They are akin to task forces. “The task force is a committee formed to accomplish a particular task and then disband, ‘a temporary patchwork on the functional structure, used to short-circuit communication lines in a time of high uncertainty’”. More than just the patchwork that infects within the state, collapse patchworks are deconstruction, devolution and de-complexification of narratives and institutions of governance themselves, as well as ideological re-situations that undermine and undergird old and new governmental conflagrations, respectively. This then takes us beyond the Perezian cycle or Kondratieff wave and into a field of vectors of new possibilities (and beyond possibilities), both entirely destructive and regressive, as per the counter-movements of the 1930s, and utopian and eschatological.Collapse Patchworks: A Theory | synthetic zerø
When he hops his first wall, Hayes crosses an invisible line not only onto private land but – as if crossing a mythical threshold – into another mode of existence. He has become a vagrant, a category of undesirable conjured up by a legal system that ‘sought to criminalise not anti-social actions, but, rather, a state of being, a social and economic status, a type of person.’ As well as being a gripping history of land ownership in England – a journey that leads from the Norman invasion through medieval peasants’ revolts and the land-grabs of the Enclosures all the way up to Greenham Common and the eruption of Occupy – The Book of Trespass is an attempt to shatter what Hayes calls ‘the mindwall’, an internalisation of ruling-class power so effective we don’t even see it. ‘The wall presents itself as a blank statement of authority, and we obey it because we see it without its context. The mindwall has become so entrenched in our heads that it remains unchallenged and unquestioned.’Genius Loci – Dark Mountain
Here we might note, in America at least, the growing normalization of once-outlier activities amongst growing numbers of working-class individuals and families. Examples of this include learning survival skills, building local infrastructures (wireless mesh networks, food production, whether farming or engineering protein bars, etc.), and taking up physical fitness regimes.33 Such activities are representative of an increasingly widespread desire to decrease dependency and take back some degree of power over one’s life and abilities—to reappropriate one’s means of existence, even if the only time to do so is found during lunch breaks. Yet placed alongside the scale, vision, and material means of delinking activities of the world’s very wealthy and the force they mobilize, these scattered efforts too often seem to reflect a powerlessness—an inability to build real power or autonomy—rather than the opposite.
Life exigencies and lack of resources often mean that, at best, such practices result in an increased preparedness to survive the next Coronavirus or hurricane (no minor feat itself of course), in a time where the definition and horizon of life has become “normalizing survival.”34 Still, even prepping is often animated by important questions such as how to help oneself and others and how to not be hostage to relief agencies, FEMA camps, or governments that disdain whole populations. How to save your family from sleeping on a gym floor, like the Kims in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite? How not to allow oneself to be reduced to scrounging for the last can of beans at the panic-ravaged grocery store? How to take care of oneself and one’s own communities—the things and beings you love? Such questions are a pragmatic and existential matter of refusing to be dependent on corporations and algorithms. Addressing them also opens up much broader horizons.Anthropocene Hubris – Architecture – e-flux
To frame the current conflict as a civil war is to describe the state as a secondary element, rather than the focus of action, and to conceptualize the conflict as a linear struggle between two rigidly identified factions, both of which are defined prior to the opening of hostilities. This approach would produce a social conflict in which the state will inevitably play a role, but in which we will fundamentally misunderstand the terms. Rather than seeking to understand the shifts that have occurred on the level of society and the ways in which the uprising has been successfully defined as an “outside” by the state, we would end up concentrating on only one element of the collaboration between the state and para-state forces. Essentially, we would replace a struggle for everything—for the whole of life itself—with a far less ambitious struggle against other elements in the social terrain.CrimethInc. : Uprising, Counterinsurgency, and Civil War : Understanding the Rise of the Paramilitary Right
These movements respectively set the stage for Bernie Sanders and Trump, who both described politics as a fight between a broad mean of betrayed constituents and that archipelago of rich villains.
Those movements failed, for different reasons, and we’re now back to corporate-sponsored tales of half against half. What’s always forgotten is who’s paying for these messages. We have two donor-fattened parties that across decades of incompetence have each run out of convincing pitches for how to improve the lives of ordinary people. So they’ve settled into a new propaganda line that blames voters for their problems, with each party directing its base to demonize the other’s followers. Essentially, in the wake of Trump, the political class is accepting the inevitability of culture war, and urging it on, as something preferable to populist revolt.For What Are America’s Wealthy Thankful? A Worsening Culture War – TK News by Matt Taibbi
“I do not think that COVID-19 introduces a new relationship between humanity and ‘the environment.’ As blessed as we are to have books and other media that transmit knowledge and stretch temporality for us, we are still trapped within the span of an individual lifetime, and a limited perception of history. Even if pandemics happen throughout history, what appears to us in perception appears as a novelty, as a problem for thought, and it indeed has new variables each time. But even the name SARS-CoV-2 signals a repetition. SARS in the early 2000s attacked the lungs quickly, it was easy to spot and quarantine. SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, has learnt from that mistake and made itself harder to spot. It is not strictly alive, but nevertheless intelligent. Paleontologist Peter Ward takes a long perspective in The Medea Hypothesis, arguing that life on Earth is suicidal, and most extinctions on the planet were caused by microbes that desire to return to a microbial planetarity. In this hypothesis, animal desire to keep life going and reproduce is counterbalanced by microbial intelligence, which is synthetic and more technical than biological. This might be an ongoing process, even though we experience it as a novelty.
Regarding the wild and the domestic, there’s a great essay called ‘Robot Evolution’ by Emily Monosson that compares viruses to robots and highlights human anxiety around nonhuman replication. Viruses make a fitting template for robot design because they don’t have to be alive to self-replicate. While we perceive automation or ‘technologization’ as an increase in control, the more we automate, the more we do not know what’s going to come out of it:
But perhaps it is not the creation of new life that we fear, so much as the potential for unpredictable emergent behaviour.”Agosto Foundation :: Pandæmic Speculations
It is for this reason that we must abandon the idea of the apocalypse. Our resistance must interrupt the flow of events conjugated by the utopias of those in power. We must pierce through the state of emergency and expose the apocalypse as the perpetual reproduction of the existing order that it is. The fact is, these discourses—crisis, the state of emergency, and our unending apocalypse—are part of the same strategy: we are not governed in crisis, we are governed by means of crisis. Only when it is declared as such does a crisis properly become a crisis; and only once a problem is understood as omnipresent and pervasive does it truly become a crisis. Not only does the repetitive cry of “emergency” desensitize people, it also obscures which of all the various ongoing catastrophes might require changes that run against the grain of existing global power structures. The situation in Syria, for example, has become a perpetuum mobile of destruction for the preservation of power, a perpetual recurrence of chaos. We must ask: who profits from crisis? Why do we live in the never-ending state of emergency? And how does this influence our perception of the future?No future! Cybernetics and the Genealogy of Time Governance | Ill Will Editions
In other words, the record-breaking temperatures seen this summer in the Arctic are not a “one-off”. They are part of a long-term trend that was predicted by climate models decades ago. Today, we’re seeing the results, with permafrost thaw and sea ice and ice sheet melting. The Arctic has sometimes been described as the canary in the coal mine for climate breakdown. Well it’s singing pretty loudly right now and it will get louder and louder in years to come.Siberia heatwave: why the Arctic is warming so much faster than the rest of the world
As humans on the only place in the universe known to have life, we should think of this task as one of cosmic importance.Op-Ed: With global heating, expect inferno seasons in the West – Los Angeles Times