[iDC] Franco Berardi & Geert Lovink: A call to the Army of Love and to the Army of Software

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Thu Oct 13 07:43:14 UTC 2011

A call to the Army of Love and to the Army of Software

By Franco Berardi and Geert Lovink

October 2011. The fight opposing financial dictatorship is erupting.

The so-called ‘financial markets’ and their cynical services are
destroying the very foundations of social civilization. The legacy of the
postwar compromise between the working class and progressive bourgeoisie
has all but disappeared. Neoliberal policies are cutting back education
and the public health system and is cancelling the right to a salary and a
pension. The outcome will be impoverishment of large parts of the
population, a growing precarity of labor conditions (freelance, short-term
contracts, periods of unemployment) and daily humiliation of workers. The
yet to be seen effect of the financial crisis will be violence, as people
conjure up scapegoats in order to vent their rage. Ethnic cleansing, civil
war, obliteration of democracy. This is a system we call financial Nazism:

Right now people are fighting back in many places, and in many ways.
Occupy Wall Street inspired a mass mobilization in New York that is
extending across the USA every day. In Greece workers and students are
squatting Syntagma square and protesting against the blackmail by the
European Central Bank, which is devastating the country. Cairo, Madrid,
Tel Aviv, the list of the ‘movements of the squares’ is proliferating. On
October 15 cities across the globe will amass with people protesting
against the systemic robbery.

Will our demonstrations and occupations stop the Finazist machine? They
will not. Resistance will not resist, and our fight will not stop the
legal crimes. Let’s be frank, we will not persuade our enemies to end
their predatory attacks (‘let’s make even more profit from the next
downfall’) for the simple reason that our enemies are not human beings.
They are machines. Yes, human beings – corporate managers, stock owners,
traders – are cashing the money that we are losing, and prey upon
resources that workers produce. Politicians sign laws that deliver the
lives of millions of people to the Almighty God of the Market.

Bankers and investors are not the real decision makers, they are
participants in an economy of gestural confusion. The real process of
predatory power has become automated. The transfer of resources and wealth
from those who produce to those who do nothing except oversee the abstract
patterns of financial transactions is embedded in the machine, in the
software that governs the machine. Forget about governments and party
politics. Those puppets who pretend to be leaders are talking nonsense.
The paternalistic options they offer around ‘austerity measures’
underscore a rampant cynicism internal to party politics: they all know
they lost the power to model finance capitalism years ago. Needless to
say, the political class are anxious to perform the act of control and
sacrifice social resources of the future in the form of budget cuts in
order to ‘satisfy the markets’. Stop listening to them, stop voting for
them, stop hoping and cursing them. They are just pimps, and politics is

What should we do? Living with the Finazist violence, bending to the
arrogance of algorithms, accepting growing exploitation and declining
salaries? Nope. Let’s fight against Finazism because it is never too late.
At the moment Finazism is winning for two reasons. First, because we have
lost the pleasure of being together. Thirty years of precariousness and
competition have destroyed social solidarity. Media virtualization has
destroyed the empathy among bodies, the pleasure of touching each other,
and the pleasure of living in urban spaces. We have lost the pleasure of
love, because too much time is devoted to work and virtual exchange. The
large army of lovers have to wake up. Second, because our intelligence has
been submitted to algorithmic power in exchange for a handful of shitty
money and a virtual life. For a salary that is miserable when compared to
the profits of the corporate bosses, a small army of ‘softwarists’ are
accepting the task of destroying human dignity and justice. The small army
of software programmers have to wake up.

There is only a way to awake the lover that is hidden in our paralyzed,
frightened and frail virtualized bodies. There is only a way to awake the
human being that is hidden in the miserable daily life of the softwarist:
take to the streets and fight. Burning banks is useless, as real power is
not in the physical buildings, but in the abstract connection between
numbers, algorithms and information. But occupying banks is good as a
starting point for the long-lasting process of dismantling and rewriting
the techno-linguistic automatons enslaving all of us. This is the only
politics that counts. Some say that the Occupy Wall Street movement lacks
clear demands and an agenda. This remark is ridiculous. As in the case of
all social movements the political backgrounds and motives are diverse,
even diffuse and quite frequently contradictory. The occupation movement
would not be better off with more realistic demands.

What is thrilling right now is the multiplicity of new connections and
commitment. But what is even more exciting is finding ways that can set in
motion the collective ‘exodus’ from the capitalist agony. Let’s not talk
about the ‘sustainability’ of the movement. That’s boring. Everything is
transient. These fast-burning events do not help us to overcome the daily
depression. Occupying the squares and other public spaces is a way to
respond to the short duration of the demonstrations and marches. We are
here to stay.

We are not demanding a reform of the global financial system or the ECB.
The return to national currencies of the past, as requested by the
rightwing populists, will not make ordinary citizens less vulnerable to
currency speculation. A return to state sovereignty is not the solution
either, and many people already sense this. The demand for more
‘intervention’, control and oversight of markets is a hopeless gesture.
The real issue is that humans are no longer in charge. We need to
dismantle the machines themselves. This can be done in a very peaceful
manner. Hack into their system, publish their crimes through
Wikileaks-type initiatives and then delete their real-time trading killing
networks for good.

Financial markets are all about the politics of speed and
deterritorialization. But we know their architectures and vulnerabilities.
The financial world has lost its legitimacy. There is no global consensus
anymore that the ‘market’ is always right. And this is our chance to act.
The movement has to respond at this level. Decommissioning and
re-programming financial software is not the dream of a Luddite sabotaging
the machine. ‘Market regulation’ will not do the job, only autonomy and
the self-organization of software workers can dismantle the predatory
algorithms and create self-empowering software for society.

The general intellect and the erotic social body have to meet on the
streets and squares, and united they will break the Finazist chains.

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