More than sudden illness, what has been shocking is the speed with which power sheds the polite fictions of a stable democratic order. The logic of crisis always serves to excuse the deepening of control. The terrible irony is that a virus – a scientific quandary, questionably neither dead nor alive – has become the occasion for managing life itself.
But life cannot be contained or managed so easily. For each new technological ploy, there are the kids who defeat it. For each new zone of abandonment, there are those in revolt. For each measure of distance imposed, there are new forms of conviviality. Not to mention all those everyday acts of courage and compassion, as communities around the world care for themselves amid failing healthcare systems. Ensuring that the elderly are checked up on, that people have enough to eat, that there is still a communal fabric even as governments seek to tear it further – these are the small triumphs of decaying circumstances.
Power’s hold over us is equally demonstrated by emergent forms of social control and by the utter disregard with which they cast aside our lives. Our inability to survive outside their broken system is rapidly being confronted by our dwindling chances of surviving within it. To resist their control has become inseparable from the urgent need to care for one another. How to treat illness, how to care for the vulnerable, how to overcome isolation, how to reinvent presence, how to live with dignity and perhaps how to die with it. These are among the revolutionary questions of our times.
In Out of the Mountains, David Kilcullen, one of the world’s leading experts on modern warfare, offers a groundbreaking look ahead at what may happen after the war in Afghanistan ends. It is a book about future conflicts and future cities, about the challenges and opportunities that four powerful megatrends are creating across the planet. And it is about what national governments, cities, communities and businesses can do to prepare for a future in which all aspects of human society-including, but not limited to, conflict, crime and violence-are rapidly changing.
Dr. David Kilcullen is the Chief Executive Officer of Caerus Associates. He founded Caerus around a simple idea: that responding to the needs of local communities can have mutually beneficial effects for governments, businesses and populations. Before founding Caerus, Dave served 24 years as a soldier, diplomat and policy advisor for the Australian and United States governments.
Any political doctrine relying on a liberal understanding of freedom runs into significant trouble, for as Dipesh Chakrabarthy states, “most of our freedoms so far have been energy-intensive”. The thesis about the Anthropocene states that “the geological agency of humans” becomes in fact “the price we pay for the pursuit of freedom”. Fantasies of exiting the metabolic multitude—mirroring the fantasies of the supremacy of transparent subjects of modernity—bring us to a point where we are in fact enmeshed in the planetary assemblage deeper than ever. The intimation is that we have always been less autonomous than we imagined ourselves to be, and that while we commonsensically accept some very unjust constraints, we are biased against those that make us actually well aware of our position as agents in the metabolic multitude. The age of climate emergency demands a thorough perspectival rotation in this respect, a new economy and geometry of freedom; a sort of redistribution of competences, gerrymandering the territories of limits and liberties.
Not a fortune-teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner or caster of spells — nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead — I have nonetheless been wondering about the possibility of confusion and how we might be extinguished. I recently had to ask Thirty-Seven to remind me who Forty-Six was. I have been replying to everyone and then deleting them from the face of the earth. (In the end I got my own lightbulb.) I have been replacing the subject. We might need a new classification — this kind of interaction is completely new to me, I have no idea what the rules of engagement are. I have no idea what is to be shared and what is not to be shared; for instance, during the eighteenth century the difference between history or pornography or fiction wasn’t always obvious. Notwithstanding, I shall set down whatever…
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(worldmap: command and control)
Beyond the Judgement of God. Meltdown: planetary china-syndrome, dissolution of the biosphere into the technosphere, terminal speculative bubble crisis, ultravirus, and revolution stripped of all christian-socialist eschatology (down to its burn-core of crashed security). It is poised to eat your TV, infect your bank account, and hack xenodata from your mitochondria.
Specters of crisis and scrambles for revolutionary agency emerge from the updating forms of privatizations that occur concurrent with capitalism’s continually updating of the modes of production through powerful social and machinic technics. The demise of feudalism saw the partitioning of land in the form of private property; the faster paces of the industrialization – particularly under its Fordist-Keynesian mode – proceeded with the unleashing of cycles where seemingly everything under the sun could be transmuted into commodity form. The transition towards post-Fordist production, made possible by the advent of computational technology, has engendered…
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We haven’t really got our minds around it yet, because we’re still in the early stages of it, but we have entered an epoch in which historical events are primarily being driven, and societies reshaped, not by sovereign nation states acting in their national interests but by supranational corporations acting in their corporate interests. Paramount among these corporate interests is the maintenance and expansion of global capitalism, and the elimination of any impediments thereto. Forget about the United States (i.e., the actual nation state) for a moment, and look at what’s been happening since the early 1990s. The US military’s “disastrous misadventures” in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and the former Yugoslavia, among other exotic places (which have obviously had nothing to do with the welfare or security of any actual Americans), begin to make a lot more sense. Global capitalism, since the end of the Cold War (i.e, immediately after the end of the Cold War), has been conducting a global clean-up operation, eliminating actual and potential insurgencies, mostly in the Middle East, but also in its Western markets. Having won the last ideological war, like any other victorious force, it has been “clear-and-holding” the conquered territory, which in this case happens to be the whole planet. Just for fun, get out a map, and look at the history of invasions, bombings, and other “interventions” conducted by the West and its assorted client states since 1990. Also, once you’re done with that, consider how, over the last fifteen years, most Western societies have been militarized, their citizens placed under constant surveillance, and an overall atmosphere of “emergency” fostered, and paranoia about “the threat of extremism” propagated by the corporate media.