Running Along the Disaster: A Conversation with Bifo
Franco “Bifo” Berardi (FBB): After May 25, we must be able to say that the “European experiment” is over. The impressive result that the National Front will have in the French elections is going to add the word “end” to this expression. The European Union was based on the alliance between France and Germany, after two centuries of war. Now the alliance is over. After incredible suffering and bloodshed, the French won WWI and WWII against the Germans. Why should they accept German domination now? This horrible result has been imposed by financial capitalism, and its politics is the prevailing sentiment of the French people. The majority of the French do not feel Europe to be their home. This is a geopolitical catastrophe and, more importantly, a social catastrophe…
What I hate about Berardi is his fatalism… dam, he might as well lay down and die for all the good his bullshit offers. Be done with Berardi, his time is over, he’s a failed 68’er who has lived on as a parasite of Guattari and the lingering ghosts of autonomist pasts… I mean listen to him:
“FBB: Resistance is futile, as the mutation is transforming everything in the deep fabric of subjectivity. Obviously, people will struggle for survival, and you can call it resistance. Small islands of temporary social autonomy will resist, but the conditions for social solidarity have been cancelled by the pervading precarity. We should stop deceiving ourselves: the only resistance to global financial capitalism for the time being is the identitarian force of localism, identity, and fascism.”
His only hopeful note is “The next move is escape. But we are not just escaping from the capitalist trap. We are simultaneously taking part in the evolution of the brain. The new game will be the fight for the autonomy of the brain.”
And, where, pray tell is that supposed to go? Is this Berardi in his transhumanist mode?
yeah no exit that I can see, that said I’m not particularly hopeful that we can make much of a productive difference in the face of such vast powers of destruction, but unlike Bifo I will certainly try to do what I can, no reason to go down passively.
I’m with you there buddy… 🙂 Keepin the faith, baby, even if the faith ain’t keepin you!
I tend to agreed with what you write here Craig. Do not go gently into this less-than-good night, but I also want to work a little bit on the edges to suggest that the situation(s) does not really reduce to dichotomy. From my perspective I can not anticipate any real escape from the coming ‘storms’ and subsequent degradation of ecosystems and social life (other than full transhumanity). But I also think there is much we can do in the present to ameliorate the intensity of the fall and then prepare ourselves to dwell in a post-institutional field of subsistence activity. Neo-feudalisms (scattered zones of salvaged organization and social coordination) are surely what will be fashioned to compose the future. So Berardi captures this with his fatalism: the brutality of certain realities that span the past, present and reach into the future. The conditions are set. We are being asked to fight a war we cannot win – or even decide who the enemy is. But can we refuse to fight and instead vacate the area?
Arran suggests in an earlier post that EXIT is the idiots way out, and one that will fail to preserve what is advantageous in the human character, but I’m not so sure.. Why struggle in the present structured as it is by dominant systematic and mobile (hyper?) powers when we can just allow or even encourage (cf. accelerationism) such assemblages to actualize their existing trajectories towards death? We need not appeal to the vain anxieties and false uprisings of the young bourgeois first-worlders nor the numb distractions of the satiated middle-classes if we work hard enough in out-moding the very forms of life upon which the world devouring production-consumption systems depend.
Part of what we are doing here at S_Z is to make attempts at evolving the conversation away from the distilling binary of domination-resistance towards something more diffuse and variable. There is room for the kind hard realism of Bifo in our recognition of the objective nihilism at the core of industrial-consumptive civilization, just as there is room for all sorts of insurrectionist interplays, infrastructuralist tinkering and possibility-mongering. The contemporary conditions are diffuse and multi-tactical and so must be our responses.
That’s the point of Left Accelerationism isn’t it? To not abolish the neoliberal machine as much as to overtake it, out accelerate it and construct a different path and trajectory toward the future. Capitlaism is here and will not go away. We cannot exit, escape, crawl in a whole, or build some transitory zone of freedom in the ruins. We have to radicalize immanent within this buggered system, fold it and refold it toward other ends, toward more egalitarian and eco-friendly ends, and ends that will be non-exploitative and open toward the future and off-planet exploration and real positivity as a movement beyond the malaise and into a post-capitalist system.
It’s just in Berardi you the current state of apathy… he offers no solution, just vague prophecies of present doom. Yes, he sees semio cyber pressure but that’s all. So what else does he have to offer… his day is over it seems… just like Zizek he has no solutions just more questions….
We need solutions to real world problems and at faster and more accelerated paces that this former left mentality of 68 can afford.
That’s the point of accelerationism… time to get off our arse’s and do something instead of pondering and lamenting our fates….
Craig what I don’t see in the accelerationists is any real wrestling with kinds of cognitive-biases that keep people from re-organizing in more reasonable/less-destructive ways, what good are technocratic blueprints without the organization/personnel/people-power to flesh them out?
Bifo and the rest of the 60’s folks were wrong to buy into pipedreams of mass consciousness-raising but what can we do to hack peoples’ biases so that they can become reflective-practitioners?
I get that. But I’m not at all confident that we can push this civilization in any other direction other than total collapse. Capitalism (as a multiplicity) has proven to be more dynamic and entrenched than Marx or anyone else has imagined. The more we engage it the more it morphs to meet us with new products of instrumentality and even more dedicated and motivated seekers of accumulation. The more we attempt to augment “it” the more it feeds off our energies. The very INFRASTRUCTURE of human life is now beholden to integrated systems of violence (institutional, ‘structural’, etc), extraction, production and finance. These petro-blooded productive-war machines are simultaneously enemy and savior, harbinger of death and instrument of survival. We are utterly dependent. The oil-blood-mineral circuit has closed upon us. And the amount of change we need is precisely that which would have the whole circus break down. So why not let it breakdown? Perhaps, as Nietzsche suggested, we have not yet suffered enough to necessitate a change in the very nature of our social behaviors..
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just following the daily news one can see the collapses of crony-capitalists and their dependent governments, that may be some time in the making but the cracks are widening.
not at all convinced that suffering in and of itself will bring about mass change as we are highly adept at adapting to really dreadful circumstances but when the means/infrastructures crumble we will have no choice but to make do without the old affordances and resistances.
Suffering ‘in and of itself’ is not enough but perhaps part of what is required for us to attempt a leap into radically new modes of social organization? Humans are adept at adapting, but this adaptation can entail both passive and active responses to ruination. It is with those who take an active response to suffering we might rally.
” It is with those who take an active response to suffering we might rally”
this seems to be the key to me, to scale our operations to the willing and able people at hand and then build as is possible, way too much energy spent in vain already trying to convert people…
Yeah, I find people ‘convert’ only when it serves their cognitive-emotional needs. Religion, for example, is a system designed to fulfill/address a variety of needs (for answers, for fellowship, etc.) and motivates people to convert. But as Jay-Z reminds us there are no churches in the wild. So when things collapse and we are given over to temporary forces of anarchy and wild deterritorializations people seek for havens and resources with which to (re)build their lives.
So if post-nihilist, post-conceptual, post-idealist intelligences and practices are going to be instantiated and proliferate, and change the nature of the discussions and strategies at hand, it will be important to cultivate places/spaces where people – the suffering and disillusioned and significance deprived bodies – can go and gather and communicate to confirm and complexify their suspicions and trans-valuations.
Part of the reason I called this site Synthetic Zero was to signal the position that it’s not enough to have some non-dogmatic realization and sensation of ground ZER0 immanence and materiality (corporeality) – which is fundamentally empty [sunyata] in itself and registers as an emotional nihilism – we also need some set(s) of synthetic semantic/conceptual frameworks, vocabularies, trans-medium semiotic markers or cognitive-linguistic habits to be able ‘hold’ that apprehension neuro-affectivly. Thus Synthetic_Zero is in part an attempt to enact cognitive and techno-social syntheses in accordance with a perpetual negation or suspension (what I suggest as an “axiomatic zero”) of the tyranny of symbolic experience – with hyper-reflexive praxis and adaptive feedback mechanisms taking the lead. The objective nihilism of extraction-production-consumption systems combined with the delegitimization of dogma/certainty via construct-awareness and acknowledged ‘epistemic indeterminacy’ and brain-blindedness require pragmatic responses. The question becomes what kinds/(proto)types of pragmata do we need to create and cultivate to increase our capacity for action while also resisting the dual temptations of returning to ideology/theology or adopting the machine logic of bare production (viz. capital and technoscience)?
yes, very good.
Dirk, hacking biases requires at least two things:
1. Cognitive innovation: which requires a combination of novel activations of thetic resonance (new imaginaries) with carefully pursued techno-neural augmentations (differently extended ‘minds’).
2. The requisite education systems and ambient institutional environments capable of instantiated, distributing and sustaining complex cognitive advance (adaptation).
yes, John Dewey didn’t have the means to make these two tracks come to fruition but he was right to pursue them as worthy goals.
Can you flush out Dewey’s position a bit Dirk? What was he advocating in terms of 1) enacting new agencies (subjectivites), and 2) designing new social infrastructures (subjectivization practices and mechanisms)?
he was doing some pretty serious thinking about cultivating habits (learning how by doing, and doing as co-operating) and set up an experimental lab/school because he knew that working with kids was vital, sadly he was pretty naive about politics/progress as was the trend of the time but for a onetime Hegelian to get so deep into Darwin/anthropology/psychology was groundbreaking, plus he had a role for imagination/aesthetics (to be tested in experiments) in his ethics as well as rigorous reflection.