Nomadic Family

Natacha Roussel

The problem of the costs within the schizoid logic of our times concerns mostly potestas, the quantitative, not potentia, or incorporeal intensities. --Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Theory

The question of costs often translates into issues of scale and scalability that are dominant in technological societies. The “scale solutionism” starts from the desire to solve cost problems and ends in hyper-control, restriction, dissociation and finally disaster conducted by non-aware necropolitics, where the politics of death systematically takes over the politics of life (Mbembe 2003), increasing the costs of freedom. In such instances, when the state of power constantly refers to a state of exception in order to overcome the rule of preservation and the social limit, Achille Mbembe explains that it seems figures of sovereignty develop a general concern that is not the preservation of the commons and liveliness, but the spreading of death and the material destruction of bodies and populations: Bassel Khartabil is, unfortunately, a direct victim.

In this context, it is impossible to address the problem of costs without transforming our relation to the existing system. Always confronted with an impossible dilemma of sustainability, we need to envision different ways to face this situation. While costs are most often evaluated as a quantifiable asset, this quantification is mainly calculated in regards to an actual neo-liberal vision of individual self and proprietary systems. It seems crucial to envision different avenues to overcome the cost issues, and define new criteria of cost evaluation that could lead to re-thinking the free production processes in a different organization scheme, resulting in the main question: we should ask ourselves if the costs of freedom cannot be addressed as a qualitative process rather than a quantitative one.

Practically, to enforce such a process, only the diversity of networks can help secure our individual endeavors; therefore, the re-evaluation of the cost of freedom should start from the premises of community and collective approaches to production and network realization, which support non-proprietary production and distribution of information. Resulting from the contestation of the need to encompass our work in active F/LOSS and open source developments, is the necessity to situate our social connection and embodiment leading to new contexts for such a production. Starting from an assertion of the actual situation, we are looking at ways to think complexly with regards to freedom issues, and explore how to co-synchronise so that the relation that feeds our networks can exist despite actual power issues.

A Foucauldian view of the actual context would present, coextensively to the rise of power structures, the formulation of scientific discourse as the cause of actual costly body politics. While modernity has attached its project to a rational view of the world based on a clear mind-body split that is exponentially growing along with technological development, this disunion nurtures the dissociative powers of capitalism. Despite all efforts to enforce a discourse promoting technology as a substitute for human relation, it is, however, certain that the posthuman does not map to the network, and more specifically it appears that the proposed agenda of dematerialisation and autonomous artificial intelligent networks is a fantasmagorical construction (Hayles 2001). Therefore, it is from a holistic perspective that the observation of the actual complexity needs to be undertaken. In the context of a huge up-scaling of human presence on earth and the growth of social control apparatus, can an examination of relational complexity bring us towards social sustainability, and what would be the sensitive approach that could ground an exchange system, and lead it towards a sustainable expansion?

A holistic setup would allow us to spare ourselves by leaving the costs for freedom at the expense of the potestas while reacting in diverse and unstructured networks, and at a molecular level to reach full potentia. We are looking for ways to confront necropolitics and trigger liveliness; in this context liveliness is to be thought as a spiritual process that further constitutes the grounds for a different politics. Indeed, a different approach to politics needs to be rooted in the life of the spirit that is not afraid of death, and instead of looking for substitutes and technological prosthesis, it fully assumes death as a constituent of human relation and organisation while it looks beyond the unitary vision of the self, to molecular transformations as a way to synchronize to the world in a deeply transformative process (Braidotti 2011).

In response to this statement, several issues need to be addressed that would further ground the development of our community processes, based on a long history and knowledge of existing knowledge. Some affordances might lead to explore different relational setups that would help to transpose the question of costs.

TRANSMISSION: While power relations build over cycles of crisis, they seem to destroy reference points and instrumentalize history to the service of immediate power relations. Indeed, it is clear that technological breakthroughs importantly transform relational processes, but contrary to what we once have thought, they do not expose the processes of power. On another hand, critical discourses, tools and concepts are developed through time, and they often are sourced from fragile social structures, either isolated individuals or community structures. As a consequence of this fragility, they most often repeatedly deal with recurrent issues, while transmission lines are broken, they each time face the need to develop a discourse and solutions. It is important to intervene at community scale in the process of transmission to create community genealogies and a history of community movement through time. This would allow us to keep those principles active during technological transitions. One of the possibilities is to expose current technological communities to existing social science and allow for transdisciplinarity and politicization of the discourse. The project of hackerspaces workshops, for example, inscribes itself into a transactional process of transmission through a collective community context.

BIOPOWER: As it appears that sovereignty stands as a condition of control, the question of the unicity of self, is again a transient issue persisting across time and through technologies. Variations of intensity characterize the thinking subject and are mostly characterized at its boundaries; those variations set a relational process independent from the view of a holistic body. They in principle go far further than the limits of human species in setting the potential of transformation into a process of becoming. According to Rosi Braidotti, this denaturalization process is one of the effects of technological progress in fields such as biogenetics where we integrate different species in an inter-evolutionary process.

TRANSFORMATION: After a consciousness-rising process triggered by the awareness of a state of dismay, it could be timely to consider, observe and acknowledge a trans-species potential for knowledge diversity leading to social sustainability. This process can be thought as both individual and collective, implying both personal mutation, and through collective support, a larger transformational process. Being in the instant and acting from this perspective, and responding to the trigger of the momentum is a way to reach the acknowledgment of the possibility of instantaneous transformation. Variations of codes, genres and modalities of expression of the idea see transposition as a possible solution for genetic transmutation and exchange.