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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Drones and the Logic of Post-Neoliberalism

Posted by on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 12:12 PM

The second Iraq war was neoliberalism's abandonment of the New Economy narrative and, in the face of deepening economic crises, its turn to Keynesian militarism (rather than a reversion to its economics—the program it began replacing in 1973) as a way to survive the collapse of its legitimacy, which eventually happened in 2008. But the war failed because, one, it never stopped being a war (the persistence of insurgents) and, two, it also lost legitimacy (no WMDs).

Drones can be seen as capitalism's response to the collapse of the 30-year neoliberal project and the decline of Keynesian militarism (which began with the end of history—1989). Drones present power with a form of control that's difficult for the institutions established by mass society (institutions that were key to the formation of state military power—which comes down not to governing a massive population but increasing the speed that it can be transformed into a massive army) to check or disrupt. Because they can operate outside of politics, drones connect with the logic capitalism. But it's precisely by this connection that this form of crisis management has access to and pervades all of the spheres of our market-oriented social production:

A tiny new open source drone kit made by Bitcraze is buzzing its way to market this spring, targeted at hackers and modders who want to explore droning indoors as well as out.

Marcus Eliasson, Arnaud Taffanel, and Tobias Antonsson are the engineers behind the Swedish startup now accepting pre-orders for a palm-sized quadcopter called the Crazyflie Nano. (Not to be confused with the Norwegian-made nano-copter used by British troops in Afghanistan.)

The trio used only open source material for the project, from mechanics to hardware and code. Not only was it a nod to the open source mantra, it saved them a ton of time; all three have day jobs and have spent the last three years working evenings on the Crazyflie Nano.


Comments (12) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Never forget that neo-conservatives were originally liberals who fell into the Dark Side.

Drones on the other hand, are just tools.

Pervy spying tools where the remote operators can abandon any sense of responsibility ("It's On TV! It must not be real!")

Most of the news coverage in the US is about US-made drones, but Canada buys Canadian-made drones that are cheaper, faster, and just as pervy.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 7, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
treacle 2
All of this reminds me of a Philip K. Dick novel, where the rulers of the earth just kept fighting these endless robot wars, while they themselves lived in luxurious estates ("demense"). The robot wars just changed the edges of their demenses slightly.

It blows me away too, where is all this money coming from to build enormous robot armies? And fund trillion dollar wars in the sand? Surely not our meagre tax receipts. Will capitalism eventually over-extend itself in paying for all the infrastructure to keep the majority of the populations from revolting? Surely it cuts into "their" profitability.
Posted by treacle on February 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 3
Drones are just cheaper, highly efficient and more effective and evasive than manned helicopters and jets. Technology wins again. End of story.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
@3 plus they don't use tons of jet fuel that we have to invade countries on the other side of the world for.

You can literally (or at least the military and spy agencies can) have a solar-powered drone that lands on rooftops to recharge, or some other easy hiding place.

A little piezoelectric circuit for the self-destruct and you're good.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 7, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this

What we need is an open source invisibility cloak.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on February 7, 2013 at 1:36 PM · Report this
If police can use drones to spy on activists, them activists should be able to use drones to spy on police.
Posted by Don't you think he looks tired? on February 7, 2013 at 1:40 PM · Report this
rob! 7
...Drones were initially dismissed by many pilots as nothing more than video games, and it took prodding from the Pentagon before the Air Force embraced the aircraft. Today, the Air Force pins more wings on new drone pilots than fighter and bomber pilots...

...The Air Force has embraced drone pilots without reservations. The drone pilots get nicknames, or call signs, and stride the halls of the Air Force Weapons School in flight suits like any other pilots.

It's important symbolism, officers say.
"Drones change 'Top Gun' culture of Air Force"—USA Today, Dec. 1, 2012
Posted by rob! on February 7, 2013 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Interesting observations buried in sub-Jamesonion, and worse, sub-Zizekian nonsense language. Clean up your text a bit and you might be onto something.
Posted by Jizzlobber on February 7, 2013 at 1:45 PM · Report this
inGage 9
Remember how crazy it was to hold your first cell phone conversation? When technology shrunk the world just a bit? Children today are being born into a world where what we call a drone will be ubiquitous telepresence devices. They will deliver our food and our overnight express packages. In the not too distant future, a tiny one could pop off your belt, providing real-time overhead views to an augmented headset like google glass. Like all technology, they can and probably will be used maliciously. Regulations are needed, but 3d-printers and open source projects like this show that implementing such regulations could prove difficult.
Posted by inGage on February 7, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Please stop saying ridiculous things like "the end of history--1989" it messes up an otherwise interesting idea you've got going there.

Drones make sense for fighting a stateless insurgency. The alternative is what every other empire, From the Mongols to Victorian England, has done: kill every man, woman, and child (and sometimes even the dogs and cats) at the slightest sign of resistance. It's an improvement that this is no longer considered standard operating procedure.

The interesting thing will be what happens when the day comes (soon) where everybody--terrorists included--have them.
Posted by Westside forever on February 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Posted by treacle on February 7, 2013 at 3:01 PM · Report this
seandr 12
As drones becomes better and cheaper, they will eventually give everyone the power to murder anyone they want without being caught.
Posted by seandr on February 7, 2013 at 3:02 PM · Report this

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