Šefik Šeki Tatlić (Sarajevo)

Šefik Šeki Tatlić, born 1976 in Bihać/Bosnia Herzegovina, lives in Sarajevo. Works as theoretician, free lance journalist and activist. Fields of work involve political philosophy, freedom on information,new media culture and art. Active as organizer of theory lectures and promotion of various art and media organizations dealing with new media, theory and art. Latest published works are "Logic of Flexible Power" (Zagreb, Croatia) and "Chaos TM and Aesthetics of Active Passivity (Bucharest, Romania).

 

>> Lectures/ Presentations/ Panel

Sunday, 24.9., 12 a.m. - 19 p.m.

Moderation: Marina Gržinić (Vienna /Ljubljana)

12 :00 -14 :30 Lectures

„Metastasis of democracy and the matrix of fragmentation of the east“

 

>> Contribution in MALMOE 34:

„Metastasis of democracy and the matrix of fragmentation of the east“

First published at www.pulsdemokratije.net

While economic assimilation of (southeast European) transitional society into global capital gets under way, most flagrant illustration of it's position is not, as it is imposed by the West, economical but cultural. Mass consumption simoultaniously with mass production takes place but while it still does not take its full swing in form of exploding consumerism it does have its full swing in a way it structures it's depoliticized socius which-will-consume. While simultaniously consuming goods, transition society started consuming «philosophy of usellesness» of free market economy and on a way to create fetishes of "success," it based it's newly accepted culture not only on reproduction of labor value, but on reproduction of social itself.

In order to establish a proper reference in which this text will function it is necessary to note a concept of, what Paolo Virno’s saw as “Banished plurality”. Where Disturbance caused by “Many” in liberal thought is tamed by aligning to duality of public – private………. Hence “private” does not mean just something personal, something which is not of anybodies consideration, private means before anything, deprived: deprived of voice, deprived of public immanence (Virno, 2004: 11 - 12).

So, contemporary multitude is not consisted of “citizens” neither “producers”; it occupies a zone between “individual” and “collective”; for contemporary multitude, “public / collective” division has no value what so ever. (Virno, 2004: 13). Thus, mutatis mutandis, “end user” as term which is used to describe a position which is at the end of consumer food chain and who is called upon to give a final "product quality" evaluation here will serve as an illustration of «One, not as a promise, but a premise.......... Where again Many has to be thinked through like individualisation of universal, general, mutual. In this way, simetricly, One is far away from being concluded term, but it is a basis that authorize differentiation, or something which allows political-social existance of Many as Many (Virno, 2004: 13)

Besides other notions, in transitional society as former socialist society in a process of conversion into capitalism, notion of «end user» (as reference in many software and product manuals) is, by extrapolation, a position of a kind of de-personalized "personality" whose defition, besides being a representation of conductement of market logic of dominant socio-economic paradigm and mark of desthituted social tissue, is a premise of a protagonism in not only «authorisation» but premise for production of differentiation of social for nothing else but further social destitution.

While waiting for formal joining to the European Union (and other so called Euro – Atlantic integrations) to happen and so on, unformaly, socio-cultural practices connceted to First World has already taken it's root in a rather bizzare mixture with local cultural differentiations. However, unlike the case in First World where flexible accumulation of capital (as appereance of new sectors of production, new markets and intensified commercial, technical and organisational innovation on all levels) comes after primal accumulation, in transion, it is flexible accumulation which comes first. Of course, not as some, or not only as a kind of exploatatory practice, but as a concept which is primaly and intriniscly modeling the very social tissue which fosters the very flexible accumulation, as it's cultural practice. Althougt it would be true to say that this social formation in general is a result of content devoured by pretty lethal expectations from capital infiltration (or enjoyment in seisure of state governed socialism and) the loss of notion of Many (in Virno's term), but after all it is a result, or more preciesly, current dynamic of of re-presentational matrix of social tissue emptied from any will for political contextualisation of it's own position.

Here, culture is a not a practice that provides a form for re-articulation of social reality (of any kind) but a practice of forming of content which has not been reduced to a recyclable residue, but exposed as mobile obscure form of acceptance of capitalistic conditions of production. Tertiar sector in transition is not an industry of services, but a industry of creation of social tissue itself in form od apolitized culture which reacts to capital by building aesthetics around trauma created, at the end, by capital, or more precisly by objectivisation of effects of capital itself.

Collateral Liberation

As it presumably already known, Empire, as defined in Negri/Hardts book, is as a new form of global sovereignty that is consisted of a chain of national and supranational organisations connected by unique logic of rules. On the other side, Empire is decentralised and deterritorialisational aparatus of rule which gradualy includes whole global area within its own open borders that constantly spread more and more. Empire governs hybrid entities, elastic hyerachies and numerous exchanges through command networks which are highly adaptable.

According to Negri and Hardt we witness a conductement of triple imperative of global capitalistic order to non first world territories, which will pefectly serve to dynamics of this text. (Negri/Hardt, 2003: 170)

The first imperative of Empire is the generous welcoming face where everybody, besides its race, gender, faith, sex or sexual affiliation is welcome to a new order, to a universal connection. The Bosnian analogy to this moment, its «first contact» with the Empire is basicly moment of its constitution as a state itself. (Dayton peace accords which ended the ethnic conflict in 1995.).

As Negri and Hardt explain: Universal connection of a first imperative is gained by putting aside all differences which are unelastic and unatinable and which could lead to social conflict. Putting the differences aside puts a demand that differences are to be seen as irrelevant and relative and asks from everyone to imagine a state in which they exist but we dont see them. (Negri/Hardt, 2003: 170) These things in Bosnian context heavily rely to the same manner International community (UN,EU...) played a rasistic role of quasi anthropologist (“Balkans have always been barbaric, ethnic groups have always been in conflict” style observations) during the 90's wars, standing aside and waiting for things to settle, acting only when those endanger their commodity, the same way it plays the role of competence provider after the war. Is not a mere verbal shift in name, from the Balkans (till 1996.) to Southeast Europe not just a gift for “stopping being barbaric”, but approval of international communities “successful-politics-which-ended-the-war.”

First imperative at first constitutes huge local state beraucratic apparatus which creates preconditions for free market conditions in cohesion with huge beraucratic aparatus of international institutions (UN, UNDP, Osce, EU, Eufor, IMF, World Bank...) which work on standardisation and regulation of economy, public sector, police and military. Both together comprise what Negri and Hardt call a «Imperial machine for universal mixture of every ex-confronted nationality, ethnic group, supressed masses...» or similar.

This is an inclusive imperative that sucks in any authentic differentiality within it self and which retroactively confronts communist «totalitarism». This imperative functions in a way which leaves all individual or collective differences, what ever their moral credo is, aside, and creates a universal neutrality under the veil of objectivity toward past quarells in order to suposedly democratise the society. This is apllied to all subjects wheter they have far right or neoliberal prefix. These social democratic parties and discourses are ofcourse, equaly supported by international capitalist institutions as equal part in emerging democracy. Neoliberal discourses here are not left in sense of class strugle, but «left» as designation, just as particular subjectivity, mere counterpunct to right wing. Therefore, both are conductors of capitalistic conditions of production, market logic and democratic rule, and here any particular subjectivity floats as nothing else but some kind of sum of negative meaning to all that has been "before" (communism).

Besides Bosnian situation, this kind of activity got implied in other east European transitional societies where “successful-politics-which-ended-the-communist-totalitarism” now brought free market economy and liberal democrat society full of new shape, old style problems.

With suppressed borders and differences, Empire is a sort of glide space over which subjectivities glide with no bigger resistance or collision. (Negri/Hardt, 2003: 171) This leads to the second imperative.

Fragmentation of Social

This momentum, According to Negri/Hardt, is the moment of imperial surveillance which includes its differentials, approved through achieved objectivity of universal connection. While, on the formal level, differences must be set aside, on the cultural level they are emphasized. Cultural differences are emphasized because local culture, like those already recognized in the first momentum, now becomes institutionalized as a «competent one» to conduct nothing else but the second imperative, to serve as distributor of Empire's economic, political and (multi) cultural power.

It is advised here to comprehend competence in context of, as Petar Milat and Tomislav Medak refer to, hidden worker knowledge and cooperativity which is supposebly in such implicit shape of an obstacle to efficient technoeconomic development, it now needs to be brought to a level of excplicit, scientific governance (=rule) over process of production (Milat/Medak, 2006: 63).

Multicultural societies as a connection of dialects, regional cultures and so on, mark the overlapping concensus which make one of Empires main inclusive characteristics. Inclusion and exclusion as one of dominant paradigms of logic of global capital includes and marks authentic cultural diversities as fragments of, as first constitutive socio-political tissue which-is-going-through-democratisation, and as second as a pre-condition which should boost incoming free market economy where "glorius" forms of national presentation becomes spectacle of glorification of, like Nietzche would say reactionary, slave mentality.

Linguistical, cultural and ethnical differences within every part of labor are factors of stability because it is used as a weapon against the of labor organising. (Negri/Hardt, 2003: 172) To claim that capital uses ethnical division as tool of surveillance and governance would be quite simple claim, but the mechanism of mobilisation of social into mutual affirmation of culture as a sector for auto-confirmation of de-politicized society deprieved of it's viability (in authentic and in sense of multitude), is indeed an inauguration of a really delicate context where disperesed power of an Empire in fact flourishes.

In context of, let’s say multi-culture, of which people in Bosnia are very proud of, gets out to be something also known as “National key”. This means that if somebody is looking for a job in predominantly Bosniac society, more advantage he/she will have if not of Bosniac nationality/origin. This is because western and local notion of applied multi-culture, where, besides all the capabilities for some job one might have, will be judged through a spectrum of cultural and religious background. This kind of judgment IS official politics of internationally sponsored (EU,UN,…) and/or local state institutions, which is on the other side, widely accepted by domestic population. Or, when, on a banal daily political level, one of leading Bosniac (Muslim) “political” parties often accused by local so-called left parties for being too religious and conservative takes a front row in indulging current US policy, by offering more and more soldiers for Iraq and Afghanistan fronts with predominant Muslim population, we see a paradox, where a problem lies not in a fact that mentioned party is religious and conservative, but in a fact it is not. Or, as EU slogan from 2004. says «Unity in Diversity.»

Differential momentum of imperial surveillance, according to Negri-Hardt must be followed by a hiearchy of created (state) structures for a general economy of control as their chain of command.

Here we have an example of non-goverment organisation (NGO) sector. This sector in majority of cases exists as a compensational sector whose function is to relativise increasing class division and inequality, economic instability and poverty by emphasizing and supporting neoliberal pole of imperial govermental structure, and to serve as educational tool for social structures which should fill new, “non-totalitarian” institutions.

Numerous, seminars like «training for trainers» (in administrative field), «exercising democracy» (in academic field), «public relations training» (in media field) comprises all (in ex-Yugoslavian case) formerly confrontational nationalities, and above all moral and ethical, incompetence. Here, around same table, fascists, social-democrats and frustrated young people exercise their ability to become competent in order to “democratically” convert their social surrounding, to create more objective (more effective) consumers by putting all “political differences” aside. Objectivity here has to be understood as a result of, paraphrasing Foucault, a system of relations of governance that is not above, but is in the tissue of multitude itself, unseen and attached to other functions of multitude [not to be mixed with Negri/Hardt’s notion of multitude]. These anonymous instruments of governance, coextensive in relation to multitude they govern, it in fact cunningly and invisibly objectivize those to which it is applied to, to whom it gives certain knowledge instead of representing it’s sovereignty.” (Foucault, 1997: 213)

Hence, ethnical differentiation (ethnic based exclusion, racism, xenophobia, fascism) as well accepted by an Empire in first imperative, in the second imperative reveals it self as nothing else but a product of machine of differentiation functioning through ever growing development of information communication technologies revealing again it contributors not as subjects in communication, but as Foucault would say, as objects of information.

A flexibility of population which so easily accepts it self as object of information is a reflection, as the inability to read, as Marina Gržinić noted, "fiction through reality", as well as a confirmation of inclusion of technologically undeveloped society into a communication codes imposed by capital where being a subject in “communication” means nothing else but being an object of information.

Relaying to bio-political nature of population (in terms of Foucault’s multitude), it (population it self) functions as mere data for production of, on one side “parliamentary” life, which exercises phantom sovereignty and on the other as conductors of Other functions of governance as extraction of political out of cultural life by, unlike Foucault saw it, exactly being an active subject in communicating it’s own ressentiment as contribution to the mechanism of governance itself.

Totality of Particularities

Third successive imperative is as Negri and Hardt say: “Multitude of melting variables.” Every political, economic or cultural differentiation, which is, now included into Empire has to continue to function, but deprived of its primal function, now “functioning”, gliding not as program, but as its own proclamation, its representation.

Melting variables are elastic formations of any subjectivity which became subjectivity only as subjectivity constitutive to the order of global capital which imposed, or reproduced, it in a first place.

Knowing that capital is a system of contingent, constantly spreading internal borders/lines, only function of these subjectivities and cultural differentials are moving along these lines in eccentric manner. Eccentricity should be understood as social fluctuation whose dynamics whether it takes form in banal social interaction or in small scale outbursts of violence serves as some kind of linkage, a necrophilliac corrective for the public sphere to justify the need for stronger imposition of an (New World) order of global capital which created the crisis in the first place. It is the way how post socialistic/transitional country population IT self produces a proto Empire culture as its own, reinvented socio-cultural practice.

The “end user” as an object of ressentiment is a signifier of competence as reduction of (any) ideal which could lead against the Empire, and increase of “responsibility” towards imperial (dis)order.

We don’t see certain individuality, but individuality as fragment, as IT is being an ultimate re-presentation of matrix of totality of subjectivities, a kind of a simulacrum.

Short reminder; simulacrum for Jean Baudrilard presents reproduction of objects and events, while different degrees mark specific relation of simulacrum (simulated) and the real.

Proto Empire society is in tight connection to Baudrillards claim that the principle of reality overlapped with the certain degree of value law. Today, whole system swings in uncertainty and totality of real has been sucked in by hyperreality of code and simulation. Therefore, we are being controlled by a principle of simulation instead the principle of reality. Purposes are gonne, we are born by modeling. (Baudrillard, 2001: 51). Further, according to Baudrillard, social relation is not of original and imitation, nor analogy, but of being same, equivalent, where we see a process of “inducting” every original (source) being into a stream of equivalent beings, production series.

Second order simulacrum is a stage of seriality and production according to market values designation. This stage is in correlation to second imperial imperative, differential momentum, or in Marx’s terms, context, which does valorize the value in totality of included particularities.

If we follow Baudrillard further when he refers to Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (Baudrillard, 2001: 77) we see that reproduction, or its equivalent in “objectivity” is sucking the process of production and directly relates it self not to aesthetics of a product but to aesthetics of a culture which consumes the product.

Both Benjamin and later MacLuhan, unlike Marx (when contemplating on false expenses of capital) saw this technique not as “production power” but as a medium, as form and principle of completely new generation of meaning. (Baudrillard, 2001: 77) This medium corresponds to meaning of certain "competence" which it self is a result of acceptance of applied objectivity given to a subject from the relation of power (as recognition of a will-to-be-included to hyper capital). Hence, by reducing the political in culture we get reduction of social in favor of re-production of social as non-institutionalized hijacking of confrontational sense of culture, as mere fluctuation within matrix of power negotiation within capital.

The “end user” as paradigm, however, is exactly not the reflection of delayed, but of simulated social, or by making an analogy to Negri/Hardt by upgrading third imperative to a level where no imperative is needed any more, where Baudrillards third stage simulacrum exists. Cybernetic surveillance, birth by modeling, differential modulation and feedback becomes new operational transformation where populous after it had accepted it’s role in contribution to communication codes of info-comm. panopticum, marks the position of successful social engineering of converting it’s subversive potential for subjectivity into totality of objective particularity.

As Marina Gržinić says going back to radical politics means to insist on universal politics and not to allow to anyone to guide and force us into a trap of political strategy of endless reproduction of identities and needs….. Here we see that the relation of a subject towards it's own body, history, geography, space and so on in front of the computer screen transforms into a paradoxal communication, which is not direct but it is a communication with a prothesis behind the computer screen, communication which is directed by a gaze of a third eye, the gaze of computer itself (Gržinić, 2005: 80-81).

Therefore, recently mentioned contribution to communication is not just a contribution to endless stream of information but an illustration of aesthetic of exposition to the very stream where exposition of certain particularity has no purpose besides keeping the stream flow and making itself (as a component of populous) a mere metainformation.

 “End user” as codified de-personalized persona who by exposing it self to a gaze of a third eye, exposes it self as subject of ressentiment, an a priori reactionary position that by (re)producing more of it's own involvement into content-less communicational practices makes it self a prototype of encryption into axiomatic of fixed differentials of capital as a machine of production of nothing.

 The Ultimate Imperative

Machine that produces nothing for “end user” is a shape of craving for encryption into depoliticized cultural field. Of course, we can mention Marx’s analysis of a form of commodity/merchandise where we do not witness some kind of content behind the form, but the specific shape of a form itself. When we see “content” in hyper capital as a specific shape of a form then we get actual life of an “end user” as ultimate consumer, not only as being content-less carrier of a form of commodity, but we get life itself as a measure, an only possible negotiable code with(in) the third eye's gaze.

This code, while functioning as any fluctuation (as life itself) from “End User,” forces this kind of life to invest constantly to nothing else but to a shape of its form… with constantly known feedback, to resume the state of being reproduced.

And, this feedback as position that constantly wages, calculates power according to power is a confirmation of a man as "Animal that measures par excellence" as Nietzsche would say (Nietzsche, 1990: 67)

Dynamics of nothing might be seen as an object of ressentiment where Real as fluctuative movement pattern appears only in small doses (as recently mentioned eccentric moves), to be replaced at once with some already known aesthetic form. It is the aesthetics of necrophilia, where, as an example, general sub reference in today’s pop-culture might be found in “retro” trends as hype, in fact representing remodeling of already produced differentials of life-in-reaction.

Besides the general transitonal social perception of capitalism as an absence of communism, the stronger then ever ongoing class division inaugurates concepts which are in corelation with newly positioned pole of neo-liberal ruling class. «End user» serves as a link amongst tertiar production sector and reduction of political positioning of culture which is not supposed to be confrontational, but confirmational to capitalistic exploatation of bodies, excpectations and actions that are supposed to impose nothing else but the very neoliberal hegemony which conducts the whole process of assimilation into global capital. In banal terms, neo-liberal hegemony (in Bosnia's case those are all culture institutions, museums, centers of contemporary arts, media centers, national art galleries...) in transitional society IS a framework of not cultural confrontation, but absorbtion. Cultural production in transition is a constantly moving obscurity which constitutively avoids political context as its own modus operandi. Or, saying it another way, cultural «production» is a generator of spectacle as non-place of politics. Likewise, dynamics of nothing is complementary to Baudrillards third successive phase of the image where: “Sign masks the absence of a basic reality”.

The sign in this case will uncover it self as nothing else as position of a neo-liberal ruling class, which is in fact the only class that will profit from complete inclusion into capital, whether it takes form in constellation like EU or what ever else.

So, we come to an “untouchable” fetish, the encryption key of objectivisation, democracy. Within the analogy to Negri/Hardt, it comes as a most connectable link for all imperatives, where democracy presents it self as ultimate “ideological” background for non-ideological practice.

As Nietzsche noted, democratic idiosyncrasy towards anything which rule and wants to rule, contemporary misarhism, has bit by bit in such measure devoured the field of spirit and covered it self with most spiritual forms, that it today, step by step, already infiltrates, can infiltrate into most strict, at first look, most objective sciences; and really, as it seems to me, it has already gained rule over whole physiology and biology, to their harm of course, after it very ably hijacked their basic notion - notion of true activity (Nietzsche, 1990: 75)

Constitutive "potential" of an “end user”, especially in the context of mobilization of new info-comm. technologies and cyberspace in simulation of society, is in fact an illustration of depoliticized culture as the ultimate imperative, democracy in master encryption role, where “end user” presents constant intention for figuration around nothing as reduction of political imposition of anti-imperial context.

While putting together left and right political options as pure local antagonisms and emphasizing cultural diversities for (re)production of more antagonisms, democracy functions as an only option you cannot, not to choose. Wheatear it has right of left face.

This is why “end user” in transitional society will fight for corporate copy-right ("all right reserved") laws implementation in a country where average payment is much lesser then one cheaper software package and successively will objectify any science hijack for corporate needs whether it takes form in information access (copy rights) or in cases where multinational corporations patent humane genome itself.

From the same reason, “end user” will not politically or individually support anything which is subversive to capital in transition because capital (re) presents operational face of competent democracy as political counter-pod to ideological communism. At the same time democrat will vote for right political option if the left option start to look “sloppy” in achieving democracy. “End user” is a democrat, a right-winger and a “left” winger at the same time, consumer most of the time.

Democracy as institutionalized reaction (in Nietzsche's terms) to anomalies within the sick, hollow, depoliticized social body of transition is nothing else but a framework for meaningless streaming of descriptions of sickness. Therefore, it has to be clear that standard transitional "problems" (like corruption and similar) are not an anomaly within the democracy, but the anomaly turns out to be democracy it self.

Hence, “End user” as an illustration of acceptance of endless reproduction of identities and needs (as Marina Gržinić noted) is culturally modeled re-production of spectrum of patterns that on micro level avoid any danger of discommodification of it`s life style, and on macro level, decorate the constellations of particularities that help transition society glide further toward the totality of emptiness of the West, hence, matrix of fragmentation of the East is in fact being a matrix of fragmentation of the West. Or, to say it in more fancy manner, the worst thing that could happen to both worlds is that they succeed in what are they currently doing.

 

Rereferences:

1. Virno, Paolo “Gramatika mnoštva” (Zagreb, naklada Jesenski I Turk, 2004.). Grammatica della moltitudine – Per una analisi delle forme di vita contemporanee» (Rubbetino Editore, 2001.)

2. Hardt, Michael / Negri, Antonio “Imperij”, (Zagreb, Multimedijalni Institut, Arkzin, 2003.) Originally published as Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2000).

3. Milat, Petar / Medak, Tomislav “O koristi i šteti inteligencije za život” (Zagreb, Enigma objekta - Zbornik teorijskih tekstova, vlastita naklada Gordan Karabogdan, Nikica Klobučar, 2006.)

4. Foucault, Michel, “Nadzirati i kažnjavati: Nastanak zatvora” (Novi Sad, Biblioteka Theoria, 1997.) Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison. (Gallimard, Paris 1975.) Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Vintage Books USA, 1977.)

5. Baudrillard, Jean “Simulacija i Zbilja”, (Zagreb, Naklada Jesenski i Turk, Hrvatsko sociološko društvo, 2001.) in Gordana V. Popovic trans.

6. Gržinić, Marina "Estetika kibersvijeta i učinci derealizacije" (Zagreb, Multimedijlani institut, u kooprodukciji sa Centar za komunikaciju I kulturu Košnica, Sarajevo, 2005.)

7. Nietzsche, Friedrich, “Genealogija morala” (Beograd, Grafos, 1990.)

On the Genealogy of Morals. trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale, in On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo. New York: Random House, 1967.