Some Personal Observations Regarding
the CopySouth Workshop:
Trivandrum, Kerala, December 2008. Trevor Batten, Manila
SECTION 2. Political Economic Contexts:
1.0 An Unfortunate Global Socio-Economic Model?
Paradox of Control:
No open, non-moribund system can
operate without changing its environment in some way. In turn,
"evolution" seems to be driven by the orgnism's (or
need to adapt to a changing environment. This means that all
will iether be non-sustainable -and therefor liable to entropic
-or will need to develop the ability to adapt to the (partially
created) changes in their environment. Attempts to fully control
environment are not likely to succede -because it would reduce
creative adaptability of the system to virtually zero -while
being unable to prevent evolutionary consequences of "cause and
operating within the system and its environment. In order to
-any system therefore needs to be (to some extent) able to
itself to develop and adopt a flexible creative response to the
that unescapably produces within itself and its environment.
the slower the changes in the environment changes the more time
entity can take to adapt.
One way to avoid the changes is to keep moving (Nomadic
patterns of (land) settlement can make this increasingly
more closely interconnected the various components of the
become, the more difficult it becomes to avoid the consequences
actions taken in that environment. When the speed of change
-it becomes difficult for the whole system to adapt at the same
Differential development can be a powerful creative motor -but
cause for social disorientation and conflict. In a commercial
system -the solution of problems caused by the system itself can
be a source of revenue by providing temporary solutions at a
Permanent solutions are not only impossible (due to the process
evolutionary feedback) but would also limit economic activity
there would be no pressing needs that warrented payment
create social and economic freedom through competitive choice.
practical experience shows that without public control the
short-term gains undermines the long-term efficiencies of the
The recent problems in the commercial financial system clearly
demonstrate that long-term sustainability is impossible
"balancing" mechanism (theoretically, the "free-market
the evolution of giant global corporations undermines
possibility of markets operating as a self-correcting
mechanism -due to
the control such giants can excercize over both their
and Closed Systems:
Open systems are weak in
connectivity -and so the feedback created through "action and
is reletively weak. If one tries turning up the heating in a
open windows then the temperature will probably hardly rise,
the large amounts of warmth (and energy) being pumped into the
However, if one closes all the windows then even a small
amount of heat
(such as the body temperature of the occupants) will cause the
temperature in the room to rise.
In an area with a low level of population, "slash ans
farming techniques will probably allow land areas to recover
temporary settlement is abandoned.However, in an area with
population densities -it is likely that the land will have
time to recover before being resettled. The "low-density"
area thus operates as an "open" system with little noticable
a result of the human intervention -while the high-density
area acts as a closed system where the effectsd of
a noticable "feedback" which will require some form of
if the system is to remain sustainable.
Abstraction and the Creative Industries:
In an economy based on a
system of capitalised (mass) production of material goods -the
goods must (due to production costs) logically always be more
than the materials from which they are made. So the producer
expensive finished products always has the financial advantage
supplier of cheap raw materials. Exploiting ownership of the
physical goods can be a profitable source of income -but
the the factory can be even better -while ownership of the
finances the production can be even more profitable (provided
company being bankrolled does not collapse).
However, in an economy based on the global outsourcing of the
production process, the danger of unintended "technology
always present. The design of the product and its production
needs to be revealed to the producer -but this also opens up
possibility of the finished product being sold by the
the detriment of those who initiated the process. Without the
"ownership" of the design -it is difficult to claim
of the finished product when produced by a third party who is
the system of direct ownership. Under such a system, the
of the ownership of the product becomes subsidary to the
of the "ownership" of the design (as well as the investing
Outsourcing therefore forces a dematerialisation of ownership
from the product and towards the capital and knowlege required
produce and market the product. It as if the "design" and not
physical production process has the ability to "reproduce" the
product. The introduction of the computer into the production
only reinforces the process-because control of the production
"outsourced" to a machine (which can be located anywhere when
to a telphone line). This "digital" outsourcing is cearly more
when not only the design but also the finished product can be
transmitted electronically. At this point -it should be clear
the design has a higher economic value than the product itself
the owner of the physical production process becomes analogue
owner or producer of raw materials (under a system of
production). In other words, when the maximum value of the
embedded in the design and not the finished object -then the
manufacturer becomes simply the producer of raw materials for
marketing process. Under these conditions -all the owner of
manufacturing process remains just as subservient to the
owners of the
capital and the design as the owner of the raw materials and
was to the owner of the finished goods within the traditional
industrialised production process.
2.0 Exploitation of the
The shift away from
towards outsourcing implies a logical shift from a practical
mode of operation to a more theoretical and supervisory one.
higher (meta) level of abstraction is part of a common pattern
absolutely fundamental to western thought and practice.
Traditionally, universities were concerned with "educating" a
elite to deal with general abstractions so that they could
creatively in innovatory situations which were "outside"
conditions. Situations where the "operating conditions" were
unknown. It was their job to formulate the procedures
simply to operate them.
This capability for abstraction has many practical advantages
its disadvantages. It offers a path to understanding -but can
An understanding of the "higher
of abstraction" (meta-systems) aids the manipulation of all sorts
control and signal systems:
- Scientific advances
- Social and Political control systems
- Criminal Deceptions
- "Management Systems" (operating on "lower" levels of
abstraction without knowledge of system being managed)
- Professional Management
- Paper money
- Investment Capitalism (divorcing funding from production)
- Simulation (the pretence that the "simulation" is "real")
The separation of "form" from "content" in order to use "form"
to send misleading (or confusing) messages
of false signals to "signify" things that are not true
-Artificifial (simulated) flavours
-The marketing of "disinformation" as "knowledge"
-"Democracy" as a control mechanism
- Offering a severely reduced range of choices, all of which
are within the parameters acceptable to the ruling system
- Pretending to listen to oponents but ignoring their input,
or using it to make one's own position stronger
- "Protective" devices which increase survelliance and
monitoring instead of providing protection
- The myth of "freedom" in a system of digital search and
control systems operating outside the knowledge of the user
- The Higher the "abstraction" the more removed it becomes
from its original context
- When people forget the origin of the abstraction, they
lierally no longer know what they are talking about
- The discussion is then based on "transcental nonsense"
arguments becoming increasingly self-referential and
relevant to any practical problem
- The resulting discussion keeps people busy, provides
professionals with an income, but solves no practical
Use of false signals to "signify" things that are not true
-The marketing of "disinformation"
- "Democracy" as a control mechanism?
(offering a severely reduced range of choices -all of
which are within the parameters acceptable to the
Separation of "form" from "content" in order to use "form"
to send misleading (or confusing) "content"
-Survelliance and monitoring systems sold as "protective"
- -The myth of "freedom" in a system of digital search,
surveiliance and control systems operating outside the
knowledge of the
The need to present all human meaning in standardised
Without a common reference/language for comparason, how
does one distinguish "diversity" from "chaos"?
Dematerialisation of economy
- (exploiting levels of abstraction)
- -the need to identify correct level when in discussion
-conceptualisations do not mean "anything goes"
-arbitrary rules (as in games)
-"grammer" (of calculi, models, simulations, etc..)
often derived from the physical systems they model
Some species confuse large glass
buildings with bodies of wat
international team of researchers has found another form of
light pollution that could have an adverse effect on wildlife.
showed that as well as direct light sources,
polarised light also triggered potentially dangerous changes in
They added that
road surfaces and glass buildings were among the main sources of
this form of light pollution.
appear in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Robertson, an ecologist from
Michigan State University, US, said polarised light from
within the built environment overwhelmed natural cues that
cues, such as the intensity of light, that
animals use to make decisions occur at different levels of
the natural world," he said.
become unnaturally intense, animals can respond unnaturally
strongly to them."
As a result,
the false cues could create an "ecological trap" for species
attracted by the light.
Insects, such as
stoneflies, lay their eggs on asphalt instead of water
said that water was the primary source of
horizontal polarised light in the natural world, and that many
- including birds, insects and reptiles - had highly developed
form of light played a key role in the animals' lifecycle, such
as finding breeding and feeding sites, he added.
documented example is the way that baby sea turtles rely
on the direction of starlight and moonlight reflected off the
surface in order to help them find the ocean when they emerged
Yet, there are
examples of turtles in urbanised areas heading towards the
brighter buildings and street lamps.
said that expanding urban areas meant that there were more
structures and surfaces to confuse wildlife.
"Any kind of
shiny, black object - oil, solar cells, asphalt -
causes problems," he explained. "The closer they are to
bigger the problem."
"Light from the
sun is vibrating in all possible directions,
but after bouncing off smooth flat surfaces, like water, it only
vibrates in the horizontal direction; it has become polarised.
is why polarised sunglasses make it easier for us to see
on a bright day - they remove only the horizontally polarised
that reflects off water and roads," he told BBC News.
If Animals get confused by
"disinformation" can we expect humans to be immune from it?
Understanding the Meta-System:
Within the context of a
"dematerialised" economy, based on the
exploitation of "higher" levels of abstractions the computer is an
ideal medium. One which through the division between "software"
"hardware" apparently fits in with a long standing
belief in the mind/body duality (and the supremacy of the
The cultural tradition that separates "science and technology"
"art and design" is another useful marketing tool -because it
the computer to be marketed as a "technological system" that can
used by non-tednical people without the need to understand the
workings of the machine.
However, it seems that in practice, technology is itself a form of
"language" -and that by encouraging only a few people (required to
develop and maintain the system) to understand that language -the
are open to commercial and ideological exloitation -due to their
of understanding of the fundamental principles (and languages)
which underlie the
machine they are so dependant on. This process is
because the deception can never be understood from within the
conceptual confines of the conceptual context provided -which is
largely based on such binary divisions as "form" and "content",
"technology" and "language" and "science" and "art".
The Shift from "Process" to "Information":
A Clever Trick?
It seems to me that it is the
artificial separation of "information" from "process" (by
Society propagandists and theorists) that creates and perpetuates
conceptual climate in which it is difficult to sort out the
mystifications which have undermined our traditional defences
political and economic exploitation.
"On ARPA's 50th Anniversary and the
" is a critique of the article "ARPA's
50th Anniversary and the Internet, A Model for Basic Research"http://futurezone.orf.at/hardcore/stories/253842/
In this article I wrote:
"Indeed, it has been the shift (lauded in the ARPA article) from
image of the computer as a complex (algorithmic -rule based)
system to a simple communication device that has enabled the
to be commercially and politically exploited as a (postmodern)
propaganda machine. The self-reinforcing nature of this paradigm
has allowed the change to take place without most people
the power of the system to actually question the "information"
distributed by that system.... The knowledge that these research
projects developed has not been
shared with the people (generally) -but to the contrary, the
(via the academic system) have been told (outside a few
that such knowledge is not interesting -while the products of that
knowledge has been used to enslave people further. This has been
by creating and commercially exploiting "intelligent" systems
people generally cannot compete against, but they are encouraged
-even though they have no understanding of how they work. In other
words The product of this US government funded research has
been commercially exploited by US companies to make it almost
impossible for non-specialists (worldwide) not to become clients
companies involved (this is called "customer binding" in the
trade). I call it 'Digital Feudalism'."
Process and Information:
In my experience, the conceptual
from "Process" to "Information" is rather subtle and not easilly
understood without a more detailed understanding of the
Basically, a "system" is a set of dynamically changing
which form the specific context within which any event takes
Clearly, systems can from complex hierarchies -for example "baseball"
is a "system" of rule based actions which take place within a
promotional "system" that operates within the socia-economic
known as America. "Information" informs us of the current
some aspect of a selected "system" which provides the context. The
"information" is useless (and/or misleading) unless one undertands
context. Knowing a baseball score might inform one that one's
team has won the league competition -but it might also suggest
(if the result is unlikely) -or provide information regarding the
likely mood of one's partner.
Treating "information" as a value free "objective" fact -destroys
awareness of its contextual nature -and encourages unconcious
acceptance of its implied context. By making
the technological. economic and social context implicit (and
invisible) it remains outside concious discussion. The concept of
"process", on the other hand, makes the nexus of contexts explicit
therefore open to interrogation.
It is an understanding of the "connectivity" of "process" (as
in dynamic systems but not in static, self-contained, objects)
allow us to understand that every action leaves a "footprint"
be forensically traced. In order to interpet the evidence
need to understand the nexus of (physical and conceptual)
through which the evidence manifests itself in our sensory and
conceptual system. The search for this coroborating evidence
us from the confusion of "anything goes" which has been promoted
4.0 The self-sustaining
Based on creative, symbiotic (and
partially self-generating) interactions between military and
(commercial) research and marketing systems -(conciously or
unconciously) promoted by the educational and entertainment
which provides both knowledge based resources, the required social
conditioning to encourage consumers to maintain the system and the
funds to financially sustain the total nexus.
Basically, the system knows three
modes of operation:
The destructive use of superior
armaments and/or propaganda in destructive war against all those
oppose the hegemony of the system.
A post-war reconstruction -which is
supposed to provides captive consumers for the victorious nation,
grateful citizens in the defeated nation -and a warning to those
still wish to oppose the system.
A stabilised "maintenance" mode
which commercial. political and military hegemony is used to
profits to sustain the system and fund research in support of
For optimal results, all three
Production System, Military System, and Communication
System) have to interact in a
synergetic way so that each component supports the operation of
- The Production
component generates wealth that can be used to sustain the
economically and materially. This wealth can also be used to
seduce potential opponents (the carrot). Military research
subsidized by selling civilian versions of the technology
becomes no longer classified -and in some cases, civilian
be used for military applications.
- The Military
component acts as a physical deterent (the stick) to those
oppose the system. The production (and destructive use) of
provides a continuing market for the commercial production
instalation of puppet governments in "Liberated" countries
"grateful" public who support their liberator. The post-war
"reconstruction" offers ample oportunity for commercial
- The Edutainment
component provides both a research system and a self-funding
propaganda system. Research institutions can be used to
ideas and products that can have military, commercial or
applications. The educational system propagates the
to sustain the system -but (together with the communication
entertainment systems) also creates and disseminates the
images that promote and sustain the system. By
education system and promoting the entertainment system as
(in a dematerialised, electronic, economy) the esutainment
becomes a weatth generating area with a dificult to define
the production system.
"Logically self-sustaining" also "Materially self-sustaining"?
In order to remain self-sustaining, the system is
self-promotional and supported by vested interests
(stakeholders) operating within a "democratic" system which
individual choice within the parameters set by "doctrine"
(Doctrine is defined by the US military as a conceptual
allows personal freedom of choice within the limits defined
command structure -without the need to consult a commanding
So who are these "stakeholders -and how great is their
the social dialogue?
Is everybody a "stakeholder" -or are some
people excluded (for some reason or another)?
Do those with the most power to make changes within the
suffer the consequences of those changes as much as those
power to make such changes?
-What are the roles (rights and responsibilites) of social
individuals and organisations within the decision making
The self-referential and tautological nature of the nexus makes
the entire system very difficult to oppose iether in practical
ideological terms. The system has a raft of people working to
and promote ideas that make it seem very attractive to friend
It can use its wealth to co-opt potential dissidents and, if
can use physical force to great effect if all else fails.
propaganda system seems to have effectively created the
environment within which the Industrial-Military-Edutainment
appears completely sustainable. However, although based on a
exploitation of "dematerialisation" -the system itself, the
provides, the environment in which it operates and the humans
part of the network (in any way) have not (yet) been
system that operates in a physical environment must be
that environment. In theory, the Industrial-Military-Edutainment
Complex seems invulvarnerable (until recently at least). In
it may prove that the unknown factor of "physical reality"
ignored -and the system may prove to be unsustainable in the
It is one thing to win the War -but can one also
win the Peace?