The Goo, Gropius and “Uncompromising Modernity”

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“We have never been modern.” Bruno Latour ***

” And all the biggest assholes are on the future steering committee ! “ XLt analyst

Goo, Gropius and “Uncompromising Modernity”

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The planet’s largest krapitalist enterprise, Alphabet / Google recently ( November ) was forced to back down from opening their “Campus” project in Berlin, after local residents mobilized to stop them !

No one imagines these struggles to have gone away. And all of the initiatives which have been organizing over the last 1 to 2 years to defend the Kiez from Google’s tentacled interests are watching closely what will happen now with re-drawn and reformatted “social project” for the Umspannwerk building in Kreuzberg. Better Place and Karuna are the two entities which Google Inc. ( which retains control of the lease and steers the next moves ) has chosen instead to provide the neighborhood with another kind of service. But of course, once again, these are not plans that the local community has participated in, and no one trusts a data-sponging, tax-dodging monopoly colossus to suddenly play nice. Many are calling it a white-washing gambit. Research is being gathered on what the new angles and relationships really mean, beyond their own syrupy PR. ( Sold as a charity device, they’ve created a new homeless street-sheet paper called “Karuna Compass” to distro some thick propaganda. But more on that later. )

Meanwhile Google has also quietly been preparing another ambitious office project in Mitte in Tucholskystrasse 2. Part of a giant mixed-use project called the Forum an der MuseumsInsel, which includes high-end residencies with office lofts, retail space, high-tech research and digital+media industries.

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While this has not been in secret, it was operating very low key, and little ( or non-existent ) press…. and has not received as much attention or scrutiny as the Umpsannwerk from locals, because Mitte is already seen as a mostly “lost territory” to gentrification. This is an area where there was once the thriving, creative “wonderland-berlin” subculture in the 90s and into the aughts… But after the squatted Tacheles Haus in Ornanienburgerstr finally fell to big money interests around 2011 (?)… and the wilder arts + culture pioneers had already mostly migrated to more viable and supportive districts… Mitte is now considered mostly a tourist zone, and a sleepy one at that… and the slick and cannibalized gallery district is left to do its art biz routines.

Ironically this new little monster vision of “uncompromising modernity” with its sharpened high-tech claws is plundering both Humboldt University and historic Deutsche Post properties. Incredible city assets which Klaus Wowereit’s SPD Regierung had sold off in some mad maneuvers  to juggle the books in the “poor but sexy” heydays.

Google ( and a variety of sub-companies and partners ) will actually be moving into a former Women’s Clinic ( HU ), which was designed by Martin Gropius, the renowned Bauhaus architect. One could say, a REAL SOCIAL project… ( We would have to investigate more the history of the period and Bauhaus. )

While we let the gravity of THAT neo-liberal and privatizing horror-show sink in…

Note: Here we will have to say much much more about how the neo-colonization and krapitalist expansionism into our inner lives and all our public and privatesphere communications ( and public resources ) is the ANTITHESIS of the SOCIAL, and increasingly damaging to any hopes for – to be specific – Socialist infrastructures and governance. It must not be forgotten that this frenzied Panopticon Industry is uniquely intertwined with the military industrial complex building up the internet as a war+spy ( + agenda-uploading ) machine combined with the rabid neo-liberal and digitized financial markets. It becomes an entirely new form of financialization of every portion of our being + identities, and speculating on our individual and community futures. Surveillance Valley, Surveillance Krapitalism, as it has been named by various authors ( Zuboff, Levine and others ) … This is the Suck-It-All-Valley method of betting on our futures ( for entirely their gain ) and fucking up society, in myriad ways we are all very late to fully analyze and concretely react to.

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Added: Some news about Google’s projects in The Tagesspiegel from Sunday (DE only ):

Pläne für einen KI-Campus in Berlin gescheitert by Sonja Álvarez , Oliver Voß

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It’s an incredibly odd coincidence that HKW is hosting a conference this weekend ( and more in March ) about the Bauhaus movement… mixed with panels drawing on the challenges that were being addressed and debated in the 1920+30s ( i.e. Wohnungsfrage via Engels ) … and are clearly re-emerging as another global-scale crisis.

< Jan 19 > How political is the Bauhaus? at HKW – An all-day symposium

More notes on this coming soon… But a quick glimpse: it is important to know that the 100 years of Bauhaus Jubiläum is definitely being instrumentalized for that ongoing Technotopian-Globalization project in 2019. I.e. ‘radical’ – or more likely FANATICAL – re-design of what it is to be human, and the disruption plans ( read: economic game ) does not, by any means, look pretty and sleek like the highly-branded design cult it advertises itself as. Rather this image is one that attempts to obscure the Form + Function as apolitical, when in fact its implementations are a massive invasion of vested interests, and a bypassing or over-riding of all that 1919 revolutionary history, sentiment, revolt and jarring confrontational reality… resurfacing in realtime from below.

Profs. Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley gave dramatic and impressive presentations – The Perversions of Bauhaus + The Bauhaus Virus -  that revealed the dark sides ( and maybe the only sides ) of Bauhaus, then and now. A memorable line from Wigley: That smooth design of that device in your pockets, conceals the fact that ( companies like ) Apple have YOU in THEIR pocket. And pointed out that Steve Jobs was a devotee of that Weimar-era design school, and all those industrializing + modernizing gifts that keep on … taking.

It was an ingenious eye-opener  … at the onset of the big Bauhaus party year … that is about to be installed.

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We’ll have to come back and make the NECESSARY LINKS for the current struggles and strategies !

STAY TUNE !

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*** Footbytes ***

We have very mixed feelings about Latour ! We bring him up as a joke, and as a set-up for our XLt analyst quote/punchline, and alluding to something akin to R.Luxemburg’s “barbarianism or socialism”.  Her quote is now newly added here below to avoid being too vague.

Entweder Übergang zum Sozialismus oder Rückfall in die Barbarei ” Rosa Luxemburg (1915)

We do not intend to promote Latour’s theories from We Have Never Been Modern (1991 ).  His notions of a “Parliament of Things” – ( how ironic to contextualize this with “Internet of things” 30 years later )  become increasingly dubious when one reflects how it helps pave the way for “2nd Nature enthusiasts”… the outrageous hubris of the  technotopians + anthropocene-actuers that are selling our species and the planet down river … and the terrifying potentials for an unfolding Techno-Fascism… and the points of no return ! Without drastic intervention, perhaps similar to a Marshall Plan, climate breakdown and the 6th mass extinction appear inevitable !  So, contrary to Latour’s ( and Haraway ) lite dance with anthropological and philosophy of science perspectives, the current predicaments probably DO expose a nature / culture duality, separation or polarization; One that many indigenous cultures have perhaps never perceived so naively or conveniently as western academics who, wittingly or not, become lobbyists for Future Krapitalist-driven Designs.

Latour may have turned a corner, and become far more alarmist in Facing Gaia (2017 ) and Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (2018 ) … Das Terrestriches Manifest in German. But we’ll have to analyze that another day.

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