Seminars!. Seminars!. “One of the most obvious facts about speed is that, despite its being central to the cultural experience of modern societies, it is hardly ever directly and independently addressed in the major social scientific accounts of modernity.” – John Tomlinson.
“One of the most obvious facts about speed is that, despite its being central to the cultural experience of modern societies, it is hardly ever directly and independently addressed in the major social scientific accounts of modernity.” – John Tomlinson
“I stand rather alone in insisting that speed is clearly the determining factor. In my capacity as a social analyst, I do not wish to deliver monologues, but to partake in a dialogue. For the past twenty-five years, my work has never the less been solitary. To say that speed is a determining factor in society requires proof, an effort that is starting to exhaust me.” – Paul Virilio
Speed in a cultural sense, rather than a scientific sense, can be understood as the rate at which incidents or events happen.
Our direct experience of cultural speed is the rate at which events happen within our own lives. Because of this the concept of speed as a cultural experience within its own right evades a lot of analysis as it is completely subjective.
Speed as a cultural term usually means fast, but expands to slower rates too. (let’s take things slow)
Speed is not generative, i.e. it does not produce culture directly, but it changes culture by changing the speed at which culture operates (usually by making it faster).
Philosopher of speed,
Inventor of Dromology,
“War was my university”
Key Concepts . . .
The philosophy of speed, from the Greek Dromos (to race).
The logic of speed is the foundation of technological society.
War and technology drive history.
Technology cannot exist without creating the potential for accidents - “To invent the ship is to also invent the shipwreck”
Aristotle said there can be no science of the accident – Virilio disagrees, accidents are integral to technology and are scientifically tested with crash dummies etc.
The movement of images and information back and forth (i.e. between warzones and the national press.)
The facility for images and information to be used as weapons
War drives history, society, technology, cities etc.
Everything progresses at the speed of its weapons systems.
The transition from feudalism to capitalism was due to the mechanics of war (rather than politics of wealth and production techniques)
Paul’s big break . . .
“The loss of material space leads to the government of nothing but time… The violence of speed has become both the location and the law, the world’s destiny and its destination”
Locates the streets as the site of power within a contemporary city (“Whoever can conquer the streets also conquers the State!” – Joseph Goebbels)
Starts with the citizens in relation to the roads and highways, especially the unemployed, who he classifies as a moving horde that are constantly in motion around the city, not allowed to loiter or linger.
“The revolutionary contingent (of the masses) attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street” p3
“For the mass of unemployed, demobilized workers without an occupation, Paris is a tapestry of trajectories, a series of streets and avenues in which they roam, for the most part, with neither goal nor destination, subject to police repression intended to control their wanderings.”
“The masses are not a population, a society, but the multitude of passers by”
Totalitarian regimes rely on controlling the circulation of the masses. Speed limits on the roads and highway police and regulations are a way of controlling the masses, denying them the ‘high of high speed’.
“revolution is movement, but movement is not a revolution”
The roads are the answer to the power of the city and the state. The state controls its subjects through controlling their transport.
Movement is the best way to occupy a territory. Speed and technologies of war brought about the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Gunpowder made the impregnable fortress pregnable.
Governments gain control over the proletariat by giving them sport and transport, the modern equivalent of bread and circuses.
Modern power and control is about keeping people out of the streets “the temptation of the streets”
“The stroke of genius will consist in doing away with the direct repression of riots, and the political discourse itself, by unveiling the essence of this discourse: the transportation capacity created by the mass production of automobiles can be a social assault, a revolution sufficient and able to modify the citizen’s way of life by transforming all the consumers needs, by totally remodelling a territory that . . . had no more than 400 kilometres of road” p26-7
-De-politicising the population by completely changing their needs and way of life through giving them all transport.
European forms of resistance (socialism, communism, Marxism etc) get subsumed into the ‘American revolution’ (globalisation) which is about wanting the right to be a consumer, wanting the right to an American automobile, wanting the right to travel, wanting the right to high speed.
This lead to the politicisation of the highways and cars as well as the streets, there are speed limits and cars are bridled to stop them going too fast. The driver is deprived of the right to high speed.
The mechanisation of the population through transport and radios (technologies of speed) prepared the unwitting masses for the mechanics of warfare, the population became a reserve army.
Every corner garage and radio shack was like a training centre for the millions of youths becoming highly trained mechanics with skills that “could be readily transformed in a short time, when the test came, into the ability to operate the complex implements of war” (account by V. Bush)
The SA used to train car owners how to drive over different terrain and shoot while moving, the mobilisation of the masses has an “extraordinary power of assault”
With the mobilisation of the masses (cars and bikes) time itself became political. Time became directly related to productivity as everything became faster in terms of mobilising the workforce, transporting goods etc. Time became an entity in itself to be fought over because everyone and everything could get around much quicker.
The revolution of the three eights – a unifying theme throughout all revolutionary movements (radical to moderate)
(The ‘mysterious’ 8 hours leisure usually meant travel.)
The French revolution of 1789 was a revolt against constraint and immobility, against having to stay in one place.
“One day of revolt – not rest! A day not ordained by the bragging spokesmen of institutions holding the world of labor in bondage. A day on which labor makes its own laws and has the power to execute them! All without the consent or approval of those who oppress and rule. A day on which in tremendous force the unity of the army of toilers is arrayed against the powers that today hold sway over the destinies of the people of all nations. A day of protest against oppression and tyranny, against ignorance and war of any kind. A day on which to begin to enjoy ‘eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.’”
Paradoxically the immateriality speed brings about a materiality of behaviour. Belief is less important than acting in the correct way (making sure everything runs smoothly)
Rehabilitation camps in Vietnam and China were where “materialism reaches its absolute form . . . granting importance to an opposing thought, to a different concept, is totally eliminated.”
“The dissident is a body, his dissidence a postural crime – his indolence, his lavishness”
“There are hardly any more crimes of opinion, only crimes of gesture”
(This is similar to Zizek’s disavowal - it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in money as long as you act like its real)
There are two types of humanity, populating the land and populating the sea.
Within modern warfare the infantryman becomes increasingly irrelevant with more bombing from air and sea.
“The permanent presence in the sea of an invisible fleet able to strike no matter where and no matter when, annihilating the enemies will to power by creating a global zone of insecurity in which it will no longer be able to ‘decide’ with certainty.”
British and French nuclear submarines collide in the Atlantic despite infinitesimally small chance of the accident happening
The cold war pushed the possibility of war until the point where it is no longer possible, bringing about a strange state of security on the basis of assured annihilation.
The point of nuclear weapons is not to actually using them, but by having them they allow you to act and behave in a certain way.
The bomb is political because it is the ultimate form of military surveilance
Modern warfare is all about maintaining the enemy in a state of desperation without actually engaging in battle.
Once war wasn’t confined to specific territorial conflicts (‘theatres of war’) “total war” emerges.
“we should be able to impose war on all the inhabitable parts of the universe”
“The war of attrition marks a new threshold; bourgeois society had believed it could endorse absolute violence in the ghetto of the army zone but, deprived of space, war had spread into human time”
All the time the progression of war is the progression of history and society.
War technology creates a necessity to go to war.
Mechanics of war destroyed human bodies and brought about developments in human prosthesis.
An exponential development of medical knowledge came about because of so much trauma.
Extensive assault requires fast death (bombing), preparatory assault requires slow death.
Hostages, abduction and genocide are the preferred medium of dromocratic violence
“Dromological progress and what we conventionally call human and social progress coincided but did not converge”
Dromological development as follows:
1 society without (effective) transport, woman is ‘logistical spouse’ mother of war and of the truck (?)
2 The use of the (soulless empty) proletariat as vehicles
3 The vehicular revolution
4 Technology overtakes man
5 “The end of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of history in the war of time”
Now war is fought through economic penetration rather than territorial penetration. Make sure needs are created, use the economy to deterritorialise and then reterritorialise a country (Deleuze)
On to “the time when as Lenin says, the working class suddenly found itself courted and solicited even by the capitalists”
“possibilities for properly human political action will disappear in a state of emergency”
With faster weapons systems, with less warning time, and more automated defence technologies, the margin for human intervention becomes increasingly small
“Linear time is eliminated”
The power to invade makes a right to invade
Privilege is access to speed
“The reduction of distances has become a strategic reality bearing incalculable economic and political consequences, since it corresponds to the negotiation of space”
“The strategic value of the non-place of speed has definitely supplanted that of place”
“We have to face facts: today, speed is war, the last war”
“The war machine becomes the very decision for war”
“The more speed increases, the faster freedom decreases”