Networked_Performance

“Fellow Prisoners” by John Berger

Fellow Prisoners by John Berger, Guernica, July 2011: The best way to understand the world, writes Berger, is not as a metaphorical prison but a literal one. And what better way to inspire solidarity than seeing ourselves (them) as fellow prisoners?

[…] “What is being lived today is new because of its relationship with space.

It’s here that the thinking of Zygmunt Bauman is illuminating. He points out that the corporate market forces now running the world are ex-territorial, that’s to say “free from territorial constraints — the constraints of locality.” They are perpetually remote, anonymous and thus never have to take account of the territorial, physical consequences of their actions. He quotes Hans Tietmeyer, former President of the German Federal Bank: “Today’s stake is to create conditions favorable to the confidence of investors.” The single supreme priority.

Following this, the control of the world’s populations, who consist of producers, consumers, and the marginalized poor, is the task allotted to the obedient national governments.

The planet is a prison and the obedient governments, whether of left or right, are the herders.

***

The prison system operates thanks to cyberspace. Cyberspace offers the market a speed of exchange which is almost instantaneous and used across the world day and night for trading. From this speed, the market tyranny gains its ex-territorial license. Such velocity, however, has a pathological effect on its practitioners: it anesthetizes them. No matter what has befallen, “business as usual.”

There is no place for pain in that velocity; announcements of pain perhaps, but not the suffering of it. Consequently, the human condition is banished, excluded from those operating the system. They are alone because utterly heartless.

[…]

For fellow prisoners the opposite is true. Cells have walls that touch across the world. Effective acts of sustained resistance will be embedded in the local, near and far. Outback resistance, listening to the earth.

[…]

The authorities do their systematic best to keep fellow prisoners misinformed about what is happening elsewhere in the world prison.

[…]

This is done with carefully selected information, with misinformation, commentaries, rumors, fictions. Insofar as the operation succeeds, it proposes and maintains a hallucinating paradox, for it tricks a prison population into believing that the priority for each one of them is to make arrangements for their own personal protection and to acquire somehow, even though incarcerated, their own particular exemption from the common fate. This image of mankind as transmitted through a view of the world is truly without precedent. Mankind is presented as a coward; only winners are brave. In addition, there are no gifts; there are only prizes.


Jul 28, 13:19
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