If delirium becomes our law, let us wear a subterranean nimbus, a crown in our fall. Dethroned from this world let us carry its scepter in order to honor the night with a new splendor.
To survive, not to live, or, not living, to maintain oneself, without life, in a state of pure supplement, movement of substitution for life, but rather to arrest dying…
Some will be patches of lived anarchy, some of horrible conflicts, some empires, some freedoms, and, of course, unimaginable weirdness.
It seethes and screams: A paralyzed witness to the chiseling of the topographies of tomorrow as the current jigsaw of the planet melts into charred and submerged landscapes, landscapes sculpted by an unwavering ‘heat’ that enshrouds us in the pell-mell of the present. It is a heat that propels new seizures of territories and invasions, as nations are aligning their gaze firmly on the goldmine in the Arctic Circle. The churning waters and rapidly disappearing glacier tides are beckoning the next battlefield over future shipping lanes, minerals, hydrocarbon excavation rights, and bases. It is a heat that bubbles in the cauldron of our contemporary Metropolis, now engulfed in demonstrations and uprisings, awakening us to a taste of the oncoming ‘New Normal’: a morphing geopolitical configuration that unravels in the wake of Climate Breakdown.
A preview of this ‘New Normal’ has been projected and felt by populations, as we have bore witness to both the deluge of studies and cataclysmic events that are anticipated to intensify through an onslaught of storms, forest fires, droughts, coral bleaching, heat waves or floods. The recent 2018 IPCC’s Special Report 1.5 Celsius report and Fourth Climate Change Assessment published last October and November respectively, have issued dire forecasts of what looms in the horizon for the upcoming 12 years, where estimates that a .5 Celsius increase will catapult us into an era of turbulent tipping points. Yet, this deluge of data modeling, projections, charts, and graphs are grappling with a ceaseless torrent of new, revised, or off the mark findings, where our original projections are defanged by the escalation of realities routing around our capacity to grasp, ‘dissenting’ from the human security system’s ability to exactly capture and predict when and if our reckoning comes sooner than later. Caught within the spidery throes of uncertainty and risk, we find ourselves further submerged in the whirlpool of systems, complexities, and orders of magnitudes that are beyond the mere register of Sapien perception. The uncanny effects of Global Weirding and the breach of the Human Security System or its inability to stabilize and steer in the slag of the Anthropocene bends it to the occulted will of The ‘Weird’ or The ‘wyrd’. It is a weird that as Timothy Morton describes “strange of appearance; weirdness means the turning of causality.” The unwinding of hidden, distributed, and strange loops once occulted beyond spatio-temporal manifestation, are awakening us to discover we are within the skein of bio, ecological, and climate entanglements. The skein of the Weird weaves different fates and realities as what might be felt spatially and temporally for populations underlines the asymmetry of Global Weirding’s effects, where impacts are differentially distributed and felt.
Weirding is what cut, cracks, gurgles, seethes and splinters. What plays behind the shadows of Climate Weirding, becomes masked through a dancing dissonance, an inexplicable divide between experience and appearance, between expectation and occurrence, a convulsion between the fast and slow tempos of unexpected events or the incapacity to properly prepare for the catastrophe. Climate Weirding plays for us both the overture of a slow and fast violence, importantly a violence where twisted and converged temporalities also appears as “a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all.”[i]This mask of a violence that vacillates at various speeds of detection and impact, render visible how the loops of weird time loops are also what holds populations hostage to the array of toxins, chemicals and reactants that are now the potent arbiters between life and death. It is this Necropolitical regime that entangles us in the experience of “death-worlds”, microcosmic worlds where the scale between life and death boils down to atomic reactivity and bonding, that triggers heating, slowing streams, melting solids, and containerizing us within the inescapable planetary sphere. It is in the containerized planet where the ‘body as a site’ is not merely subject to administration and regulation, yet is “somatized into cellular dramas of mutation” where it can “persist for a long time, in the form of human shapes that are alive, to be sure, but whose bodily integrity has been replaced by pieces, fragments, folds, even immense wounds that are difficult to close.”[ii] These pieces, fragments, folds, and even immense wounds are not merely the catalog of human infliction, yet also the Global Body Politics’ close to fatal corrosion through Climate Breakdown.
Fatality becomes possible through the Global Body Politic’s literal decomposition, where the circulation of infectious diseases, increased food insecurity, heat waves and water levels and migration surges are bound to imperil the legitimacy and stability of governing bodies. The torsional effects of Climate Breakdown hack away and indent new jagged formations in our geopolitical landscape, where a governing body now discovers and shifts to incarnate in new spectral forms.
This BodyPolitic ‘s changing incarnation also becomes testament to the increasing integration of ‘Sovereignty as Software’ or ‘Software as Sovereignty’ as Benjamin Bratton has identified. It is this phasing into spectral or Cloud form that we observe becoming realized through the accouterments of satellite tracking, real-time event data-tracking designed for monitoring the faint rumblings of unrest and surveillance augment the extraordinary capacity for forms of governance to forecast, morph and respond through various softwares and applications. We see an armamentarium of electro-chemical, quantum, laser and computational tools that will be able to scourge every nook and cranny of the earth, an earth already rendered as Gregoire Chamayou contends into a ‘digital manhunt reserve’. Compounded by the intensified building up of a Fortress World, ushered through the expansion and construction of 51 new walls since World War II, we find also the hemming in of possibilities for mobility and safe haven.[iii]
What Multitudes or Denizens will mobilize becomes aggravated through the confluence of water scarcity, crop failure and rising sea levels are estimated to displace 143 million people by 2050 just among three internal regions (Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America). [iv]‘The migrant’ becomes the precedent figure of the 21st century, whether embattled by the Great Deluge or the expanding Deserts, or the makeshift habitat of the Urban Slum, the countenance is undoubtedly a future where swathes of populations will populate uninhabitable wild zones and fringes. It could be an earth dotted further rotting into a diffused alignment of slums, makeshift encampments, where bands of roving individuals seek out any semblance of secure habitat. It could be habitats debasing into the throes of a survivalist jungle, or the shudders of a Kaplanesque shanty-town teeming with Neo-tribalistic enclaves and guzzling in an era of ‘diesel punk’ warped landscapes abraded by stinging and apocalyptic dust. Here, the significance of what semblance of ‘politics’ will survive and extend its reach into the future awaits a critical evaluation of what is deemed as the possible scenarios that engineer the ‘could be’.
How and what is wrenched from this space of the present towards those futures remains to be seen, yet the scenarios such as envisioned through Geoff Mann’s and Joel Wainwright’s book Climate Leviathan attempts to further etch out the contours of the ensemble of players and policies that are bound to take shape. Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright conceive of four scenarios that envision how Climate could reconfigure our current geo-political map, and crucially if the ‘capitalist status quo’ will impel a colossal effort to secure planetary scale management through recourse to States of Emergency. Their concept of a Climate Leviathan still retains the trappings of green capitalism, where faltering yet intact Nation States “would declare an emergency, and decide who may emit carbon and who cannot. This sovereign must be planetary in a dual sense: capable of acting both at the planetary scale (since climate change is understood as a massive collective action problem) and in the name of planetary management—for the sake of life on Earth.”[v] Yet, the magnitude and steamrolling of the Chinese State is considered to inhere the possibilities of a ‘Climate Mao’ at once transcending the stranglehold of Green-Capitalism, as we see it saddling the role to combat against desertification through its Great Green Wall “which, if successfully completed,will cross 4,480 kilometers of northern China, and various tree-planting programs that will purportedly give the country 42 percent forest cover by 2050. Further displaying its determination China, has also promised to apply the “iron hand” to the task of reducing emissions, the Communist Party closed more than 2,000 steel mills and other carbon-emitting factories by March 2011.ibid However, the transcension of Capital engineered by China appears highly unlikely, rather its form of Green-Capitalism currently contends with a Climate Behemoth.
The scenario of ‘Climate Behemoth’ epitomized by the reactionary currents of authoritarian denialism captures what has swept through the Americas’ Axis, where the Trump and Bolsonaro Administrations are oiling up the War-Machine of drilling. Furthermore, ramping up efforts to circumvent, license, and annul climate agreements, auctioning carbon sinks to logging companies as recently underlined through Bolsanaro’s leasing of the Amazon and recent executive order to transfer the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry.[vi] Mann and Wainwright finally invite us to consider Climate X, one that still harbors the possibility of siphoning away from the inexorable pathway towards extinction, one that moves hearkens a Marxist tenor to ‘abolish the present state of things’, and nurture the prospects of grassroots local-scaled democratic movements that carve out an alternative to inevitability.
Even with the recent surge of global mobilization orchestrated by a transnational front, where the constellation of an estimated 6,000 cities, states and regions and 2,000 companies that have issued pledges representing 7% of the global population, a sobering realization still spills into the mobilized efforts that are attempting to lubricate the gears of ratcheting pressure on government and cities.[vii]Fundamentally, it compels interrogating how much the mechanisms of ‘voice’ mobilized on the streets can reverberate in the halls of parliaments or ring hollow as the mirage and pabulum of annual conferences are already proving that the follow through on carbon commitments are virtually non-existent. Non-Existence substantiated by the fact that only sixteen countries out of the 197 that have signed the Paris Agreement have defined national climate action plan ambitious enough to meet their pledges.[viii]
Pledges or No-Pledges, the lurking reality that the wicked scent of disaster also propels its profiteers and speculators to capitalize on shaping breakdown. The slew of investors purchasing vast tracts of land near the coastal regions, already smell the scent of property-value spike to house and bet on the wave of displaced owners. While the disturbing questions concerning the maintenance of stability and loyalty to wealthy bunker owners has among security forces has also been brought to the spotlight by Douglas Rushkoff. Rushkoff’s disquieting account of his recent invitation to counsel Hedge Funders inquiring about how to maintain loyalty among their security force in their private bunkers once the value of stable currency dissolves.[ix] Even if the tinge of apocalypticism seems remote for those still relatively immunized from the disastrous impacts of breakdown presently, it doesn’t negate understanding the tiny accumulations that unfold in the warp and weft of our networked situatedness.
What is brought to relief becomes our globalized roles as ‘logistical subjects’. Our connected, hyperlinked and nodal ontologies are embedded among a vast web of signals, transmissions and terminals that increasingly anchor and integrate our physical and psychic beings within these infrastructural flows. How these infrastructural flows are subject to and determiners of the dynamics of supply-chain dependency, stokes consideration of how the degradation of the environment punctures at the heart of our sense of ‘security’ and well-being, as the welterof our interconnected globalized system fractures. It is not a matter of advocating for the path of switching off-the grid, as the transposability of these technologies vary according to local conditions that don’t necessarily secure populations against the face of unpredictable climatic effects. Rather, it speaks to the significance of further digging into the inextricable relationship betweendependency and security, as security in the name of dependency further escalates our globalized vulnerability, as we see our current definition of ‘security’ is measured by the continuous supply, availability and reliability of depleting energy flows.
Vulnerability attests to the colossal weight of the bundled process, logics, codes, hardwares, grids and industrial apparatus that are contingent upon the modus operandi of an uninterrupted energy source as a reflection of security maintenance. We can reference Kris De Decker’s take on the issues afflicting the definition of Energy Security and particularly the indicators and expectations of continuity and “reliability” of power grids in industrial societies is justified by calculating the “value of lost load” (VOLL), which compares the financial loss due to power shortages to the extra investment costs to avoid these shortages. However, the value of lost load is highly dependent on how society is organised. The more it depends on electricity, the higher the financial losses due to power shortages will be.”[x] Fundamentally, how one recalibrates and reflects upon these dependencies becomes ever more acute, as our expectation structures are bound to be disrupted through anticipated impacts incurred by Climate Breakdown. Therefore, if strategies could be adopted, we find it nurtured on a psychosocial level as laid out by Jem Bendell through his conception of ‘relinquishment’ that provides us a “consideration how we must proceed to inoculate ourselves to a world that entails communities letting go of certain assets, behaviors and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawing from coastlines, shutting down vulnerable industrial facilities, or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption.”[xi] Thus, it is primarily how a vigilance and anticipation of our need to socially and psychologically recalibrate, rescale, and attend to the implications of our embeddedness among the gradual withering of social and government structures that further ferments the need for bottom-up resilience models.
Here, ‘Patchwork’ reignites the long-standing debate revolving around the glacial response and engagement from the ossified nation-state operating system. The common threads that have woven the recent surge in Patchwork has mishmashed together the ranks of crypto enthusiasts, programmers, investors and libertarians that are plotting and yarning together the tomorrows that herd in a world fomenting the lines towards secession, fragmentation, and ‘exit’. A world that has bore labels such as neocamerialism points to a direction of businesses handed the reigns of purchasing and owning states and even countries that are converted as property under a CEO-state. Business supersedes the weak-hand of liberal democratic doxa, stamping in the cut-throat militancy and operation of states as market(s) competing for residents and customers in exchange for services. Its unashamed distaste for the perceived empty ritual of representative and liberal-democracy shortsightedness, pandering to finicky citizens, becomes swapped for the program of techno-commercial innovation that shreds away the fetters of demos regulation. Rather, these formations or network kinship models emanate from the circuits of techno-commercialistic ventures cluster towards the ‘cold tribalism’ of evolving markets and protocols. Thus, the continual incentive for retaining loyalty among users reckons with the prospect of ‘hard forking’ or ‘exiting’ which ideally necessitates intensifying the feedback effect of testing whether protocols take heed to remediate perceived dissatisfaction or fizzle through opting-out.
Yet, Patchwork isn’t merely the newfangled brainchild of Twitter and blogosphere kin that has propagated its surge of interest, as we find its historical and contemporary lineaments incarnated in the likes of confederated territories of the Holy Roman Empire, Iceland Alþingi, The varieties of Monastic Traditions etc. Perhaps, we can see the semblance of Patchworks of today functioning on the interstices of State-Power i.e. Special Economic Zones and proposed Charter Cities, the sea also beckons a frontier for platformed or archipelago based governance that still looms in the blurred zone of Statehood licensing and regulation as epitomized by The Seasteading’s Institute recent endeavor and falling-through with French Indonesia.
It is also the encrypted architectures and communities or the ‘Diaspora to the Cloud’ that has enticed further interest in exploring the possibility space of Patchwork engineering or decoupling from the lock-in of Nation-State Governance. The Diaspora here consists of a motley of protocols, forks, and governance approaches that are generating schemas such as ‘Decentralized Borderless Voluntary Nations’ as conceived by BitNation. Incentivizing the construction of constitutions, legal codes, economic models and a scope of services offered, BitNation aspires to offer a model where embryonic governance schemes compete for citizens as customers. It has also at the same time attempted to address the precarity of issues such as statelessness and the tuft of licenses that hamstring emigration, obtaining citizenship, individual cross-border trade, etc. Arrangements such as BitNation’s issuing of Blockchain Emergency ID in 2015 spurred by the Syrian crisis, where displacement and needed documentation became increasingly underlined as figures presently estimate 1 and 7 persons globally are displaced from their home. [xii]
Perhaps, this is what warrants consideration about the latest evolution in Patchwork, as it has been retinkered and imported into ecological and post-sustainable territory. Yet, Patchwork’s latest iteration also derives its lineage from municipalism that inheres the common threads of decentralization, deevolution, and communalism that retain a needed scale-linking bioregional approach. Respectively, it is SyntheticZero’s Aaron Crawford’s and Michael James whose ‘Deeply Adaptive Patchworking’ and ‘SalvagePatch’ retune the focus for “mitigating and adapting to reality after the disintegration of our fantasies. Without that awareness, patchwork risks becoming just another way to insulate ourselves from reality.”[xiii]
Michael James’s recent conception of ‘A Salvage Patch’, cut from the torn fabric of Evan Calder William’s ‘SalvagePunk’ attempts to rescale in the hapless motor of the present as James posits Salvage Patch “activates interests and skills rooted in survival, compromise, pragmatism, agility, and utility… while promoting the ‘letting go’ of obsolete social and psychological attachments, and previous dependencies on large-scale and mid-range economic processes that no longer exist.”[xiv]What flickers in the chimeric spectacle of Climate Breakdown entails generating ecosystems of practices, diagnostics, and low-tech feedback mechanisms that afford the capacity of reshaping and wedding software and appliances within our niches that enable updates in forecasting and revising extant strategies for coping.
Here, SalvagePatch according to James dovetails a bioregional focus that maps out “the hydrology, geography, vegetation, bioproductivity, climatology, the histories of places, biodiversity maps, infrastructure of our local economy.”[xv]Examples derived from the artist Paul Chaney also illustrate the use of software applications to enable the capacity to critically project and monitor a selected land patch to estimate spatial, dietary and habitual regimes necessary for sustenance. [xvi] Also, it gives consideration to the dormant possibilities that lie in disputed land titles as shown through HM Land Registry, inviting a push to claim, regenerate, defend and innovate on those landpatches. SalvagePatch crops up on both proximal and translocal scales, wedding itself to a bioregionalism that takes into account the need for intelligible sense-making that accounts for our uncanny ‘sense of placement.’ This encompasses taking into an account a needed consideration for a shift to ‘Circular Biomaterials Economies’ arise as vital elements will gradually drain along distribution networks and supply chains, a future reliant on the remaining abundance of CHON becomes our means to manufacture and produce our materialities. (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen) [xvii]
Yet, SalvagePatch isn’t merely anchoring us into a resilient mode or resignation into the makeshift encampment, it strives also to cultivate regenerative strategies nurturing novel habits that attempt to continually attune us to our niche-constructions. SalvagePatches will branch into different physical and socio-psycho configurations due to physiographic features, resources, maintenance capabilities, behavioural and attributional selections. Therefore, the organicity and bottom-up dimensions of SalvagePatch pushes an impetus towards imagination, mutualism, resourcefulness, and collaboration that crucially experiments and innovates on the mantra of ‘connectivity and integration’. This mantra is understood as experimenting between internal and external borders, that either invite greater connectivity on grounds of resource sharing and exchange or maintaining the impulse of ‘disintegrative connectivity’ that still panders to also a necessary need for “creating potentials of joining and separating from a variety of groups, appealing right down to a philosophy and aesthetics of the nomad.” [xviii] Thus, how we engineer our topologies for a transitional mapping towards tomorrow also stresses the need for cultivating and offering new vectors of subjectivity to ease into these new arrangements. Fostering the practices that ease us into the new phase-shift of preparation must enable new moulds, new patches, new epistemologies.
Ultimately, SalvagePatch isn’t merely the embrace of the dregs of ‘collapse’, yet ‘a wyrd to come’, sowing the seeds of possible regeneration among the flotsam of past and present residue that will seep into our next phase of an ‘Earth to come’.
[i] Dora Ramirez-Dhoore; Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Volume 19, Issue 2, 1 September 2012, Pages 424–425,
[ii] Mbembe, A. 2003. Necropolitics. Public Culture 15 (1):11–40. doi:10.1215/08992363-15-1-11
[iii] Barriers to Entry: Who Builds Fortified Boundaries and Why? Ron E. Hassner and Jason Wittenberg International Security 2015 Vol. 40, 157-190
[ix] Rushkoff, Douglas, and Douglas Rushkoff. “Survival of the Richest – Future Human – Medium.” Medium.com, Medium, 25 Aug. 2018, medium.com/s/futurehuman/survival-of-the-richest-9ef6cddd0cc1.
[x] “Keeping Some of the Lights On: Redefining Energy Security.” LOW←TECH MAGAZINE, 8 Dec. 2018, solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2018/12/keeping-some-of-the-lights-on-redefining-energy-security.html.
[xi] Bendell, Jem (2018) Deep Adaptation: a map for navigating climate tragedy.Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) Occasional Papers Volume 2. University of Cumbria, Ambleside, UK. (Unpublished)
[xvii] Wahl, Daniel Christian, and Daniel Christian Wahl. “Regionally Focussed Circular Biomaterials Economies: An Idea Whose Time Has Come!” Medium.com, Medium, 27 Mar. 2017, medium.com/activate-the-future/regionally-focussed-circular-biomaterials-economies-an-idea-whose-time-has-come-e19d3f9d674d.
[xviii] axxonnhorror, Author. “Connective Disintegration.” Axxon N. Horror, 21 May 2018, axxonnhorror.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/connective-disintegration/.