26.3.14

Terms and Conditions May Apply

10.3.14

Peter Liechti's "Kick That Habit" (1989, Switz.)



Drawing on trace elements of Jazz and Arte Povera, Swiss duo Andy Guhl and Norbert Möslang use a range of cracked everyday electronic equipment to create abstract sound environments. Alongside free improvisation, they've devoted over 30 years to obsessively fathoming the potential of generative composition by analogue, non-computer-steered systems for their Voice Crack project.

Peter Liechti's Kick That Habit is set to be a music film classic - its artful, cinematically unique sequences transcend the usual parameters of documentary.

8.3.14

Luciana Parisi and Tiziana Terranova's Interview on "Crowd, Power and Post-democracy in the 21st Century @ Obsolete Capitalism


Luciana Parisi and Tiziana Terranova's interview on digital populism and recent European political phenomena, held on 11 December 2013 with the author of  Obsolete Capitalism and this blog. Previous interviews were held with: Parikka, Newman, Sampson, Choat, Toscano e Berti; and in Italian: Parikka, Newman, Sampson, Choat, Berti, Parisi & Terranova , Godani.


 EDIT: Download, read or share Parisi and Terranova's interview  from here, in PDF format  All interviews on digital populism - in English language - are collected into a single file HERE. It's available "Nascita del populismo digitale. Masse, potere e postdemocrazia nel XXI secolo" e.book (Obsolete Capitalism Freepress): free download HERE!


Crowd, Power and Post-democracy in the 21st Century


Rural fascism and city or neighborhood fascism, youth fascism and war veteran's fascism... fascism of the couple, family, school, and office. Only the micro-fascism can answer the global question: "why does desire long for its repression? how can it desires its very own repression?"
—Gilles Deleuze, Fèlix Guattari, A thousand plateaus, pg.271

    On the micro-fascism
    Obsolete Capitalism Let us start from the analysis Wu Ming set out in their brief essay Grillismo: Yet another right-wing cult coming from Italy and which interprets Grillo’s Five Star Movement as a new authoritarian right-wing faction. Why did the desire for change of much of the electorate long once again for its very repression? We seem to witness the re-affirmation of Wilhelm Reich’s thought: at a given moment in history the masses wanted fascism. The masses have not been deceived: they have understood very well the danger of authoritarianism; but they have voted it anyway. Even more worrying is that the authoritarian Berlusconi's Freedom People (PDL) and Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5S) conquer more than half of the Italian electorate together. A very similar situation arose in the UK in May 2013, with the UKIP’s exploit in the latest local elections. Why and in what measure are the toxins of authoritarianism and micro-fascism present in contemporary European society?
Luciana Parisi We first of all need to understand whether micro-fascism is intended as a desire of repression, and thus of negativity, or in cybernetics terms of opposing order to entropy, or as a dissemination of entropy. One has to engage with the idea of entropy itself to understand this notion of micro-fascism. Let’s assume that entropy is to information as chaos is to order, or as death drive is to life or to the self-organizing ability of a body (whether social, biological, cultural). Let’s then frame the thermodynamic thesis that informs the idea of micro-fascism. From the standpoint of thermodynamics, micro-fascism is an insane distribution of the desire for destruction, rather than creation (considered positive by many). This gap between creation and destruction upon which the concept of micro-fascism you are referring to is built, is, at best, limiting and, applied to political movements, fails to see the trajectories of micro-fascism in terms of the tension between energy and information. Not in terms of the way, according to the mathematical theory of information, information overcomes noise (and the energetic tendency of a system to collapse), but rather in relation to emergence of new information dynamisms that ignore the perspective of a subject longing for its repression. Instead, micro-fascism could be conceived as the production of new dynamisms, almost counter-entropies, which do not coincide with organic energy. I would then commence by asking what kind of entropy are we talking about, and what can it tell us about political movements at a different level of analysis. Micro-fascism does not necessarily translate to a desire for repression understood in terms of death drive. As Deleuze and Guattari anticipated, the issue of desire is by no means settled into a kind of Freudian scheme based on a thermodynamic conception of the principle of pleasure. If it is not just a desire of repression, micro-fascism, or the entropic force that invests the subject from within, when distributed on a social level - and entangled to the geology of the earth and of the human - becomes part of an acceleration of desire, a new kind of nihilism, which returns power to those neutralized by power. Aside from resorting to the fallacies of criticism - where technology is often synonymous with technocracy - there is another way, perhaps, to understand this micro-fascism, that is the forces longing for repression may also be liberating energies for a subject historically neutralized by the political organization and representation of parties whose political programs are but a script. This acceleration of desire can be defined both in terms of a futurist ‘war-machine’ – and its micro-fascists overtones - and in its overlap with the ‘war-machine’ of Deleuze and Guattari, where speed becomes a crucial attribute of a politics that needs to be understood in its complexity.



Tiziana Terranova Luciana has rightly emphasized the need to rethink what Deleuze and Guattari meant with the concept of micro-fascism, what conception of the relationship between desiring energy and information it is grounded on and how important it is not to collapse micro- fascism into fascism tout court.

Perhaps this is the reason why the interpretation of grillism by Wu Ming left me cold from the beginning. I think it is different for Forza Italia and Berlusconi: in that case there was a much more direct transfer of the figure of Mussolini on Berlusconi, with a confluence of a certain neo-fascist imaginary and even organizations on this figure. At the same time, however, it is undeniable that there are authoritarian elements in the Five Star Movement. The anger of Grillo and of those who voted for him can be seen perhaps as micro-fascist according in the sense given to the term by Luciana: a nihilism that can reestablish strength to those who have been subjected to the power. All this anger is absolutely justified. How could it be otherwise after decades of television and media that - despite censorship - have fairly accurately reported all the scandals, the corruption, the connivance and complicity in the enormous extraction of wealth in Italy today, as well as (although this is often obscured by the national media) in Europe and the rest of the world? In the rhetorical verbal style of many leaders of the movement we can feel roughly expressed anger and contempt and this is what in the eyes of many people - especially the center-left democratic ones - makes them 'fascists'. Sergio Bologna was one of the first to argue that the 5 Star Movement is heir to a genre of investigative journalistic program such as “Report” or to books about the cliques running the economy. According to the most successful 'left-wing democratic’ commentators this situation should have pushed voters into the arms of the only possible alternative: democratic reformism, basically a leftist version of neo-liberalism. From that political area in fact much energy had been invested to define as extremists or fascists all those who escape or exceed its political approach. This democratic reformism has been repeatedly beaten at the polls and the Democratic Party together with the press and media of the same political area have accused of fascism and populism any form of politics that exceeded theirs (the demonization, in the sense Stanley Cohen gave to radical community centers, of the No Tav movement, of occupations, of environmental protests, etc.). Certainly there is a line that Grillo and his blog-readers have absorbed from the mainstream media: the idea that corruption is considered an Italian problem; as we are used to thinking that the 'others' (the 'civilized ones' - the Germans, the British, the Scandinavians and the Americans) send corrupt people to jail and have better politics. Grillo has not been able to get free from the discourse constructed by newspapers like “Repubblica” which continually pose Europe and the United States as 'normal countries' compared to Italy. But I do not agree with the way the Five Star Movement has been stereotyped as made of “bad” or “incompetent” people and hence as an expression of a generalized micro-fascism that converges to the body and the voice of a leader. It seems to me that this is an attempt to bring all that is new back to something already seen and taken for granted. The 5 Star Movement has expressed a widespread anger towards a corruption which is not identifiable with one or another political party but towards the political parliamentary spectrum tout court. The movement has gone to vote not to mediate, but to take power and reshape parliamentary politics. It has tried a kind of a hack of the parliamentary politics, whereas more left-wing social movements have given up for years, because they have been focusing on the need to establish new institutions, which would avoid the traditional mechanisms of political representation. This hack, or break in the mechanism has until now (luckily or unluckily - we can not say) failed and so - rather than fall into mediation - the movement has preferred to bring a kind of guerilla warfare to Parliament. A brilliant example is the episode of the 5SM senator who introduced the amendment for the abolition of the crime of illegal immigration.

Starting from a total lack of confidence in the existing parties the elected representatives of 5SM who went to power with the mandate to depose all politicians - “all back home” is a common theme - acted like players in a football match. Taking advantage of the opening of a gap in the tight defenses of the enemy around the issue of migration, which were weakened by the disruptive emotional effect of the massacre of migrants in the sea of Lampedusa a few days earlier, scored a ‘goal’. However, only a day later, the leader, Grillo rejected the position of his senator and of many of his movement. He argued that if the abolition of the crime of illegal immigration had been part of the program before the election, they would have never been voted in with the massive percentage that we have seen. Grillo seems to see his voters as fundamentally Italian citizens whose interests are opposed to those of two different social groups: politicians and civil servants on the one side, but also - less explicitly - the immigrants. That is to say the parasites linked to the state-machine on the one hand and the uncontrolled migratory flows on the other. Putting politicians, civil servants and migrants on the same level is to create the image of a citizen that overlaps with that of the 'employer'. In “Berlusconism” the employer - that is he who owns the money and the capital providing work and wealth to the social body - is made absolute in the figure of Berlusconi. Grillo scatters this power of the ultimate employer distributing it onto the figure of the Italian citizen who works and pays taxes and becomes the employer of politicians and civil servants and looks at the immigrant only in terms of the economic advantages or disadvantages to the national economy. This is why he can also gain votes from the electorate of the Northern League although his program does not take on its most truculent traits. Another element of 5SM which might be called authoritarian is without doubt the relationship with the “programme” and the “web”. Grillo's blog has established over the years an audience to which he daily recounts the corruption of politics and of Italian capitalism, proposing them an alternative vision of an ecological and technological future sustained by a green decentralized technology based on the active involvement of “citizens”. It is no coincidence that Grillo supported the disputes in Naples against the incinerator or the reclamation of lands poisoned by toxic waste, as well as the “No Tav” movement against the construction of a high speed train line in Northern Italy. But it seems that the only way to achieve these results for the M5S is to undergo the strict discipline programme decided by the web. To this extent the web, supervised by the algorithms to prevent infiltrations, becomes a single entity whose differences and oppositions can be resolved by voting. According to Grillo the deputies should ideally be like the masks of Anonymous: the pure expression of a general will produced by the web. So the web becomes the people with a unified will and the 5 Star-MPs their avatars. The result is a flattening onto what is already there, a bending to massified opinion, an asphyxiation of dissent and invention. But even so, we can not see it uniquely as a right-wing authoritarian movement but as a chaotic container that the voice of Grillo can not fully represent nor hold. In short it seems to me that the 5SM represents a set of differences with respect to the composition of the left, which in some cases becomes fully an opposition and therefore produces conflict (on the issue of migration, on the public/private relationship, etc.) and in other cases only remains an overlapping. But the real problem for those who do not want to get caught in the bipolar opposition between two parties is the composition (and not the mediation) of the differences. To be clear, in the mediation everyone gives something to reach a “median” compromise while in the composition it is required the activation of the invention, the introduction of new elements; the composition works on the micro-fascist nihilism in a transformative and therefore constituent way.


    1919, 1933, 2013. On the crisis
    OC In 2008 Slavoj Zizek said that when the normal run of things is traumatically interrupted, the field is open for a ‘discursive’ ideological competition. In Germany in the early 1930s Hitler won the competition to determine which narrative would explain the reasons for the crisis of the Weimar Republic — the Jewish conspiracy and the corruption of political parties. Zizek ends his reflection by stating that the expectations of the radical left to get scope for action and gain consent may be deceptive as populist or racist formations will prevail: the Greek Golden Dawn, the Hungarian Fidesz, the French Front National, the UK Independence Party are examples. Italy has had farcical groups such as the Lega Nord or the recent Five Star Movement, a bizarre rassemblement that seems to combine Reverend Jones People's Temple with Syriza, or ‘revolutionary boyscoutism’ with the disciplinarism of the societies of control. How can one escape the crisis? What discursive, possibly-winning narratives should be developed? Are the typically Anglo-Saxon neo-Keynesian politics an answer or, on the countrary, is it the new authoritarian populism that will prevail?
LP  I want to pause on the idea of crisis. Historically, the political analysis of the crisis was based on a negentropic conception of capital and its effect on society. The ability to transform energetic forces can be understood in terms of the evolution of a system towards a destructive creation or even a destructive destruction. The crisis is therefore understood as a moment that leads to a new level of re-territorialisation flowing into racism, but also sexism — Italy is rich of examples in which the crisis ‘justifies’ the repetition of political alliances against politics of identity. As a result, some say that the so-called political fragments – such as gender issues, transsexuality, ecological movements, animal-rights groups – fail to see the urgency of self-constituting into a unified political program that could propose an alternative to the narrative of the economic crisis of capital. However, I think that the call for a fundamental belonging to the working class is also a symptom of the repression that affects not only the differences, but also the radical immanence of the production of inconsistent societies whose sense of unity lies in the incommensurable core of the parts. Rather than a politics of differences, or of continuous differentiation of the socius – for many just a symptom of a political spiritualism incapable of facing the dominion of the economic crisis (that's why the primary assumption of the working class should be kept) – let’s perhaps look at the proliferation of fractal realities in-between and within movements. Movements which are then united by fractality rather than by the uniqueness of identity. This means that it is necessary to come back again to the matrices of antisexism and antiracism as moment zero of invention - in the sense that a theoretical practice and a practical theory are needed - that breaks the identification of the 'crisis' with the 'economic crisis' and the resulting consequences deriving from this equivalence: to escape the crisis we must go through a representative reconstitution. Cartographies of reconstitution that do not fit with the homogeneous discourse of delegation can be created. In fact, these cartographies may also produce another type of representation by working within it, instead of against it.

If the crisis is no longer just a negentropic moment, which on the one hand leads to the primary reconstitution of narratives and on the other to a fragmentation of movements, which lack a real political value, then what else can be crisis? I think that, once again, it should be thought of in a scientific, rather than political, manner: crisis as a 'collapse', as the inability to limit all given conditions in one axiom. Within this frame, it is important to understand how what we call the ‘algorithmic calculation’ of capital has changed, being a fundamental of its political rationality and of the way it dealt with the collapse of 2008. This algorithmic calculation does not follow finite and predetermined axioms, in that the response to x can only be z, and everything is expected, included and predetermined. Alternatively, capital seems to run on a quasi-axiomatic function, according to which the rules are constantly shifting as in response to external changes. We find the same logic at work in the interactive paradigm, in which the axioms have also become dynamic and interchangeable, and above all open to the computation of contingencies. I'm not excluding that calculation is still working in a completely closed axiomatic way, but I stress the importance of understanding that since Alan Turing the discovery of the incomputable, that is the inability of a system to contain all its forms, has fostered a culture of programmability that deciphers the crisis as unconditional condition of the calculation. In the context of computational capital today we see that the limit of calculation has become an infinite that can be (computationally) calculated. Rather than the crisis and its representation, we could speak about the crisis as a topological constant underlying both the calculation of capital - which includes the way in which emotions are transformed into work - and the fractal unity of political movement.




TT   I think that compared to the 1930s we are faced with a truly infinite multiplication - in fact I would say almost infinitesimal (Luciana would say incomputable, which is not the same thing) - of the desires and aspirations of this socius and at the same time a terrible worsening of the crisis that prevents these desires from being realized. The logic of economic calculation, interest, competitiveness, and the ensuing widespread impoverishment seem to have a strong grip on the present, but we must not think that they necessarily exhaust the future. I’m speaking about the desire of a life relieved from the blackmail of work and precarity, through for example the institution of a guaranteed minimum income or about the idea of a common-fare (such as that proposed by Carlo Vercellone and Andrea Fumagalli) as the basis of an anthropogenic economy which sees the development of emotional relationships and the care of self and others as central. I am also thinking about the widespread need for a new relationship with the earth, the body, food, sexuality or about new forms of spirituality or new way of producing objects that do not depend on the semi-slavery of the factory, and again I’m thinking about a free movement of bodies beyond borders, about the heterogeneity of life-styles that modifies the traditional structure of the families and dwelling...

All these desires and aspirations are urged by the political rationality of neoliberal capitalism that encourages us to continually 'work on ourselves' and to desire, to pursue our desires and affirm our beliefs, but at the same time these aspirations are frustrated by the commercial logic, the extension of the working time, the debt trap, poverty and communication platforms whose only aim is the maximization of profit.

We are prisoners of a privatized currency generated by a type of calculation that can not allocate resources in such a way as to allow us to build our own worlds including the space and the time we need to expand these desires and to experience the ways to socialize them. For this reason I like how the post-workerists have emphasized not only the need to create new narratives but also new institutions able to make these desiring processes substantial, which - in opposition to the logic of private and public - they call institutions of the common. Many of these aspirations and desires are present in a movement like the 5SM but they are trapped in the logic of information and opinion and therefore struggle to produce self-training, in-depth analysis, cooperation and invention. If this matter is relegated to something that is inessential, because it belongs to culture and not to the real of the economy, or if we think that these desires can be fully captured by a unified narrative, we will not be able to understand that they can constitute the machinic infrastructure - as Guattari would say - from which a new political rationality and new ways of life could emerge.
    On the organisation
    OC In his La Peste brune Daniel Guérin argues that the conquest of Hitler’s power in Germany in 1933 occurred primarily due to "micro-organizations giving him "an unequaled, irreplaceable ability to penetrate every cell of society." The movement of Mr. Grillo has branched into society thanks to the territorial formula of meet-ups borrowed directly from the American politician Howard Dean (see Wired). However the movement is even different from the meet-ups: is it possible to propose an analysis of its escalation as a new-energy carrier in swirling mutation (Félix Guattari would have called it "the absolute motion” of Grillo-machine)? What segments, threads, streams, leaps and heterodoxies make up Grillo’s abstract war machine?

TT
Of course I could be wrong because everything seems to change very quickly, but right now I don’t see this whirling mutation, nor I see an increase in the “grilline cells”. On the contrary it seems to me that parliamentary life might have subtracted energy to the Meetup. According to me this is the biggest limitation of the 5SM: their opposition to politics is so strong that it can become an obstacle to a real self-organization of knowledge and of desires in terms of co-research and of self-education.

From the outside, it seems to me that Grillo’s Movement has grown thanks to a convergence of television, networks, squares, and localism based on medium-small cities rather than on larger cities: TV for his popularity as TV character (although he has not been directly on tv for many years) and for the continuous effect of programs such as Report, Servizio Pubblico, Presa Diretta etc.; the web, which in the form of a blog, has collected the militant activists; the towns for the Meetup organization and the environmental local initiatives. This circuit, which already contained as a limit the adherence to a speech that identified corruption as the cause and not as the symptom of the 'misgovernment', seems at the moment to be stuck in the Parliament. The shove hasn’t occurred and the movement is running the risk to transform itself into another party while its supporting audience might deflate. The question now is: where are the energies and the will to change (that have been channeled into 5SM or better that have looked out onto politics through the movement) going? The crisis is very hard and is impoverishing a large part of the population that is oppressed by exploitation, taxation and debt at the same time. In my opinion these energies are in a state of uncertainty and fluctuation. Using Gabriel Tarde’s words they have been magnetized by Grillo at the moment, but where will they go in the future? Who will catch this social energy next? To me this is not clear at the moment. It does not seem now that Italy has been much involved in neo-fascist movements as other European countries, even if the presence of ultra-right organizations, signalled in the strike called for December 9th 2013, suggests that they are trying to take advantage of the crisis. Until now it has been fundamental the action of the Italian anti-fascists that despite the repressions they have experienced - including media liberal and democratic campaigns that continue to place the equivalence between fascists and anti-fascists - have prevented the fascists to take root and grow in the city for the moment.



LP  I do not think that this politics is vertiginous and I do not know how to discuss the possibility of a grillina abstract-machine. It seems to me that Meetup has been conceived as an influence node of public opinion, which, however, coincides with the problematic expression of the free will of ordinary people. Consider the politics of these ICTs: the establishment of a point of view that requires to be received and mutated. In the case of 5SM, this kind of interactive imperative acting through political energies needs recognition; but it is not just a matter of the subjection of energy to this algorithmic perspective. Perhaps the problem is precisely to see the constant trajectory vector—organization forgetting that this vector already has a direction - an order and then an informational infrastructure - and therefore is not completely free in the first instance. Maybe what is supposedly captured by the 5SM, which is here discussed in terms of micro-fascism and genuine energies of dissent, can not be separated from the entropy of information itself - namely, that there is an energetics of order itself which does not lead to an equality between energy and information, but rather to a new order of information and energy whose immanent operability we have not quite grasped yet.

    On tidal waves
    OC Franco Berardi wrote on MicroMega.net that the defeat of “liberist” anti-Europe begins in Italy with the last general election. According to him Italians would have said: “We will not pay the debt”. Insolvence. According to your point of view, what happened in Italy on February 24th, 2013? Gianluca Passarelli conducted an electoral study for Istituto Cattaneo that showed how the Five Star Movement electoral datum was the most homogeneous in terms of votes on the whole national territory. The “party nationalization”, defined as the extent to which parties compete with similar strength across sub-national geographic units, obtained a score of 0.9 out of 1, more than the PDL (0.889) and the left-wing Democratic Party (PD) (0.881). How could a newly-born movement not only compete with, but even beat well-established voting machines such as the ones of Mr. Berlusconi and of the organized Left?


TT In short, the well-established voting machines are being dismantled. In recent days the Italian Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional the electoral law with which Italians have been voting for many years. In some ways, it has been a verdict that has ratified the judgment of illegitimacy as already expressed by the polls in the last years (if we count the abstained and the 5SM voters). In Italy for years they have been conspiring to prove that there is no alternative to the bipolar electoral system where you may be with or against Berlusconi in the name of 'reforms' which means “liberalization”.
The bipartisan agreement on basic political reforms (reform of schools and universities, privatization, austerity, temporary work etc.) is well established. Those who vote - except maybe the irreducible Berlusconi voters or those who vote for personal interest- do it with a sense of frustration. As I said before Grillo has built a circuit that has worked during the elections of 2013: I think he has been able to find a way to attack the two-party system from outside. He has capitalized on the crisis and the frustration of an electorate that is constantly being told that Italy is going from bad to worse and that the responsibilities are of a corrupt shameless political class. The electorate has not believed in the idea of a technocrat government guided by Mr. Monti nor in the return of “Christian democrat values” as a solution. Grillo, on the other side, has proposed an alternative ( the deputy-citizens, green politics, localism, cancellation of the 'privileges'... etc). The problem is what happens when you are in a Parliament that has been disempowered by financial governance. Is a “clean and not corrupt” parliament automatically one able to oppose the orders of the ECB or of the markets and international finance? Or would it simply coincide with a government that can only morally justify the required 'sacrifices' of the country? Whether Grillo is able to maintain these numbers is far from obvious. But certainly he has shown that the push to bipolarism is not as hard. Everything seems very stable and yet at the same time very fragile.

LP In my opinion this proves that bipolarity is not a binary structure but rather a war on the 'center' necessarily dependent on this gray zone that involves everything else. This political ground has long been contended for by the right and the left; Grillo has now occupied it by building concatenations of meanings starting from the affective, and political defeat of everything rest. He especially subtracted the obscure data from this gray zone and shined light on a wide spectrum of discontent whose arguments had spread virally through the amplification of the injunction: you are political, too. Such an amplification has given a representative recognition to the unseen data which the ideologies of both right and left have not caught but often denied. It still seems crucial, to me at least, to think more about this data and its epistemological and ontological intervention on both politics and the political representation.

    On the missing people
    OC Mario Tronti states that ‘there is populism because there is no people.’ That of the people is an enduring theme which Tronti disclaims in a very Italian way: ‘the great political forces use to stand firmly on the popular components of the social history: the Catholic populism, the socialist tradition, the diversity in communism. Since there was the people, there was no populism.’ Paul Klee often complained that even in historical artistic avant-gardes ‘it was people who lacked.’ However the radical critique to populism has led to important results: the birth of a mature democracy in America; the rise of the theory and the practice of revolution in the Tsarist Empire, a country plagued by the contradictions of a capitalist development in an underdeveloped territory (Lenin and the bolshevism). Tronti carries on in his tranchant analysis of the Italian and European backgrounds: ‘In today's populism, there is no people and there is no prince. It is necessary to beat populism because it obscures the relations of power.’ Through its economic-mediatic-judicial apparatuses, neopopulism constantly shapes “trust-worthy people” similar to the "customers portfolio" of the branded world of neoliberal economy: Berlusconi’s “people” have been following the deeds of Arcore’s Sultan for twenty years; Grillo’s followers are adopting similar all-encompassing identifying processes, giving birth to the more confused impulses of the Italian social strata. With institutional fragility, fluctuating sovereignties and the oblivion of left-wing dogmas (class, status, conflict, solidarity, equality) how can we form people today? Is it possible to reinvent anti-authoritarian people? Is it only the people or also the politics itself to lack?

TT I do not have a background in political theory in strict sense, but rather in cultural studies and new media studies, therefore I struggle a bit with the notion of populism. I am more comfortable with the notion of 'popular', which is a more gendered and even queer space. The Birmingham school and their reading of Gramsci taught me that the ‘popular’ is the battling ground for hegemony; post-workerist [post-operaisti] readings and meetings, together with research on science and technology have distanced me from direct interest in the popular, although I am still more passionate about popular culture than contemporary art. Let’s take Reality television, a ‘glocal’ phenomenon as we know: an extraordinary inventory of the desires of subjectivity and of the “dispositifs” through which these very desires are channelled towards competitiveness — the myth of individual success (‘One in a thousand makes it if s/he has the X Factor’, everybody else must leave the show). In the last fifteen years American TV series have produced a series of incredible narratives and images of a people, the American one, which is expressed in a variety of figures and characters often represented in the act of falling. The male characters of almost all successful American series are pictured in this falling moment, from the panic attacks of Tony Soprano, to the free fall of Mad Men, from the sinking of the polygamist family in Big Love, to the 'fall' into crime, however reinterpreted as rupture, of Breaking Bad. I like to think of the people Tronti invokes, opposed to patriarchal and authoritarian populism, as emerging from the popular, as a possibility to be found in the popular. It seems superfluous to recall how Berlusconi built its success by taking over and re-inventing the national-popular, and especially women's bodies; however it may not be so superfluous to recall that the Left has perhaps lost it by not being inventive enough in this field. Literature, television, music, comics, films, art, but also festivals, rallies, the arts and disciplines of the body. Are these not the places from which a Rabelaisian people can emerge, in the sense given by Bachtin, or the 'people to come' of Deleuze and Guattari? Is it not in this neglected field that those desires and beliefs, those languages and forms from which to draw to continue believing in the world arise? The people of Rabelais exist where there is a popular culture; not simply one of folkloristic roots but rather a renewed culture, which appropriates technologies and forms, revitalizes them with cooperation, contamination and invention, a culture that becomes 'common'. Today, all of this is flowing through both the ‘old’ media (re-mediated television) and, increasingly, the new technologies of production and sharing.

LP  Deleuze has not left us with the image of the people but of the ‘people to come’. We should dwell on how the conception of heterogeneities is different from the people and how popular culture (and I agree with Tiziana on this) is different from populism. As Alberto Toscano points out in his interview, the idea of people, as for example invoked by Jodi Dean, is problematic because the communism that maintains this “people” is taken for granted. Returning to Deleuze, the idea of people is perhaps referable to the idea of mass majority - therefore not of class nor of populism - but to the heterogeneity and complexity of the simplest unit. However, the ‘people to come’ is not a claim for a possible future, or one full of post-9/11 imagery (I am thinking of the TV series Homeland and of the representation of a new type of feminism as seen in the series Borgen). In short, it is not about establishing a new people by doing a work on ourselves that would take on the function of an infinite reflection or solipsistic loop on what we do; it is about inventing a speculative theoretical practice directed not-as-much to changing people’s condition, so that we can become people of the future, as to futurities that already exist in the people defined by an immanent thought.

    On control
    OC In Postscript on the Societies of Control, published in 1990, Gilles Deleuze states that, thanks to the illuminating analyses of Michel Foucault, a new diagnosis of contemporary Western society emerges. Deleuze's analysis is as follows: control societies have replaced disciplinary societies at the beginning of the twentieth century. He writes that ‘marketing is now the instrument of social control and it forms the impudent breed of our masters.’ Let us evaluate who stands beyond two very successful electoral adventures such as Forza Italia (Berlusconi’s first party) and M5S: respectively Publitalia 80 owned by Marcello Dell'Utri and Casaleggio Asssociati owned by Gianroberto Casaleggio. The incontrovertible fact that two marketing companies stand out reinforces Deleuze’s analysis. Mechanisms of control, media events such as exit polls and infinite surveys, im/penetrable databases, data as commodities, continuous spin doctoring, influencers that lead consensus on the net, opaque bots, digital squads, dominant echo-chambering. Evil media. These are the determinations of post-ideological (post-democratic?) neoliberalism. The misery of the new control techniques competes only with that of the glass house of gri%ina transparency (web-control, of course). Jacques Ranciere says we live in the epoch of post- politics: how can we get out of the neo-liberal cage and free ourselves from the ideological consensus of its electoral products? What will the reconfiguration of left-wing politics be after the exhaustion of Marxist hegemony?


TT The strongest innovation of the the past decade has undoubtedly been the becoming 'social' of digital media. Instead of the “semantic web” Tim Berners Lee spoke about, we have had the “social web” and it has been a genuine surprise to many. The network has exploded when the organization of communication has not mainly passed through the individual access to information but through social relations (friends, “followers”, “contacts” and so on...). Social networks begin with friends and acquaintances and expand very fast to an unknown but familiarly chained world of relations. A new layer of network communication is present today in social relations stressed by the all-present like/share/comment buttons as shown also by the proliferation of applications for smart phones. Thanks to its AdSense and AdWords program infiltrating the web, Google has paved the way followed by all the others. Referring to those processes we have two main dominant theories: the first is expressed by Jodi Dean and Bernard Stiegler where the problem is posed in terms of capture and decomposition of the impulse and desiring energy by communicative capitalism. Therefore desire is more or less completely captured by capitalism and transformed into profit, then deprived of its constituent capacity. Continuous communication results in a stalemate from the point of view of political organization. The second position is that of Assange and WikiLeaks: social communication has become the battleground for the new wars of information, where transparency makes the act of dissenting visible to state and capital. The risk is to think of technology only as a tool of command to which we can only answer by returning to real life or through technical solutions (such as cryptography). This “cybernatization” of the social that has occurred so quickly (at the speed of the event we could say ) seems to pose new questions or at least to open a new set of problems. First of all it is clear how it may create problems to a certain idea of society (a collectivity that dominates individuals and determines them through the mediation of representations) - revealing a wide dynamic flow, and asymmetrical relations capturing brain forces on which the techniques that you've identified in your question precisely act. At the beginning of the twentieth century Gabriel Tarde said that Émile Durkheim had been able to conceive his society in these terms just because he had some rough statistics, and that in the future the quality and quantity of statistics would have revealed the complexity of the infinitely differentiated social continuum. Computer modeling of social networks today are already making obsolete those modelization based on power laws and highlighting on the determining influence of the supernodes which we had just been introduced to through network science in the early years of this decade. For sure the social relation and its fabric perceived as Tarde’s asymmetric net - which captures sub-representative and impersonal forces of the brain - are affected by such social cybernetics in ways we had not imagined. Confronted with this phenomenon we do not have to yield to the power of technique but we have to study, understand, take action and experiment. For example the phenomenon of Facebook pages that in a short time can catalyze big masses and bring them in the streets for huge events is impressive and lends itself to manipulation (who started these pages? It is easy to understand what the feelings that run the network are and to catalyze them in a series of keywords) but on the other hand it asks to become something more continuous in time, to find places and physical opportunities to precipitate in complex relationships.

LPReturning to the question of technology, my impression is that critical thinking fought back technology, the machines and the system of communication based on information, because they are seen as instruments of power, as the embodiment of instrumental reason of the power. This critical position, which tries to answer to what the political governmental conditions of technology are, inevitably refers to a call to the political entity that is, however, capable of dividing the real by the artificial. The criticism of the technology still seems to be divided in two factions. On the one hand, an instrumental acceptation of it, as if technology were the arm and mind of a manipulation that people long for because "victims" of their desire to repression. On the other hand, a conception of technology as [an expression of] potential political subject that is surrounded by machinic ecology. The latter has been demonized because it is too close to and apologetic of a kind of capitalism that wants to forget the true value of the exploitation: work (in all its cognitive, affective, pro-creative forms). However to this position, at least, applies the bold statement that technology is not a tool of power, but a means of identifying energy. The society of control that Deleuze foresaw is linked to a profound change of cybernetics, which also became constitutive of the social. Especially the passage from the principle of communication - defined by Shannon as the use of entropy for the transmission of a signal through a channel capable of modulating hence funneling the energy potential - to the cybernetic principle of feedback (in its formulation of negative and positive feedback), marked, it seems, a managerial capacity to not only penetrate but also construct the social. Before the rise of social media the problem of marketing was defined by molar messages, robust axioms which reflected the social conditions. With the diffusion of the cybernetic interactive paradigm - exploded with social media - the problem of reflecting a pre-existing social sphere has been replaced by a computing that is constructive of the social. This is, perhaps, the most difficult point to grasp. The social sphere is not captured by the mechanical thinking of technocratic rationality; or, as Gilbert Simondon puts it in On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, it is not the machine that holds power. Instead, what many see as a new regime of clarity and transparency defined by the datafication of all kind of experiences, does not just symbolize power, but it also reveals the power hidden behind the call for the political liberation from the bureaucratic machine. The information machine at work here reveals that, in fact, such electronic documentation is a way to unveil the architecture of power that does not trust the human political subject to avoid forming mafie and falling into the intrigues of favoritism and injustice. This is not to declare a kind of Machiavellianism of information; I just want to suggest that this sort of political manipulation needs thorough exploration, decomposition and enquiry from the perspective of information architecture. The new regime of information does not build upon the idea of public opinion or of a communication structure based on pre-determined probability. The bespoken new regime is based instead on an interactive paradigm, not only the meta-data, but also, and more deeply, an articulation of 'evil' computational media. As a consequence an immediate technocracy cannot be ascribed to technology precisely because the interactive paradigm brings into play what was considered non-calculable: the quality of lived expression - the quality of lived life. In this context, the introduction of the uncomputable to the rational calculation of value should not be underestimated. That is why the tension energy—information gains a new facet to then be used in the analysis of politics. We no longer live in a Laplacian universe where everything returns - or must be returned - to the primary conditions of measurement. It is not even that the social is insostituibile a priori and eternally topological, that is transformative, and therefore able to escape the representative constraints of the algorithm. What I believe we need in fact to consider is exactly the nature of this mechanical thinking or mechanical reason in the foundation of social realities. For Deleuze and Guattari, the mechanism of thought was expressed in that very principle of computational communication from which the marketing strategies you describe in your question assume their viral and memetic qualities, that bring together the masses (as Canetti precisely wrote about ) through the energetic modulation of feeling. During the last decade there has been much talk of the cyber-operation of capturing and enhancing affectivity (both in the discourse on marketing and on security). What I understood by studying theories of information and computation is that the much antagonized uniqueness between information and energy - crucial to interactive cybernetics - perhaps can no longer be criticized through a principle of continuous differentiation for which control fails to capture the social energy of all (live or not) beings. We must instead acknowledge a dynamic reality of information which adds to the energetic dynamicity, while not being on the same level. This is not a difference of levels, but an asymmetry or an ontological cut for which parts of the real do not merge into the unit but proliferate asymmetrically, so that there can be no direct contact - between algorithms and affection - dependent on the totalizing ability of one or the other. The question of the interactive algorithm does not simply correspond to the idea that today's social is pre-formed. What we have learned from interactive algorithms (from online trading to informational marketing) is that the computational principle they operate includes a new kind of mechanization or automation that does not contain but rather generate data, does not limit but regenerates potential and reduces the uncomputable to an effective probability. To fully grasp this type of control there is need to rethink the type of automation that we are experiencing and to then explore the informatic social sphere beyond a tout court critique of cybernetics.


Luciana Parisi, Italian, lives and works in London. She is Senior Lecturer in Critical Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London (UK) where she runs the PhD program at the Centre for Cultural Studies. Her research examines the links between science and philosophy, cybernetics and information, technology and policy in order to formulate a critique of capitalism and at the same time investigate the possibility of real change. During the nineties of the last century she has been working with the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit at Warwick (UK) and has written several essays in collaboration with Steve Goodman (known in the music world as dominus of dubstep as Kode9). In 2004 she published the book Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (Continuum, London, 2004), where she described the critical impasse between the notions of body, sexuality, “gender” and the current status of the studies of science and technology. Her latest work on architectural models is Contagious Architecture. Computation, Aesthetics and Space (MIT Press, USA, 2013).


Tiziana Terranova, Italian, lives and works in Naples. She is a contemporary researcher, and lecturer of "Cultural Studies and Media" and "Cultural Theories and New Media" at the University of Naples 'L'Orientale'. After graduating from the Faculty of Foreign Languages ​​and Literatures at the Department of American, Cultural and Linguistic Studies at University of Naples she continued her research on media, cultural studies and new technologies, driven by a passion for this area. The study of these issues took place in England where she achieved a master's degree in "Communications and Technology" at Brunel University. She also achieved the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths' College in London. In the mid 90’s Tiziana Terranova dealt with technological subcultures, cyberpunk and published one of the first doctoral thesis on the internet newsgroups and the techno culture in California. Another important experience for her intellectual journey took place in London at the Department of Cultural Studies of the University of East London where she founded and directed along with Helene Kennedy one of the first courses in Multimedia, starting the new university course in "Media and New Media Studies”. Her current interests include digital culture and the phenomena that develop around it . Of international importance is her book “Network Culture” published in Italy in 2006 by Il Manifesto. Her last essay entitled 'Capitalismo cognitivo e vita neurale' was inserted in May 2013 e.Book issue called 'Lo stato della mediazione tecnologica' by Giorgio Griziotti (Speciale Ipermedia - Alfabeta edizioni).

Bibliography

1)  On the micro-fascism
Wu Ming
Yet another right-wing cult coming from Italy.
Wilhelm ReichPsicologia di massa del fascismo - Einaudi, 2002 
Gilles Deleuze, Félix GuattariMille Piani, Castelvecchi, 2010 
Gilles DeleuzeL’isola deserta e altri scritti, Einaudi, 2007 (cfr. pg. 269, 'Gli Intellettuali e il Potere', conversazione con Michel Foucault del 4 marzo 1972) “Questo sistema in cui viviamo non può sopportare nulla: di qui la sua radicale fragilità in ogni punto e nello stesso tempo la sua forza complessiva di repressione” (intervista a Deleuze e Foucault, pg. 264)

2) On the crisis
Slavoj Zizek
First as Tragedy, then as Farce. Verso, Uk, 2009 (pg. 17) 


3) On organisation

Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Millepiani (Castelvecchi, III edizione, Novembre 2010): Nono Piano: 1933 Micro-politica e segmenterietà. (p. 265)
Daniel Guérin, The Brown Plague, DUP, Usa, 1994
Gilles Deleuze, Fèlix Guattari, Apparato di cattura - Sezione IV di Millepiani (Castelvecchi, I edizione, maggio 1997): Piano 15: Regole concrete e macchine astratte (p. 150)

4) On tidal waves

Franco Berardi, La sconfitta dell’anti-Europa liberista comincia in Italia, Micromega
Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Millepiani (p. 249) — Istituto Cattaneo


5)  On the missing people
Mario Tronti, 'C’è populismo perché non c’è popolo', in Democrazia e Diritto, n.3-4/2010. 
Paul KleeDiari 1898-1918. La vita, la pittura, l’amore: un maestro del Novecento si racconta - Net, 2004 
Gilles Deleuze, Fèlix Guattari, Millepiani (in '1837. Sul Ritornello' pg. 412-413)

6)  On control
Jacques Ranciere
Disagreement. Politics and Philosophy, UMP, Usa, 2004

Gilles DeleuzePourparler, Quodlibet, Ita, 2000 (pg. 234, 'Poscritto sulle società di controllo') Saul Newman, 'Politics in the Age of Control', in Deleuze and New TechnologyMark Poster and David SavatEdinburgh University Press, Uk, 2009, pp. 104-122.

Painting: Stelios Faitakis