I will be attending the European Artistic Research Network Conference in Dublin on October 18th-19th this year. What follows is my abstract for the conference. You can find more details for the event itself in the second part of this post.
Michel Bauwens: Karl Polanyi, in his landmark book, ‘The Great Transformation’, famously posited the ‘double movement’ of industrial civilisations, characterized by periodic swings between liberal and more labour oriented periods, such as the welfare state model vs the neoliberal period. Yet, though the latter is in deep crisis, it is not very clear that there are workable alternatives at the nation-state level, that won’t be derailed by transnational capital movements and strikes. Perhaps this means that social movements need to radically re-orient themselves to translocal and trans-national solutions and create adequate counter-power at the appropriate level to counter the increasing corporate sovereignty of ‘netarchical capital’? Just as capitalism is moving from the commodity-labor form to commons-extraction, perhaps now is the time for commoners to practice reverse cooptation? As a case study, we will look at the situation of the thousands of cognitive workers living and working in the global capital of digital nomadic workers, Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, but also about the new solidarity mechanisms being developed by a new wave of labour mutuals (such as SMart) in old Europe, who are organizing solidarity mechanisms for autonomous workers. Reviewing the emergence of new trans-local and trans-national organized networks, including how the token economy is used by sectors of cognitive labor to reclaim surplus value from capital investors, we will inquire into potential alternatives at different scales of governance (urban, bio-regional, nation-state, and beyond).
Our review of the emerging answers will lead to the concept of the Partner State, i.e. a community-state form that enables and scales commons-based cooperation at all levels.
The annual conference of the European Artistic Research Network (EARN) will be hosted in 2018 by the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) and Dublin School of Creative Arts & Media (DSCA) at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
Key-note speakers include:
This two-day conference seeks to address the impact of contributory economies on tradi- tional understandings of the nation and state. Since the 2008 financial crisis, alterna- tive economies have been increasingly explored through digitally networked communities, artistic practice and activist strategies that endeavour to transgress traditional links between nation and economy. Developed at a crucial time on the island of Ireland when Brexit is set to redefine centre/margin relations the conference seeks to engage with a number of themes within this context: nation and inter-nation; the nation and aesthet- ics; art and economy; P2P networks; digital economies; modes of exchange and modes of production; alternative economies; network aesthetics; populism and counter populism; aesthetics and the imagination; activist practices; geo-politics; island, archipelago and continent; centre and margin.
The guiding concept of the conference ‘Inter-Nation’ comes from the work of anthro- pologist Marcel Mauss, who in ‘A Different Approach to Nationhood’ (1920) proposed an original understanding of both concepts that opposes traditional definitions of state and nationalism. More recently, Bernard Stiegler has revisited Mauss’s definition of In- ter-Nation as a broader concept in support of contributory economies emerging in digital culture. Contributory economies are those exchange networks and peer-to-peer communities that seek to challenge the dominant value system inherent to the nation-state. Such dig- ital networks have the potential to challenge traditional concepts of sovereignty and geo-politics through complex technological platforms. Central to these platforms are a broad understanding of technology beyond technical devices to include praxis-oriented processes and applied knowledges inherent to artistic forms of research. Similarly, due to the aesthetic function of the nation, artistic researchers are critically placed to engage with the multiple registers at play within this conference, and to address these issues through multiple forms as they play out live on this island.