( We will post most links at the end, so you can hopefully read to the end of the article, without surfing off into the hyper-ether . Images collected from the web, fotographers still to be added below. )
The High and Low Tides of Chaos #33c3
One of our favorite parts of visiting Congress this year was staying on the east side of Hamburg and riding each day to and from the city center along the Elbe River by bicycles. A long meditative ride, which provided a small window of time to breathe in this unfamiliar modern port and to meditate on the complex dilemmas of a society on the brink of environmental, economic and civic collapse. A society, with its tentacles of technological creations reaching into all aspects of daily life and pulling us like a powerful tide out into deep unchartered waters. Not exactly a hospitable place for mammalian bodies nor democracies, but an apparently seductive place for human brains, at least those who are diligently absorbing all the ads for a disembodied technotopian tropical island somewhere out there in the thick fog.
The industrial organ of this port city has now evolved to be on one side of the river as a separate territory from the living space of its inhabitants, with the appearance of a clean tidy division between the labor, the machines, the “plumbing” and the guts of its primary economic engine on one side, and the areas where people live on the other. But there are of course other versions of interspersed lives + livelihoods on the city-side which we’ll have to come back to further down.
We should preface here that one of our primary agendas to go to #33c3 was to meet with our colleagues from the Uncivilisation list [ #Unciv ] * which is a growing diverse community which develops a complimentary and/or radical Other view of all these technologically-centered frames being presented at a hacker conference. Some are longtime participants of the hacker culture going back to the early days ( i.e. Hippies From Hell ) and now very involved in the current hacklab scenes, primarily in the Netherlands. That said, we seem to have taken a relevant turn, a bend in the river, and have begun to deeply question the possibilities of creating any kind of sustainable culture out of this wave of obsessive pre-occupation with the wired worlds. But no doubt there are others in the group with topics that go beyond and/or contrary to this description.
The list name Uncivilisation is in part inspired from the writings of Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth and their own network created around the Dark Mountain Manifesto * . In short, many or most on the Unciv List, consider our current civilization will ultimately, inevitably collapse, and very likely quite soon. There are many debates about this, and many discussions and strategies for another possible world, and how to address the current and looming challenges regardless of one’s level of dystopian/atopian outlook + analysis.
If you have read any of our own arts + praxis blog, the Unciv peeps are a natural garden for the XLterrestrials to inhabit, experiment and plant fresh ideas + strategies, and to engage in concerned and respectful dialogues re: fertile cultures of resistance.
Since there’s a diverse crowd at 33c3, it helps in focusing this article as though it is an ongoing discussion with Unciv. Otherwise we would be stumbling into all sorts of territories which are better sorted out by the the adept coder/programmer tribes.
Nevertheless, as we express a critique of the current technological-based (+biased) trajectories, from sociological, environmental, humanitarian, philosophical and non-anthropocentric angles – an XLterrestrial psychomedia analysis – which may be crucial to avoiding the pitfalls of a cybernetic agenda + logic… the precarious, unstable and wildly speculative digital exodus now underway … and the technotopian’s faith in western progress, we also gladly welcome those of you on the other side of the river, on the side of the machines so-to-speak, into the dialogue and debates.
The Myopic Tech + The Nerd-Selfies On The Edge of A Raging River of Madness
Ok, enough pleasantries, Houston we have some major motherfuckin problems !
There’s a majority of sessions we have yet to examine ( and will never get to many extraordinary presentations ), so in this report we will only have time to take a tiny cross-section analysis of two crucial talks. Consider this the work of cultural sector security hackers discovering gaping holes in the Chaos perspectives, tactics and approach. We share them as respectful colleagues to raise the alarms, and welcome the community’s feedback !
“Welcome to The Anthropocene?”
Let’s begin with Matt Bernhard and J. Alex Halderman’s talk on US elections. It is absolutely unacceptable that a house full of 13,000 hackers, many activists + several thousand more viewers online should let 2 speakers walk out of the room claiming that the US election was NOT HACKED ! * And that the US public and the global population can retain confidence in the process of US elections.
WHY you ask ?! …
The only way one could possibly come to this absurd and infuriating conclusion is if you immersed yourself in a myopic tech bubble perspective of how democracy and ballot counting works. Which is an extremely naive, cowardly and/or careerist thing to do, given that a racist misogynist billionaire demagogue has just taken the reigns of what was an already dangerously imperialistic and predatory super power. There’s no need to go for the Godwin jugular here, making comparisons to the 3rd Reich times, because things are far more complex than that, and possibly far worse ! Given the contexts of environmental challenges, finite natural resources, deadly corporate krapitalism + globalisation terror now melting down into isolationism and free-for-all neo-liberalism + nationalism, WW4 potentials growing, etc etc … THE LAST THING THE PLANET NEEDED WAS AN ORANGE CLOWN BANGING HIS FLABBY + PUFFED TWITTER CHEST and running global-scale policies from a NEW YORK REVOLVING-OLIGARCH’s PENTHOUSE DOOR !
OK, granted Bernhard and Halderman are meticulous, scholarly and perhaps well-intentioned … though we must say: it’s exactly this kind of detached, soulless academic, scientific reductionism that NORMALIZES ATROCITIES, as they are coming swiflty down the expanding pipe !
A number of people we spoke with ( including an EFF colleague ) have already pointed out that a good scientist will – by necessity – limit their talk, proof or a thesis down to a reasonable territory and scope. Otherwise it will just become a mess of inconclusive theories and speculation. Fine. We do not disagree with their findings; We disagree with the insufficient and obfuscating approach to a nasty life-(+planet-)threatening emergency ! ( i.e. See: Chomsky’s latest article) . In short, we do not and cannot afford to accept a retreat into this myopic techno-bubble !
So in the conference’s own clever title/words: NO, THIS DOESN’T WORK FOR US ! – ( us being the human species, us being the non-U.S. internationalists/globalistas, us being the XLterrestrials ! )
The analogy here would perhaps be if you told us how you devised, proofed and foolproofed a successful method of counting the living and the dead after a national contest of Russian Roulette. [ No offense, blame, or provocation to Russians ;) ]. And then you explained: We can now be confident in this election process because we are improving the paper trail, and the numbers coming out of this Casino-House-Always- Wins Suicide cannot be hacked ! Great ! Moreover we assure you, this is an authenticated and secure democracy, and with that we’ll be better prepared in 2020 to prevent ballot hacking ! Smiles all around, everyone goes home safer, happier.
Pulling out the manual: How To Strangle Scientists !
This (S)elections/horse-race-blinder mentality may in fact be a strange but useful analogy which we can apply to the current trajectory of technological fixes in a complicated world floating deeper and deeper out from reality and into a truly foggy technological-induced mindfuck !
Stay tune !
What we mean when we talk about an election being “Hacked”, and what the CCC presentation describes as “Unhacked” :
For us the US elections are hacked in myriad ways. The list would be too long to be comprehensive here, but to provide just a few of the glaring examples…
- the dilemmas of a locked-in two-party system
- selected Rep + Dem candidates ( now ludicrously exacerbated by the need for candidates to be millionaires and billioniares to run a successful campaign )
- Super Pacs + Corporate Lobbydom
- a colluding corporate media, which downloads to the public the only 2 “acceptable” candidates, and excluding any outside voices.
- manufactured consent ( and edward bernays and perceptual management )
This pretty decent, but brief, Guardian article – Five things that got broken at the oldest hacking event in the world – covering the CCC and the election talk was sent to the XLT analysts via the Unciv listers, to suggest that there is another interpretation of their conclusions:
via Guardian: “The abortive recount didn’t find any evidence that a hack had happened; it just also didn’t find evidence that it hadn’t happened.“
But if you watch the CCC archive, they clearly state that from their conclusions we can trust the results of the ballot count and election process in 2016. [ at c.46min ].
The absurdity here if we must elaborate further… Who cares if you can properly count votes, when the system has successfully gamed the electorate by forcing their desires into a miserably self-abusive choice between RED or BLUE, corrupt Dems vs. corrupt Reps ?! A suicidal roulette or a nation-wide Kool-aide ?
PART 2 on: The Digital Natives in A Dark Anthropocene Back Alley
coming soon !