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autonomous_hippopotamus wrote (edited )

I really shouldn't respond to you, but here you go.

f you don't think technology is completely equitable and apolitical with no effect or social impact for the most part, then "neutral" is absolutely the wrong word to use in a discussion about social politics

i actually believe in making qualified statements that take into account the complexity of language, giving credit for where others are correct, and clarifying in which ways a certain statement may be both true and not true. You seem to be very annoyed people are not using your preferred, narrow definition of these terms.

Words have different meanings in different contexts and i already took into account the ways in which technology is definitely not nuetral -- like i don't believe that cellphones, automobiles and TV are "politically nuetral" at all -- but here you are arguing what i've said in the beginning as if i don't' know this. I get the impression you want me to adopt your simplistic, absolutist approach to using langauge, which i absolutely won't do.

if somebody were to say that the state is a impartial institution because it could conceivably be used to enforce, say, social welfare polices that materially contribute to the economic security of the poor, would you agree with that? would you moderate your critique of the bourgeois interests at play in the modern state? including those in welfare? i feel like for an anarchist that would be impossible

On the point you're making about the state or religion: this doesn't contradict what i've been saying. For one: When we talk about technology as such, in the abstract, that is something ontologically prior to either Religion or the State. We can even talk about states and religions in terms of the various technologies, apparatti, technics, etc. that compose them.

You are putting Technology ( as i've repeatedly defined, let's say the ability of human beings to harness natural forces or coordinate action towards particular social ends ) on par with particular institutions that emerge out of certain points in history ( I'm assuming by religion we mean institutional religion not just any set of spiritual beliefs or practices ) These are not equivalent categories. Perhaps the equivalent to Technology as defined (remember?) would be social organization in general, in this sense, then yes, you could say that social organization is neutral, or ambivalent, or not inherently evil, or not essentially undesirable or whatever terminology you prefer... in other words, call it whatever the fuck you want, it doesn't matter.

And... (here we are again) there's a difference between The State as a historical institution, and social organization in general: or the ability of humans to make collective decisions, establish norms and rules etc. So the parallel you're using doesn't hold.

( .. here i am going to make making a bit of a reach since obviously the analysis of something like like information exchange is very different from the modern bourgeous state, but apparently i have to answer the charge that my description of the ability of human beings to make shit necessarily leads to the liberal defense of the state, somehow... )

The State, like any actually existing technology, is a historical form designed with a particular purpose, in the interests of a particular class, etc. It, of course changes hands between ruling cliques and evolves over time, There are the particular characteristics of all States (as opposed to other institutions) or Regimes ( as opposed to other states) But The State is consistently a means of domination. In a liberal democratic state, things like welfare programs and labor regulations are actually strategies of maintaining domination by other means. While, one would be correct to point out the ambivalence (1) of the state in that it may intervene against particular capitaists in defense of certain workers, even this follows a similar line to the technology argument, While guns, automobiles etc. can be appropriated to achieve short term ends, they are still reflections of the social and historical context in which they were made. To achieve anarchy, technology as it exists, just like the dominant social systems -- Capital and The State -- would have to be liquidated and transformed from the bottom up.

1 ambivalence does not mean impartiality at all -- they denote fundamentally different attitudes -- something can be both ambivalent while also being heavily biased towards one side, this is part of the reason i chose that term. Neutral also does not mean 'impartial' , nuetral is often used in popular culture to denote an amoral character.


Dumai wrote

i don’t see how any of this affects the basic argument that something isn’t necessarily neutral if it is neither wholly good nor wholly bad. even if you think technology in the abstract has some special transhistorical character, that doesn’t force it into any one of those boxes.

to the degree that ambivalence implies a lack of decidability when technology has very concrete, direct socio-political effects, i still don’t agree that “ambivalent” is a good word to use here. i appreciate that you’re abstracting away most of what tech is and does but anyway, given that you’ve already accused me of gaslighting i don’t want to stick around to find out what other rhetorical moves you have up your sleeve.


autonomous_hippopotamus wrote

Okay, so got it got a little heated there there, but i guess we're good. For the record Dumai did not gaslight me, sorry, so anyway...

Let me just state where i'm coming from.

I'll concede to you that maybe these terms: neutrality, ambivalence, whatever, are not the right words to use, but I'm only setting them up, within an analytical framework to prove a point. I got a bit frustrated because you seem to be focusing on these words in a vaccuum rather than addressing the argument that i've laid out. Alot of these words we're using, like "technology" or "religion" have a number of very different definitions that only have concrete meaning in particular context. But i'll try to restate my argument without using the terms "nuetral" or "ambivalence."

It might be the argument i'm making is totally wrong and we can express what i'm getting at in a more clear and succinct way. There are many ways to express the same thing. But this is what i got.

I agree with you that technology as exists, within any given society, within the historical structures in which they are emerge, is not neutral and we can talk about all the various technological forms and their function within systems of oppression, exploitation, and ecocide.. That is where concrete analysis of specific technologies comes in. For the purposes of the argument i'm making, i'm not concerned with that.

My intent is to prove that technology has the potential to be used for liberatory ends. It's clear to me that the only way to resist--the state, capitalism, etc.-- is to utilize or re-appropriate certain technologies, technics, sciences, in order to aid in resistance struggles, and to construct new sciences and technics to help build and anarchic world. Some existing technologies and technics can be re-appropriated for the short term ends of organizing resistance--transportation, communication, eduaction etc. Other technologies--means of surveilance, punishment, coercion and general mass manipulation--cannot be utilized in any way and must be destroyed. In the long term, the technological system and science in general must be liquidated and reconstructed along non-heirarchal, ecological lines.

This re-appropriation and reconstruction is only possible because technology in the abstract has no intrinsic value, it is a pure means. The value or function of any given technology has no meaning outside of the social context in which it is used.

By technology in the abstract, i mean simply the ability of humans (and other species to a lesser extent) to gain a working understanding of natural phenomena, and manipulate these forces to suit their ends. It might be that modern science and the existing forms of technology are inseparable from the logic domination. But it is possible, i believe, to construct a new science and new technologies that reflect anarchic ends.


autonomous_hippopotamus wrote

The question of whether the term nuetral is appropriate or some other word to be used is an incredibly boring argument imo, and this isn't terminology i've invented. The nuetrality of technology is something that's basically dogma amongst technologists and philosophers of science, I have consistantly argued that this is only true in one sense.