Connective disintegration

In the third seminar of New Centre’s ‘Outer Edges’ course, Nick Land outlines two commonly held models of geopolitical organisation: high integration, high connectivity (globalisation, multiculturalism, unions) and low integration, low connectivity (tribalism, xenophobia, separation); and then suggests “the positive critical diagonal” — linked to Patri Friedman’s Dynamic Geography — a low integration, high connectivity option. This terminology is simple, neutral, and outstandingly vivid, lurching right into core issues of sprawling diversity, complex networks, strategies, etc.

‘Connective distintegration’ immediately makes me think of Cyberspace, with countless amounts of users and programs, delocalised from their immediate geographical standings, and functioning on a vast informational network, interconnected, yet disintegrated, operating in niches with filtered content, but capable of instantaneously moving on a trajectory linking many newer, foreign nodes. The power, productivity, and scale of this monster is unprecedented, and neither will its disintegrating Entfremdung (alienation, estrangement, depersonalisation, reification) of people. High-I./C. and Low. I./C. could both be viewed as attempts of creating and maintaining identities (the latter for obvious reasons, while the former in the fashionably ‘progressive’, cultural-assimilation sense), but Connective disintegration dismantles them, creating potentials of joining and separating from a variety of groups, appealing right down to a philosophy and aesthetics of the nomad, the wanderer, precisely in the Deleuze & Guattari sense, entangled in the rhizome, where “every point is connected to every other”, but immense diversity, local stable substructures, and complexity is maintained.

It is a strange subject, however, with no fixed identity, wandering about over the body without organs, but always remaining peripheral to the desiring-machines, being defined by the share of the product it takes for itself, garnering here, there, and everywhere a reward in the form of a becoming or an avatar, being born of the states that it consumes and being reborn with each new state.

Not only is space conceived as fragmented, but space itself is also dynamic, mobile (imagine moving platforms). Patchwork doesn’t delineate a rigid set of neighbours for each patch, but allows local structures to change internally and with respect to its outside: some patch might want to cluster next to some set of microstates, another time escaping them, or drifting out into the open smooth cosmos, alone, but perhaps connecting via the immense cyberspace, or even stranger vistas, to the others. Just like the individual subject – strange, not-fixed, mobile, “garnering here, there, and everywhere” through connections, but not integrations. Travelling.

A lot of this is science-fiction, but undoubtedly a new age has ushered in, and continues to accelerate. A mechanic continuously innovating and demonstrating the obsolescence of old (even “modern”) ideas is set in motion, and judging by Cyberspace it will involve a lot of Connective disintegration. In any case, the truth is always, that ‘we haven’t seen anything yet.’


15 thoughts on “Connective disintegration”

    1. There’s plenty of examples in play of alternative internet being prototyped and even deployed (albeit limitedly, scaling is the key issue) – check out of some of the NextNet stuff, especially the advances being made with meshnetworking. Decentralization of technological infrastructures is the name of the game – and arguably something intrinsic to the trajectory of their development – and attempts to board-up the gates by sclerotic institutions will only make the experimentation and development of these sorts of projects even more pressing.

      Every prohibition breeds coteries of criminal. All command economies generate black markets. Walls produce tunnels. Communication restrictions causes information trade, cell phone smuggling, VPNs, and cryptographic toolkits to spread like wildfire. Iron-clad techne spins off metic rule-of-thumb. Why would any of that halt because outdated behemoths are on a collision course? Lumbering is always outpaced by the cunning and agile, and I’m not at all convinced that the US – or the EU for that matter – can be described in either of the terms.


      1. “Decentralization of technological infrastructures is the name of the game – and arguably something intrinsic to the trajectory of their development”
        can you give me a related example of this?


            1. Heh maybe if the United States didn’t squash every chance at competitive behavior and reinforce monopolies at every turn this wouldn’t be such a problem. And I don’t buy that pop-left analysis for a moment – even the controlled breaking up of Standard Oil and the other towering monopolies occurred in the wake of their sinking due to increased competitive behavior, and allowed them to persist in a smaller, more agile state! And yet even that form had to become flatter, more distributed, cede more autonomy to its inner moving parts. It is doubtful, in my opinion, that monopoly-reinforcement patterns can continue indefinitely.

              If this law is so iron, why is 1) entrepreneurialship advancing on a global scale despite the best efforts of the neo-ancien regime to hold it back, and 2) the margins exploding with divergent experimentations with the drift of the infrastructure itself? Gotta look at the alternatives, D. State-gaze is toast whether we like it or not.


              1. states are indeed failing and they are taking their infrastructures (power grids etc) down with them, entrepreneurship in the US has been bottoming out for years now and we still are far ahead of EU part of why finance is an ever growing part of the economy (that and their hollowing out of existing companies/chains), while in the 3rd world even government supported efforts to bring basics like water, sanitation, and power to the vast majority of their populations are largely failing and that’s not even accounting for foodstuffs. To get back to the post without the relative ease/frictionlessness and network effects one doesn’t have anything like cyberspace available, so the walls keep climbing:


                1. I quite disagree that entrepreneurship is experiencing a global crashdown. Even here in the United States the success rates of entrepreneurial activity have remained at a stable state – sans a 2015 dip, which was recovered from in 2016 – since the Great Recession, which is about double the *prior* to that Recession. We shouldn’t mistake sluggish unemployment factors for a lack of business creation (if the fact that the US is currently at the peak of its manufacturing output speaks for anything, it’s that there is an ongoing transformation of how economic production produces itself, and that the metrics of the old industrial paradigm are pretty much totally obsolete). Likewise, established businesses are down a bit from 2016, but are still above earlier troughs (such as the Recession) and way above pre-Recession levels.

                  I don’t see much different in the developing world. Sure, scales of development are distributed unevenly (it doesn’t take place all at once, anywhere, and its sweep tends to techno-economic clustering in certain spaces at the expense of others). Heck, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s report for 2017 identified overall growth, with sluggish factors directly attributable to problematic government policies (regulatory and taxation frameworks erecting high barriers to entry, which is precisely the same hurdle to overcoming monopolies in the developed world). Luckily, developmental approaches are slowly but surely stepping out from behind Western models of growth, so expect even more unusual formations down the line.

                  Also – none of this will be frictionless. Doubtful it will be pretty at all. But encountering friction and blockage is *the* motor of innovative activity – the destruction of redundant forces, the elimination of middle men, and the routing around the boulder blocking your path. Collapse of the obsolete forces experimentation to increase!


                  1. didn’t say there was a global crashdown was pointing to the limits of their resources and dependencies on government and corporate infrastructures (from energy to satellites) and how limited they are in terms of reach, here in the US there was minor uptick (still overall down) in starts and fewer jobs than ever per company (not about regulation but lack of consumer demand, see skyrocketing private debt, and gains in tech productivity), but again minus relatively open-net, power, roads,banks, etc they are dust in the wind. Worldwide youth unemployment is staggering and things are just starting to warm up:


                    1. I mentioned low jobs + high tech productivity in the comment above, seems like that is exactly the sort of thing one expects when the old infrastructure makes no sense in the context of the emergent technosphere. As for exploding private debt, this suggest higher consumer demand, not lower (increased access to credit was, after all, prompted by the contradiction between consumer demand and ability for consumers to actually cross the threshold). And I’m not so sure it’s down overall, data seems to suggests a zig-zagging upwards trajectory…

                      Per the later point, well, yeah, I think we’re all in agreement with that. Hence the whole decentralization and fragmentation bag.


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