Patrice Riemens on Mon, 19 May 2014 20:22:06 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part Two,

Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium, Part Two
The Libertarian World Domination Project: Hacking, Social Network(s),
Activism and Institutional Politics

Section 3: Technological Darwinism from the Paypal Mafia to Facebook: the
resistible rise of anarcho-capitalism.)

(Thiel) often displays his profound disappointment in Silly Valley's
entrepreneurs, far too much concerned about profits, and unable to do
anything to save the world. For Thiel, capitalism is a truly revolutionary
tool that, thanks to technology, will liberate the human species (if only
the best of it). But if capitalism has already triumphed, what then
remains to be saved?) [rerun from previous installment]
                      Simple: invent a better capitalism! At the moment,
it's all talk about 'green capitalism' - everything
must be 'green', or at least 'clean'. Okay, we all
know that 'green capitalism' is a scam with has as
sole purpose maintaining current consumption and
pollution levels while pursuing increasingly
unsustainable growth. But official environmentalism
- which has very little to do with a real protection
of the environment - is probably preferable to
upfront contempt towards the ecosystem. When it
comes to predatory capitalism, the former Paypal
Mafia boss' ideas are crystal clear: the
anarcho-capitalist revolution requires faithful,
enthusiastic consumers on one hand, and priests,
bishops, and popes with deep pockets on the other.
And the merchandise must be allowed to circulate
between the two at top speed, without friction, and
always be in stock. Limits to the availability of
natural resources cannot be tolerated within a
win-win free market scenario. In which case a
transfer to the cyberspaces might be a better option
than to try to manage all the material problems
ensuing from a frenzied form of development (in the
real world). At which stage a third keyword pops up,
besides 'speed' and 'abundance': wastage!

Thiel ferociously opposes any form of effort at energy efficiency - and
that is not fortuitous. According to him, no venture capitalist worth his
(her?) salt should invest in projects closely or remotely associated with
'clean' technologies - an euphemism that has supplanted 'appropriate' and
'sustainable' in official discourse [25]. Wastage, in his turbo-capitalist
vision, means nothing less than to make a stand against all talks about
(natural) limits - the fig leaf of impotence. Wastage is also connected to
the (need for) clear and defined, /owned/ identities - and to the deep
angst for  corporality and physical contact. This represents the exact
opposite to a conscientious, autonomous, and self-managed use of
technology, meant to satisfy individual and collective needs and desires.
The throw away attitude as a source of physical and psychical waste is not
only a consequence of 'abundance capitalism'; it is also a structural
requirement of the paradigm of unlimited growth and of the unbounded
economic expansion of the anarcho-capitalist individual's liberty to act.
Wastage is all-pervasive within the 'world domination' delirium of the big
technological companies, as can be seen in the never ending string of
functionalities changes and new applications development. Wastage slots
seamlessly into a long-term process of distancing from and denial of the
physical body, about which we wrote in the first part of the book. We will
elaborate more on this later on.

So, yes, it is quite easy to analyze the way Facebook operates, yet
nonetheless one sees a number of culture-related issues appear in the
background, and they require closure as well. Which is then an uphill
task, as a close monitoring of Peter Thiel's multifarious activities is
wellnigh 'mission impossible'. Also the message he conveys through the
work of his foundation may be off-putting - just as is the bulk of the
anarcho-capitalist discourse. We read in it that the Thiel foundation
"defends and promotes freedom in all its dimensions: political, personal,
and economic." [26]. Projects receiving the foundation's funding are about
'frontier technologies', 'anti-violence', freedom. Let's (therefore) ask
the question once again: "what sort of freedom?". What type of society are
anarcho-capitalist supporting with their funds?

Social networks as seen through the anarcho-capitalist lens - or the
management of sociality through Big Data. (section 4)

(Strange as it may sound,) Social networks predate the Internet. Living
beings in general, human beings in particular need relationships among
each other. Few things indeed are worse than loneliness. Even violent
criminals, hardened by the prisons' inhuman conditions of detention,
shudder at the prospect of solitary confinement. Former POWs (prisoners of
war) have testified that they'd rather be tortured than put in solitary
lock-up, since at least there remained a  bond of sorts - with their
torturer.  (Scientific) Experiments conducted on sensory deprivation have
showed that a healthy individual, if immersed in a liquid at body
temperature, left in the dark, and deprived of auditive and visual
stimulation, rapidly looses any awareness of his own body and turns
insane, driven mad by the sound his own heart-beat. It is only through the
acceptance of one's own limitation that overcoming solitude  in a way that
is not harm2ful to others becomes possible. Rising above loneliness
through socialisation means that one recognises one's own limitations and
at the same time, furthers creative sharing. According to Luce Irigaray,
proximity with the other, or more precisely, together with the other,
comes to the fore in the opportunity to create, with the other, a common
world that does not destroy the world of each and everyone, a world that
is always in the making [27].

The necessity to maintain contacts within the own species is not limited
to those activities directly concerned with survival (obtaining food,
protection against predators, reproduction), and it growth at the same
pace as neuronal complexity does [28]. Among humans (but equally among the
bigger man-apes) the relational dimension slowly becomes separate from the
individual, literally so, and this thanks to the technè, which circulates
relationships, that is the connection between the self and peers, and the
world. The first social mediation tool, in a certain sense the first
social medium, was probably fire. Instead of huddling together like most
social animals do, human groups started to relate to the social medium -
fire - by defining a social space organised around that specific technical
artefact/item. All techniques that evolve into technologies are
instruments of mediation in the relation with the world and the others.
Language is the simplest and most powerful instance of this phenomenon: it
establishes a separation/distance between the individual and the others (=
mediation) and allows to project into the future (= projects, desires) the
memory of the past, or, in other words, to share the personal imagination
of a shared imaginary.

The story and the stratification of this web of relationships that we call
society  forms a kind of consensual imagination which we can access thanks
to the symbolic and linguistic functions of the neocortex and the peridium
(?) .

(To be continued)
Next time: more Damasio replication ...

[25] "Cleantech too difficult for software and social networking
(quote: "OK, folks, go on home. Stop all this saving-the-world,
green-energy stuff. It just isn't working. Thiel has spoken." - transl)
Fuller quote:
"Freedom is always under siege. Around the world, authoritarian regimes
deprive millions of people of basic economic and social rights. Even
elected governments can burden their citizens with labyrinthine
bureaucracies and complex, unnecessary laws. And while some regimes are
obviously worse than others, they all have apologists who obscure these
conditions by twisting the relationship between freedom and human
The Thiel Foundation defends and promotes freedom in all its dimensions:
political, personal, and economic. How do we do this?"
(followed by bullet points )
[27] Luce Irigaray, Sharing the World, Continuum, 2008.
[28] For a scientific, but not scientist approach to the neurology of this
issue, see the work of Boris Cyrulnik, especially Les Nourritures
affectives, L'Ensorcellement du monde, and De Chair et d'âme, Paris, Odile
Jacob, 1993, 1997 and 2006
As far as I could ascertain none of these books have been translated in
English, but others have been:  (
On Boris Cyrulnik: (-transl)

NB.  The 'libertarism' saga continued - and conluded.
It's 'libertarianism', folks. Translator raises the white flag, as the RFC
results stand at libertarianism four, libertarism nil (and red dots under
the word by my spelling checker which does accept libertarianism - but not
'anarcho-capitalism'). Commentaries have included a statement to the
effect that "I was never given a magic want to change the English
language" , which, coming from the West Coast (States, not Somerset),
sounds a wee bit overbearing. All the same the traitor that is a
translator needs to be halted at some point. So shall we say, rather
blasphemously parakeeting Jens Stoltenberg: 'gjerningsmannen mislyktes,
folket vant' ...

Translated by Patrice Riemens
This translation project is supported and facilitated by:
The Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
The Antenna Foundation, Nijmegen
( - Dutch site)
( - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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