Integral Manifesto Pt IV(3) Open Sources, Sources of Openings/ Global Openings and the Space of Appearance

Books Discussed in this Section

Saskia Sassen (2007) Deciphering the Global, Routledge, NY

~ Anthony D’Andrea : Deciphering the Space and Scale of Global Nomadism – Subjectivity and Counterculture in the Global Age

~ Anne Bartlett : The City and the Self – The Emergence of New Political Subjects in London

The key to “deciphering the global” and its paradoxical character, one might argue, is in understanding how globalization dynamics differentially affect the three domains of human action. With respect to economies, globalization dynamics are conservative (increasingly resistent to change over time),  accumulative (enacting power laws that predominantly scale upwards both linearly and hierarchically). The perfect diagram of this kind of dynamics is the pyramid. With respect to technologies, globalization dynamics tend to be conservative, but distributive, enacting power laws that predominantly extend the breadth of their reach over time. The perfect diagram of this kind of dynamics is a river branching across wider and wider regions on its way to the sea. With respect to geo-social spaces, however, the dynamics are progressive (increasingly resistant to stasis over time) and discontinuous, enacting power laws that are nonlinear and dynamically critical. A diagram of this kind of dynamics would be a much more complex illustration, and might look like diagrams of autocatalytic sets.

At the critical edges of these nonlinear processes of geo-social space are novel openings and appearances– of “segments of self-marginalized subjects”: highly mobilized postmetropolitan individuals, individuals disaffected with mainstream society, global nomads, tourists of the new leisure class, new age pilgrom, migrant workers, countercultural expatriates, techno shamans, and numerous types of bohemians, and other variations of deterritorialized countercultures. D’Andrea points out that

… new forms of subjectivity and identity are being developed in a dialectic interplay with major global processes … In this sense, globalization refers to the sheer intensification of processes of  mobility, digitalization, multiculturalism, and reflexivity.

For D’Andrea, this process of cultural globalization and transformation also entails

… the dissolution and retooling of traditional and modern ways of life, along with the emergence of new forms of identity that are defined by their fluidic, deessentialized and reflexive nature.

Although extreme, these examples of completely de-localized gdo-social identities, contribute to the catalyzing of new spaces of appearances emerging on the global stage– appearances that are antithetical to stasis and conservation, as they thrive on permanent displacement and constant movement– actualized by and through the complex dynamics of globalizing cultures, wherein identities are formed primarily through geographical triangulation, across exotic locations and temporary or semi-permanent homeland bases– a pattern that, according to D’Andrea

… confirms the claim about the dialectic of mobility and moorings as key components of globalization… Overall, it is the moorings that enable movements. And it is the dialectic of mobility/ moorings that produces social complexity.

Although these self-marginalized subjects are enacting a crucial component of the processes of globalization, it is by no means clear that they are interested actors within the realm of human action. For the most part, these identities emerging at the far edges of geo-social space, are catalysts for the creation of alternatie social actor-identities on the global stage. Prominent among these emerging actors are politicized refugees, immigrants, and expatriates, who have incorporated the global stage as strategic terrain to practice their formal and informal political goals. On London streets, for example, journalist Anne Bartlett describes how

… refugees and immigrants build their own fowms of political meaning and act to redefine themselves as political subjects capable of making change…

Bartlee goes on the describe how the global comes to be enfolded into the urban landscape, as these deterritorialized global actors redefine the parameters of what it means to be political in urban centers today.

Changes, borne of disjunctures and contradictions between old and new migration flows, between competing ideologies of nation, region and tribe, and parity between formal and informal ways of doing politics, open up the political landscape and allow new modes of being political to emerge. Deciphering the global means getting into these spaces of contestation– into the cracks that are appearing in the political landscape and wathcing as new forms, new actors, and practices start to make themselves known.

Bartlett describes in detail the ways in which dynamics on the micro-level give rise to emerging identities as new global actors. She sees the city as the appropriate scale where multiple scales and actors can operate through local practices that are articulated with  what she terms global flows. Thesenew identities, she argues, do not emerge in a vacuum, but through the points of encounter between individuals whose very identities have become, in a sense, the locus of conflict– the kinds of boundaries that are driving such change.

The key to understanding boundaries in this repsect is not to think of them as territorial encasements but as lines of difference that emerge or fade. … by focussing on entities in the making, it is possible to see how particular conjunctions or disjunctions act to produce, stabilize, and enact certain kinds of spaces and possibilities of being.

In these spaces new kinds of political selves can be generated by direct face-to-face contact with the other. But here I argue that extended sets of relations generated through the use of the Internet and other technologies constitute a different yet equally important moment of production. With the exponential increase in email Internet and satellite phone traffic, there is a multiplier effect of possibilities and means through which political actors can constitute themselves vis-a-vis others. And these new possibilities for identification, counter-identification, hostility, and alliance create new tensions that do not just reside in the virtual sphere; they collide on the street to produce new ways to do politics and new ways of political actors to think of themselves. Microspaces of gateways for action open up, created by flows and dynamics no longer contained within territorial bounds.


Integral Manifesto Pt II(4): Subjects & Surrogates / Power, Tolerance and Democracy

Books Discussed in this Section

Pauli Pylkko (1998)  The Aconceptual Mind. John Benjamins Pub. Co. Philadelphia

Such musings concerning micro-scales of intersubjectivity offer a diverse range of hypotheses on the nature of power, tolerance and democracy, and their roles with respect to human action. For example, it may be true that the kinds of non-Western a-conceptual experiences that Pylkko alludes to represent important variations in the processural orders of the articulation of subject from pre-subjective centers in the genesis of a cognitive occasion. If so, the very notion of the subject-to-subject encounter as being the limiting quantum of freedom would be called into question by the quandary of just what constitutes the subject, Western variations of which would not be available to those people or communities of people whose worldviews are constituted by differing variations in the scale, nature, agency and sovereignty of any so-called “subject.” This would make the idea of exporting Western style democracy which evolved from the Greek notion of the polis — despite its noble appeal to the space of appearance of the subject as well as potential subjects in a participatory and potentially liberating manner– deeply problematic. This would make for a democracy with a latently intolerant temperament.

As another example of this tentative  “hypothesis of the subject” reconsider the quote from above wherein Pylkko notes

Therefore experiential centers which are not yet full-fledged subjects cannot be separated from one another by a crisp conceptual cut. The experience in which they float is aconceptual, and because aconceptual experience doesn’t yet recognize separate individuals, it has a peculiar collective nature [emphasis mine].

This curiosity leads to the hypothesis that pre-individuated centers might not only have transcendental qualities beneath, behind, or below the level of the subject, but also transcendent qualities above, beyond, or over the level of the subjects as a kind of supersubject– which for the most of us today remains an interesting hypothesis, but is an emerging notion gaining credence with the digital information and internet culture and in new-age consciousness-raising circles, as for example, the title of Michel Bauwens’ article on peer-to-peer spirituality, The Next Buddha will be a Collective. Were this notion of supersubject to be reified into the structures of consciousness such that its onto-theo-logics were enfolded into the cognitive occasion of individual subjects, then it might be the case that in the brave new age of tomorrow, “subjectivity” itself– the abilit or capacity to be a subject— will have become as experientially inaccessible in this hypothetical tomorrow, as the pre-subjective origins are considered to be inaccessible today. If so, we have merely chased the tail of our philosophical snake– Heidegger’s inner-Being– with its own head– Zarathustra’s outer-Being. This would make for a democracy with an overly dominating temperament.

The emergence of such a conceptually scaled Overman is neither inevitable or impossible, and might become latent and  eventually a “preconstitutional” (that is, an onto-theoretical structure) component of experience, and this can result from either of two directions– either from the hyper-reification of the microscale of Being, or the hyper-reification of the superordinate scale of Being. on the microscale end, we might as easily argue for a supersubject that is composed of  the peculiar collective of aconceptual experiential centers across boundary conditions of human individuals, and posit an experientially coherent and intentional supersubject that “lives in us just as it lives elsewhere at the same time, too”, as Pylkko has written

From this perspective, there is not much point is saying that one subject inhabits on body-brain. Rather, every subject’s being is distributed onto a social network, and therefore onto several brains and bodies, too. … A subject can inhabit more than one brain, and a brain can be inhabited by more than one subject.

Just as easily as imagining a supersubject as arising from the ontological ground of pre-individuated subjects that constitute the subject’s aconceptual primordial origins, we might imagine a supersubject as arising from the opposite end of the spectrum: from a future scenario in which pre-unified subjects belong to the ontological ground that constitutes the supersubject’s a-transconceptual primordial origins. In the meantime, in this more than opportune moment in history, we still have a choice. or so it seems.

The moral of this story, I suppose, is that we can purposely fashion democratic acts from some fundamental qualities of the subject, and a morally-saturated expectation of an authentic subect-to-subject encounter; and that may well have both liberating effects and constitute the limiting quantum of freedom in human action. However, this is only possible if we avoid adding onto the real and actual occasions of human en-act-ments of democracy– the real deal, not the ideal– according to its vibrant and living place in the vitae activae– we must avoid adding the categorical errors of an onto-theoretical democracy, wholly or partially embedded in unexamined assumptions of scale.

Perhaps the most we can make of a democracy is to fulfill the pledge of creating spaces of appearances, come what may. This is what Pylkko determines to be “the best that democracy can offer to us,” namely, “variety, perpetual change, tolerance and such struggle which enhances and allows variety to flourish.” But the reason why we seem to have come to this point of non-conclusion, is due to the fact that we have limited our notion of the “space” of appearance, to the aspect of extension, and as a result required of our “pre-subjects”, our “subjects”, and even our “supersubject” to arrange themselves along certain identifiable scales of sovereignty. If to this limited notion of space as extension, and the sovereign forms that appear to “take up space,” we allow the more crucial notion of space as “openness” or better yet, it’s corollary verb “openning,” then we might recover something of our initial premise, and the propositions which follow from it.

We have merely to substitute for purposes of discussing the microscales of subjectivity, the series “personal-local-regional-national-planetary” for the series “pre-subject-subject-supersubject” in the premise to derive the following, parallel propositions:

If among the spheres of intersubjectivity– this is also true, then the realm of human freedom is not assured by the pursuit of sovereignty of any kind– presubjective, subjective or supersubjective– rather, freedom is defeated whenever the conviction of sovereignty prevails.