The ‘new materialism’ is the overall name given to movements in several fields that criticise anthropocentrism, focus on inhuman forces within the human, self-organising power within the nonhuman processes, explore dissonant relations between nature and culture.
Ten tenants of new materialism:
1. Protean monism (how life and mind evolved out of nonlife).
2. Energy-matter complexes.
3. Idea about trying to be post-metaphysical is scrapped and is being replaced by a contestable metaphysics and cosmology that emphasises the dynamic, temporal and process character of systems and things.
4. Idea that neither the human subject has to be erased, nor it should be restricted entirely to humans or God.
5. Ethic of cultivation grounded in the contingency of care for this world (as the classical conceptions of command and derived morality are being contested). This care is cultivated individually and in the ethos of institutions - both together.
6. Resistance to the thesis of ‘the sufficiency of cultural internalism’ - engagement with classical pragmatism (W. James/J.Dewey).
7. Being prepared to act beyond the dictates of established knowledge - e.g., politics is one such example of experimental action extending into the element of mystery of the future.
8. Identification of shifting elements of ontological uncertainty and real creativity in the intersection of forces in the world (we invest capacities of self-organisation into a variety of human and non-human processes).
9. Current concepts of reasoning are supplemented by techno-artistic tactics.
10. We’re adding a planetary dimension to the study of local, regional and global politics.
Analysis of differing degrees of self-organising power in three domains: (1) cultural processes; (2) non-human force-fields; (3) in nature/culture imbrications.
Alternative critique of neoliberalism:
1) breaking the link between self-organisation and impersonal rationality;
2) markets are not at all unique systems of self-organisation.
The Politics of the Event
We periodically live into the futures replete with elements of real uncertainty - not just epistemic, but real one. - > real creativity: a novel response to a condition from the past that engenders a new result that is less than a chance and more than simple determination.
In the moments of disequilibrium, the pertinent concepts to delay are: criticality, assymtrical rhythm, vague intensity, teleodynamism, system vibrations, condensation, self-organisation, amplification, emergent causality, real creativity.
p.407 - The element of real creativity exists in politics and ethics, and literary and artistic activities are apt to make contributions to that element.
We inhabit a cosmos composed of heterogeneous, interacting force-fields moving at different speeds.
Creative cosmic events occur not within the force-field alone, but through an acceleration of reverberations back and forth between disparate, independent fields or between disparate elements in the same field.
Creativity (Whitehead) - creation is neither ex-nihilo not the simple product of any agent.
a) no set of stable factors from the past suffices to determine the event;
b) as one system enters the other, an old ‘pre-adaptation’ from the former is redeployed through accelerated self-organisation;
c) something new brought into the world by the exploratory reverberations between the systems.
The Fragility of Things
P. 410. We inhabit a fragile world, from the perspective of:
1) endurance and quality of life;
2) its exchanges with nonhuman force fields;
3) reverberations between several human and nonhuman processes.
nuclear holocaust; tension between global capital and regional faith; drilling for oil; global warming; bird flu, etc.
Conclusion: towards democratic militancy
One way to get a preliminary handle on this difficult situation may be to launch experimental shifts in the roles we now play, both because such an accumulation of shifts can be good in itself and more because such constituency actions may, first, seed the way for more militant, collective actions outside electoral politics and, eventually, fold these issues into electoral politics.