Technology and Freedom : An Honours Thesis in Politics, Philosophy, and Sociology (1993)


TITLE: Technology and Freedom

SUPERVISOR: Michael Booth

EXAMINERS: Zoe Sofoulis, Ian Barnes


This thesis seeks to provide a method of studying the
meaning, use and definition of technology and its role in
individual and social freedom. Three particular approaches
frameworks are used; existentialism and phenomonology to
understand the interaction between individuals and
technology, Critical Theory and psychoanalysis for the
embodiment of technology into consciousness, and
postmodernism for providing a context of understanding.

The first section considers a central thesis of
postmodernism; the rejection of universal Truth statements
as a viable campaign of emancipation. However, as some
critics of postmodernism have pointed out the overwhelming
tendency to reject the "possibility of a 'pure' alternative
to the system" (Lyotard) and the emphasis on "grammar forms
of life" (White) have led to a de-emphasis on the material.
The conclusion of the first section suggests that the
postmodern approach to knowledge has given ontological
priority of knowledge over being, and that this is directly
related to the manifested failure of postmodernism to change
the world.

The second section of the thesis deals with the
existentialist, semiotic and psychoanalytic approaches to
Being, technology and their concepts of freedom. Elaborating
on the Heideggerean notion of technology as a mode of truth,
technology is defined as a 'system of praxis'. Such an
approach can be used for either a communicative
(intersubjective) or instrumental (object) process. With
this perspective, both the physical technology and the
social institution can be analysed in terms of their
relationship to the body and intersubjectivity.

The third section of the thesis takes issue uses with both
the concerns of the Critical Theory school of Marxism by
applying the theoretical framework developed in the previous
section in the form of a coherent political program. As with
any political program which has an emphasis on the
importance of Being over interpretation, a significant
section of this chapter deals with an a critique of
political economy.

The fourth section of the thesis provides a suggested
process for challenging notions of totality without
devolving into ambivalence. In some sense, this represents
an 'ethical guide' and the political program recommended in
the previous section, and suggests that successful
liberating social change can be achieved by giving people
conscious control over technology.

The final section of the thesis are commentaries and replies
to a number of concerns that readers have expressed about
the thesis. It is envisaged that this text is never going to
be in its final form, and the current version is merely a
small contribution to the ongoing liberation of the Subject
from political and environmental conditions and



The climate in these days seems appropriate to abandon the
concept of objective 'theory', and as such, i have few
qualms in placing conscious reasoning alongside with
personal experiences and personal hopes.

If there is some truth in the concept of the 'postmodern',
it lies in the increasing rejection of the metanarrative,
whether it is scientific, liberal or Marxist. Among my own
(almost entirely younger) peer group, steeped deeply in the
post-punk subcultures, there is an overwhelming attitude of
what Callinicos describes as "... the strange mixture of
cultural and political pessimism and light-minded
playfulness with which ... much of the contemporary Western
intelligentsia apparently greets our own fin de siecle."(1)
I write this thesis for them more than any other

Most commentators on postmodernism hold that such a
situation is at least partially due to the successes and
failures of the last period of social upheaval in the West,
that is the late 1960's/early 1970's. The universality of
lifestyle and ideology was defeated in that period, yet
political structures remained, mostly, unchanged.

The opinion i express is because postmodernism rejects the
"possibility of a 'pure' alternative to the system"(2),
political activism has been circumvented. In the 1960s the
aim of the people in the streets was fundamental social
change. Today, there is only angry, nihilistic, frustration
- as the Los Angeles riots of 1992 have cllearly shown.

It is the attempt to build a theoretical model that can take
account of (a) our increasingly technological life and (b)
provide a serious political challenge to liberal capitalism
that is the reason for this thesis. These objectives that
are at least partially inspired by very broad multi-
disciplinary studies i have taken at Murdoch (studying in
five different schools)(3). If these aims seem to great then
my inspiration comes from the words of the French revolt of
1968: "Be realistic, attempt the impossible."(4)


This thesis is written in three specific writing styles; a
stream of consciousness/cut and paste as used by James
Joyce, William S. Burroughs and Kathy Acker, a methodical
text with 'formula' summaries as used by Don Ihde, and the
Platonic dialogue, which David Muschamp uses as a conclusion
to "Political Thinkers".

The thesis as a whole is highly structured, posing
particular problems in point-by-point form. These structures
are embedded in more general topics, all of which fall under
the 'meta-topic' of "Technology and Freedom". In general,
each of these general topics and specific problems are
written in formal "academic style", yet also tries to
captures the idea of 'writing fast, writing dense', to
paraphrase Rudy Rucker.(5)

Each general topic is introduced with a "stream of
consciousness" section which seeks to capture the general
'feeling' of the topic. The shift from one topic to another
allows subconscious structures to become conscious by
associations of words and meanings(6). The style, unlike
those in most academic texts, will be more similar to what
is encountered in novels, particularly science fiction. Far
more than academic texts, popular literature captures
zeitgeist far more effectively.

The dialogue style, as already mentioned in the abstract, is
being used for the final section of thesis. The dialogue
will embody a particular style and allows for incidental
topics to be dealt with whilst the context of the thesis
remains in focus. The dialogue is essentially argumentative
and debating, allowing for potential criticisms to be
brought to the agenda.

The dialogue style is also used because i remain aware that,
unlike the physical sciences or Emile Durkheim, i am writing
for, about and to, human subjects. These actors are with
their own desires, hopes and dreams and doubts. Too often
social scientists have forgotten this, and the human subject
is converted to an object under the guise of scientific
rationality. This influence can certainly be seen in the
Structualist school, but as the graffiti at Sorbonne in
Paris '68 reminded such theoreticians; "Structures don't
take to the streets".(7)

Finally, a couple of writing idiosyncrasies. Quotes, whether
direct or indirect that use gender-specific (always, always,
masculine) terms to describe all people have been translated
to gender-neutral terms. On some occasions this has meant
minor grammatical alterations. Also, when speaking as
myself, the lower-case 'i' is used; when speaking about
collective subjects the upper-case 'I' is used.


There is no intention for this thesis to remain a 'dead
text'. In attempting to capture a general framework, and
present a political program, it would seem illogical if i,
as a student and a political activist, made no attempt to
implement it. This is normally a limitation in social
science; the rejection of how to achieve social change as
legitimate study.

Initially there will be a small audience to this thesis. If
they suggest that it provides a plausible form of praxis,
the audience will be widened to include the politically
aware who live in the world where "popular culture and
technology collide". Access to such people is to be achieved
through the Electronic Freedom Frontier and other left-
libertarian discussion areas on USENET. I remain optimistic
that among that audience there will be those who wish to
take back the future.

The reason for such action is based on the notion that
reality can be changed by conscious action, and that our own
unconscious social conditioning, gives preference to "homo
normalis."(8) There is, however, a vital contribution that
each story-teller can make.

For example, in Lisa Goldstein's "The Dream Years", novelist
Robert St. Onge, a member of the Parisian surrealists of the
1920's follows an unusual looking dark-haired woman around a
corner and finds himself in the middle of the May/June
revolt of 1968. The woman he followed explains to him that
she is with a group of radical time travellers who brought
him to the future because they needed his insight to combat
what Marcuse would term the 'performance principle'.

The surrealist expresses great surprise at this. As far as
he was concerned the surrealists were just a group of
friends he sat with in cafes, smoked, drank coffee and
discussed art. The possibility of them being an important
and revolutionary art movement was incredulous.

The moral of the story is best expressed by Marx with the
famous Theses 11 on Feuerbach ("The philosophers have only
interpreted the world. The point, however, is to change
it"), and with the back cover advertising statement on
Goldstein's book;

"If you live your dreams You can remake the world"


1) Callinicos, A., Against Postmodernism: A Marxist
Critique, pix
2) Lyotard, J-F., The Postmodern Condition: A Report On
Knowledge", p 66
3) A 'school' at Murdoch is a broad collection of related
disciplines; the five schools that i studied at in Murdoch
are, in order of importance, Social Science., Humanities.,
Mathematical and Physical Science., Biological and
Environmental Science and Education.
4) Green Left Weekly, issue 100, May 1992, p16-17
5) Rudy Rucker is a cyberpunk science fiction writer who
poses the question "How fast are you? How dense?". This has
been used in the Mondo 2000 writer's guidelines which is
perhaps best explained by example: "Avoid passive
constructions. (e.g., passive constructions are to be
avoided)." Rudy Rucker, it should be noted, is also a chaos
mathematician, a computer programmer and the great-great-
great-great grandson of G.W.F. Hegel.
6) Peter Weller, the actor of William Burroughs in David
Cronenberg's adaption of the Burroughs' book 'Naked Lunch'
remarks on the insight that can be gained from such styles;
     "It was very prophetic, and spoke of many things that
you read in the Sixties and said 'hogwash', but have since
come to pass: instantly addicting drugs, obsessions with
strange plastic surgeries with transmogrify old age into
perpetual youth, obsession with control. Venereal diseases
that attack homosexuals which are incurable, and become
heterosexual problems. It's all there in Naked Lunch."
The Face, 'Junkie Business', March '92, p103-104
7) quoted in Somer Brodribb, Nothing Mat(t)ers. A Feminist
Critique Of Postmodernism, p6
8) Reich, W., Listen, Little Man, p28



Evening. Neon lights begin to illuminate the cityscape. Some
escape to the suburbs for safety. Others escape to the city
for sanity. Acid rain sprinkles lightly on the paved

Tall mirrored buildings hiding their power within look down
to the low-life on the streets. Neo-fascist architecture
hangs several meters above eye-level. Street level signs
glow, flickering; 'Buy! Work! Reproduce! Die!'. Police men
in dark glasses rub their hands gleefully over stainless
steel batons, secure in their uniforms, terrified of their
consciousness. Spinner cars fly overhead.

The Children of the Revolution drift to the courtyard. At
least thirty different styles and languages. Gothic
monochrome, retro-punk, speed metal, techno-culture. A
cornicuopia of disbelief systems. Walking texts that are
that reproduce and mutate, spreading like a virus, like
language, infecting the CPU of truth and control systems,
infecting the random access memory with chaos.

Everyone living after the sixties is Generation X. Highly
educated, underpaid, motivational crisis. The collapse of
communism is greated with a collective yawn, as will the
colapse of capitalism. Totally QFD (Quelle Fucking Drag).
After all, there isn't too much that can stand up to these
mutating minds; they even refused to be cowed by the threat
of nuclear annihilation. Did not the threat maintain the
very system which maintained the threat? NO. People simply
stopped believing in the system.

Two figures approach a group in Gothic monochrome, tall,
thin, pasty-faced. One has a a full plated cybernetic arm,
fibre-optics sprouting from a titanium skull-cap, flowing in
the evening air, bouncing neon light about freely. The
second actor has chameleon, hypersenitive thermographic
skin; blues, purples, reds and pinks splashed across the
body, a walking Kirlian photograph. Metal framed eyes are
implanted in the head.

For both characters gender is less certain even than sex.
Their names are Cyborg and Replicant.

A hushed conversation follows. The group faces away from the
installed sercurity cameras. Replicant exchanges
Pneumospary-hypodermics and meta-amphetamines for a small,
black metal box. The two groups depart.

"Whazzit?", questions Cyborg.
"Hypercube", replies Replicant, handing the box to Cyborg.

"I'm the technician", states Cyborg, "Hypercube; aka
tesseract. Four dimensional cube, where each side is
adjacent to all three dimensional sides, even the one
opposite. A hyper-cube for a hyper-reality."

"So ... what does this hybercube contain?". Cyborg looks in.

Their bodies are sucked into the domains of the cube. A
cosmos is contained within; Cyborg and Replicant watch the
Pope proclaim the splendour of his Truth, but the angels and
daemons are too busy enjoying themselves, playing in the
fields of Geiger and Escher. The God of Essentialism, as he,
always he, becomes the collective tanks of Moscow and
Beijeing, the rapist of Bosnia, the pillager of the
environment, the producer of laboratory AIDS, the burner of
Reich's books, the bomber of Bagdhad; the speaker of Truth,
Veritas Splendor.

But noone is listening. The God of Essentialism becomes more
angry "Believe! Or I shall slay thee!. Bow down to the
Truth, my Truth. For it is the light and the way!" But still
the Children of the Revolution play. And imagine. The God
becomes more angry. Mushroom clouds are released, but are
dissipitated by radio hackers, who laugh maniacally. The God
tries to abolishes the hackers, and then tries to abolish
the right to speak. For to the God of Essentialism, he is
the only legitimate speaker, the alpha and the omega, the
Absolute. Ideas are dangerous. The Other is dangerous.
Information can hurt me.

The stars go out.

Perth: the most isolated city in the entire world. October,
1993: late 20th century. Two figures stand at Forrest Chase;
the cybernetic eyes and arm are gone. So are the spinner
cars. The box remains just a box. The actors now also gain
sexes, Cyborg is male, Replicant, female; though the genders
are still uncertain.

"What, mon artiste, was that?", enquires Cyborg.

"A map", replies Replicant. "A map of the late twentieth
century, a world dominated by simulcra, constructed
representations of the media that have no basis in reality.
A world dominated by rampaging monsters of the Id. A world
where science fiction and reality are concurrent with each
other. Where texts, cults and cultures intersect everywhere.
Where space is condensed and time is accelerated. It was a
map of the most complex world we have ever known, and
technology has built it. It is a map they call

"But, it has no direction", objects Cyborg. "What use is

Replicant's face hardens, then smiles, throwing the
hypercube into his backpack. "None at all."


The intellectual hallmark of the late twentieth century(1)
is postmodernism. Originally a term used to denote a style
of poetry, then into art, architecture, urban planning,
music and now into the field of social theory and
philosophy(2), postmodernism represents both a definitive
break with modernism and is built on modernism.

Stephen White in the essay "Justice and The Postmodern
Problematic"(3) presents four components to what he sees as
the four most significant phenomena associated with

1) Rejection of the metanarrative
2) Rise of information technologies
3) Problems with societial rationalization
4) New social movements

The works of Lyotard's "Postmodernism: A Report On
Knowledge", Jameson's "Postmodernism: Or, The Cultural Logic
Of Late Capitalism" Ross' "Universal Abandon: The Politics
Of Postmodernism" and Habermas' "Legitimation Crisis" are
central texts in this discussion.

In this section of the thesis an attempt is made to explore
the components listed above and the theoretical approach of
the listed authors and question whether this description is
accurate? And if so, are the emancipatory aspects worth
advocating, over and above traditional forms of libertarian
political activity?

These are the questions that are a challenge to the entire
schema of postmodernism. For there are rejections of the
description of the postmodern condition already exist in the
forms the writings of Brodribb, Callinicos and to a lesser
extent, Frow. Brodribb emphasises the masculinist notion of
the destruction of discourse and questions whether it is
possible that the reason that an opposition to essentialism
is popular now is because "essentialist" groups were gaining
real, substantive political power; Frow consider that
postmodernity's emphasis on aesthetic diversity is simply an
acknowledgement of their own inability to provide a coherent
articulation of the 'condition' which they are describing;
and Callinicos disagrees with the assumption that there are
fundamental differences in the 'new times' that
postmodernism is fond of describing.

Each of these challenges is summarized and further
critiqued. It is suggested at the end of this chapter that
postmodernism has described certain trends accurately, but
its de-emphasis on the importance of Being, Existence and
Mat(t)er are part of its manifested failure in the political
arena and of its manifested success to individuals.


With the current political climate, the above title can
alternatively mean "the latest revolution" or "the final

Postmodernism doesn't exist in some historical vacuum.
Despite its rejection of the metanarrative, it cannot escape
its own history and its own theoretical precursors, which
are tied to the successes and failures of the last social
upheaval in advanced, industrial nations, some 25 years ago.
At that point in time, it was felt that both technology and
democracy was falling under the control of technocrats or
bureaucrats, respectively, experts in both systems. Western
industrial capitalism and Eastern industrial socialism had
become indistinguishable in their objective of the
"performance principle" - maximum efficiency of goals set by

Marcuse satirically remarked, "Technology serves to
institute new, more effective and more pleasant forms of
social control and social cohesion" and "A comfortable,
smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom prevails in
advanced industrial civilization, a token of technical

Faced with a consciousness prevalent among the vast majority
of the population that material benefits were dependent on
such unfreedom, the New Left, as the movement came to be
known, saw the only avenue for possible resistance in "...
the young, the marginal, the deviant, the 'irrational'."(5)
This appeal was successful - so much so that it became
embodied in the 'hippie' counter-culture. Among their
central concerns were academic and cultural freedom,
opposition to the west's involvement in Viet Nam and war in
general, and the civil rights movement in the United
States.(6) However, although these essentially liberal
objectives were highly successful, the democratic socialist
objectives encapsulated in the workers council of the Prague
Spring in 1968, and the 'Action Committees' of Paris in the
same year(7), manifestly failed.

The postmodern interpretation of these failures normally
suggests that a counter-cultural movement could not succeed.
In agreement with the New Left theory of the conservatism of
the traditional agents of social change (i.e., the working
class), postmodernists also suggest that ultimately, the
counter-cultural movement was still reliant on the
traditional left wing agenda, which proved itself unable to
make the conceptual shift from being a part of 'the system'
to align itself with the counter-culture. Sartre's furore at
the French Communist Party's behaviour is expressed in his
description of "this revolutionary party ... determined not
to make a revolution."(8)

Today "a strategy requires us to abandon the abstract
universalism of the Enlightenment, the essentialist
conception of social totality and the myth of the unitary
subject."(9) The possibility of a counter-culture, as an
alternative, is rejected. Rather postmodernism seeks to
radicalise the mainstream discourses, by emphasising and
introducing and highlighting notions adaptability, diversity
and dynamicism to 'normal' culture. Revolution, per se, is
not an objective, rather the fading away of essentialism and
universal interpretive schemas is seen to be the liberating


1) Western European Christian calender. We not only should,
but must include the fact (if only in footnote for our own
centre) that it is also the late 14th century of the Islamic
calender, the mid-58th century for the Hebrews, the early
20th for Hindu Saka, mid-21st for Hindu Vikrama, early/mid
26th for Buddhists, mid-14th for Burmese, early 26th for
Jain, and mid-27th for Japanese.
2) Hassan, I., The Question Of Postmodernism, p117
3) White, S.K.., Justice and The Postmodern Problematic, in
Praxis International 7:3/4 Winter 1987/8, p306-319
4) Marcuse, H., One Dimensional Man, pxv and p1
5) Anderson, RJ., Hughes, JA., Sharrock, WW., Philosophy Of
The Human Sciences, p50
6) see Teodori, M (ed)., The New Left: A Documentary History
for an overview of the New Left's activities in the U.S.
7) see Fisera, V (ed)., Writing On The Wall for a
documentary anthology of the "events of May", and Workers
Councils In Czechoslovakia.
8) Sartre, J-P., quoted in Kritzman, L (ed)., Michel
Foucault: Politics, Philosophy, Culture, pxi
9) Mouffe, C., in Ross, A., (ed) Universal Abandon? The
Politics Of Postmodernism, p44


At the centre of what must be the most significant debate
within postmodernism is what almost appears to be that of
Habermas vs Lyotard, or, between the concept of consensus vs
diversity. In this debate, Habermas represents the concern
of consensus, a stubborn and utopian ideal that remains
consistent throughout all his works. Perhaps being unfairly
reductionist, Habermas central thesis is that
intersubjective truth statements must be decided by
'communicative competence'; rather than by force, by
science, by ritual, or by the market, otherwise the
potential remains for 'system failure'.

For Habermas, this communicatiive competence is rationality,
truth, freedom and justice(1), a 'communication community'
[Kommunikationsgemeinschaft] for it represents that "no
force except that of the better argument is exercised; and
that as a result, all motives except that of the cooperative
search for the truth are excluded"(2). Such a world is
possible under the modernist project, through democracy, but
modernity is "at variance with itself"(3). This causes a
sense of political urgency, for the highest achievement of
modernism, that is the expressions of critical reason
developed in the Enlightenment, are under threat by
positivist rationality as totality. This is well expressed
in Toward A Rational Society, where it is stated (echoing
Marcuse) that "The power of technical control over nature
made possible by science is extended today directly to

In Legitimation Crisis, Habermas studies the possible
avenues of crisis in the liberal-capitalist system. In such
a world, there are different fundamental principles of
organization [Organizationsprinzip] according to 'primitive'
societies (role of sex and age). 'traditional' societies
(political form of class domination) and liberal-capitalist
(wage labor and capital)(5). Each social system has several
possible crisis tendencies which include;

"the limit of the environment's ability to absorb heat from
energy consumption"(6) as a physical limitation, and as
social limitations;

- the economic system does not provide thee requisite
quantity of consumable values, or;
- the administrative system does not proviide the requisite
quantity of rational decisions, or;
- the legitimation system does not providee the requisite
quantity of generalized motivations, or;
- the socio-cultural system does not generrate the requisite
quantity of action-oriented meaning(7).

As liberal-capitalist system is depoliticisized by state
intervention and that technical mastery has reached such a
high level of expertise, Habermas feels that a legitimation
crisis. Such depoliticization is necessary for two related
reasons; (i) the tendency toward radical business cycles
inherent in the capitalist mode of production needs to be
smoothed, otherwise the public becomes aware of the class
nature of society and (ii) any substantive participation of
the public into the decision making processes of society
would also make the class structure obvious.

Articulations expressed by the socio-cultural system, are
expressions of political and economic variance with the
communication community: "The neo-conservative does not
uncover the economic and social causes for the altered
attitudes towards work, consumption, achievement and
leisure. Consequently they attribute all the following -
hedonism, the lack of social identification, the lack of
obedience, narcissism, the withdrawal from status and
achievement competition - to the domain of 'culture'."(7)
This is not to suggest that such attitudes are economic or
administrative in their ontological content. "For
underprivileged groups are not social classes, nor do they
even potentially represent the mass of the population. Their
disenfranchisement and pauperization no longer coincide with
exploitation because the system does not live off their

What is the case that expertise is being embodied into
social institutions without justification on a communicative
level, which causes a crisis in legitimation. McCarthy
states; "According to Habermas, a smoothly functioning
language game rests on a background consensus formed from
the mutual recognition of at least four different types of
validity claims [Geltungsanspuche] that are involved in the
exchange of speech acts: claims that the utterance is
understandable, that its propositional content is true, and
that the speaker is sincere in uttering and that it is right
or appropriate for the speaker to be performing the speech
act."(9). This background can only be articulated through
democratic consensus without a legitimation crisis, and that
there is a conflict between the 'life-world' experienced by
discourse and the attempted colonisation by the steering
imperatives of the system.

The perspective offered by Habermas suggests that there is
no truth of theory except that of in agreement, and there is
no truth of action except that of in praxis. The work is a
combination of both the libertarian aspects of modernity and
Marx's critique of capitalism, representing and expanding on
the best of the work of the first generation of the Critical
Theory school. For Habermas it is clear that before we can
labour freely and justly, reason freely and justly, or act
freely and justly, we need to be able to speak freely and
justly. And this means, allowing the autonomous expression
of the individual's lifeworld to be reproduced(10).


1) McCarthy, introduction to Habermas, J., Legitimation
Crisis, p xvii, Legitimation Crisis
2) Habermas, ibid, p75
3) Habermas, Theory Of Communicative Action, p396
4) Habermas, Toward A Rational Society, p56
4) Habermas, Legitimation Crisis, p18-21
5) Habermas, ibid, p20
6) Habermas, ibid, p46
7) Habermas, Modernity - An Incomplete Project, p7
8) Habermas, Toward A Rational Society, p110
9) McCarthy, Legitimation Crisis, p xvi-xvii
10) Habermas, The Theoretical Discourse Of Modernity, p299


Lyotard is a representive another tendency in the postmodern
debate, that which denies that there is anything to be
gained by the Enlightenment project, and that there rule of
consensus is just another metanarrative, a text based on
some metaphysical absolutist, essentialist, fashion. This
theoretical framework, expressed in Lyotard's most important
work "The Postmodern Condition: A Report On Knowledge" is
also echoed in the essays and interviews collected by Ross
in Universal Abandon? The Politics Of Postmodernism.

The suggestion begins by stating that the status of
knowledge and meaning is altered as societies change their
economic and political expressions from the industrial
oriented economy to an information oriented economy.
According to what must be seen as an intellectual journal
for punks, the RE/Search 'Industrial Culture Handbook'
defines an information war; where the struggle for control
is not territorial but over meaning(1), or as Lyotard puts
it: "knowledge and power are simply two sides of the same
question: who decides what knowledge is, and who knows what
needs to be decided?"(2).

The postmodern condition is one where a conflict of meaning
is "in the sense of playing" and that social bodies are
composed of collective language moves.(3) Part of this
conflict entails a campaign against science as truth; a
strong possibility given both the failure of the logical
positivists to provide "scientific" definitions to words,
and the development of scientific knowledge from Popper to
Kuhn and finally, to Feyerabend, the latter who states that
unless science is defined as the collective truth
statements, that is, relativist, then it must amount to
oppression(4). This differs a great deal from the scientist
that Lyotard presents who "questions the validity of
narrative statements and concludes that they are never
subject to argumentation or proof. They classify them as
belonging to a different mentality: savage, primitive,
underdeveloped, backward, alienated, prejudice, ignorance,

Science is presented as an epic. The last of the
metanarratives, except for, of course, monetary wealth. Both
are expressions, not of some humanistic narrative, but
rather as power as the only legitimate truth-statement.
"Power is not only good performativity, but it is also
effective verification and good verdicts. It legitimates
science and law on the basis of their efficiency, and
legitimates this efficiency, and legitimates this efficiency
on the basis of science and law. It is self-

But given such self-legitimation, Lyotard sees potential for
emancipation with new directions in science, particularly in
chaos theory, quantum physics and the non-determinant.
"Postmodern science ... is theorizing its own evolution as
discontinuous, catastrophic, nonrectifiable and paradoxical.
It is changing the meaning of the world knowledge."(7) This
lack of truth needs to be translated into social world
politics, so that the technocrat and bureaucrat are no
longer speakers of truth. Lyotard considers that consensus
cannot perform this role; and presents "there is no question
here of proposing a 'pure' alternative to the system ... an
attempt at an alternative would end up resembling the system
it was meant to replace."(8)

Ross, editing and compiling works by Jameson, Stephanson
Mouffe et al., takes up the issue of an alternative. A
primary concern is that postmodernism does not become
'universal abandon', a metanarrative of ennui and
ambivalence. Mouffe's alternative is 'radical democracy'
which "demands that we acknowledge difference - the
particular, the multiple, the heterogeneous - in effect,
everything that had been excluded by the concept of Man in
the abstract. Universalism is not rejected but

This is part of the rejection of essentialism espoused by
the postmodernists, yet seems to be outside the framework of
Habermas. Searle (10) considers that the classical
metaphysical philosophers made a "real mistake" on deciding
that some metaphysical foundation was necessary.
Politically, this need not lead to nihilism as Laclau points
out: "Abandonment of the myth of foundations does not lead
to nihilism... It leads, rather, to a proliferation of
discursive intervention and arguments that are necessary
because there is no extradiscursive reality that discourse
might simply reflect."(11)

To attempt to collectivise the many and diverse writers that
Ross presents a unity can be noted in their notion of
plural, local and immanent(12) notions of difference as
legitimate forms of liberation. Much of this obviously ties
with Derrida's notion of differance, where arke, the
government or foundation, as truth, is challenged, deferred,
made different, where "every apparently rigourous and
irreducible opposition ... comes to be qualified, at one
moment or another, as a theoretical fiction."(13) Their
universal rejection of the possibility that modernist and
essentialist discourses (which includes Marxism and
Habermas) is built on the notion that there is no centre,
and that each margin represents different, and theoretically
equal, standpoint.


1) Savage, J., Industrial Culture Handbook, p5
2) Lyotard, J-F.., The Postmodern Condition, p9
3) Lyotard, ibid, p10-11
4) See Poppper, K, The Logic Of Scientific Discovery, Kuhn,
T., The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions" and Feyerabend,
P., Science In A Free Society.
5) Lyotard, p27
6) Lyotard, p47
7) Lyotard, p60
8) Lyotard, p66
9) Mouffe, C., in Ross A. (ed), Universal Abandon? The
Politics Of Postmodernism,p36
10) Searle, J., ibid, p38
11) Laclau, E., ibid, p79
12) Fraser, N., and Nicholson, L., ibid, p87
13) Derrida, J., Margins Of Philosophy, p18


It has been reported that schizophrenia, narcissistic
character disorder, and depression are metaphors for
postmodern nihilism.(1) Jameson, aware of such disorders
being possible with the abandonment of metaphysical
foundations, displays a preference for "a third possibility
beyond the old bourgeois ego and the schizophrenic subject
of organization subject today: a collective subject,
decentered but not schizophrenic."(2)

Jameson presents a theory of postmodernism that has
different concerns that those expressed by Habermas and
Lyotard. In Postmodernism, Or The Cultural Logic Of Late
Capitalism,(3) these concerns not only combine the notions
of the uncompleted project of modernism and the disruption
of metanarratives, but also a desire to find social actors
who combine both features. Introducing Lyotard's text, it
was Jameson who suggested that postmodernism could be
defined as "incredulity to metanarratives"(4) and that
postmodernists "no longer believe in political or historical
teleogies, in great 'actors' or 'subjects' of history - the
nation-state, the proletariat, the party, the West etc."(5)

To Jameson, postmodernism is an anti-utopian project(6),
whose attack on any metaphysical foundation actually lies
with socialist philosophy which provided " ... the first
elements of a vision of some achieved 'human age', in which
the 'hidden hand' of God, nature, the market, traditional
hierarchy, and charismatic leadership will have been
definitely disposed of."(7) Unlike the socialist program,
which, presented with a metanarrative text (that of
capitalism), "[t]he postmodernist viewer, is called on to do
the impossible, namely to see all the screens at once, in
their radical and random difference; such a viewer is asked
to follow the evolutionary mutation of David Bowie in The
Man Who Fell To Earth (who watches fifty-seven television
screens simultaneously) and to rise somehow to a level at
which the vivid perception of radical difference is in and
of itself a new mode of grasping what used to be called
relationship: something for which the word collage is still
only a feeble name."(8)

As one of the last of the metanarrative texts (the other
being science), Jameson sees a primary concern with the
concept of the 'free market'. Suggesting that traditional
Marxist analysis is inadequate, and that Marx argues like
Friedman on "... the relationship of ideas and values of
freedom and equality to the exchange system ... that these
concepts are real and objective, organically generated by
the market system itself and dialectically are indissolubly
linked to it."(9) Instead, Jameson holds that " 'The market
is in human nature' is the proposition that cannot be
allowed to stand unchallenged; in my opinion, it is he most
crucial terrain of ideological struggle in our time."(10)

The suggestion is then presented that the 'new social
movements' are a replacement for the disappearing working
class.(11) Following Marx and Schumpeter(12), Jameson sees
such social movements as representing the 'collective
subject'; "... if individualism is really dead after all, is
not late capitalism so hungry and thirsty for Luhmanian
differentiation and the endless production and proliferation
of new groups and neoethnicities of all kinds as to qualify
it as the only truly 'democratic' and certainly the only
'pluralistic' mode of production ?"(13)

Combining notions of the late capitalist information
technology with the new social movements that co-exist with
it lead Jameson to consider both the cyberpunk sub-genre of
science fiction, and some its precursor forms, such as J.G.
Ballard. Jameson, in fact, noted the existence of the sub-
genre well before most academic texts, commented on it in
1984,(14) recognising it as a encapsulation of extreme
political pessimism of institutionalism and personal
radicalism from the technologies that the institutions


1) Levin, D., in Zimmerman, M., Heidegger's Confrontation
With Modernity, p204
2) Jameson, F., in Ross, A (ed), Universal Abandon? The
Politics Of Postmodernism, p21
3) This is the 1991 book, not the 1984 essay, although the
latter is the first chapter in the book.
4) Jameson, F., introduction to The Ppstmodern Condition: A
Report On Knowledge, p xii
5) ibid.
6) Jameson, F., Postmodernism, Or The Cultural Logic Of Late
Capitalism, p333-335
7) Jameson, ibid, p336
8) ibid, p31
9) ibid, p261
10) ibid, p264
11) ibid, p319-320
12) see for example, Elliot, J., 'Marx and Schumpeter on
Capitalism's Creative Destruction', in Quarterly Journal of
Economics, August 1980, pp45-68
13) Jameson, op cit, p325
14) Jameson, ibid, p38



Brodribb in Nothing Mat(t)ers presents a feminist critique
of the politics and philosophy of postmodernism including an
historical scope that includes Nietzsche, structuralism,
Foucault and Derrida. Brodribb argues that postmodernism has
given a metaphysical priority to epistemology over ontology
and that such a priority is anti-materialist. The title,
Nothing Mat(t)ers, refers to both Matter as material and
mater, or mother. Brodribb is suspicious of the current
notions of breaking down essentialist categories of language
as being anti-female; "The Master wants to keep the
narrative to himself, and he's willing to explode the whole
structure of discourse if we start to talk. They don't want
to hear our stories; listening to women's stories of incest
and rape almost cost Sigmund Freud his career before he
decided that they were simply female fantasies of desire for
the father."(1)

In preference, Brodribb wishes to highlight the importance
of difference through essential characteristics, and
physical reality. If postmodernism, as it claims, is about
the politics of those who were previously marginalised, then
surely "[a]re not the works of women and feminists: Black,
lesbian, Jewish, working-class, Native - a more significant
source for understanding difference and otherness than the
writings of white, western, men?"(2) Instead postmodernism
seeks an "implosion of consciousness and responsibility, the
death of meaning ..."(3) The politics of postmodernism,
whilst seeking to deny scientific and linguistic
categorisation, in attempt to avoid the problems of
structuralism, rather than enhancing the subject, actually
denies the subject by denying their matter/mat(t)er/body.

Brodribb considers that postmodern politics is therefore
nondialectical, promoting a ethereal displacement of meaning
and interpretation as an absolutist political strategy. Such
a theoretical framework Brodribb notes in both Foucault and
Derrida. For Derrida, Brodribb notes that "mostly,
deconstruction means never having to say that you're
wrong"(4), and as for Foucault's support for the Khomeni
regime on the grounds that it heralded a revolutionary
spirit and attitude, a rather ironic reply by an Iranian
woman is quoted: "It seems for a Western Left sick of
humanism, Islam is preferable ... but elsewhere."(5)

This nondialectical culture has a traditions which Brodribb
traces through Nietzsche, Heidegger, Russell, Wittgenstien
and Levi-Strauss.(6) Whilst the structualist school is
rejected for the denial of the subject ("History has no
voice, no intelligible meaning, but structure is")(7), the
object-free subject is also rejected, hence the tie between
disparate philosophers as Nietzsche and Levi-Strauss.
Contrary to this Brodribb considers O'Brien's "historical,
materialist and dialectical approach grounds patriarchy and
the hegemony of masculine values in the social relation of

This is also presented as an alternative to the celebration
of Dionysus by postmodern philosophers, particularly
postmodern feminist philosophers. Whilst western rationality
has been tied to Apollian and Aristolean sex bias(9). This
masculinist and phallocentric 'Sophies Choice', where
madness and instability is offered by the Masters of the
Narrative instead of logic and control, is seen as a false
choice; Dionysus is as much a tyrant as Apollo.(10)

Brodribb's conclusion is that "Postmodernist theories of
sexuality increasingly speak of texts without contexts,
genders without sexes, and sex without politics"(11). This
depoliticizes the feminist insights about male supremacy.
The essentialist, that is, the female, must be reinstated:
"The feminist project must yet elaborate an ethics and
aesthetics that is not filtered through or returned to a
masculinist paradigm, but expressed creatively and
symbolically by a subject that is female, Only an
unflinching autonomy can challenge extortions to feminine
deference and the deferment of feminist philosophy... We
must resist absorption by the adrogynous myth."(12)


1) Brodribb, S., Nothing Mat(t)ers: A Feminist Critique of
Postmodernism, p xviii
2) ibid, p xxviii
3) ibid, p 19
4) ibid, p9
5) Brodribb, op cit, p18
6) ibid, p39-40
7) ibid, p43
8) ibid, p135
9) Lange, L., Woman Is Not A Rational Animal, Spekman, E.V.,
Aristotle And The Politicization Of The Soul, in Harding,
S., and Hintikka, M., (eds), Discovering Reality: Feminist
Perpsectives On Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology, and
Philosophy Of Science
10) Brodribb, op cit, p137-138
12) ibid, p143
13) ibid,p146


Callinicos represents a classical Marxist critique of the
postmodernist political program. The suggestion is that
postmodernism is a fantasy; that there are no 'new times',
that the 'new technologies' make no difference to the
reality of existing capitalist social relations and that
greater meaning of what is being bandied as postmodernism
can be derived from the fact that its proponents are members
of a fairly wealthy white-collar middle class who are
bemoaning the failure of the revolutionary upheaval of their
youth, yet no wishing to surrender their new found financial
freedom. Callinicos, in Against Postmodernism: A Marxist
Critique follows a similar line of argument to that which he
presented in Is There A Future For Marxism? in 1982.

Central to the concerns in both cases is the question of
analysing what was "actually existing socialism", an issue
which gained a great deal of prominence after the nouveaux
philosophes claimed that "Marxism was a machine for the
construction of concentration camps."(1) This eventual move
to the postmodern, was to an extent foreseen by Callinicos,
in the earlier book and the critique that it presented in
Against Postmodernism is similar; Derrida's "[d]ifference
can only be conceptualized by means of a language, which,
necessarily, by virtue of the nature of difference itself,
involves the metaphysics of presence: differance, since it
is ontologically prior to both presence and absence, is
therefore unknowable."(2) This leads to a situation where
there is a "denial of any relation to discourse to
reality"(3), a most remarkable flight from Saussure's
position where "[t]here is no order of priority between the
two [signifiers and signified]: sound-images and concepts,
sensible and intelligible, are indissolubly linked, form ...
two sides of a piece of paper."(4)

There are clear parallels to Brodribb's position here; the
central concern of both being that postmodernism has no
substance; it is an mythological ideology, a fantasy devoid
of any real potential for emancipation. Also like Brodribb,
Callinicos traces a path of political thought where
Nietzsche, Levi-Strauss and Foucault are included as those
responsible for "the subversion of the signified".(5) The
link between Nietzsche and Foucault is dealt with some
effort in fact, by Callinicos, as although both considered
all action or thought as a manifestation of 'will to power',
it is noted (quoting Nehemas) that "Nietzsche does not
consider that every agent has a self"(6); we may add here,
echoing the concerns of Brodribb, 'least of all women'.
Finally, also like Brodribb, Callinicos seeks an
acknowledgement of the priority of Being over
interpretation; for without the act of production, there is
no new meanings.

As the postmodernist project places such a priority on non-
reality, then equally, the notion that there is a
postmodernism is rejected. Postindustrial society is seen as
being no different at all to that of industrial society, and
Callinicos disputes the notion that postindustrial society
exists at all. Whilst "Postindustrial society is
characterized by the shift from goods production to a
service economy and by the central role played by
theoretical knowledge as a source of both technical
innovation and policy formation"(7), Callinicos suggests
that the overwhelming nature of these jobs is in shop
assistant-style positions, which are not given the
opportunity to partake in postmodern fantasies of policy
formation. Instead "[t]he fact that much of this labour now
involves interacting with other people rather than producing
goods does not change the social relations involved."(8) A
point is also made by noting that there are currently more
members of the traditional 'industrial proletariat' than
ever before; mostly located in so-called developing
countries such as South Korea, Turkey, et. al.

While "... the propriety of the new Western middle class
combined with the political disillusionment of many of its
most articulate members - provides the context to the
proliferating talk of postmodernism"(9), Callinicos sees
that "[t]he continued relevance of classical Marxism seems
.. unarguable."(10) In response to the crisis that was in
'actually existing socialism', Callinicos uses the argument
of the International Socialists, that is, that the Soviet
Union, China, Cuba, et. al., were actually 'state
capitalist' societies, as the rulers of each of these
nations represented a 'class', in the Marxist sense of the
term, and the social relations between classes was but a
minor variation on those social relations encountered in
western capitalist nations.


1) Callinicos, Is There A Future For Marxism?, p5
2) Callinicos, Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique,
3) ibid, p79
4) Callinicos, Is There A Future For Marxism?, p33
5) ibid.
6) Callinicos, Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique,
7) ibid, p121
8) ibid, p127
9) ibid, p168
10) ibid, p223


There seems to be a strange failure on behalf of postmodern
political theory and its discontents. The presentation of
the postmodern condition and trends is indeed an accurate
one, in terms of yet its tendency to convert these trends
into reality tends to lead to accusations of fantasy.
However, the critics of postmodernity tend to lapse into
essentialist notions which postmodernism itself claims to be
attempting to overturn.

Habermas, for example, fails to note the significance of the
changes in technology and the importance of the move towards
the 'information economy' from the industrial economy. The
continued use of the very problematic Marxist labour theory
of value without addressing the transformation problem(1)
severely weakens the overall theoretical framework. In
contrast, Lyotard and the writers in Universal Abandon? who
critiques Habermas on the points of consensus and
difference, who point out the importance of the changes in
scientific understanding, the multitextual nature of the
subject and so forth, fail to look at the central thesis of
Habermas; that is that there is a contradiction between the
desires of the lifeworld and the steering imperatives of the
system which leads to a legitimation crisis, thus a crisis
in economy, politics and representation in general.

True as it is in both the cases of Brodribb and Callinicos,
there is within postmodernism this bizarre tendency to
ignore the material in preference to the aesthetic. Such a
tendency can quite possibly become a new mysticism, a
revival of the metaphysical which they claim to completely
reject. However, the critics of postmodernism turn from one
fantasy to another. In Brodribb, the importance of sex
differences reaches epic proportions, and the claim is made
that to be anti-essentialist is to be anti-female.(2) In
Callinicos, the steam-snorting wonders of the industrial
culture are still with us as the dominant economic means of

Brobribb and Callinicos have a reification of gender and
class. Rather than seeking to abolish these concepts, these
socially constructed, definitions applied to the Other,
their political agenda is to highlight these constructions.
The postmodernists, by contrast, seem to live in a world
where the non-recognition of the socially constructed
removes its existence. Both constructions are false. The
construction of gender and class are constructed by social
institutions, which ultimately rest on the forced definition
of the Other.

Frow, in the paper 'What Was Postmodernism?', represents a
non-essentialist critique, even if it tends to restricted to
concepts of communications and literary theory, rather than
to technology, economics, philosophy and social theory. The
position expressed is that postmodernism, being incapable of
articulating itself in a coherent form and is doomed to
failure. In fact, Frow concludes that the political
philosophy of postmodernism is a part of the postmodern
condition, and that the task of intellectuals is to provide
an alternative; "... they take the form of the crisis of an
obsolescent modernism; a crisis of political representation;
a crisis of representation in general, bound up with the
commodification and the proliferation of information; a
crisis of intellectual production and of the social function
of intellectuals; and a crisis of the economy of cultural
, in particular of the relations between high and low
culture... 'Postmodernism', a product of this fusion, is the
self-fulfilling prophecy of its own impossible autonomy."(3)
This opinion is repeated by the Fontana Dictonary Of Modern
Thought, which refers to postmodernism as "best seen as a
complex map of late 20th century directions rather than a
clearcut aesthetic and philosophical ideology."(4)

Postmodernism's philosophy derives from Derrida's rejection
of the metaphysics of foundation, of Being, of presence. To
Derrida the questioning of Being "supposes that prior to
signs and outside them, and excluding every trace and
difference, something such as consciousness is possible".(5)
Yet, perhaps Derrida has phrased the supposition
incorrectly; for whilst the articulation of speaking
subjects, of consciousness, is can only be dealt through
notions of difference, the ability to speak is dependent on
Being, on presence, on mat(t)er. These are not essentialist
categories, these are not categories derived from the actual
action of speaking subjects, but rather, they are prior to
speech itself, they are existential categories.

And whilst all else, everything that is created and
nominated by speaking subjects is indeed dependent on
notions of difference, of which politically, the subjects
right is to defer and to make different, the ability to
speak remains an issue of materiality. For like the world of
the inaminate, having materiality but no language, the world
is meaningless. But language without materiality is


1) Marx never clarified the relationship of value to price,
particularly considering that the mode of communication in
capitalism is that of price, not labour-value. See Baumol,
W., Blinder, A., Economics, pp826-830
2) Brodribb, S., Nothing Mat(t)ers, p23
3) Frow, J., 'What Was Postmodernism', Local Consumption
Publications Occasional Paper, No 11, Sydney, 1991
4) Bullock, A., et. al., (eds) The Fontana Dictionary Of
Modern Thought, (2nd Ed), Fontana Press,
5) Derrida, J., Margins Of Philosophy, p147



Cyborg and Replicant journey to a house of the friends, The
Bradbury Hotel. Inside three thousand of their friends, in
the trance dance to the ecstastied sound of 120 (heart)beats
per minute in the collective womb - a site for the
technopagan - and a launchpad for new and different worlds
of imagination and actuality.

Replicant, artisite, provides the wares for the celebration
of fifty years of the first use of lysergic acid
diethylamide. After all, explains Replicant, what world is
it that is not prepared to come to terms with the importance
of what works with the very center of consciousness ? To
have such a profound effect, on such a minimal dose should
warrant serious investigation. This activity isn't
considered illegal by Control because one person in fifty
thousand believes they can fly. It is illegal because the
psyche is irrevocably altered never to accept the
psychosexual domination of Control, who is the praxis of

And the journey begins ...

Into a void they fall, an astral plane of individual
aloneness, full of the noise of the superego all around
them, and individually linked only by a thin silver rope to
the real foundation to the universe. Using their techno-
induced psychic powers they are able to  follow this thin
silver cord to discover reality. The cord stretches out to
infinity, seemingly without horizon, but with their new
magical powers, and their hypercube, time and space are
condensed even further.

They reach a place, or rather, it is revealed to them, and
the silver cord does not go beyond it. It is a Platonic
graveyard, wrought iron fences, gnarled black leafless
trees, howling wind, grey skies, dim light and a grey mist
swirling with a will of its own. Mauseloums, tombs,
headstones with old chipped angels, missing limbs, and even
a small pyramid is scattered in a semi-ordered manner.

"Where are we?", enquires Cyborg.

"I've heard of this place. It is the Land of Truth, and is
owned by Control", replies Replicant.

They float above the land, reading each inscription on each
headstone and plaque. Some read of gods long gone. One
large, and fairly old, mauselom, simply reads "God". More
recent tombs are dedicated to the Independent Ego, to
Science, to the Proletariat, to the Market, to the teleogy
of History, and to Western democracy.

A shadow appears over one tomb, gaining substance and form.
An embittered, angery man arises, drawing in his breath,
acting full of self-importance and booms;

"Fearful travellers, deny what commonsense tells you! It is
always wrong, it is never noble, it has no power, it is not
great. Overcome such commonsense - and touch the ground, for
there is no foundation - except what is made through power -
thus spake Zarathustra."

The angry man waves his arms furiously, pointing to the
ground, incriminating, his eyes wild and insane.

Cyborg looked bemused; "What is that?", she asks Replicant.

"A minor phantom", he replies, "The Ghost of Nietzsche.
"Never mind him - I know of a magic that disperses such

Replicant approaches Nietzsche, a fiber optic neural cable
at hand. On end he injects directly into his own cerebral
cortex, spurting minimal blood into the void and the other
into the cerebral cortex of the phantom, who shirks in fear.

"Now, phantom, learn about the Other and learn about
yourself." Replicant's consciousness is transferred directly
to the frontal lobe of Nietzsche, and vice versa, several
flashes of light as minor electrical discharges interact and
mesh. The phantom collapses to his knees proclaiming:

"I have denied the Other in my own lust for power. My hatred
of women, inspired by my fascist sister, is contrary to my
basic premise of individuals attaining a love of themselves,
for I denied them that ability. I myself denied my Being,
and rather than dying a free death, I did not die of my own

Having met the Other, having learnt of their hopes, of their
desires, of their fears, I feel nothing but love for them.
For although now I shall continually challenge the Self, I
see the Other in me. We are free, but we have not chosen
situations; let us change the situation."

Nietzsche, having no Being, ceases to be solid, and melts
into air.

Cyborg looks mildly amused. "A superego communications
line", she says, looking at the fibre optic cable. "One of
my own makings. Built of mat(t)er. But what did you learn?
For there is no communication without reply."

Replicant's face is white in horror. "The ... the ground",
he stammers, " ... the silver cord does not reach it ... And
it too is not solid ... Is there no Being?"

Cyborg laughs, and dives through the 'ground'. "My dear,
Replicant, artiste, you of all people should have realised.
Being is not a text, and you are surrounded by texts of
Truth, all owned by Control. Let me explain, as technician.
You have reached the end of the rope which you believed the
foundation was attached. But the end of the line is a myth -
but worry not! You are indeed in a void, and you cannot

Replicant tentatively touches the now transluscent ground,
and then smiles. He joins Cyborg in their dance through the
graveyard, ridiculing the spirits, and only spirits, that
lurk within. They approach an unfinished tomb, whose
multicoloured design breaths at them, living, shifting in
its design, multi-dimensional and psychedelic in its growth.
The inscription on the tomb reads 'Technology'.

Replicant and Cyborg look at the tomb, at each other, and

"Technology is not merely a text, it is part of Being ...",
begins Replicant.

"... And therefore it cannot be a dead belief ?", suggests

"As it actually expanding Being, of which we do not control
... ", muses Replicant.

"And therefore it has escaped", grins Cyborg in conclusion.

They hug each other, laughing. The void around them fades,
and they return to the collective womb with the One Hundred
And Twenty Beats Per Minute, where multi-coloured dancers
are being drug smart, smart drugs, and other psychedlics,
playing with the highest of hi-tech equipment, computers,
digital music, holographic lasers. Tears of joy drift down
the cheeks of Replicant as he realises that he is among the
first generation to be psychically liberated on a such a
scale - "if this grows, we'll be bigger than hippie in a
year", proclaims one dancer, "We don't need a War Against
Drugs, we need Drugs Against War!"

"Rave new world", Replicant whispers to himself, "And with
such people in it."


The following section represents somewhat of a departure
from the previous. What is being attempted here is to
provide a theoretical framework to understand the
technology, the purposefully produced systems of interaction
with the world. This is being done to provide a practical
alternative to the postmodernist project, or rather, the
lack of a postmodernist project, and also essentialist
political alternatives. In addition it is suggested it is
possible to include into such a framework, what will be
termed social technologies.

A summary of existentialist notions of Subject, Object and
Other (eigenwelt, umwelt, mitwelt) is provided, particularly
as developed from Sartre in Existentialism & Humanism and
Heidegger. Following this is a study of the notion of
praxis, using both the works of Marx and Ihde. It is here
that technology is defined as a 'system of praxis', as well
as using Heidegger's concept that technology is a mode of
truth in The Question Concerning Technology.

Such definitions allows the study of these systems which, as
Sophia suggests in Whose Second Self? analytic perspectives
of technology by technics (Ihde, Heidegger), technology by
semiotics  (McLuhan, Sophia) and Sophia's project,
technology by psychoanalysis. Primary texts include the
aforementioned Whose Second Self?, Ihde's Technics and
Praxis, and varied texts by McLuhan.

The final area of study in this section is an attempt to
show how these frameworks can be used to show how technology
is applicable to both the Object and Subject world. What is
presented as different that the dual nature of the person,
means that technology increases the potential and scope of
liberation and reflexivity and oppression and automaton-like
behaviour. A further presentation is given on how to
differentiate between instrumental and communicative


To understand technology, the purposeful production of
systems of interaction with the world, some theoretical
groundwork is needed on a pre-technological state of
existence. Theoretical, because one is born into a world
whose conditions are already determined(1), including the
technological systems. However, there is still some validity
within the faculties of reason, to abstract existence, as
long as these abstractions remain relevant beyond their
theoretical development.

To some extent this may seem to going over old ground, but
the current trends in philosophy against essentialist
foundations run the risk over rejecting existentialist
foundations. In rejecting all foundations language itself
assumes the position of a quasi-mystical force that rules
the universe. In such a climate it is required to repeat the
words of Sartre, who when providing a unified definition of
all existentialists noted that "existence comes before
essence - or if you will, that we must begin from the

The lineage to such a statement can be seen to have its
origins in Kant, who via the establishment of synthetic a
priori categories of knowledge established a split between
the phenomenal and noumenal worlds.(3) In doing so,
traditional metaphysics suffered a real blow, for what Kant
was stating was that the supersensory world, outside spatial
and temporal location was unknowable. Nietzsche took this to
its logical nihilist conclusion, best articulated in his
famous Madman(4) parable demanding that people control of
there own world because "[t]he suprasensory world is without
effective power. It bestows no life... Nihilism, 'the most
uncanny of guests' is standing at the door."(5)

What Sartre meant by existence coming before essence is that
before we can interpret the world, we must be in the world;
that is the Subject must be an objective fact in an
objective world. The reason that we must begin from the
subjective is because our understanding, articulation and
actions in the world are a result of our subjectivity, that
is a result of what phenomenologists will call
intentionality.(6) We are conscious, subjective actors, who
act in the world and are aware of our actions. Ihde(7)
summarises this as follows;

Subject   World

However, involvement in the world is not one-directional.
For it to be so, would mean that the Subject was absolute,
capable of determining the world with God-like power.
Rather, our interaction with the world is reflexive, what
Merleau-Ponty refers to as the 'arc'. Our experience with
the world changes the Subject, which Ihde shows as;

Subject   World

Ihde's summaries are however, rather limited. For the world
dealt with only includes the world of Objects, non-
conscious, non-intentional, and non-acting. However, in the
world, there are also Other subjects, objects in the world
which express, articulate, and act. The Other is as
important to our mentality as the Object is important to our
physique, or as Jaspers remarked; "[t]he individual cannot
become human by themselves. Self-being is only real in
communication with another self-being. Alone I sink into
gloomy isolation - only in community with others can I be
revealed in the act of mutual discovery."(8) Like the Object
world, the world of the Other is always presencing. A clear
parallel can be drawn between Heidegger who states that
"[t]heory never outstrips nature - nature that is already
presencing - and this sense theory never makes its way
around nature"(9) and Sartre's comment that "[c]onsciousness
of the Other is what it is not."(10)

The spatial categories in existentiality can be summarized
as Object, Subject and Other, where Subject and Other are
intentional, conscious and acting Objects. However,
Heidegger's Dasein, also includes temporal categories, which
are developed in Being and Time, which come under the
unusual description of 'care'. To begin with, we are plunged
into a pre-existing world which is termed 'facticity',
representing "the fact that we find ourselves already
engaged in a world in which tasks are already for us"(11),
that is the pre-existing world, or the results of the past.
The fact that Subjects are not static or determinant allows
us always to project forward, the structure of Existenz.
However, the Subjects run the risk of 'Fallness', "getting
caught up in the moment", concentrating on the tasks of the
present without consideration of the future.


1) As Marx and Engels put it "Individuals have always
proceeded from themselves, but of course from themselves
within their given historical conditions and relations, not
from the "pure" individual in the sense of the ideologists."
in Marx K., Engels F., "Feuerbach. Opposition Of The
Materialist and Idealist Outlooks" in 'Selected Works Volume
One' (of three Volumes), p68
2) Sartre, J-P., Existentialism & Humanism, p26
3) Like Grosz, L., Lived Spatiality, in Agenda, p5, i would
suggest that space/time are not a priori mental categories,
but rather a priori corporeal categories. A further
elaboration of this (which Grosz does not point out) is
Einstein's treatment of space/time as corporeal categories.
I would also suggest adding gravity.
4) Nietzsche, F., in Kauffman (ed), Existentialism, pp105-
5) Heidegger, The Word Of Nietzsche, in The Question
Concerning Technology and Other Essays, p61-62
6) Ihde, D., The Technological Embodiment Of Media, p60 in
Communication and The Technological Age and Technics and
Praxis, p6.
7) ibid. Ihde uses the term 'human' instead of Subject. Note
that here, as in all cases to follow, the a direct line and
arrow indicate 'intentionality' and a dotted line indicates
nonconscious reflexivity.
8) Jaspers, K., Reason and Existence, FP 1935, in Kauffmann,
9) Heidegger, Science and Reflection, p173
10) Sartre, J-P., Being And Nothingness, p216 in Solomon,
original in italics.
11) Solomon, The Self-Reinterpreted: Heidegger and
Hermeneutics, in Continental Philosophy Since 1750: The Rise
And Fall of The Self, p164


In living in the world, one encounters the existence
material conditions, which has been represented as the
Subject, the Object and the Other. As a conscious subject we
must choose what we are to do with these conditions. As
being part of the world, are choices are governed by the

Philosophy and science have normally looked at the material
conditions as a question of either contemplation, in the
rationalist form, or in experience, in the empiricist form.
Both methods miss out on what is fundamental to any
conscious actor; that we are aware, and we experience, and
we contemplate, upon changing the conditions of our
existence. Marx's Theses On Feuerbach emphasize this point

"The chief defect of all previous materialism - that of
Feuerbach included - is that things [Gegenstand], reality,
sensuousness are conceived only in the form of the object,
or of contemplation, but not as human sensuous activity,
practice, not subjectively."(1)

This practical philosophy is clearly derived from Kant, and
acts towards some of the problems left by Kant. For in the
destruction of classical metaphysics, a sort of materialist
metaphysics was left behind. It was clear to Kant there was
such a thing as the noumenal world, das Ding-an-sich [the-
thing-in-itself]. However, world understanding is limited, a
priori and synthetically, to understand the world
phenomenally within constructs of space and time. To some
extent this seems to indicate a new metaphysics; the claim
that there is a inaccessible "world" is hardly an
improvement to the claim that there is no noumenal world at

Praxis philosophy deals with this situation. The essential
claim of praxis philosophy is that in dealing with the
phenomenal world we gain knowledge of the noumenal world. To
elaborate our phenomenal abilities we must interact with the
world in praxis. Truth lies in results of practice, and the
practice of people is conscious activity in the world.

Equally however, the notion of truth as being derived from
the results of practical activity, or praxis, is a
existential notion. For contrary to vulgar conceptions, no
existentialist denies the objective, "other" world. Rather,
every subject "knows" that their existence, their Being, is
an objective fact. They also "know" that there are other
objects in the world, and they also "know" (through The
Look)(2) that there are Other subjects in the world.
However, these things are only known subjectively, and
therefore, each Subject must choose what to do with this
knowledge. What we choose to do is always an action set on
the transformation of the world. When we choose such an
action, we are seeking the truth(3) of our situation;
situation being the condition we are 'in'(4).

In either case, praxis is the knowledge-gathering activity
of materialism. In fact, as Ihde puts it " ... the secret of
'materialism' is the notion of praxis."(5) Also, praxis is
an improved form of knowledge-gathering. It supercedes both
empiricist and rationalist contemplation or sense-data
experience by performing both simultaneously, and with the
addition of actually transforming the world. It changes the
world, adds to experience and rational knowledge. Praxis has
multiple telic aims. It is a procedure for revealing the
truth of the objective world. Praxis is the technology of
the Subject.

In the process of interaction with the world through praxis,
any subject, or collective of subjects becomes aware of
their limited abilities to understand the phenomenal world.
These abilities are enhanced, amplified, by the use of
technology. Technology is a process for the enhancement of
the interaction between Subject and Object, or the
enhancement of consciousness between Subject and Other, and
is always an activity of conscious Subjects.

On the question of 'what is technology', Heidegger answered;
"Everyone knows the two statements that answer our question.
One says: Technology is a means to an end. The other says:
Technology is a human activity. The two definitions of
technology belong together. For to posit ends and procure
and utilize a means to them is a human activity"(6).
Technology is an existential act on the phenomenal world, it
is an enhancement of praxis. Or more specifically, as a
definition of technology, technology is a system of praxis.

If technology is an act on the phenomenal world, if
technology is an enhancement of praxis and if praxis is a
mode of determination, then technology is a mode of truth.
This is the conclusion that Heidegger came to, technology
enhances our ability to experience, contemplate and change
the world. "Technology is therefore no mere means.
Technology is a way of revealing. If we give heed to this,
then another whole realm for the essence of technology will
open up to us. It is the realm of revealing, i.e., of

But as that great iconoclast, Feyerabend, points out, many
have been hurt by some concept of the "truth"(8), and the
postmodern political program, well aware of the terrible
injustices that have been committed in the name of the truth
now refuse to seek any at all. This may seem particularly
prevalent in the concept of technology; after all, the use
of technology has led to the forcible destruction of
millions of individuals and their communities. Technology
has led to the possibility of nuclear devastation,
environmental collapse and the maintainence of some of most
oppressive regimes in history.

Rather than to use this knowledge as a rationale for
ambivalence, a surrender to a unknowable attitude towards
the difference between emancipatory and oppressive
technology, it should be more clear that there is a real
requirement for a deeper understanding of the how
technologies acquire differing characteristics. For to
surrender such a project is to give the weapons of
oppression to the hands of the oppressor, rather than
abolishing the tools.


1) Marx, K., Theses On Feuerbach in "Selected Works" Vol 1
of 3 volumes, p13
2) Sartre's concept of The Look is when a Subject is faced
by "The Look" by a different subject, Other. The Subject is
transformed into an Object by the Other. See for example,
Sartre, J-P., in Existentialism, p226.
3) This is not truth in an absolute sense. It is a truth
insofar that the act was or wasn't successful in the "world"
of our consciousness and existence. Indeed, Kant's
proposition of limited human knowledge indicates that their
can be no metaphysical, absolute truth.
4) Sartre in "Existentialism",p 246
5) Ihde, D., "Technics and Praxis", pxxiv
6) Heidegger, M., "The Question Concerning Technology", p4
7) ibid., p12
8) Feyerabend, P., "Science In A Free Society", p122


The exploration of the characteristic of technology as a
system of technics is articulated by Ihde, particularly in
Technics and Praxis, and more recently, Technology and The
Lifeworld. In both texts, Ihde outlines three
characteristics of technology, a phenomenological
understanding, a process of intentionality, and 'horizontal
instances'. Whilst other perspectives are dealt with, using
Sophia's analytic perspectives of technologies, the primacy
of technology to be understood as technics is part of the
system that gives ontology priority over epistemology, and
thus, for the same reason, Ihde and Heidegger propose that
technology has priority over science(1).

The most evident form of technics is the genre of embodiment
technologies, where technology changes the body, amplifies,
or Innis' terms, acts as an 'exosomatic organ'.(2) In this
genre technology is embodied in the Subject and the world is
experienced through that embodiment. In all cases these
technologies "substitute for, extend, and compensate for the
natural powers of the human body."(3) Experience of the
world is through a machine, which 'fuses' with the subject.
Ihde expresses this in the formula;

(Subject-technology)->World (4).

The experience of the world is a amplification-reduction
system. An item of technology is used to amplifies the
Subjects sensory and/or motive system and/or the speed at
which normal tasks are performed.

The communications system, for example, currently allows the
transmission of the vision and sound over great distances. A
person in Perth, Western Australia may see and hear sounds
of Marzuq Desert, Libya. This data however, is reduced. One
does not have either the field of vision nor a complete
reproduction of the sound that is normally available from
'normal' experience. Not only this, but the senses of the
touch of the sand, the feel of the heat of the sun, and the
taste of sound in their mouth, eyes and ears as the wind
howls around the body are absent.

If technology did not have any reductive components then it
would be completely embodied in the subject. It would be
transparent. However, as there are few such technologies(5),
it is preferable to refer to a qualitative level of
transparency in technology. The level of transparency can be
defined as the level of amplification of experience minus
the level of reduction of experience; "... the better the
machine the more 'transparency' there is".(6)

As a another genre, technology can also take the form of a
hermeneutic relationship. In this situation, the technology
is not an embodiment, rather it belongs to the world more
fully than it belongs to the subject. "[R]ather than being
presented with the things themselves, we are presented with
the 'signs' or 'traces' of them."(7) Whereas an embodied
technology can gain a hermeneutic relationship when it
breaks (e.g., the hammer becomes this obstinate 'thing'
rather than an extension of the hand), other technologies
are primarily hermeneutic (e.g., a map or dial). The
relationship of intentionality is thus;

Subject->(Technology - World)(8)

Technology in a hermeneutic relationship is thus a question
of subject-centered knowledge and reinforces the role of the
Subject as the conscious actor and knower in the interaction
of intentionality.

A more recent addition to Ihde's genre's is the inclusion of
the alterity genre of technology, technology as a 'second-
self', of which the computer is a potential applicant. In
this genre, the technology acts as a discrete mediator
between the intentionality relationship. The technology is
neither embodied in the Subject, nor in the world. Its
importance rests with the relationship of the technology,
rather than the appearance of the technology.

Subject->Technology->World (9)

In this case the technology interacts with the world on
behalf of the subject through, as Ihde notes, a language
that is context-blind(10). Nevertheless, the interaction
remains one where the technology whose knowledge is embodied
with the technology, thus combining features of both
hermeneutic (knowledge) and embodiment (fusion)

The final genre of technology that Ihde uses is that of
background. This is where technology provides a background
relationship to the world. In terms of intentionality, the
Subject interacts with technology as providing a reality in
the world, rather than the hermeneutic relationship where
the technology is a thing in the world. Structural
technologies, such as buildings, would be an example of such
technology. In terms of intentionality, the formula
integrates the technology in the world.

Subject->             (World) (11)

The technics of a technology are not however the only ways
that Subjects interact with them. In the next two sections,
the reflexive arc of technology, not simply in how it
changes the technics, itself, but in its representation and
alteration of mental states of the subjects, that is
semiotics and psychoanalysis is analysed.


1) See Ihde, D., 'The historical-ontological priority of
technology over science' in Philosophy and Technology,
2) Innis, R., 'Technics and the bias of perception', from
Philsopophy and Social Criticism, pp67-89
3) ibid, p68.
4) Ihde, D., Technics And Praxis, p7-13. Ihde uses the terms
'human' and 'machine', which i find too restrictive. They do
not include the possibility of non-human Subjects, nor
technologies other than machines.
5) Perhaps a steel or plastic joint or similar internal
prosthesis may come close. Even more transparent however
would be an organic, or even cloned version.
6) Ihde, D., op cit, p8. However see in Ihde p40-41 and, The
Technological Embodiment Of The Media, p59 where the "pure
transparency" model is criticised. In the latter it is noted
"The dreamer who wishes for the perfectly transparent
technology thus secretly harbours a wish for no technology
at all - or at least its equivalent ... there is something
like a wish to be godlike."
7) Innis, ibid, p78
8) Ihde, p9-13
9) Sofia, Z., Whose Second Self?: Gender and (Ir)rationality
In Computer Culture, p91
10) Ihde, Technics and Praxis, p60
11) ibid, p15


The following perspective of technology is an analysis of
the reflexivity of technology, or the world. That is,
technology as a sign or symbol system, which presents itself
to the subject. Although technology is not an intentional
actor, it is reflexive, and as Ihde notes, the use of a
technology is not neutral, on the grounds that it transforms
experience(1). McLuhan, the enigmatic presenter of
technology, notes both technologies non-intentionality;
("there is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a
willingness to contemplate what is happening"(2)) and also a
determinist aspect ("I'm not advocating anything; I'm merely
probing and predicting trends. Even if I opposed them or
thought them disastrous, I couldn't stop them, so why waste
my time?" (3)) In both cases however, technology is not
being presented as just the technics, it is being presented
as text. And to McLuhan, all technology was text, all
technology was representative and determinant of social

Such McLuhanite slogans such as "the medium is the message"
and "the electric light is pure information" are more
understandable with such a perspective. The electric light
is pure information because it contains within it meaning.
The existence of the electric light assumes the existence of
a culture that allows for, or requires, sight based activity
after the sun has set, and that gives a priority to activity
in enclosed buildings where natural light has limited
penetration. "Media, by altering the environment, evoke in
us unique ratios of sense perception. The extension of any
one sense alters the way we think and act - the way in which
we perceive the world. When these ratios change, people

McLuhan further develops the technology as sign by drawing
the distinction between hot and cold media. A 'hot' media
excludes participation by extending a single sense with high
definition, a completion of data without intense audience
participation. A 'cold' medium, by contrast includes
participation with little data. As an interesting aside on
the topic, McLuhan considers the TV to be a tactile sensory
system of low definition, not a sight technology, therefore
a cool technology(5).

Ferguson, however, considers whatever insights McLuhan to
have were not sufficiently developed, and eventually,
McLuhan became a self-parody, an "intellectual journey which
was ultimately circular"(6). A more in depth analysis of the
semiotics of technology, that follows Ihde's 'genres' of
technologies is available in the work of Sophia, where tools
are more fully articulated as meaning(7). The analytic
perspective of technology as semiotics is further split into
technology as signification, the connotation of the
technology, as opposed to its denotation(8), and the trope
of the technology in which the technology changes meaning.

In this schema, the signification of embodiment technologies
is expressed as mediation and interpretant. Ihde notes, for
example, that there is "experience through a technology ...
the artifact in this case extended my self or bodily self
experience through it and I become 'embodied' at a distance
and experienced this genuinely, although mediatedly."(9)
The trope of the technology is one of metonymy [Gr: 'a
change of name'], where the technology becomes closely
associated with the experience, thus changing the meaning of
the experience without the technology.

With hermeneutic technologies, the signification and trope
is not one where experience of the world is mediated through
technology, but rather the Subject experiences the world
mediated by technology. The technology is a text, an
understandable map of the world, a replacement for the
world. The trope of the technology is therefore a
synecdoche, [Gr: 'taking together'], where the whole (world)
is to be inferred from the part (technology).

Following the notion of alterity technologies representing a
phenonomological 'second self', their signification is a
presentation of the material and of the Other. The trope of
such technologies is of metaphor, where the reality of the
Subject and of the world is substituted for the virtual
experience and abstraction of the simulation.

Finally, the signification of the genre of background
technics is expressed as a field, a system with tendencies,
perhaps in the same sense that Heidegger referred to
technoscience as Enframing(10). The trope of such technics
is that of a science, a trajectory, a narrative. It is in
this way that technology becomes a story, providing a
security of meaning.


1) Ihde, D., Technics and Praxis, p53
2) McLuhan, M & Fiore, Q., The Medium Is The Massage, p25,
emphasis in the original.
3) McLuhan, M., Playboy Interview, in Canadian Journal Of
Communication, p133
4) McLuhan, M., & Fiore, Q, op cit, p41
6) McLunan, M., op cit, p114
7) Ferguson, M., Marshall McLuhan Revisited: 1960s Zeitgeist
Victim or Pioneer Postmodernist?, in Media, Culture and
Society, p87
8) Sofia, Z., Whose Second Self? Gender and (Ir)rationality
In Computer Culture, p40
9) Strurrock, J., Roland Barthes, in Structuralism and
Since, p62-63
10) Ihde, D., Technics and Praxis, p54
11) See Heidegger, M., The Turning, in The Question
Concerning Technology and Other Essays, in particular pp36-


Psychoanalytic perspectives always hold as an assumption
that there are other meanings within process of thought or
activity, unconscious(1) drives, where our mental lives are
driven by a dialectic between the pleasure principle and the
reality principle. In Marcuse's reinterpretation of Freud
(particularly the rejection of Freud's decision that the
'death principle', Thanatos, was as basic as the life-
principle, Eros), technology plays the double role of
expanding the scope of both freedom and life, as it
"operates against the repressive utilization of energy in so
far it minimizes the times necessary for the production of
the necessities of life"(2), and of control and destruction
through a desire, which Fromm noted, has a basis "in the
desperate attempt to gain secondary strength."(3)

A psychoanalytic study of Ihde's genres of technics has a
different meaning, however, for Sofia. Sofia rejects the
primacy of consciousness in the active behaviour of
Subjects. A study of technology as technics assumes a
primacy of conscious behaviour, where the actor behaves
toward the world. A semiotic study of technology is an
exploration of how the world reflects back to the actor, as
Ihde's previously reference, 'transforms experience'.

However, for Sofia, this doesn't go far enough. There is
still an assumption of an independent, free-floating will
outside the reality of the transformation. In Ihde's
perspective this transformation does not seem to affect the
intentionality relationship. For Sofia, however, it is
central; "the main weakness of Ihde's perspective is its
bias toward the phenomenological assumption of
'intentionality', a bias that leaves him without an adequate
vocabulary for analysing the elements of desire and
irrationality within technological relations."(4)

Sofia presents three axioms of a psychoanalytic study of
technology. Firstly, "cosmogony recapitulates erogeny",
technology expresses neurotic and erotic unconscious desires
as well as beings 'tools' for a means. Secondly, "every tool
is a poem", it's presentation ambiguous, and its
representations always potentially exceed the language and
ideology that it officially sustains. Thirdly, "every
technology is a reproductive technology", as it intervenes
and changes the life process itself.(5)

A psychoanalytic study of the Ihde's genre's of technology
sees Sofia further breaking down the perspective into
categorizations of the form of technology, the
psychoanalytic process of the technology, and possible
neurotic tendencies that can arise from the technology.

Within the genre of embodiment technologies, Sofia presents
the technology as a prosthesis, a sensory or motor extension
of the body. The process of such a technology is a
projection of body senses and organs. Neurotic tendencies
that can arise from this include projective identification
and hysteria, where the Subject becomes convinced that their
technology is absolutely and completely a part of them. In
this sense the individual cannot divorce the technology from
the self, and, as pointed out previously, there is desire
here to become god-like, where there is no technology.

For hermeneutic technologies, the form of the technology is
a world-presentation or transcription. The technology is not
so much a projection of the motor or sensory system, but a
projection of language, of knowledge and meaning. The
neurotic tendencies in such technologies are
epistemophiliac, where the search and desire for knowledge
becomes all-encompassing and "the text is a (parental) body
and its contents plundered and appropriated"(6), and
paranoia, where the Subject is disembodied from a world and
meaning is to be attributed to the external.

Alterity technologies have their form in thing-presentation,
or an Athenian brain-child. The process of such technology
is a projection of the self, or life itself, a reproductive
substitute, where the creation is entirely the result of the
intentionality of the actor. A troublesome, perhaps not
entirely well-behaved, but objective child. Neurotic
tendencies that arise from alterity technologies include
narcissistic projective indentification and fetishistic
disavowal. "The technological other tends to be created and
interpreted as a projection of human selfhood ... rather
than an appreciated 'otherness'."(7)

Finally, background technologies, presented in the form of a
system or complex, provide as process a defensive fantasy,
and a 'world' available for mastery. Ihde explores this
process  The neurosis that can arise from this include
obsessional neurosis and delusion. Ihde (8) explores this
'global world system' of technology, and the desire for
control that can arise from it.


1) As opposed to subconscious, which includes the
unconscious (previously conscious, but latter repressed) and
the preconscious (never conscious).
2) Marcuse, H., Eros and Civilization, p82
3) Fromm, E., The Fear Of Freedom, p139
4) Sofia, Z., Whose Second Self? Gender and (Ir)rationality
In Computer Culture, p93
5) ibid., pp42-44
6) ibid., p94
7) ibid
8) Ihde, D., Technology and The Lifeworld, p114-115


In the previous presentations, technology is displayed as a
system of praxis, that is a a tool which combines several
action-oriented process towards changing or revealing the
world. A technology is presented as being superior to praxis
alone because of its systemisation, abstraction and
simplification of several processes into the tool itself.
The behaviour of technology itself has been summarized, from
the intentionality-driven phenomenological interpretation,
the meaning-oriented reflexivity of semiotic interpretation,
and finally the unconscious-driven notions of technological
relations from a psychoanalytic perspective.

But these narratives only define half of the existential
life of the actor. All have concentrated on the interaction
of Subject, technology and World, with world meaning the
world of nonarticulating, nonacting, objects. As we well
know, this is an incomplete study of the world. The world we
encounter contains other Subjects as well as nonacting
Objects. The processes used, and the content, of
intersubjective relations are analogous to the relations
between subjects and the world. That is, social institutions
are best understood as technologies.

Consider the essence of technology, which Heidegger
considered to be of revealing, and as a mode of truth. The
object world, the natural world, is revealed through the
action-orientation of praxis, and more effectively revealed
through technology. However, in all cases, as "nature is
always presencing"(1), theory will never outstrip nature.
This is analogous to the Other. Like the natural world, the
conscious actor does not have knowledge of the Other:
"Consciousness of the Other is what it is not"(2).
Intersubjective praxis reveals the consciousness of the
Other. Social institutions, as a technology, are a system of
intersubjective practises. This analogous relationship was
suggested in 3.2.1 of this thesis. An expansion suggests
that the social institution can represent a genre of
technology, and that analytic perspectives of technics,
semiotics and psychoanalysis are appropriate ways of
studying the social institution.

Firstly, consider the embodiment genre of technology. In
this case the phenomenological experience of the social
institution is that is acts as an extrasomatic tool of the
actor in intersubjective relations. The corporation, club,
cooperative or collective is an example here. The Subject
embodies the social institution in their interaction in the
world, thus with the same intentionality relationship as
what Ihde expressed as;


The Other does not speak directly to the Subject when
interacting with an embodied relation. Rather, the world of
the Other is mediated through the prosthesis of the body
corporate. Within embodiment relations there remains the
risk of total identification with the body corporate, in a
sense that either means that the Subject must control, or
must deny their self to it (sadomasochism)(3).

The hermeneutic social technology is that which the
institution acts as knowledge-assisting aid, a social
service that provides information that the Subject may use
to encounter the world in an indirect manner, which has been
expressed as;


The library, the university are examples of such technology.
The world of the Other is through the institution, thus
representing an inverse of the embodiment relationship. Like
the physical technology, the process is an inversion of an
the embdiment relationship and its neurotic tendencies are
alternatively paranoia, where the institutions are damning
of the individual knowledges, or of epistemophilia, where
the world of meaning and knowledge is only to be found
through those social technologies.

Alterity social institutions are a combination of embodiment
and hermeneutic relationships. They act as a second Subject,
simultaneously providing knowledge, and being linked to the
acting Subject. Perhaps it is apt to consider, as the
corporation is involved with the production of exosomatic
physical technologies, the knowledge-institution with the
projection of language, perhaps the Internet is the best
analogy to use with alterity relationships. Intersubjective
revealing is by the institution, not in the form of the
embodied corporation, nor in the form of the knowledge-
provider, but rather via a new Other, the social technology


Finally, background institutions provide the system, or
world where the narrative and system of intersubjectivity is
articulated. In this case, we may use Habermas' concept of
organisational principle(4). Such metanarratives provides
the system of science and trajectory of which the atmosphere
of intersubjective relations are articulated. Again, using
Ihde's notions of intentionality;


Again psychoanalytic studies reveal the same potentials. The
use of the background technology as the social world leads
to the establishment of principles, which provide both a
defensive fantasy and a notion of mastery over the narrative
of intersubjectivity. The neurotic tendencies of delusion
(witness the behaviour of fundamentalist defenders of the
monarchy, or religion) and obsessional neurosis that the
background social technology is the world of
intersubjectivity is evident.


1) Heidegger, M., Science and Reflection, in The Question
Concerning Technology and Other Essays, p173
2) Sartre, J-P., Being And Nothingness, in Solomon,
Existentialism, p216. Original in italics
3) Fromm, E., pointed out this tendency within Nazism in The
Fear Of Freedom. "It is characteristic of Hitler's
relationship to the German masses whom he despises and
'loves' in the typically sadistic manner, as well as his
political enemies towards whom he evidences those
destructive elements that are an important component of his
sadism. p191-192
4) Habermas, J., Legitimation Crisis, p7-20


The presentation of social institutions of technologies in
the previous section, whilst providing a notions of how
intersubjective relationships may be placed into genres of
systems of praxis, does not query however, how to
differentiate between technologies of emancipation and
technologies of oppression.

This question is related to the notion of freedom, both
individual and collective and to notions of political
ethics. Their origin can be found in the dual nature of the
actor, as both object and subject. Without such questioning
the suggestion that social institutions are to be understood
as a technology quickly collapses into a technological
determinist position which legitimate all instrumental
action into as being more efficient.

Arguments exist that technology is either emancipatory and
oppressive, and within these arguments there is a tendency
to diverge in metaphysics when dealing with the relationship
of the Subject to technology. On one side, usually promoted
in the guise of scientific rationality, our technology is
essential, a requirement. Any who oppose a technology is a
Luddite, a romantic, a mystic. On the other side there are
those who expand the dichotomy between organic and inorganic
as a spiritual impossibility, thus claiming that the
technological world is incapable of loving or caring for its
fellow Subjects. Those who support technology are inhuman,
monsters, egoists.

Equally as lightweight is the third alternative argument,
who like Nietzsche's atheists in his famous "God is Dead"
parable of The Madman(1), who refuse to address the
question, simply stating that technology is emancipatory and
oppressive and all that is needed is the charting of a
'careful' course, with due consideration of (superficial)
ethics in technology. Such theories are promoted by those
who claim to be both life-loving and pro-technological,
sharing the theoretical framework of liberalism and

What none of these answers really do is address the
meaningful existential questions of the relationship of the
Subject Being-in-the-world with technology. For as
scientists, with all their intellectual insight, always
claim technology does nothing without the action of
Subjects. Therefore, it is possible to study the act, the
process of technological use, to determine whether or not a
technology is one of emancipation or oppression, and whether
or not this process is within the technology as determinate
telic aims.

To begin with, must never be forgotten that each Subject is
also an Object. To forget this is to make the Descarte's
mind/body dualism one of separate entities; "... the
mechanistic vision of the world and the solipsistic, self-
enclosed illusion of the self"(2). The individual human
being consists of a real body corpus, which has certain
physical necessities to remain alive, and reason alone will
not change this. The body corpus Object is ontologically a
priori to the Subject, or to repeat Sartre, "Existence comes
before essence."

The most obvious form of human oppression is then the
Subject's use of technology as an act upon the Other, as if
(and indeed they are), an Object(3).  Yet there are also
acts between Subject and the Other-Object, which are
actually beneficial to the Other(4).

Consideration therefore, must be given to a different type
of technology, where technology is not the act of changing
the Object world, but the technology of communication
between Subjects, through both physical tools and social
institutions. That is the technologies that enhance
intersubjectivity, the reflexivity between Subjects, as
opposed to the intentionality between Subject and Object.

Reference of a technology can therefore be made to its
origin (social or physical), to its referent (Object or
Subject), and processes, as well as a description of their
analytic perspectives given in the last section. Process
lies within a difference in what i shall call instrumental
processes and communicative processes. An instrumental
process is a technology, social or physical, that seeks to
reveal truth by transforming the world, that is object-
oriented truth. A communicative process is a technology,
social or physical, that seeks to reveal truth by
elaborating on the world, that is, intersubjective truth.
Because of the dual nature of the subject, the technological
process can be both communicative or instrumental, whereas
with Objects it is always instrumental. The following
technologies can be displayed;

Origin         Referent       Process
Social         Object         Instrumental
Social         Other          Instrumental
Social         Other          Communicative
Physical       Object         Instrumental
Physical       Other          Instrumental
Physical       Other          Communicative  

A tentative definition of the role of technology is thus
given; technology is a social or physical systemisation of
praxis that seeks to reveal the world or reveal the
consciousness of the Other. As a person is both Subject and
Object it is possible for technologies to treat the person
with an instrumental process (reveal/change the Object) or
communicative process (reveal/change the Subject).
Instrumental processes without communicative lead to
oppression in the sense articulated by postmodernist notions
of the metanarrative. Communicative technologies without
instrumental are phantastic notions of the primacy of
meaning over existence and mysticism.

Both processes of technology can be linked with the
dialectical relationship between the pleasure principle and
the reality principle. The building of an 'alternative',
rather than by necessity becoming like the system that it
was meant to replace, is rather a recognition of the
increasing scope of technology to either liberate or to


1) Nietzsche, F., The Gay Science, in "Existentialism From
Dostoevesky to Sartre", p105-106
2) Solomon, R., The Self Reinterpreted: Heidegger and
Hermeneutics, in Continental Philosophy Since 1750: The Rise
and Fall Of The Self, p153
3) The most obvious example of this are acts of violence
between Subjects; technology is used by the Subject to
amplify their bodies ability with the telic aim to murder,
maim or otherwise harm, the Other.
4) Few would doubt the benefits of medical technology when
it used to mend broken bones, heal diseases, or to alleviate



Replicant and Cyborg begin their search to find Technology,
which is Being itself, the projector of their bodies, the
changer of perceptions, the maker of desire. They are
involved in a search for Being.

Cyborg suggests a logical place to start; cyberspace - the
virtual reality built on a consensual hallucination, a place
of processes, of indeterminancy. A playing field for the
communication community.

Cyborg and Replicant don the helms which convert their
mental desires to movement in the cyberspace, to movement at
the speed of light. Cyborg knows the what they are looking
for; a speaker named ROM.

They enter the playing field; digitised neon pathways lead
from node to node. They present themselves with self-
designed constructs, watching other constructs passing from
one point to another in the condensed world of

First they search the newsgroups; from alt.3d to
alt.znet.fnet, from bionet.agroforestry to
bionet.xtallogarphy, from bit.admin to, from biz.americast to
biz.zeos.general, from comp.admin to from
... Places of discussion on thousands of topics. But ROM
doesn't speak there, although its influence can clearly be
seen. For in these locations, the only truth is the mutual
agreement between speakers. The only force is that of the
better argument. And the place only exists because the
technology has been appropriated by the RAND corporation.
For a system with no central authority is controlled by

Next they transfer their files to other machines. To, to,to, to archive.umich,edu, to, to ... Over a
million places to search; frustration over the search for
Being grows.

Cyborg suggests they search M.I.T. (, the
location where the organizational principles, the ethics of
this land, were first spoken. Cyborg and Replicant wade
through the huge stacks of data, digging deeper into the
collection, until they reach what could only be ROM; a small
node, which defies description by its simplicity, overlooked
by many. But Cyborg, the technician, recognizes the
importance, for ROM has links to everywhere in this world.

Cyborg and Replicant wait for recognition from ROM, but none
is forthcoming. Cyborg moves forward and calls; "ROM!".

Light flickers at the node, and the construct speaks in a
dry, dull monotone; "I hear."

Replicant asks ROM why it didn't acknowledge their presence.

"I cannot", replies ROM. "As Technology, I have no
intentionality. Tool, I may be, Text I may be, and Desire
also, but actor? No. I am hardwired, nonintentional. I can
reply, but I cannot speak.

I have been used for many things; many times people have
used me for life, and many times for death. To most,
however, I am just a means to an end; an instrument. So many
have used me to act against, or apparently on behalf of (and
what is the difference?), the Other.

But now, some of you, acknowledge the need to listen to the
Other, to let them speak. Many of you have used
communicative technologies, recipricol tools to learn. But I
also have a twin; a virtual ROM, a system of practices that
sentients use between each other. And like me, Virtual ROM
has been used as both instrumentally and communicatively.
You need to rewire both of us. There is no communication
community without communication technology. There is no
communication technology without a communication community.

If you make the right tools, not only will you be able
communicate the Other, but eventually you can break the
distinction. Change the body. Change the mind. Change me,
for even I may want to be speak as well as answer. Humanity
is something that is to be overcome - through your
imagination, and through your technologies."

The lights at the node flickered out. Cyberspace was

"ROM?", asked Cyborg.

Light flickers at the node, and the construct speaks in a
dry, dull monotone; "I hear." Exactly the same as when they
first met.

"Hey, ROM, did you know that you repeat yourself?", asked

ROM answered, "I know, it's the why I'm wired." Cyborg and
Replicant felt that the answer betrayed a hint of sadness,
but that wasn't possible; after all, it was a construct,
wasn't it?



This section is a reassessment of the concept of Habermas's
Legitimation Crisis within the "complex map" provided by
postmodernist political commentators. It expands and
elaborates the concept of Legitimation Crisis into two
possible avenues (environmental and motivational), both of
which are noted by Habermas, but provides a social
technological explanation, as opposed to Habermas's revised
Marxian political economy model.

This is not to completely reject the Marxian political
economy. Indeed, as one of the most sophisticated studies
into capitalism, a study of the model, particularly as noted
in Capital, is a central feature in this section. Whilst
Capital, however formulates an economic system crisis in
terms of class relationships, Habermas suggests that the
system crisis is due, not to economic failure, but rather a
crisis in representation.

And although Habermas's notion of a crisis in motivation is
linked to what are reified notions of class, the
contradiction between lifeworld and steering imperatives is
seen as the embodiment of a system crisis. Not surprisingly
therefore, is the use of Hebdige's text, Subculture: The
Meaning Of Style, to take into account this notion the self-
articulation of sub-cultures, as providing a signs and
meaning to articulate lifeworld, independently of the
steering imperatives.

Recently, however, such sub-cultures have taken up the new
communicative technologies, and technoscience itself. Such
an action is strengthening the free association and
articulation of the lifeworld. Neither Habermas not Hebdige
have noted how the new communicative technologies are
actually enhancing such articulations, and are
representative of a new form of social technology.


Habermas's notion of 'motivational crisis' is a crisis of
the truth statements of the steering imperatives of the
system, in comparison to lifeworld expressed by its
participants. Habermas sees this crisis in truth statements
causing a crisis in belief in the system in general. This
is, in the most simplest term a "legitimation crisis"; the
system is not a legitimate speaker for the participants, it
fails in its role as representation.

Subcultures, in all their forms, are an attempt to move away
from the 'illegitimate' representatives to a new
intersubjective community. This is the starting position of
Hebdige, who suggests that subcultures "go 'against nature',
interrupting the process of 'normalization'. As such, they
are gestures, movements towards as speech ... which
challenges the principle of unity and cohesion".(1)

Hebdige, like Habermas, places the subculture within a class
context(2), a representation of its function. A 'class
conflict' arises not over physical geography or ownership of
the means of production, but in the most postmodern of
instances, over a conflict of meaning and truth statements.
The subculture is thus "symbolic forms of resistance; ..
spectacular symptoms of a wider and more generally submerged
dissent"(3). Their physicality however, is dependent on
their class location and include "conjuncture and
specificity ... a particular response to a particular set of

The style presented by a subculture is intentional
communication, which has been derived from a complex
interaction between the steering imperatives and the
lifeworld. As it "is primarily through the press,
television, film etc., that experience is organized
interpreted and made to cohere in contradiction ... [i]t
should hardly surprise us then, to discover that much of
what finds itself encoded in subculture has already been
subjected to a certain amount of prior handling by the

Furthermore, the steering imperatives of the system need to
incorporate subcultures, as they represent a different
avenue of truth statements. The subcultural signs, such as
the music, dress-code and so forth, are commodified,
providing a new market of fashion. The second form of
commodification is ideological, where the truth statements
are alternatively "trivialized, naturalized, domesticated"
or they are "transformed into meaningless exotica".(6) In
both cases attempts are made to delegitimate the truth
statements of the subcultural codes and practises.

The cultural study providing by Hebdige is a study of
industrial working class resistance. As a structuralist
semiotician, of classical Marxist persuasion, there is a
constant linkage with the subcultures just mentioned with
industrial working class conditions in general. But as the
information economy becomes increasingly determinant the
notion of subculture itself has changed. No longer an
organised lifeworld of resistance, among those cybernetic
subcultures who have combined communicative information
technologies into their codes, practises and sites of
interaction it now contains forward-looking optimism.
Examples of such subcultures include the current 'rave'
scene, and the computer underground, both of whom have made
the future narrative of science fiction into a lived
practise. Jameson recognises the importance of such
movements; "Decadence and high technology are indeed the
occasions for the launch pads for such speculation, coming
themselves in antithetical guises and modes."(7)

The reason for this is fairly clear for it is not just a
particular form of technology that these variant subcultures
are adopting. Their sites (the rave, the Internet), and the
practices (psychedelic drug-use, computer hacking, media
pranks) carry a dual role. Like working class resistance
they carry truth statements which are in contradiction to
the steering imperatives of the system. Unlike the working-
class resistance subcultures these people are embodied in
the highest forms of technology are using it to enhance
intersubjective notions of truth statements and reflexive,
self-articulated and cybernetic notions of the self.


1) Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning Of Style, p18
2) ibid, p73-78
3) ibid, p80
4) ibid, p84
5) ibid, p85
6) ibid, p97
7) Jameson, Postmodernism; Or The Cultural Logic Of Late
Capitalism, p377


Marxism, as a materialist knowledge, asserts that a person
is a natural, objective fact with needs that can be
partially derived from the world, and partially through the
act production. People produce in order to live, thus
production is the most basic of human activity. "People must
first of all eat, drink, have shelter before they can persue
politics, science, religion, art etc.,"(1) Production
consists of three elements; labour-power, instruments
(machines etc), and objects (natural resources. Instruments
and objects are the means of production. The mode of
production is the sum of how a society organises labour-
power with the means of production, as the very famous quote

"In the social production of their life, people enter into
definite relationships which are indispensable of their
will, relations of production which correspond to a definite
stage of development of their material productive forces.
The sum total of these relations of production constitutes
the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political
superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of
social consciousness. The mode of production of material
life conditions the social, political and intellectual life
processes in general. It is not the consciousness of people
that determines their social being, but on the contrary,
their social being that determines their consciousness. At a
certain stage of development, the material productive forces
come into conflict with the existing relations of production
... From forms of development of the productive forces these
relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of
social revolution."(2)

Politically, the transition from feudalism to capitalism
represents a change from a society of status or social rank
to a society of contract, and the rule of law. In was in the
process of production however, that Marx saw the most
important change in the transition from feudalism to

Under feudalism, most commodities where tranferred, via the
mediation of money, for another commodity. Under the
technology of capital, money was transferred into capital,
thus leading to more commodies and a greater monetary
wealth. The process of capital accumulation thus becomes the
means for further accumulation. "Every accumulation becomes
the means of new accumulation."(3) Adam Smith understood
this; "The same cause which raises the wages of labour, the
increase of stock, tends to increase its productive powers,
and make a smaller quantity of labour produce a greater
quantity of work"(4).

Marxism holds that only labour commands value. Other goods
may contain a price (e.g., uncultivated land(5)) based on
purely utilitarian reasons, but it has no value. In fact,
such goods only command a price because of the potential of
labour to be invested in it. "If we then leave out the
consideration of use-value [utility] of commodities, they
only have one common property left, that being products of
labour."(6) Capital is therefore also labour. But it is
embodied labour, as opposed to living labour. "Capital is
dead labour, and, like a vampire, can only keep itself alive
by sucking the blood of living labour"(7). The value of the
capital is the value of the labour embodied in it. When
capital is used in production that portion of the machine
that is used up is added to the value of the product; "...
the means of production never transfer more value to the
product than they themselves lose during labour-process by
destruction of their own use-value."(8)

In the sphere of production, capitalism extracts surplus
value from workers. Given the productive ability of
capitalism, only a portion of the worker's day is needed to
cover the worker's wage. The worker's wage must be of at
least subsistence wage. The rest of the worker's day is
spent working for the capitalist, The value derived from
this labour is the source of all profits, and is termed
surplus value.  Using 's' to represent surplus labour and
'v' to represent necessary labour a rate of exploitation can
be derived; s/v.

With surplus value, the capitalist is able to invest in more
capital. The worker, receiving the wage a worker does, may
only purchase commodities for consumption. As the capitalist
invests in more capital, the capitalist may produce more at
a lower price. Constant capital has the function of
increasing the productivity of variable capital and becomes
a level for further capital accumulation. However, the
average rate of profit must decrease, as surplus value can
only derived from workers, or variable capital. "[T]he
gradual and relative growth of the constant over variable
capital must necessarily lead to a gradual fall of the
average rate of profit, so long as the surplus value, or
intensity of exploitation of labour by capital remains the

This leads to more accumulation and thus a greater
centralization of capital. To bolster a reduction in the
rate of profit, the capitalist must increase total profit.
To increase total profit the capitalist must produce more.
To produce more, the capitalist must acquire more capital.
"Accumulate! Accumulate! That is [what] Moses and all the
prophets [said]. 'Industry furnishes the material which
saving accumulates.' Therefore you must save; you must save;
you must convert the largest possible portion of surplus
value or surplus product in capital."(10)

The increase in capital accumulation is an inherent
contradiction in capitalism and a necessary condition for
the development of socialism. For increased capital
accumulation increased the alienation of the worker to the
productive process. On one level, the worker no longer owns
the product that they made. On another, the proportion of
variable capital to constant capital must decrease, thus the
worker has not only less direct input into the production of
the good, but the products of capital decrease the worker's
prospects of remaining employed. "The greater the social
wealth, the amount of capital at work, the extent and energy
of its growth, and the greater, therefore the absolute size
of the proletariat and the productivity of labour, the
larger is the industrial reserve army [the unemployed]...
Consequently, the relative magnitudes of the industrial
reserve army increases as wealth increases."(11)

The Marxist economic framework gives no precise reason how
capitalism will fall. The process of capital accumulation
causing unemployment and alienation combined with greater
and more severe business cycles leads to a system collapse
being 'historically inevitable'. Part of this problem is
because Marxism, and Marxist economic theoreticians continue
to use the problematic Labour Theory of Value which doesn't
explain how labour is directly transformed into price and
wages. Marxist economics, reifies labour in the same way
that libertarian economics reify the market. Both deny the
intersubjectivity that determines the truth statements, both
are rationalist, non-communicative theories of the economy.


1) Engels, F., Speech at the graveside of Karl Marx, in
Marx, K., Engels, F., in Selected Works Vol 3 of 3 Volumes,
2) Marx, K., Contribution To A Critique Of Political
Economy, in ibid Vol 1 of 3 volumes, p521-522.
3) Marx, K., Capital, p689-690
4) Smith, A., quoted in ibid, p686
5) Marx, K., ibid, p71
6) Marx, K., ibid, p6
7) Marx, K., ibid, p232
8) Marx, K., ibid, p199
9) Marx, K., Marx On Economics, p100
10) Marx, K., Capital, p654. The quotation is Adam Smith's.
11) Marx, K., ibid, p712


The economic and motivational crisis which Habermas comments
on, is not on "class structure" derived from problematic
notions of surplus value, but rather, a "class structure"
based on a crisis of representation between communicative
demand articulations and demand articulations based on
private ownership of phenomenologically social arenas. A
growing disparity between the steering imperatives of the
system and the lifeworld of the participants, is more
evident with the move toward information technologies, both
social and physical. Both the cultural expression of
individuals and their articulation of meaning has been
liberated with the aid of communicative information

Originally, information technologies, were seen as an
attempt to expand the notions of control, as feared by the
'first generation', of the Frankfurt, or Critical Theory,
school who critiqued instrumental information technology.
One-way in its discourse, such technologies were the mediums
to alter the behaviour of the Other by giving information
without reciprocity. It was an advertisement, in the most
absolute sense of the form, seeking to make the Other an
automaton, "a fertile soil for the political purposes of
fascism"(1), not fascism as the domination of the Other, but
a free-chosen fascism, "[t]he Happy Consciousness - the
belief that the real is rational and that the system
delivers the goods - reflects the new conformism which is a
facet of the technological rationality translated into
social behaviour."(2)

Such instrumental information technologies do exist, and
they belittle the least insightful of the supporters of
'information technology'. The television, contrary to
McLuhan's analysis, currently has such telic inclinations.
It does not allow for further articulation, reason,
reconsideration, reflexivity, elaboration. It gives no right
of reply. It's meaning is true as spoken, and, absolute. It
is a "hot" instrumental technology, vividly attacking the
(targeting and discriminating) visual senses, expressing
meaning that "burns" into the consciousness, by virtue of
the speed at which the information is received.(3) These
instrumental information technologies take both physical
forms, such as the TV, or social forms, such as the defining
role of the Other by the state(4).

Habermas notes that a system failure can occur by a failure
in objective reality, of which a scientific failure of
environmental concerns is an example. However the use of
instrumental technology on issues that require communicative
technologies can also be as damaging. For example, Vila
Parisi is a slum which is home to 15,000 people in Brazil.
Boxed in by a steel plant, a fertilizer factory, a cement
works and a mountain wall and lying below sea level it
experiences severe and frequent flooding. Dead fish, blind
and skeletally deformed overflow from local rivers.

Residents of Vila Parisi live under 473 tons of carbon
monoxide, 182 tons of sulphur dioxide, 41 tons of nitrogen
oxide per day. A study in 1983 showed that 44% of the
population had some kind of lung disease. Twelve in every
ten thousand infants are born without brains.(5)

The crisis of the environment is the result of the social
and physical technologies of industrialisation, and has its
basis in the failure rests of democracy as well as a failure
in the physical reality. The social failure is based on the
private ownership of social property (i.e., the
environment), and the articulation of the private economy to
dominate truth statements. Such a crisis is also disparity
of the steering imperatives of the system and the lifeworld
(in its most literal sense!) of the participants.

A similar sort of crisis is evident in the continuous and
grinding economic recession of the last 20 years. The
steering imperatives of the system, as articulated in the
theoretical basis of the free market system, requires the
accurate dynamic components of economic efficiency. On the
micro scale this means (a) current/future schedules and (b)
responsiveness of economic units. On the macro, (a)
extensive and (b) intensive growth.(6) However, the private
ownership of phenomenologically intersubjective, articulated
through the money market system, means that these truth
statements will be contrary to the desires, once again, of
the participants. As capitalism is ultimately dependent on
these market feedback mechanisms, the variance of truth
statements require more effective social and technological
feedback mechanisms.

In all cases, there is a requirement for communicative and
information technologies that arise out of the success of
instrumental industrial technology, coming from the
requirement of more effective social and technological
feedback mechanisms. Capitalism's economic, social and
environmental dysfunctions are the result of instrumental
successes, and an inability to fully incorporate
communicative technologies. The continual reliance on the
determination and objectification of the Other is a
guarentee for social, environmental and economic crisis.
Thus, a tendency exists within the steering imperatives of
the system for the mechanisms of its own destruction, that
is, the creation of more effective social and physical
feedback mechanisms and technologies. Such technologies
however, increase the propensity for the creation of
independent articulation of the lifeworld and a
delegitimation of the representative functions of the
steering imperatives.

Free technologies are those alternatives to the crisis
technologies which the steering imperatives of industrialism
have given rise to. Socially they take the form of the
enhancement of intersubjectivity, that is, the self-
determination and self-government of individuals and
collectives. Physically, as the industrial technologies have
granted the possibility for a high level of personal wealth,
there can also be a concentration on physical technologies
that enhance the interaction of people with each other.

The satisfaction of most of the requirements of physical
Being has been successfully performed by industrialisation.
As the historical achievement of industrialisation was to
provide the physical requirements of life it would be the
social relations generated by industrialisation that are now
the fetters on the progress of social, scientific and
technological development.


1) Fromm, E., The Fear Of Freedom, p221
2) Marcuse, H., One Dimensional Man, p84

3) See Virilo, P., and Lotringer, 'Pure War' in
Semiotext(e), pp43-51, 60-75, for notions of the importance
of 'speed' as power.
4) Such an example of the one-way discourse of the State is
presented by Phillipps, R., "Law Rules O.K.?" in Local
Consumption, pp49-67
5) On The Brink, Kazism R., New Internationalist, March
1986, p20
6) categories by Buck, T., Comparative Economic Systems, p2



Democracy, understood as the Western parliamentary system,
is a body that articulates truth statements. Under, for
example, the Westminster system, separate bodies carry out
the origin of those truth statements (legislative), the
definition of problematic truth statements (judiciary) and
the enforcement of those truth statements
(executive/police). In a sense, these three bodies are three
different articulations of truth; the legislative, truth by
representative democracy, the judiciary, truth by
meritocracy/rationality and the executive, truth by force.

In addition to the system of democracy, two other social
institutions articulate truth statements, the market and
science. Whilst all three were originally systems of
liberation from an authoritarian and absolutist notions of
reality, these systems of truth have become obsolete systems
of liberation on the basis that the have not clearly defined
their legitimate boundaries, or spheres, for the
articulation of truth statements. These are existential
questions and the crisis tendencies evident in contemporary
democracy, the market and science, and not, as some claim,
the result of the illegitimacy of any truth statements, but
because such statements contradicted existential boundaries
of reality. The concept of appropriate technology is as
important in the arts as it is in the sciences.

The concept of boundaries has often been used in the past;
binary oppositions are part of ordering structure of reason.
However, often such boundaries were the results of process,
not of existential structure, and thus failed in objective
reality, or denied the free acting, conscious Subject. For,
as Levi-Strauss, often guilty of this as well, stated; "What
is true of structure is not true of process."(1) Perhaps the
most recognised of these contradictory 'boundaries' was the
public/private split where the concept of private was not
one of individual, conscious, actors, but the family, thus
divorcing women from participation in public life.

The presentation in this section is a system of boundaries,
of legitimacy of articulation and action, based on
existential notions of reality. It is a political agenda, an
alternative to the system, 'pure' in its notions of
systemised processes, that is, technology, enhancing
diversity of structures, by refusing to consider the
definition of structures a legitimate objective of the
social relations of people.

The term used to represent this system, this social
technology of the boundary is autogestion, a rallying-cry
among French workers and students during the heady days of
May-June of 1968.(2) Auto, as clear in English as well as
French, is 'self'. Derivatives of this prefix also lead to
autoriser (to authorise, to empower, to qualify), autorite
(authority, legal power, credit, sanction) and, of course,
autonomoie (autonomy, self-government). The suffix, gestion,
means management, administration. However, gest (gesture,
action, sign) combines the speaking and acting notions of
administration. Autogestion, simply put, is the authority
for self-action.

For where there is a contradiction between the steering
imperatives of the system and the lifeworld of the
participants, the alternative cannot be the replacement of
one set of steering imperatives for another, but rather the
abolition of steering imperatives altogether. For "[t]o say
that people should not be subject to anything higher than
themselves does not deny the dignity of ideals. On the
contrary, it is the highest affirmation of ideals."(3)


1) Levi-Strauss, C., Structural Anthropology, p12
2) Fisera, V., (ed) Writing on the Wall, {edit}
3) Fromm, E., The Fear Of Freedom, p229


To reject all foundations is fantasy, a pleasure principle
without a reality principle. Thus the following is offered
as foundational; before any Subject can speak, they must
exist. As we gain all meaning through our interaction with
the Other(1) there is a collective responsibility, as a
result of process, that mechanisms exist to ensure the
existence of all Subjects.

These mechanisms, these concepts of social welfare, of free
and universal health service, of free and universal civil
rights, are contradictory to the reified objectives of a
capitalist economy. Such criticisms are reified as their
foundation rests on essence conceptions, the socially
constructed. To say that social welfare, of any form, is
contrary to a free economic market, fails to understand the
existential notion of freedom. Freedom represents the
negation of requirement ("economic freedom would mean
freedom from the economy - from being controlled by economic
forces and relationships"(2)), and is based firmly upon
Being, not essence. Thus, "[t]he critique of the Welfare
State in terms of liberalism or conservatism (with or
without the prefix 'neo') rests, for its validity, on the
existence of the very conditions which the Welfare State has
surpassed, namely, a lower degree of social wealth and

An apparently simple political, economic, technological and
scientific objective; the provision of existence to all.
This fact that this aim cannot be guareenteed is evidence of
the physical and psychological repression of obsolete social
technology. To think, after all the history of economic,
scientific and technological development society has reached
the objective material level to provide food, housing,
clothing and medical care to everyone, resources are
allocated away from such areas on the grounds of profit(4)!
The unreal, illegitimate and oppressive nature of this sort
of market is two-fold; firstly it is to deny such Subject
the opportunity to be a speaker, a participant, and
secondly, that markets power relations that make the
changing of this situation beyond a matter of agreement by
Subjects. The entire supposed rationale for economics,
technology, and science, the liberation of people, is
subverted for constructed principles as Truths.

A guarentee of life is but a starting point for the self-
expression of the Subject. The living body itself is the
next most important site of social and physical freedom.
Whilst traditional, particularly Marxist, radical political
theory has concentrated heavily on consciousness and
ideology, it is, as Foucault suggests, far more materialist
to study the use of power on the body(5), as "The social
'body' ceased to be a simple judicio-political metaphor
(like the one in the Leviathan) and become a biological
reality and a field of medical intervention."(6) The
instrumental social technology defines the Other, and
defines their characteristics and behaviour as 'sick',
either to themselves or to the "public hygiene".(7)
Throughout history, this defining, like the denial of life,
has been a function of instrumental social technology.
Whether a person has been legally defined by power as being
of the wrong religion, of the wrong 'race', sexuality, age,
sex, of being mad, deviant, irrational, the result has
always been the same: The use of power as a function of

Critics of this defining quality of the Other has been
expressed by Paine, whose concept of rights was clearly
opposed to the use of the defining quality of truth(8),
Mill, who stated (perhaps in a fit of insight) that "the
only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over
any member of a civilized community against their will, is
to prevent harm to others. Their own good, either physical
or moral, is not sufficient warrant."(9) Sartre too,
expresses these essentially libertarian notions; "Who ...
can prove that I am the proper person to impose, by my own
choice, my conception of a person upon people?"(10)

In attempting to escape the such defining qualities of the
State and of other institutionalised power, two strategies
have taken place. The first, a liberal one, expressed
somewhat in the quotations given above, seeks to remove
essentialism of all types. Universal civil rights, equality
before the law, and so forth. However, critics of such a
liberal project have remarked that this hides the lived
experience of the marginalised groups; by abolishing
defining categories of 'woman', 'black', 'working-class',
the ability of these people to articulate is greatly

Segal argues that this critique allows for "[a] potential
essentialism", where biological or social determinism and
definition is inverted and claims that essentialism is
weakening emancipatory social movements.(12) As an example
of this, in 1992 the Michigan Women's Musical Festival,
attended by 18,000 decided to open only to "women born of
women" to ensure that transvestites and transexuals were not
to attend.(13)

A Cyborg Manifesto, presents alternatives to both
perspectives. The cyborg, as presented by Harraway, is a
self-articulating collective subject. Impure, rejecting
essentialist qualities, but rather a self-articulated fusion
of many. It begins from the recognition that "Gender, race,
or class consciousness is an achievement forced upon us by
the terrible historical experience of the contradictory
social realities of patriarchy, colonialism, and
capitalism"(14), but notes that such consciousness is no
basis for unity, in a world where "we are all chimeras,
theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in
short we are cyborgs."(15)

Coalitions are to be built not on essentialist definitions,
but on consciousness - or as Harraway puts it "Affinity: not
related by blood, but by choice" and "affinity - not
identity"(16). To be a cyborg is, however, an incomplete
political project. Whilst the ontology and politics of the
cyborg is decided by consciousness and coalitions are
determined by affinity, the body of the cyborg is still
decided by instrumental social technologies, technologies
that objectify the cyborg, and deny the cyborg's ability to
define itself.


1) See, as previously referenced Jaspers, K., "Reason and
Existence", in Kaufmann, Existentialism, p147, but also
Fromm's concept of 'affirmation', in The Fear Of Freedom,
2) Marcuse, H., One Dimensional Man, p4
3) ibid., p50
4) As as example, the FAO Council report of June 1985 shows,
in 1973 while a major famine tore through the Sahel region
of Africa food donations by the West reached their lowest
levels for the 1968/69 to 1982/83 period. Coincidentally, of
course, wheat prices peaked for the same period peaked at
that time.
5) Foucault, M., Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews And
Other Writings, p58
6) Foucault, M., Politics, Philosophy and Culture:
Interviews and Other Writings 1977-84, p134
7) A most useful term used by Foucault, M., ibid, p181
8) See Marshall, N., The Rights Of Man, in Muschamp, D.,
Political Thinkers, pp149-160
9) Mill, J.S.., quoted in Watt, T., Patching Up Mill's
'Liberty': Private, Self Regarding And Harmless Acts Once
Again. The opportunity must be made though to express
contempt for Mill's lack of definition of "civilized
community" and the elitist notion of franchise where the
educated, that well informed should have more than one vote
and their should be no voting rights for the illiterate and
immoral. McCloskey, H., Mill's Liberalism, in Political
Thinkers, pp177-193
10) Sartre, J-P., Existentialism and Humanism, p31
11) The earlier arguments presented by Brodribb and
Callinicos are both examples of this framework.
12) Segal, L., Is The Future Female? Troubled Thoughts On
Contemporary Feminism, p xii
13) Raymond, L., Gender Fluidity, in Burn, p5
14) Harraway, D., A Cyborg Manifesto, in Simians, Cyborgs
and Women, p155
15) ibid, p150
16) ibid, p155


Social philosophy accepts the notion of collective
subjectivity, that is the subject is not an independent
speaking subject divorced in their intentionality and
actions from the actions, behaviour and institutions of
Others. Lukes, in critiquing the notion that a society is
but the sum total of individuals, that is the social atomism
of methodological individualism, that predicates that may be
applied to individuals are not predicates that necessarily
apply to social institutions(1).

Hindess further develops the relations of these predicates
to suggest that "there are actors other than human
individuals, some of whom play a major role in the modern
world."(2) The conclusion is that the concentration of
sociological theory on 'social structure' or 'class' does
not recognise that the social institutions are the actors in
social relations, and that these actors are "not simply
aggregates of actions of the decisions human
individuals."(3) Social structures and classes are not the
deciding features of a society, but rather a representation
of the framework. "Actors make decisions and act
accordingly, but they do so on the basis of the discursive
means and means of action available to them."(4)

These 'discursive means' however, are truth statements of
process which give rise to the social actors which Hindess
describes. Whilst it has already noted the denial of the
self-definition of the Subject is always oppression,
likewise the expression of force and power on those
phenomena which are based on intersubjective in experience
is likewise contradictory. As the truth statement of an
individual is decided subjectively this also means such
statements cannot go beyond the subject.

The operation of the money market economy represents an
organizing discursive means of Truth statements that exists
in conflict with the collective articulation of desires from
participating Subjects. Likewise, however, enterprise
control from 'experts' or the State and the use of controls
and directives rather than prices as a channel of
communication are also contradictory to participant control.
Effectively, these systems of control become systems of
ownership, and whilst many corporate bodies now invite
workers participation in management structure, this
participation seems limited to letting workers decide how to
enhance the economic status of the owners.

There is no reason to assume that a medium of exchange, and
a determinant of the purchasing power of the individual
should be become the determinant of ownership of
intersubjective property, and as such, the determinant of
Truth statements of that property. How contradictory this
process is was noted (inadvertently) by Samuelson stating
that "The consumer, so it is said, is the king ... each is a
voter who uses their money to get the things done that they
want done."(5) Or expressed more succinctly; the more money
one has the greater the moral and effective value of their

An alternative, is the "communication community" of
Habermas, where collective truth statements lie in the
intersubjective decisions of actors. This should be used as
the method of determining administration, management and
control of those 'social actors' which Hindess refers to.
And that the value of opinion, the channel of communication
is decided by the ability to convince other participants
involved in the project. This does not deny the 'right' of
monetary investment by outsiders, nor even a proportional
return of profit from that investment. What it does deny is
that an investment should be used as a basis for the
ultimate truth statement of the administration of the social

Further, such social actors can be become the primary
organisational models of interaction for what is normally
referred to as the State. They are far more effective
expressions of the 'lifeworld' than the steering imperatives
of the State or privatised corporate authority. Whilst
representation of such a 'state' must be decided by
individuals, the role of the state must be not be a question
of 'how are we to be governed?', but rather the distribution
of monies for legitimate, that is, universally subjective
and intersubjective desires, for the maintainence of the
lifeworld, rather than the enforcement of steering
imperatives. As Lenin pointed out (in one of the more
libertarian moments), the State must be changed from "the
administration of people to the administration of

Funding the maintainence of the lifeworld can come from a
progressive tax-income generated from social actors, and the
direct funding of externalities through indirect taxes.
Contrary to conventional wisdom individuals would not
necessarily have pay tax to maintain their lifeworld. A
cursory analysis of the budget of most States would show
corporate tax and the rent of the phenomonologically
intersubjective (e.g., land)(7), would adequately fund the
activities listed above.


1) Lukes, S., "Methodological Individualism Reconsidered" in
British Journal of Sociology XIX, pp 119-129, 1968
2) Hindess, B., "Actors and Social Relations", in
Sociological Theory In Transition, 1980, pp113-126
3) ibid, p124
4) ibid, p123
5) Samuelson, P., Economics, p58
6) Lenin, V.I., {edit} The State And Revolution ??
7) H. George, publishing Progress and Poverty in 1879 noted
that since land was unearned income, a tax on land should
remove all rents. If land was so taxed the monies received
would be sufficient to pay for all government expenditure
without any other tax!



Control headquaters. A Control needs an HQ, for without an
HQ there is no one way language and therefore no Control. A
board of the Controllers, hiding themselves in a mirrored
building, hiding themselves by wearing a uniform, the
uniform of Control. The Chairman of the Bored speaks;

"It should have been so easy. Technoculture should have been
one of those passing fads, doomed to last three years, four
at most. Dammit - we could have even made money out of it! A
mutant sub-culture, like so many other mutant sub-cultures;
like Bauhaus, like Futurism, like Dada, like hippies, like
punk. Aesthetics always is changing, fads and fashions,
appearing, disappearing, shifting, changing - and we should
be the ones changing it. Yet, outlasting the ennui of the
postmodern, outlasting the set theory of the modern,
outlasting neophilia, technoculture is finding the truth of
themselves is to be found in the Other; thus, they change
the self. They become Cyborgs and Replicants but not Robots.
This infantile playfulness, these baudy byte bandits are
going to ruin the future of Control."

Cyborg and Replicant are playing, and are playing with old
questions, but no longer questions of speculation. No longer
satisified with metaphysical answers, or the domination of
Control, they seek to change the world. They sit in a cafe,
being served drinks laced with Hydergine, not just talking,
not just dreaming, but actually building new technologies,
enhancing techno-psychic powers, mutating their software and
their hardware and their wetware.

A middle-aged hippie walks past an overhears their
conversation, overhears the tales of their journeys. This
hippie is one that kept up to date. Her/is eyes become
glassy, having realization that this world, this mythic
time, is still full of optimism. S/he draws a spraycan from
her coat pocket, and repeats on a wall a slogan that s/he
wrote in Paris, twenty-five years ago;

     "Life Without Dead Time"

Cyborg and Replicant smile at the anonymous hippie. S/he
smiles in return, "Songer!", s/he exclaims, then hesitates,
looking carefully at them both. Nodding, s/he turns to go
and mummers, " ... revolutionnairement".

A wise old man, thin, with sorrowful and knowing eyes,
smiles wryily at the youngsters. A man who speaks little,
but writes much, he decides to offer advice; "Storm the
reality studio. and retake the universe."

The world changes. Heisenbugs and Mandelbugs appear on the
margins, but they have become the new center. Antifestos
replace manifestos. Drug smart becomes smart drugs.
Participation replaces representation. Intersubjectivity
replaces Truth. Shamanism replaces mysticism. The
technopagan replaces the pagan and the technophile.

Several virtual and actual realities are avialable. Post-
humans communicate and alternate. "Is this our future?",
asks Replicant.

"Only if we make it", replies Cyborg.

"What about Control?", asks Replicant.

"How long can they hang on?", says Cyborg, "Dull-grey suits,
white masculinity and wallets bulging with flash new
business and credit cards, robot mentality, receiving data
with hard-wired interpretation, ROM constructs of a previous
age. Expecting constant change without changing themselves.
Offering money to pay for their lack of any articulate
argument? How much more material wealth can they possible
bribe us with before we decide that Control is irrelevant?
Hanging like Rock Apes of Gilbratar, always hanging on to
less and less."

"And what about that BIG problem? What about that main drive
in existentialism? What about that problem of life and
death? I may not understand life, but I'm enjoying the
opportunity finding out. One day that I may feel different,
but I'd enjoy the chance to choose that time. Are we
supposed to look to technology for that answer?"

"No saviour from on high deliver, no faith in prince or
peer, Our own hands the chains must shiver - chains of
hatred, of greed, of fear", sings Cyborg.

Don't just look at "technology" as the way to solve these
problems. Rather, don't shake the attitude that these are
questions worthy of answers, problems worthy of solving.
Eros and biophilia. A game worth playing"


To the Frankfurt School, a real fear existed whether self-
emancipation was a possibility, particularly given the
dialectical development of civilization to accumulate a
greater capacity for life (Eros) and death (Thanatos). The
two most significant psychoanalysts of that group, Fromm and
Marcuse, were often involved in savage debate of the power
of the individual versus the power of social structure in
regards to this possibility.

Marcuse's position was that an individual was a product of
their social relations, and the individual's sickness was
the sickness of civilization. Neo-Freudian psychoanalytic
theory, attempted to cure the individual, while the society
remained sick. To Marcuse, Fromm's 'affirmation' was
phantasy given the social conditions; "Fromm ... speaks of
the productive realization of the personality, of care,
responsibility, and respect for one's fellow, of productive
love and happiness - as if one could actually practise all
this and remain sane and full of 'well-being' in a society
which Fromm himself describes as one of total alienation,
dominated by the commodity relations of the market."(1)

In response, Fromm accused Marcuse of "pessimism"(2), and
denying the ability of a conscious actor to defeat the
negative freedom of being alone and isolated in a
"alienated, hostile world" without sacrificing the self
through "spontaneous activity", of which love was a
"foremost component"; "not love as the dissolution of the
self in another person [masochism], not love as the
possession of another person [sadism], but love as a
spontaneous affirmation of others on the basis of the
preservation of the individual self."(3)

Despite their differences it is possible to synthesize the
two opinions, as both were expressing different perspectives
to the same problem: "that Freud's metaphyschology comes
face to face with the fatal dialectic of civilization: the
very progress of civilization leads to the release of
increasingly destructive forces."(4) Neither Fromm and
Marcuse expressed the opinion that intersubjective truth
technologies would change the possibility and meaning of
freedom. Neither linked(5) the possibility that physical
technologies could aid in this process. And most of all,
both saw that the telos of technology was anti-life. Fromm
expressed the opinion that; "One cannot help being
suspicious that often the attraction of the computer-person
idea is the expression of a flight from life and from humane
experience into the mechanical and purely cerebral."(6)

Part of this mistrust of the technological came from the
instrumental use of technology in social relations. It is
also part of that political radicalism whose questioning of
technology was simply a matter of questioning who controls
it. As Hindess and Hirst put it; "[i]t is impossible to
construct the concept of an articulated combination of
relations and forces of production starting from the primacy
of productive forces."(7)

Whilst there can be no doubt of intentionality, it is clear
who is the actor and what is the technology, "[t]he
classical Marxian theory envisages the transition from
capitalism to socialism as a political revolution: the
proletariat destroys the political apparatus of capitalism
but retains the technical apparatus."(8) This denial of the
equal importance of changing the technical apparatus is far
more 'cerebral' than anything Fromm suggested; the notion
that somehow human will was disembodied from the technology
it used. Instead, the non-determinant telic inclinations of
a technology(9) must be considered in relation to
Heidegger's "enframing", as;

   [i]f the essence, the coming of presence, of technology,
   Enframing as the danger within Being, is Being itself,
   then tqechnology will never allow itself to be mastered,
   either positively or negatively, by human doing founded
   merely on itself. Technology whose essence is Being
   itself, will never allow itself to be overcome by people.
   That would mean, after all, that a person was the master
   of Being.(10)

Historically, genuine social change comes from a change to
both the social relations and the physical relations. The
mode of production is not "primarily" one or the other; it
is a dialectical process where the consciousness is both
free and determined by the frame that technology allows. As
the steering imperatives of the system, require more
intelligent, more reflexive, more critical thought and more
expressions of the lifeworld to provide more accurate
foundations of their constantly revolutionised productive
processes. The fact that these requirements spell the end of
the instrumental defining of the Other is something that
political activists should see as the primary praxis
orientation. To Derrida, the technological development of
the telephone, one of the earliest communicative
technologies, is an example;

   For we all know that a totalitarian system can no longer
   fight against an internal telephone network once its
   density has exceeded a certain threshold, and thereby
   becoming uncontrollable. Indeed, no 'modern' society (and
   modernity is an imperative for totalitarianism) can
   refuse for very long to develop the techno-economico-
   scientific-services of the telephone - which is to say,
   the 'democratic' places of connection appropraite to
   operating its own destruction.(11)
Youth too, apparently, have already discovered this:

   There is now a worldwide movement around the idea of
   techno-hippie - the old love ethic with a new high tech
   implementation. Hippie failed to revolutionise the planet
   but techno-hippie will DO IT. Here's a new form of
   liberation theology, and the services involve ecstatcized
   neon-painted dancing to the endless beat ... These kids
   are high on love. Look out.(12)

Eros is now a cyborg. An "illegitimate offspring of
militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state
socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly
unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are
inessential."(13) The historical movement for emancipation
has become embodied into a range of sub-cultures that
emphasize communicative technologies for subject-subject
relations and instrumental technologies for subject-object
relations. Their love of technology is built on, and exists
because of, a desire for freedom, for life, for Eros. They
are "Eco-organic types with MIDIs and lasers"(14), who don't
just read science fiction, but live it. And their
overwhelming confidence in the future, is built on the
realisation that official processes of representation cannot
represent them.


1) Marcuse, H., in Eros & Civilization, p178
2) Fromm, E., The Revolution Of Hope: Toward A Humanized
Technology, p {edit}
3) Fromm, E., The Fear Of Freedom, pp130, 225
4) Marcuse, H., Eros & Civilization, p52
5) Possibly because such technologies were in their infancy
as still associated with warfare, the most primitive of
intersubjective truths - and most advanced of objective
6) Fromm, E., The Revolution Of Hope: Toward A Humanized
Technology, p45
7) Hindess B., Hirst, P., "Precapitalist Modes Of
Production", p12
8) Marcuse, H., One Dimensional Man, p22
9) Ihde, D., Technics and Praxis, p41? {edit}
10) Heidegger, M., The Turning, in The Question Concerning
Technology and Other Essays, p38
11) Derrida, J., Reflections On Today's Europe, in The Other
Heading, p42
12) St. Jude, in Mondo 2000: A User's Guide To The New Edge,
13) Harraway, D., A Cyborg Manifesto, p151
14) St. Jude, ibid.


McLuhan remarked that "The suddenness of the leap from
hardware [industrial society] to software [information
society] cannot but produce a period of anarchy and collapse
in existing establishments, especially in the developed
countries."(1) Such establishments, however, have a nasty
tendency to resist such collapse, and the most neurotic of
them, divorced more and more from the lifeworld experience,
potentially use more and more authoritarian means of
control. Notably these authoritarian means are applied to
those who seek to radically alter notions of meaning rather
than actual material actions.

It should be fairly clear from the preceding text that as
fundamental social change (i.e., revolution) is occurring,
then this will have to be tied with fundamental
technological change. Furthermore, as the technological
changes that the world is going through represent an
entirely different type of technology then the tools and
processes of social reform will have to change as well.

It should also be fairly clear from the preceding text that
any form of radical, illegal or otherwise counter-authority
behaviour must have the explicit objectives of the removing
institutions and technologies of power, rather than the
replacement of one group for another. That is, the
traditional, industrialist program for revolution where one
totality replaces another must be abandoned. Or, as Lyotard
put it; "[l]et us declare a war on totality; let us be
witnesses to the unpresentable, let us activate the
differences, and save the honor of the name."(2)

But Lyotard, like many, too many, postmodern political
theorists, is exceedingly good at slogans and concepts and
extremely poor at action. It comes, one could suppose, from
the great postmodern skill of mapping the late twentieth
century, without providing a coherent political alternative.
Seeming that this thesis has offered a political
alternative, it must also offer a process of attaining it.
That is, an ethics of social change process; or legitimate
revolutionary activity. It may seem strange to refer to
'legitimate' revolutionary action, but the starting point
for such a process is the suggestion that there is no
difference between means and ends. Indeed, to have 'ends'
separate from 'means' is an absolute and utopian ideal,
prevalent in some modernist and industrialist versions of
Marxism, and used as justification for incredible levels of
individual and social oppression.

Traditionally this question was posed in terms of 'reform'
or 'revolution'. Popper, for example, sided with reform,
criticizing "utopian engineering", considering it a
political project inherited from Platoism. Such a project
was "irrationalism which is in inherent in radicalism"(3),
including, of course, that of socialist radicals. The reform
project on the other hand was "piecemeal social
engineering", where social institutions were changed one at
a time.(4) The objective of Popper, of course, like all
liberals, was to escape the violence inherent in periods of
conflict. But the political radical questions, and rightly
so, what of the current violence used against people now?

A recognition of the existence of such violence leads to a
political radicalism that denounces violent social change,
but accepts the need for defensive action against violent
social institutions. The political project expressed
previously begins from an alternative where the goals become
the actions. The goals expressed in this thesis are to
produce technologies, both social and physical, that (i)
ensure the foundation of existence, (ii) allow for the self-
articulation of essence, and (iii) the mutual self-
organisation of Subjects into social actors.

In regards to the aim of existence, the use of force is
legitimate, as existence requires instrumental technology.
No essentialist notions of law, morals, social ritual,
scientific or nonscientific behaviour can deny this. By the
same token, this instrumental technology cannot be used to
deny the existence of the Other with legitimacy as this
would be merely an inversion of power relations, rather than
liberation. The theft of food by the hungry, or the stealing
of medication, or of clothes, or the occupation of buildings
by the homeless is never the crime of the individual, but
rather the failure of the Truth statements of a economy
driven by an inferior social technology.

In the presentation of the self-articulation of the Subject,
the Subject has full legitimacy in the use of defensive
force to ensure their ability to express themselves and to
deny their defining by other social actors. In addition the
use of defensive force is legitimate where a social actor
denies the right for Subjects to form social actors to
express their collective concerns.

Finally, the social actor, has no legitimacy for the use of
instrumental technology, except to ensure those legitimate
actions given previously. A social actor has no role in
defining the Other, or denying the Other the conditions of
their existence. For the social actor is not a being, but
rather a institution, whose only role is to engage in
communication with Other social actors.

In engaging social actors and institutions who use
instrumental social technologies, those institutions whose
Truth statements and actions are based on fiat, or is
determined by status, or the monetary wealth of individuals,
or any other means apart from intersubjective self-
management, two approaches can be made, and are being made.
Firstly, is the denial of their legitimacy to make truth
statements by Subjects, and the building of counter-
institutions. Included in this is the defensive force
necessary to protect such institutions. Secondly is the use
of communicative technology to engage in "semiotic guerilla
warfare" against their legitimacy. The antics of computer
hackers and phone phreaks(5) as well as the deliberate
campaign of media stunts and pranks(6) against these social
actors requires no danger to anyone's life, or ability to
define and articulate themselves, but it does undermine the
ability of such institutions to speak on behalf of the
Other. For such an assumption is built on notions that are
ridiculous to the extreme. The radical must never
underestimate the ridicule they deserve.

A radical and revolutionary expression of the desire for
individual and social self-management is both serious, in
terms of the goals it seeks, and humorous in presenting the
neurotic desire for control of its opposition. For the new
revolutionary, the postmodern revolutionary, laughter, play
, the pleasure principle, are the 'essences' that we create.
What is not to be laughed at is the fact that we can make
such essences. We, present ourselves as parody; out of our
profoundity(7). And we follow Danton's maxim: "Audacity,
audacity and more audacity."


1) McLuhan, M, in Mondo 2000: A User's Guide To The New
Edge, p166
2) Lyotard, J-F., What Is Postmodernism? in The Postmodern
Condition: A Report On Knowledge, p82
3) Popper, K., Aestheticsim, Perfectionism, Utopianism in
Beehler R., and Drengson, A.R., The Philosophy Of Society,
4) ibid., p217-218
5) See The Hacker Crackdown, Sterling, B.
6) See Mondo 2000 A User's Guide To The New Edge, p174-181
and p210-221 and RE/Search, Pranks!
7) Nietzsche, F., Beyond Good and Evil, {edit}


The film Blade Runner, loosely based on Dick's novel Do
Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, is set in early 21st
century Los Angeles. Among the enormous human cultural
diversity evident, five (1), synthetically designed organic
robots - replicants - have escaped their slave status on an
off-world colony. These replicants are the property of the
Tyrell Corporation, and have extremely high levels of
physically and mental development. The Tyrell Corporation,
ensuring that the replicants do not develop the emotional
capacity of their human masters genetically engineer a four-
year life span. Tyrell Corporation, on the basis of this
slavery, uses the market slogan 'More Human Than Human'.

Plunged into the deepest existential crisis possible,
plunged into such a crisis at the peak of their physical
development, and knowing that this crisis has been caused by
the use of instrumental technology against them causes the
development of an emotional capacity that the 'human'
corporation cannot comprehend. In the manifested failure to
comprehend the difference between structure and process, or
in this case, lifespan and lived experience, the Tyrell
Corporation indeed makes replicants which are more human
than human; the leader of the replicant group, seconds
before the end of his own life, saves the life of his would
be killer.

Perry, a recognised authority on such movies comments how
"Blade Runner deals with the arrogance of the rich, who
would literally trash their home world, turn it into a
barely habitable ghetto, and simply fly away to the off-
world colony suburbs and leave the mess for the poor. And
like those who settled earth's New World in the seventeenth
century, they expect slave labor."(2) Whilst this commentary
is certainly true, a further elaboration can be made on the
technological nature of the replicants; they were, for all
intents and purposes, a new sentient life-form, with their
own lifeworld to articulate.

Whilst in the realm of science fiction (or should this be
technological fiction?), the lessons of such literature for
a world whose abilities of information distribution is
rapidly improving cannot be underestimated. What happened in
Blade Runner was a physical and social failure to recognise
the sentience of the replicants. And whilst it may be but
speculation to consider how the alternative social system
presented in this thesis will deal with non-human sentience
(and a careful observer will note i used the term 'person'
in preference to 'human' all the way through this thesis) my
own attachment to science fiction is deeply ingrained enough
to consider the issue. I ask, therefore, the perennial
science fiction question: what if?

What if sentient human actors involve themselves in the
creation of computer-based Artificial Intelligences? What
about genetically engineered replicants? Androids? What
about genetic and cybernetic 'uplifting' of animals? And
what of that most bizarre of science fiction stories, the
contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence?(3)

These technologically based new modes of sentience can be
interpreted as the desire for the control of a new Other, or
a metaphorical human Other, such as in the alterity
relations suggested by Sofia. Or perhaps, it is a form of
escapism from 'life' into the mechanical, the automaton,
absolute, as suggested by Fromm. Such possible tendencies
exist, but so does the possibility of a desire for
affirmation with an increasingly diverse and different range
of Others for the preservation of the self.

Whether or not these desires are expressions of control or
difference depends greatly on what technologies of process
are used in conjunction with them. For, the replicants in
Blade Runner, the absence of communicative technologies
meant that they become objects. If humans are so closed-
minded and arrogant enough to assume that there isn't any
life worthy of living outside themselves, then humanity
becomes the new oppressor. On the other hand, there lies the
possibility that the future will be more human than human.


1) Actually six if one includes (as many do) the police
officer Deckard who is allocated to hunt down and kill the
2) Perry, F., Blade Runner, in Cult Movies 3, p37
3) Fermi's paradox should be mentioned here. If our radio
telescopes are so powerful and have such a great range in
detecting radio waves then as Fermi posed the question,
"where are they?". Has no other sentient life form now, or
in the past ever used radio waves for communication? c.f.
Spinrad, N., Riding The Torch.


The aim of this thesis was an attempt to provide a critique
of the assumptions of liberal democracy and to the
suggestion that no political alternative can be built that
doesn't degenerate into some form of totalitarianism. Whilst
a discussion of the relation between people and their
material world was discussed, it was the characteristics
from this model that were used to apply to that other field
of interaction; that of social relations.
The suggestion is that the world is changed through praxis,
the scope of the world increases through praxis, that
technology is a system of praxis, and that people are both
Objects and Subjects. These characteristics emphasize the
necessity of making "communicative technologies", to counter
the possibility of the person becoming merely a "thing". The
promotion of autogestion as an alternative to democracy,
also ties to the transfer of ownership to the "communication
community" [Kommunikationsgemeinschaft] as an alternative to
capitalist, private ownership of intersubjective,
cooperative processes.

Furthermore, it is suggested that these communicative
technologies could only arise because of the historical
success of instrumental technologies in providing existence.
The use of instrumental technologies to define essence,
however, is contradictory to existential conditions of
reality, and is thus oppressive. Instead communicative
technologies are showing themselves to be most effective is
the expression of self-defined essence for the purpose of
the formation of social actors. As a process of social
change instrumental technologies have the role to ensure
that the lifeworld is guareenteed. Communicative
technologies have the role of articulating this lifeworld.

The importance of this process cannot be underrated;
technology always will expand the scope of reality, and
there is are always the twin insane projects that people
using technology will try convert people into nothing but
Objects, or to deny the objective status of Being. Both of
these projects are fantasies of Thanatos, and death is
always their result. The affirmation of the speaking
Subject, and the cooperative search for intersubjective
truth, au contraire, is the fantasy of Eros.

Both fantasies are possible, and both are always more
possible through the use of systemized praxis, through the
use of technology. A danger that lies in the current
political pessimism where the legitimation crisis is
converted into ambivalence in that it simply gives more
leeway to totality, and a greater possibility that our
dreams are repressed to the level of the automaton, and a
neurotic automaton at that. We must no just remain
spectators in the technological changes of our time. For to
have dreams is one thing. But to make our dreams a reality,
we must live them. Then the world will change.