Automatic for the People
A reading group on the hopes and struggles of technology
6—8pm, Tuesday 16 April 2019
The reading group will be meeting once every two months.
Three decades before the widespread proliferation of the Internet, media theorist Marshall McLuhan, fascinated by the abilities of technology to connect people located in dispersed geographies, wrote that technological currents would abolish borders to connect the whole of humanity in a ‘global embrace’. McLuhan’s assertion was representative of a wider 1960s techno-utopianist counterculture, flourishing in the United States and in many ways predicted the Internet and the libertarian fascination it brought with.
Since then, technology has been associated with wars, nuclear disasters, administration of bodies as movement across borders, surveillance, capitalist exploitation, gender oppression, toxic waste, propaganda, loss of privacy, data collection, fascism, and the administration of life overall. Given the rate of technological acceleration and consumption, we have now reached a point where millions of people voluntarily offer what previously was their leisure time to an array of social media platforms daily.
On the other hand, technology has also been associated with the emancipation of the working class, genderless utopias, freedom, full automated luxury communism, communication across the globe and self-realisation.
This reading group hopes to start making sense of what technology can do, how and for whom. For the first session, we will be reading Leo Marx’s 1994 essay ‘The Idea of “Technology” and Postmodern Pessimism’. The essay examines the history and evolution of technology as we know and live with it today. The first session asks how ”technology” became technology?
Please book through our Eventbrite page in order to receive the suggested reading for the first session. The reading group is open and free for all; pre-reading whilst helpful is not required.
Automatic for the People is part of No School! – a learning programme inspired by the value crisis of desperate measures, desiring the political agency of wrongness, badness, inefficiency, laziness and defeat, heartbreak and loneliness. No School! also wants for contradiction, publics, furniture, hooting joyous clapping shouts of laughter, good food shared and the logical contortions of revolutionary praxis.
Practically, No School! is a series of workshops and events, whose existence is in debt to histories of radical pedagogy and self-organised education.