Sunday, July 5, 2009

The boundless

Dickens and Marx essentially play the same game.
Both want to understand how something utterly boundless tumbles into the world. Industrialization does something weird to nature. Nature stops being something that ought to be understood either in terms of a divinity or a fixed series of cycles, and becomes rather a filed of power, which industrialization gradually inhabits. The power of nature fractured or plunders, becomes the power of a humanity who appears able to rewrite some of the rules of life (epidemics become less serious, power becomes a resource to be held on tap etc.)
A world of ever expanding and complexifying network of powers and machines, replaces an only order., and both Marx and Dickens realize that such a network must fundamentally alter how humans understand their place in the world.
How could it not? Suddenly new powers become open, and new problem and opportunites arise: What it is to hold down an identity or to relate to ones fellows suddenly became richer and more difficult. Population rocket, and mix, new lines of communication are created, new ways one can influence ons fellow, and new ways to force them to do things.
The perpetual tumble of natures power into the laps of a population forces the existing powers of that population not examine themselves. They cannot imply assume that they are the ones, that they are the power in the land. other powers,better to wield technologies could always be quietly being born. Power structure becomes then very precarious. The threat is not rebellion and revolt the taking charge of the state by specific elites) but rather full scale revolution ( the sudden and violent change in the nature of the society).
But this change is going to be so complete. But is likely that the revolutionaries will not understand their power. They will rather be simply doing what they always had done, or hoping to or trying to, as the rules slipped and changed, and revolutionised that 'always'. The agent of change are never necessarily meaning to be that change.
Or at least they are nt Max says until socialisms becomes self confident of of its power. I is this self consciosunes on the behalf of technology to be the power, the change, and humanity to understand itself as the wielder of this technology that compose or form the nature of the revolution. That is communisms happens and history ends when humanity self-consciously assume its power to own its own technology.
But here Dickens eye brows meet. There is a problem and he knows it. Marx is asking far too much of self consciousness or reason. Technologies work by eroding what humans thought they could do. It warps then habits or makes then function otherwise. This power is one of genuine revolution: that is it runs against how hans tend to understand themselves. Its power is that surprise. If one merely jumps the of the habit of self conscious desire for change, then one has changed in a sense nothing. This will be a habit. one will look to change as the answer, and forget that what actually matters is he fact that changes are eroding what was already there. They work in not being self-conscious as such. That is in warping reality. to make then the reality to be warped is therefore a solution.
Not only does it mistake the nature of the change (which needs to warp) but also the relationship between humanity, with their little lives and neat order, and the nature that is bought into those wold. This nature will not simply cease being nature, in that it will always be a challenge. , and in a sense this is its revolution and well as its definition. That is the Marx's strong argument that nature becomes a field to inhabit needs to keep hold of the fact that nature in doing so remains as it was, the indexes of possibility and changes beyond humanity. one might not contain that beyond in divinity or in cycles and yet that does not stop the beyond being real and vivid. It matters.
Natures power therefore remains in the sense that it is the step beyond self consciousness, and to be human. The oddities of modernity is that this other is perpetually being invited into society. The problem is how does one relate to this often rather unwelcome guest. ...
Max says change everything to become its friend: Dickens that such a change is not possible or desirable as some guests are too grumpy to be placated, and one can never simply alter ones self: one needs rather to cope and live with the gripe and snipe of the guest.
History at leas t now has suggested that this second approach, might be the only one possible....

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