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Re: <nettime> Foundations for "Anthropocene Socialist" Movement
Brian Holmes on Sun, 6 Jan 2019 04:49:00 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Foundations for "Anthropocene Socialist" Movement


On Sat, Jan 5, 2019 at 6:03 PM Florian Cramer <flrncrmr {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

Your wording is interesting, because it connects "emergence" with the "state". Since the classical concept of emergence evolved around self-organization, it was decentralist. The state is a (more or less) centralist concept. The way you put it, it sounds as if you didn't have one particular state in mind, but a global concept of statehood that can enact global policies.

Well, I must not put it very clearly then. I think it should begin with national states. I mostly speak about the US, because I am a citizen and because the US is big enough to set production standards and exert technological and organizational leadership. This would be of enormous benefit to all other countries that are trying to decarbonize. But mind you, Germany's efforts, self-contradictory as they are, have already been of great benefit. China, too, can set production standards, but it's totally undemocratic, a bad pathway in my view, at least for the so-called West.

De facto world governance is multilateralism. It's exerted on a case-by-case basis, mostly as needed for global interoperability issues (for example, air-traffic control, see icao.int). Multilateral agreements are crucial to climate change policy, witness Kyoto, Paris, etc: I would not suggest throwing those out. But they cannot be expected to work before some large nations provide viable examples. As for de jure world government, it appears impossible either politically or even militarily. There was a big push for it after WWII and it failed.

When I say the desire to change the energy grid is emergent, it just means that very many people are thinking about it, forming organizations, pushing for laws, exploring technical inventions, forging concepts and metrics, etc. The point is to make those things into national policy. Multilateralism will follow. The physics of dissipative structures tells us that emergent behavior precedes a phase change: "order out of chaos," to quote the title of a great book. Many complexity theorists have adopted that notion. I frequently used it to talk about the crystallization of a new techno-economic paradigm after a major crisis (it actually happened after 2008 in China, but not yet in Euro-America). I think that the physics language is only metaphorical though.

Gumbrecht's characterization of Trump as an "impulse-driven activist without a world-picture" is perfect, but his conclusion--basically, "well, we are cooked anyway"--is both lamentable and irrelevant. As the world heats up, actions will be taken. Of course there is no guarantee whatsoever about which actions, with which results. The way I see it, the "we are cooked" position just leaves intellectuals some free time before the beginning of massive interstate conflict over climate-change consequences, which will clearly happen under a business-as-usual scenario. In the meantime they can enjoy the news from the southern borders, where piecemeal carnage is already going on. Such a position is undignified. It demands that I destroy in my own self so many ideals, principles, norms, psychic constructs, affects - I just can't do it. Life would lose its savor. Far better to work towards better outcomes.

Actually I find the website that runs intermittently on solar power much more enjoyable than the Spiegel article, thank you!

best, Brian
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