The Tyranny of Structurelessness by Jo Freeman, Protocol by Alex Galloway & Why Bitcoin Matters by Marc Andreessen.
The reforming of power and its continual shift to deeper locations is explained by every generation. This performance of power and its discontents is deployed, redeployed as legacy. Whether we analyze the facts that are passed to us as accepted or the conditions that we are born into as de facto, the conditional nature of our existence is decried yet deployed in hierarchical structures that deploy violence in concrete ways even as they are abstracted.
Our castes are cast in the hubris of human potential yet our roles are defined by human capital, over and over again. This translation into use value and exchange achieves a dissonant participation that is both alienating and engaged through the perception of change. The changes are oftentimes simply enacted by new vocabularies that reinscribe the politics of the past and repackage dynamics for new audiences, new generations, new markets, new worlds, the new new.
In Jo Freeman’s feminist manifesto of the 70’s, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” there is a question that is raised forcefully around how it all plays out in time. The initial engagement, the initial possibility, the new new that aimed at redefining the politics and social constructions of identity collapse back into a reification of the power structures that initially marked the moment. This repackaging of something “that mattered” into something that is no longer material to the origin of a movement, is part of the game. Refutation and rebellion are next week’s product. Culture works to identify, name, and incorporate in its ever expanding reach the unnamed. The unnamed, the not, is a challenge to power: commodification is the only outcome in the semiotic market of identification.
But then so what… this inevitable styling of discourse and politic into the gyre of wasted symbolism still matters. Joreen is still pissed and it is meaningful less because of its overarching position that connects time and place to historical themes, but because it is personal. The tragic break is emotional and evidenced through the circumscription of identity. As one looks at the reflection and sees a vague lossy redeployment, a misrepresentation & miscommunication of idealized possibility in one’s own lifetime, the mirror cracks. Reading Joreen’s Bitch Manifesto, the voice of Valerie Solanas gruffly adds a knowing grumble. Valerie was a little too early and a little too fucked up from her time and place to make it out alive. This is where politics can transgress, when our mirrors are our own, our own substance and purely reflective. Feedback loops that amplify our own understanding of dispossession connect us to the inherent queerness that we all face in the market of representation. Dislocation is a location.
“We must always make maps, we must always question maps.”
Mapmaking and wayfinding in the ephemerality of our networked and digitally dimensioned metaverse is fundamental to an exacting documentation by Alex Galloway in Protocol. Steeped in the academic culture of the close reading, Protocol does the same on the subject of technology and its platforms. By explaining the history, employing the materiality of the medium, and translating the new vocabularies of the internet, there is an act of revelation. This map creates transparency by unpacking the packets and their transmission methods. By scrutinizing the terms of engagement, participation, and transfer the mechanism’s politic can be analyzed, evaluated and described.
Sans technological determinism and positivist notions of the transformative nature of technological innovation and its enhancements for humankind, we can address the implications of Reagan era trickle down economies.
As Joreen says, power will hide itself when it has been identified, but it also forces it to describe the inequity and violence that is fundamental to its construction. If one is blind, what use is there for transparency?
Cryptocurrency and its opaque exchange is the new transparency. Capital dematerialized for new networks of exchange is selling us a rosy vision of our own autonomy within a structure, but capital begets capital. And while it moves away from the physical constraints of sovereign nations and can participate in darker pools of exchange, it wears its Super Mario coinage as the badge of authenticity.
This is still the same game, and the endgame is our own commodification as we become digital miners of our own time and place. The digital opportunity is that the market has become so dislocated that it is everywhere and nowhere. The old/new challenge is in identifying the locus of power and its purposes. Technology praises this constant change as it incorporates our expression in new dimensional simulacra that efficiently redeploy the violence of inequity as our new reality.
And the executioner’s face is always well-hidden.