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AnInterviewwithManueldeLanda

withKonradBeckerandMissM. atVirtualFutures,Warwick96

MissM.: Whatareyourprojectsandgeneralinterests? ManueldeLanda: Generally,Iconsidermyselfaphilosopher,althoughIdon?thaveanycredentials,I?mmoreofastreetphilosopher.Iam veryinterestedintheInternetbecauseitisaninternationalnetworkofcomputerswhichorganizeditself.Averygoodexampleofwhat processesofselforganizationthatisaverycomplexstructurethatemergedprettymuchspontaneouslyoutoftheactivitiesofmanydifferent people,eachonetryingtodosomething,butoveralleffectwasn?tintendedorplannedbyanyone.Soasaphilosopher,Iaminterestedinall kindsofphenomenaofselforganization,fromthewindpatternsthathaveregulatedhumanlifeforalongtime,likethemonsoonortradewinds whichareselforganizedwinds,totheselforganizingpatternsinsideourbodies,totheselforganizingprocessesintheeconomy,totheself organizingprocessthatcreatedtheInternet.SothatismygeneralphilosophyandIaminterestedintheInternetbecauseitisaveryconcrete exampleofwhatIamtalkingabout. MissM.: Youarepresentingaconceptwhichisnotquitestandard,thatofmarketsandantimarkets.Couldyouexplainthatalittlebit? ManueldeLanda: Thereasonwhytheconceptofselforganizationisnotverywellknownisbecauseitisonlyabout30orsoyearsold.It causedagreatrevolutioninscienceinverydifferentdisciplineslikephysics,chemistryandthedustisjuststartingtosellandsowearestarting toseewhattheconsequencesofthisrevelationwillbeforhumansocieties.Oneoftheareasthatwillbeinfluenced,infact,thatisalreadybeing influencediseconomicsbecausewhatwearetalkingaboutishereisorderthathascomeoutnotbecausesomeoneplannedit,because someonecommandedittoitsexistence.Wetendtothinkthateverythingabouthumansocietywhichhasacertainamountoforderasbeingthe resultofsomeoneplanningit.Forinstance,thecityofVersailleswasperfectlyplanneduptothelastlittledetailbyLouisXIVandhisministers, andthatisourimageofwhathumansocietyis.Thateverythingisonpurpose.Therearecollectiveactionsandconsequenceswhichare unintended,andwhateverorderthereisinthosecollectiveconsequencesthatnooneplannedisselforganizing.Theclearestexampleofthatis markets.Let?sunderstandthemtohaveaveryconcreteimage:peasantorsmalltownmarkets,aplaceintownwhereeverybodygoesand bringstheirstufftosellorgoestheretobuysomething,anditmeetseveryweekinacertainpartofatownanditcomesapartandthenmeets againthefollowingweek.Inthoseveryspecificplaces,everybodyshowsupandeverybodyshowsupwiththeirintentions:Igotherewiththe intentiontobuy,orIgotherewiththeintentiontosell.Soalotofwhathappensisplanned,isintentional,buttheoveralleffect,forinstancethe pricesthateveryparticularcommodityhappenstogobyisunintended.Inarealmarket,nooneactuallysetstheprice.Thereisnoonebuyeror sellerwhosays,?Iwantthistobethepriceofthis."Noonecommandstheprice,pricessetthemselves.That?swhat?sinterestingabout markets,thattheyindeedprovideyouwithacoordinationmechanismwithcoordinatingdemandandsupplythatdoesnotneedacentral decider,doesnotneedacentralizedagencythatdoesdecisionmaking.Outofthiscentralizeddecisionmakingordercomesout. Thisisnotanewidea,ofcourse.AdamSmith,attheendoftheeighteenthcentury,cameupwiththeideaof?TheInvisibleHand"whichwas supposedtoexplainhowmarketsareorganized.Mypointofviewisthosetheoriesareobsolete,thatindeed,onlywiththenewconceptual technology,thatthenewconceptsofselforganizationthathavedevelopedinthelastthirtyyearscanweunderstandhowmarketsactuallywork. Sothatisonewayinwhichthesenewtheorieswillaffectourlives,allowingustounderstandbetterhoweconomieswork.Ontheotherhand, anotherproblemwithoriginalAdamSmithideawasnotsomuchthatitwastoosimple,butthatitappliedtheterm?markets,tothingsthatwere notselforganized.AllthewaybacktoVeniceinthefourteenthcentury,Florenceinthefifteenth,Amsterdamintheeighteenth,Londoninthe nineteenth,inotherwords,throughoutEuropeanhistory,besidethesespontaneouslycoordinatedmarkets,therehavebeenlargewholesalers, largebanksorforeigntradecompaniesorstockmarketsthatarenotselfregulated,theseareorganizationsinwhichinsteadofpricesself regulatingit,theyhadcommands.Everythingisplannedfromthetopandmoreorlessexecutedaccordingtoplanned,everythingismoreor lessintended.Thereisverylittleselforganizationgoingonatall.Andindeed,theselargewholesalers,theselargemerchants,largebankers andsoon,madethegiganticprofitstheymadeandtheybecamecapitalistthankstothefactthattheywerenotobeyingobeyingdemandand supply,theyweremanipulatingdemandandsupply.Forexample,insteadofthepeasantthatshowsuptothemarkettosellacertainamountof corn,hereyouhaveawholesalerwithahugewarehousewherehestoresallthecornhecan.Ifthepricesaretoolow,hecanalwayswithdrawn certainamountsfromthemarket,puttheminthewarehouse,andartificiallymakethepricesgoup.Whenthepricesgoup,hethensellstherest ofthecornatthesehighpricesandhemakesalotofmoney.But,ofcourse,heismanipulatingdemandandsupply.Heisnotbeinggoverned bytheseanonymousforces.Heisnotbeingsubjecttoselforganizationheisorganizingeverythinginaplannedcunningway.Andso,because economistsusetheword?market"todescribeboth,thatisoneofthemainconfusionsIseeincontemporarythought. Weneedanotherwordtodescribetheseorganizationsthatarelargeenoughtomanipulatemarkets.Awordhasbeensuggestedbyhistorian FernandBraudelanditisaverysimpleone:?antimarket."Why?Becausetheymanipulatemarkets.Andsotoday,intheUnitedStates,there isaverystrongpoliticalmovement,mostlybytherightwing,andNewtGingrichisperhapsthemostwellknownpoliticianinthisregards,who aretrying,astheysay,shrinkthesizeofthegovernment,letmarketforceshavemoreroomtooperate.But,ofcourse,translatedintotheterms we?vejustintroduced,whattheyreallywanttodoisletantimarketforcesrunwild.Theydon?treallywantsmallproducersandsmall manufacturersandbakersandprintersandmomandpopshopstohavemoreroomtomanoeuverandmakemoney.Theywantnationaland internationalcorporationstohavemoreroomtomanoeuver.Theywanttoshrinkgovernmentsothattherearelessregulationstokeep internationalandnationalcorporationsfromdoingwhattheywant.Butifyougoandstudyoneofthesecorporations,ratherthanlookinglikea market,theyarelikeminiSovietUnions.Imean,everythingisplannedinthesecorporations.Themanagerialhierarchiesareexactlylikethe hierarchiesintheSovietUnion:theyplannedeverything,pricesplayaverysmallroleandmostoftheorganizationisdoneviacommand. Now,weusedtocalltheSovietUniona?commandeconomy,"westillcallChinaacommandeconomy.Well,internationalcorporationsand nationalcorporationsareindeedcommandeconomies.Theyhaveverylittletodowithprices.Inthepasttheydidhavesomethingtodowith prices,becauseeithertheirsuppliersordistributorswerelittleguys.Theyhadtodealwithpricesonewayoranother.Butsincethenineteenth century,atleastintheUnitedStatesandI?msureinEurope,alotoforganizationshadbeeninternalizing:buyingtheirsuppliersandtheir

internationalandnationalcorporationsfromdoingwhattheywant.Butifyougoandstudyoneofthesecorporations,ratherthanlookinglikea market,theyarelikeminiSovietUnions.Imean,everythingisplannedinthesecorporations.Themanagerialhierarchiesareexactlylikethe hierarchiesintheSovietUnion:theyplannedeverything,pricesplayaverysmallroleandmostoftheorganizationisdoneviacommand. Now,weusedtocalltheSovietUniona?commandeconomy,"westillcallChinaacommandeconomy.Well,internationalcorporationsand nationalcorporationsareindeedcommandeconomies.Theyhaveverylittletodowithprices.Inthepasttheydidhavesomethingtodowith prices,becauseeithertheirsuppliersordistributorswerelittleguys.Theyhadtodealwithpricesonewayoranother.Butsincethenineteenth century,atleastintheUnitedStatesandI?msureinEurope,alotoforganizationshadbeeninternalizing:buyingtheirsuppliersandtheir distributorsandmakingthempartofthemselves,kindofeatingthemanddigestingthemandincorporatingthemintotheirowntissue.Themore theydothat,themoretheyinternalizetheselittlemarkets,thelesswillpricesplayaroleintheircoordination,themorethecommandsplaya role.IguessagoodimageforthisthattheUnitedStatesisfarfrombeingafreeenterpriseeconomy,itisaneconomyrunbymultiplicitiesof littleSovietUnions. MissM.: ComingbacktotheInternet,howwouldyouapplythatconcepttotheInternet? ManueldeLanda: Well,theInternet,preciselybecauseitisaselforganizingstructure,benefitsinthefirstplacesmallproducers,inthiscase, smallproducersoftext,sincethatisprettymuchtheonlythingyoucansellnowontheInternet.Imean,youcansellafewservices,searching andFederalExpresssortoftrackingyourpackagesandsoon,butreallythemaincommodityontheInternetrightnowistextandimages.So theInternetbyitsverynature,benefitssmallproducersofcontent.However,rightnowweareatastageinitsdevelopmentforwhereanti marketforcesaremakinganentryintotheInternetinabigform.NotonlyMicrosoft,notonlyAmericaOnLine,notonlyAT&Tandsoon,butall kindsofcorporationshavetheirownwebpagesandareutilizingtheweb.Sonowyouhaveadvertisingasawayofreachingconsumersina moredirectway.SotheNetcouldbechangedinafewyearsfromaselforganizedentityintoaplannedentity.Idon?thaveanyromanticviews abouttheInternetbeingabletoresistalltheforcesofplanning.Selforganizingforcescanbeoverrunbytheseplannedforcesbecausetheyare sogigantic.TheInternetservesalotoffunctions,let?sjusttalkaboutitseconomicfunctions.Atthemomentthatelectroniccashand cryptologicallysecuremethodsofsendingcreditcardnumbersbecomessecure,becomesestablished,becomesstandardsoftware,thenthe internetisgoingtobeaplacetodobusiness.Sothequestionishowdowehavetoguideitsevolutionsothatitendsupbenefitingsmall producersofcontentinsteadofthepeoplewhoalreadyowntheinfrastructure:thetelephonecompanies,thecablecompaniesandsoonwhich canalsoownthecontentproducingcompaniessincetheycanalwaysinternalizethem.Thecontentproducingcompanies,let?ssayYahoo, whichisanindexproducingcompany,evenifthey?veemergedinamarketwayasspontaneous,entrepreneurial,andsmallMicrosoftcan buyYahooanytime,anytimetheywantto.Theyhaven?tboughtthembuttheycouldbuythem.AndsothequestionisthatInternetisnot protectedbythisinitsselforganization,itcouldbeswallowedupanytime.Sothequestioniswhatcanwedo?notyouandmebuteverybody whoisinvolvedintheInternet.Thethingisthatinthenextfewyearsthetransactionalstructureswillbedefined?thatis,whatkindoftransactions willhappenovertheInternet. Togiveyouaveryconcreteexample,ifthestandardsthataresettledaresuchthattheminimumtransactionisfivedollarspertransaction,much likethereisaminimumtransactionforcreditcardsnow,thatwillbenefitlargeproducersofcontent.Theonlywayitwillbenefitsmallproducers ofcontent,independentfreelancewritersandsoon,isbymakingtheminimumtransactionveryverysmall.Weneedtomaketheinfrastructure oftheInternetandthesoftwarethatberunningthesetransactionsbecapableoftrackingonecenttransactionssothatthesmallproducersof contentcansellonepageoftheiressays.Soyoucanhaveyourhomepageandpeopledon?thavetobuyyourwholeessayinadvance.They canreadthefirstpage,youcanchargethemonecentandiftheywanttobuythewholeessaybecausetheyareinterested,thentheybuythe rest.Againthisisaverysimpleexampleandtheminimumtransactionthatisallowedbythesoftware?thestandardswillbedecidedintwoor threeyearsandtheywillbewritteninstone?thisissomethingthatmatters.Tobenefitsmallproducersyouneedtoallowverysmalltransactions. Iftheminimumtransactionislarge,youwillbeautomaticallybenefitinglargeproducersofcontent. Soissueslikethiswillbedecidedinthenextfewyears.AnotherissuethatwillaffecttheeconomicsoftheInternetandwhethermarketoranti marketforcesendupwinningisthemainscarcecommodityontheInternetatthemoment:bandwidth,theamountofinformationwhichcanrun throughthechannels.Rightnow,ifyouhavearegularmodemlikea14.4modem,youknowhowlongittakesforeverywebpagetocomeinto yoursystem.Itispreciselybecausebandwidthisscarce.Itisatrickleofbitsthatisgoingthroughthischannelsobythetimeyougettoyour computer,ittakesforevertorefreshthescreen.FortheInternettobecomeaplacewherecontentcanbetransactedasacommercial transaction,bandwidthneedstobeplenty.Themorebandwidththereis,themorecomplicatedyourdocumentscanbeandthemore complicatedthekindsofservicesyoucanofferovertheInternet.Rightnow,theamountandthekindsofservicesyoucanofferareverylimited bythebandwidth.Sobandwidthisakeyissue. Nowthereareseveralformsofbringingcheapbandwidth.Thereisoneform?telephonecompaniesownaverylargeportionofthefiberoptic cablesthatareunderneathmuchoftheUnitedStatesandlargepartsofEurope,too.Fiberopticsasopposedtocoppercables,cantransmit anenormousamountofbits,andallkindsofparallelchannelsatthesametime.So,yes,fiberopticsisonesolutiontothebandwidthproblem. But,now,howdoweuseit?Onesolutionwouldbe?andthiswasproposedbyarightwingeconomist?istoletgigantictelephonecompanies whoownthefiberopticcablestomergetogetherandwithcablecompanieswhichownthecopperwhichgoesfromendofthefibertothe home.Rightnow,thetelephonecompaniesownonepartofthething,thecablecompaniesownanotherpart,andifweallowthemtocome togetherintoahughantimarketinstitution,theywouldgiveuscheapbandwidth.Butwhatprice?Atapricethatoneantimarketinstitutionwould owntheentireinfrastructureoftheInternet.Thatwouldnotbegood.Becauseatonetimeinthefuturewhentheywouldwantto,theycouldmake theInternetasymmetric?toallowmorebitsintoyourcomputerthanyoucanletout.RightnowtheInternetisprettymuchsymmetric:youcan consumebitsbutyoucanproducebitsandthatiswhatmakesitunique,thatitisatwowaysystemasopposedtotelevisionwhichisaoneway channel.ThetelephonecompaniesandthecablecompaniescouldprettymuchowntheinfrastructureoftheInternetandatanypointtheywant to,theycouldchangeitintoanasymmetricdesigninwhichtherearemorebitscominginforyoutoconsume?andagaintheytransformitagain intoaconsumermedia?andveryfewbitgooutsoifyouwantedtoproduce,youcouldproducebutpainfully. So,obviously,that?snottherightwayofgettingcheapbandwidth.Thebestwaytogetcheapbandwidthisforthegovernmenttoforce telephonecompaniestorentfiberopticspacetoindependentlittlecompanies.Thisissomethingthegovernmentisgoingtohaveto understand?thatabigmonopolymadeupofafusionoftelephonecompaniesandcablecompanieswouldsimplybecomeagiganticentitythat wouldbecomeapowerfulcompanywhichwouldbemorepowerfulthanthegovernmentitself.Theonlywaytodissipatethisdangerisprecisely bylettingthesmallproducersofcontentrenttheirownspaceinthesefiberopticsthingsbyforcingtelephonecompaniestorentitout.Sothey stillwouldownitbuttheywouldnotcontrolit.Wewouldthenbeabletogetcheapbandwidthwithoutthedangerofthisonehugemonolithic companyowningthegutsoftheInternet. MissM.: Butlookingatthesituationnow,wearealreadyconfrontedwithgiganticmonopoliesontheInternet.Oneexample,Microsoft,whoare nowdevelopingtheirownInternetbrowser,theirownwebbrowser,andNetscape,whowereforsometimelookedatasthe?goodones" becausetheywerenotMicrosoft,arenowbecomingthe?badones"becausetheyarestartingtomonopolizeaswell.Wealreadyhavethe monopolies. ManueldeLanda: Yes,absolutely.Ihadsaidinthebeginningthatweareatathresholdnowwhereantimarketforcesareabouttoenterbig timeintotheInternet.ThequestioniswhethertheallthegrassrootspartsoftheInternetwillthriveonit,whetherthemostlygrassrootsnetwork ofbulletinboardsorwhetherthedifferentEuropeanpartsoftheInternetarerobustenough,arestrongenoughtoresisttheattack.Idonot believethatbecauseMicrosoftisextremelypowerfulnecessarilymeansthatitwillwinthewar.Itcertainlyhasmorechancesofwinningitthan anyoneofushas,butthequestioniswhetherthoseareasoftheInternetwhichwereofgrassrootsoriginswillbeabletostaythereandsustain

becausetheywerenotMicrosoft,arenowbecomingthe?badones"becausetheyarestartingtomonopolizeaswell.Wealreadyhavethe monopolies. ManueldeLanda: Yes,absolutely.Ihadsaidinthebeginningthatweareatathresholdnowwhereantimarketforcesareabouttoenterbig timeintotheInternet.ThequestioniswhethertheallthegrassrootspartsoftheInternetwillthriveonit,whetherthemostlygrassrootsnetwork ofbulletinboardsorwhetherthedifferentEuropeanpartsoftheInternetarerobustenough,arestrongenoughtoresisttheattack.Idonot believethatbecauseMicrosoftisextremelypowerfulnecessarilymeansthatitwillwinthewar.Itcertainlyhasmorechancesofwinningitthan anyoneofushas,butthequestioniswhetherthoseareasoftheInternetwhichwereofgrassrootsoriginswillbeabletostaythereandsustain thespontaneityandoriginalityoftheNet.AndwhetherMicrosoftNetworkwillsimplybecomekindofafancyneighborhoodlikeAmericaOn Line,wheretheyhavedoorstotheInternetbutarenotreallyowningtheInternet. Ontheotherhand,whatcouldhappenisthatwhatweknowastheInternetwillbecomeasortofghetto:itstillsurvivesbutitissurroundedbythe fiberopticinfrastructureofwhattheycalltheInformationHighwaywhichisownedbytheMicrosoft?sandtheMCIs.Allthebusinessandsecure transactionswouldbeconductedaroundthereandonewouldbeofferedentrythisghettowherealltheartistsandbohemiansare.TheInternet becomesthisGreenwichVillagewhereyougoforacafewhereyougotohangoutthehippeople,thenyou?dgobacktowherethenewerfiber opticnetworksaretodotransactions,todobusiness. Thegainisnotwonbyeitherside.IfwecouldmanagetoforceintothestandardsoftheInternetthatsmalltransactionsbeallowed,itwouldbea victoryforallofusbecauseitwouldbenefitsmallproducersofcontent.thatwouldnotbewinningthewar.Thisisgoingtobeonelittlebattleata time. MissM.: IwouldliketobringinKonradBecker.Youareproposingthistheoryofpropaganda,thattheInternetisatoolofpropaganda.Howcan wemergethetwothings,themonopoliesononesideandthepropagandisticpossibilitiesontheothersidewiththemonopoliescontrollingthe Internet? KonradBecker: IdoseetheNetasapropagandatool,orasthecontrollerofintellectualstimuli,indifferentwaysandithasitsoriginsinthe militaryapparatus.Hypermediaassuchisaninventionofthemilitaryapparatustodealwithcomplexinformationstructures.Sowelearntoday thatinformationassuchismoreorlessamyth.?Consensualhallucination"isthegenerictermforit.Thepossibilityofreachingpeoplethrough networksarequitetremendousthereisalotoftalkthattheThirdWorldWarwillbeaninformationwar.Wearegettingtothatpointthatthereis nonlethalwarfare,thatispropagandawarfaretobeusedthroughnetworks. MissM.: ManueldeLanda,youareanexpertonwarfare. ManueldeLanda: Icanseehispointverywell.Indeed,justtheincreaseofenormousadvertisingyouseeontheWebispointinginthat direction.Againtomethekeythinghereiswhetherwekeepthenetworksymmetricorasymmetric,whetherthesameamountofbitscancome intoyourcomputeristhesameastheamountthatcanleave.Ifitbecomesasymmetric,ifmorebitscancomeinthancangoout,thenits transformationintoapropagandatoolisalreadyareality.Ifitbecomesaconsumertoolandbigproducersofcontentsimplysendyou informationtoconsume,that?sit:thatispropaganda,thatisameansofcontrol.Itismuchbetterthantelevision,itismuchmorepointed.Itis likepersonalizedtelevision:theyknowwhoyouare,theyknowyourtastes,theymaybeevenabletotrackandmakeconsumerprofilesoutof yourWebsurfing,thereforeputyouonamailinglistforveryspecificpeopletosendyouinformation. Ontheotherhand,ifthecablesandtheconnectionsarekeptsymmetricsothatcriticismcanleavetheterminalaspropagandacomesin,then wehaveafightingchance.Thatdoesn?tmeanwewillwinthewarorhaveutopiaoranything.Whatwecanhopeforishavingafightingchance. That?swhatwouldmakethegamestillinteresting.Itwouldmakeitinterestingforalluscritics,forsocialcriticstobeengagedifwefeelwestill haveafightingchance.Ibelieveitallboilsdowntohardware.Ifthehardwareremainssymmetric,andagainthatisnotanecessitynot somethingthatwillhappenbutcouldchange,thenwehaveafightingchancebecausewecouldfightpropagandawithcriticism. MissM.: Konrad,doyouthinkthatbeingabletocriticizeisaremedyagainstpropaganda? KonradBecker: Well,actually,thatcouldbeatrapaswell.AsManueldeLandaexplainedinhislecture,criticismispartofthescheme.Soit iseasytofallintothathypnoticsituationwhereyouhaveanoscillatingparadox:ononesideyouhaverightwingersandontheothersideyou haveleftwingersandyouareinthemiddle,totallysnakecharmed.Isometimesfeelthatpropagandaisasecretionofahigherorder.Itis naturalforpolartheoreticalpointstoembattlethemselves,whichdoesn?tchangethecourseofhistory.Tofindmeansofescapefromthis hypnoticlock,thispropagandalockoftheinformationalorganismorinfobodywouldbethewaytogo.Theseheterogenicactivistsituationthat youfindintheearlyInternetisoneoftheveryinterestingpointswheretherecouldbethewindowofopportunitytobreakthegridlock. ManueldeLanda: Iabsolutelyagree.Rightnow,everybodyandtheirmotherscallthemselves?critical".YougotoNewYorkCitybookstores andtherearehugesectionsofbookshelvescalled?CriticalTheory".Ofcourse,thosetheoriesarethemostuncriticalinthewholeworld.They callthemselvescriticalbutintheendaresouncriticalbecausetheytakeforgrantedallkindsofassumptions,theydon?treallycriticize themselves,andsoforth.WhatImeantwhenIsaid?criticismasanantidotetopropaganda"wouldbeanewtypeofcriticismthatismuchmore theoreticallygroundedandgoesbeyondthefakekindofcriticism,ordogmaticcriticism,thatwehavebecomeusedto.Ifwecriticizethe Internetbysimplycallingita?capitalisttool"ora?bourgeoistool".ThatwasastandardwayinwhichMarxistscriticizedthingsinthepast, attaching?bourgeois"toeverythingtheywantedtocriticizeand,bingo,youhadinstantcriticismlikeyouhadinstantcoffee.Obviously,thatkind ofcriticismisnotgoingtodoanything,andindeedhasbecomeakindofpropagandaitself.Imean,youcriticizetopropagandizeyourown idea.Thequestioninfrontofusnowasintellectualsiswhetherwe?veinheritedsomuchbullshitandthereforeourcriticismisbound,is condemnedtobeineffective,orwhetherwecanfindwaysoutorescaperoutesoutofthisandcreateanewbrandofcriticismthatrecoversits teeth,itsabilitytobite,itsabilitytointerveneinrealityinamoreeffectiveway.Again,itwouldimplyacollectiveeffortofalotofintellectualswho arefedupwithwhathadbeenlabeledascriticisminthepastandisnothingbutdogmaandrepetition,andcomeupwithanewbrandof criticismthatiscapableoffightingpropaganda. KonradBecker: Therightwingideaofthe?InvisibleHand"youmentionedisagoodpointtomake.Andyoumentionedthe?commodifiers" ontheotherhand.Youwerefocusingmoreonthefaultsofthe?InvisibleHand"thanyouwereonthefaultsofthe?commodifiers".OnemistakeI didmentionwasthetrapthatonecouldfallin.Couldyoupleasespecify? ManueldeLanda: Weneedtodistinguishtruecriticismfromfalsecriticism,oratleastcriticismthatmoreorlessgetsitrightfromcriticism thatispuredogma.Belongingtotheleft,asIsupposewedo,wearemoreaffectedbythekindofdogmaticcriticismlabeledas?leftist"rather than?rightist".Mostpeoplewhoareradicalsorwhoareartistsorwhoarerebelsinsomewaywouldhardlyeverusetheterm?freeenterprise" totalkabouttheUnitedStates.Wearenotaffectedbythatdogma,butweareaffectedbyanotherdogmawhichisMarxistdogma.Goingback tothedistinctionbetweenmarketsandantimarkets,theproblemwithMarxistdogmaisthatitfailstodistinguishbetweenselfregulating economieswherethereisnowherethereisnoeconomicpowerandtheantimarketinstitutionswhereeconomicpoweristhecenterandthe reasonforbeingofthoseinstitutions.Failingtodistinguishthatmeansthat,foraMarxist,theveryfactthatanobjectacquiresaprice,thatan objectgoesintoamarkettobesoldasacommodityisabadthing.RememberthatMarxistsproposedthatthesolutiontoourproblemsis SocialismandthatSocialismisasocietywherecommandshavereplacedpricescompletely.ButifIamright,thateverynationaland internationalinstitutionsareminiSovietUnions,miniSocialisimsminustheidealism,andthattheyreplacepriceswithcommandsonlyona

than?rightist".Mostpeoplewhoareradicalsorwhoareartistsorwhoarerebelsinsomewaywouldhardlyeverusetheterm?freeenterprise" totalkabouttheUnitedStates.Wearenotaffectedbythatdogma,butweareaffectedbyanotherdogmawhichisMarxistdogma.Goingback tothedistinctionbetweenmarketsandantimarkets,theproblemwithMarxistdogmaisthatitfailstodistinguishbetweenselfregulating economieswherethereisnowherethereisnoeconomicpowerandtheantimarketinstitutionswhereeconomicpoweristhecenterandthe reasonforbeingofthoseinstitutions.Failingtodistinguishthatmeansthat,foraMarxist,theveryfactthatanobjectacquiresaprice,thatan objectgoesintoamarkettobesoldasacommodityisabadthing.RememberthatMarxistsproposedthatthesolutiontoourproblemsis SocialismandthatSocialismisasocietywherecommandshavereplacedpricescompletely.ButifIamright,thateverynationaland internationalinstitutionsareminiSovietUnions,miniSocialisimsminustheidealism,andthattheyreplacepriceswithcommandsonlyona smallerscale,thenobviouslySocialismisnotthesolution.Socialismisindeedanintensificationofthetrendthatisenslavingus. WhentheSovietUniondissolvedafewyearsago,peopleinHollandandCzechoslovakiabegantalkingaboutthetransitiontoamarket economy.Everybodywastalkingabouthowharditwastomakeatransitiontoamarketeconomy.Butlookatwhattheyweretryingtodo:they weren?ttryingtomakeatransitionfromaplannedeconomytooneinwhichmanysmallproducersdispersed.No,theyweretryingtomakea transitiontoafewlargeenterpriseswhichwerenotownedbythegovernmentanymorebutwerestilllarge,runbyahierarchyofmanagerswith everythingcommandedandeverythingplanned.Inotherwords,theyweretryingtoimitatetheUnitedStates,thatis,theyweretryingtoimitate anantimarketeconomy.However,becauseofthedogmawehaveinherited,weacceptimmediatelythattheirintentionsweretogoamarket economy. WhatIamtryingtosayisthatoneoftheobstaclestothinkstraightinthisregardistheideathattheveryentryofanobjectintoapricesystemis abadthing.Whenyouhaveanobject,yougiveitapriceandsellitinamarket,itbecomesacommodity.Theprocessbywhichanobject acquiresapriceandentersamarketiscalled?commodification".Itreallyshouldbe?commoditization"but?commodification"isawordthat stuckintheSeventies.Buttodayithasbecomeaclich athingyourepeatwithoutthinking.Youbelieveyouarecriticizingthesystemwhenyou saysomethinghasbecomecommodifiedbut,indeed,youarenotsayinganything,ifIamright.Ifwearesupposedtodistinguishmarketsfrom antimarkets,thentosaythatsomethinghasbecomecommodifieddoesn?tevenbegintosayanything.Westilldon?tknowifitenteredthe marketasafreecommodity,sotospeak,whichwillbeaffectedbysupplyanddemand,orifitenteredthemarketasamanipulatedcommodity. Whenwetendtothinkofideologicaleffectsofcommodities,wetendtothinkofplannedobsolescence?creatingconsumerproductsthatare plannedtobreakdownsoyouhavetobuymoreconsumerproducts.Orwetendtothinkoftailfindesignslikeinthe1950?s,whentheyweren?t makinginnovationsoncars,theyjustputtinglargerandlargertailfins.Butthesekindofinnovations,thesecosmeticinnovationswhicharen?t marketinnovationsatall,butareantimarketcommoditizations.Ifweweretousethatterminanywaythatwouldbemeaningful,itwouldbeto refertocertainproductsofantimarketswhicharespecificallyplannedanddesignedtomanipulateconsumerneeds.Wewouldneedtothinkof McDonald?sburgers.ThemomentyouhaveaburgerwaronTVbetweenMcDonald?sandBurgerKing,orthefamouscolawarsbetween PepsiandCoke,thatiscommoditiesinthebadsense,intheMarxistsense.Objectsthathavezerousevaluearenothingastechnological innovations,theyarepurecosmetics,puresimulacrum,pureconsumerism.But,again,ifyoutracethoseproductstotheirsource,youwillfind thatinamajorityofcasestheycomefromantimarkets.Andifyoutraceeverytechnologicalinnovation,fromthesteamrollertoallthelittle machinesandproceduresthatwereneededfortheIndustrialRevolution,electricityandsoon,theywillhavealmostalwayshavecomefrom smallproducers.Themajority,again. KonradBecker: Thesubtitleofoneofyouressays,?TheGeologyofMorals,"whichIverymuchappreciated,iscalled?TheNeoMaterialistic Interpretation".Howdoyouinterpret?NeoMaterialism"? ManueldeLanda :Obviously,Iputtheword?neo"theretodistinguishitfromMarxistmaterialism.TheonlygoodthingthatMarxismevergave uswasitsmaterialism,theideathatweneedtoexplainthingsthathappenrightherewithoutappealstoGod,withoutappealstoPlatonic essences,withoutappealstoanythingtranscendental.Ofcourse,Marxists,totheextentthattheyboughtHegeliandialectics,wereneverreally truematerialistssincedialecticisnotatallsomethingofthisworld.ThatwasthegoodthingaboutMarxism.Lenin,asmuchasIhatemanyof thethingsthathedid,asaphilosopherwasnotsobad.Heresistedidealisticphilosophiesinwhicheverythingisjustourperceptionsofit.By sayingthatthereisamaterialworldoutthere,weneedtotakethatintoaccount,thatnoteverythingisinformation,thatnoteverythingisideas, thatnoteverythingiscerebralstuff.Thatthereisalsoconcretefleshystuffthatisalsoveryimportanttoconsider. Icallit?neomaterialism"becauseitisaformoftheoldphilosophycalledmaterialismbutitisnewinthat,byincorporatingtheoriesofself organization,matterandenergythemselveswithouthumansandevenwithoutlifearecapableofgeneratingorderspontaneously.Thiscanbe seeninlavaorinwindsorinmanyphenomenainourplanet.Forinstance,ahurricaneisconsideredbymeteorologistsasaselfassembled steamroller,runningthingsthroughacycleofcoldandhot,runningoutofenergy,anditkeepsitsshapelongenoughforustonamethem?we givethemnames,weranoutofwomen?ssonowwe?regivingthemmen?snames.Wegivethemnamesbecausetheyarecreatureswhich inhabittheatmosphere.However,thesearecreaturesthatcreatethemselves.Theydon?thavegenes,theydon?thaveanythingthattellsthem whattodo.Theyarecompletelyspontaneouscreatures. Now,neomaterialismmeansacknowledgingthatwehavebeenneglectingmatterforalongtime,allthewaybacktoAristotle.Aristotlealready separatedformalcausesfrommaterialcausesinhisclassificationofcauses.ItisaclassificationthathasstayedwithWesternphilosophyall thewayuptothe20thcentury.AllthewaybacktotheGreeks,matterwasseenasaninertreceptacleforformsandhumanscameupwiththese formsthattheyimposedonthisinertreceptacle.ThishascertainclassorcasteoriginsbecauseallthewaybacktotheGreeks,theblacksmith, theguywhoworkedonmatterormetals,livedoutsideofthecity,spentalldayinfrontofthefire,dealingwithmetals,andmostimportantly, didn?tcometothearboratotalk.SothecitizensofGreecedidn?ttrusttheblacksmith:?Hedoesn?ttalk.Hedoesn?tcomehereandblabber." Theywerealwaysslavesorexslaves,andmanuallabor,evenifitiscraftymanuallabor?beitwomencookinginthekitchenorblacksmiths workingwithmetalorfolkartistscreatingobjects?wasconsideredasecondaryactivity,aloweractivity.Intellectualactivitywastherealactivity, tothinkwithconcepts.Neomaterialismmeanstorecoverthefeelingthatwehavebeenneglectingthesepeopleforalongtime,thatthereisa muchmoreinterestingformofknowledgethatrelatestothisskilltodealwithmatter?inthekitchen,intheblacksmith?sshop,inthecarpenter?s shop.Todealwithrepresentationsandconceptsandmentalstuffisinteresting,too,butisjustasinterestingasthisdirectsensualknowledgeof matter. ThishasalottodowiththeInternetbecausethepeoplewhocreatedthepersonalcomputer?andwithoutpersonalcomputerswewouldnot havetheInternet?wereSteveJobsandSteveWosnikfromApple.SteveJobswasthementalguy,andSteveWosnikwassomeonewho thoughtandspokeverylittle,wastheblacksmithofourtime,whosimplyhadasensualloveandhadaneuroticapproachtochips.Hecollected chips,hekeptchipsunderhisbed,andhecreatedApplethoughhedidn?thaveanengineeringdegree.Hedidn?thaveanyformaltrainingyet hecreatedthefirstAppleIIoutofthissensualknowledgeofelectricity,ofelectronicsandofchipsandbegantherevolution,ifitdoesindeed turnouttobearevolution.Sosensualknowledgeisnotsomethingweleftinthepast,intheageofcraftactivity.Itissomethingthatisstillvery muchwithus.Ifyoustudythehistoryofthetransistor,eventhoughitusessomequantumtheories,itusesitafterthefact.Ifyouseephotographs, itisjustachuckofsiliconestuffwiththingsinit?itlookssofunky,sohomemade.Itwashomemade.Theseguysweretinkeringwithmatter. Theyweretryingtounderstandmatterbytinkeringwithitinsteadofimposingapreconceivedideaorformonit. KonradBecker: IagreethatAristotlehasthepositionofacreepinhistory.Butisn?ttheblacksmithtraditionallyassociatedwiththepositionof ashaman,theonetinkeringbutalsotinkeringwithconceptsinaway?Hewasalsoapsychedelicexpert,asfarasIunderstand.Sogoingback tothemilitarycomplex,wehadadiscussiontheotherdaywherewenotedthatthehugeAmericanmilitarycomplexisratherhelplesstopeople whobelievethatiftheytakeabombontotheirbodyandgointoabuilding,theywillgostraighttoheaven.Thereissomethingofimmaterialistic valueinthereonaverypracticalbasis.Ontheotherside,weseeanimmaterializationofeconomyassuchfromthebasicfactthatvalueof

Theyweretryingtounderstandmatterbytinkeringwithitinsteadofimposingapreconceivedideaorformonit. KonradBecker: IagreethatAristotlehasthepositionofacreepinhistory.Butisn?ttheblacksmithtraditionallyassociatedwiththepositionof ashaman,theonetinkeringbutalsotinkeringwithconceptsinaway?Hewasalsoapsychedelicexpert,asfarasIunderstand.Sogoingback tothemilitarycomplex,wehadadiscussiontheotherdaywherewenotedthatthehugeAmericanmilitarycomplexisratherhelplesstopeople whobelievethatiftheytakeabombontotheirbodyandgointoabuilding,theywillgostraighttoheaven.Thereissomethingofimmaterialistic valueinthereonaverypracticalbasis.Ontheotherside,weseeanimmaterializationofeconomyassuchfromthebasicfactthatvalueof moneyispulsedinmagnetichighwaysthroughtheglobe.Whatistheothersideofthematerialism?Don?tityouthinkitisbecomingmoreand moreimportant? ManueldeLanda: Absolutely.ThemomentinAmsterdaminthe18thcenturywherepapermoneyforthefirsttimebecameasimportantas metallicmoney,therewasadematerializationrightthere.Allofasudden,moneybecamepurelyinformation.Dollarbillsnowcametohave valuebecauseofandeffectofconfidence.Aslongaseverybodybelievedyoucouldgotothebankandgetyourgold?sworthofthings,then everythingworkedjustperfectly.SoIagreewithyou:ontopofthemateriallayer,wehavebeenbuildingthesevirtuallayersoneatatime.Virtual money?wedon?thavetowaitforecash?papermoneyisvirtualmoney.Themoreknowledgebecomesaninputtoproduction,hasbecomeas importantasthematerialinputstoproduction?theenergy,thelabor,therawmaterialsthatgoin?thenknowledgeisprobablyasimportantas thoseinputs.SoIcompletelyagreewithyou.Mypointis,ratherthanmakingmatterandenergythewholething,thattheyremainthebasisfor society.UnitedStatesandEuropeconsumesamuchgreateramountofenergyintheformofelectricitythanthey?veeverconsumedinthepast. IfyougobackallthewaytotheIndustrialRevolution,theincreasingconsumptionofenergyisasteepcurveandthereisnoendinsight.My thesisisthatallthesevirtuallayerswe?vebuiltsincetheIndustrialRevolution,preciselytothepointthatourenergeticbasishasbecomemore andmoreimportantwebecameawareofthisduringthe1973oilcrisiswhenwebecameawarehowmuchourentiresocietydependedon cheapenergy,beingabletobuycheapoilfromtheArabs.TheArabssaid,?Well,nooneelseisgoingtosellthemcheapoilthatcheap,"there wasabigcrisis.Ifeverythinghadbecomevirtualalready,wewouldnothavehadthatcrisis.Itwouldhavebeenveryeasytoswitchtoanother energysource,oruseourknowledgetodosomethingelse.Thepointofthematteriswearemuchmoreprimitivethanwethinkweare,much morematerial.Thistranslatesimmediatelytothefactthat,forallthevirtualstuffthathappensontheInternet,allthewebpagesandlinksandso on,thereisstillallthehardwarethatformsthebasisofit,allofwhichrunsonelectricity.Inotherwords,thereisthismaterialbasisthatisso humblethatwetakeitforgranted,becauseitisnottheexcitingpart.Theexcitingpartisthevirtuallevel.Butweshouldn?ttakeitforgrant becauseifourphilosophytomorrowistogetitright,weneedtoalwaysacknowledgethismaterialbasisonwhichweoperate. Thetokenmaterialentityofcurrenttextualtheory?justtobacktrackabit?the?60?sinFrancewasthegreatperiodofvirtualization.Everything becametext.KristevaandDerridaandsoonwejusttalkingaboutintertextuality.Eventheweatherdoesn?texist,itiswhatwemakeofit,what weinterpretofit.Everythingbecamevirtualinaway.Baudrillardsaythateverythingisjustsimulacra,justlayersofneonsignsontopoflayersof televisionimagesontopoflayersoffilmimagesandmoreandmorevirtualstuff.Thecomputergamesandsimulations.Weneedanantidoteto that.Weneedtoacknowledgethatwe?vebuilttheselayersofvirtualityandthattheyarereal,theyarerealvirtual.Theymightnotbeactualbut theyarerealstillbutthatallofthemarerunningontopofamaterialbasisthatultimatelyinformsthesourceofpowerandthebasisofsociety. KonradBecker: Whatyouwereproposingin?TheGeologyofMorals"isthatifyouextendthatmetaphorfurther,youcouldgointodangerous waters.Therehavebeenproposalsalongthatlinefromvariouscorners,fromtheGaiahypothesistothebioorganismtheory.Isthereacertain pointwhereyouwouldsayyouwouldn?twantittobeinterpretedinthisway? ManueldeLanda: Absolutely.Don?tcallmeGaia.TheGaiahypothesisisaveryinterestingpoint.IamantiGaiainthatitissucha romanticizationofourplanet,butbesidetheromanticaspect,whichisn?tnecessarilythatbadbecauseNewAgepeopleareatleastmotivated forsomething,tryingtosaveGaia.Perhapsthatwillhaveanimpactontheecologicalmovementbyrecruitingmorepeople.Wehavevery seriousecologicalproblems,allofarematerial,noneofwhicharevirtual,allofwhichhavetodowiththefactthatweneverlearnedhowtodeal ourmaterialfluxes.Weknowhowtodealwiththefluxesthatcomein,thewaterthatcomesin,theelectricitythatcomesin,butalltheresidues andallthegarbageandallthematerialfluxesthatgooutsimplyjustgoout.Wesendallthiscarbondioxideintotheatmosphere,andwepollute ourseasandpolluteourriversbecauseweareignoringcertainmaterialfluxesthatarestilloperatingofourmaterialworld.SotheGaia hypothesis,asromanticasitmightbetotheextentthatitinspiresafewNewAgepeopletobecomemoreactivelyinvolvedinenvironmental things,itmightbeagoodthing. Philosophically,itisaterriblemistake.Itisaterriblemistakepreciselyintheneomaterialistsensebecauseittakesthemetaphorofthe organism,itseeslife,livingfleshasthemostmagicalthingthathappenedonthisplanet.Thisisofcourseachauvinism,akindoforganic chauvinismonourpart.Ittakesthemetaphoroftheorganismandappliesittothewholeplanet.Nowthewholeplanetisalive,thatwhatGaiais. Notonlydoyoucallitanorganism,youalsogiveitagoddessnamejusttomakesureyouareridiculousenough.Thewayoutofthisistothink thattheplanetisindeedsomethingspecial,butitwhatDeleuzeandGuttaricalledabodywithoutorgans,whichistheexactoppositeofan organism.Itisacauldronorreceptacleofnonorganiclife,abodywithoutorgans.Becauseitcanbealiveinthesenseofbeingcreativeand generatingorderwithouthavinggenesorhavingorgansorbeinganorganism.Inmyview,theveryfactthattheatmosphereconnectedwiththe hydrospherecangeneratethingslikehurricanesandcyclonesandallkindsofselforganizingentitiesmeansthatindeedtheplanet,evenbefore livingcreaturesappeared,wasalreadyabodywithoutorgans,acauldronofcreativity,areceptacleofspontaneouslyemergingorder. Comparedtotheatmosphere,comparedtothefreedomofahurricane,anorganism,eventhoughitismorecomplexanditlastsmuchlonger, atthesametimehasmorecommandcomponentsthanselforganizingcomponents.Thecommandcomponentscomefromgenes.Yourgenes aretheonethattellyourflesh,?Youarehuman,youarenotadog,you?renotamonkey,you?rehumanandyourshapeislikethis.Youdon?t havesixfingersorsevenfingers,youhavefivefingers.Ifyouhavesixfingers,you?reafreak,youbelonginacircus,you?renotarealhuman." Genesarewhatkeepsthisfleshthat?sselforganizingandfullofnonorganiclifefromwithininorder.Andthegenesare,ofcourse,completely hierarchical,thegeneswithinthecellobeythecellswithinthetissue,obeythegenesthatmakeuptheorgans,obeythegenesthatmakeupthe organism.Wearelikeperfectlylittlehierarchicalcreatureswhichthecommandcomponentismuchhigherthantheselforganizingone, whereastheatmospheresmuchfreer,isreallypureselforganizationwithoutanycommandcomponentatallbecausetherearenotevengenes therethattellthemwhattodo.AndsotocalltheplanetGaia,tomakeitanorganism,besidesbeingromanticandkindofcheesy,isa philosophicalmistakefromthestrictlymaterialistpointofview. KonradBecker: Yes,butdon?tyouthinkthattheboundariesbetweenlifeandanimateandinanimatematterisgettingfuzzyandthefamous virusisaborderlineproductwherewearenotsureifitislife? ManueldeLanda: Absolutely.Thelinesarefuzzybutonlywhenyoucompareviruseswith,let?ssay,crystals.Crystalsalsogrowbyreplication, virusesalsogrowbyreplication.Inaway,avirusisjustafancycrystal.Butwhenyoucomparecreaturesfartherawayfromtheborder,say,what wecallhigheranimalslikeourselves,youcanseethedifferencewithhurricanes.Thecommandcomponentinthemixtureincreaseswith evolutionandthehigheryougetintheevolutionarytreethecommandcomponentincreases.Wecallit?higher"butwearenotanyhigherthan bacteria,wejusthappentobelievewearespecial.Sotousetheorganismasametaphoriswrong. KonradBecker: Butwouldyouconsiderthepossibilityofnonorganiclife? ManueldeLanda: Yes,Ibelieveahurricanerepresentsaformofnonorganiclife.Itlastslongenoughforustogiveitaname.Itassembles

virusesalsogrowbyreplication.Inaway,avirusisjustafancycrystal.Butwhenyoucomparecreaturesfartherawayfromtheborder,say,what wecallhigheranimalslikeourselves,youcanseethedifferencewithhurricanes.Thecommandcomponentinthemixtureincreaseswith evolutionandthehigheryougetintheevolutionarytreethecommandcomponentincreases.Wecallit?higher"butwearenotanyhigherthan bacteria,wejusthappentobelievewearespecial.Sotousetheorganismasametaphoriswrong. KonradBecker: Butwouldyouconsiderthepossibilityofnonorganiclife? ManueldeLanda: Yes,Ibelieveahurricanerepresentsaformofnonorganiclife.Itlastslongenoughforustogiveitaname.Itassembles itself.It?snotlivinginthesensethatitdoesn?tbreathe.Buttoaskittobreathewouldbetoimposeanorganicconstraintonit.Thethingdoesn? thavetobreathe,itdoesn?thavetohaveapulse.Eventhen,certainwindsdobreathe,saythemonsoon,thewindthatismostprevalentonthe southerncoastofAsia.Itisaperfectlyrhythmiccreature:itblowsinonedirectionforsixmonthsoftheyear,blowsintheotherdirectionfor anothersixmonths,andeveryseafaringpeopleinAsiathatmadealivingfromtheseahadtolivewiththerhythmofthemonsoon.The monsoongavethoseculturestheirrhythm.Ifyouwanttogothatway,well,youhavetogothatwayinthesummer,thenyougetthereandyou havetowaitforthewintertocomeback.Youhavetoplanyourlifetothatrhythm.Sothemonsoonisaselforganizingentity,thereisno commandcomponentatall,itisnonorganiclife,anditisapulsingnonorganiclife.Itevenhasthebeatthatwetendtoassociatewithout hearts. Asitturnsout,whenthetheoristsofselforganizationstudiedcardiactissue,theydiscoveredthatyoucantakethecellsoftheheart,putthemin alittleflatplateandthey?llkeepbeating.Inotherwords,whatismakingtheheartbeatisasimilarprocessastowhatismakingthemonsoon beat.Ithasverylittletodowithgenes,thatthefleshitselfcanbeat,thatnonorganiclifehasthisbreathingrhythmalltoitself.