Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Whoa! Reality Based Community on Facebook

I have had the idea to start one of those Facebook pages to bring together some disparate blog sources, since a group blog structure might not work for everybody. All are welcome to apply to become mods if you have suitable blog posts of your own to contribute and disseminate. The theme is not leftism, as in the recently departed Larvatus Prodeo, or centrism as in Club Troppo, or any flavour of rightism. It will not be a collection of "hate sites", as Homer Paxton references. It is called Reality Based Community, referencing a quote from an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (allegedly Karl Rove).
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Bush's reign coincided with the Matrix films, bringing the theories of Jean Baudrillard to CGI life. Baudrillard rejected the Matrix's treatment of his concept of the desert of the real, where the crude map crafted by humans becomes the new reality, regardless of the actual arrangement of rocks and plants that the map is supposed to describe: that the map as composed then becomes imposed. The Matrix's interpretation was that the system would incorporate the efforts of anyone who tried to change or break it; Baudrillard's rejoinder is that the Matrix films are a "symptom" of the system, invoking Agent Smith's monologue about humanity as a virus.
The pseudo-Freud who speaks at the film’s conclusion puts it well: at a certain moment, we reprogrammed the matrix in order to integrate anomalies into the equation. And you, the resistors, comprise a part of it. Thus we are, it seems, within a total virtual circuit without an exterior. Here again I am in theoretical disagreement (laughter). The Matrix paints the picture of a monopolistic superpower, like we see today, and then collaborates in its refraction. Basically, its dissemination on a world scale is complicit with the film itself. On this point it is worth recalling Marshall McLuhan: the medium is the message. The message of The Matrix is its own diffusion by an uncontrollable and proliferating contamination.
Baudrillard's contention is that the more the system evolves towards perfection, the closer it is to destruction. He would no doubt get along famously with Thomas Piketty, whose theory of r > g (the rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth) suggests that the endpoint of capitalism is also inevitable (or at least subject to periodic collapse). And of course, a dinner party with these two would also welcome Karl Marx, another whose theory is that capitalism already carries within itself the seeds of own mortality.

The 21st century has been a live Baudrillardian experiment. Is it possible that Rove was correct, and neocons rewriting the map with their post facto justifications caused a quantum smooshing to produce a post-fact cosmos? Are we all Schrodinger's cat in a box, and is Karl the observer who collapses the waveform to decide reality?

Perhaps it is unfair to single out neoliberal capitalism for criticism in this way. From the perspective of environmentalism, any kind of economic creed which does not put sustainability at its core dooms humanity, because sooner or later the earth is going to run out of free lunches. The command economy in China is currently doing a slap up job of polluting its way to disaster. Thus there is room in the RBC for critiques from both left and right of politics, or from the supposedly dispassionate eye of plain old science.

Is it going to be inequality that is the revenant reality that bursts the Dubbya-era bubble universe, or will it be climate change that washes away this egghead post-modern decadence... or another world war between 0.01%er elites fighting over lebensraum that isn't covered in oil slicks? Hopefully, we'll learn a bit about it through the Reality Based Community.


  1. happy to join up but how is it done?

  2. You've made it sound rather "high brow", monty.

    But how's it basically meant to work? If you let someone be a mod, they link to whichever post on their own blog that they think fits the criteria? As well as to other blog posts they like?

    BTW, I have avoided Facebook as much as I can, so I have only the vaguest idea of how it operates. I certainly would want to preserve anonymity as much as I can, although I don't really know whether the nefarious reach of Google and associated linking sites has actually leaked out more than I know. (I know one person worked out who I was.)

  3. Yes Steve. As a mod, you can link whatever you like, on your blog or someone else's. There's not a huge functional difference to a normal blog, but people don't tend to post full articles on Facebook pages, because it's more suited to sharing stuff from elsewhere.

    You can start a dummy account, doesn't have to use your name. FB are not happy about that sort of thing but it happens a lot.

    The "high brow" element is just an overall philosophical structure in the background. The day to day material will be just your normal blog fare. Not all of our blog posts will fit with the theme of the page, which would mean we choose which ones to re-post.

  4. Does that mean we have to have a facebook page because I have avoided that like the plague as well.

  5. You can make your personal stuff all private.

  6. So, I need to open a FB "not reality based" account before I can be a mod?

    Or I can open a true name account and try to keep it private?

    I'm guessing the former is safer...

    Incidentally, going to be watching the 60 Minutes Ashby interview that is supposed to "rock" the Abbott government? I will be...

  7. M0nty,

    I am under Nott Trampis in facebook

  8. You'll have to "like" the page before I can see you, Homer.

  9. You go to the page linked in the post, while logged in to Facebook, and press the Like button.

  10. we do not understand here.
    Exactly what do you do because nothing is working

  11. You're now an admin of the page, Homer.