New Society


We all keep talking about what’s going on with our society 

Do vegans and fraternity boys, super rich and refugees even live in the same society? A nexus of the generally binding – core culture and mainstream society aside – is not easy to find anymore. The faults of society stand in marked contrast to the promises of equality, which have fallen by the wayside in favour of the liberalisation of capital, consumerism, and morals. The media says it everyday: Here, the high flyers – there, the sinking ships. Here, those from here – there, those from somewhere else. Here, toxic masculinity – there, the non-binary avant-garde.

As no one can say where these divisions in progress are leading, rejecting the monster-term “society” has become all the more popular. The social cement called society, the discursive pet project of the ’68 generation – there is no such thing, said Margaret Thatcher during the neoliberal turn in 1987. This ideologically founded dismissal of the malleability of social coexistence is also quite prevalent today. Word is that the polarised (though in any case pluralised) society is eroding. Without a social contract, political tribes and ego monsters would take command.

Resistance is forming against this disintegration, building upon community instead of society. While populism advertises that you can just stay how you are, the educative turn of the left demands regulations. Safe spaces are zones of the desirable, where models of togetherness are being formulated anew, where one doesn’t have to “talk with the rightists”. But not all – however justified and necessary – safe spaces are just a means of inclusion. The People Of Colour Only seminar stipulates unwanted ethnic backgrounds. In front of the gates to the Statement rock festival in Sweden stand men accusing the “women only” festival of discrimination.

Both progressive and reactionary we-formations and exclusions take place in a networked world with no outside. From the perspective of the algorithmic powers, a human is nothing more than a data processing system with a consciousness that has met its limits and should be replaced by more intelligent systems without consciousness. The absolutism of data has its own plans.

Speaking of a New Society suggests that society is not going to simply disappear or dissolve. In the new society people don’t just communicate with people and other animals but also people with machines – and machines with other machines. How this all ends? Perhaps a “we” of tomorrow will be more about collective activities than collective identities.

Thomas Edlinger
Artistic director donaufestival

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