Gestern bin ich mal auf das 30 Jahre alte Buch von G. Anders, „Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen“ Bd. 2 gestoßen und fand es ausgesprochen hellsichtig. Da man auf google books nur die unvollständige Version bekommt, hab ich mal versucht, das meiner Meinung nach wichtigste Kapitel zusammenzufassen und ins Englische zu übersetzen (laut Wikipedia gibt es noch keine Übersetzung, und ich wollte das nicht einfach raubkopieren!) – und damit ich das nicht umsonst gemacht habe, hab ich es mal an mehreren Stellen verlinkt/gepostet. Eines der wichtigsten Werke, um die Welt, wie sie zur Zeit ist, zu verstehen, wenn man mich fragt. Und ich hoffe, dass man daraus vielleicht Lösungen für unsere heutigen Krisen ableiten kann.
Wenn euch das interessiert, nehmt euch die Zeit, auch wenn die schiere Länge evtl. etwas abschreckend ist (ihr könnt ja die unten verlinkte deutsche Version zu Hilfe nehmen)! Danach seid ihr um einige Erkenntnisse reicher!
Und ihr könnt den Text auch gern teilen, ich lege keinen Wert darauf, dass ich ewähnt werde (bei Anders sollte man das wohl tun.)
I tried to summarize the central arguments as follows:
1) Anders uses reality shows to illustrate how social situations like „visiting“ and „encountering“ are transformed to processes of consumption, in which one person is the „delivery“/“consumed“ and one is the „receiver“/“consumer“. We all are the eaters and food of the Others. This is cannibalism.
2) We don’t always know that we are about to be „consumed“/“delivered“. This part is about wire-tapping. He argues that many people don’t take surveillance seriously because they think being recorded doesn’t have any effect on their selves: Even if their voices and looks are reproduced, it’s supposedly just a phantom-like doppelgaenger. He denies this for the following reasons:
2a) It’s wrong that the ‚originals‘ of the items whose reproductions are delivered to us can keep their original form – that they stay those which they „are“. Instead, they are already changed by their reproduction, even by their readiness to be reproduced.
The example he uses is a court sitting that wouldn’t happen the way it does if it wasn’t broadcasted and watched by an audience consisting of millions of people.
2b) „Today’s thief steals without stealing, because he is ‚only‘ a thief of images“. It is not true that those who watch/listen to us and record our remarks in some way only experience/have available reproductions of us.
Even if they „only“ own a reproduction of our voices, this „only“ means practically nothing, because thanks to the things we said, they have these things at command, and through these, they have us too.
With that being said, we are truly susceptible to blackmail and controlled by others, because reproductions of us are in control of these others. It is wrong to think that we are unaffected although we are bereaved and deprived. Anders says it is important to repeat this because this enforced indolence is one of the biggest lies of our epoch. Because a thief can now steal images of people and things instead of people and things, he can always claim that it wasn’t ‚actual‘ theft to make himself feel comfortable, and this isn’t an isolated case but true for all of us.
We all like to explore the stores of the world and take with us the things we like, and nobody would think that by reproducing them with a camera, we commit a crime. The business man whose telephone is wire-tapped still has his wallet. The girl which is photographed in an embarrassing pose without her knowledge isn’t raped – nothing seems to have happened aside from a few more meters of films and images and audiotapes.
2c) It’s not just us, the victims, who are clueless about what is happening and live on without feeling a loss – the same goes for the thieves, since they have their prey, yet no real object in their hands. The grandchildren of the straight bandits of the past create a indistinct situation in which, even if that may sound paradox, the absence is absent. And thanks to that, they keep doing what they do without regret.
If they are confronted with their deeds they can always refer to the same alibi: not their own, but that of the victims: For we are still here and didn’t experience a loss.
Nothing is more difficult than comprehending the connection between the current state of tech/science and moral*. We haven’t learned this yet, and that’s why the suggestion that the reproduction processes of our time are responsible for the depravation of our conscience, our sense of guilt, does sound absurd at first. We have to learn this now:
3) All machines that can be used for surveillance are totalitarian. Nothing is more misleading than „philosophy of science“ – the assumption that objects are „morally neutral“, that it only matters how they are used – morally or amorally, humanely or inhumanely, democratically or antidemocratically – because it makes it look as if the moral judgement, the articulation of the moral problems, has always to follow, not to precede, the technological progress:
A moral philosopher’s job is at best reduced to approve an already existing machine and explaining what it should be used for, and for what it shouldn’t. This is an illusion.
4) Any apparatus is already defining a kind of usage as soon as it functions, and plays a prejudicating role (politically, socially, morally, economically etc.) because of its specific working performance [note: for example atomic weapons/military drones are in any case more deathly than, say, normal tanks – I guess that’s what he means.
He says he wrote more about this in the first part, which I haven’t read yet]. The example he gives is once again TV consumption: No matter if you watch cable news, a reality show or a movie – there is no question that TV consumption shapes and distorts people and prejudicates their relationship with the world.
5) Once people are controllable and „deliverable“ („edible“, see above), or seen and treated as beings that may be „delivered“, and once they live like „edible“/“deliverable“ beings, there is no freedom – regardless of the political system, regardless of who exactly is edible/deliverable.
Thus it is contradictory to think that freedom can be upheld by using these surveillance methods. Anders compares this to the thought that it would be possible to modernize coal- and oil energy production thanks to nuclear power in order to avoid that nuclear power triumphes over the other two.
6) Why are objects used for surveillance always totalitarian? Because they at least modify, perhaps even extinguish a metaphysical fact that opposes the totalitarian entitlement:
Individuation – that man, like every other being, is first and foremost a discretum, something singular and individual – at first, everyone is a reserve, an island shielded by walls, no matter if willingly or not, and thereby obstructs the totalitarian state’s entitlement to be omnipresent and omnipotent.
In other words, even though the totalitarian state comprehends the individual beings within itself, they stay outside like gaps in a continuum, like white spots on a map that cannot be accessed or reached in any way. Anders calls this „inland-transcendence“, a defect in the eyes of the totalitarian state, since it would only achieve perfection if there was no discretion in the nature-philosophical sense – no „self-being“, no „privacy“, not to mention no „intimacy“.
7) The totalitarian force is just interested in pushing through its claims, so individuation is not just a defect, but a scandal, a sin against its monolithic entitlement, and accuses the individual of „self-embezzling“ – if such a state would like to articulate its principles, that is.
But since the individuation, the sin of the individual, is rooted in its sheer being, the totalitarian state has to consider and fight it as an ‚original sin‘. However, the totalitarian state can only be successful if both partners, the total power and the ’sinner‘ take part in this fight simultaneously.
And this means firstly that the total power ought to be indiscreet, and impertinent – to intrude/look into the „discreet“ province of the individual, to find whatever was hidden due to the scandal caused by individuation – and today’s means to do so are more or less obvious (surveys, controls, intimidation, spying).
Secondly, the individual’s duty is to give up its discretion, being shameless, to „acknowledge/confess“ its a priori inherent „guilt“ – to give/deliver its inland-reserve to the totalitarian state. This ‚inland expansionism‘ of the totalitarian state is a process which is identical with the imperialistic expansionism. „Expansionism begins at home“ – wherever totalitarianism is beginning, the individual is the first occupied territory.
8) „Integral impertinence“ and „integral shamelessness“ are the correctives needed by a state striving for totalitarianism to achieve its ideal of perfect integrality.
And nothing is more convenient for this than surveillance machines. As we have seen, they are not just typical for totalitarianism, they are also totalitarizing. Wherever surveillance is used with taken-for-grantedness, the key prerequisite for totalitarianism is created, and thus totalitarianism itself.
There’s no difference between a state A which uses surveillance („totalitarian machines“) because it is totalitarian, and a state B which becomes totalitarian because it uses such methods (because it thereby accepts that the individual is consumed), the result is the same (Anders uses a French saying to illustrate this: The children of a drunkard don’t care whether he’s addicted because he is ill or whether he’s ill because he is addicted“.
*There is a whole chapter where the author bemoans the phony design of technological products, since it hides the possibly dangerous functions – unlike a hammer, whose shape is kind of honest and obvious in comparison.