherent personality ● loss of individual predictability and responsibility
  • 42. „Anonymous. Only 1000 of them. No more.“ / Author: Anonymous http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Image:Bdespairanonymous1000ks2.png
  • 43. humanistic / personalistic racism FetLife.com
  • 44. humanistic / personalistic racism ● prove your humanity! ● forced registration, identification, login ● one account only for one e-mail address! ● map everything to legally seizable social units ● surveillance for identification ● data retention laws / „Vorratsdatenspeicherung“
  • 46. information politics? ● new legal persons? ● citizen rights and responsibilities for bot nets, fake accounts, borganisms, memes ...? ● problems: non-binding, transient nature of new identity patterns ● new legal bottlenecks will get bypassed quickly: new structures grow faster
  • 47. information society: society of informations
  • 48. information society: society of informations X
  • 49. information society: XXXXXXX society of informations X
  • 51. Literature ● Accelerando (Charles Stross) ● http://www.antipope.org/charlie/accelerando/ ● L'invention de soi. Une théorie de l'identité / Die Erfindung des Ich (Jean-Claude-Kaufmann) ● The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes) ● We, Borg. Speculations on Hive Minds as a Posthuman State (Anders Sandberg) ● http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Global/Posthumanity/WeBorg.html ● Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: „Personalism“ ● http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/personalism/