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Identity Wars: the End of Human Society

How internet culture challenges the identity mappings that human society depends on.

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Identity Wars: the End of Human Society

  1. 1. Identity Wars: the End of Human Society How internet culture challenges the identity mappings that human society depends on. Christian Heller / plomlompom 2009-12-29 c-base, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2. overview ● Top-Down-Imposition of Identities ● Self-Imposition of Identities ● Liberty of Identities ● The Forging/Crafting of the Individual ● The Dissolution of the Individual ● Enter the Borganism
  3. 3. life: original nameless viriditas „Stro m petri atolites, fie t in the d biofilm hat is pre - Glac Siyeh roc about on cambrian ie k e http: r Nationa formatio billion ye //en. ars o wikip l Park, M n of ld edia. onta org/w n iki/Fi a, USA.“ le:St roma tolite s.jpg
  4. 4. life: original nameless viriditas ● life force evolutionarily permeates the universe ● chaotical start, without „order“ / taxonomy ● no purpose, no interest, no identity: no politics ● structures and differentiates itself into organical hierarchies and networks ● diversities of micro-machines → diversities of cells compose diversities of plants/animals/etc. … ● all interacting with each other in many complex ways, not one clear hierarchy
  5. 5. societies: made up of people Frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes' „Leviathan“ by Abraham Bosse, 1651
  6. 6. societies: made up of people ● differentiated into hierarchies of: ● discrete animal units (human individuals) and ● superorganisms (societies) made up of configurations of these ● determined taxonomically by a symbolic intelligence; orderly
  7. 7. peoples, cultures, nations, states „John Bull and his Friends by Fred W Rose, 1900“ Uploaded by peacay / Paul K, Licence: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibliodyssey/3668664529/
  8. 8. peoples, cultures, nations, states ● identitary nature of social superorganisms ● peoples, cultures, nations, states, organized religions, classes, guilds/unions, political parties, gender?, ... ● superhuman superorganisms != free memeplexes ● strive for stability ● often strive for clear borders ● their relations are powerful and political
  9. 9. superorganisms imposing identity „ID card in Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia – 1943“ Author: „scanned by Krokodyl“, Licence: CC-BY-3.0 Unported http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protektoratni_obcanka_1943.jpg
  10. 10. superorganisms imposing identity ● credentials (by the state, the club, the guild, the university): ID card, membership, certificates ● legal identification and accountability ● cultural education ● „Gleichschaltung“ organically downwards ● authoritarian identity lock-ins ● Behave according to your identity! ● Your identity is what I say it is! (By order of God, Nature, History, Society.)
  11. 11. the subjective turn
  12. 12. citizen / citoyen „Painting of a typical sans-culotte“ / Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sans-culotte.jpg „Roman clad in toga, from 1891 Dictionary of Classical Antiquities.“ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toga_Illustration.png
  13. 13. citizen / citoyen ● subjective internalization of, identification with society; pride ● strong identification with superorganism, but bottom-up; responsible, creative shareholdership ● illusion (!) of responsibility for identity (e.g. nationality, education hardly ever freely chosen) ● top-down vs bottom-up: yet another political power struggle
  14. 14. „Vitruvian Man“ by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg humanism and personalism „Bildnis der Mutter“, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dürer_-_Bildnis_der_Mutter.jpg
  15. 15. humanism and personalism ● individual personality ● Christianity: absolute human dignity, equality, incommensurability; Human Rights ● glorifying, romanticizing the individuals, their inner selves and their relations ● individual human ego as the new bottleneck for identity ● (previously: the upper superorganic hierarchies)
  16. 16. „Werther aus Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers“ ( Author: Chodowiecki http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:WertherAusDieLeiden DesJungenWerthersZeichnungChodowiecki.jpg The Individual Identity „L1001521“ / Author: Guido van Nispen License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/vannispen/3232494530/
  17. 17. The Individual Identity ● complex society with conflicting guidelines for behaviour → ● individual identity as the necessary new guiding scheme ● identity = responsibility ● create your own identitary, biographical narrative of goals, guilts, bindings ● draw on available identity resources ● not the same choices available for everyone
  18. 18. the fight for identitarian diversity „San Francisco Pride Parade“ / Author: Jere Keys License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/tyreseus/2623090047/
  19. 19. the fight for identitarian diversity ● broaden the inventory of identity resources ● broaden the social acceptance of certain identities in existing spaces ● create new spaces accepting certain identities
  20. 20. enter the internet
  21. 21. „Klingon“ / Author: Official Star Wars Blog License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/starwarsblog/937407832/
  22. 22. „Cosplay – AWA14“ / Author: Michael Mol License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28208534@N07/2874725130/
  23. 23. „Bowser cosplay“ / Author: Scott Rubin License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/apreche/212104671/
  24. 24. „Cosplay Candid: Next Generation“ / Author: Dave Fayram License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/davefayram/3756732259/
  25. 25. „Lucca Comics 2008 Cosplay“ / alessino License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/alessino/3000513168/
  26. 26. „Parade42“ / Author: Neil McIntosh License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/harlequeen/3319976312/
  27. 27. „Tron Guy @ ROFLcon“ / Author: Jeff Dlouhy http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlouhy/2449300778/ Licence: CC-BY 2.0
  28. 28. „Pedobear“ / Author: Dave Fayram License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/davefayram/3764302067/
  29. 29. „Parti Gras '09 in Clearwater“ / Author: Anonymous9000 License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/anonymous9000/3300270063/
  30. 30. „Zombie March Chicago 2008 - Image 067“ / Author: Eric Ingrum http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericingrum/2600378644/
  31. 31. „zombie walk“ / Author: zenobia_joy / License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenobia_joy/4005031407/
  32. 32. empowering identitarian liberty? ● multiplication of identity resources ● endless space for every imaginable identity ● new socialities for identities give strengthening social feedback ● traditional identity bottlenecks get goatsed
  33. 33. identitarian bottleneck incongruities „Operation Tea Party Hard 84“ / Author: Anonymous9000 License: CC-BY-2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/anonymous9000/3453159535
  34. 34. identitarian bottleneck incongruities ● acceptance of imposed identity bottlenecks diminishes ● choose the democracy that votes your way ● have your cake and eat it, too ● superorganisms lose control over flow of identity resources in their territory ● loss of common background, socialization ● digital globalization and its discontents ● how to block? censorship? national internet?
  35. 35. „politics 2.0“ (for real)
  36. 36. „politics 2.0“ (for real) ● citizenships in superorganisms that surpass the size of most states, languages, religions ● Facebook: 350.000.000, MySpace: 100.000.000 ● USA: 300.000.000, German language: 200.000.000 ● Judaism: 13.000.000 ● non-binding, multiple citizenships ● freedom of movement
  37. 37. „politics 2.0“ (for real) Screenshots from sign-up dialogue of FetLife.com (300.000 members)
  38. 38. reality of new identity structures FetLife.com
  39. 39. reality of new identity structures ● internet communities provide basic structure for identity, communication, action ● importance is ever growing ● 'digital' identity not much more artifical than the 'real' one
  40. 40. dissolution of individual integrity
  41. 41. dissolution of individual integrity ● open-sourcing of identity ● fake accounts, fake interpersonality of interactions ● identitarian chat and twitter bots ● post-private information overload destroys illusion of coherent personality ● loss of individual predictability and responsibility
  42. 42. „Anonymous. Only 1000 of them. No more.“ / Author: Anonymous http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Image:Bdespairanonymous1000ks2.png
  43. 43. humanistic / personalistic racism FetLife.com
  44. 44. humanistic / personalistic racism ● prove your humanity! ● forced registration, identification, login ● one account only for one e-mail address! ● map everything to legally seizable social units ● surveillance for identification ● data retention laws / „Vorratsdatenspeicherung“
  45. 45. information politics? slashdot.org
  46. 46. information politics? ● new legal persons? ● citizen rights and responsibilities for bot nets, fake accounts, borganisms, memes ...? ● problems: non-binding, transient nature of new identity patterns ● new legal bottlenecks will get bypassed quickly: new structures grow faster
  47. 47. information society: society of informations
  48. 48. information society: society of informations X
  49. 49. information society: XXXXXXX society of informations X
  50. 50. information
  51. 51. Literature ● Accelerando (Charles Stross) ● http://www.antipope.org/charlie/accelerando/ ● L'invention de soi. Une théorie de l'identité / Die Erfindung des Ich (Jean-Claude-Kaufmann) ● The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes) ● We, Borg. Speculations on Hive Minds as a Posthuman State (Anders Sandberg) ● http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Global/Posthumanity/WeBorg.html ● Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: „Personalism“ ● http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/personalism/

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