Margaret Thatcher was initially trained as a scientist, a chemist, at Oxford University. “One might have expectd her to oversee an expansion of science… Thatcher’s hard-nosed policies on privatization and manufacturing led to a reduction in research activity in the UK…” ((New Scientist April 13th 2013 - editorial)). They correctly recognize that her government was driven by a deep ideological commitment to the free-market, to neoliberal forms of capitalism rather than to science. But still this is not a good understanding, for they fail to understand that Thatcher’s government was the first in the UK to place the media on the same level, as central to issues of sovereignty, power and governance as at one time religion had been and later in the decades before she was elected science had been… In Thatcher’s time the media was central. That the editors of a popular science magazine don’t grasp that the spectacle is closer to the state and power than science is not surprising though it is sad and disappointing…
I think I initially misread the Roberto Esposito text Communitas (The Origin and destiny of community), for I imagined when i began reading it that the text was going to be, in a sense, a counter-text to the to the notion of community as broken, as inoperative in the face of the spectacle. Which is to say that I imagined it as presenting a case for community, for the commons against the control society.
This is the short response to that question…
In the present as they are about to impose a new aspect of the spectacle into our lives, from the image, through language and now plastic manufactories into your home. This it seems to me is one of the rare moments in which a philosopher who speaks in a language that is yours is worth recognizing, a mere nod, a gesture of solidarity is sometimes enough… In this case what is being thought is what is to be done… (‘how to avoid it in the modern world?’ was the latest variant on this eternal question..) But lets be clear for me the concepts of the integrated spectacle and the control society are totally interchangeable. I would, in person, refuse rather forcibly anyone who tried to argue that the two concepts are not equivalent, are not speaking of the same, but since this is a text you’ll just have to accept that the two concepts are speaking of the same current default mass-consumptive capitalism and its management and maintenance.
Giorgo Agamben says that philosophy is engaged in discussing the possible rather than the actual. Perhaps in 1993 we can understand that his engagement with these things was about the possible, but twenty years later we are not looking at the possible but the actual. A moment in the liquid modern the very idea of a community, of a politics founded on identity politics (race, gender or any other identity) doesn’t seem at all possible in the face of the integrated spectacle/control society… So where do we begin to engage with the eternal question of what is to be done…? But let’s begin with the possible and watch it become actual.. ”…In the sphere of spectacle the media present a language that has been drained of meaning… The problem then lies in how we might liberate the means of communication so that they do not fall prey to this isolation and separation…. The integrated spectacle is so widespread and complete that we have become aware of the mediums (analog and digital) themselves perhaps for the first time. ”we are the first human beings who have become completely conscious of language…” which wlll be extended “…thought finds itself for the first time, today, confronted by its tasks without any illusion and without any possible alibi…” (Agamben).
What does ‘without any possible alibi’ mean in this context ? I think we can say that people are already without the security of their social imaginaries, that identity, home, race, class, gender are already beyond use and supply no alibis…. (as can be seen in a number of the available texts on Agamben) What this can be understood as meaning is that in the context that the (integrated spectacle/the control society) provides we have no possibility of refusing to exist within these social structures, opportunities. Perhaps this does enable us to understand the possible re-evaluation of the ends and means of history for there is no ‘point of departure for any discourse of ethics’ founded on any essentialism, not even, perhaps least of all one founded on the human species.
Let us not forget the sheer extent to which political discourse has been impoverished by the ever increasing reliance on the spectacle, the situation is dominated by commodification, sound bites, public relations, twitter phantasies and other commentariat based social media(ocraties). That this is a crisis for for all human (and non-human) communities is clear, that it suggests a different nature of the crisis of the commons is also clear. What categories are left for us when the traditional identities are not available in our political landscape. How to submit our ideologies and discourses to a renovation that will enable us to resist the (mis)appropriation, the instrumentalisation of everything and the further destruction of the commons (commonality…)
This is dependent on the change that the spectacle produced from the situation of humanity having an estranged communicative essence, founded on the presumption that we shared a common foundation, whereas after the establishment of the society of the spectacle in the 20th Century this is no longer true, (even less so in the now completed migration to the integrated spectacle/control society) for the very generic essence of human communication itself language, image, data, 3D printing and not to forget the sundry objects of mass consumption, is now separated into an autonomous sphere. (We are split subjects) What now hampers communication is communicability itself; humans are seperated by what used to unite them. “Journalists and mediacrats are the new priests of this alienation from human linguistic nature…”
So let’s then complete this mutated paraphase of Agambens work from the possible to the actual with this … ”..contemporary politics is the/this devastating experimentum linguae that all over the planet unhinges and empties traditions and beliefs, ideologies and religions, identities and communities. Only those who succeed in carrying tit to completion - without allowing what reveals to remain veiled in the nothingness that reveals, but bringing language to language - will be the first citizens of a community with neither presuppositions nor a State, where the nullifying and determining power of what is common will be pacified and where the Shekinah will be stopped sucking the evil milk of its own separation…..”….(83/66 The Coming Community).
Hence the importance, the centrality of ethics… for what else can question the various regimes that constitute the various ‘democratic-spectacular’ regimes which are migrating from the neoliberal (phase) ideologies and discourses as fast as their little legs will allow them to…
Why the merging of the integrated spectacle and the control society ? Written across the strange gulf of the hegelian-marxist logic and the anti-hegalian, well for Deleuze philosophy is not tied to an identity - marked by the concepts of truth, essence, grounding, reason — and these are the grounds which are equally unhinged as those examples above. Perhaps for you this isn’t a nice glass brick aimed at the heart of the spectacle, and you imagine that your identity, your community (etc) can survive some never quite arriving catastrophic end, but you’ll have to take it on trust that for the experiment to be resolved, for what is possible to become actual has to start in this crisis with the consequence that the next one is the last. No immeidiate strategies and tactics because after all you are reading this in the spectacle….
sdv (on a friday morning in march for Paul L.)
The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we’re being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.
This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it’s efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell."
Important post by Bruce Schneier,
we know what he is talking about but seldom think about it
one important question comes to mind, “what can we do about it?”
The integrated spectacle …
… the ‘dictatorship of the public realm’ to which whoever desires celebrity is entire subjected, to the point of having the feeling of total annihilation of their being when the public’s favor is list…The impasse to which this extreme form of alienation (comparable to what leads to the frantic search for power in the games of finance, of the political, or of seduction) testifies to the illusory character of all attempts at the neutralization of death. Though human being has admirably tried very hard to lie to itself, there is always that moment when the veils of illusion are torn asunder, and human being is summoned to accept its mortal condition…. (Dastur p31)
Hegel gave philosophical form to what appears to be an anthropological constant in his famous dialectic of master and slave by showing that in the struggle in which each puts his life at stake, whoever goes furthest in their disregard for death attains self-consciousness… (Dastur p29)