[OPE-L] Governing [World Capitalism] by Networks

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Feb 28 2006 - 10:12:42 EST

An anarchist friend of mine gave me a fascinating wall map with
text yesterday called "Info-Space, Info-War: Governing by
Networks" (2003, Next Five Minutes, Homnispheres).  At first
glance, it looks a bit like a pamphlet but it opens up like a road
map to a dimension of 33" X 23.5."  On one side is "Governing by
Networks", a fascinating info-rich (no pun intended)
diagram showing the global network linking states, capital,
and the media, the latter two through a clearing network
called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial
Transactions (SWIFT).   Although it is byte-intensive, I
have included this map as an *attachment*.  You will have to
zoom in on the map to read all of the blurbs accompanying the
map.  The authors, from what I read on another site,
recognize that the map is subject to change and had
planned on an "open source" way of updating it at their
website, but the website at http://www.universite-tangente.fr.st
is not working.  Irrespective of the content of the text (below),
*how do _you_  interpret the meaning of the map*?

On the other side, there is text in French and English and
a 23.5" X 16.5" map of the world called "Infocapital
Exchangers."  In its own way, this map also is fascinating.
It shows the global distribution of Internet exchange
networks.  The spatial concentration of these exchange
networks is partially to be explained in terms of the
historical genesis of the Net by the US military, i.e. it
reflects a Pentagon plan about how to build a  world
communications infrastructure which, at the time of the
'Cold War', could survive a global thermonuclear exchange.
Had there been a war between the US and the USSR,
the map gives a clue as to which parts of the world
life might have survived in.  It also gives a clue today
about the vulnerabilities of the Net. I couldn't find this
map online, though.

The rest of the map is composed of a text which gives an
anarchist explanation of the global political and economic
meaning of these networks.  The emphasis is on how these
networks (in the 'Governing by Networks' map) have
transformed the process of world governance.  It also
explains briefly _which_ technologies have made this
transformation possible and how and when and by whom
they were created and diffused.   While anarchists and
other radicals often emphasize the empowering possibilities
associated with the Net, the emphasis in the text is pretty
grim.  There is much in the way  of specifics (e.g. the origins of
HIV; fore-knowledge of 9-11) that some on the list may take
exception to.

In the hope of engaging those for whom the text represents
in summary fashion an explanation of the current period
and dangers,  *what do you think _overall_ about the
following* (the English version of the text)?  Comments and

In solidarity, Jerry


   The American military network ARPAnet was conceived as a
way to maintain uninterrupted communications in the
event of nuclear war. Ancestor of the Internet and
foundation of the Global Information Infrastructure,
ARPAnet springs from exactly the same source as the
"push-button war" that lay behind it : the change of
scale provoked by the early 20th century discoveries in
physics, within an industrial society capable of
organizing the productivity - including the scientific
productivity - of thousands of agents. Here, no doubt,
is the real birthplace of the information society : a
society massively penetrated by the sciences and
technologies of information and telecommunications,
using them to carry out the design of the planet or at
least, that of its components (with design replacing
politics). A society whose governmentality entails the
knowledge of the real, that is to say, the
transformation of reality into information. A society
whose governmentality unfolds between its smallest
common denominators (atomic, electronic, magnetic,
genetic, chemical) and its largest common denominators
(climate, planet, solar system), by way of laws,
formulas and norms that determine its productivity,
means, and possible destinies.

     The decline of mechanical and electromechanical industry
(still dependent on labor power) and the appearance of
digitally commanded machines and interconnected networks
of computers marks the dawn of the great transformation
in governmental technologies, based on cybernetics,
informatics and electronic networks. The army and
transportation were at the forefront of this epochal
shift. Indeed, the Second World War never really ended
until the close of the Cold War ; and up to that point,
the Soviet Union and the OECD states intensively pursued
their military and economic efforts to win the conflict
that opposed them. In the 1960s, a great many of the
military systems that are still operational today (and
some that have since become obsolete) were under
development in the United States and the USSR. The
UK-USA pact that would lay the foundations for the
development of ECHELON dates from 1947, and the first
COMINT satellites (COMmunications INTerception) date
from 1968. The information-analysis and psychological
warfare capacities of the ECHELON system reach back to
1940, finding their earliest form in the Foreign
Broadcast Intelligence Service (FBIS), able to collect
500,000 words a day in 15 languages in order to evaluate
the effectiveness of American propaganda, to act on
enemy propaganda, and to deliver daily reports and
analysis to over 500 government officials. The concept
of GPS (Global Positioning System) dates from 1965, and
the first feasibility studies, from 1972. ARPAnet and
other communications systems (for example, the Ground
Wave Emergency Network : GWEN) were developed in the
1970s to respond to the risk of a nuclear offensive.
Later, the American Department of Defense abandoned the
idea of any directly military use of ARPAnet, though it
still granted subsidies to computer manufacturers for
the inclusion of TCP/IP in their protocols.

    In the transportation sector, an information and
telecommunications management company like SITA corp
gradually set up interconnected networks of computers
connecting airports and airlines throughout the world
from the 1950s onward, for air traffic control and seat
reservation. The planes themselves, in advance of trains
and automobiles, gradually filled up with computers,
electronics and interconnected networks (today,
according to the INRIA, about half the value of a civil
airplane lies in its electronics and software, and
certain mass-produced automobiles contain more computer
technology than the lunar lander used by Neil Armstrong
30 years ago). In France, the RATP urban transport
authority built a star-shaped network connecting a
dual-processor computer to a hundred smaller computers
spread across the territory in the mid-1970s. In the
financial world, the SWIFT international money transfer
system (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial
Telecommunication) was operational in 1977, connecting
239 banks in 15 different countries. The initial network
architecture was centralized at 3 world switchpoints in
the United States and in Europe (Brussels and Amsterdam)
connecting the national concentrators that served as
gateways to the system.

   In the late 1960s the social and productive impact of
interconnected computer networks was already being
predicted. Systems engineers from industry and space
research, from 1964 onwards, responded to the request of
the California governor to think about ways to avoid the
smog generated by urban commuting. They proposed to
bring work to employee's domicile, or in other words,
to partially transform private homes into "offices"
equipped devices for the elaboration, communication, and
management of information (D. Bess, "What the Space
Scientists propose for California," Think, 32/4,
July-August 1969). The screen, becoming interactive,
would abandon its simple function as entertainment or
propaganda, it would leave behind its role as a pure
instrument of control to become a powerful work and
organization tool permitting interaction between
isolated employees, clients and managers.

    It was on this basis that it would later serve as a tool
of sociability, just as the telegraph and telephone,
initially conceived as commercial or military
instruments, media of exchange and control, were
"diverted" from their primary use to become tools of
personal communication for sociability. This sociability
has only a marginal influence on science and technology,
on information management and telecommunications, which
remain fundamentally military and commercial.
Nonetheless, certain aspects of social inventiveness can
be integrated to the techniques of corporate or military
management (affinity groups, cooperative or group-based
organization, mobility, flexibility), to marketing or
propaganda techniques (hoaxes), to productive
organizations (for example, Open Source Intelligence -
OSINT - forms the basis for much of the geospatial,
climatic, and logistical information gathered by the
American administration).

   Parallel to the establishment of these working tools,
sophisticated weapons and manipulation systems growing
out of the cooperation between universities and armies
opened the door to new climatic, tectonic, psychotronic,
biological and chemical warfare technologies, which we
now find listed in the Space Preservation Act (2001) ;
but also to new coercive techniques founded not only on
propaganda and repression, on economic aid, development
and humanitarian assistance, but also on the chemical
and electromagnetic manipulation of the human body. The
most terrible of the American biological operations is
said to be the massive spread of AIDS through
vaccination campaigns in various Central African
countries (1976) and in New York (1977), in order to
selectively reduce the threat of the "P-bomb," or
overpopulation (Leonard G. Horowitz, La guerre des virus
: Sida et Ebola, 1998). The first American military
actions on the weather probably date from the 1970s in
Vietnam, followed by the gradual installation of a
program for climate control and transformation. Today
this program is being developed through the interlinkage
of weather information systems (COOP-M and NOAA in the
US) and local actions of ionospheric heating through
electromagnetic bombardment from arrays of antennas
located on several places on the planet (HAARP in
Alaska, Arecibo in Porto Rico...). The early research
into electrical, then electromagnetic, manipulation of
human behavior dates from the 1950s (Mkultra, Pandora)
and fits squarely into the mainline development of
information science (with the exception of Norbert
Wiener, the early cyberneticians were all

    Since the origin of information science and technology,
the programming/deprogramming/reprogramming of life has
been its implicit objective. One can hardly doubt that
this objective is on the verge of being attained today,
opening the door to a variety of commercial derivatives.
The advancement of systems like GPS, the development of
biometrics and genetic identifiers suggests that beyond
the control of flows and of all multiple identities,
there may today exist capacities for the remote control
of things and living beings, and for chemical and
electromagnetic interaction with them at a distance. The
new version of the Internet protocol, IPv6, will
increase the number of addresses - 340 billion billion
billion billions - allowing every person to be given an
address, but also every object, as the latter are
increasingly expected to communicate among each other
and with human beings. The computerization of complex
societies seems well underway toward the implantation of
microchips in human flesh, not only allowing gains in
systems security through the surveillance of organic
components, but also permitting remote control :
"prevent voluntary muscular movements, control emotions
and actions, produce sleep, transmit suggestions,
interfere with both short-term and long-term memory, and
both produce and delete an experience set" (Scientific
Advisory Committee, U.S. Air Force, 1996).

     Having massively invaded all the spheres of society,
information science and technology, with its biological
and chemical prolongations, now gives rise to a total
governmentality. This governmentality does not just
contradict the spirit of the Enlightenment by
concentrating and augmenting the power of domination
exerted by a global aristocracy. It suppresses the very
possibility of Enlightenment. The level of bio- and
psycho-political management allowed by information
science and technology, the level of systemic
integration that they make possible, suggest that a
political autonomy or constituent power today, of
whatever nature, can only become critical by segmenting
the infosphere, by developing non-capitalist markets, by
setting up revocable hierarchies.


     Humanity is not located on the same scale as the basic
qualities of matter (physical, biological and chemical),
although it is a prolongation of them. What the
communist poet Eluard called "the realization of man's
vital desires, those of body and imagination" cannot
serve as a horizon of action on the scale of these basic
qualities, without in the same blow authorizing the
development of technical systems that will determine
them. In this case, humanity submits its own scale
(reflexivity, knowledge of ends, sociability) to the
scales of the basic qualities (physical, chemical,
biological), which then appear as its truth and its end.
It is true that the human species does not know what its
reflexivity is or what its ends are, or what its
political subjectivity can be. And perhaps it must not
know this. But in the absence of any sign of a
solidarity of the species or a community of human race
(without even yet speaking of interspecies solidarity),
in the absence of any self-constitution of the species
(which would not necessarily designate finalities or
desired destinies), the constituent power of
technological systems - those expressions of the
transcendence of the scale of primary qualities - and
the constituent power of the individuals who govern
them, are what determine our possible destinies. In less
abstract language : the governmental power exerted over
the planet and the species by a caste actively working
toward its own immortality is reinforced and multiplied
by the integrated technological systems that allow for
the analysis of complexity, increasing the capacity for
the accumulation of capital, augmenting the capacities
of action on information-reality, and even tending
toward the administration of future "human resources"
via genetic sorting and non-mammalian reproduction.

   The world as normed by globalized technological systems
and by the strategies of a shadowy planetary government
will on the average be more predictable, more certain
and better insured than ever in the past, whatever the
cultural and functional diversity of that government may
be, and whatever the treachery or accidents that may
occur (a good example are the American, Russian, German,
Israeli and Pakistani secret services, who all knew that
something was being prepared for late 2001, or the
institutional speculators who were alert enough to sell
their stocks in American air carriers shortly before
September 11). Thus world government reduces
uncertainty, it reduces the capacity to "make history"
opened up by a multiplicity of autonomous or sovereign

      If what is fundamentally at stake in humanity is making
history, and if this capacity is paradoxically reduced
by the development of technological systems, then the
segmentation of these systems, the limitation of the
productive and normative interdependencies, would appear
to be the precondition of politics today. Social
democracy is entirely contained within the proposition
that workers or employees should not destroy their
productive instruments, that it is essentially a matter
of changing their use or style of management. Social
democracy is finished. By reinforcing dependencies, the
normalized and normalizing technological systems have
destroyed the range of autonomies. They have reinforced
the powers of control, standardization and
transformation of populations. At stake today is the
(re)creation of sovereign autonomies outside planned
futures, outside psycho-politics as it is staged in the
media on the four corners of the earth, outside salaried
labor depending on the worldwide organization of
production, on globalized commercial and financial

   Can nation-states be the site of sovereign autonomies ?
Today, an autonomous state would be necessarily hostile
to the world government (New World Order). It would have
to declare war, willingly or not ; and the treatment of
North Korea is exemplary in this respect, whatever else
one may think of that country. Unless it is prepared to
accept the heaviest sacrifices, a state can no longer
withdraw from planetary dependencies and
interdependencies. "The democratic option is often quite
fragile [in Africa]. Even where pluralist elections are
organized, the citizens are well aware that the real
stakes escape them" (World Report on Human Development,
PNUD, 2002). And is it any different in other countries?

  Would a planetary parliament (necessarily dependent on
world infrastructures, norms and technical procedures)
be capable of exercising any constraint over world
government, or even of achieving self-constitution ?
Speech and debate can only peripherally organize human
or planetary complexity... unless they use technological
systems which are currently under firm control.

   Autonomy must therefore be situated at other levels. To
be autonomous today is to have the capacity to cut off a
network. Creating silence, in other words, cutting off
noise (antennas, media) is now a precondition for the
appearance of political speech. And breaking off
circulation (supermarkets, transportation, banks,
information) is a precondition of the self-determination
of production. Autonomy seeks to reduce the systemic
continuity and interdependence among all positions on
the planet ; in other words, it seeks to segment
networks. Refusing that global seed supplies and the
molecular components of the real (biological and
chemical compounds) be held under the control of a
handful of firms. Refusing that a telephone call from
Paris to London should transit via Tokyo or New York, or
that the exchange of grain between South Africa and
Zimbabwe should pass through Chicago. Breaking the SWIFT
circuit that rings the earth with financial flows which
insure - in the literal sense of the word - the
governmental centrality of a world economy controlled by
a handful of investment funds (Fidelity, Barclays, ABN
Amro...) and a few government agencies, or in other
words, stopping the functioning of the world
bank-transfer system, and therefore of international
exchanges. But what corporation, what producer dependent
on the raw materials, on the human, financial or
industrial resources of another country, could possibly
wish to do such a thing ?

    In reality, autonomy gradually constructs an
organizational mode of its own. In the sphere of trade
as well as of seed supplies (which now tend to be
normalized and controlled on the world level by a
limited group of firms backed by international
regulatory bodies), social and productive autonomy is
inventing its own techniques of production and its own
non-capitalist markets. Autonomy with respect to systems
such as SWIFT consists in the still-embryonic
development of non-bank money - by para-national
monetary organizations in Argentina (El Grand Trueque),
Mexico (Tianguis Tlaloc), Senegal (Doole), Thailand (Bia
Kud Chum), Ecuador (SINTRAL), or by local and
traditional economies, networks of cooperatives,
microcredit and "tontine" banks - while autonomy with
respect to world control of seeds and animal
reproduction, and therefore of agricultural production,
consists in the food sovereignty proclaimed by Via
Campesina, the autonomous production and circulation of
seed. Though limited today, these autonomous markets and
techniques are liable with time, and in response to the
increasing pressure of world government, to grow in
volume, complexity and legitimacy, exceeding the levels
of affinity groups and the informal economy, without
entering the order and norms of the capitalist system.
The change in scale of autonomous struggles, markets and
organizations (groups, movements, communities, affinity
networks) undoubtedly entails the capacity to invent
procedures (open source, copyleft, time-money) but also
to establish revocable hierarchies, so as to escape both
the black box of spontaneous egalitarian organizations
(which always hide informal, charismatic or insider
influences) and the creeping normalization of
meritocracy organizations.

               Ref CIN 9103

               Cartographie 84 / 60

               PliƩe 15 / 21

               ISBN : 2-915129-04-5 - Prix : 4 euros

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