On Political Activism

This is more of a pronouncement in theory, a look into the excess that makes possible peeping into alternatives, or more specifically economics as an object that escapes or rather exceeds finite human comprehension.

What has been contentious is the extant of neo-liberalism. Since, we are all caught up in the global financial crisis, and the alternatives from the left not forthcoming, inoculation from the global finance appear all the more distant.

Neo-liberalism, as we have known it has changed its form, and with the difficulty of representation associated with it, social imagination often wanders far and wide in trying to stake its claim on a legitimate political alternative. This change in form, however has not completely left the underlying grounds uninhabited, with movements coming in to reside, albeit temporarily. This is significantly attributable to their discourse clinging on to diatribes of neo-liberal orthodoxies, and missing out on augmenting latent capacities. In short, if I could be allowed to make this bold claim, then I would:

“The extent of capitalism is all pervasive with no direct perception of it being possible. Navigating through this labyrinth needs inflating human cognisance, and alternative politics misses this mark.”

I want to borrow Jameson’s idea of ‘Cognitive Mapping’, which he uses to critique the left. For him, “Cognitive Mapping enables a situational representation on the part of the individual subject to that vaster and properly unrepresentable totality, which is the ensemble of society’s structures as a whole.” This statement goes on to prove what ought to be, and what has not been achieved. Unlike the past, where a localized experience was strong enough to give a fair idea of the underlying economic structure and its superimposition by a political formula, the case today runs on deficiency in prescribing precisely such a formula. Moreover, the talk of emancipation cohabits increasing alienation, and the perception of this ideological stance is what could come out as an alternative. To put this on a lighter note, TINA breeds alternatives.

The talk of alternatives, and here I must make it clear, the economic ones over which the political and the developmental paradigms could be made to rest, is somehow sandwiched between the burning issues of unemployment, inequity, welfare schemes and reforms on the one hand, and the more academically oriented rhetoric of dialectics on the other. But, even under this state, alternatives are launched from an ‘Aleph’, to take Jorge Louis Borges idea of a point in space that contains all other points in space to facilitate all perspectives.

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This claim stinks of hubris, if nothing more. The way out, as I see it is by embracing technologies that helps prevent mutations of individualistic (micro) ideological affiliations and encompassing these within a larger socially construed concept. The other reason for this mandate is accessibility to the socio-political developmental paradigms that have hitherto been fluctuating on the borders of these micro affiliations. I term this ‘mainstreaming’.

Ecological degradation, resource allocation and associated wars, fractiously built equalities, cultural constructions are some of the problems that are bound to multiply in future under the dromological era of economies of exhaustion already set in motion in the form of an invasion from the future. This is highlighted by the pervasiveness of debt economies that are made the indicators of a utopian world order. Rejection to partake in this systemic implosion and explosion double bind is surely no way at proposing political, economical and developmental alternatives, but merely a regression into the crevices of capitalism in its current trends.

Here, I might be made to appear a pessimist, but commonsense has other ideas that I cannot overlook, and that being the impossibility of doing away with market, a market where economies are traded, developmental ideas are rubbished and furbished and political consent and dissent are bred.

So, how is this proposed?

Political activism is enmeshed within technological interfaces, such that reality creates insights, augments it, rather than merely providing insights on reality. This goes a long way in distorting, or more appropriately disturbing conventional modes of understanding, thereby expanding or opening vistas of human sensibilities and cognitive mapping than hitherto had been the case.  Additionally, technological interfaces infuse tactility bringing in its wake political alternatives.

The obvious question begs the productive efficacy of this as an alternative. Well, this might require time to sink in, but the thesis I propose is in fact trying to affine technological embrace with a political alternative. This is to be gotten through a movement of aesthetics that explodes the political sensibilities. Is there any wonder that we find ourselves encapsulated with the abstraction of neo-liberalism, with an inability to draw contours beyond the rhetoric of alienation, oppression, marginalization and what have you? Yes and no, this is the case, and therefore negotiating the void created by a lack of an alternative political scheme should only ensure habilitating on this technological interface to realize complex notions of global financial movements into local politically comprehensible formats. If the world order is too chaotic, or complex to understand, then the proposal is an attempt to curtail the speed of this chaos by grasping these dromological flights and making them affordable. (I could talk here of smartphones and other networking gadgets over the web).

An example could be drawn from Allende’s time in Chile. Project CyberSyn was designed as a real-time control system capable of collecting economic data throughout the nation, transmitting it to the government, and combining it in ways that could assist government decision-making, furthering the realization of a single control room capable of overseeing the entire economy. Drawing on extensive archival material and interviews, Eden Medina (Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile) examines the cybernetic system envisioned by the Chilean government–which was to feature holistic system design, decentralized management, human-computer interaction, a national telex network, near real-time control of the growing industrial sector, and modelling the behaviour of dynamic systems. She also describes, and documents with photographs, the network’s Star Trek-like operations room, which featured swivel chairs with armrest control panels, a wall of screens displaying data, and flashing red lights to indicate economic emergencies. This history further shows how human attempts to combine the political and the technological with the goal of creating a more just society can open new technological, intellectual, and political possibilities. Technologies, Medina writes, are historical texts; when we read them we are reading history. The beauty of this model lay in decentralization and wedding whatever technologies were present at the time in its material form with socialism. Are we not better equipped at present technologically to bring something similar or grand into effect……

*This has been largely inspired by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams and the Accelerationism phenomenon when I was starting to understand them and this. 

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