Smelling the Rat: Technopolitics@Boem (Workshop)

Public Presentation and Discussion, 8 pm CET, Saturday March 5, 2011: The financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting fiscal crisis now unfolding throughout the developed world should have finally made it clear to all that neoliberalism as a political ideology is finished. But neoliberal recipes prevail in the official sphere of politics while several other crises loom, from an ecological crisis to an energy and food crisis to a crisis of education and the political systems. Meanwhile, no clear unifying political agenda is visible on the horizon. Is it not possible to begin searching for a concerted response by all those groups who want a different way of life?

The Yugoslav Surrealist writer Oskar Davičo wrote after visiting West Afrika that if someone can write a poem in the language of the colonial power this is a first step towards liberation, but in a next step the colonial language should be mixed with the four most important tribal languages; this is what happens now in Eastern Afrika with the language Sheng which was created in Kenya and is now used by more and more people throughout the region. The emergence of Sheng and the potentialisties of new media open new possibilities for post-nationalist political agitation.

Until the Sixties the left demanded the right to shower, the Punk movement declared that stinking is political. What had happened in between? The troubled biopolitics of the right and the left conspired to sideline the role of animals as agents of history in the twentieth century. The border patrols of legitimate activism can be bypassed by focussing on animals and animality in relationship to economic and social transformations in the context of "Fordism" and its crisis. How did the industrialization of agriculture and the heritage of hygienic improvement movements interrelate with the restructuring of feeling about the human body and sharing multispecies habitats?

In areas on the territory of a country formerly known as Yugoslavia workers have used ancient communist legistlation to take over factories under the banner of self-management. Applying methods of grassroots democratic self-organisation those initiatives which exist like islands in a neocapitalist sea reach out to other initiatives to form networks or workers counciles, bringing democracy into the sites of production; similar initiatives in southern Switzerland are examples among many other which step by step move outside the capitalist mode of production and rehearse forms of political and economic self-organisation.

Technopolitics is a praxis oriented research project that tries to create productive links between theories of political-economic transformation and the political agency of groups on the "edges" (socially, culturally, geographically). According to existing theories about technological change and long economic cycles (Kondratieff waves), new technopolitical paradigms arise about every 50 years. These are coherent articulations between types of machines, forms of organization and supporting social institutions. They originate in a particular hegemonic centre (in our era, the USA) and disseminate through the capitalist world in outwardly radiating movements. The power of the hegemon accrues from its ability to spark innovations - combinations of ways of organisation, political domination and new technologies – which, as they are picked up by rivals, slowly start to loose their capacity to guarantee an advantage to the central power. The new competition increases pressure on human and natural resources until a deep crisis arises which cannot be resolved within the same paradigm, so that a reconfiguration of the system as a whole becomes necessary. It seems that we have entered such a crisis today.

A closed workshop over two days maps the themes and topics described above onto a timeline from the end of WWII till today. The results of this workshop will be presented to the interested public on the evening of Sat, March 5 after 8 pm at Boem, Koppstrasse 26, 1160 Wien