This extended essay, Digital Solidarity, responds to the wave of new forms of networked organisation emerging from and colliding with the global economic crisis of 2008. Across the globe, voluntary association, participatory decision-making and the sharing of resources, all widely adopted online, are being translated into new forms of social space.
This movement operates in the breach between accelerating technical innovation, on the one hand, and the crises of institutions which organise, or increasingly restrain society on the other. Through an inventory of social forms – commons, assemblies, swarms and weak networks – the essay outlines how far we have already left McLuhan’s ‘Gutenberg Galaxy’ behind. In his cautiously optimistic account, Stalder reminds us that the struggles over where we will arrive are only just beginning.
Much of the 20th century’s avant-garde art can be read as a revolt against the bourgeois conception of the artist as an exceptional individual who creates art through a mysterious process of introspection into his – mainly his – particularly sensitive soul. The introduction of mass-produced materials into artworks, of randomness, the exploration of the subconscious and, after WWII, the turn towards machinic and algorithmic processes, all served to decentre the process of making art away from the artist’s inner world and his or her complete control. In the 1960s, literary theory caught up and famously declared the death of the authoritative, omniscient author. The matter seemed to have been laid to rest by Foucault’s famous “murmur of indifference:” ‘What matter who’s speaking?’”
All of this has been debated to death and the issues have mostly been settled, but, now that the battles over the conception of authorship and associated constructions of rights and modes of ownership have moved from the field of cultural theory to the centre of society, the art world – in which “contemporary art” plays a minor supporting role – has fallen curiously silent. Not only that, the deeply neoliberal makeover of the last two decades have actually moved it into the opposite direction. Authorship and individuality are being asserted more strongly than ever. This is not due solely to the power of market forces with their predictable need for stars and commodities.
Clemens Apprich gab der Springerin (Nr.3/2013) ein schönes Interview zu den "Netzkulturen der 1990er Jahren". Zentrales Thema ist die Hybridisierung von online und offline, und die lokale Spezifität, die sich daraus ergibt. Anlass dazu war die Publikation des Buches "Vergessene Zukunft. Radikale Netzkulturen in Europa", welches wir gemeinsam letztes Jahr herausgeben haben.
At the moment, i think in the West (core and periphery) we can distinguish between three struggles in advanced stages.
One is against authoritarian regimes that force a closed set of values on their increasingly diverse societies. Within these societies, a new mind set is emerging that values, understands and can deal with this diversity.
Another one is against the subversion of the democratic processes through the capture of the traditional institutions of liberal democracy by financial markets, which includes the fight against austerity policies and the invention of new democratic institutions redrawing the balance between participation and representation.
And, one is against the increasing subversion of civil liberties through the militarization of the state. This process is certainly the most advanced in the US, and so is the resistance against also mainly coming from the US. However, not from organized interests, but from brave individuals who cannot tolerate the contradiction between what they are supposed to do (defend liberty) and what they are actually doing (destroy liberty).
Of these three, I think the first one we can win and many many people in networks like this and places too numerous to count are working on this. This is what the Internet was made for, particularly those layers that we all can access (aka the "front end of the internet")
The second one is really hard, but also manageable. Perhaps not winning, but it can redraw the balance of forces. The contradictions evident in society can be mobilized by us. A lot of people are working on this too, and there is an increasing mood, from what I understand, that the next step (for social movements) is about creating institutions that can realize the promises we all see.
Mein Beitrag in der Berliner Gazette zu den Machtverhätnissen in den Infrastrukturen des Netzes.
Das heutige Internet bietet „out-of-the-box“, und dazu noch meistens kostenlos, sehr viel Organisationsfähigkeit an. Alles ist leicht zugänglich und leicht zu benutzen, aber dennoch erstaunlich effektiv und ermöglicht Menschen und Handlungen in einer Masse zu organisieren, für die noch vor kurzem eine große, teure bürokratische Organisation notwendig gewesen wäre.