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Notas de Rosa

Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 15:07:00

Just as the temporalization of time causes a detemporalization of life with respect to individual
selfhood, so it brings about a detemporalization of history in the context of late modern
politics. Instead of being experienced as a directed, dynamic process that can be politically
accelerated (or decelerated), history once again takes on the form of an almost “static” space
of juxtaposed and successively unfolding histories.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 15:08:23

the exhaustion of utopian energies diagnosed by Habermas is not only a crisis of the
developmental perspective of a welfare state tied to a work society but a crisis of history-
making political steering energies in general: their conditions of emergence as laid out by
Koselleck and Lübbe no longer exist.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

- La subrayado en la página 399 | posición 6110-6112 | Añadido el sábado, 2 de septiembre de


2017 15:08:29

the exhaustion of utopian energies diagnosed by Habermas is not only a crisis of the
developmental perspective of a welfare state tied to a work society but a crisis of history-
making political steering energies in general: their conditions of emergence as laid out by
Koselleck and Lübbe no longer exist.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 15:12:17

The temporalization of political-historical time can also be seen in the fact that the movement
concepts that formed during the epochal threshold no longer indicate movement in late
modernity, but simply set up a static space of alternative forms of politics: the political isms
(republicanism, socialism, liberalism, conservatism, etc.) have forfeited their dynamic force
and no longer assume any irreversible developments.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 15:18:32

The new dominant experience of time in the form of “timelessness” is undoubtedly not a
return to the cyclical time of premodernity.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 18:58:24

but exist alongside one another simultaneously. Which forms are actualized in which place,
when, in what sequence, and for how long is decided within time itself according to
unpredictable developments that are endogenous to society.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 18:58:43

it should be clear how it is possible that in the hyperaccelerated society of the present
perceptions of the total contingency and complete openness of historical development and
the experience of standstill, of the end of any development, become dominant simultaneously.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:04:37

History becomes meaningless because ‘no history can bear the centrifugation of facts for their
own sake.’”

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)


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2017 19:07:03

events. Essentially one can no longer speak of the end of history since it has no time to rejoin
its own end. As its effects accelerate, its meaning inexorably decelerates. It will end up
stopping and extinguishing itself like light and time at the peripheries of an infinitely dense
mass.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:08:02

frenetic standstill in the absence of a goal or a direction. If this experience potentially leads to
individual depression insofar as it touches one’s own life, then as a collective form of historical
perception it winds up in the paralytic experience of posthistoire.70 Thus the experience of
history in the sense of the “collective singular” and the interpretation of politics as a
democratic project of shaping society are only possible when social change remains within a
definite “speed window.”

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:08:46

Baudrillard agrees precisely with the argument developed here: he remarks that “a certain
slowness (i.e., a certain speed, but not too fast) . . . is necessary for this condensation to take
place, for the signifying crystallization of events that we call history.”

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:09:49

frenetic standstill in the absence of a goal or a direction. If this experience potentially leads to
individual depression insofar as it touches one’s own life, then as a collective form of historical
perception it winds up in the paralytic experience of posthistoire.70 Thus the experience of
history in the sense of the “collective singular” and the interpretation of politics as a
democratic project of shaping society are only possible when social change remains within a
definite “speed window.”

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:16:11

The first-person narrator there explicitly remarks that the Vietnam War and the revolts caused
by it are the last offshoots of genuine history.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:20:30

Bill Martin observes that the revolts and movements of 1968 now appear to us as “the last
gasp of something we used to call ‘history,’” and it is no coincidence that they were
characterized by the musical trend of “progressive rock,” which was nourished by the idea of a
better future that remained to be (musically and politically) given shape, while the music of
the 1980s and ’90s was characterized by “retro waves” and the negation of hopes for progress:

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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19:20:43

similar to fisher

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:25:19

“not the end of the world, but the end of meaning,”

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:38:08

Ultimately this too can be interpreted as a form of desynchronization: systemic processing in


the structures of late modern society has become too fast to carry along the cultural resources
of meaning that upheld the unifying political project of modernity and its understanding of
history.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:40:26

“the year after the oil shock and the year starting from which real wages in the U.S never grew
ever again.”

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:40:51

However, in the systems-theoretical approach represented by, for instance, Nassehi, the
desynchronization of “semantics” and “social structure” that underlies the drying up of
historical and political visions bemoaned by Jameson and Habermas is unequivocally attributed
to modernity as such. This approach sees it as a direct consequence of functional
differentiation.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:41:40

“This semantics of social unity,” as Nassehi writes in connection with Peter Fuchs, “has [from
the start—H.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:41:50

R.] the function of compensating for the loss of meaning in the social dimension that arises
due to functional differentiation and all the functional crises of early modernity that
accompany it. It serves to establish unity where from a social-structural point of view it has
ultimately already been lost.”

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:42:22

In my view, however, this interpretation suffers from two grave defects: By reducing the
temporalization of life and of history to mere “simulations” of unity and anachronistic
attempts at compensation, it misjudges the extent to which the related conceptions of politics,
history, and identity shaped and defined the project of modernity.

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Social Acceleration (Rosa, Hartmut; Trejo-Mathys, Jonathan;)

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2017 19:43:07

In the second place, though, it can convincingly reconstruct neither the emergence of the
earlier form of temporalization nor the transition to the “temporalization of time” and hence
the break within modernity.

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Sociology, Capitalism, Critique (Hartmut Rosa,Stephan Lessenich,Klaus Dörre;Stephan


Lessenich;Hartmut Rosa)

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19:52:06

jobless growth, precarisation of large segments of the population, the emergence of a new
class of socially excluded people, political dissatisfaction and new forms of social unrest or
xenophobia can all be read as symptoms of this form of growing dynamic de-stabilisation.

can all be read as crises of dynamic stabilisation,

as inevitable crises emerging from a system that can only reproduce itself and maintain its
socio-economic, institutional and structural status quo through growth, escalation, increase
and escalation, acceleration and innovation.

This approach holds that the central problem of modern, capitalist societies is no longer
acceleration per se, but as the tendency toward escalation that accompanies dynamic
stabilisation.

DEFINITION OF MODERNITY as dynamic stabilisation

In countering this, I would like to suggest the following modest and simple definition: a society
is modern when it functions according to a mode of dynamic stabilisation, i.e., when it
systematically requires growth, innovation and acceleration for its structural reproduction and
to maintain its socio-economic and institutional status quo.

What does not change (IN THE DIFFERENT MODERN SOCIETIES IN THE WORLD), however, are
the systemic compulsions to augmentation, increase and escalation.

This answer, however, raises another serious question: is modern society, then, equivalent to
capitalist society? Do I simply mean ‘capitalism’ when I refer to the basic structure of modern
society?

Thus, I am agnostic with respect to the question of whether or not dynamic stabilisation is
caused by capitalism (and by capitalism alone). In any case, dynamic stabilisation is the current
mode of stabilisation in all relevant spheres of contemporary social life, and will not be
replaced absent a fundamental change in the economic fabric of modern society.

Examples of the need of the new…. I arts

this is the modernist strive maybe it is changed

it is escalation? or just empy displacetments in the same space

escalation

or: dynamisation at the expense of stability.

FROM THE MODERNITY TO LATE MODERNITY

When the mode of dynamic stabilisation and the logic of escalation became operative in the
eighteenth century, the emphasis in cultural self-interpretation as well as in social experience
was on the dynamic side of this: growth, acceleration and innovation, at least to some extent
and for significant segments of the population, were inherently connected to the promise of
progress and thus to the prospect and promise of a better life.

All of this, however, has changed in the twenty-first century. The promise has been turned
into a threat, or even a nightmare, at least in the so-called developed economies: if we do
not grow, accelerate and innovate, things will become worse; we will encounter crisis and
disaster.

all they hope for is that life will not be too much worse for them. Thus, growth, acceleration
and innovation have lost their inherent cultural potential, appeal and promise: of course (or
at least: we hope), the economy will keep growing – but no one (at least no one of a sane
disposition; in other words, no one but the economists) believes that this will put an end to
poverty, scarcity or the ever-intensifying struggle for economic survival. Of course,
technological inventions will give us faster tools and further increase the speeds of social life –
but no one believes that this will put an end to the scarcity of time. Scientific innovations and
political reforms will come about at a relentless pace – but no one really believes that these
will improve our lives.
the prospect of progress has been replaced by the horizon of crisis and catastrophe, and this
catastrophe has two possible faces:

one scenario is that we could fail to dynamise, and hence to stabilise; thus, our economies,
welfare-states and democratic systems could break down, and we would slide back into
poverty, darkness and even warfare.

we do manage to keep up growth, acceleration and innovation rates. This would lead to
ecological disaster or, at the very least, require transhumanistic beings who are capable of
running faster and faster each year just to keep up.

So for Rosa, there is no escape….not friendly with the Transhuman project…

now want to move on to the claim that the four major crises of contemporary society – the
core crises of our late modern, global age – can best be grasped from a temporal perspective,
from which they are seen to be crises of de-synchronisation, inherently caused by and
connected to the irresistible logic of social acceleration. The reason for this, in a nutshell, is
the fact that time is the one factor in (or dimension of) social life that cannot be increased or
extended – it can only be compressed.

The basic problem of endemic and escalating dynamisation is this: accelerated systems or
actors systematically put pressure on the slower ones – risking de-synchronisation and friction
at the points where they intersect.

Thus, while the financial markets can be accelerated to almost the speed of light, altering how
transactions are conducted and profits can be made, the ‘real economy’ of material production
and consumption is much slower.

In other words, the process of material dynamisation, driven by the consumption of physical
energy, leads to a ‘de-synchronisation’ in the earth’s atmosphere that results in the earth’s
warming.

Surprising as it may sound, I claim that virtually all aspects of what we call ‘the ecological crisis’
can be re-interpreted as problems of de-synchronisation.

InterSocial: Economy and Politics

In fact, the more pluralistic and post-conventionalist society gets – and the more complex its
networks, chains of transaction and contexts of action and decision-making become – the
slower democracy proceeds.

The de-synchronisation between politics and the economy, or its markets, thus results in a
state of affairs where citizens have lost faith in political self-efficacy; for them, political
institutions no longer respond to their needs and aspirations.

Intra-Social De-synchronisation: The Financial Crisis


Here the evidence for pathological forms of de-synchronisation appears to be overwhelming as
well.

from ‘fixing’ whose who are viewed as ‘disabled’ to transhumanist fantasies of reconciling the
speed of technology with the speed of social actors.13 Signs of growing pathological de-
synchronisation, in the form of burnout and depression, are alarming.

One of the most striking features of both burnout and depression is the resulting lack of
dynamics: for those who fall into the trap of a burnout or depression, time stands still; the
world and/or the self appear to be ‘frozen’, void of motion and significance.

One of the most striking features of both burnout and depression is the resulting lack of
dynamics: for those who fall into the trap of a burnout or depression, time stands still; the
world and/or the self appear to be ‘frozen’, void of motion and significance.

ENLIGHTENMENT: AUTONOMY AND CONTROL; BUT ALSO SLAVERY AND LOST OF CONTROL….
REVERSE OF PROMETHEANISM

dynamisation. From the Enlightenment to the mid- or even late twentieth century, the hope
for a self-determined life constituted the fundamental promise of modernity.

God nor King should dictate to us how we live, nor should the constraints set by the natural
world (we decide, independently of nature, whether a room is warm or cool, light or dark,
when we eat strawberries or go skiing, and even whether we are a man or a woman).17

In short: the drive to escalation incipiently served (at least in theory) to acquire and expand
spaces of autonomy (and to protect these through the welfare state) in order to pursue one’s
own plans in life.

Today, by contrast, we can observe the complete surrender and even reversal of this relation:
the individual life plan serves the purpose of keeping up in the game of escalation, of
remaining or becoming competitive.

However, the conception of autonomy is not only a victim of the game of escalation; it is
also among the culprits, as it is one of the motivating factors behind this game.

The availability of options and opportunities raises the overall quality of life. This is why the
modern desire for autonomy urgently requires modification, or at least complementation, in
the form of a rediscovery of the desire for resonance: if we accept that life is successful
when it allows for experiences of resonance18 (at work, within a political community, in a
familial setting, in nature, art, etc.), then even if autonomy does not necessarily become
irrelevant, the blind multiplication of life options does not imply a gain in quality of life per
se. I will return to this argument shortly. If growth, acceleration and the increase in
innovations

This competition-induced spiral of increase and escalation becomes interminable. If we do not


overcome this dominant mode of dynamic stabilisation – by means of an economic, political
and cultural revolution – it seems quite likely that in a few years time we will have begun
‘upgrading’ our children with biotechnological and information-technological forms of
enhancement. Commented [SGN1]: Is that inherently wrong? Why the
penicillin or heart transplant was tolerated? In general,
extending the life when is maybe enough to stay with 50
years, enough life… etc. We are always already cyborgs
DEPRESION AND BURNOUT

As I have already pointed out, the flipside of the game of escalation is its excessive demands
on the mind and body, as can be witnessed in the increasing rates of pyschological burnout
found in modern society.

Burnout syndrome is neither the product of simply having a lot of work to do nor of the
compulsion to run faster, but rather of the utter absence of any long-term goals on one’s
individual horizon. Commented [SGN2]: THAT IS EXACT…. THE LOSS OF
MEANING, HISTORICAL HORIZON, ETC…. FISHER PUTS IT
To have to constantly grow, accelerate and innovate simply to be able to actually pause once CLEAR.
in a while, just to avoid sliding into crisis, culminates in an existential impossibility.

comfort in the idea that things are only this hectic for now, but they will get better soon.

extreme form of alienation: it is not the amount of work, but instead the relations of work
themselves that have a tendency to result in stress and burnout illnesses. Commented [SGN3]: Precarization, Mondays…

Burnout arises when successes are no longer acknowledged or celebrated, but instead viewed
as mere ‘intermediate steps in an endless sequence’; when one receives no recognition (also
known as a ‘crisis of gratification’21); when genuine personal relationships and interactions
erode or are instrumentalised; when progress at work is no longer intrinsically motivated;
when an authentic passion for work as a meaningful activity is Commented [SGN4]: Alienation in the workplace, non
true recognition, no resonance… explore the diff btwn the
IN short: burnout is the result when the ‘axes of resonance’ at the workplace fall silent conceptos, check Rezonnz
(Verstummen)

This falling silent of all axes of resonance represents the embodiment of a condition of
alienation in which the world faces the subject in a rigid, harsh, cold and silent form – a world
in which the latter perceives of him or herself as pale, dead, empty and mute.

is a frequent and quite obvious consequence of escalation compulsions, precisely because


resonant relationships require stability as well as adequate time to maintain them. Commented [SGN5]: Resonance needs time and
stability… culture now works with kitsh (quick fixes, Viagra
THREE TYPES OF SUBJECTIVITIES IN THIS ACCELERATED WORLD over seduction)

A ‘surfer’ ideal. The point here is no longer to find a ‘safe harbour’ or an island in the ocean of
life at which to dock one’s proverbial boat, but rather to stand on a proverbial surfboard while
making the greatest effort possible to read and master the wind and waves, jumping from
crest to crest and ‘staying afloat’.24 ‘Surfers’ are frequently considered to be the ‘victors and
winners’ of the system. I, however, consider them to be susceptible to burnout in the near
future because they are no longer connected to society, and unhappy because they are
neither ‘autonomous’ in the old sense nor ‘resonant’ in the new. Perhaps late modern
subjects are really more akin to pinball players than to surfers: they keep the ball in the game
as long as possible and hope to encounter advantageous contacts and opportunities while
playing.25 Whoever does not manage to ‘stay afloat’ runs the risk of being flung back and forth
uncontrollably by the wind and waves; he or she then becomes a ‘drifter’ – incapable of
controlling, planning or steering his or her destiny and
life, but likewise unable to find or acquire new spaces of resonance.

Conservative fanatism

In my view, at least some of the appeal of terrorist groups lies in their capacity to articulate
precisely such a ‘counter-horizon’ in opposition to the capitalist logic of dynamisation and
flexibilisation (this is true for both the NSU26 as well as Al Qaeda and ISIS).

In my view, at least some of the appeal of terrorist groups lies in their capacity to articulate
precisely such a ‘counter-horizon’ in opposition to the capitalist logic of dynamisation and
flexibilisation (this is true for both the NSU26 as well as Al Qaeda and ISIS).

The argument developed in the preceding section seeks to establish the opposition between
experiences and spaces of resonance and forms of alienation as central to a new definition of
the quality of life, and hence to developing a new standard for measuring the quality of life.

In my view, they would have to aim towards establishing and protecting those spaces of
resonance which do not conform to the logic of escalation, while at the same time exhibiting
some resilience in the face of dynamisation imperatives. This is precisely the point at which
many alternative communes, movements and oppositional projects fail. But if it is true – as is
reported by all kinds of major media outlets these days – that even (and particularly!) highly
qualified and talented employees are increasingly refusing to assume leadership positions in Commented [SGN6]: Este punto de resilencia frente a los
the economy, in politics, or in the academy out of fear of becoming trapped in the hamster imperativos de dinamización es algo críptico, no sé a qué se
refiere, pero parece que es un pensamiento menos
wheel, then perhaps the cultural resources of resistance against the rule of the logic of
estratégico y mas institucional para fortalecer formas de
escalation do exist after all. vida alternativos, hacia alterar la sociedad en general….

RESONANCIA COMO CONCEPTO

Quite obviously, modern conceptions of well-being and standards of living (the ‘good life’) are
drivers for growth.

This, I believe, stems from a conception of the good life that is based on the idea of autonomy.

The argument developed in the preceding section seeks to establish the opposition between
experiences and spaces of resonance and forms of alienation as central to a new definition of
the quality of life, and hence to developing a new standard for measuring the quality of life.

According to this conception, quality of life rises along with rising means and commodities

According to this conception, quality of life rises along with rising means and commodities at
our disposal; in short, with our increased access to resources.

Therefore, a post-growth society, i.e., one that operates according to a mode of stabilisation
different from the current one, requires a re-definition of the quality of life as well. Commented [SGN7]: Quality rather than quantity….

different from the one that measures it against the range of options (for consumption,
recreation, etc.) available to individual subjects.

The starting point for this is the simple intuition that the happiness of people can be read from
their sharing of laughter, song and dance rather than from their ranges of available options.
So, what alternatives are available to develop a conception of the quality of life that is not
resource- or options-centred and thus not growth-related?

proceeds from the assumption that the relationship exists prior to both the world and the self.

Thirdly, subject and world might fall into a mode of resonance. In this mode, the subject
experiences the world (or a specific segment of it) as ‘answering’, responding to and
supporting him or her. The connection here is of an intrinsic nature and meaning, it is not just
causal and instrumental, but constitutive for who the subject is.

Hence, resonance is a mode of liquefaction in the relationship between self and world.

Thus, resonance specifies a relationship of ‘benevolent’ mutual response between self and
world.

on the part of the subject, but also a ‘responsive’ environment.

In modern society, there appear to be specific, often institutionalised contexts in which


subjects seek and experience such moments of resonance. In particular, these can be found in
the spheres of art, nature and religion.

However, the basic tenet of resonance theory is the idea that these modes can be generalised
into modes of existence and thus be used to evaluate and criticise the quality of life and
social conditions. This would mean that modes of life can be measured in terms of their
‘resonability’. Commented [SGN8]: Toward a generalization of the
resonance moments….. but they are at the same time
If we accept that this constitutes a viable route of exploration, then the good life could be momentary here we enter to the avantgard discussion…
defined as a life that allows and provides not just for experiences of resonance, but also for
reliable ‘axes’ of resonance.

we have to introduce a crucial distinction: while experiences of resonance are always and
necessarily temporary, transient and fleeting, they are regularly sought and made along
more or less stable ‘axes’ of resonance. In modern societies, those axes are generally not
found in poetic and remote realms of nature, art and religion, which are conceptualised as
‘pure’ spheres of resonance, standing

However, it is important to realise that there is an inherently elusive element to all


experiences of resonance: they cannot be controlled and intensified or even brought about
at will – and most significantly, they cannot be accumulated. Commented [SGN9]: In that sense, that would be what
make them incapturable by instrumentalisation?
Consequently, social conditions deserve criticism when they close off the axes of resonance for
subjects. (Kritik der Resonanzverhaltnisse)

the spectre of a world which has lost its propensity to ‘resonate’ appears to be the central
theme, albeit expressed in many variations.

On the other hand, modernity is just as much characterised by a major rise in the desire for
resonance and the sensibility to experience it. Thus, the three core spheres of modern
resonance – nature, art and religion – are genuinely romantic ‘inventions’, and so is the
modern understanding of love (between lovers as well as between parents and children) as a
matter of pure and mutual ‘resonance’. Commented [SGN10]: Rosa emphasises the romantic
side of modernity, like others: Kompridis and recently
Menke (Force!)
Modern work life in particular is non-resonant, and as compensation modern culture
provides small niches of ‘pure resonance’. However, a core problem of these conditions of
resonance – or alienation – lies in the fact that those niches or oases are constructed in a
way that denies experiences of self-efficacy: subjects want to be ‘touched’, moved or
affected, for example, at the opera or in the cinema, but their own role in this sphere is
almost entirely passive. Commented [SGN11]: Also another problem, seems to
be that there can be a autonomy paradox as Marcuse said.
This underscores a central requirement of the resonating mode: resonance is a two-way
relationship between self and world, not a ‘one-way affection’.

Also if the world is completely unpredictable, it will be impossible to discern its voice. Hence,
the quality of self-world-relationships depends on this ‘two-way resonability’.

Thus, resonance theory aims at a new form of social critique that is a critique of the conditions
of resonance.

The subjective drive for escalation and increase could vanish if, through establishing and
securing spaces of resonance, subjects would feel capable of re-appropriating the (public and
political) world.

LA UTOPIA DE UNA SOCIEDAD POST-CRECIMIENTO CON MAS ESPACIOS DE RESONANCIA

critique of social and political change, the focus could and should be shifted to the
background conditions enabling resonance and preventing (structural) alienation. Such a
shift of attention could in fact herald the beginning of a fundamental alteration to the cultural,
but also the structural and institutional, fabric of modernity.

This, in turn, suggests that those crises will not be solved unless modern societies adopt a
different mode of stabilisation (which, incidentally, would make them truly ‘postmodern’):
they must adopt a mode which would allow for growth, acceleration and innovation where
it is socially and culturally desirable for the attainment of a certain goal or end, but which
would not require escalation for the sake of maintaining the status quo.

post-growth society, obviously, is one that is capable of growth, acceleration and innovation
if it needed or wanted to change the socio-economic, cultural or ecological status quo (e.g.,
to overcome some form of scarcity or fight a disease), but which is not dependent on
escalation for systemic reproduction, for preserving the status quo as such.

the as-yet-unknown cultural, political and economic contours of such a society – one that is
liberal, democratic and pluralistic in its cultural fabric, but has moved beyond the social
totalitarianism of escalation

An alternative mode of stabilisation that is both modern in the sense of being democratic,
pluralistic and liberal, but not dependent on growth and escalation for reproduction, would
require a new cultural definition of the good life, a new measurement of the quality of life.
PARADOXICAL TIMES

“Everything’s getting faster and faster.” Everything is constantly in flux, and the future is
therefore completely open and uncertain and no longer simply derivable from the past and the
present. This basic experience of modernity, characteristic of all its phases, only defines one
side of the currently prevalent critical diagnoses of the times.

People speak here of a “crystallization” of the cultural and structural formations of their own
age, of its appearing to be an “iron cage” in which nothing essential changes anymore and
nothing new occurs.

Even though it was already formulated by, for instance, Max Weber and Alexandre Kojève and
was present as, so to speak, a subtext from the very beginning of modern times,

One finds the most striking formulations of this thesis, of course, in the discourse of
posthistoire and Fukuyama’s claim about the “end of history,”54 but it is also reflected in the
ex negativo definitions of one’s own age as a “post” and “end” period, a post-age at the end of
reason, the subject, values, education, narratives, politics, history, etc.

they are observations of an epochal break without a corresponding vision of a cultural new
beginning, thus without a new meaningful linkage of past, present, and future.

“frenetic standstill” (rasender Stillstand), which we owe to an inspired translation of Paul


Virilio’s inertie polaire, they are synthesized into a posthistoire diagnosis in which the rush of
historical events only provides scant cover for (and ultimately, in effect, produces) a standstill
in the development of ideas and deep social structures.

Analogous to the paradoxical “double diagnosis” of the simultaneous acceleration of social


change and halting of social development, one finds in the history of modernity periodic
complaints about an increase in the pace of life and an ever more hectic lifestyle, which is said
to have all manner of pathological characteristics, especially in the form of overstimulation and
task overload (Überforderung).

Analogous to the paradoxical “double diagnosis” of the simultaneous acceleration of social


change and halting of social development, one finds in the history of modernity periodic
complaints about an increase in the pace of life and an ever more hectic lifestyle, which is said
to have all manner of pathological characteristics, especially in the form of overstimulation and
task overload (Überforderung). This grievance is interestingly accompanied by an opposing Commented [SGN12]: So, for Rosa, we have at the
subtext in which the uneventful boredom of modern life is bemoaned. L’ennui becomes a macrolevel and the micro level the paradoxical feeling.
catchword precisely at the time the industrial revolution is multiplying “velocity in all realms of
human experience,” as Peter Conrad remarks.58

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as the problem of steering (Steuerung) or coping with contingency. It proves to be a
fundamental problem of “our time.”

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consideration. In view of the essential limitation of a human lifetime one may assume that the
acceleration of goal-directed processes (the production of goods or states of affairs, the
traversal of transport routes, the transmission of information) is, in principal, viewed as
desirable. Nevertheless, an evident danger here consists in the potential desynchronization of
processes, systems, and perspectives as a result of one-sided acceleration.

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Acceleration in one subregion of society only remains compatible with the rest of society if
corresponding increases in tempo at structural and cultural points of intersection allow for
frictionless “translation.”

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postulation of a growing incongruence of the three actor-guiding horizons of time (that is, a
disintegration of the perspectives of everyday time, biographical time, and historical time) in
modern capitalist societies. In his view their irreconcilability causes individuals to perceive
“their” time (in all three frames of reference) as “alienated.”

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society is the belief that one can discern a more or less accentuated break in the development
of modernity that forces one to redefine the present age as a second modernity,71 a reflexive
modernity,72 an extended liberal modernity,73 a late modernity,74 or even a postmodernity.
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At the same time, quantitatively large but marginalized groups in the so-called Third World,
and certainly in the industrialized societies as well, are becoming “desynchronized” in that
they are excluded from the decisive structural and cultural developments.

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Indeed, it appears that an acceptance of these processes of desynchronization is the common


core of what apologists of the “postmodern” celebrate and their opponents are battling
against. The surrender of a political steering of economic, technological, and social processes
of development (the “end of politics”) or even of the attempt to understand these
developments at all (the “end of Science/Reason”); the renunciation of the demand for a
meaningful, narrative integration of the past, present, and future, both biographical and
collective (“the end of metanarratives”), and thus for an integration of everyday time,
biographical time, and historical time in the project of a personal identity (“the end of the
subject/the terror of identity”); the acceptance of desynchronized and disintegrated
processing on the part of social subsystems (“the end of Society”) and finally acquiescence in
the desynchronized and disintegrated development of different social groups—all these
characterize the essence of both the postmodern philosophical ideology and the postmodern
sociological diagnosis of the times.

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the acceleration that is a constitutive part of modernity crosses a critical threshold in “late
modernity” beyond which the demand for societal synchronization and social integration can
no longer be

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the acceleration that is a constitutive part of modernity crosses a critical threshold in “late
modernity” beyond which the demand for societal

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the acceleration that is a constitutive part of modernity crosses a critical threshold in “late
modernity” beyond which the demand for societal synchronization and social integration can
no longer be met.78 The consequence of

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is a fundamental, qualitative transformation in the forms of societal steering and individual


identity that entails the abandonment of the claim to individual and collective autonomy and
thus of the normative project of modernity.

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the quality of biographical and historical time changes as well: individual and collective time
patterns and perspectives become situational and are continually redefined with the flow of
time in a context-dependent manner in historically novel forms of “situational identity” and
“situational politics.”

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in light of these considerations, one can theoretically locate and analytically specify the
paradoxical simultaneity of diagnoses of a “total” dynamization of all social relations and a
contemporaneous complete rigidification of historical and life-historical development of any
kind, both of which show up precisely in diagnoses of “postmodernity.”

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In contrast, several authors have recently objected that the defining experience of time in late
modernity is no longer that of acceleration, but rather that of the simultaneity of highly
heterogeneous events and processes, which leads to the temporal perspective of a prolonged
(Hanns-Georg Brose) or stretched (Helga Nowotny) present.

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According to another objection to the acceleration diagnosis, processes of acceleration are


almost always accompanied by complementary tendencies of hesitation, delay, and slowing
down such that changes in time structures invariably have to be interpreted as complex
manifestations of this reciprocal relationship.

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am convinced I can show that in the modernization process forces of acceleration and
deceleration do not balance out, but are instead very unequal in distribution: discernible
tendencies of deceleration can be interpreted either as residual or as reactions to acceleration
processes (and occasionally as functional for the latter).

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This holds true irrespective of the observation that lies at the heart of this book, namely, that
the forces of acceleration bear within themselves a time-altering quality that leads to
epiphenomenal appearances of inertia.
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