High-speed society : social acceleration, power, and modernity edited by Hartmut Rosa and William E. Scheuerman - ISBN 9780271034164 - Pennsylvania State University Press 2009
- provides a critical framework for an analysis
- 6 key questions (p4)
- conceptualize it; structure immune to it, existing deceleration; causes of it; consequences of it; limits of it; consequences of a proper analysis framework;
- "For them, speed is a successful strategy of survival, a basic biological imperative of effort reduction: to be fast is to save energy, demonstrate adaptability, and outrace competitors in the struggle for scarce resources." (p7)
- "Human history can be interpreted as a ferocious temporal Darwinian struggle culminating in the <<survival of the fastest.>>" (p7-8)
- red queen principle?
- "the most striking problem with a hyperaccelerated society is that it undermines individual and collective autonomy." (p17)
- plan (p19)
- Part 1 "selection of the most astute early to mid-twentieth-century statements about the phenomenon of social acceleration in modern thought."
- Part 2 "more recent attempts to develop ambitious und undeniably impressive theoretical analyses of social speed or acceleration."
- Part 3 "interrogates the political consequences of social acceleration."
- sum-up of each article
Part 1 - Classical perspectives on social acceleration
- 1 A Law of Acceleration by Henry Adams
- physical viewpoint, measuring the energy accumulated and the resulting motion ("coal-output")
- "The attempt of the American of 1800 to educate the American of 1900 had not often been surpassed for folly;" (p39)
- "Thus far, since five or ten thousand years, the mind had successfully reacted, and nothing yet proved that it would fail to react - but it would need to jump." (p40)
- 2 The Pace of Life and the Money Economy by Georg Simmel
- The Pace of Life, Its Alterations, and Those of the Money Supply
- " It has long been known that wages are the last to be adjusted to a general increase in prices. The weaker a social group is, the slower and more sparingly does the increase in the amount of money trickle through to it." (p46)
- could be interesting to see if there is a constant delay between the pace to which parlementaries update their own ssalaries vs. minimum salary/insertion/pension (check SciencePo, ATTAC)
- The Concentration of Monetary Activity
- "the compression of the contents of life is evident in another consequence of monetary transactions [...] that tend to concentrate in a relatively few places." (p47)
- concentration of money in order to faciliate transaction and comparison of good at greater pace
- The Mobilization of Values
- analogy between physically rounding up of coins and the gradual rounding up of large sums in order to have faster transactions
- "money itself requires for the purpose of facilitating its transactions" (p53)
- Constancy and Flux as Categories for Comprehending the World
- phylosophical view on the notion of exchange
- Money as the Historical Symbol of the Relative Character of Existence
- "When money stands still, it is no longer money according to its specific value and significance. The effect that it occasionally exerts in a state of repose arises out of an anticipation of its further motion. Money is nothing but the vehicle for a movement in which everything else that is not in motion is completely extinguished." (p55)
- see also Money as Debt II ? Promises
- 3 The New Religion-Morality of Speed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
- "The Futurist morality will defend man from the decay caused by slowness, by memory, by analysis, by repose and habit. Human energy centupled by speed will master Time and Space." (p57)
- "Speed = synthesis of every courage in action. Aggressive and warlike." (p58)
- "Slowness = analysis of every stagnant prudence. Passive and pacifistic." (p58)
- 4 The Mania for Motion and Speed by John Dewey
- more diversion from political debate thanks to mechanisation, "du pain et des jeux" asked by the public itself
- "The mania for motion and speed is a symptom of the restless instability of social life, and it operates to intensify the causes from which it springs." (p62)
- "How can a public be organized, we may ask, when literally it does not stay in place?" (p62)
- "Our Babel is not one of tongues but of the signs and symbols without which shared experience is impossible." (p63)
- 5 The Motorized Legislator by Carl Schmitt
- The Crisis of Positive Statutory Legality: The Twentieth Century
- Legal Scholarship as the Last Refuge of Legal Consciousness
- "For the dominant opinion of the time, French legal development, with its positivistic transformation of law into state legality, stood at the pinnacle of the progress of civilization and humanity. It was also in France that one first became aware of the splitting up of law into legality and legitimacy.
- is there a Wiki-Law? (a form of modern technological positivist representation)
- where amendments would be the equivalet of wiki edits and thus having a computable and representable history
- "Very few people, among them Tocqueville, recognized at the time that in reality this acclaimed progress of civilization was nothing other than progressive centralization, and that the apparent advance of law signified nothing other than the rising scaffolding of ever-newer legal prostheses in service to centralization " (p71)
- see also the classical film Y (lost in the corridors of the legislative system) by X (black & white american movie)
Part 2 - Theoretical foundations
- 6 Social Acceleration: Ethical and Political Consequences of a Desynchronized High-Speed Society by Hartmut Rosa
- I. Social Acceleration in the Process of Modernization
- II. What Is Social Acceleration?
- "contrary to Gleick’s observation of the <<acceleration of just about everything,>> there is no single, universal pattern of acceleration that speeds up everything." (p81)
- detailed plan of the article
- 3 different spheres of acceleration
- "intentional, goal-directed processes of transport, communication, and production" (p82)
- acceleration of processes within society
- Social Change
- "attitudes and values as well as fashions and lifestyles, social relations and obligations as well as groups, classes, or milieus, social languages as well as forms of practice and habits, are said to change at ever-increasing rates." (p83)
- accelerations of society itself
- "social acceleration is defined by an increase in the decay rates of the reliability of experiences and expectations and by the contraction of the time spans definable as the <<present>>."(p83-84)
- " change in these two realms -family and work- has accelerated from an intergenerational pace in early modern society to a generational pace in <<classical>> modernity to an intragenerational pace in late modernity." (p84)
- Pace of Life
- III. What Drives Social Acceleration?
- "we should apply the term <<acceleration society>> to a society if and only if technological acceleration and the growing scarcity of time (that is, an acceleration of the pace of life) occur simultaneously, that is, if growth rates outgrow acceleration rates." (p87)
- example of speed of transport over the distance to travel
- "the acceleration cycle is a closed, self-propelling process" (p89)
- the rat-race explained? :-#
- 1. The Economic Motor
- "Within a capitalist economy, labor time figures as a crucial factor of production, such that saving time is equivalent to making (relative) profit" (p89)
- "the functioning of the capitalist system rests on the accelerating circulation of goods and capital in a growth-oriented society." (p89)
- 2. The Cultural Motor
- "The eudaimonistic promise of modern acceleration thus appears to be a functional equivalent to religious ideas of eternity or eternal life, and the acceleration of the pace of life represents the modern answer to the problem of finitude and death." (p91)
- 3. The Structural Motor
- "social change is accelerated by modern society’s basic structural principle of functional differentiation. In a society that is not primarily segregated into hierarchical classes but rather structured along the lines of functional systems, such as politics, science, art, the economy, and law, complexity increases immensely." (p92)
- IV. The Form and Relevance of Social Deceleration
- five different forms of deceleration and inertia
- Natural and anthropological speed limits
- Territorial as well as social and cultural niches
- Self-induced unintentional slowdowns, example of the traffic-jam but also of economical recessions
- Self-induced intentional slowdowns, mainly ideological "in all cases, the oppositional movements eventually failed" (p95)
- "deceleration in some respects could be a functional necessity of acceleration society rather than an ideological reaction to it." (p96)
- Superficial and in fact hidding a deeper inertia
- "hyperaccelerated standstill"
- "polar inertia"
- V. Ethical and Political Implications
- 1. Situational Identity and the Detemporalization of Life
- 2. The "End of Politics" and the Detemporalization of History
- "It seems that just as it has become virtually impossible to individually plan one’s life in the sense of a life project, it has become politically impossible to plan and shape society over time; the time of political projects, it seems, is also over." (p102)
- "If politics aspires to steer and control the basic conditions of technological and economic development, it must either keep up with their accelerating pace or seriously infringe on their autonomy, virtually ending functional differentiation." (p105)
- "politics not only becomes situationalist and loses its sense of direction; it also tends to shift the decision-making process toward other, faster arenas: the legal system (juridification), or the economy and individual responsibility (privatization and deregulation)." (p106)
- example of delegating to the market through auctionning wireless frequencies or following private expertize (even lobbyist groups? see the impact of privately funded think-tanks)
- VI. Conclusion
- key schemas (the only illustrations of the book are in this article)
- those are the models proposed by one of the editor of the book. Consequently they don't necesseraly provide a default view but help to understand with which perspective the book was constructed with.
- 7 Is There an Acceleration of History? by Reinhart Koselleck
- I. The Denaturalization of Temporal Experience Through Factors of Technological Acceleration
- "introduction of the mechanical clock in the fourteenth century had already effected a denaturalization of temporal experience. It led to the quantification of the day into twenty-four equal hours." (p116)
- "the measurement of time can also be described with regard to its social function as a story of increasing abstraction." (p117)
- 3 phases of increasing abstraction (p118)
- "The measurement of time was first embedded in the context of human action."
- "The sundial succeeded in, so to speak, objectivizing natural time."
- "The mechanical clock and later the pendulum clock began a transformation of the everyday through quantified units of time that helped secure and promote an all-encompassing organization of society, a process that extended from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries."
- key role of the interconnection of cities through the steam engine and the railroad
- II. The Category of Temporal Foreshortening Between Apocalypse and Progress
- "we can conceive of acceleration either
- as the possibility of repeating history or
- as a result of technological-industrial innovation." (p128)
- see also the map of distances on earth (colored in dark for remote region and bright for highly interconencted places)
- 8 The Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Globalizing Capital and Their Impact on State Power and Democracy by Bob Jessop
- "one of my aims below is to highlight the temporality of capital accumulation on a world scale." (p135)
- Globalization Defined
- "a multicentric, multiscalar, multitemporal, multiform, and multicausal process that includes, but is not exhausted by, the formation of the world market and the reorganization of the interstate system." (p136)
- Globalization and the Spatial Turn
- Some Spatiotemporal Contradictions of Globalizing Capitalism
- The Implications of Globalization for (National) States
- The Temporal Sovereignty of the State
- "An alternative strategy is not to compress absolute political time but to create relative political time by slowing the circuits of capital." (p156)
- "Perhaps the most celebrated, if not yet implemented, example of this strategy is the Tobin tax, which would decelerate the flow of superfast and hypermobile financial capital and limit its distorting impact on the real economy." (p156)
- "establish the institutional framework for subsiditarian guided self-regulation on various scales as well as for continuous monitoring of how well such self-regulation is operating in the light of agreed criteria. This strategy of reflexive metagovernance would enable the state to retain the capacity to coordinate activities across different time zones and temporalities without the risk of overload." (p157)
- 9 The Contraction of the Present by Hermann Lübbe
- " contraction of the present [...] means that"
- "in a dynamic civilization, in proportion to increases in the number of innovations per unit of time, the number of years decreases over which we can look back without seeing a world alien to our trusted present-day lifeworld as well as outdated in significant experiental respects."
- "the number of future years for which we can infer the likely conditions of life decreases." (p159)
- "the space of time for which we can calculate our living conditions with a degree of constancy is shortened." (p159)
- "as the rate of innovation increases, so too does the pace of obsolescence." (p161)
- using the notion of "classics [...] In terms of evolutionary theory" (p166) as pieces of culture that passes through the selection of time, a form of evolutionary epistemology (restricted to one paragraph p166-167)
- list of the 8 "most important elements of this description of industrial development from 1750 to the present" (p169-170)
- increase in the rate of innovation
- shorter time-to-market
- innovation focused on increasing productivity
- spreading of the innovation through gained advantage
- new markets reached through higher productivity
- new markets reacher through faster transportation
- standardization of time as required for coordination
- restating the impact of the railway, see previous chapter 7 Is There an Acceleration of History?
- the emergence of time discipline
- "described by Norbert Elias as one of the subtlest consequences of the civilizing proces"
- "time is the medium of action coordination, and the necessity of this coordination grows with the degree of differentiation and the transformational dynamics of modern societies." (p170)
- "selfexclusion from the differentiated opportunities to cooperate that are open to us as participants in modern social life - with the consequence that one loses freedom in the sense of sovereignty over time and experiences oneself as an object, that is, as a victim of circumstances." (p171)
- based on the work of Hans Robert Jauss we can observe from 1850 to 1970 a "rise in the rate of artistic innovation by a factor of ten over 120 years." (p173)
- "Nothing has advanced this acceleration more strongly than the selfimposed artistic duty of avant-gardism" (p173)
- Conclusion through 6 claims (p177-178)
- 10 Speeding Up and Slowing Down by John Urry
- The Problem of Time
- discussion on the nature of time, physical, biological, social, relative, absolute, unidirectionnal, reversible, ...
- entropy, complexity, self-organization and autopoeise
- "self-making autopoeitic system have been employed within the recent analyses of the World Wide Web." (p183)
- see page 61 of "Zeros + Ones: Digital Women + the New Technoculture" by Sadie Plant (London: Fourth Estate, 1997)
- added to Research/Bibliography
- concluding the section on a plan of the article itself
- Clock Time
- "collective beat" for structuring and synchronizing activities, example of school by Barbara Adam (p184)
- "Lived (and kairological) time are expelled as clock time dominates." (p185)
- main characteristics of clock time (p185-186)
- broken-down, removed of cultural signifiance, widespread use of measuring tools, fitting activities in time measurements, perception of time as a resource, synchronized time-disciplining, global-scale synchronicity, permeation of a discourse around the need for time to be rationnaly managed
- Instantaneous Time
- definined as (p189)
- "new informational and communicational technologies based upon inconceivably brief instants, which are wholly beyond human consciousness;
- the simultaneous character of social and technical relationships, which replaces the linear logic of clock time, characterized by the temporal separation of cause and effect occurring over separate measurable instants;
- a metaphor for the widespread significance of exceptionally short-term and fragmented time, even where it is not literally instantaneous and simultaneous."
- list of the main characteristics of time as instantaneous (p192-193)
- Glacial Time
- "Glacial time resists instantaneous time and seeks to slow down time down to <<nature’s speed.>>" (p194)
- suggesting to live following the principle of cosmological, geological, ecological times in order to promote a sensibility to long-term relationship and thus planning
- " September 11 to much of the world’s six to seven billion population, it does seem that it marked that moment when the instantaneous time regime was brought to a shuddering, screeching halt. The strategy of liberal globalization, of the relatively unregulated growth of capitalist markets across the world, had produced extraordinarily heightened inequality." (p198)
- "Glacial and instantaneous time came to mighty and bloody blows in the sky above New York on September 11, 2001." (p198)
- article providing plenty of extremely interesting references
Part 3 - Political consequences?
- 11 The State of Emergency, Paul Virilio
- distances become irrelevant through supersonic improvements and even more through geolocation and laser
- automation is the "miniaturization of action" and thus does not suppress the human factor but concentrate it in the design phase (p206)
- "War has always been a worksite of movement, a speed-factory." (p206)
- "We only need refer to the necessary controls and constraints of the railway, airway or highway infrastructures to see the fatal impulse: the more speed increases, the faster freedom decreases." (p207)
- one of his most classic quote "The more speed increases the faster freedom decreases.", page 142 of Speed and Politics
- "if ancient weapons deterred us from interrupting movement, the new weapons deter us from interrupting the arms race." (p210)
- "War has thus moved from the action stage to the conception stage that, as we know, characterizes automation." (p210)
- 12 The Nihilism of Speed: On the Work of Paul Virilio, Stefan Breuer
- I. Metabolic Speed and the Space-Time Dispositif
- description of the work and approval of the notion of "liquidation" and creation of void
- II. The Dromocratic Revolution
- criticism of the importance of war/miliarism in the analysis, qualified as superfluous, especially against mathematics/abstraction
- III. Speed-Space
- "the first act of resistance against the terror of speed would consist in taking more time. Also, and especially, for thinking." (p241)
- 13 Temporal Rhythms and Military Force: Acceleration, Deceleration, and War by Herfried Münkler
- "defensive power, which Clausewitz defined as the stronger form with the weaker aims, can be understood as systematically slowing down the course of military events;" (p244)
- "More powerful actors, in contrast, had a strong interest in expanding and improving their ability to accelerate war, since this was the most promising way of converting their superior resources into military success and thereby extending their power." (p244-245)
- "What then would be decisive for the acceleration or deceleration of development is who learns, how these learning processes are organized, and which specific interests guide them." (p249)
- "Clearly, most European societies have passed through different learning processes than American society since 1989-90. The recently noted fissure in the so-called trans-Atlantic value community thus results not only from different interests, but also from different learning processes." (p250)
- "Edward Luttwak convincingly shows that the history of strategic thought and action in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was always marked by creatively turning technological advantages against those who possessed them." (p252)
- "deceleration can be interpreted as a systematic turn to asymmetrical warfare in response to technological and organizational asymmetry." (p253)
- "Henry Kissinger put it with the aperçu <<The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.>>" (p256)
- "Postheroic societies accordingly tend to be forced into a mode of war in which their own sacrifices are minimized by the use of ever more advanced technology." (p257)
- which seems to be greatly the case in Europe, counting and criticizing each casuality, as opposed to the US, initially non-mediatizing them (by law) but also the "heroic deeds of glorious citizen-warriors" but even more in some middle-eastern societies in which self-sacrifice is one of the highest value
- "asymmetrical conflicts are distinguished precisely by the fact that actors of different strength increase their chances of success by developing different temporal rhythms: the technologically and economically superior side speeds up, the inferior side slows down." (p257)
- conclusion on the current predominance of assymetrical conflicts and this probablly being a solid trend
- overall to link with StrategicalEpistemology, check references of the article to improve it
- see also Peter Stinger's work as he describes the crucial role of conflicts as learning processes
- amount of UAVs used in the middle east giving the US a leading edge in the domain
- 14 Speed, Concentric Cultures, and Cosmopolitanism by William E. Connolly
- The Ambiguity of Speed
- starting with the key importance of Virioli's work
- "When speed accelerates, space is compressed. And everything else changes too: the ability to deliberate before going to war, the priority of civilian control over the military, the integrity of the territorial politics of place, the capacity to think with concepts in relation to images, the ability to escape the eye of surveillance, and so on and on." (p261)
- listing the dedicated vocabulary, including "miniaturization of action"
- "Virilio allows the military paradigm to overwhelm all other modalities and experiences of speed." (p261) critizing the predominnance of miliary like Stefan Breuer did before in chapter 12 The Nihilism of Speed: On the Work of Paul Virilio
- questionning the negative only view on speed and citing examples of fundamentalists slowing-down movements
- Kant and Cosmopolitanism
- "Kantianism can provide one faith within such a pluralized matrix. But it can no longer pretend to embody the universal matrix of cosmopolitanism." (p269)
- The Concentric Image of Political Culture
- repetively using Nussbaum’s work
- Toward a New Matrix of Cosmopolitanism
- debate on Kant's view of Spinoza
- overall interesting view on morality and agnosticism but the link with the theme of speed is hard to perceive
- 15 Citizenship and Speed by William E. Scheuerman
- plan (p288)
- "linking the ubiquitous experience of busyness to one of the core structural trends of modern society, social acceleration
- closer look at the nexus between social acceleration and citizenship, arguing that the temporality of active citizenship meshes poorly with the imperatives of high-speed society."
- consider ways by which the apparent tension between citizenship and social speed might be minimized"
- Social Acceleration: Why Are We So Busy?
- three distinct forms (p289) based on the work of Hartmut Rosa from chapter 6
- "technological acceleration, meaning that key technical processes (especially in transportation, communication, and production) operate at a vastly more rapid pace
- social transformation itself undergoes acceleration, meaning that social structures and basic patterns of social activity now change at an ever more rapid rate.
- "tempo of everyday life undergoes rapid- Wre alterations, as evinced by the increasingly high-speed character of many familiar forms of both social and individual activity."
- "three basic forms of acceleration work together to generate a self-propelling feedback loop" (p289)
- "central role played by modern capitalism in buttressing social acceleration." (p291)
- No Time for Citizenship?
- " in a society where the capacity for speed is directly associated with eªciency and progress, the temporal presuppositions of <<slow>> liberal democratic citizenship increasingly are robbed of their necessary social foundations" (p297)
- "citizenship has always been a time-consuming activity" (p297)
- "If even the most farsighted lawmakers have a hard time keeping up with the fast pace of social events, the sad realities of legislative rulemaking too often provide a ready empirical justiWcation for their apathy." (p298)
- "When liberal democratic citizens are no longer able or willing to meet the requirements of that minimum the legitimacy of the political order suffers" (p300)
- "Citizens tend to internalize an excessive dose of the executive capacity for rapid-Wre resolute action, but no longer are able to judge patiently according to general principle or deliberate cautiously with peers." (p302)
- What Is to Be Done?
- "decelerate fundamental social processes. [...] why not reject contemporary society’s accelerated dynamics altogether?" (p302)
- yet as argued in chapter 14, "We might minimize busyness, but only at the cost of losing too many of our liberties." (p303)
- limit of the compression of meaningful dialog and the deliberative process
- normative section, potentially add it to Politics : the new and the old tools
Overall remarks and questions
- evolution of the related tools?
- including decision making tools
- or solely the social consequences
- is the perception of acceleration briefly evocated during part 1 sufficient?
- should the study go further in the past, eventually studying the representation of time in pre-industrial societies?
- or current non-industrial societies
- how does it relate to my previous(to date here) proposition(to link here) to express time, even social time, through an exponential
- is there a distinction between biological time and informational time (to avoid saying "silicon time") despite the fact that biological systems are also information processing system?
- why does it seem that growing plants and browsing the Internet are on totally different (decoupled? parallel?) time-scales?
- chapter 10 Speeding Up and Slowing Down, page 189
- "events being processed in the computer world exist in a time realm that we will never be able to experience. The new ‘computime’ represents the final abstraction of time and its complete separation from human experience and rhythms of nature." (page 15 of "Time Wars" by Rifkin)
- "Negroponte describes as the shift from the atom to the bit; the information-based digital age <<is about the global movement of weightless bits at the speed of light.>>" (page 12 of "Being Digital" by Nicholas Negroponte, Knopf 1995)
- several notions regarding time are also close to the same problematics in programmation
- real-time processing
- shared measurments
- internal clock (operations per unit of time) vs abstract clock (seconds)
- the numerous remarks regarding politic and decision-making but also strategy and military could be linked to the chess strategy according to which you minimize your opponent thinking time and maximize yours
- cf my personnal experience during a chess match in Sao Paolo, 200(7?)
- problematics of decision-making and communication raise the question that, if dedicated technology continue to improve, when will using their "biological equivalent" be obsolete?
- external communication : voice through air vs. written text
- internal communication : signal through axones vs. optic fiber
- decision-making : thinking through brain vs. programming
- based on my own previous experiences (chess, RTS, ...)
- gaining only resource is not enough
- gaining only momentum is not enough
- only gaining and catalyzing both leads to victory
- the work of Paul Virilio
- The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurztweil
- my notes on Accelerando by Charles Stross, 2005
- the Futurist exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (and the historically following exhibition I saw too), to discuss with Lea
- documentaries from my WithoutNotes page
moved to Internal_Wiki:Modules.VocabularyRecipe
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