The Metropolis is not a representation abstracted from contemporary media technologies; but if “history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems,” then it is no doubt structured by informatization, which is the biopolitical medium through which Empire wages its war of movement (Speed and Politics, 90). And it is for this reason that the Metropolis should be described in the same terms of network culture, which is characterized by “an unprecedented abundance of information output and by an acceleration of informational dynamics” that treats that information in three ways, as “the relation of signal to noise,” “a measure of the uncertainty or entropy of a system,” and “a nonlinear and nondeterministic relationship between the microscopic and the macroscopic levels of a physical system” – all of which find corollaries in culture (Network Culture, 1;9). Moreover, revolutionary politics also shifts within such a network culture, as the luddite dream of sabotaging or crippling infrastructure on a mass scale is unthinkable, and cyberterrorism by political-motivated radicals is rare (Noise Channels, 49-51). Instead, network culture has motivated digital actions that gain cultural expression through a tactical use of media that “signifies the intervention and disruption of a dominant semiotic regime, the temporary creation of a situation in which signs, messages, and narratives are set into play and critical thinking becomes possible” (Tactical Media, 6). Yet such an approach plays with digital expressions and does not struggle within information itself, which causes tactical media to fails where the guerrilla failed as well – ”confusing tactics and strategy” (The Philosophy of the Guerrilla, 257). For politics to rise to the level of strategy that creates successful interventions in network culture, it must consider how “the content of any medium is always another medium” and thus wrestle with the technologies of the Metropolis (Understanding Media, 8). Such a path has been opened by media and literary theory as they have cross-pollenated and demonstrated how speech, writing, and code operate differently even if they are entangled. And if anything, “the Net is a medium not for propaganda, but for conspiracy,” as the sheer volume of participants and incredible speed of information accumulation means that in the time it takes to put one conspiratorial theory to bed, the raw material for many more will have already begun circulating (“End of the Official Story,” 20). The struggle against the Metropolis must ultimately take note and initiate a shift: from signs to signals and from semiotics to physics.
The strategic principles of guerrilla theory can thus be resurrected even if guerrilla warfare cannot. (more…)