This talk will discuss philosopher Bernard Stiegler’s efforts to promote a critical encounter with key tendencies readily apparent in contemporary globalised digital technocultural development: a spiralling stupidity, a corresponding loss of the capacity for rational public discussion, and an acceleration of ‘disruptive’ and systemic modifications to the structures of employment, production, consumption and their social-political coordination and regulation. My topic is prompted in no small way by recent electoral results in the UK and U.S.A. and the rather frenzied reaction in various fora to these indications of the ‘will’ of the people. Stiegler is not alone in anticipating the progression of these tendencies toward the current situation and beyond. As perhaps the title of one of his earlier books – Disbelief and Discredit 2: Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals (first published in 2006) indicates, his analysis offers, I will claim, particularly acute insights into the contemporary state of things. For one thing, this state is above all not a state, but a flux, one whose shape Stiegler traces in Automatic Society as a spiral whose trajectory appears to us today as a vicious circle, a spiralling toward the worst. It is all the more critical, then to recognise and discover the potential for a spiralling intensification of technocultural becoming that is ‘reparatory’, productive of new social-political and economic programmes, new ways of life that are believable, can attract credit and investment (in all its senses); programmes that can dis-automate the implementation of automated systems currently rolling out amidst a literally inconceivable stupidity.
Crogan, P. (2017, February). Automatic society: Stiegler on stupidity, spirals and the end (of theory). Presented at Centre for Film, Media, Discourse and Culture,University of Wolverhampton Seminar Series