Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
Paris, 6 January 2014
“Our addiction to computer screens and networks is a form of political domination of which we are the victims…The Snowden affair…calls into question our ultra-wired way of life…Edward Snowden’s courage [in revealing the extent to which government spy agencies are infiltrating cyberspace to carry out blanket surveillance of hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens] will not have any lasting effect unless it gets across the idea that the political darkness into which we have been plunged will only intensify so long as we remain unwilling to give up our cyber-smart gadgetry.”
Extract from a Manifesto published in the French daily Le Monde on 3 January 2014 by Marcuse (Mouvement Autonome de Réflexion Critique à l’Usage des Survivants de l’Économie), a group of cyber-critics that includes sociologists, economists, philosophers, historians, psychologists and doctors.
The group’s monicker is clearly intended as a reference to Berlin-born Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), who became a guru to student rebels when he taught at US universities during the student protests of the sixties and seventies. Marcuse argued that alienated elites (such as students) are the breeding ground for revolutionary change.
The question, presumably, is whether revulsion by the digerati against cyber totalitarianism – a revulsion already glimpsed among the hacker fraternity – will become sufficiently widespread to reverse the steamroller of omnipresent surveillance by faceless all-seeing spooks from the kafkaesque bureaucracy of the leviathan state.
By a happy coincidence, Le Monde’s weekend magazine published the next day, 4 January 2014, has an article by the many-faceted French writer Philippe Sollers extolling the virtues of cyber rebellion.
Describing his method of working, Sollers says he writes first by hand, using a fountain pen, and then types up the text on a typewriter. He adds:
“We must be capable of disconnecting from what they want to connect us to. The more everyone throws themselves into the world of computers, the more I keep out of it. Far away from tweets and blogs. However, that does not stop me from getting to know about the time in which I live. To write by hand is an act of rebellion by someone who has called it a day on networking. This life I lead away from prying eyes enables me better to analyse that world with cold detachment.”
For further consideration of this question and some thoughts on the feasibility of breaking out of the strait jacket of cyberspace, readers might like to check out our Luddite blog post Back to them good ol’ days published on 13 July 2013.
And, to end, a word from that sworn enemy of technological fixes, the French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, who teaches at the École Polytechnique: “The internet, that great dustbin….”
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.