[Re]Build: A Call for Contributors and Participants

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Shock and austerity. Stock market instability. Stagnant wages and the decline of purchasing power. War. Climate change. Despite these multiplying crises, capitalism retains an essential tool that allows it to perpetuate itself on a global level despite its internal contradictions: the ability to leverage technological developments to liquidate the political power of those who would oppose it. At such a crossroads, when labor as an organized force is being dissolved into flexible precarity, how does one attempt to tip the scales and reverse our accelerating fragility? The answer lies in a shift of focus, from a politics of power to a politics that looks critically at infrastructure, a politics of re-purpose, (re-)design, appropriation and the reclamation of space, and of new forms of economic expression.

Whatever the future will be, or whatever name we want to label the path to it, there is one realization that is facing us: it must be post-capitalist. We firmly believe that another world is possible, but it must be built, and the rules and programs for this construction are still largely unwritten.

We propose the creation of a zone of experimentation with the intention of bringing together dissenting agencies with critical practices in hopes of finding prototypes and models for a post-capitalist society. Such a platform calls for a cross-pollination of ideas, a shared and in-depth dialogue, and easily accessible means for hands-on experimentation. This new space will be open to all wanting to participate.

The topics we hope to cover include – but are not limited to:

  • The politics of infrastructure
  • The remaking of space by neoliberal capitalism
  • The relationships between big data, media, and infrastructure
  • Tactics and strategies for re-purposing technologies, complex systems, infrastructure and the politicization of spatial practices
  • D.I.Y. techniques and how-to guides
  • Alternative economies
  • Sustainable living, agriculture, energy, and architecture
  • The possibilities and pitfalls of automation
  • Eco-activism and infra-activism
  • Intervention design
  • Tactical media
  • New and experimental cartographies
  • Peer-to-peer approaches to production and distribution

Contributions can take a variety of forms:

  • Articles and essays
  • Fragments and speculations
  • Videos, links, and commentaries
  • How-to guides, plans, and prototypes
  • Reports, stories, and interviews

Anyone who is interested need only drop us a line here, or you can email me at Edmund.b.berger@gmail.com.

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17 Responses to [Re]Build: A Call for Contributors and Participants

  1. Pingback: Rebuilding: A Call for Contributors and Participants | synthetic_zero

  2. Rebuild and dismantle says:

    Hi! This sounds promising, esp. the how-to approach. One often hear calls to “get practical” and so on, but in that case let’s get detailed too! Hoping for such a style. Manuals are not the only way to practically describe the workings of something in its detail, so does phenomenological research or etnographies. Anyway, just throwing out reactions.

    If you don’t mind answering questions: Will it be an online or printed platform? And apropos data and infrastructure: Will there be an email with a PGP-key to send potential contributions to?

    One thing that makes me wonder: It seems the constructive element is put in front (this is obvious in the name of course), but is it intentional to completely leave out all destructive processes as well? While the intention might be sympathetic I still feel it is missing. Often rebuilding is much more fun and creative, when you also get rid of the things that are obstructing that very experimentation! Hacking is a good example of a re-purposing that is at once both destructive and constructive. Often necessarily, but not always so. And many forms of experimentation can indeed work out in isolation from struggle, but it is rare. Another example: Learning how a given infrastructure works (in order to re-purpose it) also makes it possible to identify the vital nodes in it’s existing networks or find it’s weakest points. Or getting intimate with feelings of resignation or depression in relation to ways of struggling that are making you powerless anyway, can be self-destructive and even a trap in some cases, but weirdly also a door to build other forms of struggling. Anyway, just some speculations from a foreign comrade. Hoping you will consider this!

    • edmundberger says:

      Hi! Thanks for you interest and the important questions and comments you raise! I’ll try to answer them as well as you posed them.

      –Will it be an online or printed platform? And apropos data and infrastructure: Will there be an email with a PGP-key to send potential contributions to?

      As it stands right now we’re just beginning the task of constructing the space, which will primarily be online but I hope that as time goes on a corollary journal can be launched in conjunction with the space – I’m picturing an open-access journal that takes advantage of a print-on-demand system to provide easily accessible and inexpensive distribution of physical materials. But that, at this stage, is a ways off.

      Myself and my comrade dmf, the other co-conspirator in the early stages of this venture, came to the conclusion that instead of building the infrastructure for such a space and then try to bring people in, we try to raise interest first so that those interested would have a say in the internal workings. I’m picturing somewhere between a journal and a laboratory: the key thing to generate is a grounds for a variety of individuals and groups working across various sectors and scales to come together in conversation, to share ideas and hopefully engender new forms. Essays and articles are one way to do this, as well as catalogs, how-to’s, and ethnographies; it seems clear to use that provide adequate means for maintaining a continuity of dialogue is of utmost necessity, especially in ways that no one individual or group dominates and steers the discourse. In short, we want to move this in an extremely participatory direction. While we’re organizing the space we’re hoping to use the Deterritorial Investigations Unit as a ground to raise interest and bring people together. So any ideas you have, the ground floor is open to you!

      –It seems the constructive element is put in front (this is obvious in the name of course), but is it intentional to completely leave out all destructive processes as well? While the intention might be sympathetic I still feel it is missing. Often rebuilding is much more fun and creative, when you also get rid of the things that are obstructing that very experimentation! Hacking is a good example of a re-purposing that is at once both destructive and constructive.

      I understand exactly what you’re saying here, and its definitely a multi-scalular issue. I do focus on the constructive level in this initial call partly as a rhetorical move, to contrast the task of rebuilding/redesigning with neoliberalism’s own mode of creative destruction. The reason I do this is to highlight the participatory nature of this intended project – to ground the task of construction and creation in the social as opposed to the top-down, managerial and largely anti-democratic apparatuses that it currently moves through. Neoliberalism’s mode of organization destroys in order to create with little regard for anything that doesn’t conform to its profit motives, on scales ranging from the individual and affective (which I feel feeds into your next point), to the regional and traditional, up to the ecological systems of the earth itself. It seems clear to us that the destructive aspects of creative acts are much better handled in the sphere of a more dynamic understanding of the social and civil society.

      –Learning how a given infrastructure works (in order to re-purpose it) also makes it possible to identify the vital nodes in it’s existing networks or find it’s weakest points. Or getting intimate with feelings of resignation or depression in relation to ways of struggling that are making you powerless anyway, can be self-destructive and even a trap in some cases, but weirdly also a door to build other forms of struggling.

      Certainly! In the face of labor’s inability to mobilize and assert itself as it did during the day of the Fordist-factory, analyzing and striking at the nodes and weak points has become one the most important ways to leverage to modes of counterpower (and also helps to provide a constructive discourse that differs from the network-mania that still persists in critical thought). I believe it was Jasper Bernes who had discussed even the need for ‘counterlogistis,’ that is, cartographies of infrastructural networks and systems that emphasize their fragilities and choke-points to be used to empower the tactical abilities of dissenting actors. This is all well and good and essential, but at something point the question of moving beyond tactics must be raised. How do we move forward from the spirit of revolt to the dynamics of transformation, and how do we do it in a balanced and positive fashion? Neoliberalism, on an infrastructural level, is a globally integrated organization of production and distribution. Can civil society actors reorganize this system, find new application for technologies and infrastructure? What role can the weak points in the system, the locals of integral glitches and exploits (to borrow hackerspeak), play in such an endeavor?

      Per your second point, this is something that we absolutely hope to cover. Along side anti-democratic practice and the violence of disciplinary regime, the unleashing and regulation of positive affect forms the other side of the neoliberal system. Despite this, we find ourself in a system that promotes a generalized dysphoria. Clearly this dysphoria is related on one hand to the organization of the system, while also acting as a sort of incubator for critical thought and divergent struggles. As such, these states must be probed and analyzed in conjunction with any attempt at rebuilding.

      I hope I’ve answered your concerns, and any further ones please float this way. I also very much hope we’ll be working together soon.

  3. Pingback: It is called “[Re]Build” | Installing (Social) Order

  4. dmf says:

    from over @ Syn-Zero Keith Harris shared:
    Reblogged this on My Desiring-Machines and commented:
    I like everything about this [Re]Build idea. I am particularly interested in translating right now, especially from French, which I’m trying to learn for a handful of reasons, so I would be up for making connections on that front (intersections of critical theory and urban theory). I am also interested in a lot of the rumblings I’m reading about the Right to the City, and intersections with Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault from South America (and my Spanish is better than my French). I’m also interested in ways to “put down roots” in cities, as evidenced by a little thought experiment here…on that note, I actually also have a Master’s degree in structural engineering, if there are others out there who want to talk about pooling practical capacities.

  5. Mary Ann O'Donnell says:

    Hi Edmund, yes! Rebuilding from where we are, and that of course is the rub. We need so much work to recognize where we are, let alone where others are standing. I look forward to y’all’s forays and possible collaborations.

  6. arranjames says:

    Hi Edmund- I am struggling to come out of my months/year long quietude. I’d be interested in contributing to this. The need to build from the ruins or, at the least, to make the ruins habitable. I’m pretty keen on talking about automation and its limits.

    • edmundberger says:

      Hello Arran, good to hear from you! I under the struggles of long quietudes and the pull of things we feel that need to be done! I just recently came out of one myself…

      Anyways, it’s fantastic to have you on board. I’ll add you to the list, and if you have any ideas/comments (myself and dmf envision the project as participatory and ‘self-building’ as we move forward) on generating the [Re]Build space, feel free to drop ’em by!

  7. Pingback: [Re]Build: A Call for Contributors and Participants | Struggle Forever!

  8. Pingback: [Re]Build: A Call for Contributors and Participants | P2P Foundation

  9. Interesting. I’m a technologist, and very much interested in smart things owned by the individual for their own benefits (instead of tethered to some corporate over-cloud-lord for their benefit). Not sure how much you are looking for “working code”, but if so, perhaps there are some opportunities to collaborate. You may be interested in a recent talk of mine on the “Indie Internet-of-Things” here: http://ubos.net/files/2015-01-20-Indie-IoT-Johannes-Ernst.pdf

  10. S.C. Hickman says:

    Hey, buddy… was hibernating up in my cabin for a few months and slowly getting back into the blogosphere… like where you’re heading with this new initiative. Been working on a couple book projects for a while but might like to throw something into the mix. Keep the aspidistras flying!

    • edmundberger says:

      Hi Steve, good to hear from you, and welcome back! Yeah, we’re still in the nascent stages of this project but it would be fantastic if you wanted to contribute. I think it’s going to be a good experience!

      • S.C. Hickman says:

        So Edmund where do you stand on this now? I agree this would be a great path forward. Will it entail a new site? Or some kind of performative art initiative or an actually funded organization? Either way as you suggested I’d love to contribute…

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