Ravirer A digital garden about disrupting status quo

problems bigger than states

I am currently reading many wonderful books, among them The Communism of Love by Richard Gilman-Opalsky. In there the author does brilliant work at summarizing the theory of so many interesting people and I would like to mention one of them right now. It is nobody else than Bernard Stiegler’s ideas that sparked something in me today. As he tries to theorize the “societies of control” we live in today, he acknowledges that people in power

seem incapable of confronting —or unwilling to confront— the fact that things may be “uncontrollable” precisely because they are really beyond our control. Societies of control resist thinking about the category of the “uncontrollables,” so they try to control everything —terrorism, drug abuse, and borders— and they often fail to notice that their efforts are met with measurable increases of behaviors they aim to diminish. (p.196)

That was said in the chapter Love as Praxis : Critical Theory and Psychoanalysis where was examined the loneliness epidemic and the general lack of meaning and sense of self many people experience nowadays. Later, the author adds :

Stiegler confesses his fear. He is worried about his children and their futures, and he knows that the problems we face are beyond the control of the apparatuses of established power today, if they ever were under control at all. The only thing Stiegler can think to do is to return in the end to the subject of love: “Our epoch does not love itself. And a world that does not love itself is a world that does not believe in the world: we can believe only in what we love.” (p.197, my emphasis)

This frame opened my eyes in new ways and somewhat resonated with ideas from Zizek’s recent book on the pandemic, where he stresses the importance of a strong relations of trust between states and their people to maybe establish some new form of disaster communism in face of the rise of barbarism. The precise passage that came in mind was the following :

Carlo Ginzburg proposed the notion that being ashamed of one’s country, not love of it, may be the true mark of belonging to it. (p.43)

When I read this the first time, it made me laugh as I thought “wow I really belong here then”. And since then I often daydream about formulating a theory of some form of anti-nationalism from this starting point, but that is somewhat unrelated to Spiegler. In this moment, I don’t think Ginzburg’s proposition can apply to Spiegler’s concern. Because I feel that there’s a lot of apathy involved in the “disliking of the world” that would somewhat diluted the shame.

But yeah, it’s still food for thought. It might sounds like a weird detour, but Spiegler’s affirmation that “the problems we face are beyond the control of the apparatuses of established power” also sounds like some kind of relief from my activist mind? As in since it is beyond everything/everybody’s control, it is so very normal that we are all struggling to make this world a better place, and also if “we are falling apart” despite our collective efforts, like we shouldn’t feel too much guilty about it maybe? Like let’s just try and try and accept there will never be perfect solutions. Or in Keller Easterling’s words in Medium Design : Knowing How to Work on the World :

Instead of seeking solutions alone, you can address dilemmas with responses that do not always work. Multiplying problems can be helpful. Messiness is smarter than newness. Obligations are more empowering than freedom. (p.19)