Freedom And Technocracy

“Alexei Navalny, a charismatic anti-corruption crusader and a popular blogger, remains the rock star among the protest leaders. When he took the stage, young people in the crowd held up their phones to record the moment.” (Anti-Putin Protests Draw Tens of Thousands, Lynn Berry and Vladimir Isachenkov AP 9-16-12)

The moment was recorded, then what? For posterity? Tens of thousands of images, each from a minimally different perspective, all of the same thing. Then they shared their individual perspective with another “individual perspective” of the same event. Maybe took it home to share with those without access to digital media. Who are they (those without access to digital media)?

According to Berry and Isachenkov, when Navalny got up to speak the unwitting response, the unconscious response, the spontaneous response was “to record the moment” on their cell phones (new larger screens, sharper image).

In The Parallax View (pg. 86) Slavoj Zizek references an essay by Patricia Huntington (“Heidegger’s Reading of Kierkegaard: From Ontological Abstraction to Ethical Concretion”). He writes: “On the one hand Kierkegaard’s insistence on authentic personal engagement emphasizes the need for concrete ethical responsibility, for me to behave as if I am responsible for what I am, but leave intact the traditional ontological frame of reference which sustains the unauthentic mode of existence.” Zizek focuses on the reliance of this self-same frame of reference by both Heidegger and Kierkegaard, though outcomes differ in the end. He asks “What, however, if this lack of an a priori universal frame – of a frame exempted from the contingencies of the political struggle – is precisely what opens up the space for the struggle (for “freedom,” “democracy,” and so on)?” (pg. 87) And what if this universal frame was much more concrete, material (and housed within a rather petite object at that), like the one established for an image by the cell phone maker?

Earlier (pg. 82), Zizek quotes from an essay by Dominick Hoens and Ed Pluth (“The sinthome: A New Way of Writing an Old Problem”): “to refuse the symbolic order within the symbolic order”. Berry and Isachenkov’s report makes it sound like this is exactly what happened in Moscow (“The Moscow organizers had spent days in tense talks with the city government over the protest route for Saturday, typical of the bargaining that has preceded each of the opposition marches.”). Writing: “Huge rallies of more than 100,000 people even in bitter winter cold gave many protesters hope for democratic change. These hopes have waned, but opposition supporters appear ready to dig in for a long fight.” they insinuate that this particular occurrence evidenced the duration of the struggle (“for “freedom,” “democracy,” and so on”). Given the spontaneous, unconscious response by the crowd to what appeared to be substantive communication (“”We must come to rallies to win freedom for ourselves and our children, to defend our human dignity,” he said to cheers of support. “We will come here as to our workplace. No one else will free us but ourselves.””), the fact that some of the largest and wealthiest global corporate interests are around the production and service of communication technology, and Zizek’s insights, it becomes curious to imagine what the trajectory, the future of such a struggle just might look like. It is very difficult to imagine the powers that be giving up the emphasis, enforcement and efficacy of continuous and omnipresent mediation (the frame). Maybe the achievement will be freedom and technocracy.


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