[plz play this song repeatedly while reading this post, that’s what I did while writing it]
Martin Heidegger used to say that all thought since the pre-Socratic philosophers had forgotten its historicity, thus loosing its genuine relation to Being. Whether Heidegger was right or wrong may be disputed, however, in the case of diplomacy, this is certainly the case. Diplomacy has hitherto forgotten how to fold the relations of the world. If the history of ontology may be destruKted, so may the history of diplomacy! By analyzing the diplomacy of folding, which appeared on the internet only weeks ago, we may perhaps arrive at a better understanding of how to deal with the contemporary internet crisis.
The common usage of the concept of diplomacy deals with the negotiations between representatives of states, or unions. Representatives discuss trade, warfare, culture etc. and sign treatises in order to regulate relations between states. This divides the world into countries, peoples, languages, and economic zones. Common diplomacy is a sort of methodological nationalism.
What happens then, if an entity which is not a nation-state wants to negotiate? Is it possible for the internet to practice diplomacy? There are many things happening to the internets of today, that cause problems and conflicts. For example, French, Swedish and Irish internauts report on imminent threats of internet blackouts in Europe. Germans are fighting massive internet surveillance. Cuban internet is not only internally damaged, but also severely cut off by Microsoft due to trade restrictions of the clumsy foreign politics of the US. The list stretches further and further.
However, concerning diplomacy, the internet can not be represented like a nation-state. It materializes everywhere and escapes traditional legal systems by way of copying. It is a fractal, which iterates towards infinity, just like the Mandelbrot set. It is a virus-like sociotechnical assemblage, which may better be described in terms of contagiontology, rather than State ontology.
This causes traditional diplomacy to fail, primarily because the internet is an asignifying entity. There are no spokespersons, no internetional governments – you cannot even vote in a parliament of bits and bytes. Only recently, internaut-philosophers have addressed this issue systematically, and maybe the only way of dealing with the issue of an asignfying meshwork of people, computers and fibre-optics, is to render all entities towards becoming spokespersons. Perhaps the first experiment with such diplomacy is enacted by the Embassy of Piracy. It states:
Time is epic, the ecosystem of the Internet is tested and we are here to defend it. Old regimes are passing new laws and new regulations to uphold a failing system that nobody really wants. /…/
We are all the Embassy, we are all Ambassadors of the freedom of Internet. This adventure is ours to swarm, modify and share.
Traditional entities work with signifying pyramids. A large population elects a small number of leaders to re-present the ”public opinion”. The bottom is governed by the top. The Embassy of Piracy also works with pyramids, however, they do not primarily represent other people, rather they are pyramids of folding and multiplying.
This allows us to return to the ”original” etymology of ”diplomacy”. In Greek language, ”diploma” means folded paper, something that is materialized in the pyramids of the embassy (we all hope that the ancient Greek diplomas were properly copied!). Embassies of Piracy are currently deployed by way of folding new pyramids. Each fold creates an interface intensification – it interfaceifies relations. Face-to-face is no longer limited to being away-from-keyboard. Inter-face-iality is a mode of existence, whose traits were ”originally” analyzed by Deleuze & Guattari:
Bunker-face. To the point that if human beings have a destiny, it is rather to escape the face, to dismantle the face and facializations, to become imperceptible, to become clandestine, not by returning to animality, nor even by returning to the head, but by quite spiritual and special becomings-animal, by strange true becomings that get past the wall and get out of the black holes, that make faciality traits themselves finally elude the organization of the face—freckles dashing toward the horizon, hair carried off by the wind, eyes you traverse instead of seeing yourself in or gazing into in those glum face-to-face encounters between signifying subjectivities. (A Thousand Plateaus, p. 171).
Thus, the diplomacy of folding needs no originals. It doesn’t even accept them. Escape the face with inter-faces! Intensify interfaces to the point of no signifiance. Bunker-faces deindividualize the experience of diplomacy to a point of deorganization. Spread the torrents across the horizons, because there is not much stopping them anyways.
When negotiating with states, you always speak to the representatives of an organization. States only negotiate with other organizations. The internet has no representative organization, but there is a potentially infinite number of Ambassadors of the Freedom of the Internet. Thus, negotiations can take place anywhere, as long as there is an interface between the internet and other entitites (such as legal bodies, presidents, peoples, and cities, connected through computers, faxes and printers).
The diplomacy of folding may begin with a piece of paper, and may end in the unfolding of the freedom of the internet that we all want so badly.