“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Self-Organization, Nature, Anarchy

There are many types. I think there's a pretty strong difference between the kind of emergentism favored by holists and atomists, and the kind of anarchy favored by UK Uncut—with full respect to Adam Curtis, whose editorial in the Guardian of London today I found so interesting.

Curtis argues that holism has a lineage that includes the invention of the notion of ecosystem and the hippie movement. He argues that this betrays an anxiety about authority that mystifies leadership. He then applies this to the UK Uncut movement and its leaderless “self-organization.”

Let's break this down OOO style. The big difference is that for holists and atomists there is a top object and a bottom object, respectively. For holists there is a top object such as Gaia or Nature or History or Destiny that acts as an attractor, a series of chreodes that shape the seemingly random flow of entities.

For atomists such as right wing libertarians, there are atomic individuals and an invisible hand which acts as a kind of ersatz top object that directs the flow. Atomism and holism share much in common.

For the anarchist on the other hand there is no top or bottom object. It's kind of unfair of Curtis to lump in the “self-organized” crew of UK Uncut with the Gaian holists. I agree on the holists. But the UK Uncut people aren't trying to push an ontotheology. They're trying to save Britain from irreparable damage.

The aestheticization of holism+atomism+anarchy lacquers over the significant cracks between these forms of thinking. Creating an easy-wipe surface over which the mind glides, another society of the spectacle product to gawk at.

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