Digital Deterritorialization



Gauging the net outcomes of global informationalization over the past three decades is not an easy task. The industrial/national/statal concepts used to interpret ordinary notions of territoriality, sovereignty, and community are still locked into other rhetorics, narratives, and technics that are not attuned to a metanational politics running on Internet time. Like Deleuze and Guattari, one should approach the project of philosophical critique here as "the discipline that involves creating concepts," because "concepts are not waiting for us ready-made, like heavenly bodies."1 Once a diagrammatics of change and continuity can be tracked in broader economic, political, and social tendencies, fresh concepts must be constructed to disclose their intensive qualities, energies, and directions.

Moreover, such "thinking," as Deleuze and Guattari claim, always must take "place in the relationship of territory and the earth," and "the earth constantly carries out a movement of deterritorialization on the spot, by which it goes beyond any territory: it is deterritorializing and deterritorialized" in a manner that continuously "brings together all of the elements within a single embrace while using one or another of them to deterritorialize territory."2 The characteristics of telematic networks also cannot be considered apart from the earth. They often are not unlike cities inasmuch as they are both new social formations that cast complex artifice as their driving elements, which, in turn, unlease unstable deterritorializing effects in the unceasing flows of communication, trade, and warfare.

Like artifactuality of the polis under the Greeks, the artifactive functionalities of telematic networks appear to be an absolute plane of immanence rather than one of transcendence. Such moments carry out movements of relative deterritorialization which coalesce physical, psychological, and social changes in "the historical relationship of the earth with the territories that take shape and pass away on it."3 These relations, in turn, invest the forms of a metanational digital being in metaterritorial networks, as Earth's third nature, with absolute qualities. Hence,

The earth passes into the pure plane of immanence of a Being-thought, of a Nature-thought of infinite diagrammatic movements. Thinking consists in stretching out a plane of immanence that absorbs the earth (or rather, "adsorbs" it). Deterritorialization of such a plane does not preclude reterritorialization, but posits the creation of a future new earth. Nonetheless, absolute deterritorialization can only be thought according to certain still-to-be-determined relationships with relative deterritorializations that are not only cosmic but geographical, historical, and psychosocial.4

The fractalizing immanence of cyberspace, and "the new earths" it creates, cannot be expressed more concretely than these observations.

Negroponte's digital being promises infinite diagrammatic movements in still-to-be-determined relationships in a metanational space brimming with unknown works-in-progress, lines-of-flight, and bodies-without-organs. Nonetheless, the deterritorial/reterritorial binaries of cybernetic metanations entail geographical, historical, and psychosocial transformations as well as cultural refigurations. In, turn, new ideologies carried by random musings from the digerati or sound bites from dot coms are the new forms of thought that emerge from these shifting relations between territority and the earth as they drawing together fantastic elements of digital being with the networking metanation's most cohesive deterritorializing configurations.

As an absolute plane of immanence, cyberspace becomes a constantly "movable and moving ground," and it endlessly cycles the decisive moments of founding/building/inhabiting in space through new modes of thought and action.5 In addition, cyberspace is almost entirely transversalized by capitalism, and it now mostly works to advance the universalization of markets. The axiomatics of commodification are quite congruent with those of digitalization, so metanational cyberspace emerges online as decoded flows of bits, money, ideas, labor, and products. These streams have eroded the overcoded substance of resistant cultures, governments, and societies.6 Informationalization is recontouring, once again, cultures as corporate tastes, governments around global markets, and societies into individual exchanges. In turn, even the strongest nation-states seem hell-bent upon "going with the flow" of metanationalizing change simply to survive, because they are "no longer paradigms of overcoding but constitute the 'models of realization' of this immanent axiomatic" of commodification and digitalization.7

The cluster of codes and frameworks of functionalities, which are coevolving within the many loosely coupled networks of the Internet, are remediating the protocols of everyday life on a metanational scale. In a fashion not unlike electricification, cooperant conventions for acting alone and together, with tools or without, communicating face-to-face or remotely through various media, and defining and satisfying immediate needs in the family or some larger community are being rejiggered as the options for going online become much more common.8 Remarkably, this complex constellation of technics is remaking economics and politics by redrawing outlines of the oikonomia and polis in more metanational forms. Fundamental ontic assumptions about what, where, when, and how any given economy or polity operates must be questioned, because how they function, when their order prevails, where their scope sweeps, and what they are come into question online.

Ultimately, the Net recasts the ontopolitical matrices of sovereignty, territoriality, and society that the modern economics and politics of capitalist markets and nation-states have sustained for nearly four centuries.9 On the Net, one finds points of coincidence, cooperation, and cofiguration condensing into new modes of metanational cohabituation--separate and apart from existing maps of familiar behaviors. As online identity and community are turned into normative ideals by info-rhetorics and cyber-technics, they will begin to normalize the behavior of individuals and populations as online game players, Napster users, and USENET regulars all suggest. Consequently, the accumulation of all the Net's operational components now constitute a vast incorporeal engine of agency and structure in virtual realities; yet, these online cooperant possibilities also are finding other very concrete means for power to gain actualization, incarnation, and effectuation offline in physical bodies and social groups. Being digital online, then, is also digitalizing concrete modes of becoming offline in many remarkable ways. Therefore, the various operational personae which are made possible in metanational space as forms of digital being, need to be tracked far more closely.

Footnotes



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