Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Monday, February 08, 2016
If instead Sanders means by "anti-establishment" the latter, then Sanders is expressing skepticism about organizations themselves. Now, it is a familiar critique that whatever an organization is brought into existence to do in the way of work, once it exists a layer of incumbent politics will emerge to maintain that organization in existence potentially at odds with its original purpose. This inherent conservatism of organizations demands vigilance to say the least from anyone of progressive sentiments, not least because even while that tug of incumbency freights all organizations, organizations remain not only necessary to accomplish progressive ends but also to maintain these accomplishments.
These are the sort of ambivalences that may have lead Bernie Sanders to declare Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign and the super-delegates of the Democratic Party are all parts of an establishment he opposes even while obviously he is not opposing the actual missions of any of these organizations and recognizes the reactionary and plutocratic forces against which these organizations have been struggling throughout their existence. The blanket dismissals Sanders sometimes levels at such fighting organizations symptomize a deep tension in the appealingly straightforward anti-plutocratic critique Sanders is propounding and the rather glibly sweeping solutions, if that is what we are calling them, he is proposing. It is, of course, useful to make the point that a politics of incumbency may bedevil even progressive organizations when they are not transparent and accountable, but to the extent that presidential politics is partisan politics and partisan politics is ineradicably organized it is a little bizarre to mount too ferocious an attack on a party establishment you are seeking to lead on the way to become President of the most powerful military-industrial establishment in the history of humankind.
I am a fan of Occupy and have always considered "it" (Occupy is really an umbrella term for a teeming ramifying complex of resistances and campaigns and viewpoints) both a fierce petitioning of public grievance and a beautiful expression of public happiness. Beyond that, Occupy was a great rhetorical success, changing the terms of the politically possible. I have said all this even as I have also worried over some of the avowedly anarchist adherents of Occupy for their spontaneism, and have wished Occupiers were more doctrinally committed to sustainable and scalable forms of progressive change... But the Sanders campaign, which in some key respects seems a subcultural sequel to Occupy, seems to me to lack the clarity of even the anarcho-occupiers at their worst. Occupy changed the public conversation and in so doing altered the co-ordinates within which the possible and the important are articulated. This is the second presidential campaign shaped by issues formulated by Occupy, and now even more by the Moral Mondays and BlackLivesMatter resistance that succeeded and supplanted Occupy, and far more effectively already in my view. Occupy may have left our movements and organizations to push for the progressive change they demand on terms they define themselves but in a discursive terrain transformed by Occupy's energies and illuminations. But a Presidential campaign is actually taking up tools, it is actually mobilizing organizations, it is actually assuming a position within an institutional terrain. You cannot pretend to be above the fray as you are reaching for the reins.
Bernie tells his supporters half the time that they are the Revolution simply for supporting him -- a claim as absurd as the pretense of many successful ad campaigns that buying a brand of soda or the latest handheld device is a revolution. The other half of the time he tells them he can accomplish none of his lofty ambitions unless there is a revolution in this country -- a claim which leaves one to wonder, if his campaign is not that revolution, then why he isn't devoting his energies to organizing the revolution he says we need instead? If the organizations of the establishment are the problem, is he seeking to lead them then only to command them to leap off a cliff? Not that they would, but were they to do so, what would happen then? And if none of that happens, if he seeks instead to work within the established/establishment terrain, why are we supposed to think he would be better at working with the figures and organizations he disdains than those who are explicitly committed to working within those terms to make change already? And if he miraculously managed that trick of working within those terms he always condemns, and amongst partisans who seem to disdain him even when they sympathize with his message, then why wouldn't all his supporters rightly denounce him as a traitor the moment he succeeded on those despised terms anyway?
I believe that partisan politics are indispensable but also that they are radically inadequate. I believe movement politics on the ground educate, agitate, organize and so push compromised partisan politics to legislate solutions to shared problems. I think both political registers make the substance of change, but that neither manages to do so alone, at least not for long. It seems to me naive to disdain partisan politics for the purity of movement politics -- but I can certainly understand the impulse, the distaste with compromise, the exhaustion of struggle against inertia and ignorance, the heartbreak of witness to avoidable suffering. And it seems to me cynical to disdain the transformative force of movement politics for partisan skirmishing -- but, once again, I can certainly understand the impulse, the thrill of visibility, the compelling contest, the challenge of real-time praxis, the immediate feedback, the palpable rush of victories however few. People who lodge their political investment in either register can do work indispensable to progress, but so too they can lose sight of the reality of progress either by ascending to an Olympian height of moral or aesthetic beauty that they never connect to real change on the ground or by embedding so deeply into the terms of present limits that they come to resist real change in history.
All of these are very familiar quandaries, and I am saying nothing new in all this but only repeating truths that need repeating because they are hard lessons everyone would rather forget and so we often do. In politics you have to walk and chew gum at the same time. I am not sure I am saying much more than that when it comes to it. But the Sanders campaign seems to me an especially confused and chimeric being -- ascending to the heights... but in the form of the usual spinning and skirmishing in the depths of campaigning muck, promising revolution... not by eschewing the partisan but through the pretense that the partisan is revolutionary, disdaining institutions... while at once scrambling to rule them. I think a lot of people who know the world needs more change than a Presidential campaign could ever provide have decided to indulge in the romance of a Presidential campaign anyway, and I know that people who could be agitating and organizing against banks that still hold their money and police that still do violence in their names are instead fighting with people online over a Presidential nominee. No doubt this is easier and more enjoyable than the alternatives, which are after all quite terrible, and heartbreaking, and exhausting. But I don't know that people should seem so very pleased with themselves for making such choices as they often appear to be, to be honest.
I also have a preferred candidate in the present contest, as all my readers know by now, the ones who are still reading me at any rate, but I am supporting a widely respected, brilliant, capable individual, connected to the partisan and organizational apparatus she would wield as President to make such change as the Constitutional executive may do in our system of government, confronted with the actually-existing realities of our day. I think what many decry as Hillary Clinton's deceptions and hypocrisies reflect instead the realities of a lifetime fighting for progressive causes in a scrum of diverse stakeholders and in the midst of intense forces that require contingent alliances, ugly compromises, and tactical retreats on the way to slow-arriving, fragile, imperfect, hard-won achievements. I think it is comparatively easy to seem progressively pure when you govern a postage stamp of a state with a homogeneous population already more liberal in conviction than the average. I think Hillary Clinton is a lifelong participant in partisan politics because she found herself in the belly of the beast, partnered with an ambitious husband, and then realized once she had arrived there that she had a talent to make progress through partisan politics herself, and so there she has remained. Not everybody has the stomach, the patience, the determination to endure such efforts and I honor those who do, even if I share in the distaste for the process that most other non-participants in that arena like me are likely to do. I can tell you one thing, I do not expect a Revolution from the Presidency and I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton will not disappoint me in that expectation. As far as it goes, that seems about right to me. If you think that is because you are more knowledgeable, righteous, honorable, or committed than I am -- well, live it up.
Such radical change as we need will depend on the mass movements we deploy to press our partisan politics with, and also on the election to Congress and to state political offices and to local positions democratically minded people who are interested and capable of solving shared problems and hence contributing their measure to progress in the world. I support Hillary Clinton because I think she will do her part in such work. I support movement politics to the left of Clinton because I have no illusions about what Presidents can accomplish under the best circumstances. I support and supported President Obama on much the same grounds. I think he is the most progressive President since FDR -- and I can salute him for that even while recognizing that this is at once something of an indictment of the unbearable injustice and inertia of American history. I do appreciate that Clinton is not making or implying promises that she could not keep as President. You know, I have also always liked and admired Bernie Sanders. I'll support him and vote for him if he becomes the nominee of the Democratic party, but I do not think he will and if he doesn't I will be glad he doesn't. I think he makes a much better and more competent progressive Senator for Vermont than he would make a President. It is fair to disagree with that assessment, but I do not think that is the disagreement most people are really adjudicating through their championing of Sanders' candidacy. I think working through a philosophical disagreement about the pragmatics of historical change in the face of white-supremacy, patriarchy, plutocracy and pollution by means of a battle over the Democratic party presidential nomination between two utterly idealized celebrity candidates -- one an heroicized caricature the other an anti-heroicized caricature -- is utterly frivolous, deranging of sense, and a waste of energy and resources that would be better devoted elsewhere. Precisely because I take the urgency of radical change so seriously I find the Sanders campaign as the educational, agitational, and heaven help us all, organizational vehicle for such change the most arrant nonsense imaginable.
Sunday, February 07, 2016
Saturday, February 06, 2016
There was one and only ONE "Nay" that day, and it was my Representative, Democrat Barbara Lee who voiced it. Bernie Sanders was in that chamber and he voted "Yea." The record is right here.
Here, voice trembling a bit at first, is Lee's prescient speech, making her case against authorizing war in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. She is ALONE:
Friday, February 05, 2016
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Monday, February 01, 2016
Sunday, January 31, 2016
If Sanders supporters are really building a movement for radical change--which I approve--why do they act so much like a consumer fandom? 1— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
What new institutions are they creating and what will make them effective and last? 2— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
How do they connect to existing partisan formations like the PCCC, CBC, Urban League, Emily's List & real movements like BlackLivesMatter? 3— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
As someone who actually studies revolutionary history and affirms the revolution of conscience in nonviolent resistance movement I wonder 4— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
...why so many Bernie supporters seem to think voting for a Presidential candidate is a revolutionary act. 5— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 31, 2016
After a generation of techbros selling us crap apps and technofixes as Revolution now berniebros sell a celebrity DreamPrez as Revolution. 6— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 31, 2016
My point is not to disdain Revolution or even Bernie Sanders, who is a fine Senator and progressive lion... 7— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 31, 2016
...but to resist the denigration of the revolutionary represented by the mis-recognition of a partisan primary contest as a revolution. 8— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 31, 2016
Saturday, January 30, 2016
1 When I teach critical writing I stress four habits: 1 strong thesis 2 define key terms 3 support with evidence 4 anticipate objections.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
2 It is commonplace to talk about a "strong thesis" in terms of being able to answer the so-called "so what?" question.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
3 I personally consider this an unhelpful, even harmful way to frame the task of a thesis. I say this because…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
4 ...you have to be confident to assume your argument won't provoke a "so what?" Teaching to instill confidence, shouldn't assume it.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
5 I define a strong thesis as one for which one can imagine an intelligent opposition. This act of imagination is the heart of criticism.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
6 If you can't imagine an intelligent opposition to your argument, it is not likely to hold the attention of a reader… or even the writer.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
7 Once you grasp that any worthy argument will have intelligent opposition, imagined interlocutors will shape the case you make.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
8 "Organizational" problems (digressions, muddled ordering of evidence, loss of focus) often vanish once you are addressing opposition.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
9 In my teaching, all four habits of argumentative writing are transformed by this emphasis on the ongoing imagination of opposition.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
10 Since you can't define every term you use, imagining opposition forces you to grasp the terms on which your case most depends.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
11 So too imagining opposition changes the selectivity with which you adduce evidence or select and edit textual support.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
12 Obviously, my fourth habit, "anticipating objections" is entirely about the relation of the critical temper to imagining interlocutors.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
13 But a point I make in teaching this habit is that taking the time and space to anticipate, respond or circumvent salient objections…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
14 …is often more convincing in making a case than offering up one or even more positive pieces of evidence for that case.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
15 This feels counterintuitive to newcomers to rhetoric, but often observing a response to objections most clarifies the stakes of argument.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
16 I am always struck by those who seem to think an ideal argument resembles a logical or mathematical proof, as if one is all alone…— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
17 …making an argument addressing itself to the Universe rather than to living stakeholders with whom one shares the world.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
18 There is in fact an inherent recognition and investment in the living community of fellow-sharers, fellow-sufferers in critical thinking.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
19 Criticism is worldly, political, democratic even when not democratizing, pragmatic even when denouncing pragmatism.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
20 The Four Habits of Argumentative Writing Handout I have given every student in twenty years of teaching: https://t.co/UU69xLuVX7— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 30, 2016
Friday, January 29, 2016
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
1 Minsky was a robocultic techno-immortalist on the Board at the Alcor cryonics operation. @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
2 He also believed: "Ordinary citizens wouldn't know what to do with eternal life." @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
3 Because they work on problems over many years only scientists grasp "the need" for life extension, he thought. @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
5 Minsky was a libertarian who strongly disapproved the regulation of research deemed unethical, eugenic, and so on. @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
6 "Scientists shouldn't have ethical responsibility for their inventions, they should be able to do what they want." @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
7 You shouldn't ask [scientists] to have the same values as other people." -- Marvin Minsky @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
8 Although enthusiasts for the project of AI like Minsky have confidently predicted the arrival of AI for generations @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
9 AI has never yet arrived, and yet promises and threats of this never-existing phenomenon suffuse public discourse, @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
10 and the attribution of intelligence to unintelligent artifacts is ubiquitous. @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
11 The primary force of the artificial intelligence discourse Minsky and his colleagues have so long championed @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
12 has been to denigrate the intelligence of beings incarnating it, whose dignity demands its recognition and support @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
13 and to substitute for it a machinic calculative understanding Minsky applied to himself to justify anti-democracy. @coreypein @dgolumbia— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 26, 2016
Monday, January 25, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Today I want to recommend a follow-up post from Jones' blog ridiculing what I have called "accelerationalism" in current tech-discourses in which metaphors of speed re-frame and rationalize disastrous policy proposals and the dreary history that results from them. And so, for example, very longstanding and completely familiar right-wing efforts to loot, privatize, and deregulate public goods are now described as "disruption," as though it is the fierce innovative energies unleashed by entrepreneurial techbro brains are subliming away pesky barriers to progress through the sheer force of their momentum. And as I put the point in The Unbearable Stasis of Accelerating Change, "the 'accelerating change' crowed about for the last two decades by futurologists in pop religious cadences and by more mainstream and academic New Media commentators in pop sociology cadences has never had any substantial reference apart from the increasing precarity produced by neoliberal looting and destabilization of domestic welfare and global economies -- often facilitated, it is true, by the exploitation of digital trading, marketing, and surveillance networks -- a precarity usually seen and experienced from the vantage of privileged people who either benefit from neoliberal destabilization or who (rightly or wrongly) identify with the beneficiaries of that destabilization."
There is nothing more commonplace than marketing firms that re-package failed and stale products and features as "exciting" and "new" via ad-copy in order to invest them with phony excitement and seductiveness. What consumer has not learned to be leery at the sticker slapped on some tired commodity declaring it "New And Improved"? It is in this spirit that I think we should apprehend the paradoxical emergence of a narrative of "accelerating change" and even "acceleration of acceleration" at a time when the furniture of everyday life and the quality of life more generally has been more static than not. As Eduardo Porter put the point in a recent review in the New York Times:
Take a look back at some of the most popular TV programs of the mid-1960s -- “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Bewitched,” even “The Beverly Hillbillies” -- and what do you see? Like today, middle-class Americans typically had washing machines and air-conditioning, telephones and cars. The Internet and video games were not yet invented. But life, over all, did not look that different. There were TVs and radios in most homes. Millions of people worked in downtown offices and lived in suburbs, connected by multilane highways. Americans’ average life expectancy at birth was 70, only eight years less than it is today [and the lived experience of life expectancy at retirement age was even less different, inasmuch as these statistics reflect most dramatically changes in survival in infancy and from childhood diseases -- I must remind, d].In a post published today at Soft Machines, Richard Jones derides Davos discourse promoting a so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution" and the "Exponential" technology-driven change presumably "disrupting" the linear history preceding it. Jones writes:
But flash back 50 years earlier. Then, less than half the population lived in cities. Though Ford Model T’s were starting to roll off the assembly line, Americans typically moved around on horse-drawn buggies on dirt or cobblestone roads. Refrigerators or TVs? Most homes weren’t even wired for electricity. And average life expectancy was only 53... Has technological progress slowed for good? The idea that America’s best days are behind us sits in sharp tension with the high-tech optimism radiating from the offices of the technology start-ups and venture capital firms of Silicon Valley...
The World Economic Forum at Davos provides a reliable barometer of conventional wisdom amongst the globalised elite, so it’s interesting this year that, amidst all the sage thoughts on refugee crises, collapsing commodity prices and world stock market gyrations, there’s concern about the economic potential and possible dislocations from the fourth industrial revolution we are currently, it seems widely agreed, at the cusp of. This is believed to arise from the coupling of the digital and material worlds, through robotics, the “Internet of Things”, 3-d printing, and so on, together with the development of artificial intelligence to the point where it can replace the skill and judgement of highly educated and trained workers... all that this illustrates is the bleeding of transhumanist rhetoric into the mainstream that I criticise in my ebook Against Transhumanism: the delusion of technological transcendence. It’s a wish that some people have, that technologies will allow them to transcend the limitations of their human nature (and most notably, the limitation of mortality).Jones concludes that he is "optimistic about the potential of technology" and distinguishes his view from that of pessimistic writers like Tyler Cowen "that slow technological progress is inevitable because we’ve already taken the 'low hanging fruit.'" I must say that I am ambivalent about these prospects myself. This will surprise critics who are quick to deride my critiques as "negative" "pessimistic" "anti-imagination" "deathist" and "luddism" and the rest -- but needless to say I reject the premise that there is anything the least bit positive, optimistic, productive, life-affirming, or techscientifically realistic about wish-fulfillment fantasizing, con-artistry, or pseudo-science. I will say this: Innovation arises from ongoing public investments in education, infrastructural affordances, specific programs of research, attention to bottlenecks that offer up no immediately profitable applications. Progress -- and since progress is a moral and political concept I must actually specify, as few who extol progress ever do, that, for example, as a advocate of democracy and ecology I personally define progress as progress in the direction of ever more sustainable, consensual, flourishing equity-in-diversity -- arises from the ongoing struggle to ensure that the costs, risks, and benefits of technoscientific changes are equitably distributed to all the stakeholders of that change by their lights. This matters, because it reminds us that both innovation and progress are social and political in their substance, far from determined by the technical specifications of a particular scientific discovery or instrumental application. Being "optimistic about the potential of [this or that] technology" is neither here nor there -- flourishing requires democracy quite as much as it does discovery, emancipation is a matter of equitable distribution quite as much as it does technical delivery.
Given the current state of plutocratic wealth concentration, the resulting disintegration of democratic participation and accountability, and the disastrous and destabilizing neoliberal precarization of the lives of the overabundant majority of people on the planet I am not sure that it is responsible to be too optimistic about our potential to invest in innovation and ensure progressive equity-in-diversity whatever the genius of our collective problem-solving genius. Optimism too readily invites acquiescence, especially in an epoch in which techoscience is invested with the reactionary imperial cadences of manifest destiny. To ensure innovation and progress the last thing we need to be doing is celebrating celebrity tech CEOs who are little more than skim-and-scam artists or indulging in uncritical consumer lifestyles and commodity fandoms expecting to purchase our way to Tech Heaven as wage slaves without rights or hope assemble our gizmos as our aquifers dry, our soil shatters into sand, our shorelines and skylines are smashed by angry waves, our atmosphere shrieks and swells with greenhouse storms and landfills rise like mountains of toxic smoking sludge leaching poisons into the dying land.
On the other hand, the ruins of neoliberal feudalism are evident everywhere, and organized resistances to the self-serving free market and austerian pieties of incumbent elites keep emerging in country after country, election after election, uprising after uprising. As the shocks of climate catastrophe imperil urban enclaves, devastate private insurance, destabilize nation-states it may be that the circumstances may be ripe for a turning of the anti-democratizing tide, our polities may rediscover the indispensability of commonwealth and our intelligence may be provoked from complacency into ardor just as public investment in that intelligence rises to meet us where we are. I certainly do not agree any more than Jones does with those who posit there is some structural phenomenon that made discovery long seem too easy and now too hard. Although there is some justice in the suggestion that superiority of so-called Western modernity was little more than a vast bubble blown up by non-renewable energy extraction and waste within which economic history was a sequence of convulsive bubble-chapters and recovery-chapters within that bubble culminating in the bubble-bursting chaos of anthropogenic climate catastrophe, the truth is that the building of sustainable energy, communication, and transportation infrastructure could readily be the incubator of new innovation, new employment, new flourishing, new progress. A host of dis-eases and dis-abilities likewise seem susceptible of therapeutic remedy given sufficient investment in research and the political will to ensure universal access. What will pass as "low hanging fruit" for technological progress is determined less by physics than by social and political preparation. I daresay Tyler Cowen may suggest otherwise not least because he is an apologist for and therefore needs an alibi for the neoliberal economic policies which seem to me the likelier culprit for our current technoscientific malaise.
As Jones puts the point in his own conclusion,
Technological progress continues, in some areas it moves fast, in other areas it moves much more slowly, despite our society’s most pressing needs. Which technologies move fast, and which we neglect and allow to stagnate, are the results of the political and social choices we make, often tacitly. We might make better choices if our discussions of technology weren’t conducted entirely in terms of tired clichés.I am not sure we can avoid all the cliches when we seek to narrativize the quandaries of our historical moment as we must -- after all, all the talk of accelerating acceleration of acceleration notwithstanding, there is really nothing new under the sun where questions of the human condition are concerned, including the contingency of history and the shock of the unexpected that mock our expectations and our plans and keep things so very interesting while we are alive together in the living world -- but I would rephrase Jones' point in a way that retains its spirit by simply proposing instead that we take care our discussions of technology (or more to the point the politics that enable and shape its vicissitudes) aren't conducted in terms of inapt frames: chief among these I would note are narratives of autonomous artifacts, historical determination, scientistic reduction, manifest destiny, and the pining after certainty, absolute control, overcoming finitude or, in Jones' own phrase, delusions of transcendence.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
In the White House, Bernie would have to compromise exactly as much as Clinton will. 1— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
The difference is that he is willing to indulge the self-deception of supporters who deny this fact because it feels good. 2— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
And everything suggests he'll be shittier at compromise than Hillary would be with the result he can accomplish less while promising more. 3— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
We may indeed need something like a revolution and the reduction of revolution to a feel-good campaign for a White House run doesn't help. 4— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
Partisan politics is compromised and reformist -- it is necessary but also inadequate, it must be pushed from left movements. 5— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
Grassroots and movement education, agitation, organization are also necessary but inadequate -- they crystallize in partisan legislation. 6— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
Democratizing struggle requires both political registers -- they depend on one another but they are different from one another too. 7— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
Confusions of radical education, agitation, organizing with partisan legislation undermine the force of each at the expense of both. 8— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I believe present support of Sanders is suffused with these confusions, and supplemented by a narcotic dose of triumphalist fantasies. 9— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I'm a democratic eco-socialist feminist queer who thinks the President an ungainly but indispensable tool in a toolbox among other tools. 10— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I expect to be to the left of any electable President because I am to the left of the country who elects the President. 11— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I guess awareness of this fact has immunized somewhat from dreams of a President as a Dream Date or some kind of Wizard. 12— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I supported Obama knowing full well he campaigned as a center left candidate -- I felt no betrayal when he governed accordingly. 13— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I expect Clinton to govern as a center left President just as Obama has done. 14— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I expect to disagree with her just as I have disagreed with him from their left, knowing all the while my support of each well justified. 15— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
It is an indictment of our politics, but no less true to realize that Obama has been our most progressive President since FDR. 16— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
I expect a Clinton administration to equal and amplify that progressivity, especially if pushed from the left by movement activism. 17— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
This is how it should be. There are no shortcuts for democratic social justice struggle via celebrity culture in the White House. 18— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
People who are presently substituting a sugar rush for sensible deliberation about electability at a time when the GOP edges into fascism 19— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
will all abandon their Bernie as a traitor the moment he makes a necessary compromise or suffer worse if he fails to do so for principle. 20— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
Better by far to focus your radical energies where they do real good. The revolution is happening in America but it isn't Bernie's run... 21— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
It is #BlackLivesMatter and climate activism and the feminist fight against rape culture and for healthcare access. 22— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
Some exchanges occasioned by this twitter rant:
@dalecarrico It is an indictment of the US Left that so many are treating a center-Left social democrat like Sanders as pie-in-the-sky— Sam Engels (@FreddyLovesKarl) January 23, 2016
@FreddyLovesKarl If that is the actual reality at hand then facing facts doesn't deserve an indictment. 1— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
@FreddyLovesKarl Maybe you think accomplishing the political ends we both desire will be easier than I do -- I hope you're right. 2— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
@dalecarrico how does this balance with foreign policy, where presidents now unilaterally make decisions via drones/rapid deployments/etc.?— Ian Alan Paul (@IanAlanPaul) January 23, 2016
@IanAlanPaul Turning that ship around takes generations of activism and congressional action imho not the flick of a switch for DreamPrez.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
@dalecarrico You think Sanders is not electable?— monasherry (@monasherry) January 23, 2016
@monasherry It *may* be that Trump or Cruz are so execrable that a superannuated grumpy avowed socialist could get elected contra history. 1— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
@monasherry But given how dangerous/horrifying GOP is and how fragile Obama's compromised accomplishments the risk seems scary high to me. 2— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
@dalecarrico even if all this is true why throw your support to HRC— Ethical Outer (@lginiger) January 23, 2016
@lginiger I'd say "Because she's there" but of course Everest killed that dude. I expect HRC continuation of Obama &every alternative worse.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
@dalecarrico Partisan legislation so often disappoints because we keep these registers too separate.— Future Politics (@FutureOnFire) January 23, 2016
@FutureOnFire The alternative is revolution (which is not a matter of voting for DreamPrez), and revolution, too, has its disappointments.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) January 23, 2016
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Found this via a link in a boingboing tweet declaring, "Gazing at this cute little skinless animatronic baby is delightful." Cute?!?! Delightful?!?!
One of the pleasures I am finding is offering up lots of amplification and backup on various points from the tradition of critical theory I have been teaching for years (Marx, Benjamin, Adorno, Barthes, Debord, Lyotard, Haraway) and from texts from the history and best contemporary technology criticism (Ellul, Mumford, Winner, Noble, Morozov, Pasquale, Golumbia), which I think enriches the intellectual heft of the piece. But if you are worried all this citational supplementation will render what was a fairly concise formulation (at least for me) into a ponderous cloudbank of academese, I am happy to report that there are a surprising number of deliciously polemical zingers getting sprinkled in via this material.
The other real difference is that I am adding in a large historical survey of transhumanoid precursors, fellow-travelers, and organized sects (Extropians, Singularitarians, Techno-Immortalists, Nano-Cornucopiasts, Digi-Utopians, Geo-Engineers, etc) and charting -- the often stealthy -- ties connecting their memberships, funding, canons, and so on. These are things only hinted at in the essay but quite important in my critique -- connections I scarcely hinted at in the shorter piece.
The title of the essay (which remains the published writing of which I am most proud) would become the subtitle of the book. The title I am inclining to is: The Future Is A Fraud. Before you accuse me of sensationalism, the title actually refers to a central contention of the essay and of my critique, but one which has gotten little attention. From the original essay:
Successful mainstream futurology amplifies irrational consumption through marketing hyperbole and makes profitable short term predictions for the benefit of investors, the only finally reliable source for which is insider information. Successful superlative futurism amplifies irrational terror of finitude and mortality through the conjuration of a techno-transcendent vision of "The Future" peddled as long-term predictions the faithful in which provide unearned attention and money for the benefit of gurus and pseudo-experts, the source for which is science fiction mistaken for science practice and science policy. Something suspiciously akin to fraud would appear to be the common denominator of futurology in both its mainstream and superlative modes.