ISLAM ON OUR DOORSTEPS

 


What is God trying to tell us?

Written by Dorotea Pospihalj

Dialectical analysis of the article published in Družina, written by Branko Cestnik

The following text was inspired by the original article published in the weekly magazine Družina (Family), in Slovenia.

In the text I will analyse the dialectics used in the article and argue why certain terms and words were used and what or who are they addressing. Public space and media, as we know it, contributed to the general accessibility of the information to the vast number of people, the number of people that are well informed in today’s modern society is greater than ever before in human history. This should make us feel quite optimistic and content of the achievement. However, there is also a far more sinister side to the freedom of information, as well as speech. Information can be based on empirical, scientifically proven facts, occurrences of events, of a purely fictional narrative. All of the above can be a subject to covert agendas or have a very specific purpose.

I tend not to read populist propaganda or articles, newspapers that advocate for conservative far right concepts. At the same time, I must admit that those can be a rich source of bewilderment and entertainment. Until I don’t realise that people who read these outlets, unlike me, take them quite seriously. This is probably where my hysterical laughter turns into pure rage. By pure coincidence, I came across an article (forwarded to me by my father, apparently he is also deeply engaged in the research and analysis of the fascist phenomena present in the press). Anyway, the article was published in the weekly magazine called Družina (Family in Slovenian), it could be quite well considered a propaganda leaflet distributed directly by the church. The text starts with the following statement: “ In 20 years all Slovenians will be praising Allah”. Now, beyond the fact how insane this statement is, I do have to admit that it has this potent and inviting charge, that compels you to read further. The article, of course, gets more absurd, despite the very short length of the text. As I will point out later on, that this also has a precise function, short and direct communication, that is not time and mind consuming.
Mr Cestnik, the author of this text, tells this anecdote of a Muslim Gipsy, that comes to visit him occasionally. He continues to quote the Gipsy; “that the truth about Allah is so great, that the human heart would fail not to know and acknowledge it”. Whatever that might actually mean. Mr Cestnik continues to explain how the Gipsy, then invited him to pray towards Mecca, where he then narcissistically turns him down and quite explicitly belittles the person’s views and beliefs and finally calls him naive. He explains to a clearly “blind” man that: “Even so we both believe in one God, we are not of the same religion. My God did not reveal himself in Mecca”. Well, this could be already the first factual inconsistency and we are two sentences into the article. If we were to examine the Qur’an briefly and follow the mainstream Muslim philosophy, it would become very evident that Allah never revealed himself in the first place (1). Apart from the clear ignorance in regards to both religions (Christian and Muslim), Mr Cestnik with his statement, in a quite grandiose manner, insinuates superiority of his beliefs or his God if we will. This attitude becomes ever more obvious in later statements.

‘Islam is here and it’s presence will continue to grow’. This statement is problematic on many levels, firstly, ‘Islam is here’, here where? It is a living entity that is shaping and shifting continuously. As if Islam has it’s own will and decision-making agency. Secondly, the use of generalities, with no specific indication or details, of where is Islam, it’s just Here… how big is the Muslim community (for example in Slovenia, as I suppose he is addressing Slovenian readers), it will continue to grow, we can well imagine the analogy that would fit along the line of a malignant tumour, that is spreading…

The idea is that Islam is spreading because of it’s ‘evil strategy’, as Mr Cestnik expressed, that it is pushing young Muslims to venture across the Mediterranean and entering Europe, as a consequence of an unconscious drive, that makes them ‘invade’ other continents. He identifies himself with the other pole of opinion, that believes that there is so much empty space in Europe, that ‘by nature’ these people migrate from their own countries where they grew up and lived all their lives, to this unknown continent, crossing the Mediterranean sea, dying along the way, losing their loved ones, all because there is this subconscious drive or better the will of Allah, that is forcing them to go on a deadly crusade. You would have to be an idiot to believe this kind of narrative, however, Mr Cestnik is confidently defending his standpoint, without a shrivel of a doubt. The logic that he is proposing is very simplistic, as well as it has no real grounds in the reality of circumstances. I also have to point out that personification of certain notions such as ‘evil strategy’ of Islam, that is ‘pushing’ sort of like an urge, makes it very easy to identify with the threat, it becomes a living entity that we should fear, similar to the personification of the market today, or the invisible hand that is regulating the market dynamics. The God (whichever it is), is in charge and responsible for our faith, we should not question it too much. However, if this were the case, if Mr Cestnik would really believe that God is the creator of all and imposes the will upon its subjects, it would be correct to assume that in the case of Islam penetrating Europe (which is not the case), there would be very little we could do about it. Since this is not the real aim and objective of the article, we can understand the hypocrisy of the matter. The article is written purely in the spirit of addressing the scared masses, that have no real understanding what they are actually afraid of, mobilising them into these groups of proud defenders of national and cultural values and interests. Protecting our land and our women, kind of narrative. A real man has to be ready to sacrifice himself and defend his women against the foreign, very precise threat embodied in the Islam.
To move into the second paragraph of the article, Mr Cestnik goes on describing the demographic condition of Europe saying; “it is a demographically empty space”. That Europeans have very little children. By now we can confidently conclude that this article is full of this kind of empty signifiers, or impossible conceptions of the subject. Dialectical formation ‘demographically empty space’ is not only nonsensical, it is an ontologically impossible condition. If we would take this contradiction as effectively true, we would be describing a space without content, or to put it differently, a space without people. I am wondering why did he have to use the word demographics, as the de facto condition for demographics is people, you cannot have demographics without people. If Slovenia would be in fact a ‘demographically empty space’, there would be just woods and deer running around freely. The idea behind this use of ‘fancy’ words, justifying his thesis that an empty space will by nature be filled, in this case by the Other, ‘demographically different’ entity.
Europeans cannot be bothered to produce offspring, to ensure their own existence. Logic would be, that if one entity disappears or is unable to survive, another will take its place. Like the Darwinian theory of evolution. If Christians cease to procreate, Muslims will come, take over and turn everyone Muslim. As this is the common praxis in nature. The author is convinced that this new entity that will take over is, in fact, a Muslim culture. Not, for instance, Hindu, Jewish or perhaps not even different ethnicity or other animal species for that matter. The idea here is that at some point the world will become a Muslim planet. This is the outcome of Christians not being interested in preserving and of course defending their own values and beliefs.

To go a step further and make things even more absurd, he goes on stating that we are inhibiting not only demographically empty space, but also spiritually empty. Yet another contradiction implies that even these tiny entities that still somehow persist in this space, are clearly dead inside, exempt of their spiritual dimension. “European women and men live as though there is no God. They live passed the God and at times systematically against God”. It is quite obvious that Mr Cestnik has never heard about or read Nietzsche, but I would not expect him to make use of critique of his own convictions. Again he is talking down to the people, as a true messenger of God, the mighty conveyor, that is talking to the ‘Nation’ as a father would to a child. Europeans are naughty children that are scrutinising God, and intentionally disobeying his will and authority. We might encounter these dialectics in a lot of authoritarian regimes, and particularly fascist propaganda made/makes regular use of such formations, to mislead and frighten the masses, keep them in the ignorant state. It is the position of the prolonged symbiosis, that is formed and maintained long after it’s necessary or natural period, namely the healthy symbiosis of the mother and the child, that should be resolved in a natural manner after the child has reached full autonomous maturity (2). Fromm argued in many of his articles considering authoritarian personalities, that tendentially, authoritarian personalities, dictators haven’t developed their personality in a way that they are self-sufficient, they grasp for identification and merging with entities such as nations for instance, that are man-made concepts, therefore fictional, or non-real. I could well imagine the personality of the author, being disturbed in that direction, he needs to advocate violence and defend the categorisation us vs. them, in order to feel OK with himself. He is using terms such as ‘The house without firm foundations is bound to fall’. This is a typical conviction that you would hear from your parents or grandparents, these injunctions usually have no real grounds in facts, they are implemented culturally, to remind us of some strong beliefs about our ‘cultural foundations’. He also adds the warning of prophecy what happens to the nations or formations that forget about their ‘true cultural foundations’ and neglect their own God. This could be literally translated into something like this; “Beware, children, if you refuse to obey your father!” Of course, there is a quote from the Bible as well, to add to the convincing material he already laid down. To conclude this message he also goes to mention Atilla the mighty warlord, even so, he was not Christian, he found this lesson quite useful, namely that Atilla in his times was referred to as ‘the stick of God’ (stick or a branch that you would potentially use to hit others with), perhaps we could use the term whip as in those times people would be whipped heavily for their sins. The insinuation being, God sent Attila for a very precise reason, the barbaric destruction of Attila was a clear message from God and the ‘meaning of our times’, as Mr Cestnik defined this prophetic reading. He goes further clarifying his thesis; “similarly, today, with the Islam knocking on our doors, we can see the message or warning of God and ask ourselves: What is God trying to tell us?” Of course this is not a rhetorical question, you are truly meant to answer it, and of course conveniently, the correct answer to the question is that; “perhaps, a Muslim, is this last warning we will receive, that there is still time for our women and men to turn back to Jesus Christ, the real father of our civilisation”. I believe I do not have to argue that this is an open invitation for a discrimination of Islam and Muslim culture. Those immigrants fleeing their countries and coming to Europe is not the consequence of the war wagered against the Middle East (that we actively contribute to), but they are translated into this perverse message from God trying to make us restore faith in him and stop acting in this blasphemous way, by trying to defend and help the misfortunate refugees. In this case, God is this selfish individual that is trying to get back to his children that betrayed him. He is deeply offended and angry. Also, he will make us suffer, because we showed compassion and love for the other. The idea that our love should be reserved only for our closest (being family and of course God), he, she who decides to deliberately disobey this ‘natural’ way of relation, will be judged as a traitor to his nation and a heretic.

Notes

  1. Aqida of Imam Abu Jafar al-Tahawi (239-321): “38. He is beyond having limits placed on Him, or being restricted, or having parts or limbs. Nor is He contained by the six directions as all created things are.” “51. He encompasses all things and that which is above it, and what He has created is incapable of encompassing Him.”

  2. Fromm, E.(1957). “The Authoritarian Personality”.First published: in Deutsche Universitätszeitung, Band 12 (Nr. 9, 1957), pp. 3-4

 

Theory of uselessness

Humanity has transcended the utilitarian concept.

Written by Dorotea Pospihalj

In today’s society, even though we have the conviction that we have to be useful, and serve the common social good to some extent, that is not necessarily so. We do not have to be useful, even if it is in the human nature to do useful things until the basic needs are met.  As in all things, there is a gap between useful and useless. The gap interrupts the useful and the outcome is a completely useless product. We construct useless things. Why is that? Why at some point a human cannot follow the line of strict usefulness and engages in what is from a strictly utilitarian point of view a useless activity. When we are at work and have nothing to do, we spend an enormous amount of time on Facebook or reading news that has no real use for our daily life. We are swamped with information and images, that our brain cannot place in any utilitarian brackets.

We should also consider the scale of values, if something is useless or not, if something has value or not, to whom? This is what social consensus is built upon. The social rules that we should go by if we want to be fully included functional subjects.  It is safe to agree, that humans have developed beyond a purely utilitarian notion of production and engagement. We have the means and knowledge to solve food and shelter problems worldwide.  

As Abraham Maslow as well as Karl Marx, in his theory of needs, when the basic human needs are met, a human invents new ones. We have invented God, as an unreachable authority and ideal, to which we strive towards, and we also invented biogenetics, and effectively, defeated God himself. Of course, any theologian would argue that it is God that enabled us to develop biotechnology. We are approaching a zero level point, where more people will become totally socially useless, than ever before in our history. We invented machines that are doing things for us, yet the deeply inherent need to be socially useful is causing uncertainties and doubts. Why are we so critical towards the notion of uselessness, or things that we regard useless, when the basic of our social construct today, the prevalent one at least, is deeply useless in its very origin. Ideologically or realistically even we do live in highly useless times. Or as Žižek would’ve put it, the end times. Sectors that are immediately connected to our survival, such as food, healthcare, and housing, are ever more blurring the lines between useless and useful. When the basic needs are met, what we see is the surplus offer, that has no immediate or utilitarian function. Plastic surgery, fast food, and other commodities that are connected to the ideological sphere of our social construct. Between useful-necessary and useless-not needed is a very thin line that is ever more disappearing. 

Perhaps a mind shift is needed, how we see a human in today’s society. Is the worth and value of a human determined by the impact he/she has in the social environment? Do we value people based on how many hours they spend behind the desk? How much money(true value) they bring to the company?  

Humanity is fundamentally about the transcendence of the purely utilitarian concept. Perhaps, this is also a very partial view on the matter and we strive towards man-made concepts that in nature cannot be attainable. 

When we finish our daily routine also called a job, the “useful” activity, we retire home and after dinner and other routines, we usually engage in less useful things, such as watching TV. Another phenomenon that is a royal example of the human useless production is bureaucracy. The two official, predominant meanings of the term bureaucracy are 1; a system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by the state officials, rather than by elected representatives. Number 2; excessively complicated administrative procedure.  Is it not precisely a concept such as bureaucracy a purely useless invention of our modern society? The sole purpose of such social bodies is to generate some sort of activity, as the purpose and the end. They are not producing value or creating a socially useful solution. I would argue, that it is inherent human nature to do useless things. The movie that illustrates perfectly the predicament of the bureaucratic machinery is Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985). The movie is exploring the pure nonsense of the bureaucratic totalitarian government. We could deduct that the bureaucratic world is largely dysfunctional and to go even further, it is the very obstacle that prevents the functional, useful mechanisms to operate, with no disruption. The pure irrationality of the procedure should be enough to make this point and make us think about the stomach-twisting agony of the system as such. It is surely a mind-numbing, repetitive concept for the person that is employed by the apparatus, as well as the individual that needs to undergo the painful experience of the bureaucratic procedure. 

I do hold that it is in the human nature to engage and produce useful solutions, due to the basic existential position, one needs to survive and will engage the energy to do so. As argued before, once the basic or survival needs are met, we might create new ones that are not strictly connected to the basic organic human need. They are the product of our cognitive process. Thinking that is provoked by our surroundings. I believe that it is not a necessity to be socially productive, at least not all of the individuals in the same society. There is a gap, as in all things, a gap that interrupts the useful activity and produces a seemingly or actually a very useless outcome. Why is that? Is there any explanation behind it? Could we rationally explain in an empirical way, why this is so? We think of and make objects that have no true meaning or value. I do believe we should adopt a fatalist standpoint in this situation, and argue that things don’t always have a meaning or a purpose. I do believe that it is a human conviction, deriving from the structure hunger, to systematically make sense of themselves and the world around them. The uselessness is not always a negative, or useless concept. Sometimes it could be a reminder of how random the world is and how our life is constructed on mere accidents or weird coincidences. The usefulness of the useless is beautifully portrayed by the Italian philosopher Nuccio Ordine in the book with the same title (Usefulness of the useless). Based on the examples from the most beautiful visual art, poetry, philosophy, and literature, he draws parallels between useful and useless. Why are we so desperately trying to see art as this essential and most useful advancement of the human civilisation. Perhaps art and all that is beautiful is quite useless and meaningless and serves no real purpose. Perhaps artists have this internal urge to produce, not because there is a real, substantial need for their production, but because that is just the way they employ their time. Another thing about usefulness that should be questioned is the scale of values connected to those concepts and usefulness of those things for whom? My extensive research is in the fashion industry. Where does fashion stand on the scale of useful things a human has produced and to whom it is valuable. More than that, the question of what this value is based on? The critique, in this case, is more towards the distortion of moral values, implemented of course by neoliberal ideology and the current market system. Perhaps we should not direct our criticism towards fashion as such, rather the interaction and use of the notion. Why do we employ fashion and what are the motivators that drive the production and consumption of fashion.  In a consumerist society, fashion as well as all the other goods and services, are produced for profit. Not to satisfy basic needs, but to generate profit for the owners of the means of production. Food, shelter and clothes, even healthcare and basic infrastructure, as our basic need requirements have turned into a commodity. The theory of commodity fetishism by Karl Marx identifies very well the predominant problem with the value system according to the commodities. They are valued according to the market value, that is in fact disconnected from the labor value as well as the actual value of the commodity. I would also add that the commodities today are breaching a gap, where they are becoming disconnected from the actual needs, we have as humans. The predominant ideology is replacing actual need with wants. Or to put it differently, the wants are becoming the needs, that have to be met. This is a classic principle in psychoanalysis that deals with the basic confusion in the system of values and relationships of the individual, with the outside world.

In this sense, I would argue that the current commodity ideology is the prime example of what is useless. We might think that the things we buy, have some value and are of much use, indeed in some cases, it is so, however it is quite clear that the significant number of commodities in circulation today, are quite useless.  

In case we have any interest in changing or even abolishing the way neoliberal ideology or the market system functions, we will have to consider a significant mind shift, of how we see a human and the society. We will be forced to abolish certain concepts and ideas. Think of freedom, not as freedom of choice, that is the main antagonism today. I believe that there is a great need for reinterpretation of our predominant culture and this would be a truly useful act at its purest.

 

A thought on humanity

Written by Dorotea Pospihalj


The power of human culture is not only to build an autonomous symbolic universe beyond what we experience as nature, but to produce new ‘unnatural’ natural objects which materialize human knowledge. We not only ‘symbolize nature’ we as it were denaturalize it from within. Such moments when ‘the word becomes flesh’ are truly terrifying.

- Slavoj Žižek, Disparities

To a certain extent this is the inherent nature of humans, to step away, to alienate oneself from the very reality that produced it. We as a species are ever more becoming our knowledge. In a certain way, the knowledge generated should be put to greater use, and to go even further, we are incorporating it in our very physical being. We are transforming the very code of what does it mean to be human.  Biogenetics and biotechnology are becoming  components of our daily reality. As it were, we are becoming modified creatures. Human is a part of nature, purely natural materialisation, yet we came to the point where we want to detach from it. As when we are old enough to leave our mother and go find our own way. Is this action natural, or is it the realm of unnatural objectification, the manipulation of the natural, transforming it to a denaturalised entity or behaviour. We are ever more denaturalising ourselves as well as our environment, on which we depend for survival. We can even go a step further and say that we are quite directly destroying it, and with that, destroying our species as well as many others along the way. This is the position of self-negation and an act of self-sabotage. What we saw and read in sci-fi scenarios, somehow materializes in reality, like a fantasy that is almost impossible to believe. The fact that Donald Trump can become a president of the United States, indicates how our social construct is purely fictional. It seems like a plot of a really bad movie, yet it is a reality. When reality exceeds fantasy, when reality feels less real than our imagination, we have entered fully into the space of ideology.

The questions that should be asked, today more than ever, what are the coordinates for human development. We should approach the events today with a critical analysis, and change the very coordinates of the faith, or as it is, the framework of today’s political and social system. I wonder if retroactively, one day we will realise that all occurring events, such as Trump being the president, or Brexit, were just historical necessities. The event that had to happen in order for the timeline to continue.

It might be useful to look at our relationship with life and death. The certain ending that we still fail to surpass. The defeat of the death itself is becoming a very realistic possibility in a very near future. However, again, for whom is this a possibility? It is the elite that will have the transcendental powers, while the rest of let’s say less fortunate, will be left behind to starve and die in an impoverished and ruined ecosystem. The question such as what is life? How we live it, how we spend our time, will become almost irrelevant, as we do not have a predestined ending that awaits us.

In an almost Nietzschean way we could say, what is life if not filling in the time in attendance of a  certain ending that is death? The human activity and occupation is solely motivated by the amount of fear we have for death. How badly do we want to distract ourselves, not to think about death. People have different relationship with the unknown domain of death, it is something we cannot experience until it does not really take place.  Some are busy structuring every minute of their waking hours, in order not to reflect on the matter that is haunting us. The more pessimistic or rather realistic individuals, are probably less occupied by the troubling matter of the future, and approach life with a sense of stoic calm. There is a very thin line between the new age mindfulness, the being in the now, and a more realistic version, perhaps the stoic experience of the moment and the reality. The difference between the two is quite significant. Where one is doing everything in it’s power to stay in the now, precisely to avoid the daunting question of the past and the future and the correlation of the latter to the present moment, precisely to avoid the question what comes later. The latter, realist, stoic accepts the predicament, of life and inevitable death, and patiently awaits the end.

With the new age technology, the proposition of the end of death as such, what is going to happen to the humanity, the very notion that makes us human finite beings? How are we going to see this new reality, and what are the new reflections going to be based on? What is the future Nietzsche going to write in regards to the relationship between human and eternal life?

The story – Dorotea P London

Dorotea P London Spring 2015-1728-Edit copy

I was always the quiet kid, that preferred to stay at the back, observe and analyze situations rather then interact. Because humans are beings of interactions and it is in our nature to do so, I just had to find the medium of communication. Find my own language. This is how I chose to make fashion. It was perfect, I wouldn’t have to speak a lot, and it required a lot of time spent in the studio, dedicated to the creative process. From a young age, I knew I was somewhat different from my friends. This feeling of being different, still persists to this day.
Today we live in a world that is overflown with information and products, it is so easy to get confused and distracted. If you are an individual with a need for quiet, it can be quite challenging to live in an environment that is shouting most of the time.

I based my label on the notion of reminder, that uniqueness, simple shapes and aesthetics are a natural state of a human being. Alternative dressing for alternative lifestyle, I thought. Wasn’t really sure what this alternative is, but I guess it’s different from what we have now. My collections started to show the accommodation of this need for a more introspective life, garments that somebody who is not looking for external recognition and approval would wear.

However, this does not mean that such a person would have nothing to say. We all have the need for self-expression and interactions with our environment, we just do it in different manners. It comes down to your style.
I always saw my identity as an alive, ever changing entity, that grows and develops as we do. With fashion, I learned to tell my story. Through this process, I realized how important it is to make your own opinions and ideas about life, so that your identity, really is unique and individual, not a product of a trend. One collection after another, I started to think about my love for non-colors.

Just black and white, the opposition of a busy colorful, consumption-driven lifestyle. For me, non-colors call for a space of tradition, tranquility. A place where we slow down and reflect. Somewhere we can escape for a moment, away from the public eye.

doroteaplondon-0218-2 copy

Each individual in this world is a different story. So many ways to tell that story as well. Fashion allows me to connect with likeminded people. It is a visual statement of who we are. What we stand for. Our belonging to a certain group, could be a political statement, or simply an indication of our philosophy of life. I think that sometimes we tend to forget this, or don’t put as much thought into it. With our external presence, we communicate to the surroundings our mindset, values and personality. If we take a look at our Western society today, learn and try to understand it, we can start to question our moral values a bit. What are we saying about ourselves?

This is why I like to get inspired by Middle Eastern culture and aesthetics. There is something very interesting, on a cultural and social level. A Middle Eastern woman,sopowerfulyetelegant.MoreIgettoknowpeoplefromdifferentpartsof the Middle East, more I get to like their way of life, and respect they have for each other and themselves. Something I am missing in Europe nowadays. I started to reflect about my European social heritage, rethinking cultural values. Namely, dress code that one decides to adopt, makes a mirror reflection of the social condition.

In thought of all those realities and the feeling of not fitting in, I started to look for creative solutions, that would allow me to be who I am, and be accepted by people around me. I want to design clothes based on social awareness, that allows the space for self-expression and interaction with the garment, making it one’s own.

My philosophy in life is composed of searching for new aesthetics, new education. Developing new ways of relating to the world, and oneself. All of the above, have a common starting point, quality.

Dorotea P London Spring 2015-1780 copyWritten by Dorotea P.

Post capitalism and new alternatives- Let’s talk Liberland podcast

There is a fundamental paradox in today’s system that Michael Foucault called the conduct of conduct. Namely, liberalism advertises the individual sovereignty and the free individual, yet government requires that individual behaviour to be regulated and modified…

Where the actual inherency lies and why our system cannot be imaged different from what it is.

There is notion developed by Foucault called, governmentality composed out of governing and mentality so it means the mentality of the government. It is also understood as the art of government and the know how of governing. What is important to note that it does not signifies the power of the authoritarian entity that has it’s subjects, but also signifies problems of self-control guidance for the family management.

I would suggest that the governmentally is like a leaf of the branch called biopolitics, it is about a wide range of control techniques, and applies to variety of objects, from ones’ control of self, to the biopolitical control of populations. The concept is highly connected to the power of knowledge. He encourages us to think of power not in terms of hierarchical top-down power, he widens the understanding of power to include the forms of social control in disciplinary institutions such as schools, hospitals ect. as well as the forms of knowledge.
Power can be manifested in many ways, including the knowledge and discourses that get internalised by individuals, there for guide the behaviour of the population. This leads to efficient form of social control, as the knowledge enables the individual to govern themselves. To have a responsible free society, knowledge equals power and you do not need the external entity embodying the power that you can within.
No wonder governmentally is often connected and referred to when we speak of neoliberal governmentality. That characterises the advanced liberal democracy, in this case it refers to societies where power is de-centred, and the members play an active role in their self-governing process the individuals need to be regulated from the inside.
The basic notion of governmentally is to form a happy satisfied society that is the core value in a way. The governments means to the end is the apparatuses for security, that would provide a sense of economical, political, cultural and social well-being. It would be achieved by political economy.
So in other words, what is govrnemntality, the end that is a happy stable society, with the means to this end, the apparatuses of security with the specific knowledge that is political economy, to create a modern administrative state with complex bureaucracies.
This concept had further development and contribution I would like to put out Dean’s , that is the breaking of the term.
Comes from the way he breaks the term up into ‘govern’ ‘mentality’, or mentalities of governing—mentality being a mental disposition or outlook. This means that the concept of governmentality is not just a tool for thinking about government and governing but also incorporates how and what people who are governed think about the way they are governed. He defines thinking as a “collective activity” that is, the sum of the knowledge, beliefs and opinions held by those who are governed. He also raises the point that a mentality is not usually “examined by those who inhabit it”  This raises the interesting point that those who are governed may not understand the unnaturalness of both the way they live and the fact that they take this way of life for granted—that the same activity in which they engage in “can be regarded as a different form of practice depending on the mentalities that invest it”
This is an interesting point towards understanding that the society cannot fully grasp their condition. For instance today everyone thinks it’s normal to be indebted and that the entire countries can fall because of the austerity and crises, as if we are not fully awake in the moment that these events are taking place.
Fukuyama writes “a liberal State is ultimately a limited State, with governmental activity strictly bounded by the sphere of individual liberty”. However, only a certain type of liberty, a certain way of understanding and exercising freedom is compatible with Neo-liberalism. If Neo-liberalist government is to fully realise its goals, individuals must come to recognise and act upon themselves as both free and responsible. Lemke states, a mentality of government “is not pure, neutral knowledge that simply re-presents the governing reality” instead, Neo-liberalism constitutes an attempt to link a reduction in state welfare services and security systems to the increasing call for subjects to become free, enterprising, autonomous individuals. It can then begin to govern its subjects, not through intrusive state bureaucracies backed with legal powers, the imposition of moral standards under a religious mandate, but through structuring the possible field of action in which they govern themselves, to govern them through their freedom. Through the transformation of subjects with duties and obligations, into individuals, with rights and freedoms, modern individuals are not merely ‘free to choose’ but obliged to be free, “to understand and enact their lives in terms of choice”  This freedom is a different freedom to that offered in the past. It is a freedom to realise our potential and our dreams through reshaping the way in which we conduct our lives.
This is a form of forced choice and freedom, again the concept of the frame of reference that is so rigid, and inside the frame there are realities that are shaping our personal freedom, this can be mildly modified in terms of you can choose this or that coffee, sleep with a man or a woman, but for instance there is no possibility to change the concept of the neoliberal frame, in which this realities exist, there for real change becomes impossible.
The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that “thought is the courage of hopelessness” –  even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. There is no better example of the need for such courage than Greece today. – Slavoj Žižek, on Greece the courage of hopelessness
So Greece understood that the bailout that was offered to the by the institution and the IMF is simply not enough to drag them out of the crisis they are in and interestingly enough the same was confirmed by the IMF itself, so the problem is probably somewhere else, does the EU believe in their bailout strategies, or is it just an extortionist strategy to teach the other members a lesson. Again we had the confirmation of the movement started. things changed with the famous oxi, the Greek no was a true gesture of freedom and autonomy, against the oppressive master. And this is the idea we should try to imagine, that we are able to say no. The bigger question is of course what happens the day after, when all the ecstatic negation is over and we have to again accept the every day reality, and go on as business as usual. The Grexit was portrayed as something unimaginable something that would cause an immediate social disintegration. In a way it is an impossible-real which can have unpredictable consequences, as Paul Krugman pointed out. Syriza is aware that courageous gesture could cause the Greek people great desirability and even more misery. But how is our society structured in a way that the only option is that we have no option but to obey and serve the authority. The only way out is to go back to the grassroots make the government as an establishment apsolete. Parties like syriza should self-organise, and deny the authority as we know today. However the grassroots cannot replace the stationed the question persists, how to reorganise the state apparatus to make it function.
The situation of Greece, makes one thing very clear; the Capital is our symbolical fictional Real, it is the Big Other the entity that is controlling and dictating our every day lives. Todays’ protests, are the overlapping of different levels of our dissatisfaction and we fight for; parliamentary democracy against authoritarian regimes; agains racism and sexism, for well-fare state and against neoliberalism. against all kinds of corruption, and questioning the global capitalism, and try to keep the idea of non-capitalist society alive.
Both extreme ends are to be avoided the false radicalism that we have a solution, the left oriented ideas of capital liberal abolition, that this is the priority and everything else will follow and also the false gradualism that step by step the change is possible. That now we fight the military dictatorship and all the socialist dreams will come later. We have examples of these radical changes that don’t bring much change in the end. In Egypt the uprising and the Arab spring did effectively eliminate Mubarak but the corruption resisted it was just redirected.
After the overthrow of an authoritarian regime, the last vestiges of patriarchal care for the poor can fall away, so that the newly gained freedom is de facto reduced to the freedom to choose the preferred form of one’s misery – the majority not only remains poor, but, to , it is being told that, since they are now free, poverty is their own responsibility. In such a predicament, we have to admit that there was flaw in our goal itself, that this goal was not specific enough – say, that standard political democracy can also serve as the very form of un-freedom: political freedom can easily provide the legal frame for economic slavery, with the underprivileged “freely” selling themselves into servitude. We are thus brought to demand more than just political democracy – democratization also of social and economic life. In short, we have to admit that what we first took as the failure to fully realise a noble principle (of democratic freedom) is a failure inherent to this principle itself.
The bottom line; The apparatus is mobilised to prevent us from grasping this radical conclusion. To start doubting the system items. Things like, democratic freedom brings it’s own responsibility, it comes at a price, that we are not mature enough if we expect too much from democracy. So now there is a massive challenge for the emancipatory politics, the stage where the first excitement is over, what is the second step, how do we go forward without falling to totalitarian temptation, so how do we move from messiah complex but also not creating the 4th reich.
The anthropological reasons why we are having so much trouble realising that one era might be finishing, and we still don’t have a clear plan on how to move forward
Italian philosopher and anthropologist Umberto Galimberti, that wrote on nihilism and the youth today, myths of our time that are staring the life of a contemporary individual.

We cannot find the right way, because money has become the symbolical and actual generator of all values. And also because we live in the era of technology that managed to produce the highest level of rationality so far in the human history. Everything that is outside of the parameter of the values of efficiency rationality and productivity, is not interesting for the modern society that is based on technology. This is the reason why the emotions are reduced only to personal intimate sphere. And in these conditions there is no space for solidarity, we are not coworkers and companions anymore just rivals, in the game for survival. Also the notion of responsibility is reduced down to following the orders, and our responsibility is directed only towards our employer but not to people working with us side by side.

A little anecdote that would prove this is so; Franz Paul Stangl, the director of the concentration camp in Treblinka, was asked how he managed to do all the horrible things they were doing in the concentration camp, It was a crime against humanity, yet the business there went as usual. He replied calmly, ; At 11 am 3.000 people came, that we had to murder until 5pm. Next 3.000 we had to eliminate until the next morning. That was the method of work in that organisation and I was a good functionary. The answer to the question, if somebody is good or bad is reduced merely to weather he is performing his duties well or not. The responsibility does not extent to the subject of the line of work, weather it is moral or not or weather it is generally good or bad. And today, the principle is based on this notion.

This also indicates the high level of rationality in our society, and from rationality to nihilism is just one step apart.
Nietzsche, that invented the concept of nihilism, defined it ; the lack of meaning , lack of answers to the question why, devaluation of all values. The values that are devalued, don’t matter any longer. The first two questions indicated are important, if there is no meaning, the future becomes dangerous and unpredictable, it is no longer a promise and based on hope. Technology there for, is no longer a tool, it constructs a new regime, hard rationality based, that is cutting out of the game all irrelevant factors, people, that are not in line with the goal.

To find support for the tendencies we can look at the Italian political atmosphere with the prime minister Matteo Renzi, that is pointing out  that the future belongs to the youth and it is about time that we let them lead the country. Italy had enough of old people running their country, Renzi will commit good and bad things but his central message to the young people is giving them hope He is acknowledging their power and capability. They also possess the sexual energy, that is not the procreational one, since the social economical conditions are not enabling that function, but it is a natural creative power. Young people have  that what we loose at some point. Einstein gave to the world the biggest invention when he was 24. Also for Galimberti, most of his brilliant works came between the age of 20’s and 30’s. If a society gives up on that biological power, sexual power, intellectual power, it has no future.

Habermas was talking about the change of economical political system, how current situation is colonising the world  of life. Is it even possible to reverse the trend so that the life would have more influence on the system itself instead of being driven by neoliberal ideology of profit and exploitation? Could this be possible by the implementation of direct democracy or by straightening  the institutions of the social -civil establishment?

At this point it seems unlikely. For instance, Germany should begin to realise that it cannot impoverish  the south of Europe and carry on with the colonisation, maybe one day when the EU establishment is aware of those realities, we will be able to restructure the Europe based on other things apart from economical. One day when we have political Europe, that can be also based on the world of life. But until the main bond and subject of business is the euro, this question cannot be answered.

We are entering or maybe we already have, something called the post-capitalist era.
I would like to point out an article  in Guardian, written by Paul Mason.
In his opinion we are entering the post capitalist era. Buzz words such as sharing economy and information technology are ever more present in our every day lives. Even if it will take a long time for a drastic change to happen, it is time to be a bit utopian.
Capitalism will be abolished by the new created alternative, a dynamic, at first, a new unseen that will break trough and reshape the economy and behaviour as we know it. Post capitalism is a possible scenario because of one major thing that changed our history forever and that is the era of information. Firstly, it reduced the need of work labour force and another thing, while markets are based on scarcity the information is abundant. There for we will have to imagine a new system with new ways of valuing things and products. There is a spontaneous rise of collaborative relations and cooperation. They no longer respond to market dictatorship and managerial hierarchies. They are decentralised and autonomous. Let’s take Wikipedia for example it is the world’s biggest information product and its done exclusively by volunteers. The grassroots economy and systems such as parallel currencies, time banks and similar are seen as not real economy by the mainstream economists, they don’t know how to value it and it provokes very little interest. And that is precisely the point and also the reason why it can provoke a radical change in the system. So we have this underground economy, the subculture, that is coexisting, new forms of ownership, sharing economy and commons things like peer-production are thrown around a lot but we never ask ourselves what does this really mean for capitalism?
Because this is no longer just a survival -mechanism a sort of escape alternative to the current situation, it is a new way of living that beings new mindsets and it is in the process of formation.
So how will this affect our every day life?
During the second world war, economist viewed information simply as common good, and that no profit should be made on that account. Then we began to understand intellectual property, and that the purpose of the free market and invention is to create intellectual property rights. This is where we can get to logical conclusion that if a free market economy plus intellectual property are  leading to underutilisation of the information, then economy based on full utilisation of information cannot tolerate free market or absolute intellectual property rights.
Where these train of thoughts come from? We will have to go back to Kentish town London in 1858 when karl Marx was writing the fragment on Machines.
He imagines an economy in which the main role of machines is to produce and the human to supervise them. The main productive force is information. and the social knowledge is the one that produced them. Organisation and knowledge made a bigger contribution to productive power then work of making.
Once the knowledge becomes a productive force, the big question arrises who controls the power of knowledge. Connected to this notion, Marx imagines something like information to be collected and stored as a general intellect it will combine all the knowledge of all the minds of everybody on Earth connected by social knowledge in which all the upgrades automatically benefit everyone.
The existence of such reality would blow capitalism sky high.
I believe we are entering the era where the production is not the mean and end of the process, in the information society no thought, or debate or a dream can be valued as useless, no matter where and how it was conceived. Is it utopian to believe that we are on the verge of an evolution? that this is not a final stage of human development?
Why is it so hard to imagine economic freedom when we have all other so called personal freedoms. Why is it impossible to imagine a dissociation of work from wages, nonhierarchical system and abundant information that is free and produces more free things?

Written by Dorotea P.

Source:

Slavoj Žižek, on Greece: the courage of hopelessness New Statesman
http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2015/07/slavoj-i-ek-greece-courage-hopelessness
Paul Manson, The end of capitalism has begun
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun

New aesthetics, new education

mood

I draw a lot of inspiration from the modern optimized living space, if our homes are designed in a thoughtful manner, why cant our garments refl゚ect the same reality? For me, design equals problem solving. Therefor fashion is a performance of functionality. In the end, it really comes down to design and not fashion. With design you set the fashion.

How come that our generation gave up on things that are either way unavailable to us?

Where deos this need for spirituality comes from? Awakening of a broader awareness and new Western Buddhism, or as Zizek puts it ; pseudo-Buddhist hedonism. Quick and easy accessible spiritual awakening crash courses and self-therapy kits that are available to everyone with just a click of a button.

Buddhistic monks would question this need and motives of the Western society as for spirituality it is not something you possess it is the way of life and a state you live. Because our generation will never have what was still very normal course of life for our previous generations, You grow up, buy a house and have a family. Cultivate your backyard and wash your car at the end of the week.  If you are unable to cultivate your backyard (because you don’t have a house that has a backyard) you have to cultivate yourself.

Shame we made a jump in mode of functioning and restructured our values without really changing the very frames, in which our functioning takes place, and modalities available. As Zizek points out nicely, to choose one freedom over another inside the context frame that is giving us the options is not the true freedom. But to change the frame we all live in today, itself would be a true definition of freedom. Choosing the frame of context that defines and offers all the small freedoms. Changing the society is not as much about understanding that debt is death or private property is modern slavery as any working position in almost every sector in today’s society. Now we moved or better yet, we directed our attention to the only thing we do truly possess and that is our body and mind. Or that is what we wish to believe that somehow we escaped the naive way of thinking that was bounding down previous generations.

Our mind is mostly property of propaganda and mass media of the corporate world, that has the power to direct it in any way desired. Our bodies are the result of that image constructed, so in a way what we truly are, is kind of a walking free agents, employed by the industry to advertise the values they implement ,and also end up paying for it. This turns the situation to an even bigger absurdity.

The true question is; which generation actually lived more fulfilled and somewhat happy lives; ones that actually could afford normal living conditions and didn’t have to think and question their existence as much, or the new pseudo-enlightened generation that knows everything but has nothing. (apart from their super ego driven mind). If we analyze the most common drugs today the list grew longer then it was 20 years ago. Today we can be addicted from fitness, food, work, shopping, excessive consumption, self image then the already known ones; alcohol and hard drugs.

Today’s society looks something like this, accumulation of objects and over-consumption of services and substances.
In other words better to possess worldly objects or renting them for the time being, or the image constructed by those same objects without really possessing them as the illusion of the free self?

How do we reframe the very referential frame of today’s society? How to implement new values and modalities of functioning?
The conclusion is that maybe we are not smarter, more free and enlightened that previous generations, if anything we are blinded by the image implemented by the same apparatus that is restricting our freedom. And also defending it.

new news

Mightaswellhave was a site I started some time ago without a very clear aim or reason for that matter. As a designer and a visual artist, you often gather material and produce a lot of imagery. I decided to gather them here, make it an inspirational library available to everyone. So that is that regarding the visual stuff. Occasionally you will be able to notice internal reflections, thoughts and Ou, you might also find answers to, how to psycho-analyze your neighbour.