Radical media, politics and culture.

Bifo -- Panic War

jim writes: "bifo, one of the most intelligent and committed of Italian social theorists, has written:

panic war [make world transcript]


i want to talk about attention economy and digital labor, and panic and
the global war. at the end, i want to show that all this has something to
do with the would-be, with the future self-representation of work. i read
in this beautiful paper [the make world paper], global processes are
running out of time and space. running out of time, global processes are
running out of time. i start from this sentence.

i would say that globalization is being reframed in these days. and
september 11 has been the showdown of this kind of reframing of
globalization. we come from a period, a long period, the period of
modernity, but also the first period of, in brackets, postmodernity, when
global control was the general frame, global control as a technotopia, and
global control as the general politics of capital. now i have the
impression that we are completely out from that frame, and we are entering
the frame of global panic.

what is panic? you know that the psychatrists have recently discovered
this kind of syndrome. it seems that a widespread form of panic, of panic
syndrome, is something quite recent in the psychological self-perceptions
of human beings. but what does panic mean? you know that panic used to be
a nice word, like james hillman remembers. pan is the divinity of nature,
of totality. pan is the relationship between man and nature.

but inside the capitalist frame, panic becomes something different,
because we have to be in control. inside the psychological frame, and
political frame and economic frame of control, panic becomes a pathology,
a psycho-pathology. what panic is, outside that... we can talk of panic
when a conscious organism, individual or social organism, has no time to
process the information input. you see, the organism, all of a sudden, is
no more able to process the amount of information coming in, and creating
a kind of hyper-attention which is no more able to process the
information. so i have the impression that the real problem that
semiocapitalism is facing nowadays is the problem of panic.

davenport and beck have published three or five... some months ago, a book
titled "attention economy". it's a book for managers, so it's not so
interesting. but it's very interesting... the central problem they pose.
they say, inside the informational work process, we have no more time for
attention. first, we don't have time for attention inside the work.
second, we have no more time for affection, for that spatial kind of
attention which is erotic attention, which is attention to the body, to
our body, to the body of other people. so we find ourselves more and more
in a situation where we can say, we have run out of time, we have run out
of attention. so what happens when attention... when we have no more time
for attention? we are witnessing this kind of situation.

collin powell, some days ago, told about the rumors that information about
bombings and hijackings of airplanes and so on that were situating before
september 11. he told, yes, it's true, we have received information about
something like this, we have received information about bombings and so
on. we had too much of it. this is the problem. we have too much of

so the panic is becoming social panic, and we are entering a phase which
seems to me the phase of panic war. what are the roots of panic war? in my
opinion, we have to look at the relationship between cyberspace and
cybertime. cyberspace is the infinite productivity of general
intelligence, of general intellect, of the network, when a huge number of
thinking points enter in connection. at the same time we create an infinte
suppy of mental goods, of intellectual goods, of information.

but cybertime is not infinite at all. cybertime is the organic, the
physical ability of processing information which is inside our physical,
emotional, affective brain. so, you see, all of a sudden, this kind of
relationship between infinite expansion of cyberspace and limited
capability of processing of the cybertime becomes the most urgent, the
most important problem in the capitalist crisis.

financial times, september 6, in a paper titled "information glut", speaks
of a telecom crash, and explains the telecom crash we all know, the
telecom crash of the last era, especially in europe, where the telecoms
have invested a lot of money in umts, which do not exist, which is
nothing. so what is this kind of telecom crash? financial times explains
that the optic fiber posed in the planet is used in the figure of two
percent, and the capability of the telephonic system all over the world is
used under three percent.

you know, karl marx spoke of an overproduction crisis. we are facing an
overproduction crisis of mental goods which has absolutely no relationship
with the past. never we have seen something like this. two percent, three
percent of the global capacity is used at the moment.

so i see two directions, both leading to the war. the first direction is
the classical way of capitalism. capitalism brings war like the cloud
brings the tempest, told an old guy called lenin. yes. we are facing this
simple thing. overproduction creates the need of a new kind of use of all
these capabilites of production of these intellectual capacities. this
kind of militarizaton of the general intellectual is the main danger we
are facing nowadays, the militarization of intellectual capacity.

but at the same time, i see another aspect of the panic war, and this is
the relationship between complexity, overcomplexity of the actual world,
of the cyberspace, and the pretention of control, and the pretention of
economic evaluation. you know, the relationship between the economic law
and the infinite production, or productivity, of networked intelligence,
this is the problem.

deleuze and guattari talk about chaos, in "qu'est-ce que c'est la
philosophie", saying that chaos is when the world goes too fast for my
brain. this is the chaos. so the problem is in the relationship between
brain and world, cybertime and cyberspace. but the problem is also, first
of all, politically... the political problem, our problem, is in the rule
of this relationship. if we pretend to be able, like capitalism wants to
do, if we pretend to be able to control the infinite productivity of
networked intelligence, we go inside the panic world.

you know, i have good news for all of us. fundamentalism, the liberist
dictatorship on one side, and its twin, the religious fundamentalism,
deterritorialization and reterritorialization, are launching a suicidal
war. this is the end. this is the end of liberist dictatorship. you know,
when a giant is too strong to be beaten by someone, there is only one way
to beat the giant: to put the strength of the giant against the giant
himself. this is what they are doing. hallelujah!

it seems that osama bin laden and george bush used to be close friends. i
mean, the father of osama bin laden and the father of the president george
bush. so goes the story. and now we have the problem of what has to be
done. it's a political problem that we are facing, and it's a problem of
self-representation of mental work, of general intellect. i say that what
has to be done...

what has to be done? i would say that we should transform the global war
into a process of general secession of intellectual, of intelligent work.
first of all, we have to launch the movement coming from seattle, coming
from genoa, in a new phase of this global movement. we have to launch this
movement against the militarization of mental work. but secondly, we have
to destroy the rule of general connection of the different affective and
social strata of intellectual work. we have to break the rule and the war.
this war, the panic war, is creating the conditions for a successful job
in this direction.

[video: smi