The Global Way of Knowing
If I were to summarize everything I’ve written in the last five years in one line, it would be:
The Globe is the human bubble.
We are trapped in the bubble even when we don’t know we are. Some might say there’s no escaping it even if we try. What else can we be if we’re not human: Butterflies? Klingons? The bubble accompanies us wherever we go.
I don’t know if we can escape the bubble (I hope we can, but hope isn’t a plan) but I am quite sure we can map the bubble and its interior. For example, we can answer questions such as: what kind of knowledge does it take to keep the bubble going?
Yes, there’s a special kind of knowledge that goes into creating and maintaining the bubble.
We can't cut down forests to make way for palm trees if we didn't:
Know how to cut trees en masse.
Had the energy and logistical supplies to bring fuel to cut the trees down and cart the logs away after the cutting’s done.
Manage palm plantations at scale.
Embed palm oil in global supply chains that delivers oil to agribusiness.
The capacity to create coupled complex systems of production, distribution and consumption is our system's core expertise, reflected in how we write software, draft contracts, organize scientific collaborations and so on. That knowledge leads to multinational companies, to the human genome project, to Google and Facebook and to clear cut forests, factory farms and concentration camps.
The bubble is grounded in managerial knowledge
Manageriality underlies the anthropocene; without it there would be no workable idea of humanity - say, through a system that implements the U.N charter on human rights. It’s through manageriality that the IPCC creates a report summarizing the effects of climate change. The CPC is manageriality with Chinese characteristics. The WTO and the World Bank are manageriality with American characteristics.
Manageriality runs the world.
One managerial system burst in the eighties - the Soviet system. Before we point to the capitalist system as the root of all ecological evil, let's take a look at the communist system's record in keeping forests intact - not very good. For a while there were competing bubbles but now there's only one, so it's going to be the target of people's anger.
So much for general commentary. Starting next week, I am going to tour the Globe, which is to say, I am going to read a series of books that feel “global” to me.
What should I read? AI to the rescue:
Not bad, but not exactly what I was looking for. Maybe I asked the wrong question?
One more time:
Maybe tomorrow’s AI will give us subtle analyses of the Globe, but I am terribly disappointed with today’s robotic overlords. The show will go on with unpaid labor, i.e., me. Now contrast that with what Latour et. al., say about Planet Globalization:
The Globe has been in the making for the last five hundred years says Dipesh but it’s only in the last fifty that it’s become real.