Saturday, 27 March 2010

Nobel to Internet? and an interview with Jodi Dean

Some months ago, italian version of Wired started campaigning saying "Nobel Peace Prize should go to Internet". Gandhi never won the Nobel Peace Prize but Internet (=an item, not a person) might win the Nobel Peace Prize!! Why not give the Nobel Peace Prize to telephone cables or the air (that carries radiowaves)? (I would give the Nobel Peace Prize to BBC World Service for providing reliable information to people - living under dictatorships and not - for decades; but this is a different topic).

Jodi Dean (1962) is an american professor, she teaches political theory. I asked her about the idea of giving Internet the Nobel Peace Prize and other things. (Jodi Dean blogs here)

1) Italian version of Wired started lobbying for "Nobel Peace Prize should go to Internet" ( What do you think about it? Do you think it's technological fetishism?

Of course it is techno fetishism, a ludicrous extension of the cult of the amateur and the fantasy that because crowd sourcing works for some things it works for everything; there is a middle ground between the false, romantic idea of the single genius and everyone

2) You wrote "In the US today there is a significant disconnect between politics circulating as content and official politics". Do you think that the election of Obama (probably impossible without Internet) changed this view? Can't it be seen like the come back of democracy?

No. Obama didn't need the internet to win (or, the internet wasn't the difference that made a difference although it is now an additional media field on which the game must be played). There were only 2 candidates; one was the least popular president ever in the midst of an economic debacle. Also, Obama raised more money--the candidate who raises the most wins. The shocking thing is that Obama didn't win by a larger margin. 'Come back of democracy'? I don't even know what that means--George W. Bush won his second term; the hideous Republicans in Congress were elected. All sorts of right-wing nut jobs are out there organizing, protesting, participating. The problem is not at all that democracy went away. The problem is that the left hasn't been able to use the democratic process to advance. Corporations love democracy--they give millions and millions to campaigns, candidates; they pay fortunes to lobbyists. Democracy is great for capitalism--just not for people.

3) Do you think that the economic crisis of 2008 (or better 2008-ongoing) is an event that makes to rethink theories of economic globalization?

If by 'rethink' you mean that fans of globalized neoliberalism can no longer deny the destructive force of capitalism, then I guess so. But how is this being done? The IMF is pressuring European countries to lower their debts--this means
cutting social services, which remains in keeping with neoliberalism. In the US, the big banks are once again saying screw you to the US government and giving massive bonuses; there has been no significant effort to bring them under control--derivatives (what Warren Buffet called financial weapons of mass destruction) remain unregulated. So, the real question is who is rethinking and what are the re-thoughts?

4) What is your point of view about theories like Manuel Castells'one, when an author seems so enthusiastic about internet, to talk about a network society?

Castells remains massively significant as the provider of one of the first comprehensive maps/over views/ of the shape of networked society. Is everything he said still correct? no. Did he leave stuff out? sure.
One way I look at it--Castells did the first map of the global; Hardt and Negri did the political equivalent of a Mercator projection. Using this as some kind of space of flows basis, I think Albert Laszlo-Barabasi is indispensable--
his account of the emergence of powerlaws and hubs in complex networks characterized by growth and preferential attachment make is absolutely clear why the division between multitude/empire can in no way be understood ontologically but only politically; network ontologies are characterized by extremes of inequality

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