-=-= A POLITICS FOR ALIENATION =-=-
-=-= Laboria Cuboniks =-=-
Almost a year after the unveiling of its first version by the Laboria Cuboniks collective , a new and more stable version of the XENOFEMINIST Manifesto has been successfully reconstructed by operators at The New Centre for Research & Practice . Deeply hidden in a myriad of encrypted files and multi modal firmware, the components of the Manifesto which were produced and sent sporadically from a distant future to the year 2014 by cyberalien hybrids of humanoids have been freshly reassembled into a new code and released as an authorless user manual. The researchers are inviting the members of public to use their version as a starting point and, in the spirit of the manifesto itself, rearticulate and upgrade it through collective thinking, writing and action.
0x0 Abstraction, virtuality and complexity are part of daily life. XENOFEMINISM constructs a worldview adapted to these realities: a theory of practical cunning, scale, and vision; a future in which the realization of emancipation contributes to a universalist politics assembled from the needs of all.
0x00 No more futureless repetition on the treadmill of capital, no more submission to the drudgery of labour. XF seizes alienation as an opportunity to generate new worlds. We are always already alienated. It is through, and not despite, alienation that we can liberate ourselves from immediacy. Freedom and parity are neither a given nor natural and their construction entails more not less alienation. Alienation is the labor of their construction. Nothing should be accepted as fixed and permanent—neither material conditions and social forms, nor the technological horizon. The glorification of ‘nature’ has nothing to offer. XF is anti-naturalist because naturalism stinks of humanism and theology.
0X000 In regards to feminism, XF seeks to eventually eliminate the need for such theory and its hegemonic deployment.
0x01 XF promotes the idea of using existing and emerging technologies to re-engineer the world. There should be no doubt that technology is fraught with serious risks; it is prone to imbalance, abuse, and exploitation. Rather than pretending to risk nothing, we ought to augment political interfaces between technologies in accordance with these risks. Technology is neither inherently progressive nor intrinsically regressive; it functions influx with culture in positive and negative feedback loops that make linear sequencing, prediction, and total caution impossible. The real emancipatory potential of technology remains unrealized. Fed by the market, its rapid growth is offset by bloat, and its elegant innovation packaged for consumers whose stagnant world it decorates with updates and upgrades. Gender, racial, class and geographical disparities still characterize the fields in which our technologies are conceived, built, and legislated.
0x02 XENOFEMINISM is rationalism par excellence. To claim that reason or rationality is “by nature” White, patriarchal and European is to simply concede defeat. Yes, it is true that the canonical “history of thought” is dominated by men, and it is male hands we see throttling existing institutions of science, politics and art. But this is precisely because of this miserable imbalance, and not despite it that opposing the dominance of white heterosexual European-descent man must be itself rational. Science ought to ultimately be redefined as the only true suspension of inequality. If today it is dominated by masculine egos, then it is at odds with its own true function. Reason seeks the kinds of parity and freedom, which Eurocentric patriarchy cannot provide.
XF is genderless, sexless and inhuman, unbound by physical, biological, natural and historical limitations. XF is a space for marking the intersection of these claims visible. It names reason and reason alone as the engine of emancipation, and the right of everyone to speak as no one in particular.
0x03 The excess of modesty in emancipatory movements is not proportionate to the world’s monstrous geopolitical, cultural and scientific complexities. Systematic thinking and structural analysis have largely fallen by the wayside in favor of admirable, but insufficient struggles, bound to arbitrary identities, fixed localities and fragmented insurrections. While capitalism is understood as a complex and ever-expanding totality, most anti-capitalist projects remain profoundly fearful of transitioning to the universal, resisting big-picture speculative politics by condemning them as suspicious vectors. Such a false guarantee treats universals as absolute, generating a debilitating disjuncture between what we seek to depose and the strategies required for reaching this objective.
0x04 Global complexity opens us to Promethean cognitive and political demands. Much of twenty-first century politics—from the remnants of post-war Western Marxism to Postmodern countercultural movements— fail to address these challenges in a manner capable of producing substantial and enduring change. XENOFEMINISM encounters these obligations as a collectivity capable of transitioning between multiple levels of political, material and conceptual organization.
0x05 XENOFEMINISM is synthetic, unsatisfied by analysis alone. It urges constructive oscillation between description and prescription to mobilize the recursive potential of contemporary technologies upon disparities of power. Given that there are a range of challenges specifically relating to life in the digital age, the situation requires a philosophy at ease with computation. However, XENOFEMINISM is about more than digital self-defence, cyber equality and freedom from oppressive networks. We assert the exercise of positive freedom–freedom-to rather than simply freedom-from–and demand the invention of novel cognitive and material technologies in the service of the common ends.
0x06 The radical opportunities afforded by new forms of technological mediation should no longer serve the interests of capital, which, by design, benefits the few. The constantly proliferating fruits of technology can be annexed, and although no one can claim their total accessibility, digital tools have never been more widely available or more sensitive to appropriation than they are today. This is not an intentional omission of the fact that a large amount of the world’s poor is adversely affected by the expanding technological industry. Multinational corporations’ employees work the developing world under abominable conditions while entire towns are becoming a repository for the world’s electronic waste. XF acknowledges these conditions as a target for elimination. Just as the invention of the stock market was also the harbinger of the economic crash, XF understands that technological innovation must responsively anticipate its own systemic failures.
0x09 XF rejects illusion and melancholy as political inhibitors. Insisting that the weak need no strategic coordination to prevail over the strong leads to unfulfilled promises and unmarshalled drives. This is a politics that, in wanting so much, ends up building so little. Without the labor of large-scale and collective social organization, declaring one’s desire for global change is little more than wishful thinking. On the other hand, leftist melancholy teaches us that emancipation is an extinct species to be wept over and that flashes of negation are the best we can hope for. At its worst, such an attitude generates nothing but political lassitude, and at its best, installs an atmosphere of pervasive despair which too often degenerates into factionalism and petty moralizing. The malady of melancholia only compounds political inertia, and—under the guise of being realistic—relinquishes all hope of recalibrating the world. XENOFEMINISM refuses to mourn.
0x0A We take politics that valorize the entirely local in the guise of subverting waves of global abstraction, to be utterly insufficient. To secede from or disavow capitalist machinery will not make it disappear. Likewise, suggestions to pull the lever on the emergency brake of velocities is not a universal option but a possibility available only to the few, ultimately resulting in catastrophe for the many. If we refuse to think beyond the microcommunity and foster connections between fractured insurgencies, we have no choice but to remain satisfied with temporary and defensive gestures. XF is an affirmative creature on the offensive, insisting on the possibilitiy of large-scale social change for our alien kin.
0x0B A sense of the world’s volatility and artificiality seems to have faded from contemporary Queer politics, in favor of a plural but static constellation of identity, in whose light bleak equations of the good and the natural are stubbornly restored. All the while, the heterosexual center marches forward. XF challenges this centrifugal referent, knowing full well that sex and gender are exemplary of the fulcrum between norm and fact, between freedom and compulsion. To tilt the fulcrum in the direction of nature is a defensive concession at best, and a retreat from what makes queer and trans politics more than just a lobby: that it is an arduous assertion of freedom and parity against an order that seemed immutable. Like every myth of the given, a stable foundation is fabulated for a real world of chaos, violence, and doubt. When the possibility of transition became real and known, the tomb under Nature’s shrine cracked and new histories bristling with futures, escaped the old order of “sex”. The disciplinary grids of gender and sex are in no small part an attempt to mend that shattered foundation, and tame the lives that escape it. The time has now come to tear down this shrine entirely, and not bow down before it in a useless apology for what little autonomy has been granted.
XF advocates not only for the eradication of gender identities but the annihilation of nuclear family and the global dismantling of heterosexuality. Instances of sexuation between a man and a woman are not a concern, but a lifelong commitment to reenacting them is. We demand a world in which the sexual, legal and ideological union of a man and a woman both in its traditional and contemporary forms is scientifically, culturally and legally recognized as a pathetic and pervasive social illness. At the heart of this perversion is the idea that two units of humanity with opposing or even the same or similar genders are sufficient for the cultivation of new-born subjectivities. XF finds queer emancipation insufficient if heterosexual ideologies and practices are politely tolerated and quietly afforded their historical privileges. XF aims to completely liberate and deliver humanity to its real sexual and communal desires and objectives.
0x0C XENOFEMINISM is gender-abolitionist. “Gender abolitionism” is not code for the eradication of what are currently considered “gendered” traits from the human population. Under patriarchy, such a project could only spell disaster–the notion of what is “gendered” is attached disproportionately to the feminine. “Gender abolitionism” is shorthand for the ambition to construct a society where traits currently assembled under the rubric of gender, no longer furnish a grid for the asymmetric operation of power. “Race abolitionism” expands into a similar formula–that the struggle must continue until currently racialized characteristics are of no more significance than the color of one’s eyes. Ultimately, every emancipatory abolitionism must incline towards the horizon of class abolitionism, since it is in capitalism where we encounter oppression in its transparent and denaturalized form: You’re not exploited or oppressed because you are a wage laborer or poor; you are a laborer or poor because you are exploited.
0x0D XENOFEMINISM understands that the viability of the projects aiming for the abolition of class, gender, race and geography hinges on a profound reworking of the universal. The universal must be grasped as generic. Genericity slices through every particular, refusing the classification of bodies and lands. This non-absolute, generic universality must guard against the facile tendency of conflation with bloated, unmarked particulars. Absent such a universal, the abolition of class will remain a bourgeois fantasy, the abolition of race, a tacit white-supremacism, the abolition of gender, a thinly veiled misogyny, and abolition of geography a new form of global imperialism.
0x10 XENOFEMINISM seeks to construct a coalitional politics, a politics without the infection of purity. Wielding the universal requires thoughtful qualification and careful self-reflection so as to become a maximally ready-to-hand tool for multiple political bodies and something that can be appropriated against the numerous oppressions that transect with gender and sexualities. The universal is no blueprint, and instead of dictating its uses in advance, we propose XENOFEMINISM as a platform. The very process of construction is therefore understood to be a restless, iterative, and continual refashioning. XENOFEMINISM seeks to be a mutable architecture that, like open source software, remains available for perpetual modification and enhancement following the navigational impulse of militant ethical reasoning. Open, however, does not mean undirected. The most durable systems in the world owe their stability to they way they train order to emerge as an “invisible hand” from apparent spontaneity, or exploit the inertia of investment and sedimentation. We should not hesitate to learn from our enemies, and seek ways to seed an equitable order into the geometry of freedoms these platforms afford.
0x11 Our lot is cast with technoscience, where nothing is too sacred for reengineering and transformation so as to widen our aperture of freedom and parity. To say that nothing is sacred, that nothing is transcendent or protected from the will to know, to tinker and to hack, is to say that nothing is supernatural. We understand ”Nature” as the unbounded arena of science. We will tear down melancholy and illusion, the unambitious and the non-scaleable, and the libidinized puritanism of Nature as an un-remakeable given. There is nothing, we claim, that cannot be studied scientifically and manipulated technologically.
0x12 This does not, however, mean that the distinction between the ontological and the normative, between fact and value, is simply cut and dried. The vectors of normative anti-naturalism and ontological naturalism span many ambivalent battlefields. The project of untangling what ought to be from what is, of dissociating freedom from fact and will from knowledge, is, indeed, an infinite task. There are many lacunae where desire confronts us with the brutality of fact, where beauty is indissociable from truth. Poetry, sex, technology and pain are incandescent with this tension. But give up on the task of revision, release the reins and slacken that tension, and these filaments instantly dim.
0x13 The potential of early, text-based internet culture for countering repressive regimes, generating solidarity among marginalised groups, and creating new spaces for experimentation that ignited cyberfeminism in the nineties has clearly faded in the twenty-first century. The dominance of the visual in today’s online interfaces has spaces of interaction, but this does not mean that cyberfeminist sensibilities belong to the past. Sorting the subversive possibilities from the oppressive ones latent in today’s Internet requires a feminism sensitive to the insidious return of old power structures, yet savvy enough to know how to exploit the potentials. Digital technologies are not separable from the material realities that underwrite them; they are connected so that each can be used to alter the other towards different ends. Rather than arguing for the primacy of the virtual over the material, or the material over the virtual, XENOFEMINISM grasps points of power and powerlessness in both towards unfolding this knowledge as effective interventions in our jointly composed reality.
0x14 Intervention in material hegemonies is just as crucial as intervention in digital and cultural ones. Changes to the built environment harbour some of the most significant possibilities in the reconfiguration of our horizons. As the embodiment of ideological constellations, the production of space and the decisions we make for its organization are ultimately articulations about ‘us’ and reciprocally, how a ‘we’ can be articulated. With the potential to foreclose, restrict, or open up future social conditions, xenofeminists must become attuned to the language of architecture as a vocabulary for collective choreography—the coordinated writing of space.
0x15 From the street to the home, domestic space too must not escape our interventionalist tentacles. So profoundly ingrained, domestic space has been deemed impossible to disembed, where the home as norm has been conflated with home as fact, as an un-remakeable given. Stultifying “domestic realism” has no home on our horizon. Let us set sights on augmented homes of shared laboratories, of communal media and technical facilities; the home is ripe for spatial transformation as an integral component in any process of futurity. But this cannot stop at the garden gates. We see too well that reinventions of family structure and domestic life are currently only possible at the cost of withdrawing from the economic sphere—the way of the commune. If we want to break the inertia that has kept the moribund figure of the nuclear family unit in place, which has stubbornly worked to isolate men and women from the public sphere, we must overhaul the material infrastructure and break the economic cycles that lock it in place. The task before us is twofold, and our vision necessarily stereoscopic: we must engineer an economy that liberates reproductive labor and family life, while building models of familiality free from the deadening grind of wage labor.
0x16 From the global to the local, from the cloud to our bodies, XENOFEMINISM avows the responsibility in constructing new institutions of technomaterialist hegemonic proportions. Like engineers and artists who must conceive of a total structure as well as the molecular parts from which this totality is constructed, XF emphasises the importance of the mesopolitical sphere against the limited effectiveness of local gestures, creation of autonomous zones, and sheer horizontalism, just as it stands against transcendent, or top-down impositions of values and norms. The mesopolitical arena of XENOFEMINISM’s universalist ambitions comprehends itself as a mobile and intricate network of transits between these polarities. As pragmatists, we invite contamination as a mutational driver between such frontiers.
0x17 XF asserts that adapting our behaviour for an era of Promethean complexity is a labor requiring both action and inertia, a ferocious patience at odds with simply waiting. Calibrating a political hegemony or insurgency not only implies the creation of material infrastructures to make its values explicit, but places demands on us collective subjects, as to how we are to become hosts of this new world. How do we build a better parasite–one that arouses the desires we want to desire, that orchestrates an emancipatory and egalitarian community buttressed by new forms of unselfish solidarity and self-mastery?
0x18 XF thinks like the schemer or lisper, who constructs a new language in which the problem at hand is explained, a code in which solutions for an entire class of problems become relatively trivial. XENOFEMINISM is an open-ended ambition to construct a new language for new politics–an explicit language capable of seizing its own methods as materials, bootstrapping itself into existence piece by piece. The problems we face are systemic and interlocking, and that any chance of global success depends on infecting myriad skills and contexts with the logic of XF. Ours is a transformation of both seeping but directed subsumption as well as that of rapid overthrow; it is a deliberate construction, submerging the white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy in a sea of procedures that soften its shell and dismantle its defenses, so as to build a new world from the scraps.
0x1A XENOFEMINISM indexes the desire to construct an alien future, with a triumphant X on a mobile map. This X is not a mark of destination, but the insertion of a topological-keyframe for a new forging logic. In affirming a future untethered to the repetition of the present, we struggle for accelerating capacities, for spaces of freedom with a richer geometry than the aisle, the assembly line, the barricades, and the newsfeed. If geometry implicitly structures our exterior world already, our Umwelt, we need new perceptions and actions unblinkered by naturalised rigidities. “Nature” shall no longer be a refuge of injustice, or a basis for any political justification whatsoever!
If nature is unjust, rebuild a new nature from scratch!
Manifesto for Accelerationist Politics
Cyberfeminism: 100 Anti-Theses
“Terminator vs. Avatar: Notes on Accelerationism” by Mark Fisher
“Synthetic Genders and the Limits of Micropolitics” by Helen Hester
“Shulamith Firestone” by Stella Sandford
“The Empire Strikes Back: A Post-Transsexual Manifesto” by Sandy Stone
A New “Stabilized” Version of the Xenofeminist Manifesto
If nature is unjust, change nature!
Text via Laboria Cuboniks
Video via Diann Bauer
“Not less but more alienation…”
“Lecture by Laboria Cuboniks (represented by Patricia Reed and Diann Bauer) As we swirl about in the vertiginous technosphere, the translation of our world into a data-material complex, brings with it the promise (and threat) of the total measurability of life itself. While the debates rage, the leaks mount, and our world becomes parametricized into, and by probability patterns (a regime of risk management); our modes of governance remain largely trapped by anachronistic procedures that are incommensurable with twenty-first century reality. This talk addresses the need for, and speculates on post-Westphalian models that aim to measure up to the planetary demands of our entangled, collective, and technocondition — extraterritorial demands that are deeply at odds with the very concept of a border.”