Am I the only one who finds WEC to be very thin in his readings/uses of sources and so offering next to nothing productive in the way of viable alternatives that address/suit the hyper-complexities/enormities that we suffer in the midst of today?

via Carla Nappi “Bill Connolly‘s new book proposes a way to think about the world as a gathering of self-organizing systems or ecologies, and from there explores the ramifications and possibilities of this notion for how we think about and practice work with markets, politics, daily life, and beyond. The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism (Duke UP, 2013) opens with a prelude that takes readers into the 1755 earthquake disaster in Lisbon via Voltaire’s Candide, using this to introduce a critique of neoliberalism that will continue to be so important for the duration of the book. Connolly reframes our understanding of markets in terms of an entanglement of human and nonhuman systems, with main chapters successively offering a critique of current thinking about neoliberalism and clear suggestions for how to move forward from it, a close reading of the work of Friedrich Hayek, and wonderfully productive dialogues between Kant and Hesiod (in Ch. 3) and Nietzsche and Whitehead (in Ch. 4). A series of interludes open up the narrative and ideas from the main chapters in light of contemporary film, bridges and thermodynamic systems, and the idea of human “fullness” and vitality. A postlude explores the relations between belief, sensibility, role experimentation, and political activism. In short, The Fragility of Things is an inspiring and beautifully written work. For readers interested in STS in particular, it also offers a way to think with self-organizing systems in the service of reorienting our stories about (human and nonhuman) individuals, their relationships, and the larger networks of which they’re a part.”

“It is the year 2393, almost 400 years from now. And a Chinese historian is looking back on our century, the 21st century, and trying to explain how the world saw climate change coming and did nothing. How we denied and delayed as an unbelievable price tag of suffering and destruction gathered around us. How that suffering finally came – with flood and heat and mass migration and chaos. How Western civilization collapsed”

read the whole interview @

“Well, I think there is a very a deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme – we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it’s disastrous. Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work. And they were right on all counts. Not in the bankrupting part, but they were right that this was a massive corporate giveaway, and they were right that it wasn’t going to bring us anywhere near what scientists were saying we needed to do lower emissions. So I think it’s a really important question why the green groups have been so unwilling to follow science to its logical conclusions. I think the scientists Kevin Anderson and his colleague Alice Bows at the Tyndall Centre have been the most courageous on this because they don’t just take on the green groups, they take on their fellow scientists for the way in which neoliberal economic orthodoxy has infiltrated the scientific establishment. It’s really scary reading. Because they have been saying, for at least for a decade, that getting to the emissions reduction levels that we need to get to in the developed world is not compatible with economic growth.
What we know is that the environmental movement had a series of dazzling victories in the late 60s and in the 70s where the whole legal framework for responding to pollution and to protecting wildlife came into law. It was just victory after victory after victory. And these were what came to be called “command-and-control” pieces of legislation. It was “don’t do that.” That substance is banned or tightly regulated. It was a top-down regulatory approach. And then it came to screeching halt when Regan was elected. And he essentially waged war on the environmental movement very openly. We started to see some of the language that is common among those deniers – to equate environmentalism with Communism and so on. As the Cold War dwindled, environmentalism became the next target, the next Communism. Now, the movement at that stage could have responded in one of the two ways. It could have fought back and defended the values it stood for at that point, and tried to resist the steamroller that was neoliberalism in its early days. Or it could have adapted itself to this new reality, and changed itself to fit the rise of corporatist government. And it did the latter. Very consciously if you read what [Environmental Defense Fund president] Fred Krupp was saying at the time.”


the tyranny of the means…

Originally posted on Mind Hacks:

I’ve got an article in The Observer about how our inventions have profoundly shaped how we view ourselves because we’ve traditionally looked to technology for metaphors of human nature.

We tend to think that we understand ourselves and then create technologies to take advantage of that new knowledge but it usually happens the other way round – we invent something new and then use that as a metaphor to explain the mind and brain.

As history has moved on, the mind has been variously explained in terms of a wax tablets, a house with many rooms, pressures and fluids, phonograph recordings, telegraph signalling, and computing.

The idea that these are metaphors sometimes gets lost which, in some ways, is quite worrying.

It could be that we’ve reached “the end of history” as far as neuroscience goes and that everything we’ll ever say about the brain will be based on our…

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Originally posted on This Sociological Life:

This piece is partly a response to a recent blog post by Mark Carrigan about the concept of the qualified self, and partly a section of the new book that I am working on about the sociology of self-tracking cultures.

As part of my research for the book I made a Google Trends graph comparing the major terms that are used to denote the practices of voluntarily monitoring aspects of the self: self-tracking, the quantified self, life logging and personal analytics. As the resultant graph demonstrates, it was not until mid-2007 that any of these terms began to show up in Google searches. Self-tracking led the way, followed by life logging, then personal analytics. The quantified self is the newest term. It began to appear in searches in January 2010 and rose quickly in popularity, beginning to overtake self-tracking by April 2012 (although just recently self-tracking has caught up again). The…

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