Maybe it's interesting to add this interview to get another perspektive

On The Radical Possibilities of Leading With Love: An Interview with Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey

She spoke yesterday at the University in Vienna, and said, what kind of chances would have institutions when lead with Love.

Kind regards,

Quoting Brian Holmes <>:

Dear Frederic, I admire the wager on utopia, it's resonant for me. What's
more, the George Floyd uprising finally made me understand how many people
want to go through a social breakdown, to emerge on the other side,
somewhere else. For them, the bad accident is good.

It's not my desire because I actually feel part of what would thus be
destroyed. I see immense possibilities for change. What is, could be
different. Maybe it already is and we didn't notice. Maybe it could be
immensely worse and we'll notice that immediately. Pragmatics interests me
more for this reason, along with perception/expression. Find out what's
happening, as concretely as possible, and talk about it. I am touched by
your letter because my wager is also Pascalian, I am swept away by it.

I'm probably a bit schizophrenic though, because I'm acutely aware of the
line that you're taking, and increasingly, of Black history and colonial
critique. I have been carrying out a project in Louisiana that involves
Angola prison, the plantation system, Cancer Alley. Those things are strong
medicine, they sap your belief in anything called "justice." And you may
have noted that in my previous text I do not describe anything called
"justice." What I ultimately look for, in Louisiana and elsewhere, are the
facts of a disaster and the transcendence of a cosmology.

I'd say all pragmatics is guided by cosmology, in the Latin American sense
of 'cosmovision'. Each one renders something different. In my schizophrenic
case - which is probably not that unusual - the godhead is embodied by
biogeochemical cycles whose effects I can see everywhere, and the
concept/practice of solidarity is made more profound by the understanding
of symbiosis. All that is material, metabolic, and I'm afraid, linked to
lots of future suffering. The suffering is bound up with specific things,
machines, organizational routines, symbolic systems... The end result for
me is to wonder, pragmatically, how the entire world could be totally
different. And to act on that when I can.

best, Brian

On Thu, Oct 20, 2022 at 8:16 PM Frédéric Neyrat <> wrote:

Dear Brian,

It's always a gift to read your analysis, your posts, they really feed my
attempts to understand what's going on.

Just a thought: what happens when we reverse the order of things in your
analysis: instead of a) the technopolitical paradigmatic shift (what
appears as a sort of historical necessity) b) "IF in fact it does emerge,
IF we don't just sink into entropic conflict and collapse" (the bad
accident), we have: a) entropic conflict and collapse (the necessity) and
b) a possible (i.e. almost impossible really, contingent) technopolitical
paradigmatic shift.
My goal is not to be overly pessimistic, but if war and the ecological
situation - as you argue, right? - drive where we are at, then the
understanding of the global situation is that nations/classes don't care
that much about technological shifts, nowadays they care about local
survival (their survival), and it generates survivalist nationalism,
eco-fascism (ecological measures driven by authoritarianism), the rise of
the far right (Sweden, Italy, France, the USA, Russia, India, etc. etc.
etc.), war of predation, and so on.
If it’s true, it’s time - at last - to be, really, and without any
restriction, utopian, i.e. it's time to insert in reality what could
de-program it. Without the wind of utopia, the world will go down, without
geo-engineering or because of it.

Codicil: it does not mean that technology should be neglected, refused,
but one thing for me is sure: without a radical re-orientation of
technology (not only the production of a new tool, i.e., as Virilio
explained pretty well, a new accident), there will be no shift, but the
continuing of disaster with the same means, even in a new form.

Addendum: and if we think it’s too late to be utopian and to invent a new
praxis, then it means that everything is lost. However, “Il faut parier;
cela n’est point volontaire; vous êtes embarqués"(Pascal)!


On Thu, Oct 20, 2022 at 4:19 PM Brian Holmes <>

For years on nettime, the much-regretted Armin Medosch, myself, Felix
Stalder and a number of others developed a theory of technopolitical
paradigm shifts: a grand narrative to explain social change in industrial
societies. Well, even if you don't like grand narratives, you may have
noticed that a tremendous shift is indeed now taking place, real time,
global scale, involving every level of entrepreneurial and governmental
organization and every aspect of social reproduction. It's sudden, it's
violent and it obviously has consequences. Shall we talk about it?

I recall speculation on the list about whether a new technopolitical
paradigm would ever take form. Would there be economic growth again? Would
innovation return? Could global capitalism really develop new forms of
self-regulation? Or is it stalked by entropy and decline? I think the
discussion suffered from too much emphasis on computers and finance as the
drivers of change - leading to the conclusion that, if Silicon Valley has
already done its thing, if Meta is no more than The Matrix Reloaded, then
history must be over. But it turns out that the decisive factors in
technopolitical paradigm shifts are neither economic, nor even
technological. The decisive factors are instead political, in the broad
sense of politics that runs from individual agency, through collectivities
of all kinds, into national and international relations. Political conflict
is what brings societies into crisis. When the overarching
cultural/economic/military order - what the international relations
theorists call world order - is shaken by an integral crisis, then, and
only then, can a paradigmatic figure of capitalism begin to transform at
all levels, including institutions and ideologies as well as money,
machines and relations of production.

Does anyone else think a major crisis - what Gramsci would call an
"organic crisis" - has taken hold since the outset of the pandemic?
Leftists have often cried wolf over financial crises, but with climate
change, plague, ideological upheaval, industrial restructuring and war,
what we are living through today looks a lot like the turning-point crises
of the 19th and 20th centuries. Turning points entail both institutional
breakdown and renewal. On the breakdown side, take for example the
abandonment of two former pillars of neoliberal international relations,
namely the German "Wandel durch Handel" policy of cheap resource extraction
from Russia, and the American just-in-time strategy of outsourced
production from China. Both these began as opportunistic statecraft during
the major crisis of the early Seventies, and both subsequently became
foundational components of the neoliberal world order. It took the attack
on Ukraine to expose Europe's gas hypocrisy, while in the US, it took
Trumpian populism to state the bitterly obvious: The outsourcing of labor
is a social crime, just like the endless oil wars. Of course US
progressives think the same, and have better policies to address it, but
it's a real shame that mainstream Democrats stifled progressive populism,
so we got the anti-imperial message from the right instead. Doesn't matter.
The question now is what to do. How to diagnose and respond to the crisis?

This is the renewal side: Social democrats in both the EU and the US are
attempting to use the upheaval for transformative ends. Europe is being
forced into an energy transition at top speed, and the "Repower EU" project
builds on the national Recovery and Resilience plans developed during the
pandemic. All those plans drew the consequences of the Anthropocene: they
aimed to use deficit funding to rebuild employment by investing in
alternative energies. It just took a war in Europe to make them real. Even
more surprisingly in the US, the same kind of stalled recovery program is
suddenly moving ahead fast, with carefully targeted research, industrial
stimulus and federal infrastructure investments. Even though its dollar
figures were reduced, the Inflation Reduction Act (aka Build Back Better)
is a genuine plan for technological system change. It's interesting that to
dramatize the need for this planning in the eyes of the population, the US
has had to elevate the threat of war with China (which itself is a bit of a
stand-in for the threat of civil war at home). So again, the drivers are
war and climate change. The fact is that the US has long experience with
this kind of system reset, from the age of the great corporate mergers in
the late 1890s, to the consolidation of the corporate state during WWII,
and then again, the development of microelectronics and the transition to
financially driven globalization in the Reagan era. A decade after that,
Clinton, Blair and Schroeder finished the regulation of the last big reset,
with terrible consequences for social democracy, because in reality, the
current problems are of their creation. Since the Ukraine war broke out, it
has finally become clear to the "extreme center" (Tariq Ali's phrase) that
they must carry out a new system reset, and above all, sell it to their
populations during elections, because only a successful
economic/environmental fix can hold back the advancing tide of fascism. So
whaddaya know, it's socialism or barbarism, as usual! For all these reasons
it's really starting to happen, that crazy thing we talked about for a
decade: a technopolitical paradigm shift.

Concerning the techno part, in my view the development of Moderna's mRNA
vaccines was really stunning, the biggest and swiftest scientific
breakthrough I've ever seen. It presages the future industrial development
of the life sciences, under exactly the kind of national innovation regime
that people like Mariana Mazzucato talk about. Now, the concept of
"national innovation regime" is foundational for the technopolitical
thinking that interested Armin Medosch and myself. The concept comes mainly
from Chris Freeman at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex
University in the UK. A national innovation regime brings together the
universities, the corporations and the military, under government guidance
with significant public funding. Its goal is to jump start economic growth
with technological innovation, particularly in the wake of a major economic
crisis when state-led investment can be justified. The national innovation
regime is a well-studied feature of large capitalist states since the
1930s, although of course, it has become somewhat more complex with
transnationalization. Both Repower EU and Build Back Better are dependent
on this kind of industrial stimulus planning. What I expect to see emerging
from these crucibles over the next 20 years are AI-assisted research
programs for industrial-scale responses to the basic
environmental/metabolic problems of the Anthropocene. To put it another
way: If capitalism is going to survive, it is finally going to have to
internalize the costs of social/ecological reproduction, or at least some
of them. This is comparable, but not identical, to the way that Fordism
internalized consumption as part of the production regime in the
mid-twentieth century - under the threats of war and revolution, for sure.

AI was crucial in mRNA vaccine development, and the entire project was
underpinned by years of federal science funding to make exactly this kind
of breakthrough possible. For sure, I'm also aware of the shocking
injustice and arrogance with which the Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna vaccines
were restricted to paying customers, essentially in the Global North, and
only parts of it. That's why I see the mRNA story as the nutshell of a
future development model in which the full spectrum of the life sciences -
extending to earth system science - will play a crucial biopolitical role,
with the inclusion/exclusion routines that are characteristic of democratic
biopolitics. It's like this: The social-democratic mission of Green
Capitalism will be to mitigate the effects of onrushing global ecological
change - and for better and worse, they're gonna mitigate. Not just with
new energy sources, but with new science and technology from the cellular
to the atmospheric levels: the genetic redesign of Sloterdijk's "human
park," as well as huge new "air conditioning" endeavors, meaning a
pervasive artificialization of the environment. In short, there is a direct
line between vaccine development and geoengineering - and that lifeline of
capitalism is called the national innovation regime. The externalities and
undesired consequences of whatever new paradigm finally emerges will fall
in radically unequal measures along geographic, class, race and gender
divides - IF in fact it does emerge, IF we don't just sink into entropic
conflict and collapse. But if a paradigm shift does occur, resistance to
inequality and racism will be a tremendous influence on whatever new regime
of social regulation might take form. And a new regulatory regime, too, is
already under construction in fits and starts, as one can see in the US
since the pandemic and the George Floyd uprising. The reexamination of
colonialism that currently occupies many intellectuals (cf Amitav Ghosh)
is, to my mind, an extremely valuable contribution in this regard.

So the point of this whole discussion is not to celebrate a possible
technopolitical paradigm shift, but instead, to get ready to deal with the
many new problems it will bring. Because my sense is that a paradigm shift
is going to happen, and that it will be much worse if better ideas are not
rapidly brought into play - and into production. Neoliberalism has left
progressive intellectuals long on utopia, and short on praxis. That really
has to change. Otherwise the miserable ideas of the right will get built
out into reality.

Marx was right when he said that we make history, but not under
conditions of our choosing. I'm afraid that all of you who don't want to
live through Green Capitalism are going to be very disappointed (I will be
too). Far from entropic breakdown, what we are about to witness and take
part in will be yet another wild acceleration, on the back of great
collective machines, with no steering wheel, destination unknown. And
that's exactly what "technopolitical paradigm shift" really means. A crisis
of capitalism takes you somewhere terrifyingly new. The steering process
has to be invented in mid-flight. And the journey has already begun.

Thoughts about it?


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Evelin Stermitz
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