I offer a here a quick translation of an interview for Le Monde published past week with Bernard Stiegler, following the attacks in Paris in which he addresses Daesh/ISIS within the context of his conceptualisation of ‘disruption’, which is the context of his forthcoming book [Dans la Dusruption ~ “In the Age of Disruption”].
Only by planning a genuine future can we fight Daesh
The philosopher Bernard Stiegler develops this thesis in his forthcoming book: “In the Age of Disruption”.
Interview by Margherita Nasi.
For the philosopher Bernard Stiegler “war is economic”. The collapose of employment egenders a dispair that in turn leads to violence. “There is no future without a fundamental reversal of economic value”, he explains.
Since the attacks of the 13th of November the President of the Republic insists” “We are at war”, do you recognise yourself in such a war?
No. What is this “we”? They are at war, not me. War is economic, it is theirs and it creates casualties, including me, who cannot sleep at night, not because of terrorists but because of a lack of future for my children. This is not a war against Daesh, as they suggest, but a global economic war, which takes us into civil war if we do not combat it.
Employment will collapse, especially amongst young people, and dispair breeds violence. We no longer produce reasons for hope today. The attacks of the 13th of November were suicide attacks, which is not insignificant – suicide is developing around the world, especially amongst those young people who know they will not work for a long time.
Both Sarkozy and Hollande failed to provide any kind of prospects for these young people. It is against this stupidity, this madness, that I am at war. A war within myself as well: we are all subject to this tendency to find scapegoats, not to think and not to care. This is barbarism, and that is exactly what Daesh wants: to create civil war. There will be more attacks if we do not change our politics. This is the context of my next book ” In the Age of Disruption”.
What do you mean by disruption?
Disruption is a phenomenon of accelerating inovation which is the foundation of a strategy developed in Silicon Valley: it is a drive to go faster than societies in order to impose upon them models for the destruction of social structures, rendering public powers powerless It is a strategy that tetanises the opponent. In my book, I analyse a text signed by Abu Bakr Al-Naji, as summarised by Ignance Leverrier [former diplomat and journalist], that defines a collective, including former officers of Saddam Hussein that became Islamists. It is a sort of Daesh manual, in the image of corporate bibles that detail the rules to set up a franchise. This book explains how Daesh actors should seize power. One must create chaos and thus exploit the need for some kind of authority.
I compare this strategy with that of the website “Les Barbares attaquent” [The barbarians are coming], founded by Nicolas Colin, a former tax inspector known for his report on the tax system and the digital economy, in which hie highlighted the inadequacy of the tax system for dealing with digital companies, which he describes as the ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’, in this case GAFA [acronym for: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple]. He has since moved to the other side, from public service into the economy which he described as so damaging, to create an investment fund that raises money to practice disruption on the French. Yet, repeating the strategy of GAFA, he can only extend their ecosystem and intensify the colonisation of Europe, wrecking transport, housing, education–all sectors–through new models such as Uber. However, such disruptive practices destroy the social balance, what [German Philosopher] Theodor W. Adorno anticipated by speaking in 1944 of a “new form of barbarism” in relation to the cultural industries.
It is not by declaring war on Daesh that this takes place. This declaration is one way of absolving oneself of one’s own responsibilities by scapegoating people that have become extremely dangerous and who we have co-produced with Daesh.
This radicalisation is thus built on the ruins of ultraliberalism?
Yes. We turn radicalism into a question of religion, and this is outrageous, Most recruits of radical Islam have no religious culture. It is not religion in question but despair. Richard Dur, the murderer of eight members of the Nanterre Council in March 2002, prefigures his actions by speaking about his feelings not existing: he wanted to become somebody by these actions.
In 2012 you launched a call for a global economic peace treaty, is this still a possible contemporary solution for eradicating barbarism?
We need to open out a debate in Europe, take things head-on, since the birth of the web we have all been losing. Exploited by the kinds of disruption practised by GAFA, digital technologies have accentuated the environmental toxicity that has been growing since the beginning of the anthropocene – an era in which humans have become the major geological factor – in terms of the climate, the atmosphere and in mental terms.
There is no future without a fundamental reversal of economic value: only the transition to an economy producing sustainable forms of value will overcome the challenges that are the subject of the COP21 next week.
We must launch a new European policy rather than aligning ourselves with the American model that is disruptive and suicidal/ We must invent a new Web in the service of viable marcoeconomic model, rather than developing a completely ruinous economy of data. These are the themes of the “Conversations about a new industrial world”, orgainsed at the Pompidou Centre on the 14th and 15th of December. Only by planning [projetant] a genuine [véritable] future for the planet can we combat Daesh, in other words to combat despair.
2 Replies to “Stiegler on Daesh and ‘the age of disruption””
When BS claims that Sarkozy & Hollande failed to provide prospects for the men (some of whom lived in Belgium…) who became terrorists, one wonders if he even reads the news.
One of the terrorists, Amimour, worked for RATP (he received the second highest test score), Brahim and Salah owned their own business, Mostefai was a baker, etc. If BS’s claim has any validity, then why didn’t Amimour’s sister also become a terrorist? And Abdeslam’s brother?
BS remains lost in his concepts, in a dynamic of easy condemnation, and in an antiquated view of France.