giovedì 31 luglio 2014

Ed Cumming : William Gibson: the man who saw tomorrow @The Guardian, 28 July 2014

Prescience can be tedious for science-fiction writers. Being proven right about a piece of technology or a trend distracts from the main aim of the work: to show us how we live now. William Gibson knows this as well as anyone. Since the late 70s, the American-born novelist has been pulling at the loose threads of our culture to imagine what will come out. He has been right about a great deal, but mainly about the shape of the internet and how it filters down to the lowest strata of society.
In Neuromancer, published 30 years ago this month, Gibson popularised the idea of cyberspace: a "consensual hallucination" created by millions of connected computers. This network can be "jacked" into, while in the real world characters flit from Tokyo to the Sprawl, an urban agglomeration running down the east coast of the US. Gritty urban clinics carry out horrendous sounding plastic surgery. A junkie-hacker, Case, is coaxed into hacking the system of a major corporation. What once seemed impossibly futuristic is now eerily familiar.
"Neuromancer," says novelist and blogger Cory Doctorow, "remains a vividly imagined allegory for the world of the 1980s, when the first seeds of massive, globalised wealth-disparity were planted, and when the inchoate rumblings of technological rebellion were first felt. A generation later, we're living in a future that is both nothing like the Gibson future and instantly recognisable as its less stylish, less romantic cousin. Instead of zaibatsus [large conglomerates] run by faceless salarymen, we have doctrinaire thrusting young neocons and neoliberals who want to treat everything from schools to hospitals as businesses."
 Neuromancer, winner of the 'big three' for science fiction: the Nebula, Philip K Dick and Hugo awards PR
On its release, Neuromancer won the "big three" for science fiction: the Nebula, Philip K Dick and Hugo awards. It sold more than 6m copies and launched an entire aesthetic: cyberpunk. In predicting this future, Gibson can be said to have helped shape our conception of the internet. Other novelists are held in higher esteem by literary critics, but few can claim to have had such a wide-ranging influence. The Wachowskis made The Matrix by mashing Gibson's vision together with that of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander is a facsimile of Molly Millions, the femme fatale in Neuromancer. Every social network, online game or hacking scandal takes us a step closer to the universe Gibson imagined in 1984.
The vision was not perfect, though. As Gibson himself has joked, Neuromancer has a "complete absence of cellphones, which I'm sure young readers must assume is a key plot point". Other features of the novel are still lumbering towards us from the horizon. Despite Facebook's $2.3bn purchase of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset system, we remain some way from Neuromancer's favourite entertainment: "simstim", where users share a star's whole sensory experience. Yet our world has enough of a Gibsonian hue for the writer to have acquired the mantle of a prophet. "The Ed Snowden moment is very Gibsonian," adds Doctorow. "Snowden could be Case's back-office support, an ex-spook trapped behind Putin's iron curtain, offering intermittent but vital support to people trapped in the system's relentless gear grinding." (...)

domenica 13 luglio 2014

For those who want to get a clear picture of what is going on in the ‪#‎Ukraine @ slavyangrad blog

For those who want to get a clear picture of what is going on in the ‪#‎Ukraine

For those who want to get a clear picture of what is going on in the ‪#‎Ukraine‬ in the Civil War between the Central Gov't & ‪#‎NovoRossiya‬ I highly recommend this blog: that has translated reports in English. The entire populace is being made pawns of in a savage game of proxy geopolitics that hijacked a legitimate protest movement and transformed it into a means of ethnic cleansing against its Russophone citizens. Gangsters and sycophants are milking the country for all its worth. The democratic self-determination of its eastern region of NovoRossiya has been vilified in a head-long rush for profitable cronyism according to a 1% NeoCon narrative empowered by the ‪#‎Obama‬ Administration and a Western Mainstream media blackout. A clear case of ‪#‎ManufacturingConsent‬ -- this war must be stopped! Whole towns and villages of #NovoRossiya are laid waste, and the Ukrainian conscripts are sent into battle without proper gear or training because the Western military aid is pocket by commanders and the leaders of Ukraine. (via WeiDeLi14! Spl thx!)

mercoledì 9 luglio 2014

Igor Strelkov’s First Interview After the Breakout from Slavyansk, July 5, 2014 @ Gleb Bazov's blog

" (...) This just further confirms, for those who believe that, if the Militia leave without putting up a fight, it would save them from repressions, that it would not save them. Advancing against us are real fascists, fascists in the very same sense that our predecessors understood this word. Monsters. Murderers. Bandits. Marauders. Pure Polizei. Banderovtsy, just as they once were. Despite the fact that seventy years have passed. (...) "

Read full interview @ slavyangrad blog

lunedì 7 luglio 2014

Nick Srnicek: Folk Politics and the Future of the Left @ Transmodern Philosophy blog (2014)

Nick Srnicek: Folk Politics and the Future of the Left @ Transmodern Philosophy blog (2014)

Today’s session brought us directly into the political domain of navigation through Nick Srnicek’s work on Folk Politics and accelerationism. The day began with an examination of what Nick in his work with Alex Williams calls “Folk Politics” (FP), which he defined roughly as a collective and historically constructed mode of political common sense among leftist movements today, which has become increasingly inadequate for dealing effectively with mechanisms of global power. This mode of common sense tends to fetishize locality and immediacy as the “authentic” spaces of politics and to promote ephemeral or defensive actions that fail to produce lasting changes that challenge neoliberal structures of power. While the term has resonated with many as an accurate diagnosis as many problematic tendencies within leftist practice today, it has also been one of the main points of controversy emerging from the Accelerate Manifesto published over a year ago. Nick’s talk today attempted to dispel certain interpretations that read the Manifesto as an outright rejection of FP and advocacy of a technocratic approach to politics disconnected from the concerns of local movements. He offered three important qualifications of the term: for one, FP does not name a specific position taken up by leftist movements but rather a set of tendencies that are instantiated to varying degrees within concrete political positions. Secondly, the problem with FP is not that it starts from the local, but that it is content to remain at that level and takes it to be sufficient. In this sense, the point is not to reject FP, but to see it as a necessary yet insufficient moment for effective political action. And finally, FP is only a problem for a particular kind of politics (namely large-scale collective mobilization against capitalist structures of power), though it can be sufficient for other smaller scale projects, such as daily battles against evictions and foreclosures. While the emergence of FP as a mode of political common sense among the left can be seen as a reasonable response to the failures of actually existing communism and the social democratic left in Europe, it’s strategies of horizontalism, localism, and direct action are incapable of addressing the global complexities of contemporary capitalism. Rather than avoiding these complexities by focusing on political action at the local scale, Nick argues that the left must grapple head on with global complexity and develop long-term strategy if it is to have any real chance of success beyond ephemeral defensive stands against neoliberal encroachment.
Accelerationism as a political strategy therefore aims to integrate various local movements into a global strategy aimed at the development of socio-technical hegemony. Rather than dismissing hegemonic ambitions as inherently corrupt or instrumentalizing, Nick argues that to give up on them is basically to give up on political struggle. What is needed however is not a complete blueprint or teleology that would be imposed on local movements by an accelerationist avant-garde, which Nick and Alex have often been accused of supporting, but rather an open-ended strategy that navigates between the false dichotomy of teleology and emergent spontaneity. This navigational strategy emphasizes first of all the building of platforms, which Nick calls the basic material and ideational infrastructure of a society. Platforms don’t exhaustively determine society, and shouldn’t be seen as inherently capitalist; rather, they constitute what Nick and Alex call the “material transcendental of society”, which simultaneously constrains and enables various navigational possibilities. The goal of accelerationism in this sense is not to determine an end goal to which all other leftist aims would be subordinated, but to develop and repurpose socio-technical platforms to widen the social possibility space to pursue social goals beyond capital accumulation. Such a practice must necessarily be experimental, heterogeneous, and abductive, and its contours can only be known over the course of practice.

One of the noticeable shifts between the last years Manifesto and Nick’s talk today was a greater emphasis on the affective dimension of leftist mobilization. While the manifesto emphasized the need for a rationalist political program in order to criticize and move beyond tendencies in political theory to valorize the production of affect as a political end in itself, the talk today took a more balanced approach to questions involving reason and affect by highlighting the role of the latter in developing socio-technical hegemony. Nick discussed the value of utopian thinking as a way of imagining future possibilities rooted in present material conditions, cognitively estranging ourselves from aspects of the present that are otherwise taken for granted, and modulating collective desire, or teaching it to desire more than is offered by contemporary capitalism. Accelerationism in this way is not only about renewing the project of reason as the emancipatory vector of civilization but also the utopian imagination in order to widen the space of collective desire and promote forms of human flourishing yet unimagined. While many basic questions remain (obviously) regarding the practical implementation of an accelerationist politics and how it can effectively navigate between the local and global scales, Nick’s talk persuasively reiterated that only a leftist project with globalizing ambitions will have any chance of challenging neoliberal capitalism and enabling a future that is worth living for the majority of human beings.