Art and theory of reversibility

According to the World Economic Forum that annually meets in Davos, “nothing ever will be the same” after the coronavirus. The Great Reset awaits us this impending 2021 and we only have to get on board.

How can we know when a change is definitive or merely occasional? How can we foresee if its consequences will be reversible or irreversible?

It is assumed that the miscalled “Spanish flu” of 1918-1919 was incomparably deadlier than this virus, and yet it vanished like a ghost in the memory of an entire generation which however could not forget the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles, or the crash of 29.

The great war and the crisis of the 1930s did have irreversible effects, which would lead to the world of 1945; but it is clear that the flu did not, and as soon as it stopped filling the news, it was little less than obliterated. Some say that the figures were inflated shamelessly to frighten the population and make them forget the terrible question of the responsibility of the conflict, which had met with the general opposition of the unions, and of any person able to evade the much more lethal war propaganda of the press.

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Is globalization irreversible? Massive immigration from poor to rich countries? Emigration to the cities in most of the planet? The urban exodus in the United States? The split of this nation in two confronted societies? The flight from work? The “conquest” of rights that are often promoted and granted from above? The expropriation of techniques by technology that we call digitalization? Climate change? The hyper-concentration of capital? The corruption and decomposition of the social body? Civilization? Progress? Human domestication?

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CHINA IN SPACE AND TIME

From the West, we tend to judge today’s China more by its economic presence and the impact of its material development on the rest of the world than by the internal needs in the development of its history; thus giving an overwhelming priority to the geopolitical perspective over the cultural one, which should have at least a comparable importance.

In fact, it is easy to see that China’s overall impact will depend to a large extent on how well it manages to fit this whole period and the foreseeable future into a historical framework for which it would like as little change as possible. A sense of continuity on a large scale is fundamental to Chinese culture, and in the long term it will always do its best to assimilate and make the origin of foreign influences undetectable. It has already achieved this to a large extent with Marxism and capitalism, which lose so much of their original meaning in translation that it is no longer known whether to call the Chinese system “market socialism” or “state capitalism”.

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Tao of Technoscience

The paths in the science-technology continuum may be innumerable but they all presuppose a potential reciprocity between knowledge and application —thus between knowledge and power. And yet we still have no idea of what kind of circle knowledge and power draws on us.

Newton’s celestial mechanics seemed initially far removed from worldly affairs but the unwarranted generalization of his principles to things far removed from human artifacts had the effect of turning the world into a wheelless rolling machine.

Society has taken shape as it becomes isolated from Nature but cannot subsist without a permanent commerce with her which in turn depends more and more on our knowledge of it. Any dominance relationship over Nature is reproduced within society, between some parts that exercise control and others parts subject to this control.

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