Memory of Bernard

  How could I believe that Bernard has already left us? It is true that Bernard has left, but I don’t believe and will not believe.   Since I woke up on the 7th of August and read about the death of Bernard, I

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Memory of Bernard

Épineuil-le-Fleuriel, Summer 2015, Photo: Michaël Crevoisier


How could I believe that Bernard has already left us?

It is true that Bernard has left, but I don’t believe and will not believe.


Since I woke up on the 7th of August and read about the death of Bernard, I listened to his voice on radio and I felt the presence of Bernard, his generosity, his warm greetings and smiles; I couldn’t stop my tears. I was on telephone with Bernard a week ago, talking about an event in Arles end of August, about our future projects. Bernard’s voice was weaker than that I remember, but he was positive. He complained that his mobile phone didn’t work and his printer was broken, while he wasn’t able to buy new ones online because he will need a verification code sent to his mobile phone, however, he continued to write. On the 6th of August, I felt unusually weak myself, my belly was aching; this happened to me two years ago when my friend and copyeditor committed suicide; I dragged my body to the post office to send Bernard some Korean ginseng, which I promised a while ago, but the post office was closed due to co-vid 19. After I went home, I was planning to send him a message telling him that two journal special issues that I edited and that he has participated are about to come out. But I regret that I didn’t do it, since I no longer have the chance to talk to him anymore.


I met Bernard in November 2008 in London, though I saw him already several times during his lectures. I went to the St. Pancras Station to pick him up with a colleague. I was young, excited and very nervous. I have read Technics and Time volume 1 The Fault of Epimetheus, his Echographies of Television with Jacques Derrida, and watched The Ister with admiration, a film made by David Barison and Bernard’s long time translator and friend Dan Ross, and a film I watched many times with my students. Like anyone else, I was intrigued by his past as a bank robber and took up philosophy again during his five years of incarceration. I had already intensively studied Heidegger’s Being and Time and his later work after the Kehre; I thought I have penetrated into some aspects of Heidegger’s thought on technology.  But the reading of Technics and Time 1 was mind blowing and revealing. I read it several times, sentence by sentence; every time was an extraordinary experience. Bernard deconstructed Heidegger’s Being with the concept of technics, and opened a breach to enter Heidegger’s thinking and reconstructs it from within. But what is even more impressive was his ambition to deconstruct the history of Western philosophy. For him, the question of technology, which was indeed the first philosophy, is repressed—in the sense of Freud’s use of the term, by the history of philosophy. The first two volumes of Technics and Time were dedicated to the deconstruction of phenomenology of Heidegger and Husserl; the third volume on cinema is the deconstruction of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and a critique of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.


The third volume of Technics and Time was also the beginning of Bernard’s politicized writings against the technological industry and capitalism. Bernard published almost one book each year, spanning various subjects including, aesthetics, democracy, political economy, automation, etc. Bernard is not against industry per se, but rather the short-termism of the industry and the cynicism of all forms of denial; the current program of the industry is based on a short-termism of profit making, notably consumerism, and by doing so, it no longer has the intention to take care of the population, especially the younger generation, the generation of Greta Thunberg. This is also the condition under which technology becomes toxic. From the third volume of Technics and Times on, Bernard attempted to systematically find new weapons in his reading of Marx, Freud, Simondon, biology, and economy among others. The task of the Ars Industrialis, an association that Bernard created with his friends in 2006 was dedicated to the transformation of the industry; his current project at the Sant-Denis, North of Paris, is a collaboration with various industrial partners and banks to develop a new political economy, which he calls an economy of contribution.


I still remember that it was a raining day. He was with his black coat and hat, like a typical French intellectual, but still I gave him my umbrella. He refused at the beginning but then accepted. Bernard was very friendly. He asked me what I was reading; I replied that I was reading his Acting Out and another book by the historian of philosophy Pierre Hadot. He was surprised. I just recovered from a fatal disease and I was fascinated by the resonance between his philosophy and the ancient spiritual practice. He gave a keynote speech in a conference, where I also gave a talk; Bernard was very interested in my work on relation and David Hume, and asked me to keep in touch with him. A few months later, during his debate with David Graeber and Yann Moulier Boutang at Goldsmiths College organized by Scott Lash (when a Russian artist, a self-claimed fan of Georgio Agamben, went to shit in front of the speakers to demonstrate what he understand by resistance), he asked me to give a talk in his seminars in Paris. Later he agreed to supervise my PhD thesis. Bernard was someone I looked up, and every time I met him to discuss my thesis, I only felt that I was wasting his time. But Bernard was warm and generous, he never treated me as a student, he respected me as a friend and was interested in knowing my thought. I didn’t have the tertiary retention to record these scenes, but so many details are still vivid today. I still remember during one of the meetings, Bernard asked me not to read too many Heidegger, since, according to him, very great thinker only have one or two major works and for Heidegger it is Being and Time; and once when we were waiting to cross the road, he said there is someone who you should take seriously later in your life, it is Jacques Derrida. I published my thesis On the Existence of Digital Objects in 2016, and Bernard kindly contributed a preface.


I only came to know Bernard more personally after I moved to Paris from London and started working in his Institute of Research and Innovation, an institute that he created with Vincent Puig in 2006 when he quitted his post as the director of the Department of Cultural Development at the Centre Georges Pompidou. Before his directorship at the Centre Pompidou, under the invitation of the musician and composer Pierre Boulez, he became director of IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music), an institute of the Centre Pompidou. Bernard’s life was legendary, much more than anyone else I met in my life. A farm worker, a owner of a Jazz Bar, a former bank robber, studied philosophy in the prison of Toulouse with the help of the phenomenologist Gérard Granel, a master student of Jean-François Lyotard, a PhD student of Jacques Derrida, then responsible for several projects including one with the National Library of France on digitalization in the 1980s, before he became acting director of INA (National Audiovisual Institute), then IRCAM and retired from IRI in 2018.


Later I left France for Germany to take up a job, but my relation with Bernard became even closer. He was a visiting professor for a semester at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg where I worked, and later he was a visiting professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin where I live, so we were able to meet each other almost every week during the semester time. I went to his summer school every year in Epineuil since 2012, in the countryside of central France, where Bernard and his family organized weeklong seminars with invitees and students. It was a fest of thinking and friendship, which unfortunately ended in 2017. With the decease of Bernard, those French summers I have had almost every year since 2010 seem to be so far away.


I went to China for the first time with Bernard and his family in 2015. Bernard always said to everyone that I brought him to China, but I think it was the other way round. At that time I have already lived in Europe for a decade, and in between I only went to Hong Kong once a year for a few days to see my parents, and never passed by Mainland China. The trip to Hangzhou with Bernard was an important event in my life, since I rediscovered China and was able to do so through the generosity of Gao Shiming, who recently became the dean of the China Academy of Art. From 2015 on, we taught a master class together in Hangzhou; I also had the chance to see Bernard almost everyday for lunch and dinner; and during some warm spring nights, we went for a glass of wine at the terrace of an Italian restaurant next to the academy. We had many great conversations. I remember it was 2018, Bernard was smoking, with his glass of wine, and out of a sudden he said to me, do you remember I once asked you not to read Heidegger? I replied, yes, I remember, it was 10 years ago, but I didn’t follow you. He smiled and said, I know that you didn’t listen to me, and I now think I was wrong.


In 2016 I published my second monograph The Question Concerning Technology in China. An Essay in Cosmotechnics, a response to and a critique of Heidegger’s 1953 essay “The Question Concerning Technology.” In this book, I presented a different reading of Heidegger from his, but the second part of the book still relies on his critique of Heidegger’s concept of world history to deconstruct the Kyoto school and New Confucianism. I dedicated this book to Bernard, for without the numerous discussions we had, and without the spirit of rebellion that he affirmed in me, I wouldn’t be able to make this step. This book, however, posed Bernard a problem. Bernard disagreed with me, not my reading of Heidegger, but my reading of the French palaeontologist André Leroi-Gourhan. We discussed about it during a trip to Chengdu in 2018, on our way to see pandas with his son Augustin; and we were supposed to debate about it during our seminars in Taipei in 2019, but we didn’t manage to do it; finally we wanted to stage the debate in a special issue of Angelaki dedicated to the concept of cosmotechnics, which just came out on the day of his death. Bernard was very generous to complete this article during his hospital stay in April 2020, while he was suffering from a lot of pain, however, he changed the direction of the essay and we never came to a confrontational conversation.


Bernard left us a lot of original and groundbreaking work on philosophy and technology. He never limits himself to a single discipline, he was also never satisfied with any superficial interdisciplinary studies; what he has been trying is to invent new thinking and practice, which break down the boundaries and give us visions and hopes. He is a thinker of catastrophe, or more precisely, a tragic thinker who never missed the chance to make the contingent event a philosophical necessity. Still, Bernard owes us multiple volumes of Technics and Time that he promised. Bernard said to me several times about his psychedelic experience in the prison. During that experience, he wrote a text, which he couldn’t understand at that time. He showed this text to Gerard Granel, who told him “this is going to be your philosophy.” This part was included in his PhD thesis, which Jean-Luc Marion, who was in the committee of the defense of his thesis, wanted to publish independently, but Bernard refused. This part was supposed to come out as the 7th volume of Technics and Time, though we are still waiting for the 4th, 5th and 6th. According to Bernard, this mysterious part is about a spiral. I have never read this part, but I started to think if it was close to what I wrote in Recursivity and Contingency, the introduction was titled “A psychedelic becoming.” Bernard read the book, and thought that it is important that I engaged with German idealism and cybernetics, and recommended it to French publishers. However, we never discussed about the relation between recursivity and his concept of the spiral, since I missed the chance last year.


Last year, when we were walking around the lake, I told him that I was once quite drunk with his old friend Ishida Hidetaka and Hiroki Azuma. Bernard was very happy, and he said that after prison, he never really got drunk since he doesn’t like anymore the feeling of intoxication, but he would like to make an exception. In the restaurant, he ordered a bottle of wine, but I couldn’t drink more than a glass since I was still suffering from the exhaustion of completing Recursivity and Contingency. Bernard had to take half of the bottle back to the hotel room, and I missed the chance to make him drunk. But after all, Bernard is the tragist who doesn’t need intoxication.


This year I hoped to find him again in Hangzhou but the pandemic killed everything. The last time I saw Bernard was in November 2019, when we went to Taiwan together to give master classes under the invitation of the Taipei National University of the Arts. I was supposed to go to Paris in December to give a talk in his annual conference, but I was too exhausted to go.  Though this year the conference will still take place again in December, Bernard will no longer be there with us. Bernard chose to leave us in a destitute time, when stupidity becomes the norm, when politics is no more than lies. The pandemic accelerated the evil, which he has been fighting against in his life. Since 2016, Bernard talked often about dreams, and the necessity of dreaming. Industrial capitalism destroys dreams; it only produces consumerism through the manipulation of attentions. The faculty of dreaming, for him, is the faculty that Kant has ignored. Bernard was a dreamer who dreamed for the impossible, a fighter who fought against stupidity, as he often said, “il faut combattre.” Bernard spoke highly of Hayao Miyazaki’s animation “The wind has risen,” which was for him a good example to explicate the faculty of dreaming. All technologies are primarily dreams, but dreams can also become nightmares, meaning pharmacological. After Plato and Derrida, it was Bernard who became the pharmacologist of technology; however today most of the universities of science and technology only worked for the industry, they may talk about ethics, but they don’t need philosophy anymore, they already lost the capacity to dream. “The wind has risen” is a phrase from his favorite poem of Valéry, “Le cimetière marin,” the poem ends with the following verse, words that could have been left by Bernard, the greatest tragist after Nietzsche:


The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!
The huge air opens and shuts my book: the wave
Dares to explode out of the rocks in reeking
Spray. Fly away, my sun-bewildered pages!
Break, waves! Break up with your rejoicing surges
This quiet roof where sails like doves were pecking.


Yuk Hui

8 August 2020


Article: 百年の危機 by Yuk Hui (Japanese translation)

Japanese translation of “One Hundred Years of Crisis” written by Yuk Hui is now available. Thank you Kohei Ise for the contribution!


ユク・ホイ Yuk Hui

訳=伊勢康平 Kohei Ise

★=原注 ☆=訳注










1919年、第一次世界大戦が終結したあと、フランスの詩人ポール・ヴァレリーは「精神の危機」のなかで言った。「われわれ後世の文明は……自分たちが死すべき者であるとあまりに思い知っている」[★1]。私たちは、いつもこのような破局のなかで、それも一撃のあと après coup としてのみ、自分たちが脆弱な存在だと思い知るのだ。そして「精神の危機」から100年後、この惑星は中国からきた一匹のコウモリによってあらたな危機を迎えている——コロナウイルスがほんとうにコウモリに由来するのなら。もしヴァレリーがまだ生きていれば、彼もフランスの自宅からの外出を禁止されていたことだろう。


1919年の精神の危機のまえにはニヒリズムが、つまりある種の虚無があった。それは1914年よりまえにヨーロッパにとり憑いていたのである。まさにヴァレリーは、大戦前の知識層についてこう言っている。「私は目のあたりにする……無を! 無……ただし無限の可能性を秘めた無を」。また1920年の「海辺の墓地 Le Cimetière Marin」というヴァレリーの詩には、「風が吹き起こる! ……生きようとしなければならない!」[☆2]というニーチェ風の肯定主義的な呼びかけを見てとることができる。この一節はのちに〔「風立ちぬ」という堀辰雄の訳で〕宮崎駿のアニメーション映画のタイトルに用いられた。これは堀越二郎という技術者を描いたもので、彼は大日本帝国のために、のちに第二次世界大戦で使用されることになる戦闘機を設計した人物である。ヴァレリーが直面したこのようなニヒリズムは、ニーチェ的な試練というかたちで再帰的にあらわれる。つまり寂寥きわまる孤独のうちにデーモンが忍び込み、おまえは永劫回帰のなかを生きたいかと問いかけるのである——おなじ蜘蛛におなじ樹の間の月光、そしておなじ問いを投げかけるおなじデーモン……[☆3]。このニヒリズムと共に生きることも、正面から向きあうこともできないような哲学は、なにひとつ充分な答えを出さない。なぜならそのような哲学は、病をかかえた文化の容態をより悪化させるだけだからだ。あるいは、私たちの時代でいえば、そうした哲学は、せいぜいソーシャルメディアで流行りのおかしな哲学的ミームのうちに引きこもるしかないのである。




しかし、ヨーロッパの精神は、あるいは少なくともそのもっとも貴重な内容は、余すところなく伝播しうるのだろうか。民主主義や地球の資源開発、それから技術の一般的な普及といった現象は、ヨーロッパの公民権喪失 deminutio capitis の前兆となっているが……そのすべては運命の絶対的な決断だと考えられなければいけないのか?[★2]


かつてヨーロッパは、このような伝播を肯定しようとしたのかもしれないが、しかしいまやこの伝播の脅威に直面しうるのはヨーロッパだけではない。そしておそらく、ヨーロッパの「悲劇性 tragist」[★3]の精神では、この脅威をふたたび完全にのりきることはできないだろう。「悲劇性」とは、なによりまずギリシア悲劇と関連している。それはまた精神内部に生じる矛盾を解決しようと努力する精神そのものの論理でもある。私は、「啓蒙の終わりの後に、何が始まろうとするのか?」やそのほかの論考のなかで、啓蒙主義以来、衰退してゆく一神教に代わって技術一元論 mono-technologism(または技術一神論 techno-theism)がいかに台頭したかを描こうとしてきた。この流れは、こんにちのトランスヒューマニズムによって頂点に達している[★4]。私たち現代人は、いわばヨーロッパのハムレットの文化の継承者である(ヴァレリーの「精神の危機」のなかでは、ハムレットがライプニッツ、カント、ヘーゲルおよびマルクスの頭蓋骨を数えあげながらヨーロッパの知的遺産を回顧している)。というのも、ヴァレリーの論考から100年を経たいまもなお、私たちはいつか不死身になれると信じてきたし、まだ信じ込もうとしているのだから。つまりひとは、やがて免疫のシステムを向上させてあらゆるウイルスに対抗できるようになると、また最悪の事態が起こったときにはたんに火星へ逃げればよくなると信じているのだ。コロナウイルスのパンデミックのただなかにあって、火星への旅にかんする研究は、ウイルスの拡大阻止や人命救助とは無関係だろう。トランスヒューマニストたちは、それぞれキャッチコピーを用いて不死身を喧伝してきたが、いまだにこの地球と呼ばれる惑星に住みついているわれわれ死すべき者には、彼らの言葉どおり不死身になるまで待てる見込みなどないだろう。ニーチェ以後のニヒリズムをめぐる薬理学 pharmacology はまだ書き表されていないが、しかしニヒリズムの毒はすでに地球の全身に蔓延し、免疫システムに危機を引きおこしているのである。




『シュピーゲル』誌の1月下旬に刊行された号には「コロナウイルス、メイド・イン・チャイナ——グローバル化が死にいたる危険となるとき Corona-virus, Made in China: Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird」というタイトルがつけられていた。表紙には過剰な防護服に身を包んだ中国人が、まるで神に祈るかのようにほとんど目を閉じて iPhone を見つめている写真が用いられた[★6]。コロナウイルスの感染爆発はテロリストによる攻撃ではない(目下、中国で最初に発見されたという以外には、ウイルスの発生源を示す明確な証拠はない)。それはむしろ器官学的 organological な事件[☆4]であって、つまりウイルスは高度に発達した輸送網に付着して、時速900キロもの速さで拡散しているのである。私たちはまた、この出来事によって、国民国家の言説や、諸国家が定義づける地政学へと回帰するだろう。回帰という言葉で私が言いたいのは、なによりまずグローバル資本主義や、文化交流や国際貿易に促進される移動の増加のせいで一見あいまいになっていた国境が、コロナウイルスによって意味を回復するということだ。地球規模の感染爆発が明らかにしたのは、こんにちまでのグローバル化が、結局のところ〔西洋近代が生みだした〕技術一元論的な文化を助長するものにすぎず、そのような文化はせいぜい自己免疫的な反応や大きな衰退をもたらすものでしかなかったということなのだ。もうひとつは、今回の感染爆発と国民国家への回帰によって、国民国家という概念そのものがもつ歴史的かつ現実的な限界が明らかになったということだ。近代的な国民国家は、内的な情報戦によってこの限界をおおい隠し、国境を越えて展開する情報圏 infospheres を構築してきたのである。しかしこの情報圏は、グローバル免疫学を生みだすことなく、むしろ生物戦を遂行するために地球上のあらゆる空間で生じる端的な偶然性を利用しているのだ。私たちはまだ、このグローバル化の段階に対抗するためのグローバル免疫学というものをもっていない。おそらく、それはこの技術一元論的な文化が存続している限りけっして実現しないだろう。


 2 ひとりのヨーロッパ人シュミットは、数百万の亡霊を見る








すべてのレイシズムの形式は根本的に免疫学的だ。そしてレイシズムは社会的な抗原である。なぜなら、それは自己と他者を明確に区別し、他者がもたらす一切の不安定さに反応するからだ。しかし、すべての免疫学的なふるまいがレイシズムとされうるわけではない。この両者の微妙な違いにきちんと向きあわなければ、まるで闇夜のなかではどんな牛も黒灰色に見えると言わんばかりにすべてを崩して一緒くたにしてしまうことになるだろう。じっさい、地球規模のパンデミックという状況下で、大陸間をむすぶ航空便や鉄道がウイルスによる汚染を促進しているとき、免疫学的な反応はとくに避けられないものになる。武漢閉鎖のまえには、500万人もの居住者が脱出し、故意でなかったにせよウイルスを都市の外へ運び出す結果になった。だがじつのところ、武漢から来たというレッテルが貼られるかどうかは重要ではない。というのも、ウイルスが数日のあいだは無症状のまま人体に潜伏しており、その間周囲を汚染させ続けることを考えると、だれもが感染を疑われるからだ。外国人嫌悪やマイクロファシズムが街やレストランなどに広がってしまうと、なかなか容易には避けられない免疫学的な瞬間がうまれる。つい咳をしようものなら、あなたはまわりのすべてのひとの視線を集めることになるだろう。人々は、かつてペーター・スローターダイクが提示したような、保護であり社会組織でもあるものとしての免疫圏 immunosphere をいつにも増して求めている。




国際連盟は第一次世界大戦後の1919年に設立され、のちに国際連合に引き継がれた。それはいわば、すべての国家をひとつの組織に結集させることで戦争を回避しようとするひとつの方策だった。この試みに対するカール・シュミットの批判は正当だと言えるだろう。彼は、国際連盟——昨年で設立100周年を迎えた——は誤って人類 humanity を世界政治の基盤と見なしたが、しかし人類は政治的な概念ではないと主張したのである。人類とはむしろ脱政治化の概念だ。なぜなら、じっさいには存在しない抽象的な人類を定めることによって「平和・正義・進歩・文明などが自分たちのものだと主張しつつ、敵のものであることは否定するために、これらの概念を濫用しうる」からである[★10]。よく知られているように、さまざまな国の代表によって構成された集団である国際連盟は、20世紀最大の破局つまり第二次世界大戦を防ぐことができなかった。のちに国際連合に替わったのはそのためである。ではこのシュミットの議論は、世界保健機関〔WHO〕に、つまり国境を越えて地球規模の健康問題にかんする警告や提言、管理をおこなうことを旨とするこのグローバルな組織にも適用できるのではないだろうか。WHOがコロナウイルスの感染拡大防止に対してほとんどなんのポジティヴな役割もはたしていないことを考えると——ネガティヴな役割があったというのは言いすぎかもしれないが、WHOの事務局長は事態がだれの目にも明らかになるまでパンデミックと呼ぼうとすらしなかったのである——いったいWHOになんの必要性があるというのか。もちろん、この組織の内外でじっさいに携わっている専門家たちの仕事はおおいに尊敬すべきだが、しかし今回のコロナウイルスの一件によって、大きな組織がもつ政治的な機能のなかに秘められたある種の危機が露呈されてしまったのである。さらにまずいことに、湯水のように資金がつぎ込まれているこの種の巨大なグローバル統治機構に対して私たちができるのは、せいぜいソーシャルメディアでその怠慢を批判する程度にすぎないということだ。それはまるで強風のなかで叫び声をあげるようなもので、なにかを変える力をもつひとなどだれひとりいないのである。なぜなら、民主的なプロセスは国家が有するものだからだ。


3 技術一元論の悪しき無限性






単一の技術にもとづく競争は、競争と利益のために地球上の資源を破壊し、またどの参加者に対してもべつの道や方向性——つまり私が詳しく論じてきた「技術多様性 techno-diversity」を選ぶことを許さない。技術多様性というのは、たんにそれぞれの国が、異なるブランド戦略やわずかに違った特徴をもとにおなじタイプの、つまり単一の技術をつくりだすということではない。それはむしろ、価値観や認識論、そして存在の形式においてそれぞれ異なっている宇宙技芸[☆6]の多元性こそをあらわしているのだ。政治よりも経済的・技術的手段を優先させようとするこんにちの競争の形式は、しばしば新自由主義が原因だと考えられている。また、それと関係の深いトランスヒューマニズムでは、政治はたんにテクノロジーの加速によってやがて超克されるひとつの人間的な認識論にすぎないと考えられている。こうして私たちは近代性の袋小路にたどり着く。相手にさきを越される怖さがあるため、この競争から撤退するのは簡単なことではない。これはニーチェが描いた近代人の比喩によく似ている。つまり、ある集団が自分たちの村落を永久に捨てさり、無限を求めて航海にでるのだが、海のまんなかへたどり着いたときにはじめて無限が目的地でもなんでもないことに気づくというものである[★12]。そしてもはやどこにも帰る道がないというときに、無限ほど恐ろしいものはない。








その日が到来するまえに、そして(私たちがうすうす感づいている)人類を絶滅の危機に追いやるような重大な破局を迎えるまえに、やはり私たちは問うべきだろう。「有機体論的」なグローバル免疫システムというものが、たんにコロナウイルスと共存しようと呼びかける以上のものであるならば、それはどのようなものなのかと[★14]。もしグローバル化の継続を、それもより矛盾の少ない方法での継続を考えるなら、どのような共免疫 co-immunity あるいは共免疫主義 co-immunism (これはスローターダイクが提唱するあらたな用語だ)が可能だろうか。スローターダイクの共免疫の戦略は興味深いが、政治的には両義的だ——おそらくこの概念が彼のおもな仕事のなかでもあまり詳細に論じられていないからでもあるのだろう——それはいわば極右政党「ドイツのための選択肢 (AfD)」の国境に対する政治的見解と、ロベルト・エスポジトのいう汚染された免疫 contaminated immunity のあいだで揺れ動いている。しかし問題は、私たちが依然として国民国家の論理にしたがっている限り、けっして共免疫にはたどり着けないということだ。その理由はたんに国家が細胞でも有機体でもないから——この隠喩が理論家にとってどれほど魅力的かつ実用的だったとしても——であると同時に、より根本的には、たとえ国際的な組織や評議会という形式をとっていたとしても、この概念自体が友と敵にもとづく免疫性しか生みださないからである。近代国家はすべての臣民によって構成されるリヴァイアサンのようなものだが、すくなくとも人道的な危機が到来するまでは、経済成長と軍備拡張を越える関心事をもつことはない。さしせまる経済危機への悩みをかかえながら、近代国家は巧みに操作されたフェイクニュースの(対象ではなく)源泉になるのである。


4 抽象的な連帯と具体的な連帯




ミシェル・フーコーは、「社会は防衛しなければならない」にまとめられた講義のなかで、「戦争はべつの手段でなされる政治の継続である」というカール・フォン・クラウゼヴィッツの警句をひっくり返して「政治はべつの手段でなされる戦争の継続である」と言った[★15]。このようにひっくり返すことで、戦争がもはやクラウゼヴィッツが念頭においた形式をとっていないことを示しはしたが、しかしフーコーは情報戦についての言説を展開したわけではなかった。ところで中国では、20年以上もまえにふたりの元空軍大佐が『超限戦』(制限なき戦争、あるいは限界を超えた戦争)というタイトルの本を出版している。これはすぐにフランス語に翻訳され、『ティックン』誌にかかわる集団や、のちには不可視委員会 the Invisible Committee へ影響をあたえたと言われている。このふたりの元空軍大佐は、クラウゼヴィッツはよく理解していたものの、フーコーは読んでいなかった。しかし彼らがたどり着いた結論は、伝統的な戦争は徐々にすがたを消しつつあり、おもに情報技術によって導入され、実現される内的な戦争へとかわるというものだったのである。この本自体はアメリカのグローバルな戦争戦略を分析したものとして読めるのだが、より重要なことに、情報戦がいかに政治や地政学を再定義するかについての鋭い分析としても読むことができる。








おそらく私たちは、情報圏という概念をふた通りの方法で拡張する必要があるだろう。まず情報圏の構築とは、技術多様性を構成することで、技術一元的な文化の土台を内側から崩し、その「悪しき無限性」から抜け出すための試みであると考えることができるだろう。この技術の多様化は、生き方の多様化や共生のかたちの多様化、そして経済の多様化などをも示している。というのも、技術が宇宙技芸である限り、そこには人間ではないものやより大きな宇宙との異なる関係性が組み込まれているからである[★16]。この技術多様化は、技術に倫理的な枠組みをはめ込もうというものではない。というのも、そのような枠組みはきまってあまりに遅れてやってくるものであり、またたいていなにかに背いているからである。技術や私たち自身の態度を変えなければ、私たちは生物多様性を、持続可能性が保証されない例外的な事象としてしか維持できなくなるだろう。言い換えれば、技術多様性がなければ生物多様性は維持できないのだ。コロナウイルスは自然からの復讐ではない。それはむしろ技術一元論的な文化の帰結であり、そこでは技術そのものが基盤をうしなうと同時に、ほかのすべてのものの基盤になろうとするのである。いま私たちが生きている技術一元論は、共存の必要性を無視し、たえず地球をたんなる在庫 standing reserve と見なしてしまう。そこで持続する過酷な競争は、さらなる破局を生みだし続けるだけだ。そのような発想でいえば、私たちは「宇宙船地球号」を枯渇させ、破壊したあとには、そのまま「宇宙船火星号」へ乗り込み、またおなじように枯渇させ、破壊するほかないということになるだろう。


情報圏という概念を拡張するふたつめの方法を言おう。それは、情報圏とは国境を越えて拡大する具体的な連帯であると、つまり国民国家(および事実上グローバル権力の傀儡となっている国際的な組織)という観点にもとづかない免疫学だと考えることだ。具体的な連帯を生みだすには、技術多様性を実現し、それによってべつの種類のあらたなテクノロジーを開発する必要がある。それはたとえばあらたなソーシャル・ネットワークや共同作業のためのツール、それからグローバルな共同作業の基盤を形成しうるような、デジタル技術にもとづく組織のインフラである。デジタルメディアは、すでにかなりの社会的な歴史をもっているが、しかしシリコンバレー(および中国の WeChat)を除いて、グローバルな規模に到達しているものはほとんどない。その理由は、おおよそ私たちが受け継いできた哲学の伝統にある。それは自然と技術や、文化と技術のあいだに対立を設けるものであって、そのせいで私たちは技術の多元性というものが実現可能だと考えられずにいる。技術狂愛(テクノフィリア)と技術恐怖症(テクノフォビア)は、どちらも技術一元論的な文化で発症する症状だ。私たちは、ここ数十年にわたるハッカー文化やフリーソフト、オープンソースのコミュニティの発展をよく見てきたわけだが、それらの目的は覇権を握るテクノロジーに対していかに代替案を生みだすかというものであって、べつの種類のあらたな接続や共同作業の方式を構築することはなく、またあらたな認識論を打ち立てるというより重要な方向にも向かわなかったのである。


今回のコロナウイルスの件によって、データ経済によるデジタル化や包摂のプロセスは加速し続けるだろう。なぜなら、これまでのところそれが感染拡大に対抗するためのもっとも有効な手段だからだ。じっさい、私たちはいま、プライバシーを守ってきたはずの国々が、感染爆発の経路を追跡するために、一転して携帯端末のデータの利用に賛同するという光景を目にしている。しかしここで一歩立ちどまり、デジタル化を加速するこのプロセスをひとつの機会に、つまり現在の地球規模の危機をはっきり示すカイロス kairos〔機会〕にできないかと問いかけてみてはどうだろうか。感染症に対して、いま地球規模での応答が求められている。それはいわば私たち全員がおなじひとつの船に乗せられてしまったということである。そして「普通の生活」をとり戻すという目標では、応答としては不十分だ。コロナウイルスの感染爆発の結果、この20年来はじめて、あらゆる大学の学部でオンライン授業が提供されようとしている。授業のデジタル化に反対する理由はいくつもあるだろうが、たいていの理由はさほど重大でもなく、また非合理的なものだ(デジタル文化を専門的に扱う研究機関では、人的資源の管理運営のためにはやはり物理的に現場にいることが重要だろうと考えられているが)。たしかに、オンライン授業が完璧に物理的な教場の代わりになることはないだろう。しかしオンライン授業は、まさに知へとアクセスする道を根本的に切り開くと同時に、多くの大学が財政難に直面しているいま、人々を教育問題に引き戻してくれるのである。コロナウイルスによって普通の生活が中断されたことで、私たちはもとの習慣を変えることができるだろうか。たとえば、この先数か月(あるいは数年)にわたって、世界のほとんどの大学がオンライン授業を使用することになるだろうが、その期間をデジタル技術にもとづく本格的な教育研究機関をかつてない規模で創設するチャンスにできないだろうか。グローバル免疫学を実現するには、そのように抜本的な再構成が必要になるのである。


この論考のはじめに引用したのは、1873年ごろに書かれた、ニーチェの「ギリシア人の悲劇時代における哲学」という未完のテクストである。そこでニーチェは、当時彼が哲学という学問分野から排除されたことについては言及していないが、代わりにギリシアの哲学者たちは文化の改革をしたのだと言っている。彼らは科学と神話、それから理性と情熱を調和させようとしたのだった。ただ私たちが生きているのは、悲劇の時代ではなくむしろ破局の時代である。この時代においては、悲劇性(トラジスト)の思考も道家(ダオイスト)思想も、それ単体では破局から抜け出すことができない。グローバルな文化の病について考慮するなら、私たちにはいますぐ改革が必要だ。そしてその改革は、かつて哲学が強制し、また無視してきたものの呪縛から私たちを解放しうるあらたな思考や枠組みによって推進されるのである。コロナウイルスによって、すでにデジタル技術の脅威にさらされていた多くの組織が打ち砕かれることだろう。また、(テロリズムや国家の安全を脅かすものにくわえて)ウイルスに対抗するために、監視やそのほか免疫学的な対策が強化されてしまうのもやむをえまい。いまはより強力かつ具体的でデジタルな連帯が必要なときである。デジタルな連帯といっても、べつに Facebook や Twitter 、あるいは WeChat をもっと駆使せよというわけではない。むしろこの技術一元論的な文化の過酷な競争から離脱し、べつの種類のあらたな技術にくわえ、それにふさわしい生活の形式やこの惑星と宇宙に生きる方法を用いて、技術多様性をつくりだすことである。ポスト形而上学の世界のなかで、私たちに必要なのはおそらく形而上学的なパンデミックでもなければ、ウイルス指向存在論などでもない。ほんとうに必要なのは、迫りくる黄昏のまえに、差異と多様性をもたらす具体的な連帯なのだ。



Yuk Hui, “One Hundred Years of Crisis,” e-flux Journal no. 108, April 2020. URL=





★1:Paul Valéry, “Crisis of the Spirit(\_of\_the\_Mind)” (もとの訳題は “Crisis of the Mind”), trans. Denise Folliot and Jackson Matthews, 1911. 〔邦訳はポール・ヴァレリー『精神の危機 他十五篇』、恒川邦夫訳、岩波文庫、2010年、7頁。訳文は変更している。〕「精神の危機 La Crise de l’Esprit」は、もともと英語で、1919年4月11日と5月2日に『アシニーアム』誌で発表された。なおフランス語のテクストは、おなじ年の8月に『新フランス評論』誌で発表されている。


★2:Valéry, “Crisis of the Spirit.” 〔邦訳は同28頁。訳文は変更している。〕


★3:「悲劇性 Tragist」とは、私が近刊の『芸術と宇宙技芸 Art and Cosmotechnics』(ミネソタ大学出版、2020年)で使用している新語である。


★4:Yuk Hui, “What Begins After the End of the Enlightenment?(,” e-flux journal no. 96, January 2019 〔邦訳は、ユク・ホイ「啓蒙の終わりの後に、何が始まろうとするのか?」、河南瑠莉訳、『現代思想 2019年6月号 特集=加速主義』、青土社、2019年所収。〕


★5:9・11の攻撃がもつ自己免疫的な特徴については、以下を参照。Giovanna Borradori, Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, University of Chicago Press, 2004.〔邦訳はジャック・デリダ、ユルゲン・ハーバーマス、ジョヴァンナ・ボッラドリ『テロルの時代と哲学の使命』、藤本一勇、沢里岳史訳、岩波書店、2004年。〕


★6:“Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird(,” Der Spiegel, January 31, 2020.


★7:Peter Sloterdijk, “Es gibt keine moralische Pflicht zur Selbstzerstörung,” Cicero Magazin für politische Kultur, January 28, 2016.


★8:以下を参照。Roberto Esposito, Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life, trans. Zakiya Hanafi, Polity Press, 2011.


★9:以下を参照。 Alfred I. Tauber, Immunity: The Evolution of an Idea, Oxford University Press, 2017.


★10:Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab, University of Chicago Press, 2007, p.54.〔邦訳はカール・シュミット『政治的なものの概念』、田中浩、原田武雄訳、未来社、1970年、63頁。訳文は変更している。〕


★11:Schmitt, Concept of the Political, p.56.〔邦訳は同66-67頁。訳文は変更している。〕


★12 :以下を参照。 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge University Press, 2001), p.119.〔邦訳はフリードリッヒ・ニーチェ『悦ばしき知識 ニーチェ全集8』、信太正三訳、ちくま学芸文庫、1993年、218頁。〕


★13:以下を参照。 Kōjin Karatani, The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange, trans. Michael K. Bourdaghs, Duke University Press, 2014. 〔日本語版は柄谷行人『世界史の構造』、岩波現代文庫、2015年。〕




★15:Michel Foucault, “Society Must be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–1976, trans. David Macey (Picador, 2003), p.15.〔邦訳はミシェル・フーコー『社会は防衛しなければならない コレージュ・ド・フランス 講義1975-1976』、《ミシェル・フーコー講義集成6》、石田英敬、小野正嗣訳、筑摩書房、2007年、18-19頁。訳文は変更している。〕







☆1:エピグラフの訳出にあたっては、『悲劇の誕生 ニーチェ全集2』、塩谷竹男訳、ちくま学芸文庫、1993年、353頁を参照した。なお、今年夏に刊行予定の『ゲンロン11』に掲載されるユク・ホイの論考「ヨーロッパのあとに、悲劇をこえて」でもこの箇所が参照されており、そこで示されたホイの解釈をふまえて、訳出は英文から直接おこなった。


☆2:引用箇所はそれぞれ、ポール・ヴァレリー『精神の危機 他十五篇』、恒川邦夫訳、岩波文庫、2010年、7頁および、『ヴァレリー詩集』、鈴木信太郎訳、岩波文庫、1968年、242頁を参照。どちらも訳文は変更している。


☆3:フリードリッヒ・ニーチェ『悦ばしき知識 ニーチェ全集8』、信太正三訳、ちくま学芸文庫、1993年、362頁参照。なお個々の表現は、本文でのユク・ホイの表記にしたがって変更している。


☆4:ここでいう器官学的な事件とは、単純にいえば、今回の感染症が機械と生命や社会が有機的につなぎあわされた結果発生したことを意味している。『創造的進化』のなかで、アンリ・ベルクソンは生命が無機的な物質を有機組織化するはたらきのひとつの側面として、人間の技術やその発明を考えた。のちにジョルジュ・カンギレムがこの仕事を称賛して「一般器官学概論」と呼ぶのだが、ユク・ホイはこれを批判的に継承して、器官学の概念を21世紀の高度に発達した技術的システムに適用しようと試みている。そこでは、機械はもはやたんに生命によって組織化された無機的な対象ではなく、むしろ人間の生命や社会的秩序を有機的につなぎあわせる媒介者として存在しているのである。したがって、器官学的な事件としての感染症拡大とは、より具体的にいえば、世界的な規模で発達した製造や物流のシステムが織りなすネットワークが、人間の生命活動に入り込むと同時に、ウイルスを媒介し、拡散する手段にもなっているということだと考えられる(そもそもウイルスを生物と考えるかどうかはともかくとして)。器官学にかんするユク・ホイの議論については、『再帰性と偶然性 Recursivity and Contingency 』 (ローマン&リトルフィールド・インターナショナル、2019年) 、とりわけ第三章と第四章を参照のこと。また訳者が以前翻訳したインタビュー「21世紀のサイバネティクス——ユク・ホイ『再帰性と偶然性』をめぐって(」にも簡潔な説明がある。




☆6:宇宙技芸とは、要するに宇宙論と密接に結びついた技術のことである。本文でも言及されているが、ユク・ホイにとって技術多様性は、たんなる生産地や環境の違いがもたらすものではない。むしろ、それぞれの地域の異なる世界観や自然観、宇宙論を基盤にもつ多様な宇宙技芸がさしだされてはじめて実現される。そこで、こんにちの世界を均質化させつつある単一の宇宙論や形而上学にもとづく技術(それはそれでひとつの宇宙技芸である)を複数化させるために、ユク・ホイはそれぞれの地域性に彩られた宇宙論や技術の哲学を語りなおし、再発明する必要性を呼びかけるのである。そして中国哲学を例にこの作業をおこなったのが『中国における技術への問い——宇宙技芸試論 The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics』(アーバノミック、2016年)であり、その序論は仲山ひふみによって翻訳され、『ゲンロン7(』、『ゲンロン8(』、『ゲンロン9(』に掲載されている。そのほか、訳者の「哲学と世界を変えるには——石田英敬×ユク・ホイ×東浩紀 イベントレポート(」でも宇宙技芸という用語やその背景についてやや詳しく説明しているので、そちらも参照いただきたい。


Article: For a Cosmotechnical Event: In Honor of Don Ihde and Bernard Stiegler by Yuk Hui

The full text of Yuk Hui’s journal article, For a Cosmotechnical Event: In Honor of Don Ihde and Bernard Stiegler, is now available in Academia.


You can download here.


More information about the journal:


Article: Cem anos de crise by Yuk Hui (Portuguese translation)

Translation by Maurício Pitta


“Se alguma vez ela [a filosofia] manifestou ser útil, salutar ou preventiva, foi para com os povos sãos; aos doentes, tornou-os sempre ainda mais doentes.”

— Nietzsche, A filosofia na época trágica dos gregos[1]


§1. O centenário de “A crise do espírito”

Em 1919, após a Primeira Guerra Mundial, em “A crise do espírito”, o poeta francês Paul Valéry escreveu: “Nós, civilizações tardias … também sabemos que somos mortais.”[2] É apenas em uma catástrofe como esta, e como um après coup, que sabemos que não somos mais que seres frágeis. Cem anos depois, um morcego da China — se o coronavírus vier mesmo de morcegos — conduziu o planeta todo a outra crise. Se Valéry estivesse vivo, não seria permitido que ele saísse de sua casa na França.


A crise do Espírito em 1919 foi precedida pelo niilismo, uma nadidade que rondou a Europa antes de 1914. Como escreveu Valéry à cena intelectual logo antes da guerra: “Eu vejo… nada! Nada… e, contudo, um nada infinitamente potencial.” Em um poema de Valéry de 1920, “Le Cimetière Marin” (“O cemitério marinho”), lemos um chamado nietzscheano afirmativo: “Ergue-se o vento!… Viver há que tentar!”[3] Este verso foi, mais tarde, adaptado por Hayao Miyazaki como título de sua animação sobre Jiro Horikoshi, o engenheiro que projetou aviões-caça para o Império Japonês, utilizados posteriormente na Segunda Guerra Mundial.[4] Esse niilismo retorna recursivamente na forma de um teste nietzscheano: um demônio invade a mais solitária de tuas solidões, e pergunta se queres viver no eterno retorno do mesmo — a mesma aranha, o mesmo luar entre as árvores e o mesmo demônio, que pergunta a mesma questão. Qualquer filósofo que tente viver com e confrontar diretamente este niilismo não consegue fornecer qualquer resposta suficiente, dado que tal filosofia apenas deixa mais doente a cultura já doente, ou, em nossos tempos, se rende a memes filosóficos risíveis, que circulam pelas mídias sociais.


O niilismo contestado por Valéry tem sido constantemente estimulado desde o século dezoito pela aceleração tecnológica e pela globalização. Como escreveu Valéry ao final de seu ensaio:


Mas pode o Espírito europeu — ou, ao menos, o seu conteúdo mais precioso — ser totalmente difundido? Fenômenos tais como a democracia, a exploração do globo e a difusão geral da tecnologia, todos fenômenos que preconizam uma deminutio capitis[5] para a Europa … devem ser tomados como decisões absolutas do destino?[6]

Essa ameaça de difusão — que a Europa talvez tenha tentado afirmar — não é mais algo que pode ser confrontado apenas pela Europa, e provavelmente não mais será completamente superado pelo espírito “tragicista” [‘tragist’][7] europeu. Antes de mais nada, “tragicista” se relaciona à tragédia grega; é também a lógica do espírito enquanto se esforça por resolver contradições erguidas em seu interior. Em “O que se inicia depois do fim do Esclarecimento?” e em outros ensaios, tentei esboçar como, desde o Esclarecimento e após o declínio do monoteísmo, este último foi substituído por um mono-tecnologismo (ou tecno-teísmo), algo que culmina hoje no trans-humanismo.[8] Nós, os modernos, herdeiros culturais do Hamlet europeu (aquele que, em “A crise do espírito”, volta o rosto para o legado intelectual europeu e conta os crânios de Leibniz, Kant, Hegel e Marx), acreditamos e continuamos acreditando, mesmo cem anos após o escrito de Valéry, que nos tornaremos imortais, que seremos capazes de aprimorar nosso sistema imune contra todos os vírus ou, simplesmente, que fugiremos para Marte quando os piores cenários nos atingirem. Em meio à pandemia de coronavírus, viagens de pesquisa a Marte parecem irrelevantes como medidas para interromper o espalhamento do vírus e para salvar vidas. Nós, mortais que ainda habitam este planeta chamado Terra, podemos não ter a chance de esperar para nos tornar imortais, como os trans-humanistas anunciam em seus slogans corporativos. Uma farmacologia do niilismo depois de Nietzsche ainda espera por ser escrita, mas a toxina já invadiu o corpo global e causou uma crise em seu sistema imune.


Para Jacques Derrida (cuja viúva, Marguerite Derrida, recentemente faleceu pelo coronavírus), o ataque de 11 de setembro de 2001 ao World Trade Center marcou a manifestação de uma crise autoimune, dissolvendo a estrutura de poder tecno-político que havia se estabilizado há décadas: um Boeing 767 foi utilizado como arma contra o país que o inventou, como uma célula mutante ou um vírus que veio de dentro.[9] O termo “autoimune” só é uma metáfora biológica quando usado no contexto político: a globalização é a criação de um sistema mundial cuja estabilidade depende de hegemonia tecno-científica e econômica. Consequentemente, o 11/9 foi visto como uma ruptura que terminou com a configuração política desejada pelo Ocidente cristão desde o Esclarecimento, chamando à tona uma resposta imunológica expressa como um estado permanente de exceção — guerras em cima de guerras. O coronavírus colapsa, hoje, esta metáfora: o biológico e o político se tornam um só. As tentativas de conter o vírus não somente envolvem desinfetantes e medicina, mas também mobilizações militares e o fechamento de países, fronteiras, voos internacionais e trens.


No fim de janeiro, a revista Der Spiegel publicou um volume intitulado Coronavirus, Made in China: Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird (“Quando a globalização se torna fatalmente perigosa”), ilustrada por uma imagem de uma pessoa chinesa com um excesso de equipamento de proteção que olha para um iPhone com os olhos quase fechados, como se rezando para um deus.[10] O surto de coronavírus não é um ataque terrorista — até agora, não há nenhuma evidência clara da origem do vírus além de sua primeira aparição na China — , mas, antes, é um evento organológico no qual um vírus se vincula à redes avançadas de transporte, viajando a uma velocidade de até 900 km por hora. Este também é um evento que parece nos levar de volta ao discurso do Estado-nação e a uma geopolítica definida por nações. Com isso, quero dizer que, primeiramente, o coronavírus deu novamente um sentido às fronteiras que pareciam borradas pelo capitalismo global e a crescente mobilidade promovida pela troca cultural e pelo comércio internacional. O surto global trouxe como anúncio que a globalização, até o momento, tem cultivado apenas uma cultura monotecnológica que pode nos levar apenas a uma resposta autoimune e a uma grande regressão. Em segundo lugar, o surto e o retorno aos Estados-nação revela o limite histórico e real do próprio conceito de Estado-nação. Os Estados-nação modernos tem tentado encobrir esses limites através de guerras de informação [infowars] imanentes, construindo infoesferas que se movem para além de fronteiras. Contudo, ao invés de produzir uma imunologia global, essas infoesferas usam a aparente contingência do espaço global para promover uma campanha de guerra biológica [biological warfare]. Uma imunologia global que possa confrontar esse estágio da globalização ainda não está disponível, e pode talvez nunca vir a ser disponível se esta cultura monotecnológica persistir.


§2. Um Schmitt europeu vê milhões de fantasmas

Durante a crise de refugiados na Europa, em 2016, o filósofo alemão Peter Sloterdijk criticou a chanceler da Alemanha, Angela Merkel, em uma entrevista à revista Cicero, dizendo: “nós ainda temos de aprender a glorificar fronteiras … os europeus terão de desenvolver, cedo ou tarde, uma política eficiente de fronteira comum. No fim das contas, o imperativo territorial prevalece. Afinal, não há obrigação moral à autodestruição”[11]. Mesmo que Sloterdijk esteja errado em dizer que a Alemanha e a União Europeia devem fechar suas fronteiras aos refugiados, pode-se dizer em retrospecto que ele estava correto sobre a questão de não se pensar bem sobre fronteiras. Roberto Espósito já afirmou claramente que uma lógica binária (polar) persiste, no tocante à função das fronteiras: um dos lados insiste no controle estrito como uma defesa imunológica contra um inimigo externo — uma compreensão clássica e intuitiva de imunologia como a oposição entre o eu e o outro — , enquanto o outro propõe a abolição de fronteiras para permitir a liberdade de movimento e possibilidades de associação para indivíduos e bens. Espósito sugere que nenhum dos dois extremos — e isto, hoje, é de certo modo óbvio — é ética e praticamente desejável.[12]


O surto de coronavirus na China — começando no meio de novembro, até que um aviso oficial foi anunciado no fim de janeiro, seguido do fechamento de Wuhan no dia 23 de janeiro — imediatamente levou ao controle de fronteiras internacionais contra a China, ou mesmo contra todas as pessoas de aparência asiática, identificados como vetores do vírus. A Itália foi um dos primeiros países a impor um banimento de viagens sobre a China; já no final de Janeiro, o Conservatório de Santa Cecília, em Roma, suspendeu estudantes “orientais” de suas aulas, mesmo aqueles que nunca estiveram na China na vida. Estes atos — que poderíamos chamar de imunológicos — são conduzidos por medo, mas, mais fundamentalmente, por ignorância.


Em Hong Kong — muito próxima a Shenzhen, na província de Guangdong, uma das regiões com maior surto fora da província de Hubei — , houveram vozes fortes que clamaram pelo fechamento de fronteiras com a China ao governo. O governo recusou, citando a Organização Mundial de Saúde, que aconselhou os países a evitar impor restrições de viagem e comércio sobre a China. Como uma das duas regiões administrativas especiais da China [SAR], não se supõe que a SAR de Hong Kong se oponha à China, nem que some a seu recente fardo de um decepcionante crescimento econômico. Apesar disso, alguns restaurantes de Hong Kong colocaram avisos em suas portas, anunciando que clientes falantes de mandarim não eram bem-vindos. O mandarim é associado com as pessoas, vetores de vírus, da China continental e, portanto, o dialeto é considerado um sinal de perigo. Um restaurante que, sob condições normais, é aberto a qualquer um que possa pagar pelas refeições abre, agora, apenas para certas pessoas.


Todas as formas de racismo são fundamentalmente imunológicas. O racismo é um antígeno social, dado que claramente distingue o eu e o outro e reage contra qualquer instabilidade introduzida pelo outro. Contudo, nem todos os atos imunológicos podem ser considerados racismo. Se nós não nos confrontarmos com a ambiguidade entre ambos, nós colapsamos tudo em uma zona cinza de indistinção.[13] No caso de uma pandemia global, uma reação imunológica é especialmente inevitável, dado que a contaminação é facilitada por voos e trens intercontinentais. Logo antes do fechamento de Wuhan, cinco milhões de habitantes escaparam, transportando o vírus involuntariamente para fora da cidade. Na verdade, é irrelevante ser taxado como alguém de Wuhan, já que todo o mundo pode ser visto como suspeito, considerando que o vírus pode se manter latente por dias em um corpo assintomático, ao mesmo tempo em que contamina seus arredores. Quando a xenofobia e os microfascismos se tornam comuns pelas ruas e restaurantes, há momentos imunológicos dos quais não se pode facilmente escapar: quando alguém tosse, todos olham para ele. Mais do que nunca, as pessoas demandam uma imunoesfera — o que Peter Sloterdijk sugeriu — como proteção e como organização social.


Aparentemente, atos imunológicos, que não podem simplesmente ser reduzidos a atos racistas, justificam um retorno às fronteiras — individuais, sociais e nacionais. Tanto na imunologia biológica, quanto na política, após décadas de debates sobre o paradigma eu–outro e sobre o paradigma organísmico, os Estados modernos retomam controles de fronteira como a forma mais simples e intuitiva de defesa, mesmo quando o inimigo não é visível.[14] Na verdade, estamos apenas lutando contra a encarnação do inimigo. Aqui, estamos todos atados ao que Carl Schmitt denomina “político”, definido pela distinção entre amigo e inimigo — uma definição não facilmente negável e provavelmente fortificada durante uma pandemia. Quando o inimigo é invisível, ele tem de ser encarnado e identificado: em primeiro lugar, o chinês, os asiáticos, e então os europeus, os norte-americanos; ou, dentro da China, os habitantes de Wuhan. A xenofobia alimenta o nacionalismo, seja enquanto o eu considera a xenofobia como um ato imunológico inevitável, seja com o outro mobilizando a xenofobia para fortalecer o seu próprio nacionalismo como imunologia.


A Liga das Nações foi fundada em 1919, após a Primeira Guerra Mundial, e mais tarde foi sucedida pela Organização das Nações Unidas como estratégia para evitar a guerra pela reunião de todas as nações em uma organização comum. Talvez a crítica de Carl Schmitt a essa tentativa foi precisa, ao afirmar que a Liga das Nações, cujo aniversário de cem anos se deu no ano passado, identificava erroneamente a humanidade como o solo comum da política mundial, ao passo que humanidade não é um conceito político. Ao invés disso, humanidade é um conceito de despolitização, dado que identificar uma humanidade abstrata que não existe “pode servir para abusar [misuse] da paz, da justiça, do progresso e da civilização a fim de reclamá-los como seu e negá-los ao inimigo”[15]. Como sabemos, a Liga das Nações foi um grupo de representantes de diferentes países que não conseguiu prevenir uma das maiores catástrofes do século vinte, a Segunda Guerra Mundial, sendo então substituído pelas Nações Unidas. Não seria este argumento aplicável à Organização Mundial da Saúde, uma organização global que pretende transcender as fronteiras nacionais e fornecer avisos, conselhos e governança relativos à questões globais de saúde? Considerado como a OMS não teve virtualmente nenhum papel positivo na prevenção do espalhamento de coronavírus — isso se não teve um papel negativo: seu diretor geral até mesmo recusou a denomina-lo uma pandemia até que estivesse evidente para todos — , o que faz com que a OMS seja mesmo necessária? Naturalmente, o trabalho de profissionais que operam na e com a organização merece o maior respeito, mas o caso do coronavírus expôs uma crise na função política da organização maior. O que é ainda pior é que nós só podemos criticar este corpo gigantesco de governança e desperdício de dinheiro global por sua falência através das mídias sociais, como gritos ao vento, mas ninguém tem a capacidade de mudar nada, dado que processos democráticos estão reservados para as nações.


§3. O infinito ruim do monotecnologismo

Se seguirmos Schmitt, a OMS é primeiramente um instrumento de despolitização, já que a sua função de nos avisar sobre o coronavírus poderia ser melhor executada por uma agência de notícias. De fato, muitos países agiram muito lentamente por seguirem o juízo inicial da OMS sobre a situação. Como escreve Schmitt, um corpo representativo internacional de governança forjado em nome da humanidade “não elimina a possibilidade de guerras, bem como não abole os Estados. Ele introduz novas possibilidades para guerras, permite que guerras ocorram, sanciona guerras de coalizão e, ao legitimar e sancionar certas guerras, varre muitos dos obstáculos à guerra.”[16] A manipulação de corpos de governança global por poderes mundiais e pelo capital transnacional desde a Segunda Guerra Mundial não seria uma continuação desta lógica? O vírus, controlável no começo, não afundou o mundo em um estado de guerra global? Na verdade, essas organizações contribuem ao adoecimento global, onde a competição econômica monotecnológica e a expansão militar são os únicos objetivos, desatando seres humanos de suas localidades, enraizadas na terra, e substituindo-os com identidades fictícias moldadas pelos Estados-nação e pelas guerras informacionais.


O conceito de estado de exceção ou de estado de emergência foi originalmente designado para permitir ao soberano imunizar a comunidade [commonwealth], mas, desde o 11/9, tendeu à norma política. A normalização do estado de emergência não é apenas uma expressão do poder absoluto do soberano, mas também da luta e da falência do Estado-nação moderno no confronto à situação global através da expansão e do estabelecimento de suas fronteiras com todos os meios tecnológicos e econômicos disponíveis. O controle de fronteira é um ato imunológico efetivo apenas se se entender geopolítica em termos de soberania definida por fronteiras. Após a Guerra Fria, a crescente competição resultou em uma cultura monotecnológica que não mais equilibra os progressos econômico e tecnológico, mas que, ao invés disso, assimila-os ao mesmo tempo em que se move rumo ao fim apocalíptico. A monotecnologia baseada em competição está devastando os recursos da Terra pelo bem da competição e do lucro, mas também previne qualquer jogador de tomar diferentes caminhos e direções — a “tecno-diversidade” sobre a qual muito escrevi. A tecno-diversidade não significa tão somente que diferentes países produzem o mesmo tipo de tecnologia (monotecnologia) com diferente roupagem [branding] e com aspectos sutilmente diversos. Antes, a tecno-diversidade se refere à multiplicidade de cosmotécnicas que diferem umas das outras em termos de valores, epistemologias e formas de existência. Atribui-se frequentemente a atual forma de competição, que utiliza meios econômicos e tecnológicos para passar por cima da política, ao neoliberalismo, enquanto que seu parente próximo, o trans-humanismo, considera a política apenas como uma epistemologia humanista fadada à superação através da aceleração tecnológica. Nós chegamos a um impasse da modernidade: não se pode facilmente retirar-se de tal competição pelo medo de ser ultrapassado por outros. É como a metáfora do homem moderno, descrita por Nietzsche: um grupo abandona permanentemente a sua vila para embarcar em uma jornada marítima em busca do infinito, mas chega ao meio do oceano apenas para se dar conta de que o infinito não é uma destinação.[17] E não há nada mais aterrorizante que o infinito quando não há jeito de voltar para trás.


O coronavirus, como todas as catástrofes, pode nos forçar à perguntar a nós mesmos para onde nós estamos indo. Apesar de sabermos que estamos apenas caminhando rumo ao vazio, nós ainda permanecemos guiados por um impulso tragicista [tragist] de “tentar viver”. Em meio à competição intensificada, o interesse dos Estados não mais se direciona a seus súditos, mas ao crescimento econômico — qualquer preocupação com a população se deve a suas contribuições para o crescimento econômico. Isso é autoevidente na maneira como a China tentou inicialmente silenciar notícias sobre o coronavírus e, então, após Xi Jinping avisar que medidas contra o vírus trariam dano à economia, o número de novos casos dramaticamente caiu a zero. Essa é a mesma “lógica” econômica cruel que fez com que outros países decidissem esperar para ver, pois medidas preventivas como restrições de viagem (às quais a OMS se mostrou contrária), testagem em aeroportos e o adiamento dos Jogos Olímpicos impactariam o turismo.


A mídia, bem como muitos filósofos, apresentaram um argumento um tanto inocente sobre a “abordagem autoritária” asiática e a abordagem alegadamente liberal/libertária/democrática de países ocidentais. O estilo autoritário chinês (ou asiático) — muitas vezes confundido com confucionismo, embora o confucionismo nada tenha a ver com uma filosofia autoritária ou coerciva — tem sido efetivo no manejo da população através do uso já disseminado de tecnologias de vigilância do consumidor (reconhecimento facial, análise de dados móveis etc.), a fim de identificar o espalhamento do vírus. Quando os surtos se iniciaram na Europa, ainda havia o debate sobre o uso ou não de dados pessoais. Se, contudo, nós realmente precisássemos escolher entre a “governança autoritária asiática” e a “governança liberal/libertária ocidental”, a governança autoritária asiática parece mais aceitável no enfrentamento de futuras catástrofes, dado que o estilo libertário de lidar com tais pandemias é essencialmente eugenista, permitindo com que a autosseleção rapidamente elimine a população mais idosa. De todo modo, todas essas oposições culturais essencialistas são enganosas, já que ignoram as solidariedades e a espontaneidade entre as obrigações morais diversas frente aos idosos e à família dentre as comunidades e as pessoas; mesmo assim, esse tipo de ignorância é necessária para manter as vãs expressões de uma superioridade própria.


Contudo, para onde mais nossa civilização pode ir? A escala dessa questão supera em muito a nossa imaginação, deixando-nos com a esperança, como um último recurso, de que poderemos retomar uma “vida normal”, seja lá o que este termo signifique. No século vinte, os intelectuais buscaram outras opções e configurações geopolíticas para superar o conceito schmittiano do político, como Derrida o fez em seu Políticas da amizade, onde ele respondeu a Schmitt através de uma desconstrução de seu conceito de amizade. A desconstrução abre uma diferença ontológica entre amizade e comunidade, a fim de sugerir outra política, a hospitalidade, para além da dicotomia amigo–inimigo, uma outra política fundamental para a teoria política do século vinte. A hospitalidade “incondicional” e “incalculável”, que poderíamos chamar de amizade, pode ser geopoliticamente concebida como uma soberania debilitada, como quando o filósofo desconstrucionista japonês Kōjin Karatani afirmou que a paz perpétua sonhada por Kant só seria possível quando a soberania pudesse ser dada como um dom [gift] — no sentido maussiano de economia do dom, economia que sucederia o império capitalista global.[18] Tal possibilidade, contudo, é condicionada pela abolição da soberania ou, em outras palavras, pela abolição dos Estados-nação. Para que isso aconteça, de acordo como Karatani, precisaríamos provavelmente de uma Terceira Guerra Mundial, seguida de um corpo governamental internacional com mais poder que as Nações Unidas. A política de refugiados de Angela Merkel e o “um país, dois sistemas”, concebido brilhantemente por Deng Xiaoping, caminham, de fato, rumo a esse fim sem uma guerra. O último tem o potencial de se tornar um modelo ainda mais sofisticado e interessante que o do sistema federal. Contudo, o primeiro tem sido alvo de ataques ferozes, e o último está em processo de destruição pelos nacionalistas de mente curta e os schmittianos dogmáticos. Uma Terceira Guerra Mundial seria a opção mais rápida, se nenhum país está disposto a ir à frente com isso.


Antes que esse dia chegue, e antes que alguma catástrofe ainda mais séria nos leve até mais perto da extinção (algo que já podemos sentir), talvez ainda precisemos nos perguntar de que modo pareceria um sistema imune “organísmico” global para além de simplesmente reivindicar a coexistência com o coronavírus.[19] Que tipo de co-imunidade ou co-imunismo (o neologismo que Sloterdijk propôs) é possível se nós queremos que a globalização continue, e que continue de uma forma menos contraditória? A estratégia de co-imunidade de Sloterdijk é interessante, mas politicamente ambivalente — isso também se deve provavelmente ao fato de que ela não é elaborada o suficiente em seus trabalhos principais — , oscilando entre uma política de fronteira similar à do partido de extrema-direita Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) e à imunidade contaminada de Roberto Espósito. No entanto, o problema é que, se continuarmos seguindo a lógica dos Estados-nação, nós nunca chegaremos na co-imunidade. Não apenas porque um Estado não é uma célula, nem um organismo (por mais que essa metáfora seja atrativa e prática aos teóricos), mas também porque, mais fundamentalmente, o próprio conceito só pode produzir uma imunidade baseada no amigo e no inimigo, independente de se se assume a forma de organizações internacionais ou de conselhos. Embora compostos por todos os seus súditos, como o é o Leviatã, Estados modernos não têm nenhum interesse além do crescimento econômico e da expansão militar, ao menos não antes da chegada de uma crise humanitária. Acossados por uma crise econômica iminente, os Estados-nação se tornam a fonte (antes que o alvo) de notícias falsas manipulativas.


§4. Solidariedade abstrata e concreta

Retornemos agora à questão das fronteiras e à questão da natureza dessa guerra na qual estamos lutando agora, guerra que o Secretário-Geral das ONU, António Guterres, considerou como o maior desafio que a ONU enfrentou desde a Segunda Guerra Mundial. A guerra contra o vírus é, antes de tudo, uma guerra de informação [infowar]. O inimigo é invisível. Ele só pode ser localizado através de informação sobre comunidades e sobre a mobilidade de indivíduos. A eficácia desta guerra depende da habilidade de colher e analisar informações e de mobilizar recursos disponíveis para atingir a mais alta eficiência. Para países que exercem censura online restrita, é possível conter o vírus da mesma forma com a qual se contém uma palavra-chave “sensível” que circule pelas mídias sociais. O uso do termo “informação” em contextos políticos foi frequentemente igualado ao de propaganda, embora devamos evitar ver a informação simplesmente como uma questão de mídias de massa e de jornalismo, ou mesmo de liberdade de expressão. A guerra de informação é a campanha de guerra do século vinte-e-um. Ela não é um tipo específico de guerra, mas a guerra em sua permanência.


Em suas aulas, coletadas no livro Em defesa da sociedade, Michel Foucault inverte o aforisma de Carl von Clausewitz de que “a guerra é a continuação da política por outros meios”, para “a política é a continuação da guerra por outros meios”.[20] Enquanto a inversão propõe que a guerra não mais assume a forma que Clausewitz tinha em mente, Foucault ainda não havia desenvolvido um discurso sobre a guerra de informação. Há mais de vinte anos, um livro intitulado Guerras sem limite (超限戰, traduzido oficialmente como “Estado de guerra [Warfare] sem restrição” ou “Estado de guerra sem fronteiras”) foi publicado na China por dois ex-coronéis-sênior da força aérea. Este livro logo foi traduzido para o francês, e é dito que tenha influenciado o coletivo Tiqqun e, mais tarde, o Comitê Invisível. Os dois ex-coronéis — que conheciam bem Clausewitz, mas que não haviam lido Foucault — chegaram a afirmar que a campanha de guerra tradicional sumiria gradativamente, sendo substituída por guerras imanentes no mundo, amplamente introduzidas e tornadas possíveis pela tecnologia de informação. Este livro pode ser lido como uma análise da estratégia de guerra global dos EUA, mas também e de forma mais importante, como uma análise penetrante de como as guerras de informação redefinem a política e a geopolítica.


A guerra contra o coronavirus é, ao mesmo tempo, uma guerra de má-informação [misinformation] e de desinformação [disinformation], dois tópicos que caracterizam a política da pós-verdade. Pode até ser que o vírus seja um evento contingente que acionou a crise atual, mas a própria guerra não é mais contingente. A guerra de informação também abre duas outras possibilidades (até certo ponto, farmacológicas): primeiro, um estado de guerra que não mais toma o Estado como sua unidade de medida, mas desterritorializa constantemente o Estado com armas invisíveis e ausência de fronteiras claras; e segundo, uma guerra civil, que toma a forma de infoesferas em competição. A guerra contra o coronavírus é uma guerra contra os portadores do vírus, e uma guerra conduzida por meio de notícias falsas, rumores, censura, estatísticas fraudadas, má-informação etc. Em paralelo com o uso feito pelos EUA de tecnologia do Vale do Silício para expandir a sua infoesfera e penetrar na maior parte da população da Terra, a China também construiu uma das mais amplas e sofisticadas infoesferas do mundo, com firewalls bem equipados, constituídos tanto por humanos, quanto por máquinas, e que permitiu conter o vírus dentro de uma população de 1,4 bilhões de habitantes. Esta infoesfera está se expandindo graças à infraestrutura da iniciativa chinesa “Um Cinturão, Uma Rota”, bem como de sua já estabelecida rede na África, o que faz com que os EUA respondam, em nome da segurança e da propriedade intelectual, impedindo com que a Huawei expanda a sua infoesfera. A guerra de informação obviamente não é empreendida apenas por soberanos. Dentro da China, diferentes facções competem entre si através de mídia oficial, mídia tradicional como jornais e canais de mídia independente. Por exemplo, tanto a mídia tradicional, quanto a mídia independente checaram os números do Estado sobre o surto, forçando o governo a reparar os seus próprios erros e distribuir mais equipamento médico aos hospitais de Wuhan.


O coronavirus torna explícita a imanência da guerra de informação através da necessidade do Estado-nação de defender suas fronteiras físicas ao mesmo tempo em que estende-se tecnológica e economicamente para além delas a fim de estabelecer novas fronteiras. As infoesferas são construídas por humanos e, apesar de terem se expandido muito nas décadas recentes, mantêm-se indeterminadas em seu porvir. Na medida em que a imaginação de uma co-imunidade — como um possível comunismo ou uma ajuda mútua entre nações — puder apenas ser uma solidariedade abstrata, ela é vulnerável ao cinismo, de forma similar ao caso da “humanidade”. Tem-se visto, em décadas recentes, alguns discursos filosóficos conseguindo nutrir uma solidariedade abstrata que pode se transformar em comunidades baseadas em facções [sect-based communities], cuja imunidade é determinada através de acordos e discordâncias. A solidariedade abstrata é atraente porque é abstrata: oposta à concreta, a abstrata não é fundada e não tem localidade; ela pode ser transportada para qualquer parte e habitar em qualquer parte. Mas a solidariedade abstrata é um produto da globalização, uma meta-narrativa (ou mesmo uma metafísica) para algo que, há muito, foi confrontado com o seu próprio fim.


A verdadeira co-imunidade não é uma solidariedade abstrata, mas antes, parte de uma solidariedade concreta cuja co-imunidade deve fundar a próxima onda de globalização (se houver uma). Desde o início desta pandemia, tem havido inúmeros atos de solidariedade verdadeira, onde quem faz as compras para alguém se esse alguém não pode ir a um supermercado importa muito, ou quem pode dar a alguém uma máscara para quando esse alguém precisa ir a um hospital, ou quem oferecerá respiradores para salvar vidas, e assim por diante. Também há solidariedades dentre comunidades médicas, que partilham informações para o desenvolvimento de vacinas. Gilbert Simondon distinguiu entre o abstrato e o concreto através de objetos técnicos: objetos técnicos abstratos são móveis e destacáveis, como aqueles objetos abraçados pelos enciclopedistas do século dezoito, objetos que (até hoje) inspiram otimismo sobre a possibilidade de progresso; objetos técnicos concretos são aqueles que se fundam (talvez literalmente) tanto no mundo humano, quanto no mundo natural, atuando como um mediador entre os dois. Uma máquina cibernética é mais concreta que um relógio mecânico, que é mais concreto que uma simples ferramenta. Podemos, pois, conceber uma solidariedade concreta que contorne o impasse de uma imunologia baseada em Estados-nação e em solidariedade abstrata? Podemos considerar a infoesfera como uma oportunidade que aponta para tal imunologia?


Devemos ampliar o conceito de infoesfera de duas maneiras. Primeiramente, a construção de infoesferas deve ser compreendida como uma tentativa de construir tecno-diversidade, de desmantelar a cultura monotecnológica por dentro e de escapar de seu “infinito ruim”. A diversificação de tecnologias também implica uma diversificações de modos de vida, de formas de coexistência, de economias e assim por diante, dado que a tecnologia, na medida em que é cosmotécnica, envolve diferentes relações com não-humanos e com o cosmos. [21] Esta tecno-diversificação não implica um enquadre ético imposto sobre a tecnologia, pois isso sempre chega muito tarde e é frequentemente feito para ser violado. Se não mudarmos as nossas tecnologias e as nossas atitudes, nós apenas preservaremos a biodiversidade em casos excepcionais, sem garantir a sua sustentabilidade. Em outras palavras, sem a tecno-diversidade, nós não podemos manter a biodiversidade. O coronavírus não é a vingança da natureza, mas o resultado de uma cultura monotecnológica na qual a própria tecnologia simultaneamente perde sua própria fundação [ground] e deseja se tornar o fundamento [ground] de todo o resto. O monotecnologismo no qual vivemos agora ignora a necessidade de coexistência e continua a enxergar a Terra meramente como um fundo de reserva. Com a competição viciosa que o sustenta, apenas continuará produzindo mais catástrofes. De acordo com esta visão, após a exaustão e a devastação da nave Terra, nós apenas podemos embarcar em uma mesma exaustão e devastação na nave Marte.


Em segundo lugar, a infoesfera pode ser considerada uma solidariedade concreta que se extende para além de fronteiras, como uma imunologia que não mais toma o Estado-nação como ponto de partida, com suas organizações internacionais que são, na verdade, marionetes dos poderes globais. Para tal solidariedade concreta emergir, precisamos de uma tecno-diversidade que desenvolva tecnologias alternativas tais como novas redes sociais, ferramentas colaborativas e infraestruturas de instituições digitais que formarão a base da colaboração global. A mídia digital já tem uma longa história social, embora poucas formas para além do Vale do Silício (e do WeChat, na China) assumem uma escala global. Isso se deve em muito à tradição filosófica herdada — com suas oposições entre natureza e tecnologia, entre cultura e tecnologia — , que falha em ver a pluralidade de tecnologias como algo realizável. A tecnofilia e a tecnofobia se tornam sintomas de uma cultura monotecnológica. Estamos familiares com o desenvolvimento da cultura hacker, do software livre e das comunidades open-source no decorrer das últimas poucas décadas, mas o foco tem sido o de desenvolver alternativas a tecnologias hegemônicas, ao invés de construir modelos alternativos de acesso, colaboração e, mais importante, epistemologia.


O incidente com o coronavírus terá por consequência a aceleração de processos de digitalização e de subsunção pela economia de dados, pois esta tem sido a ferramenta mais efetiva para conter o espalhamento, como já vimos na recente virada a favor do uso de dados móveis para rastreamento do surto em países que, de outra forma, louvam a privacidade. Nós talvez queiramos parar e nos perguntar se esse processo de digitalização em aceleração pode ser tomado como uma oportunidade, um kairos que subscreve a atual crise global. As chamadas a uma resposta global colocou a todos no mesmo barco, e o objetivo de retornar a uma “vida normal” não é uma resposta adequada. O surto de coronavírus marca a primeira vez em mais de vinte anos em que o ensino online passou a ser ofertado por departamentos de universidade. Tem havido muitas razões para a resistência ao ensino digital, mas a maioria é menor e, às vezes, irracional (institutos dedicados à cultura digital ainda podem achar que a presença física seja importante para a administração de recursos humanos). O ensino online não substituirá completamente a presença física, mas abre radicalmente o acesso ao conhecimento e nos lança de volta a questão da educação, em uma época na qual muitas das universidades estão perdendo financiamento. A suspensão da vida normal pelo coronavírus nos permitirá mudar estes hábitos? Por exemplo, podemos tomar os próximos meses (e talvez anos), quando a maioria das universidades do mundo estarão utilizando ensino online, como uma chance de criar instituições digitais sérias em uma escala sem precedentes? Uma imunologia global demanda reconfigurações radicais como estas.


A citação inicial deste ensaio vem da obra incompleta Filosofia na época trágica dos gregos, escrita por Nietzsche por volta de 1873. Ao invés de aludir à sua própria exclusão da disciplina de filosofia, Nietzsche identificou, com os filósofos na Grécia antiga que queriam reconciliar ciência e mito, racionalidade e paixão, uma reforma cultural. Nós não estamos mais na época trágica, mas estamos em um tempo de catástrofes onde nem o tragista [tragist], nem o daoísta [Daoist] pensando sozinhos podem providenciar uma saída. Em vista da doença da cultura global, nós temos uma necessidade urgente de reformas conduzidas por um novo pensamento e por novos enquadres que nos permitirá nos desatar daquilo que a filosofia impôs e ignorou. O coronavírus destruirá muitas das instituições já ameaçadas pelas tecnologias digitais. Também será necessário aumentar a vigilância e tomar outras medidas contra o vírus, bem como contra o terrorismo e contra ameaças à segurança nacional. Também é um momento no qual nós precisaremos de solidariedades concretas, digitais, mais fortes. A solidariedade digital não é um chamado a usar mais Facebook, Twitter ou WeChat, mas a sair da competição viciosa da cultura monotecnológica para produzir uma tecno-diversidade através de tecnologias alternativas e suas correspondentes formas de vida e modos de habitação neste planeta e neste cosmos. Em nosso mundo pós-metafísico, nós talvez não precisemos de pandemias metafísicas. Nós talvez também não precisemos de uma ontologia orientada pelo viral [vírus-oriented ontology]. O que nós realmente precisamos é de uma solidariedade concreta que nos permita diferenças e divergências antes da caída do crepúsculo.


Atualmente, Yuk Hui dá aulas na School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. Seu último livro é Recursivity and Contingency (2019).


[1] Trecho da versão portuguesa, publicada pela Edições 70, 2008. [N.T.]

[2] Paul Valéry, “Crisis of the Spirit” (tradução original: “Crisis of the Mind”), trad. Denise Folliot e Jackson Matthews, 1911. “La Crise de l’Esprit” apareceu originalmente em inglês pela The Athenaeum (Londres), 11 de abril e 2 de maio de 1919. O texto francês foi publicado no mesmo ano na edição de agosto da La Nouvelle Revue Française.

[3] Tradução de José André López González, disponível em, acessado em 11 de abril de 2020. [N.T.]

[4] Hui se refere a Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ), longa-metragem de 2013 que recebeu o título de The Wind Rises, nos Estados Unidos, e de Vidas ao vento, no Brasil. [N.T.]

[5] Literalmente, “diminuição da capacidade”. No Direito, é uma expressão para falar sobre a perda de autoridade, normalmente humilhante ou vexatória. [N.T.]

[6] Valéry, “Crisis of the Spirit.”

[7] “Tragicista” é um termo novo que uso no livro que estou preparando, Art and Cosmotechnics (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).

[8] Yuk Hui, “What Begins After the End of the Enlightenment?,” e-flux journal n. 96 (Janeiro de 2019)

[9] Sobre o caráter autoimmune dos ataques de 11/9, cf. Giovanna Borradori, Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (University of Chicago Press, 2004).

[10] “Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird,” Der Spiegel, 31 de janeiro de 2020.

[11] Peter Sloterdijk, “Es gibt keine moralische Pflicht zur Selbstzerstörung,” Cicero Magazin für politische Kultur, 28 de janeiro de 2016.

[12] Cf. Roberto Esposito, Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life, trad. Zakiya Hanafi (Polity Press, 2011).

[13] A frase original é “we collapse everything into the night where all cows are grey” (“nós colapsamos tudo dentro da noite onde todas as vacas são cinzas”). Essa frase, também utilizada por Hegel em uma discussão com Schelling para afirmar que os seguidores deste confundiam os conceitos de Hegel, taxando-os todos como manifestações do Absoluto, é um provérbio iídiche que significa algo como “no escuro, todo parceiro sexual parece o mesmo”, ou seja, um cenário onde não há distinções entre as coisas, nem critérios para distingui-las. No caso, afirmar que toda imunologia é racismo seria taxar todo e qualquer fenômeno de proteção imunitária (inclusive, a imunidade biológica) como racismo. [N.T]

[14] Cf. Alfred I. Tauber, Immunity: The Evolution of an Idea (Oxford University Press, 2017).

[15] Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trad. George Schwab (University of Chicago Press, 2007), 54.

[16] Schmitt, Concept of the Political, 56.

[17] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 119.

[18] Cf. Kōjin Karatani, The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange, trans. Michael K. Bourdaghs (Duke University Press, 2014)

[19] Nós também temos que cuidadosamente nos perguntar se uma metáfora biológica é de todo apropriada, a despeito de sua ampla aceitação. Eu contestei isso em Recursivity and Contingency (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2019), ao analisar a história do organicismo, sua posição na história da epistemologia e sua relação com a tecnologia moderna, questionando a sua validade como metáfora da política, sobretudo no tocante à política ambiental.

[20] Michel Foucault, “Society Must be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–1976, trad. David Macey (Picador, 2003), 15.

[21] Desenvolvo essa diversificação de tencologias como “cosmotécnicas múltiplas” em The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics (Urbanomic, 2016).


Article: Cien Años De Crisis by Yuk Hui (Spanish translation)

Cien Años De Crisis.
Yuk Hui
Translation by Hugo Esquinca


Si la filosofía siempre se ha manifestado ayudando, salvando y protegiendo, eso fue con los sanos, a los enfermos los hizo cada vez más enfermos.
-Nietzsche, Filosofía en la Época Trágica de los Griegos.


§1. Centenario de “Crisis del Espíritu”


En 1919, poco después de la Primera Guerra Mundial, el poeta francés Paul Valéry, escribiría en su obra La Crisis del Espíritu:“Nosotros, las civilizaciones posteriores… nosotros también sabemos que somos mortales.”[1] Es únicamente con una catástrofe de esta escala, como aprés coup, que llegamos de nuevo a comprender que no somos más que seres frágiles. Cien años más tarde, un murciélago de China -si es verdad que el coronavirus proviene de los murciélagos- ha llevado al planeta a otra crisis. Si Valéry siguiera con vida hoy, no le sería permitido salir de su casa en Francia.


La crisis del espíritu en 1919 fue precedida por un nihilismo, una nada, que acechó a Europa antes de 1914. Como lo escribió Valéry acerca de la escena intelectual poco antes de la guerra:“¡No veo nada!… Nada, y aún así, un infinito potencial en esa misma nada.” En el poema “Le Cimetière Marin” (“El Cementerio Marino”) podemos leer una llamada afirmativa Nietzscheana:“El viento sube… ¡debemos intentar vivir!”. Este mismo verso sería más tarde adoptado por Hayao Miyazaki como el título de su película animada acerca de Jiro Horikoshi, el ingeniero encargado de diseñar aviones de combate para el Imperio Japonés y que serían posteriormente utilizados en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Este nihilismo recursivo regresa en forma de una prueba Nietzscheana: un demonio invade nuestra soledad más solitaria y en esa soledad nos pregunta si queremos vivir el eterno retorno de lo mismo -la misma araña, la misma luz de luna entre los árboles, y este mismo demonio que ahora nos cuestiona. Cualquier filosofía que sea incapaz de vivir y cuestionar directamente este nihilismo brinda una respuesta nula, ya que esta filosofía vuelve a la cultura enferma más enferma, o dicho en nuestros tiempos, se resguarda en los infinitos memes que hoy circulan en las redes sociales.


El nihilismo que Valéry impugnó, ha sido nutrido constantemente por el aceleramiento tecnológico y la globalización desde el Siglo XVIII. Como Valéry escribió al final de su ensayo:


Pero, ¿Puede el espíritu Europeo, o por lo menos su contenido más preciado, ser totalmente difundido?. Deben ser fenómenos como la democracia, la explotación global y la expansión general de la tecnología, que presagian un deminutio capitis para Europa…¿Deben estos fenómenos ser tomados como decisiones absolutas del destino?[2]


Esta amenaza de difusión -que quizá Europa intentó afirmar- no puede ser una cuestión que Europa pueda enfrentar sola y probablemente será insuperable a través del espíritu “tragista” (“tragist”) Europeo.[3] “Tragista” se relaciona primero que nada con la tragedia griega; es también la lógica del espíritu aventurándose a resolver las contradicciones que emergen desde dentro. En “¿Qué Comienza al Final de la Ilustración?” (“What Begins after the End of Enlightenment?”) y otros ensayos, he tratado de esbozar cómo desde la Ilustración y posterior a la caída del monoteísmo, éste último se vio reemplazado por un mono-tecnologismo (o tecno-teísmo), que hoy culmina con el transhumanismo.[4] Nosotros los modernos, los herederos culturales del Hamlet Europeo (quién, en “La Crisis Del Espíritu” de Valéry, mira al pasado de el legado intelectual Europeo contando los cráneos de Leibniz, Kant, Hegel y Marx), cien años después del texto de Valéry, creemos y deseamos seguir creyendo que alcanzaremos la inmortalidad, que seremos capaces de optimizar nuestro sistema inmunológico contra cualquier virus o simplemente escaparemos a Marte cuando lleguen los peores casos. En medio de la pandemia del coronavirus, la investigación de posibles viajes a Marte resulta irrelevante para la contención del virus y para salvaguardar vidas. Para nosotros, mortales que aún habitamos este planeta llamado Tierra, puede que no haya una oportunidad para alcanzar la inmortalidad, como han promocionado los transhumanistas en sus eslóganes corporativos. Una farmacología del nihilismo posterior a Nietzsche espera ser escrita; no obstante, la toxina se ha impregnado ya en el cuerpo global causando una crisis en su sistema inmunológico.


Para Jacques Derrida (Marguerite Derrida, su viuda, recientemente falleció de coronavirus), el ataque del 11 de Septiembre de 2001 en el World Trade Center marcó una manifestación de crisis autoinmune, disolviendo la estructura de poder tecno-político que por décadas había permanecido estable: un Boeing 767 fue usado como arma en contra del país responsable de su invención, como una célula mutada o un virus interno.[5] El término “autoinmune” es únicamente una metáfora biológica cuando se utiliza en el contexto político: La globalización es la creación de un sistema mundial cuya estabilidad depende de una hegemonía tecno-científica y económica. Por consiguiente, el 9/11 fue visto como una ruptura que terminaría con la configuración política decretada por el Occidente Cristiano desde la Ilustración, despertando así una respuesta inmunológica expresada como un estado permanente de excepción -guerras tras guerras. Hoy, el coronavirus colapsa esta metáfora: lo biológico y lo político se vuelven uno mismo. Los intentos por contener el virus no implican únicamente desinfectante y medicina, sino también movilización militar y cierres de emergencia en países, fronteras, vuelos internacionales y trenes.


A finales de Enero, Der Spiegel publicó una edición titulada Coronavirus, Made in China: Wenn Die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird (Cuando la globalización se vuelve un peligro mortal), dicha edición se ilustró con una imagen de una persona de origen chino vestida con excesivo equipo de protección, observando un iPhone con los ojos casi cerrados, como rezando a algún dios.[6] El brote de coronavirus no es un ataque terrorista -hasta ahora, no hay evidencia clara acerca del origen del virus más allá de su aparición inicial en China- este brote es más bien un evento organológico donde el virus se adhiere a redes avanzadas de transporte, viajando a más de 900 km por hora. Este evento también parece situarnos en un regreso al discurso del Estado-Nación y a una geopolítica definida exclusivamente a través de la nación. Con este regreso, me refiero, primero que nada, a que el coronavirus ha restaurado el significado de las fronteras que parecían disolverse con el capitalismo global y el constante incremento de movilidad promovido por el intercambio cultural y los tratados internacionales. El brote global ha mostrado que hasta ahora, la globalización ha cultivado una cultura mono-tecnológica que únicamente puede conducir a una respuesta autoinmunológica y a un gran retroceso. En segundo lugar, el brote y el regreso a los Estados-Nación revelan las limitantes históricas y actuales de dicho concepto. Los Estados-Nación modernos han intentado encubrir estos límites mediante infoguerras inmanentes, construyendo infoesferas que se extienden más allá de cualquier frontera. Sin embargo, lejos de producir una inmunología global, estas infoesferas utilizan la aparente contingencia del espacio global para producir guerras biológicas. Una inmunología global con la cual podamos enfrentar a esta etapa de la globalización no está aún disponible y puede que jamás lo sea, si esta cultura mono-tecnológica persiste.


§2. Un Schmitt Europeo ve Millones de Fantasmas


Durante la crisis de refugiados de 2016 en Europa, el filósofo Peter Sloterdijk criticó fuertemente a la canciller alemana Angela Merkel en una entrevista con la revista Cicero, “Necesitamos aún aprender a glorificar nuestras fronteras… Los europeos desarrollarán tarde o temprano una política fronteriza eficiente. A la larga, el imperativo territorial prevalecerá. Después de todo, no existe la obligación moral de autodestrucción.”[7] Incluso si Sloterdijk estaba equivocado al decir que Alemania y la Unión Europea deberían haber cerrado sus fronteras a refugiados, uno podría decir en retrospectiva, que Sloterdijk estaba en lo correcto al cuestionar esas fronteras que no habían sido planeadas adecuadamente. Roberto Esposito ha expresado claramente que una lógica (polar) binaria persiste con relación a la función de las fronteras: uno insiste en un control más estricto como una defensa inmunológica en contra de un enemigo externo -un entendimiento clásico e intuitivo de la inmunología a través de la oposición del Ser y el Otro- mientras el otro propone la abolición de fronteras, con el fin de permitir la libertad de movimiento brindando de igual manera posibilidad de asociación para individuos y bienes. Esposito sugiere entonces que ninguno de estos dos extremos (y hoy es más obvio que nunca) es ética o prácticamente indeseable.[8]


El brote de coronavirus en China -que comenzó a mediados de noviembre, y que hasta finales de enero se hizo un comunicado oficial que llevaría al cierre de emergencia de Wuhan el 23 de enero- llevó inmediatamente a controles migratorios internacionales en contra de personas de origen chino, e incluso personas con rasgos asiáticos en general, quienes eran inmediatamente identificadas como portadoras del virus. Italia fue uno de los primeros países en establecer una prohibición de viajes a China; en enero mismo, El Conservatorio de Santa Cecilia en Roma suspendió a sus estudiantes “orientales”, prohibiéndoles de esta manera atender a sus clases, incluyendo a algunos que jamás en sus vidas habían visitado China. Estos actos -que podríamos llamar inmunológicos- son conducidos por el miedo, pero fundamentalmente por la ignorancia.


En Hong Kong -vecino de Shenzhen en la provincia de Guangdong, una de las regiones con mayor número de brotes fuera de la región de Hubei- hubo una cantidad significativa de voces que solicitaron urgentemente al gobierno el cierre de la frontera con China. El gobierno se rehusó, tomando como referencia las recomendaciones hechas por la Organización Mundial de la Salud, quien había pedido a todos los países que evitaran el imponer restricciones comerciales así como el negar viajes a China. Como una de las dos Regiones Administrativas Especiales de China, la RAE (SAR) de Hong Kong, debe evitar oponerse a China o añadir peso extra a la carga actual de su situación económica. Aún así, ciertos restaurantes en Hong Kong pegaron anuncios en sus entradas advirtiendo que los hablantes de chino mandarín no eran bienvenidos. El mandarín es asociado con los portadores del virus provenientes de China continental y en relación a esto, el dialecto mismo se considera un signo de peligro. Un restaurante que bajo circunstancias normales estaría abierto a cualquier persona capaz de pagar por su comida, acepta hoy, únicamente a cierta parte de la población.


Todas las formas de racismo son fundamentalmente inmunológicas. El racismo es un antígeno social, ya que es capaz de distinguir claramente entre el Ser y el Otro y reacciona a cualquier inestabilidad introducida por el Otro. Sin embargo, no todos los actos inmunológicos pueden ser considerados racistas. Si no somos capaces de confrontar la ambigüedad que existe entre los dos, colapsamos todo en la noche, donde todas las vacas son grises. En el caso de una pandemia global, una reacción inmunológica es especialmente inevitable cuando la contaminación es facilitada por vuelos y trenes intercontinentales. Previo al cierre de Wuhan, cinco millones de habitantes habían escapado, transportando, involuntariamente, al virus fuera de la ciudad. De hecho, el que las personas sean etiquetadas como originarias de Wuhan se vuelve hoy irrelevante, ya que cualquier persona puede ser sospechosa, si se toma en consideración que el virus puede permanecer latente en un cuerpo sin síntomas y de esta forma, contaminar sus alrededores. Existen momentos inmunológicos de los que no se puede escapar fácilmente cuando la xenofobia y los microfascismos se vuelven frecuentes en la calle y en los restaurantes: cuando toses de manera involuntaria, se te mira fijamente. Ahora más que nunca, la gente exige una inmunoesfera -como lo sugirió Peter Sloterdijk- como método de protección y organización social.


Parece ser que los actos inmunológicos, aquellos que no pueden ser simplemente reducidos a actos racistas, justifican el regreso de las fronteras -individual, social, y nacional. En biología inmunológica al igual que en política inmunológica, después de décadas de debatir el paradigma del Ser y el Otro al igual que el paradigma organísmico, los Estados modernos regresan al control fronterizo como la forma más simple e intuitiva de defensa, incluso cuando el enemigo es invisible.[9] De hecho, estamos luchando en contra de la encarnación del enemigo. Aquí, nos encontramos atados a lo que Carl Schmitt denomina lo político, y a la definición de lo político, a través de la distinción entre amigo y enemigo – una definición que es difícil de negar y que probablemente se ve fortalecida durante una pandemia. Cuando el enemigo es invisible, tiene que ser encarnado de alguna manera y así volverse identificable: primero los Chinos, los Asiáticos, luego los Europeos, los Norteamericanos; o, dentro de China mismo, los habitantes de Wuhan. La xenofobia nutre al nacionalismo, ya sea en el Ser, que considera a la xenofobia un acto inmunológico inevitable, o el Otro, que moviliza a la xenofobia para fortalecer su propio nacionalismo como inmunología.


La Liga de las Naciones se fundó en 1919, después de la Primera Guerra Mundial, posteriormente sucedida por las Naciones Unidas como una estrategia para evitar una nueva guerra mediante una organización común capaz de reunir a todas las naciones del mundo. Quizá la crítica dirigida hacia este intento por parte de Carl Schmitt fue precisa al afirmar que La Liga de las Naciones, que celebró su centenario el año pasado, identificó erróneamente a la humanidad como el terreno común del mundo político, siendo ésta un concepto no político. En contraste, la humanidad es un concepto de despolitización, ya que identificar una humanidad abstracta que no existe “puede hacer mal uso de la paz, la justicia, el progreso y la civilización con el fin de reclamar éstas como propias y negarlas al enemigo.”[10] Hoy, sabemos que el grupo de representantes de diversos países que conformó La Liga de Las Naciones fue incapaz de prevenir una de las más grandes catástrofes del siglo XX, La Segunda Guerra Mundial y por esta razón fue reemplazada por las Naciones Unidas. Entonces, ¿Sería este argumento aplicable de igual manera a la Organización Mundial de la Salud, organismo global destinado a trascender fronteras nacionales para proveer advertencias, asesoramiento y gobernanza con relación a los asuntos pertenecientes a la salud global? Considerando el rol poco positivo de la OMS para prevenir la expansión del virus -si no es que su rol es más bien negativo: su director general se rehusó incluso a proclamar una pandemia hasta que fue evidente- ¿Para que entonces nos es necesaria la OMS? Naturalmente, el trabajo de los profesionales trabajando para la Organización merece un respeto enorme; sin embargo, el coronavirus ha expuesto una crisis en la función política de esa organización. Peor todavía, sólo podemos criticar a este gigantesco cuerpo quema-dinero de gobernanza global, por su terrible falla en redes sociales, como gritos al viento, donde nadie tiene la capacidad de cambiar nada, pues los procesos democráticos están siempre reservados para las naciones.


§3. El Mal Infinito del Mono-tecnologismo


Siguiendo a Schmitt, podemos observar como la OMS es primordialmente un instrumento de despolitización, ya que su función de prevenir acerca del coronavirus, se hubiera realizado mejor por cualquier agencia de noticias. De hecho, algunos países actuaron de manera tardía por seguir el juicio prematuro de la OMS. Como escribe Schmitt, un cuerpo representativo internacional de gobierno, forjado en nombre de la humanidad, “no elimina la posibilidad de tener guerras, de la misma forma en la que es incapaz de abolir Estados. Al contrario, introduce nuevas posibilidades de guerra, permite que la guerra suceda, sanciona guerras de coalición y al legitimar y sancionar ciertas guerras, elimina cualquier obstáculo en favor de la guerra.”[11] ¿No es entonces la manipulación de dichos cuerpos globales de gobierno a manos de las potencias mundiales y el capital transnacional desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial únicamente una continuación de esta lógica? ¿No es entonces responsable este virus, que en un principio fue controlable, de hundir al mundo entero en un estado global de guerra? En cambio, estas organizaciones contribuyen a una enfermedad global donde la competencia económica mono-tecnológica y la expansión militar son el único objetivo, separando así a todos los seres humanos de sus localidades arraigadas directamente en la tierra, reemplazando éstas con identidades ficticias moldeadas por el Estado-Nación moderno y la infoguerra.


Los conceptos de estado de excepción y estado de emergencia, fueron concebidos inicialmente como medidas para permitir la inmunización de la mancomunidad de forma soberana, pero desde el 9/11 se han convertido en una norma política. La normalización del estado de emergencia no es únicamente una expresión del poder absoluto de la soberanía, sino también de los intentos fallidos por parte del Estado-Nación moderno que intenta confrontar la situación global por medio de la expansión y el establecimiento de fronteras a través de cualquier medio tecnológico o económico disponible. El control fronterizo es un acto inmunológico con efectividad, únicamente, cuando uno entiende la geopolítica en términos de soberanías definidas por fronteras. Después de la Guerra Fría, el aumento de la competencia resultó en una cultura mono-tecnológica que deja de regular el progreso económico y tecnológico; estos procesos son asimilados mientras esta cultura avanza en dirección a un punto final de apocalipsis. La competencia basada en una mono-tecnología devasta todos los recursos de la Tierra en nombre de la ganancia y la competencia y de la misma forma evita que cualquier jugador pueda tomar un camino distinto o una dirección diferente – la “tecno-diversidad” sobre la cual he escrito extensivamente. Tecno-diversidad no significa que diferentes países deben producir el mismo tipo de tecnología (mono-tecnología) con una marca distinta o características ligeramente distintas. Más bien, se refiere a una multiplicidad de cosmotécnicas que difieren una de la otra en términos de sus valores, epistemologías y modos de existencia. La forma actual de competencia que utiliza recursos económicos y tecnológicos para anular a la política es comúnmente asociada con el neoliberalismo y su pariente cercano, el transhumanismo, que considera a la política como una epistemología humanista que pronto será rebasada por la aceleración tecnológica. Hemos llegado al punto muerto de la modernidad: uno ya no se puede retirar de esta competencia, el miedo constante a ser superado por otros lo impide. Es como la metáfora descrita por Nietzsche respecto al hombre moderno: un grupo abandona permanentemente su aldea para embarcarse en un viaje marítimo en búsqueda del infinito, únicamente para llegar al medio del océano y darse cuenta que el infinito no es un destino.[12] Y no existe nada más aterrador que dirigirse al infinito cuando ya no hay vuelta atrás.


El coronavirus, como toda catástrofe, nos obliga a preguntarnos cuál es nuestra dirección. Aún sabiendo que nos dirigimos al vacío, aún así, nos conducimos por el impulso tragista de “tratar de vivir.” En medio de esta competencia intensificada, el interés de los Estados dejó de lado a sus sujetos y se centra únicamente en su crecimiento económico -cualquier preocupación por la gente se relaciona directamente con su contribución al crecimiento económico. Esto se evidencía en cómo China intentó en un inicio silenciar todas las noticias acerca del coronavirus y después, cuando Xi Jinping advirtió que las medidas tomadas en contra del virus dañarían al sector económico, el número de casos cayó dramáticamente hasta llegar a cero. Es esta misma “lógica” despiadada de la economía la que ha llevado a otros países a esperar y observar, ya que las medidas preventivas como las restricciones de viaje (medida a la cual la OMS se oponía rotundamente), revisiones y chequeos extras en aeropuertos y el posponer los Juegos Olímpicos, tienen un impacto en el turismo.


Los medios de comunicación al igual que varios filósofos, nos presentan un argumento un tanto ingenuo acerca del “enfoque autoritario” Asiático y del acercamiento presuntamente liberal/libertario/democrático de los países occidentales. El modo autoritario Chino (o Asiático) -comúnmente malentendido como Confuciano, ya que el Confucionismo no es, para nada, una filosofía autoritaria o de coerción- ha sido efectivo en su manejo de la población, pues han hecho uso de las ya implementadas tecnologías de vigilancia para el consumidor (reconocimiento facial, análisis de datos móviles, etc), con la finalidad de identificar la propagación del virus. Cuando los brotes comenzaron en Europa, todavía se disputaba si se utilizarían datos personales. Pero si tuviéramos que elegir entre la “gobernanza autoritaria Asiática” y la “gobernanza liberal/libertaria Occidental”, la gobernanza autoritaria Asiática parece ser más aceptable para enfrentar futuras catástrofes, ya que el manejo de dichas pandemias por parte del modo libertario es esencialmente eugenésico, dado que éste le permite a la auto-selección, la rápida eliminación de su población mayor. En cualquier caso, todas estas oposiciones culturales esencialistas son engañosas, ya que ignoran la solidaridad y la espontaneidad que existe entre comunidades y las diversas obligaciones morales que la población tiene hacia las personas ancianas y la familia; no obstante, este tipo de ignorancia es necesaria para una expresión vana de auto superioridad.


¿En qué otra dirección puede dirigirse nuestra civilización? La escala de este cuestionamiento satura nuestra imaginación, dejándonos como última esperanza, el poder regresar a “la vida normal”, lo que sea que esto signifique. En el siglo XX, ciertos intelectuales buscaron otras opciones y configuraciones geopolíticas que pudieran superar el concepto de lo político de Schmitt, tal fue el caso de Derrida en su Política de la Amistad, donde intentó responder a Schmitt con una deconstrucción del concepto de amistad. La deconstrucción destapa una diferencia ontológica entre amistad y comunidad, para sugerir una política que va más allá de la dicotomía fundamental entre amigo-enemigo y que posteriormente sería fundamental para la teoría política del siglo XX; es decir, la hospitalidad. La hospitalidad “incondicional” e “incalculable”, a la cual podríamos llamar amistad, tiene la capacidad de ser concebida en la geopolítica como una soberanía socavante, misma que podemos observar en la filosofía deconstruccionista del japonés Kōjin Karatani, quién afirmó que el sueño de Kant con la paz perpetua, podría ser realizable únicamente cuando la soberanía se otorga como un obsequio -en el sentido de la economía del Don de Mauss, que seguiría al imperio global capitalista.[13] Sin embargo, dicha posibilidad está condicionada por la abolición de la soberanía, o, en otras palabras, la abolición de los Estados-Nación. De acuerdo con Karatani, para que esto pudiera ocurrir, necesitaríamos una Tercera Guerra Mundial, la cual sería sucedida por un cuerpo de gobierno internacional con más poder que las Naciones Unidas. De hecho, la política migratoria y de asilo de Angela Merkel y el “un país, dos sistemas” brillantemente concebido por Deng Xiaoping, se encaminan en esta dirección, evitando la posibilidad de guerras. Éste último presenta un potencial para convertirse en un modelo mucho más sofisticado e interesante que el del sistema federal. De cualquier forma, la primera ha sido el objetivo de ataques feroces, mientras el segundo está en proceso de destrucción a manos de nacionalistas de mentes cerradas y Schmittianos dogmáticos. Una Tercera Guerra Mundial parece ser entonces la opción más rápida, si ningún país está dispuesto a ir hacia adelante.


Antes de que ese día nos alcance y antes de que otra catástrofe nos lleve más cerca de la extinción (que hoy ya podemos sentir), necesitamos preguntarnos cómo podría verse un sistema inmune “organísmico” y cómo éste podría ir más allá de una simple proclamación de coexistencia con el coronavirus.[14] ¿Qué tipo de co-inmunidad o co-inmunismo (neologismo propuesto por Sloterdijk), es posible si queremos que la globalización continúe y que esto sea de una forma menos contradictoria? La estrategia de Sloterdijk de co-inmunidad es interesante, pero políticamente ambivalente -probablemente por que no ha sido elaborada con suficiencia en ninguna de sus obras principales- ya que oscila entre una política fronteriza del partido de extrema derecha Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) y la inmunidad contaminada de Roberto Esposito. No obstante, el problema radica en que si nos mantenemos en la lógica del Estado-Nación, jamás alcanzaremos la co-inmunidad. No solamente porque el Estado no es una célula o un organismo (por más que esta metáfora sea atractiva y práctica para ciertos teóricos), fundamentalmente es, por que el concepto per se únicamente es capaz de producir una inmunidad basada en el amigo y el enemigo, sin importar que esto tome la forma de Organizaciones Internacionales o Consejos. Los Estados modernos, a pesar de estar compuestos de todos sus sujetos, como el Leviatán, no tienen mayor interés que el crecimiento económico y la expansión militar; estas son sus prioridades hasta que llega el momento de una crisis humanitaria. Aterrados por el arribo inminente de una crisis económica, los Estados-Nación se vuelven la fuente (en vez del objetivo) de fake news manipuladoras.


§4. Solidaridad Abstracta y Solidaridad Concreta


Regresemos a la cuestión fronteriza e indaguemos acerca de la naturaleza de esta guerra que hoy nos encontramos peleando, que el Secretario General de la ONU António Guterres considera el mayor reto que la ONU ha enfrentado, desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. La guerra en contra del virus es ante todo una infoguerra. El enemigo es invisible. Solamente puede ser localizado mediante la información obtenida en distintas comunidades y a través del registro de movimiento de individuos. La eficacia en esta guerra depende de la habilidad para recolectar y analizar información, con el fin de movilizar los recursos disponibles y así alcanzar la mayor eficiencia. Para los países que ejercen una censura estricta en línea, es posible contener el virus, si se interrumpe la circulación de una palabra “sensible” en redes sociales. El uso del término “información” en contextos políticos ha sido comúnmente equiparado con la propaganda, aunque deberíamos evitar verle como una cuestión perteneciente únicamente a los medios masivos o periodísticos, e incluso como libertad de expresión. La infoguerra del siglo XXI es la guerra. No es un tipo específico de guerra, sino más bien la guerra en permanencia.


En las conferencias recopiladas en “Defender la Sociedad”, Michel Foucault invirtió el aforismo de Claus von Clausewitz “la guerra es la continuación de la política por otros medios” por “la política es la continuación de la guerra por otros medios.”[15] Mientras que esta inversión plantea una forma de guerra muy distinta a la que Clausewitz tenía en mente, Foucault no había desarrollado, en ese entonces, un discurso con relación a la infoguerra. Hace más de veinte años, un libro titulado Guerras sin Límites (超限戰, traducido oficialmente como Guerra Irrestricta), fue publicado en China por dos coroneles superiores de la fuerza armada. Este libro pronto se tradujo al francés y se dice que ha influenciado al colectivo Tiqqun y al Comité Invisible. Los dos ex coroneles -quienes conocían bien el trabajo de Clausewitz pero no habían leído a Foucault- aseguraron que la guerra tradicional llegaría a desvanecerse gradualmente, para después ser reemplazada por guerras inmanentes en todo el mundo y que serían ampliamente introducidas y posibilitadas por medio de la información tecnológica. Este libro podría ser leído como un análisis de la estrategia global de guerra de los Estados Unidos, pero más relevante aún es el análisis meticuloso de cómo la infoguerra redefine a la política y a la geopolítica.


La guerra en contra del coronavirus es simultáneamente una guerra de desinformación y del mal informar, características propias de la política de la post verdad. El virus puede ser un evento contingente encargado de desatar la crisis actual, pero la guerra por sí misma, dejó de ser un evento contingente. La infoguerra da lugar a dos nuevas posibilidades (hasta cierto punto farmacológicas): primero, una guerra que deja de considerar al Estado como su unidad de medición, más bien lo desterritorializa con armas invisibles y fronteras indefinidas; segundo, una guerra civil, que adopta la forma de infoesferas en competencia. La guerra en contra del coronavirus, es una guerra contra quienes portan el virus, una guerra conducida por medio de noticias falsas, rumores, censuras, estadísticas falsas, desinformación, etc. En paralelo a Estados Unidos, quien utiliza la tecnología de Silicon Valley para expandir su infoesfera y así penetrar a la mayoría de la población de la tierra, China por su parte ha construido una de las infoesferas más sofisticadas del mundo, con firewalls equipados con humanos y máquinas por igual, los cuales le han permitido contener al virus en una población de 1.4 billones. Esta infoesfera se expande constantemente gracias a la iniciativa de la infraestructura china “un cinturón, un camino”, al igual que gracias a sus ya establecidas redes en África, las cuales producen una respuesta por parte de Estados Unidos, quien, en nombre de la soberanía y la seguridad, ha bloqueado la expansión de la infoesfera de Huawei. Desde luego, la infoguerra no se desata únicamente por la soberanía. Dentro de China, diversas facciones compiten entre ellas a través de los medios oficiales, los medios tradicionales como los periódicos y los medios independientes. Por ejemplo, durante el brote, los medios tradicionales e independientes llevaron a cabo revisiones profundas de los hechos declarados por diversas figuras del Estado, forzando de esta forma al gobierno a compensar por sus errores y a distribuir más equipo médico en los hospitales de Wuhan.


El coronavirus vuelve explícita la inmanencia de la infoguerra a través de la necesidad del Estado-Nación de defender la frontera física buscando, al mismo tiempo, extenderse económica y tecnológicamente más allá de éstas, con el fin de establecer nuevas fronteras. Las infoesferas son construidas por humanos y a pesar de haberse expandido enormemente en las últimas décadas, su devenir sigue siendo indeterminado. En la medida en que la imaginación de co-inmunidad -como un posible comunismo o una ayuda mutua entre naciones- se mantenga como una solidaridad abstracta, será vulnerable al cinismo, similar al caso de la “humanidad.” En décadas recientes, hemos atestiguado el éxito de ciertos discursos filosóficos que nutren una solidaridad abstracta, que se puede tornar en comunidades basadas en sectas cuya inmunidad es determinada a través del acuerdo y desacuerdo. La solidaridad abstracta es atractiva porque es abstracta: lo opuesto a ser concreta, lo abstracto carece de fundamentos y localidad, puede ser transportado a cualquier lugar y habitar en todos lados. Sin embargo, la solidaridad abstracta es un producto de la globalización, una meta-narrativa (incluso metafísica), de algo que por mucho tiempo ha confrontado su propio fin.


La verdadera co-inmunidad no es una solidaridad abstracta, pues debe partir más bien de una solidaridad concreta cuya co-inmunidad pueda servir de fundamento para la próxima ola de globalización (si es que habrá una). Desde el comienzo de esta pandemia, han habido interminables actos de verdadera solidaridad, desde quienes hacen las compras en el supermercado por otros, de quienes regalan máscaras cuando se tiene que acudir al hospital, o de quienes ofrecen sus respiradores con el fin de salvar otras vidas, y más. Existen también solidaridades entre comunidades médicas que comparten información con el fin común de desarrollar vacunas. Gilbert Simondon propuso una distinción entre lo abstracto y lo concreto a través de los objetos técnicos: los objetos técnicos abstractos son movibles y separables, como aquellos que fueron adoptados por los enciclopedistas del siglo XVIII y que (incluso hoy), inspiran optimismo en la posibilidad del progreso; por otro lado, los objetos técnicos concretos son aquellos que tienen fundamento (quizá literal), en el mundo humano y natural y actúan como mediadores entre estos dos. Una máquina cibernética es más concreta que un reloj mecánico y éste es, al mismo tiempo, más concreto que una simple herramienta. ¿Podemos entonces concebir la posibilidad de una solidaridad concreta que pueda evitar el punto muerto o impasse de la inmunología basada en el Estado-Nación y la solidaridad abstracta? ¿Podemos considerar a la infoesfera como una oportunidad que apunta hacia esa otra inmunología?


Necesitaríamos ampliar el concepto de la infoesfera en dos maneras. Primero que nada, la fabricación de infoesferas, puede ser comprendida como un intento para construir la tecno-diversidad, para desmantelar a la cultura mono-tecnológica desde adentro y así escapar su “mala infinidad.” Esta diversificación de tecnologías implica a su vez, una diversificación de modos de vida, modos de coexistir, de economías, y más allá; ya que la tecnología, siempre y cuando ésta sea una cosmotécnica, nos incrusta en diferentes relaciones con lo no humano y el cosmos superior.[16] Dicha tecno-diversificación no implica un marco de referencia ético impuesto a la tecnología, ya que esta referencia es tardía y, por lo general, violada. Sin un cambio en nuestras tecnologías y actitudes, seremos únicamente capaces de mantener la biodiversidad como un caso excepcional, sin poder asegurar su sostenibilidad. En otras palabras, sin tecno-diversidad, no podremos mantener la biodiversidad. El coronavirus no es una venganza de la naturaleza, es más bien el resultado de una cultura mono-tecnológica, donde la tecnología pierde su fundamento y, a la par, anhela ser el fundamento de todo lo demás. Este mono-tecnologismo en el que hoy vivimos, ignora la necesidad de coexistencia y continúa percibiendo a la tierra como una reserva permanente. La competencia viciosa de la cual es sustento, sólo será capaz de producir más y más catástrofes. De acuerdo con este punto de vista, después del agotamiento y la devastación de la nave espacial Tierra, seguramente nos vamos a embarcar en la misma devastación y agotamiento en la nave espacial Marte.


En segundo lugar, la infoesfera puede ser considerada una solidaridad concreta que se extiende más allá de las fronteras, como una inmunología que deja de tomar como punto de partida el Estado-Nación y sus organizaciones internacionales, que no son más que títeres de las potencias mundiales. Para que dicha solidaridad concreta emerja, necesitamos una tecno-diversidad con capacidad de desarrollar tecnologías alternativas como nuevas redes sociales, herramientas de colaboración e infraestructuras de instituciones digitales que puedan ser la base de la colaboración global. Los medios digitales tienen una larga historia social, pero sólo los de Sillicon Valley (o WeChat en China) alcanzan escala global. Esto se debe a una tradición filosófica heredada -con sus oposiciones entre naturaleza y tecnología, así como entre cultura y tecnología- que no es capaz de ver la realización de una pluralidad de tecnologías. La tecnofilia y la tecnofobia son los síntomas de la cultura mono-tecnológica. En las últimas décadas nos hemos familiarizado con el desarrollo de la cultura hacker, del software gratuito y de las comunidades open-source; sin embargo el enfoque de estos, ha sido desarrollar alternativas a las tecnologías hegemónicas actuales, en vez de construir modos alternativos de acceso, de colaboración y más importante aún, epistemología.


El incidente del coronavirus acelerará, por consiguiente, el proceso de digitalización y la subsunción ante una economía de datos, ya que ésta demuestra ser la herramienta más efectiva para contrarrestar la propagación; así lo vemos en el reciente giro en favor de la utilización de datos móviles, con el fin de rastrear el brote por parte de países que ante todo privilegian la privacidad. Podemos entonces hacer una pausa y preguntarnos si este proceso acelerado de digitalización puede ser tomado como una oportunidad, un kairos que enmarca la crisis mundial actual. La llamada a una respuesta global nos pone a todas las personas en el mismo barco y la meta de reanudar “la vida normal” deja de ser la reacción adecuada. El brote de coronavirus marca la pauta para que, por primera vez en más de veinte años, la educación en línea se ofrezca en todas las facultades universitarias. Ha habido cierta resistencia a la educación en línea; sin embargo, esta resistencia representa una minoría de casos que en ocasiones son también irracionales (algunos institutos dedicados a la cultura digital consideran importante la presencia física por razones gerenciales de recursos humanos). La educación en línea no reemplazará completamente la presencia física, lo que realmente genera es la apertura radical en el acceso al conocimiento y nos regresa a cuestionar a la Educación, en una época donde las universidades poco a poco pierden su financiamiento. ¿Podrá la suspensión de la vida normal causada por el coronavirus propiciar un cambio de hábitos? Por ejemplo, ¿Tomaremos los próximos meses (quizá años), cuando la mayoría de las universidades del mundo tendrán que recurrir a la educación en línea, como una oportunidad para crear instituciones digitales serias, a una escala sin precedentes? Una inmunología global demanda estas reconfiguraciones radicales.


La cita inicial de este ensayo pertenece al libro incompleto de Nietzsche La Filosofía en la Era Trágica de los Griegos, escrito alrededor de 1873. En vez de aludir a su propia exclusión de la disciplina filosófica, Nietzsche identificó la reforma cultural con los filósofos de la Grecia Antigua que buscaban la reconciliación de la ciencia y el mito, de la racionalidad y la pasión. Ya no estamos en la era de la tragedia, sino en una época de catástrofes, donde ni el pensamiento tragista ni el Daoista, por sí mismos, pueden proporcionar un escape. En vista de la enfermedad de la cultura global, nos vemos en la necesidad urgente de reformas impulsadas y motivadas por nuevos modos de pensamiento y nuevos marcos de referencia que nos permitan despojarnos de todo lo que la filosofía nos ha impuesto y todo lo que ha ignorado. El coronavirus destruirá muchas instituciones que ya se veían amenazadas por las tecnologías digitales. Se necesitarán también nuevas medidas de vigilancia e inmunología en contra del virus, así como en contra del terrorismo y otras amenazas a la seguridad nacional. Ahora es el momento en el cual necesitamos, más que nunca, solidaridades digitales más fuertes y concretas. Una solidaridad digital no es un llamado a incrementar el uso de Facebook, Twitter o WeChat, es, más bien, dejar la competencia viciosa de la cultura mono-tecnológica, producir una tecno-diversidad por medio de tecnologías alternativas, sus formas de vida correspondientes y sus respectivos modos de habitar el planeta y el cosmos. En nuestro mundo postmetafísico, quizá lo que menos necesitamos son pandemias metafísicas, quizá tampoco necesitamos ontologías orientadas al virus. Lo que en realidad necesitamos es una solidaridad concreta que posibilite diferencias y divergencias antes de la caída del ocaso.


Traducción: Hugo Esquinca Villafuerte.




[1] Paul Valéry “Crisis of the Spirit” (traducción original “Crisis ofthe Mind”) traducción al inglés de Denise Folliot y Jackson Mathews, 1911. “La Crise de l’Esprit.” El texto original apareció en inglés en The Atheneum (Londres), Abril 11 y Mayo 2 1919. El texto en francés fue publicado el mismo año en Agosto por La Nouvelle Revue Française.
[2] Valéry, “Crisis of the Spirit.”
[3] Tragista (“Tragist”) es un término nuevo que implemento en mi próximo libro Arte y Cosmotécnica Art and Cosmotechnics (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).
[4] Yuk Hui, “What Begins After the End of Enlightenment?”e-flux journal no.96
[5] Acerca del carácter autoinmune de los ataques del 9/11 véase Giovanna Borradori, Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (University of Chicago Press, 2004).
[6] “Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird” Der Spiegel, Enero 31, 2020. Coronavirus: Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird
[7] Peter Sloterdijk, “Es gibt keine moralische Pflicht zur Selbstzerstörung” Cicero Magazin für politische Kultur, Enero 26, 2016.
[8] Véase Roberto Esposito, Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life, trans. Zakiya Hanafi (Polity Press, 2011).
[9] Véase Alfred I. Tauber, Immunity: The Evolution of an Idea (Oxford University Press, 2017).
[10] Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trad. George Schwab (University of Chicago Press, 2007), 54.
[11] Schmitt, Concept of the Political, 56.
[12] Véase Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trad. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 119.
[13] Vease Kōjin Karatani, The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange, trad. Michael K. Bourdaghs (Duke University Press, 2014).
[14] Debemos preguntarnos cuidadosamente si la metáfora biológica es del todo apropiada, independientemente de su amplia aceptación. Esto lo disputé en Recursividad y Contingencia Recursivity and Contingency (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2019.) analizando la historia del organicismo, su posición en la historia de la epistemología y su relación con la tecnología moderna, cuestionando así su validación como metáfora para la política, especialmente en relación a la política del medio ambiente.
[15] Michel Foucault, “Society Must be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–1976, trans. David Macey (Picador, 2003), 15.
[16] Desarrollé ampliamente la diversificación tecnológica como “múltiples cosmotécnicas” en La Pregunta por la Técnica en China: Un Ensayo en Cosmotécnica The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics (Urbanomic, 2016).


Article: One Hundred Years of Crisis by Yuk Hui

If philosophy ever manifested itself as helpful, redeeming, or prophylactic, it was in a healthy culture. The sick, it made ever sicker.
—Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks

§1. Centenary of “Crisis of the Spirit”


In 1919, after the First World War, the French poet Paul Valéry in “Crisis of the Spirit” wrote: “We later civilizations … we too know that we are mortal.” [1] It is only in such a catastrophe, and as an après coup, that we know we are nothing but fragile beings. One hundred years later, a bat from China—if indeed the coronavirus comes from bats—has driven the whole planet into another crisis. Were Valéry still alive, he wouldn’t be allowed to walk out of his house in France.


The crisis of the spirit in 1919 was preceded by a nihilism, a nothingness, that haunted Europe before 1914. As Valéry wrote of the intellectual scene before the war: “I see … nothing! Nothing … and yet an infinitely potential nothing.” In Valéry’s 1920 poem “Le Cimetière Marin” (“Graveyard by the Sea”) we read a Nietzschean affirmative call: “The wind is rising! … We must try to live!” This verse was later adopted by Hayao Miyazaki as the title of his animation film about Jiro Horikoshi, the engineer who designed fighter aircraft for the Japanese Empire that were later used in the Second World War. This nihilism recursively returns in the form of a Nietzschean test: a demon invades your loneliest loneliness and asks if you want to live in the eternal recurrence of the same—the same spider, the same moonlight between the trees, and the same demon who asks the same question. Any philosophy that cannot live with and directly confront this nihilism provides no sufficient answer, since such a philosophy only makes the sick culture sicker, or in our time, withdraws into laughable philosophical memes circulating on social media.


The nihilism Valéry contested has been constantly nurtured by technological acceleration and globalization since the eighteenth century. As Valéry wrote towards the end of his essay:

But can the European spirit—or at least its most precious content—be totally diffused? Must such phenomena as democracy, the exploitation of the globe, and the general spread of technology, all of which presage a deminutio capitis for Europe … must these be taken as absolute decisions of fate? [2]

This threat of diffusion—which Europe may have attempted to affirm—is no longer something that can be confronted by Europe alone, and probably will never be completely overcome again by the European “tragist” spirit. [3] “Tragist” is first of all related to Greek tragedy; it is also the logic of the spirit endeavoring to resolve contradictions arising from within. In “What Begins after the End of the Enlightenment?” and other essays, I have tried to sketch out how, since the Enlightenment, and after the decline of monotheism, the latter was replaced by a mono-technologism (or techno-theism), which has culminated today in transhumanism. [4] We, the moderns, the cultural heirs to the European Hamlet (who, in Valéry’s “Crisis of the Spirit,” looks back at the European intellectual legacy by counting the skulls of Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, and Marx), one hundred years after Valéry’s writing, have believed and still want to believe that we will become immortal, that we will be able to enhance our immune system against all viruses or simply flee to Mars when the worst cases hit. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, researching travel to Mars seems irrelevant for stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives. We mortals who still inhabit this planet called earth may not have the chance to wait to become immortal, as the transhumanists have touted in their corporate slogans. A pharmacology of nihilism after Nietzsche is still yet to be written, but the toxin has already pervaded the global body and caused a crisis in its immune system.


For Jacques Derrida (whose widow, Marguerite Derrida, recently died of coronavirus), the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center marked the manifestation of an autoimmune crisis, dissolving the techno-political power structure that had been stabilized for decades: a Boeing 767 was used as a weapon against the country that invented it, like a mutated cell or virus from within. [5] The term “autoimmune” is only a biological metaphor when used in the political context: globalization is the creation of a world system whose stability depends on techno-scientific and economic hegemony. Consequently, 9/11 came to be seen as a rupture which ended the political configuration willed by the Christian West since the Enlightenment, calling forth an immunological response expressed as a permanent state of exception—wars upon wars. The coronavirus now collapses this metaphor: the biological and the political become one. Attempts to contain the virus don’t only involve disinfectant and medicine, but also military mobilizations and lockdowns of countries, borders, international flights, and trains.


In late January, Der Spiegel published an issue titled Coronavirus, Made in China: Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird (When globalization becomes deadly danger), illustrated with an image of a Chinese person in excessive protective gear gazing at an iPhone with eyes almost closed, as if praying to a god.[6] The coronavirus outbreak is not a terrorist attack—so far, there has been no clear evidence of the virus’s origin beyond its first appearance in China—but is rather an organological event in which a virus attaches to advanced transportation networks, travelling up to 900 km per hour. It is also an event that seems to return us to the discourse of the nation-state and a geopolitics defined by nations. By returning, I mean that, first of all, the coronavirus has restored meaning to borders that were seemingly blurred by global capitalism and the increasing mobility promoted by cultural exchange and international trade. The global outbreak has announced that globalization so far has only cultivated a mono-technological culture that can only lead to an autoimmune response and a great regression. Secondly, the outbreak and the return to nation-states reveal the historical and actual limit of the concept of the nation-state itself. Modern nation-states have attempted to cover up these limits through immanent infowars, constructing infospheres that move beyond borders. However, rather than producing a global immunology, on the contrary, these infospheres use the apparent contingency of the global space to wage biological warfare. A global immunology that we can use to confront this stage of globalization is not yet available, and it may never become available if this mono-technological culture persists.

§2. A European Schmitt Sees Millions of Ghosts


During the 2016 refugee crisis in Europe, the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk criticized Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel in an interview with the magazine Cicero, saying, “We have yet to learn to glorify borders … Europeans will sooner or later develop an efficient common border policy. In the long run the territorial imperative prevails. After all, there is no moral obligation to self-destruction.” [7] Even if Sloterdijk was wrong in saying that Germany and the EU should have closed their borders to refugees, in retrospect one may say that he was right about the question of borders not being well thought out. Roberto Esposito has clearly stated that a binary (polar) logic persists concerning the function of borders: one insists on stricter control as an immunological defense against an outer enemy—a classical and intuitive understanding of immunology as opposition between the self and the other—while the other proposes the abolition of borders to allow freedom of mobility and possibilities of association for individuals and goods. Esposito suggests that neither of the two extremes—and it is somewhat obvious today—is ethically and practically undesirable.[8]


The outbreak of the coronavirus in China—beginning in mid-November until an official warning was announced in late January, followed by the lockdown of Wuhan on January 23—led immediately to international border controls against Chinese or even Asian-looking people in general, identified as carriers of the virus. Italy was one of the first countries to impose a travel ban on China; already in late January, Rome’s Santa Cecilia Conservatory suspended “oriental” students from taking classes, even those who had never in their life been to China. These acts—which we may call immunological—are conducted out of fear, but more fundamentally out of ignorance.


In Hong Kong—right next to Shenzhen in Guangdong province, one of the major outbreak regions outside Hubei province—there were strong voices urging the government to close the border with China. The government refused, citing the World Health Organization advising countries to avoid imposing travel and trade restrictions on China. As one of two special administrative regions of China, Hong Kong SAR is not supposed to oppose China nor add to its recent burden of underwhelming economic growth. And yet, some Hong Kong restaurants posted notices on their doors announcing that Mandarin-speaking clients were unwelcome. Mandarin is associated with virus-carrying Mainland Chinese people, therefore the dialect is considered a sign of danger. A restaurant that under normal circumstances is open to anyone who can afford it is now only open to certain people.


All forms of racism are fundamentally immunological. Racism is a social antigen, since it clearly distinguishes the self and the other and reacts against any instability introduced by the other. However, not all immunological acts can be considered racism. If we don’t confront the ambiguity between the two, we collapse everything into the night where all cows are grey. In the case of a global pandemic, an immunological reaction is especially unavoidable when contamination is facilitated by intercontinental flights and trains. Before the closing of Wuhan, five million inhabitants had escaped, involuntarily transporting the virus out of the city. In fact, whether one is labelled as being from Wuhan is irrelevent, since everyone can be regarded as suspect, considering that the virus can be latent for days on a body without symptoms, all the while contaminating its surroundings. There are immunological moments one cannot easily escape when xenophobia and micro-fascisms become common on streets and in restaurants: when you involuntarily cough, everyone stares at you. More than ever, people demand an immunosphere—what Peter Sloterdijk suggested—as protection and as social organization.


It seems that immunological acts, which cannot simply be reduced to racist acts, justify a return to borders—individual, social, and national. In biological immunology as well as political immunology, after decades of debate on the self–other paradigm and the organismic paradigm, modern states return to border controls as the simplest and most intuitive form of defense, even when the enemy is not visible. [9] In fact, we are only fighting against the incarnation of the enemy. Here, we are all bound by what Carl Schmitt calls the political, defined by the distinction between friend and enemy—a definition not easily deniable, and probably strengthened during a pandemic. When the enemy is invisible, it has to be incarnated and identified: firstly the Chinese, the Asians, and then the Europeans, the North Americans; or, inside China, the inhabitants of Wuhan. Xenophobia nourishes nationalism, whether as the self considering xenophobia an inevitable immunological act, or the other mobilizing xenophobia to strengthen its own nationalism as immunology.


The League of Nations was founded in 1919 after the First World War, and was later succeeded by the United Nations, as a strategy to avoid war by gathering all nations into a common organization. Perhaps Carl Schmitt’s criticism of this attempt was accurate in claiming that the League of Nations, which had its one-hundred-year anniversary last year, mistakenly identified humanity as the common ground of world politics, when humanity is not a political concept. Instead, humanity is a concept of depoliticization, since identifying an abstract humanity which doesn’t exist “can misuse peace, justice, progress, and civilization in order to claim these as one’s own and to deny the same to the enemy.” [10] As we know, the League of Nations was a group of representatives from different countries that was unable to prevent one of the greatest catastrophes of the twentieth century, the Second World War, and was therefore replaced by the United Nations. Isn’t the argument applicable to the World Health Organization, a global organization meant to transcend national borders and provide warnings, advice, and governance concerning global health issues? Considering how the WHO had virtually no positive role in preventing the spread of coronavirus—if not a negative role: its general director even refused to call it a pandemic until it was evident to everyone—what makes the WHO necessary at all? Naturally, the work of professionals working in and with the organization deserves enormous respect, yet the case of the coronavirus has exposed a crisis in the political function of the larger organization. Worse still, we can only criticize such a gigantic money-burning global governing body for its failure on social media, like shouting into the wind, but no one has the capacity to change anything, as democratic processes are reserved for nations.

§3. The Bad Infinity of Mono-technologism


If we follow Schmitt, the WHO is primarily an instrument of depoliticization, since its function to warn of coronavirus could have been done better by any news agency. Indeed, a number of countries acted too slowly by following the WHO’s early judgment of the situation. As Schmitt writes, an international representational governing body, forged in the name of humanity, “does not eliminate the possibility of wars, just as it does not abolish states. It introduces new possibilities for wars, permits wars to take place, sanctions coalition wars, and by legitimizing and sanctioning certain wars it sweeps away many obstacles to war.”[11] Isn’t the manipulation of global governance bodies by world powers and transnational capital since the Second World War only a continuation of this logic? Hasn’t this virus that was controllable at the beginning sunken the world into a global state of war? Instead, these organizations contribute to a global sickness where mono-technological economic competition and military expansion are the only aim, detaching human beings from their localities rooted in the earth and replacing them with fictive identities shaped by modern nation-states and infowars.


The concept of the state of exception or state of emergency was originally meant to allow the sovereign to immunize the commonwealth, but since 9/11 it had tended towards a political norm. The normalization of the state of emergency is not only an expression of the absolute power of the sovereign, but also of the modern nation-state struggling and failing to confront the global situation by expanding and establishing its borders through all available technological and economic means. Border control is an effective immunological act only if one understands geopolitics in terms of sovereigns defined by borders. After the Cold War, increasing competition has resulted in a mono-technological culture that no longer balances economic and technological progress, but rather assimilates them while moving towards an apocalyptic endpoint. Competition based on mono-technology is devastating the earth’s resources for the sake of competition and profit, and also prevents any player from taking different paths and directions—the “techno-diversity” that I have written about extensively. Techno-diversity doesn’t merely mean that different countries produce the same type of technology (mono-technology) with different branding and slightly different features. Rather, it refers to a multiplicity of cosmotechnics that differ from each other in terms of values, epistemologies, and forms of existence. The current form of competition that uses economic and technological means to override politics is often attributed to neoliberalism, while its close relative transhumanism considers politics only a humanist epistemology soon to be overcome through technological acceleration. We arrive at an impasse of modernity: one cannot easily withdraw from such competition for fear of being surpassed by others. It is like the metaphor of modern man that Nietzsche described: a group permanently abandons its village to embark on a sea journey in pursuit of the infinite, but arrive at the middle of the ocean only to realize that the infinite is not a destination. [12] And there is nothing more terrifying than the infinite when there is no longer any way of turning back.


The coronavirus, like all catastrophes, may force us to ask where we are heading. Though we know we are only heading to the void, still, we have been driven by a tragist impulse to “try to live.” Amidst intensified competition, the interest of states is no longer with their subjects but rather economic growth—any care for a population is due to their contributions to economic growth. This is self-evident in how China initially tried to silence news about the coronavirus, and then, after Xi Jinping warned that measures against the virus damage the economy, the number of new cases dramatically dropped to zero. It is the same ruthless economic “logic” that made other countries decide to wait and see, because preventive measures such as travel restrictions (which the WHO advised against), airport screenings, and postponing the Olympic Games impact tourism.


The media as well as many philosophers present a somewhat naive argument concerning the Asian “authoritarian approach” and the allegedly liberal/libertarian/democratic approach of Western countries. The Chinese (or Asian) authoritarian way—often misunderstood as Confucian, though Confucianism is not at all an authoritarian or coercive philosophy—has been effective in managing the population using already widespread consumer surveillance technologies (facial recognition, mobile data analysis, etc.) to identify the spread of the virus. When the outbreaks started in Europe, there was still debate on whether to use personal data. But if we are really to choose between “Asian authoritarian governance” and “Western liberal/libertarian governance,” Asian authoritarian governance appears more acceptable for facing further catastrophes, since the libertarian way of managing such pandemics is essentially eugenicist, allowing self-selection to rapidly eliminate the older population. In any case, all of these cultural essentialist oppositions are misleading, since they ignore the solidarities and spontaneity among communities and people’s diverse moral obligations to the elderly and family; yet this type of ignorance is necessary for vain expressions of one’s own superiority.


But where else can our civilization move? The scale of this question mostly overwhelms our imagination, leaving us to hope, as a last resort, that we can resume a “normal life,” whatever this term means. In the twentieth century, intellectuals looked for other geopolitical options and configurations to surpass the Schmittian concept of the political, as Derrida did in his Politics of Friendship, where he responded to Schmitt by deconstructing the concept of friendship. Deconstruction opens an ontological difference between friendship and community to suggest another politics beyond the friend–enemy dichotomy fundamental to twentieth-century political theory, namely hospitality. “Unconditional” and “incalculable” hospitality, which we may call friendship, can be conceived in geopolitics as undermining sovereignty, like when the Japanese deconstructionist philosopher Kōjin Karatani claimed that the perpetual peace dreamed of by Kant would only be possible when sovereignty could be given as a gift—in the sense of a Maussian gift economy, which would follow the global capitalist empire.[13] However, such a possibility is conditioned by the abolition of sovereignty, in order words, the abolition of nation-states. For this to happen, according to Karatani, we would probably need a Third World War followed by an international governing body with more power than the United Nations. In fact, Angela Merkel’s refugee policy and the “one country, two systems” brilliantly conceived by Deng Xiaoping are moving towards this end without war. The latter has the potential to become an even more sophisticated and interesting model than the federal system. However the former has been a target of fierce attacks and the latter is in the process of being destroyed by narrow-minded nationalists and dogmatic Schmittians. A Third World War will be the quickest option if no country is willing to move forward.


Before that day arrives, and before an even more serious catastrophe brings us closer to extinction (which we can already sense), we may still need to ask what an “organismic” global immune system could look like beyond simply claiming to coexist with the coronavirus. [14] What kind of co-immunity or co-immunism (the neologism that Sloterdijk proposed) is possible if we want globalization to continue, and to continue in a less contradictory way? Sloterdijk’s strategy of co-immunity is interesting but politically ambivalent—probably also because it is not sufficiently elaborated in his major works—oscillating between a border politics of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party and Roberto Esposito’s contaminated immunity. However, the problem is that if we still follow the logic of nation-states, we will never arrive at a co-immunity. Not only because a state is not a cell nor an organism (no matter how attractive and practical this metaphor is for theorists), but also more fundamentally because the concept itself can only produce an immunity based on friend and enemy, regardless of whether it assumes the form of international organizations or councils. Modern states, while composed of all their subjects like the Leviathan, have no interest beyond economic growth and military expansion, at least not before the arrival of a humanitarian crisis. Haunted by an imminent economic crisis, nation-states become the source (rather than the target) of manipulative fake news.

§4. Abstract and Concrete Solidarity


Let’s return here to the question of borders and question the nature of this war we are fighting now, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres considers the biggest challenge the UN has faced since the Second World War. The war against the virus is first of all an infowar. The enemy is invisible. It can only be located through information about communities and the mobility of individuals. The efficacy of the war depends on the ability to gather and analyze information and to mobilize available resources to achieve the highest efficiency. For countries exercising strict online censorship, it is possible to contain the virus like containing a “sensitive” keyword circulating on social media. The use of the term “information” in political contexts has often been equated with propaganda, though we should avoid simply seeing it as a question of mass media and journalism, or even freedom of speech. Infowar is twenty-first century warfare. It is not a specific type of war, but war in its permanence.


In his lectures collected in “Society Must Be Defended”, Michel Foucault inverted Carl von Clausewitz’s aphorism “war is the continuation of politics by other means” into “politics is the continuation of war by other means.”[15] While the inversion proposes that war no longer assumes the form Clausewitz had in mind, Foucault hadn’t yet developed a discourse on infowar. More than twenty years ago, a book titled Wars without Limit (超限戰, officially translated as Unrestricted Warfare or Warfare beyond Bounds) was published in China by two former senior air force colonels. This book was soon translated into French, and is said to have influenced the Tiqqun collective and later the Invisible Committee. The two former colonels—who know Clausewitz well but haven’t read Foucault—arrived at the claim that traditional warfare would slowly fade away, to be replaced by immanent wars in the world, largely introduced and made possible by information technology. This book could be read as an analysis of the US global war strategy, but also more importantly as a penetrating analysis of how infowar redefines politics and geopolitics.


The war against coronavirus is at the same time a war of misinformation and disinformation, which characterizes post-truth politics. The virus may be a contingent event that triggered the present crisis, but the war itself is no longer contingent. Infowar also opens two other (to some extent pharmacological) possibilities: first, warfare that no longer takes the state as its unit of measure, instead constantly deterritorializing the state with invisible weapons and no clear boundaries; and second, civil war, which takes the form of competing infospheres. The war against coronavirus is a war against the carriers of the virus, and a war conducted using fake news, rumors, censorship, fake statistics, misinformation, etc. In parallel to the US using Silicon Valley technology to expand its infosphere and penetrate most of the earth’s population, China has also built one of the largest and most sophisticated infospheres in the world, with well-equipped firewalls consisting of both humans and machines, which has allowed it to contain the virus within a population of 1.4 billion. This infosphere is expanding thanks to the infrastructure of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, as well as its already established networks in Africa, causing the US to respond, in the name of security and intellectual property, by blocking Huawei from extending its infosphere. Of course, infowar is not waged only by sovereigns. Within China, different factions compete against each other through official media, traditional media such as newspapers, and independent media outlets. For instance, both the traditional media and independent media fact-checked state figures on the outbreak, forcing the government to redress their own mistakes and distribute more medical equipment to hospitals in Wuhan.


The coronavirus renders explicit the immanence of infowar through the nation-state’s necessity to defend its physical borders while extending technologically and economically beyond them to establish new borders. Infospheres are constructed by humans, and, in spite of having greatly expanded in recent decades, remain undetermined in their becoming. Insofar as the imagination of co-immunity—as a possible communism or mutual aid between nations—can only be an abstract solidarity, it is vulnerable to cynicism, similar to the case of “humanity.” Recent decades have seen some philosophical discourses succeed in nurturing an abstract solidarity, which can turn into sect-based communities whose immunity is determined through agreement and disagreement. Abstract solidarity is appealing because it is abstract: as opposed to being concrete, the abstract is not grounded and has no locality; it can be transported anywhere and dwell anywhere. But abstract solidarity is a product of globalization, a meta-narrative (or even metaphysics) for something that has long since confronted its own end.


True co-immunity is not abstract solidarity, but rather departs from a concrete solidarity whose co-immunity should ground the next wave of globalization (if there is one). Since the start of this pandemic, there have been countless acts of true solidarity, where it matters greatly who will buy groceries for you if you are not able to go to the supermarket, or who will give you a mask when you need to visit the hospital, or who will offer respirators for saving lives, and so forth. There are also solidarities among medical communities that share information towards the development of vaccines. Gilbert Simondon distinguished between abstract and concrete through technical objects: abstract technical objects are mobile and detachable, like those embraced by the eighteenth-century encyclopedists that (to this day) inspire optimism about the possibility of progress; concrete technical objects are those that are grounded (perhaps literally) in both the human and natural worlds, acting as a mediator between the two. A cybernetic machine is more concrete than a mechanical clock, which is more concrete than a simple tool. Can we thus conceive of a concrete solidarity that circumvents the impasse of an immunology based in nation-states and abstract solidarity? Can we consider the infosphere to be an opportunity pointing towards such immunology?


We may need to enlarge the concept of the infosphere in two ways. First of all, the building of infospheres could be understood as an attempt to construct techno-diversity, to dismantle the mono-technological culture from within and escape its “bad infinity.” This diversification of technologies also implies a diversification of ways of life, forms of coexistence, economies, and so forth, since technology, insofar as it is cosmotechnics, embeds different relations with nonhumans and the larger cosmos.[16] This techno-diversification does not imply an ethical framework imposed onto technology, for this always arrives too late and is often made to be violated. Without changing our technologies and our attitudes, we will only preserve biodiversity as an exceptional case without ensuring its sustainability. In other words, without techno-diversity, we cannot maintain biodiversity. The coronavirus is not nature’s revenge but the result of a mono-technological culture in which technology itself simultaneously loses its own ground and desires to become the ground of everything else. The mono-technologism we live now ignores the necessity of coexistence and continues to see the earth merely as a standing reserve. With the vicious competition it sustains, it will only continue to produce more catastrophes. According to this view, after the exhaustion and devastation of spaceship earth, we may only embark on the same exhaustion and devastation on spaceship Mars.


Secondly, the infosphere can be considered a concrete solidarity extending beyond borders, as an immunology that no longer takes as its point of departure the nation-state, with its international organizations that are effectively puppets of global powers. For such concrete solidarity to emerge, we need a techno-diversity which develops alternative technologies such as new social networks, collaborative tools, and infrastructures of digital institutions that will form the basis for global collaboration. Digital media already has a long social history, though few forms beyond that of Silicon Valley (and WeChat in China) assume a global scale. This is largely due to an inherited philosophical tradition—with its oppositions between nature and technology, and between culture and technology—that fails to see a plurality of technologies as realizable. Technophilia and technophobia become the symptoms of mono-technological culture. We are familiar with the development of hacker culture, free software, and open-source communities over the past few decades, yet the focus has been on developing alternatives to hegemonic technologies instead of building alternative modes of access, collaboration, and more importantly, epistemology.


The coronavirus incident will consequently accelerate processes of digitalization and subsumption by the data economy, since it has been the most effective tool available to counter the spread, as we have already seen in the recent turn in favor of using mobile data for tracing the outbreak in countries that otherwise cherish privacy. We may want to pause and ask whether this accelerating digitalization process can be taken as an opportunity, a kairos that underlines the current global crisis. The calls for a global response have put everyone in the same boat, and the goal of resuming “normal life” is not an adequate response. The coronavirus outbreak marks the first time in more than twenty years that online teaching has come to be offered by all university departments. There have been many reasons for the resistance to digital teaching, but most are minor and sometimes irrational (institutes dedicated to digital cultures may still find physical presence to be important for human resource management). Online teaching will not completely replace physical presence, but it does radically open up access to knowledge and return us to the question of education at a time when many universities are being defunded. Will the suspension of normal life by coronavirus allow us to change these habits? For example, can we take the coming months (and maybe years), when most universities in the world will use online teaching, as a chance to create serious digital institutions at an unprecedented scale? A global immunology demands such radical reconfigurations.


This essay’s opening quote is from Nietzsche’s incomplete Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, written around 1873. Instead of alluding to his own exclusion from the discipline of philosophy, Nietzsche identified cultural reform with philosophers in ancient Greece who wanted to reconcile science and myth, rationality and passion. We are no longer in the tragic age, but in a time of catastrophes when neither tragist nor Daoist thinking alone can provide an escape. In view of the sickness of global culture, we have an urgent need for reforms driven by new thinking and new frameworks that will allow us to unbind ourselves from what philosophy has imposed and ignored. The coronavirus will destroy many institutions already threatened by digital technologies. It will also necessitate increasing surveillance and other immunological measures against the virus, as well as against terrorism and threats to national security. It is also a moment in which we will need stronger concrete, digital solidarities. A digital solidarity is not a call to use more Facebook, Twitter, or WeChat, but to get out of the vicious competition of mono-technological culture, to produce a techno-diversity through alternative technologies and their corresponding forms of life and ways of dwelling on the planet and in the cosmos. In our post-metaphysical world we may not need any metaphysical pandemics. We may not need a virus-oriented ontology either. What we really need is a concrete solidarity that allows differences and divergences before the falling of dusk.

[1] Paul Valéry, “Crisis of the Spirit” (original translation “Crisis of the Mind”), trans. Denise Folliot and Jackson Matthews, 1911 . “La Crise de l’Esprit” originally appeared in English in The Athenaeum (London), April 11 and May 2, 1919. The French text was published the same year in the August issue of La Nouvelle Revue Française.

[2] Valéry, “Crisis of the Spirit.”


[3] “Tragist” is a new term I use in my forthcoming book Art and Cosmotechnics (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).


[4] Yuk Hui, “What Begins After the End of the Enlightenment?,” e-flux journal no. 96 (January 2019)


[5] On the autoimmune character of the 9/11 attacks, see Giovanna Borradori, Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (University of Chicago Press, 2004).


[6] “Wenn die Globalisierung zur tödlichen Gefahr wird,” Der Spiegel, January 31, 2020


[7] Peter Sloterdijk, “Es gibt keine moralische Pflicht zur Selbstzerstörung,” Cicero Magazin für politische Kultur, January 28, 2016.


[8] See Roberto Esposito, Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life, trans. Zakiya Hanafi (Polity Press, 2011).


[9] See Alfred I. Tauber, Immunity: The Evolution of an Idea (Oxford University Press, 2017).


[10] Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab (University of Chicago Press, 2007), 54.


[11] Schmitt, Concept of the Political, 56.


[12] See Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 119.


[13] See Kōjin Karatani, The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange, trans. Michael K. Bourdaghs (Duke University Press, 2014).


[14] We also have to carefully ask if a biological metaphor is appropriate at all despite its wide acceptance. I contested this in Recursivity and Contingency (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2019) by analyzing the history of organicism, its position in the history of epistemology, and its relation to modern technology, questioning its validity as metaphor of politics, especially concerning environmental politics.


[15] Michel Foucault, Society Must be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–1976, trans. David Macey (Picador, 2003), 15.


[16] I develop this diversification of technologies as “multiple cosmotechnics” in The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics (Urbanomic, 2016).


Chinese Translation of “Time of Execution” by Yuk Hui

Originally published as the preface of the book “DATA Browser 06 – EXECUTING PRACTICES”, the article “Time of Execution” is now translated as Chinese. More information on the publication:

文﹕许煜 (Yuk HUI)



自20 世纪晚期以来,人们可以清晰地观察到“执行”一词在含义层面的演变。从14 世纪开始它主要被运用在行政、官僚和司法语境中,而逐渐扩展到机器与武器的运作中。至于这一改变的分水岭发生于何时,仍然是有待考究的历史问题。然而,它已成为今日一个紧迫的社会和政治课题。它标记从人力管理到机器管理的范式转变,后者无所不在,如无人机屠杀、DDoS 攻击和深度数据包检测。我们或许想问:这一语义转化究竟意味着什么?在机器自动化的时代,应如何理解“执行”?



一个貌似矛盾的现象是, 诸如“机器”和“自动化”一类的词汇已经变得愈发抽象,而“硬件”和“软件”的概念反而愈发具体。“具体化”[1] 的过程反映在不同层级的持续改良(举例来说:从微观物理层面到更高的应用层面),以及它们之间或超越它们自身的转导操作。为了解这一范式转移,针对技术物和数码物的具体化之研究十分有必要。与此同时,很重要的一点是应避免把人机复合体浪漫化成“机器集合”。









在当时,将笛卡尔关于自动化的思想运用到实践的案例包括法国人雅克·沃康桑的“消化鸭”(1738)和匈牙利工程师沃尔夫冈·冯·肯佩伦所制作的“土耳其机器人”(1769)。这二者是将技术思维,或很大程度上将哲学思维,限制在线性、理性思考模式上的实例。这种态度部分来自物质和能量的约束,换言之,物质和能量条件限制了多种话语关系类型可被实现为物理接触的可能性[2]。尽管笛卡尔通过“灵魂”的有无,将人与自动机区别开来,我们仍须注意到,运作的线性也适用于笛卡尔“思想物”和“广延物”的二元物性中。正如吉尔伯特·西蒙东所指出的:“‘推理长链’实现了从前提到结论的‘证据运输’,就像链条从锚点到最后一个链环之间传输了力一般。”( 西蒙东) 这并不意味着所有非线性的思维尚不存在,仅仅表示线性作为一种机器认知图式,曾占据主导地位,这是由于其兼容于由当时有限的物质资源和条件所支撑的经典物理体系。马克思在对蒲鲁东的批判《哲学的贫困》中陈述道:“手磨机带来了封建主的社会,而蒸汽机则造就工业资本家的社会。”这一论述有类似的意味:物质条件和技术科学发展程度之间的适配性会促生一种特定的经济结构。这一批判可被进一步延展,在今天语境中,包括当下运算式和网络式的基础建设如何构建“平台资本主义”社会的分析。


诚然,我们必须承认在哲学、科学思想与技术实现之间存在一种时间上的间隙。这一间隙不断地制造敌对与忧郁,这也部分地由今日我们所谓的“批判”所继承。的确,自18 世纪开始存在的非线性思维可以被视为一种对由笛卡尔和朱利安·拉美特里所分别建构的动物‐机器与人类‐机器隐喻的回应。



自然科学界的新发现使得新的学科方向得以兴起,这一学科于1802 年被德国博物学者戈特弗里德·莱茵霍尔德·特里维兰纳斯(1776‐1837) 命名为“生物学”。在相同时期,另一位德国生物学家约翰·弗里德里希·布卢门巴赫(1753‐1840) 对康德的《判断力批判》产生了重要的影响。他为康德在其批判的第一部分中对美学概念作为“无目的之合目的性”的寻究,以及第二部分中对生物学与目的论关系的探讨提供了科学素材。[3] 诸如浪漫主义和观念论等后康德哲学思潮广泛接受有机形式的观念(尤其是在谢林、黑格尔和施莱格尔的写作中),将其视为哲学系统的基础,并将其活用为一种针对笛卡尔机械论的犀利批判。



然而,“执行”的线性时间领先了一种非线性的历史时间性,对将至之未来起着决定性的作用。线性操作的认知图式,为现代社会和经济学分析暂时提供了一个稳定的基础,这在亚当·斯密、查尔斯·巴贝奇和卡尔·马克思的作品中可见一斑。一个名闻遐迩、令人难忘的例子来自亚当·斯密的《国民财富的性质和原因的研究》(即《国富论》)。在其中,一个小男孩把他自己劳动力的线性执行转换成了机械执行:“最早的蒸汽机,需要雇佣男劳工,根据活塞的升降频繁开启和关闭锅炉和气缸间的开关。一个贪玩的男孩发现,只要用一根线把开合阀门的手柄和机器的其他部分连在一起,他便可以不再用人力操作这个开关,可以去跟伙伴们玩耍了。这一机器自被研发以来所历经的最棒改良之一,来自一个试图节省自己劳动力的男孩。”[Smith (1776) 2005,13]



在《国富论》第一章“论劳动分工”第八段中,自动化的概念首次被引入。感谢这位不知名的小男孩,是他把蒸汽机发明者的创意引向了一个新的领域,工作被赋予了新的节奏,而工厂获得了新的组织形式。如果说由小男孩和蒸汽机之“机器集合”的时间性构成了一种同质的线性系统,这是因为小男孩渴望有时间和小伙伴玩耍。这种时间结构蕴含着小男孩的时间与机器时间的分叉:蒸汽机的机械能得到再利用,从而替代了小男孩的体能。然而,在这一通路之中值得玩味之处在于机械和自由之间的关系,这对于今日仍是一个切实课题,特别是考虑到某些意识形态主义者所论述的 “全面自动化”之来临。






在今日,非线性思考显然已经遍及包括物理、化学、经济学在内的诸多领域,并相应形成了一种范式。因而,深究非线性思考的具体性及其如何跨越学科领域互相适配,变得愈发重要。法国哲学家吉尔伯特·西蒙东在《技术精神》(写于20 世纪60 年代初期)中,指出在笛卡尔图式以外,控制论将成为第二种认知图式。控制论的反馈概念带入了一种新的时间结构,它不再基于线性形式,而更像以螺旋形态呈现。在这一结构中,通向目的的路径不再呈现为线性,而更像是一种时刻自我调整的过程,西蒙东将这一过程描述为“一种对自发式定局的主动适应”。西蒙东着迷于反馈的概念,并在不同场合将其转译为“内部回响”、“对立反应”、“因果的复现”和“循环因果”。[4] 这些对于“反馈”概念的独特解释对西蒙东的“个化”和“个体化”理论尤为关键。然而,这些不同翻译造成的一个令人困惑的结果是,这些概念会被认为有别于控制论,因而将其与控制论的“反馈”概念区别看待。



正是西蒙东所描述的这第二类认知模式中,“执行”的另一概念得以被提出,它与斯密和马克思所描述的“自动化”截然不同。对于西蒙东的分类法,我已在不同论文中作出回应( 见上一页注释[2] ),其中主要是关于从“反馈”到“递归”的问题。其中一个原因是,我认为在几乎所有今日的运算设备上都存在的递归函数是反馈概念的一种具体以及形式的表达。[5] 西蒙东并未探讨递归概念这一事实总是使我感到意外。这或许是因为西蒙东在个体化课题研究中,将注意力更多地放在量子物理、生物和心理学,而非逻辑和数学领域(尽管西蒙东也认同控制论的基础是数学)。实际上,我们可以注意到在西蒙东的写作中,他赋予转导比经典逻辑学中的推理更多的重要性。这也或许可以解释为何西蒙东(至少是在他身后的出版物中)从未详述“算法”这一概念。



让我们首先建立起“执行”和“算法”两者的关联。在处理执行与算法的关联时,与其说遵循传统的维纳控制论阐释方法,重读库尔特·哥德尔也同等重要。递归问题的数学理论发展,及在20 世纪30 年代诞生的通用图灵机概念,呼应了我称之为“算法思维”概念的诞生。( 见上一页注释[2] ) 从计算机科学家到社会科学家在内的许多人在解释“算法”为何物时,通常将其类比为食谱。这并非完全错误,鉴于算法确实界定了必须遵循的特定流程与规则;但这也同时是绝对错误的,因为“食谱”的概念并不能解释我们今日的算法究竟为何。食谱只属于前文中讨论过的第一类认知图式。



我认为“算法思维”应当从递归概念的角度被理解。简单来说,一个递归函数是一个在终止前不断呼叫自身的函数。侯世达在《哥德尔埃舍尔巴赫—集异璧之大成》中用一个笑话解释道,如果我们设想一个德语教授用包含了很多从句的单一长句来进行一场讲座,最终你只听到一连串的动词,因为在一个德语从句中,动词总是置于句尾。让我们进一步考虑一个简单的斐波拉契数 (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21……) 运算方法:在递归步骤里,函数不停地呼叫自身,因此进入一种“螺旋”运转,直到进入终止状态,亦即变量值成为0 时。



long fibonacci(long number) {

if ((number == 0) || (number == 1)) return number;

else // recursion step

return fibonacci(number – 1) + fibonacci(number – 2);}



如果不使用递归计算,这个函数的写法将是创造一个重复n 次的循环(n 的值等于输入变量的值,比如说一个长数)。从单纯的重复计算到递归之间,存在一种认知图式的跃迁。如在这里重述库尔特·哥德尔对于递归函数的工作,我们或许可以简化这一问题。他的计算方法包含两个重要步骤:首先,他发展了一套被称为“哥德尔配数”的方式,来代替罗素和怀特海在《数学原理》逻辑命题中的量词和算子。这一配数法的决定性是把所有的符号操作转成了数学操作,我们因而观察到,使得话语关系具体化的不再是机械设备里那样实体的组件,而是数据。



其次,哥德尔阐释了他称之为“一般递归性”的概念,认为逻辑证明可以以数学运算来进行,或更准确地说,以一系列数理函数的形式存在的,这些函数的值可以被以递归的方式推断。哥德尔对递归函数演绎最早可见于他1931 年题为《论〈数学原理〉及相关体系中的形式上不可判定命题》的论文,后来他于1934 年在普林斯顿提出的一般递归函数,也预见到了艾伦·图灵和阿隆佐·丘齐的论文。[6] 正是在递归问题里,我们遇到了“可计算性”的概念,如果一个自然数无法被计算,这意味着它不能被算法递归演绎,因此会进入无限循环直至竭尽内存资源。我们或许可说:“执行”就是“计算”。






我们对此问题的直觉答案或许是“用户”。我们都是用户。本能地,我们会注意到用户是算法的一部分。不仅是暂存在数据库里的每个用户的记录,包括用户的自身存在,都部分地构成了算法的执行。除此之外,用户也有责任处理任何因为错误或不可控性带来的灾难性后果。比方说,在金融市场的“闪电崩盘”中,承受灾难余波的并不是算法,而是用户(或者归根结底受波的是“非用户”)。人机关系需要走出一种亲密错觉,而从一个更高的认知层面以及“算法思维”的向度来理解。正是在这关于执行和算法的问题中,我们发现吉尔·德勒兹写于1990 年的《控制社会的附言》一文的相关性。德勒兹或许并未如今天的我们这般思考算法,但他的哲学直觉让他能从当时正在发生的“调控”现象中,观察到一种新的组织形式,而他也意识到这种形式有必要和福柯分析的“治理术”区分开来。[7]“调控”与福柯所强调的纪律社会的规则强迫范式有所不同,因为它的运作基于“自由”—更准确地说,“自由空间”[8]—而非“限制”的框架中。换言之,“调控”(modulation)依赖于这样一种操作,它由不同的启发式探索构成,它走向某一目的,但并没有严格的预设规则。我们在此应指出,比利时研究者安托尼特·胡芙华和托马斯·伯恩斯所言的“算法治理术”,其基础正是这种“执行性”(我们也可将其理解为“递归性”),而非“数据实证主义”。



作为总结,让我们回到“自由人”与“意识联结”(或奴役)之间的经典对立—在本文第一部分描述的对自动化的应用所导致的两种不同结果。或许值得发问的是,这种对立关系是否持续存在于我们今日所见的,与马克思在19 世纪所见大相径庭的“自动化‐执行”范式中?抑或,在过去几个世纪,认知模型(从线性到递归性)的转移会替代或转化这些对立关系(自由/ 奴役,不透明/ 透明)和置于我们眼前的二元选择?对后者而言,我们或许需要一种尼采式的价值重估,以避免将自身囚禁于任何一种在过去几个世纪因为自动化自身的局限以及对自动化概念的有限理解而造成的既定选择中。这种价值重估同时也预示着对自动化的重新据有以发明新的选择。



本文选自海伦·普里查德、埃里克·斯诺德格拉斯、玛格达·T. 卡弗主编的《执行实践》(伦敦,开放的人文学科出版社,2017 年),本文是许煜为该书所说的前言,英文原文和中文翻译见于2018年广州三年展的展覧图册。



[1] “具体化”的概念来自吉尔伯特·西蒙东的《技术物的存在模式》。他通过阐释这一概念,以理解技术物的演化及其与规范和概形的关系,并试图将技术重新整合到文化中去 ( 西蒙东 2012, 15)。对西蒙东而言,技术与文化在18 世纪时经历了一场决裂,并导致了源自无知与误解的一种敌对状态。


[2] 《论数码物的存在》中发展了“话语关系”和“存在关系”的两个概念。前者指向可以被言说的关系,而后者表示可以脱离形式化的时间关系;它们是对中世纪哲学中“基于言语”(relationes secundum dici)和“基于存在” (relationes secundum esse)两个概念的重新阅读。


[3] 在一封1790 年8 月的信函中,康德向布卢门巴赫写道:“你的写作教会了我许多事情;你近期对物理机械论和目的论这两大人们认为不可调和的原理的统一,与最近萦绕我脑海的观念特别相近,而我的念头恰恰需要你提供的此类事实依据”。


[4] 关于西蒙东与控制论的关系,见许煜:《何为不确定性边缘》(2016b),及许煜《西蒙东与信息问题》(2015a)。


[5] 当我们考虑到第二阶控制论,比如系统理论和自创生理论时,递归性(作为“反馈”的具体表达)的角色则更加鲜明。


[6] 关于这段历史的更详尽分析,见许煜:《论数码物的存在》第六章。


[7] 关于“调控”概念,其与德勒兹哲学的大致关系以及与控制社会的具体关系的详细解释,请见许煜:《在控制之后的调控》(2015c)。


[8] 如果我们理解“调控”为德勒兹从西蒙东那里拿来的概念,那么根据“调控”阐发的对控制社会的分析仍然需要另一维度的补充,因为“调控”只是西蒙东称之为“allagmatic”的两大部分之一,allagmatic是关于操作和结构之间动态性的理论。


Deleuze, Gilles. 1992. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” October 59: 3–7.


Hofstadter, Douglas. 1999. Gödel, Escher, Bach. Anniversary Edition: An Eternal Golden Braid. New York: Basic Books.


Hui, Yuk. 2015a. “Simondon et la question de l’information.” Cahiers Simondon6: 29–47.


——. 2015b. “Algorithmic Catastrophe – the Revenge of Contingency.” Parrhesia – a Journal of Critical Philosophy, 23: 122–143.


——. 2015c. “Modulation after control.” New Formations 84/85: 74-91.


——. 2016a. On the Existence of Digital Objects. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


——. 2016b. “Qu’est ce que la marge d’indétermination.” Implications Philosophiques, http://www. implications-philosophiques. org/ actualite/une/quest-ce-que-la-marge- dindetermination/.


La Mettrie, Julien Offray de. 1960 L’Homme Machine, 1748.


Lenoir, Timothy. 1980. “Kant, Blumenbach, and Vital Materialism in German Biology.” Isis 71 (1): 77-108.


Mackenzie, Donald. 1984. “Marx and the Machine.” Technology and Culture 5 (3): 473–502.


Mason, Paul. 2015. PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future. London: Penguin.


Marx, Karl. 1971. The Poverty of Philosophy. New York: International Publishers.


——. 1973. Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy. Trans. Martin Nicolaus, London: Penguin.


Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 2004. The German Ideology Part One. New York: International Publishers.


Rouvroy, Antoinette and Thomas
Berns. 2013. “Gouvernementalité algorithmique et perspectives d’émancipation : le disparate comme condition d’individuation par la relation? Politique des algorithmes. Les métriques du web.” RESEAUX 31 (177): 163–196.


Smith, Adam. 2005. Wealth of Nations. Raleigh: Hayes Barton Press.


Simondon, Gilbert. 2009. “Technical mentality.” Parrhesia 7: 17–27.


——. [1958, 1989] 2012. Du mode d’existence des objets techniques. Paris: Aubier.


Stiegler, Bernard. 2016. The Automatic Society. Volume 1: The Future of Work. London: Polity.


Vizier, Alain. 1996. “Descartes et les automates.” MLN 111 (4): 688–708.


Chinese Translation of “Apocalypse, Now!”

We publish our new translation of the article “Apocalypse, Now! Peter Sloterdijk and Bernard Stiegler on the Anthropocene” written by Pieter Lemmens and Yuk Hui in our Chinese site. This article originally published in Boundary2, you can find this article at here: For the Chinese translation of the article, please go to our Chinese site for more information.

Translation: Benjamin H. Bratton’s Black Stack

The Chinese translation of Benjamin H. Bratton’s article “Black Stack” is now available in our Chinese site. This article originally published at e-flux journal in 2014. You can find this article in e-flux:

Article: On Automation and Free Time by Yuk Hui

1. Dialectics of Living and Dead Labor

In “Fragment on Machines,” Marx made the case that with investment in automated technology, which he called fixed capital, capitalism is able to reduce necessary labor time and increase both surplus labor and value [1]. Marx then speaks of the possibility of sublating surplus labor to free time, which he understood as “both idle time and time for higher activity.” This speculation, in which the type of labor corresponding to a capitalist mode of production disappears, is predicated on new technological developments. Within the concept of free time, Marx envisions a communist emancipation of the subject, since free time “[transforms] its possessor into a different subject, [who] then enters into the direct production process as this different subject.”[2] This idea resonates with Marx and Engels’s famous lines in The German Ideology in which they state that within a communist society, it is “possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”[3] With this utopian image in mind, however, we should not, as Marx himself emphasized, confuse “free time” with “play” in the sense of Charles Fourier.[4] Instead, free time needs to be understood as productive, as for allowing individual interests and desires to be developed while contributing to societal and scientific progress at large. The will for free time requires its organization against constant valorization, which is to say, alienation. One hundred and sixty years after the Grundrisse was written, Marx’s question of how to effectively sublate surplus labor and reduce necessary labor time has yet to be fully resolved. Yet in the recent past, there have been three main responses, which can be summarized as follows:

1) Seize the means of production, such as in various socialist collective projects.
2) Transform surplus labor into a form of resistance and the general intellect into a multitude, as outlined in the work of thinkers like Toni Negri, Paolo Virno, and others.
3) Accelerate towards full automation, implement universal income and an ethic of “working less,” as in the Situationists and, more recently, accelerationists.

The strength, and weakness, of each of these proposals for imagining and realizing a post-labor condition—which are, in all fairness, caricatures of their political nuance—is based on the idea that machines are both utilities and economic categories, or in other words, fixed capital as Marx categorized them. Yet fixed capital is always double: it is both capital for capitalists and tools for workers. As capital, it works with what is in circulation to extract surplus value, and as a tool, it establishes direct psychosomatic relations with and between workers. In order to better grasp what is at stake in the idea of a post-labor condition, we need to inquire into the question of free time again without following Marxian dogma or succumbing to postcapitalist excitation. In other words, the question is not whether full automation will negate capitalism and dialectically result in a postcapitalist society. If we raise the question of post-labor as such, we will fail to take into account the social history of industrialization and will mistakenly consider automation as something that happens only in factories, like Marx’s fixed capital. Instead, we should recognize, as Gilbert Simondon already did nearly sixty years ago, how contemporary capitalist developments make Marx’s original analysis of alienation debatable, and search for new ways forward.

2. The Displacement of Fixed Capital

Fixed capital has left the factory and moved into smartphones, homes, and cities. The environmentalization of fixed capital in the name of smartification characterizes an algorithmic governmentality that effectively modulates transindividual relations and valorizes them through quantification, data analysis, and predictive algorithms, all the while establishing and institutionalizing new regimes of truth.[5] Those who “play” on Facebook or its equivalent as if they have plenty of time are not enjoying free time as such but rather entering into a constant process of valorization in which time and experience are exteriorized as data and immediately analyzed to further seduce users into consumption. One could even argue that this social condition of feedback, and the fact that Marx’s dialectical overcoming of surplus labor and necessary labor time is incomplete, is one of the most fundamental characteristics of post-Fordist society. By questioning the notion of fixed capital, we are obliged to enter into a historical analysis of labor and the category of the worker according to the evolution of technology, from “working machines” to steam engines and contemporary cybernetic machines. [6] It is only through such an analysis that we will not only be able to shed new light onto the seemingly dead-end dialectics that Marx put forward in “Fragment on Machines,” but also to identify the source of alienation in the digital epoch.


Marx already pointed out that the development of fixed capital will determine to what degree general social knowledge can become a direct force of production.[7] However, we should notice that although machines are considered a historical category, they are nevertheless only analyzed as an economic one.[8] It is exactly on this point that Simondon criticized Marx: “Under this juridical and economic relation there is a more profound and more essential relation, which is the continuity between human individual and technical individual, or the discontinuity between these two beings.”[9] By “technical individual,” Simondon means technical objects which have attained a certain level of autonomy based on recurrent causality or feedback. [10] Besides the psychosocial necessities of being human, there is also, according to Simondon, a psychosocial character to technical objects, which is not so much an animism as it is a reciprocal and collaborative relation between human and machine. Before the Industrial Revolution, artisans were capable of creating an associated milieu when working with tools in their ateliers, in the sense that they themselves had the status of technical individuals. In the condition of labor Marx describes, artisans and peasants are forced to leave their ateliers and work in the factory. These workers—which Simondon calls “laborers of elements”—don’t understand machines as technical individuals, as they are used to the artisanal way of working with tools, that is, taming them. Changing the gestures they developed in their previous experiences demands also a change in mentality, since now machines instead of the workers are technical individuals. When these artisans work with machines, they are merely users, repeating their gestures according to the predefined operational procedures and the rhythms of the machine, which gives rise to an existential malaise. At the same time, capital sees technical objects as mere means to improve production efficiency and increase profits, without paying attention to the sociopsychological relation between human and machine.


Simondon claims that labor is only a phase of technicity, and not vice versa. If artisanal labor is conditioned by the technicality of the tools, then new, industrial technologies produce a new form of labor. As Simondon pointed out, in the transition from artisanal labor to industrial labor, there was no change in the polarity of technical knowledge, namely the division between technicians who are conscious of technology and reflect upon it (like adults) and ordinary people concerned only with use (like children). In other words, there are technicians who are responsible for repairing machines, while workers, as just ordinary users, do not necessarily have the technical knowledge to take care of machines, to extend the lives of machines beyond the moments of their creation and production and use them in support of the laborer’s own individuation. Individuation here, to risk simplifying it, means the worker’s capacity to benefit from their work beyond economic means in sublimated form, namely either as repression or elevation, conscious or unconscious.[11] For Simondon, the inability of the worker to adopt machines as a condition of work, in the sense of œuvrer, and not simply labor[12], leads to a double alienation: of both machines and workers, where machines are treated as slaves and humans are turned into alienated labor. In a course titled “Social Psychology of Technicity” that Simondon gave between 1960–61, he further pointed out that alienation is intensified with consumerism, since technical objects now become mere commercial products, like slaves in Roman times, waiting on the market for their future owners to pick them up.[13]


Simondon considers alienation to originate from a more fundamental level than Marx’s economic analysis: not in the ownership of the means of production but in the misunderstanding and ignorance of technology itself. Simondon understands technical knowledge to be an autonomous, or at least only contingently related, epistemological category to that of capital and labor, and suggests its development to resolve the problem of alienation.[14] What Simondon proposes is that it is necessary to understand the schema within technical objects—the way they are organized—in order to revitalize relations between humans and machines and their evolution, and to situate such evolution within a broader reality.[15] This idea serves as the point of departure for Simondon’s critique in his supplementary doctoral thesis, On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, that philosophy should work to resolve the problem of alienation by taking the mode of existence of technical objects seriously.[16] In comparison, today, the general public is less concerned with working conditions in factories (except, perhaps, in factories like Foxconn) than with the possibility that automatons will replace humans and that full automation will lead to full unemployment. Yet, does this understanding of what a post-labor condition might look like really mean that we can separate the machine world, in which automatons work 24/7, and the human world, in which humans are progressively detaching themselves from labor processes? Or is there a “base” (e.g., the human-machine relation) that is more fundamental than the “superstructure” (capital-labor relation), and which has to be further questioned?

3. The Transindividuality of Machines

If we follow Simondon’s idea that labor is a phase of the genesis of technicity (and not the other way around) and that the category of “technical activities” extends far beyond the category of labor, we should understand post-labor to be a new technological condition, which suggests a new form of labor taking shape. To understand the post-labor condition and respond to such a new industrial program thus demands a systemic study of the question of technical knowledge today. In other words, inquiring into the formation and distribution of technical knowledge (savoir technique) would work to update Simondon’s theory of double alienation as we move towards a post-labor condition. Yet the technical knowledge and activities we are talking about here cannot be reduced to engineering principles or simply knowing how to repair machines. We must avoid the misunderstanding that everyone has to become an engineer or hacker in order to deal with the problems produced by capitalism. Instead, we should think in terms of the means to reappropriate technology beyond industrial, consumerist applications. Marx hints at this when he comments on the weaving machine in Das Kapital: “This machine … only in some determined conditions … becomes capital.”[17] But this comment demands a deeper interpretation. Reappropriation has to be distinguished from repurposing. Facebook can be repurposed to initiate an anti-Facebook movement, but by doing so, we still commit ourselves to the ontological and epistemological presuppositions of Facebook—for example, how it defines an individual and social relations. How else do we know what social relations are, or can be? Facebook is an application of internet technology, but Facebook is itself not technology per se, which consists of network protocols, programming languages, API libraries, etc. To reappropriate this would mean to create alternatives based on different ontologies and epistemologies, which is far beyond the scope of libertarian hackers.[18]


Bernard Stiegler, interpreting the work of Gilbert Simondon, proposes to politicize the question of individuation against the backdrop of industrialization and consumerism.[19] However, in contrast to Simondon’s Jungian reading of the concept of individuation, Stiegler uses Freud’s theory of desire to understand individuation as a constant libidinal investment, and to interrogate the conditions under which such individuation can take place. Simondon uses the metaphor of crystallization to characterize the proto-process of individuation, in which a supersaturated liquid starts crystalizing when certain material, energetic, and informational conditions are met. In Stiegler’s model, consumerism has short-circuited the mechanisms of individuation, replacing libido with drive and investment with addiction, which leads to a “disindividuation.”[20]  Libidinal investment thus becomes the motivation for individuation qua crystallization. In Simondon’s theory of psychic and collective individuation, the role of technology is almost invisible, while for Stiegler, it is necessary to take into account the role of technology in the process of individuation and as a means to bridge Simondon’s two doctoral theses, one on individuation and the other on the individualization of technical objects. If we follow this logic, it means that we need to develop a new understanding of fixed capital in relation to individuation, which will lead us to a new interpretation of Simondon’s critique of Marx.


An understanding of fixed capital can thus be extended beyond that of a substantial being and towards sets of transindividual relations organized according to specific operational schemes. This proposal gestures towards a rejection of hylomorphic thinking—the determination of form over matter, or ideology over power—and suggests that we should think of individuation as a process that takes place both through and with machines. Étienne Balibar first employed Simondon’s term “transindividual” in his Philosophy of Marx to describe the human as an ensemble of relations rather than as closed in on itself like a monad.[21] Yet far richer than Balibar’s very brief discussion of the term, Simondon sees transindividual relations as the very condition for the individuation of psychic and social beings. The psychic being is always already transindividual, therefore it is not possible to separate the psychic from the collective as two substances, which is often the mistake of pure psychology or sociology. Simondon takes Nietzsche’s Zarathustra as an example to illustrate this, and to show that transindividualism can occur even in solitude. Simondon says that “the test (épreuve) of transindividuality starts” when Zarathustra alone carries on his shoulders the cadaver of the loop dancer abandoned by the crowd to bury it.[22]


Simondon’s notion of transindividual relations is not limited to psychical beings, but extends to technical objects. As he writes: “The technical object understood according to its essence, that is to say the technical object insofar as it is invented, thought, and wanted, assumed by a human subject, becomes the support and the symbol of this relation that we would name transindividual.” Simondon therefore endows technical objects with the role of facilitating the process of individuation: “Through the intermediary of technical objects an interhuman relation is created. This is the model of transindividuality.”[23]

The relation to technical objects cannot become adequate individual by individual, except in some very rare and isolated cases; [the relation] can only be instituted under the condition that it succeeds in bringing this collective inter-individual reality into existence, which we call transindividual, because it creates a coupling between the inventive and organizing capacities of multiple subjects.[25]

If we follow what Simondon has said concerning transindividual relations, it opens a new investigation into the role of machines in psychic and collective individuation. This is also a proposal to go beyond the typical Marxian analysis of machines—to reconceptualize them beyond being considered as fixed capital and utility. Transindividual relations are embedded in technical objects and modulated according to their operational and organizational schemes. The evolution of technical objects thus constantly shifts the theater of individuation by reconstructing the stage with new forms of transindividual relations and new dynamics. With its notion of feedback and information, cybernetics introduced a new cognitive scheme, and consequently a new organization of human-machine relations and sociality at large. Simondon relates his interpretation of technical lineage, from “elements” to “individuals” and “ensembles,” to specific historical epochs. He explains that technical elements represent the optimism of the eighteenth century, which longed for infinite progress and the constant amelioration of human life; technical individuals, which appeared in the nineteenth century as automated machines in factories, displaced human beings from the center of production; and in the twentieth century, Simondon saw technical ensembles, with the emergence of information machines and cybernetics, as a new, historically incomplete project of organizing transindividual relations. While Simondon’s discourse on technical ensembles has to be critically evaluated in regard to network culture, which only began to develop after the philosopher’s death in 1989, Simondon’s insistence on understanding machines beyond an economic category (i.e., fixed capital) remains invaluable and perhaps even more urgent today than ever.[26]

4. “Google as General Intellect”

With the advent of social media, the internet of things, and all sorts of smartification supported by various forms of networks, we are witnessing the emergence and concretization of new organizational forms of transindividual relations. The post-labor condition is not the end of labor, but rather a new technological condition within which the notion of work, technical knowledge, and transindividual relations have to be rethought and reevaluated. While we are far from providing a solution to the gigantic problems we face today, it is essential to understand post-labor not simply in terms of a redistribution of resources (e.g., universal income)—which is how Saint Simonians once understood socialism—but rather as a historically situated relation between technology and labor.[27] It is only then that we may be able to overcome new forms of valorization and alienation brought about by such a technological condition.


To understand the problems we face today, it is necessary to analyze the transindividual relations that are embedded within technological developments of cognitive valorization, such as social media, and go beyond an economic or humanist critique to one grounded on the critique of individuation. However, it is important to develop such a critique according to a historical and materialist analysis of categories such as labor, knowledge, social relations. Therefore one must also be cautious when using words such as “immaterial” to characterize the post-labor mode of production. In his A Grammar of the Multitude, Italian theorist Paolo Virno plausibly suggests that we understand the general intellect as a “dematerialized” mode of exploitation. According to Virno, if money is considered to be a “real abstraction,” it is because the material existence of money is realized as the “universal equivalent,” while the general intellect—which consists of cognitive activities such as language, communication, and self-reflection—does not need to go through the process of real abstraction. Virno successfully demonstrates that if, in the capitalist mode of production described by Marx in the Grundrisse, workers were the intermediary between nature and machine, in the current mode of production the general intellect has become directly subsumed. As Virno puts it: “With the term general intellect Marx indicates the stage in which certain realities (for instance, a coin) no longer have the value and validity of a thought, but rather it is our thoughts, as such, that immediately acquire the value of material facts.”[28]


The general intellect for Virno could be understood as the “common,” but also as Simondon’s “pre-individual” reality, or more precisely what Anaximander calls apeiron. As both Stiegler and Jason Read have emphasized, one shouldn’t confuse the pre-individual with mere nature, but rather understand it as part and product of culture and history. Calling it immaterial or returning to “mere nature” risks missing an important step in understanding our contemporary, or post-labor, condition to come.[29] If the general intellect is exploitable, it is only because the environmentalization of machines equipped with the capacity to collect, parse, and analyze data creates a feedback loop that integrates the individual into technological systems. We can thus understand the double meaning of the German word for “general intellect,” allgemeiner Verstand, that Marx first used: on the one hand, it is the understanding (Verstand), the analytic faculty responsible for cognition and recognition [30] ; on the other, it is a generalized or transcendental schema which forces itself onto the whole of society, like how Google has made machine categories indispensable for comprehending the contemporary.[31] In other words, the immaterial is the new material.[32]


Virno seems to furthermore separate psychic and collective individuation into two stages, with the “collective of the multitude, seen as ulterior or second degree.”[33] However, as we have seen before, there is no separation between the psychic and the collective in Simondon’s theory of individuation, and indeed they are inseparable. The separation between the two allows Virno to advance an opposition between the individual and the multitude, but he fails to account for how the dynamic of individual and collective individuation is mediated by technical objects. Virno’s move could be understood in the same way that he criticized Marx for “completely [identifying] the general intellect (or, knowledge as the principle productive force) with fixed capital, thus neglecting the instance when that same general intellect manifests itself on the contrary as living labor.” But if Virno’s politics of the multitude can be found in the exploited general intellect, its potential for resistance does not rely solely on “living labor” or a theory of “subjectivity,” but rather demands historically recontextualizing technical objects and repositioning them in an understanding of the process of psychic and collective individuation.


To briefly conclude, if we assume that there is a merging of work and free time in the biopolitics of post-Fordist capitalism, it is impossible to bypass the question of machines, since the operational and organizational schemes of platforms largely determine transindividual relations today. The post-labor condition should be understood not simply from a dialectical point of view, but rather from the point of view of a close examination of technical knowledge and technical activities upon which its new form of labor is built. It is not as if resistance is or will be no longer needed; but we should understand resistance differently, as the transformation of transindividual relations as they are materialized through machines. While this might deviate from what Simondon originally means by the term, we can formulate this as the urgency of “technical knowledge.” Cathy O’Neil, a data scientist and author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, recently urged disciplines such as philosophy, the humanities, and the social sciences to leave their “ivory towers” and engage with algorithms.[34] Although O’Neil ignorantly dismisses disciplines such as media studies, science and technology studies, digital humanities, and philosophy of technology, which have dedicated themselves to these questions for decades, she is right to point out the fact that in the midst of tremendous technological development (and sixty years after Simondon’s analysis), the polarity between experts and users seems to have only enlarged, while technical knowledge largely continues to be treated as antithetical to other, more “pure” forms of knowledge. We need a new conceptualization and politics of the becoming of technical knowledge. It is clear that “technical knowledge” is no longer that of engineering or of highly technical skills (though their importance cannot be ignored). Technical knowledge must transcend fickle epistemic divides and be reinvented beyond dated oppositions between engineering and the humanities, efficiency and reflexivity, positivism and hermeneutics, or even dead and living labor [35] . Only then will we be able to further interpret what Marx originally called “free time.”[36]

The distinction between circulating capital and fixed capital can be traced to the French physiocrat François Quesnay, adopted by Adam Smith and David Ricardo. In Capital II (Part II, chapter 10 and 11), Marx reproached Smith and Ricardo for confusing fixed capital and circulating capital with constant and variable capital. In Capital I (Part III, chapter 8), Marx used constant capital and variable capital to analyze the production of surplus value in terms of means of production and labor power. Fixed capital and circulating capital are two differentiated concepts which concern turnover time, i.e., the time taken for one complete circuit or circular movement of capital; fixed capital is durable investment like automatized machines whose value will not be fully consumed in the process of production; circulating capital is defined as materials of labor and wage. Ricardo’s confusion of the two leads to the weakness of his analysis: “The capital-value invested in materials of labor (raw and auxiliary materials) does not appear on either side. It disappears entirely. For it does not agree with the side of fixed capital, because its mode of circulation coincides entirely with that of the capital-value invested in labor-power. And on the other hand, it must not be placed on the side of circulating capital, because in that case the identification of the distinction between fixed and circulating capital with that of constant and variable capital, which had been carried over from Adam Smith and tacitly perpetuated, would abolish itself” (Capital II.XI.6). For a more detailed analysis, please see Ferdinado Meacci, “Different divisions of capital in Smith, Ricardo, and Marx,” Atlantic Economic Journal 17, no. 4 (December 1989), 13–21.

Marx, Grundrisse (London: Penguin, 1993), 712.

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, Part I (New York: International Publishers, 2004), 53.

Fourier elaborated on the concept of “play” when devising the phalanstère, a social and political system which is a sort of cooperative hotel that can accommodate four hundred families.

See Yuk Hui, “Modulation after Control,” New Formations 84–85, Special Issue on Societies of Control (Winter 2014–Summer 2015), 74–91; as well as Erich Hörl, “A Thousand Ecologies: The Process of Cyberneticization and General Ecology,” trans. Jeffrey Kirkwood, James Burton, and Maria Vlotides, in The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside, eds. Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2013), 121–30.

“Working machine” is a term used by Marx himself, meaning tools; see “all fully developed machinery consists of three essentially different parts, the motor mechanism, the transmitting mechanism, and finally the tool or working machine.” Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe, II, 9, 235, cited by A. Wendling, Karl Marx on Technology and Alienation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 137.

Marx, Grundrisse, 706: “They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it. To what degree the powers of social production have been produced, not only in the form of knowledge, but also as immediate organs of social practice, of the real life process.”

Marx himself even clearly pronounced this in The Poverties of Philosophy. Cited by Donald MacKenzie,“Marx and the Machine,” Technology and Culture 5, no. 3 (1984): 473: “The hand-mill gives you society with feudal lord, the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.”

Gilbert Simondon, Du mode d’existence des objets technique (Paris: Aubier, 2012), 165.

Simondon further characterizes technical individuals as beings who possess an “associated milieu,” meaning that an exterior environment has become integrated to the extent that stability can be reinstated after disturbances.

The failure of sublimation leads to its opposite: desublimation, or more precisely, disindividuation. On this point we will encounter the differentiated understanding of the term “sublimation” in Freud, Jung, and Lacan.

In the sense that Hannah Arendt distinguishes “labor” from “work” in The Human Condition.

Gilbert Simondon, Sur la technique (Paris: PUF, 2013), 54.

Simondon, Du mode d’existence des objets technique, 342.

I refer to this as “cosmic reality” in contrast to “technical reality.”

The principle thesis is L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information (Grenoble: Million, 1995).

Cited by Vincent Bontems, “Esclaves et machines, même combat,” Cahiers Simondon 5 (2013): 11.

For concrete examples of alternative models of social networks, see Yuk Hui, “Le concept de groupe dans les réseaux sociaux – éléments pour une mécanologie de la participation,” in La toile que nous voulons, ed. Bernard Stiegler (Paris: FYP Éditions, 2017), 167–87; as well as Yuk Hui and Harry Halpin, “Collective Individuation: The Future of the Social Web,” in Unlike Us Reader, ed. Geert Lovink (Amsterdam: INC, 2013), 103–16.

See Bernard Stiegler, For a New Critique of Political Economy (London: Polity, 2009).

For Simondon, the term “disindividuation” doesn’t carry a negative meaning. It simply designates destructuralization as a necessary phase in the process of individuation.

Étienne Balibar, The Philosophy of Marx (London: Verso, 2007), 32: “We have, in fact, to think of humanity as a transindividual reality and, ultimately, to think transindividuality as such.”

Simondon, L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information, 273.

Simondon, Du mode d’existence des objets technique, 335. The French original: “L’objet technique pris selon son essence, c’est-à-dire l’objet technique en tant qu’il a été inventé, pensé et voulu, assumé par un sujet humain, devient le support et le symbole de cette relation que nous voudrions nommer transindividuelle.”

Ibid., 335–36.

Ibid., 342.

This is the starting point of my own work, On the Existence of Digital Objects (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

See P. Musso, “Aux origines du concept moderne: corps et réseau dans la philosophie de Saint Simon,” Quaderni 3 (Winter 1987–88): 11–29.

Paolo Virno, A Grammar of the Multitude (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2004), 64.

In L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information, Simondon proposes that “we can call this pre-individual reality nature.” Jason Read, The Politics of Transindividuality (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 116.

This is demonstrative of the Kantian analytic, and in contradistinction to the synthetic of reason (Vernunft). For an elaboration of the relation between automation and the analytic faculty, see Bernard Stiegler, La société automatique (Paris: Fayard, 2015), 56.

A recent newspaper article suggested that Google should be regarded as the general intellect: Timo Daum, “Arbeiter, Automaten, Algorithmen,” Neues Deutschland, April 29, 2017.

This notion was also analyzed by Jean-François Lyotard, who named a 1985 museum exhibition he organized “Les Immatériaux” (“The Immaterials”).

Virno, A Grammar of the Multitude, 79.

Cathy O’Neil, “The Ivory Tower Can’t Keep Ignoring Tech,” New York Times, November 14, 2017.

We must mention that Jean-François Lyotard was very sharp and powerful in criticizing these oppositions in his The Postmodern Condition (1979), which is precisely a treatise on knowledge. He asserted that such “oppositional thinking … is no longer relevant for the societies with which we are concerned” and “is out of step with the most vital modes of postmodern knowledge.” Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 14–15.

I would like to further distinguish knowledge from capacity here. If by “capacity” we mean technical know-how such as setting up machines and repairing them, I envisage “knowledge” as an integrated understanding of engineering and the humanities that allows a wider participation in technological activities.

The author would like to thank Axel Andersson and Nick Axel for their comments on a draft of this article.

Superhumanity: Post-Labor, Psychopathology, Plasticity is a collaboration between the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea and e-flux Architecture.

Yuk Hui is currently researcher of the project Techno-ecologies of participation at the Leuphana University Lüneburg, where he also teaches at the Institute for Philosophy. He is visiting professor at the China Academy of Art and member of the International Center of Simondon Studies (MSH, Paris Nord).