[P2P-F] Fwd: [NetworkedLabour] Birth of Thanaticism

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Tue Oct 20 18:30:03 CEST 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Örsan Şenalp <orsan1234 at gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 12:47 PM
Subject: [NetworkedLabour] Birth of Thanaticism
To: "networkedlabour at lists.contrast.org" <networkedlabour at lists.contrast.org>,
Discussion list about the WSF <worldsocialforum-discuss at openspaceforum.net>

Below is a bohemian look at the empty part of the World, from the author
of the Molecular Red. Unfortunately he fails to mention our role in all
this. By our I meam those many of us willingly or unwillingly did follow
the politics of intra-class warfare and serve one or other fraction of
global ruling classes (for instance by subscribing
merchantalist-keynesian green anti-carbon alternative globalization
politics of Al Gore-Clinton-Soros sort). Although Wark masterfully
delivers his rethoric of the darkness coming for us, instead of using
his skills to build on hope what he serves by using 'antropocene'
language mostly talked to anarco-slicon valley generation, and (still)
postmodern individualist and market friendly anarcho-liberarian-avant
garde artists and environmentalists. This momentum gaining vision
however is a pushing harder on the other end, the war-lord capitalism,
of neo-cons, as well as state classes of the Brics. So darkness and
pessimism, what the author describes, might be the half part of the
self, probably most of the people share.

and here is a downloadable reader of the book:

For a optimistic version I would suggest Paul Mason's latest book
Postcapitalism, that was shared by Anna before.

And a bourgiouse vision of hope, at least for his class, documentary
verison of the Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near:

In my opinion, war and natural destruction number one to avoid.
Distributed and all encompassing capitalism is eally bad. Mason's
project sounds better. But there is an open large scale forum like
debate and collective building process is required. The real hope
remaining is there am tended to believe:

McKenzie Wark — April 3, 2014

I don’t know why we still call it capitalism. It seems to be some sort
of failure or blockage of the poetic function of critical thought.

Even its adherents have no problem calling it capitalism any more. Its
critics seem to be reduced to adding modifiers to it: postfordist,
neoliberal, or the rather charmingly optimistic ‘late’ capitalism. A
bittersweet term, that one, as capitalism seems destined to outlive us all.

I awoke from a dream with the notion that it might make more sense to
call it thanatism, after Thanatos, son of Nyx (night) and
Erebos(darkness), twin of Hypnos (sleep), as Homer and Hesiod seem more
or less to agree.

I tried thanatism out on twitter, where Jennifer Mills wrote: “yeah, I
think we have something more enthusiastically suicidal. Thanaticism?”

That seems like a handy word. Thanaticism: like a fanaticism, a gleeful,
overly enthusiastic will to death. The slight echo of Thatcherism is
useful also.

Thanaticism: a social order which subordinates the production of use
values to the production of exchange value, to the point that the
production of exchange value threatens to extinguish the conditions of
existence of use value. That might do as a first approximation.

Bill McKibben has suggested that climate scientists should go on strike.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 2013 report
recently. It basically says what the last one said, with a bit more
evidence, more detail, and worse projections. And still nothing much
seems to be happening to stop Thanaticism. Why issue another report? It
is not the science, it’s the political science that’s failed. Or maybe
the political economy.

In the same week, BP quietly signaled their intention to fully exploit
the carbon deposits to which it owns the rights. A large part of the
value of the company, after all, is the value of those rights. To not
dig or suck or frack carbon out of the ground for fuel would be suicide
for the company, and yet to turn it all into fuel and have that fuel
burned, releasing the carbon into the air, puts the climate into a truly
dangerous zone.

But that can’t stand in the way of the production of exchange value.
Exchange value has to unreel its own inner logic to the end: to mass
extinction. The tail that is capital is wagging the dog that is earth.

Perhaps its no accident that the privatization of space appears on the
horizon as an investment opportunity at just this moment when earth is
going to the dogs. The ruling class must know it is presiding over the
depletion of the earth. So they are dreaming of space-hotels. They want
to not be touched by this, but to still have excellent views.

It makes perfect sense that in these times agencies like the NSA are
basically spying on everybody. The ruling class must know that they are
the enemies now of our entire species. They are traitors to our species
being. So not surprisingly they are panicky and paranoid. They imagine
we’re all out to get them.

And so the state becomes an agent of generalized surveillance and armed
force for the defense of property. The role of the state is no longer
managing biopower. It cares less and less about the wellbeing of
populations. Life is a threat to capital and has to be treated as such.

The role of the state is not to manage biopower but to manage
thanopower. From whom is the maintenance of life to be withdrawn first?
Which populations should fester and die off? First, those of no use as
labor or consumers, and who have ceased already to be physically and
mentally fit for the armed forces.

Much of these populations can no longer vote. They may shortly loose
food stamps and other biopolitical support regimes. Only those willing
and able to defend death to the death will have a right to live.

And that’s just in the over-developed world. Hundreds of millions now
live in danger of rising seas, desertification and other metabolic
rifts. Everyone knows this: those populations are henceforth to be
treated as expendable.

Everybody knows things can’t go on as they are. Its obvious. Nobody
likes to think about it too much. We all like our distractions. We’ll
all take the click-bait. But really, everybody knows. There’s a good
living to be made in the service of death, however. Any hint of an
excuse for thanaticism as a way of life is heaped with Niagras of praise.

We no longer have public intellectuals; we have public idiots. Anybody
with a story or a ‘game-changing’ idea can have some screen time, so
long as it either deflects attention from thanaticism, or better –
justifies it. Even the best of this era’s public idiots come off like
used car salesmen. It is not a great age for the rhetorical arts.

It is clear that the university as we know it has to go. The sciences,
social sciences and the humanities, each in their own ways, were
dedicated to the struggle for knowledge. But it is hard to avoid the
conclusion, no matter what one’s discipline, that the reigning order is
a kind of thanatcisim.

The best traditional knowledge disciplines can do is to focus in tightly
on some small, subsidiary problem, to just avoid the big picture and
look at some detail. That no longer suffices. Traditional forms of
knowledge production, which focus on minor or subsidiary kinds of
knowledge are still too dangerous. All of them start to discover the
traces of thanaticism at work.

So the university mast be destroyed. In its place, a celebration of all
kinds of non-knowledge. Whole new disciplines are emerging, such as the
inhumanities and the antisocial sciences. Their object is not the
problem of the human or the social. Their object is thanaticism, its
description and justification. We are to identify with, and celebrate,
that which is inimical to life. Such an implausible and dysfunctional
belief system can only succeed by abolishing its rivals.

All of which could be depressing. But depression is a subsidiary aspect
of thanaticism. You are supposed to be depressed, and you are supposed
to think that’s your individual failing or problem. Your bright illusory
fantasy-world is ripped away from you, and the thanatic reality is bared
– you are supposed to think its your fault. You have failed to believe.
See a shrink. Take some drugs. Do some retail therapy.

Thanaticism also tries to incorporate those who doubt its rule with a
make-over of their critique as new iterations of thatatic production.
Buy a hybrid car! Do the recycling! No, do it properly! Separate that
shit! Again, its reduced to personal virtue and responsibility. Its your
fault that thanaticism wants to destroy the world. Its your fault as a
consumer, and yet you have not choice but to consume.

“We later civilizations…  know too that we are mortal,” Valery said in
1919. At that moment, after the most vicious and useless war hitherto,
such a thing could appear with some clarity. But we lost that clarity.
And so: a modest proposal. Let’s at least name the thing after its
primary attribute.

This is the era of the rule of thanaticism: the mode of production of
non-life. Wake me when its over.
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