Territorial cybernetics, material utopianism  

The Anthropocene as Experience and Practice: On the Peripheral Experience of m7red, 2000-2020 

Alejandro Galliano

Publicado en Café de las Ciudades en febrero de 2021

The global experience of 2020 might provide an opportunity to develop “Anthropocene thought.” The world scale of the pandemic, the lockdown experience, strategies of epidemiological and social engineering, and so many debates on the viability of social practices (tourism, urban planning, and the automatization of work and digitalization of life) invite a systematic rethinking of how human communities relate to their environment.

One unexpected effect of the pandemic was an increase in illegal deforestation and hunting in tourist zones paralyzed economically by the lockdown. Speculation on the benign effect a world economic standstill might have on the environment (a smaller carbon footprint thanks to the cessation or reduction of international tourism and urban circulation) had to confront the almost ungovernable complexity of the networks that connect humans to their environment. Also enmeshed in those networks is agrobusiness [2] and the loss of biodiversity that goes with it, to say nothing of the likely etiologies of recent pandemics. Along with these debates triggered by the pandemic, 2020 witnessed an array of manifestations of the climate crisis—forest fires, floods—which should come as no surprise: the crisis gets worse every year.

A globalized experience and reflection on the space we occupy allows us to grapple with the global and the local much more thoroughly than we have thus far. That task requires, however, new methodologies, concepts, and organizations which in turn require some degree of consensus in order to take action. If, in the sixteenth century, monarchs, feudal lords, and bourgeois municipal councils governed the transition to capitalism, today’s climate collapse is confronted by mostly fragile—often extremely fragile—national governments, multilateral entities marked by the pursuit of sovereignty, and private companies promising to reduce carbon emissions by 5%. And that make sense: all of those things worked so well for so many years that casting them of seems hard, and coming up with something else nearly impossible.

The concept of the Anthropocene is in fashion. It sounds geological, but its uses are sociopolitical. It claims to name a phase in the history of the Earth marked by human action, but in fact it means just the opposite. It refers to a moment in history when human action is constantly thrown off by its effect on the Earth: global warming, flooding retention basins, pollution, pandemics of strange origin and global spread thanks to tourism and overcrowding. The design of new conceptual and organizational tools to confront a politics of the Anthropocene must adapt to the conditions it imposes: not structural measures, but maps of risk, contingency plans, resourcefulness, and constant trial and error. The work of m7red —the Argentina-based “research and activism collective” that engages “complex urban scenarios” and recently received the Dutch Príncipe Claus award for Culture and Development in the field of architecture—is a good example of local experiments that reflect on global questions.

m7red: Collapse, Precarity, and Periphery: The Local Origins of A Global Way of Thinking[10], 2001-201

The history of m7red is inseparable from the social and financial crisis Argentina faces in the twenty-first century, and explaining that crisis is an opportunity to grapple with specific manifestations of global processes. A country located in the southernmost extreme of South America, Argentina has, in general terms, participated in the same overarching political and economic dynamic as the countries in the region as a whole. It is historically a provider of raw materials to the world market; it underwent a disorderly process of industrialization, urbanization, and mass growth of consumerism and political participation over the course of the twentieth century. Its process of modernization was, like the Global North’s, characterized by Fordist capitalism, but in the Argentine, and broader Latin American, case there was no solid underlying political or institution framework —and that led to profound social conflicts and dogged political instability.

But, within that common regional dynamic, Argentina has two distinctive traits. First, a sociocultural structure somewhat akin to European societies. Second, a failed transition to a post-Fordist economic model. There are a number of different reasons why Argentina has, historically, perceived itself as highly European: the fluxes of Southern European immigrants the country took in in the late nineteenth century; the urban elite’s predilection, even after World War II, for certain European models; and, mostly, a social structure that was, throughout the twentieth century, less polarized than the rest of the region’s. Argentina’s robust middle class was the cornerstone of many political identities and certain mainstream narratives of “national progress.”

That last trait—that is, the large Europeanized middle class —was devastated by the social impoverishment that began to envelop the country in the late twentieth century and continues into the present. The exhaustion of the Fordist development model starting in 1975 led to a series of experiments and economic models that, as they failed, not only sank the country into financial instability and economic stagnation, but also left sectors of the economy either at the margins or outside altogether: small and medium-sized industry protected by tariffs; large economic groups that provide supplies for public infrastructure projects and the public health system; and subsidized multinationals. This led to a growing informal and subsistence economy, as well as an agro-export sector with a constellation of diverse actors, from large landowners to very dynamic medium-sized farmers who rent out their lands, by way of large soybean consortiums that rent those lands, companies that rent out machinery and provide logistical support, and transgenic-seed breeders.

The “2001 crisis,” as it is known locally, was the most dramatic and productive manifestation of this local dynamic. After adhering to the Washington Consensus and its highly rigid economic model (privatization and quick deregulation of public utilities, complete openness to imports, rising debt, and an exchange rate that pegged, by law, the local currency to the dollar), Argentina was completely vulnerable to international financial crises, like the one experienced in emerging countries in 1997 with the fall of the Southeast Asian «tiger economies,» and then in Russia, Turkey, and Brazil in 1998 and 1999.

In December 2001, the Argentine government decided to confiscate bank deposits to avoid a bank run. The economic crisis unleashed a series of spontaneous protests and practices: neighborhood assemblies in middle-class neighborhoods, hubs of non-monetary exchange, worker-run companies, movements of unemployed workers called piqueteros, and widespread repudiation of the parliamentary democracy system and neoliberalism as experienced in Argentina—or at least of a certain discourse of economic orthodoxy and expertise. Those experiences continued throughout 2002 and attracted the attention of global activist intellectuals like Naomi Klein, Toni Negri, Paolo Virno, Slavoy Zizek, Joseph Stiglitz, many of whom visited the country in the wake of the crisis.

In that context of social and economic disintegration, of crisis of (political) representation and (technocratic) expertise, of widespread and diverse forms of self-organization and political-artistic activism, m7red emerged as a space of intervention. Pío Torroja and Mauricio Corbalán studied architecture and began their careers in the nineties in conventional fashion, working in Hugo Gilardi’s firm and giving classes at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) School of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism. They also came into contact with more critical perspectives through Alberto Delorenzini and Jorge Francisco Liernur, and that led them to work with artists and curators like Roberto Jacoby and the Venus network, and Ines Katzenstein, on interventions that crossed disciplines and questioned expertise. In the year 2000, the group was formalized as m777, in reference to 777 Montevideo Street, the address of the architecture firm where they would meet.

“There are two things that really strike me,” Corbalán said to Jorge Francisco Liernur at a public conversation in 2004. “First, the barter experiences during the crisis and, second, free access to the Internet. Whereas JFL speaks of a building, I speak of a system of networks. One of the issues architecture deals with is the organization of the territory. But I am interested in the organization of a territory by networks of that type.” Torroja and Corbalán’s interest in non-building forms of architecture put a distance between them and the world of professional architecture with its system of recognition. The 2001 crisis showed them where to look for those other forms of architecture, namely in the complex networks of the postnormal.

Starting in 2003, things in Argentina settled down into a situation where global and local traits coexisted. The country was favored by a long period of high food commodity prices, especially soybean, on the international market fed by the growth of consumption in China—and here Argentina had a historic advantage: in the nineties it had been a pioneer in transgenic-soybean crops. Indeed, it introduced germplasm practices and models later adopted in other countries in the region (Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay). At the same time, political hegemony was consolidated under President Néstor Kirchner and then his wife and later widow, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Kirchnerismo is a particular case of leftist Latin American populisms like the ones under Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and Evo Morales in Bolivia. At stake in Kirchnerismo is the old Peronism reworked to include the aforementioned piquetero movements, human rights organizations, experiments in Social and Solidarity Economy, as well as the sectors of the middle class radicalized by the 2001-2002 uprising. Economically, it incentivized consumerism over private investments and public infrastructure. It redistributed the nation’s soybean income through taxes, which meant confrontation with large and medium-size soybean producers. It protected the local small and medium-sized industry concentrated in the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires, called the conurbano bonaerense. The result was an extremely heterogenous and imbalanced local capitalism, with monocrops integrated into the world market, an extensive but mostly obsolete industrial sector, a high level of domestic consumption, and enclaves of poverty, overcrowding, and precarity—the bequest of the crisis.

For Torroja and Corbalán, this new political and economic context brought both problems and opportunities. The condition that made m777 possible at all was the 2001 crisis. The later normalization, economic recovery, and incorporation of many self-run economic and community projects into the political and institutional machinery of the new hegemony meant the group had to rethink its strategies and very nature. m777 had emerged to intervene from the outside and now it could well be brought in, whether to the market or the state. It faced, then, a crisis of the crisis, the quick end to the conditions that had, in 2001, made its existence possible at all.

Redefining a strategy required recalibrating the original hybridization: in 2005, m777 split into a77, an artistic group whose members Lucas Gilardi and Gustavo Diéguez concentrated on architectonic interventions with waste materials; and m7red, Torroja and Corbalán’s apparatus for discussion and outreach, the platform for their experimentations in complex urbanity. The time had come to look for other networks.

QPR: A Social Cybernetics

Eight-five kilometers of the 2,240-km2 Matanza Riachuelo river basin are crossed by the most polluted river in Argentina (one of the thirty most polluted sites on this planet). In that basin lives 13.5% of the country’s population, almost five million people, over half of them without a sewage system. They inhabit fourteen different cities in the conurbano—as the outskirts of Buenos Aires are known—as well as in the city proper. Each day some 368,000 m3 of domestic wastewater and 88,500 m3 of industrial waste flow by those cities, home as well to eighty-three landfills. If the wind blows toward the southeast, those toxic waters flood the basin[25] .

This area’s physical and institutional complexity is aggravated by a series of political conflicts[26] . The longstanding demand for an adequate sewage system coupled with protests over flooding starting in the year 2000 ultimately led to the formation of the Foro Hídrico de Lomas de Zamora, a network of neighborhood associations in Lomas de Zamora, a city to the south of Buenos Aires. The Foro Hídrico de Lomas de Zamora’s mission is to deal with the overarching water problem. In 2006, the Matanza Riachuelo River Basin Authority (Acumar, for the acronym in Spanish) was created to coordinate the different regional authorities and to strengthen the regulation and monitoring of the area’s waters[27] . A Supreme Court decision in the Mendoza case in 2008 ordered the cleanup of the Riachuelo and other actions to improve the quality of life of the basin’s inhabitants.

The Matanza Riachuelo river basin is [28] an almost ungovernable space, a tangle of environmental, social, and political problems. The only word to describe it is chaos. To map out that chaos, in 2011 the Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, an environmentalist NGO that formed part of body supervising the cleanup, commissioned m7red and GarageLab (an independent hacker space) to develop QPR (Qué Pasa Riachuelo? or What’s Happening Riachuelo). QPR was [29] an online platform that collected and updated in real time [30] georeferenced public data on pollution, shantytowns, and territorial alerts. It also showed events and conflicts on the basis of descriptions provided by those involved. [31] It was, in its developers’ words, [32] a collective experiment to monitor compliance with the ruling in the Mendoza case, but also—indeed chiefly—a tool to visualize the Riachuelo in constant, dynamic, and decentralized fashion.” 

In 2015 and 2016, the connection between QPR and the Acumar—and its data—came to an end; [33] the website became inactive and the Riachuelo cleanup effort brought to a halt. Be that as it may, the m7red initiative was presented in London; it inspired other social monitoring platforms for river cleanups in a number of states in the United States. 

The symbiosis between cybernetics and urbanism is nothing new. In 1977, architect and mathematician Christopher Alexander created “pattern language”: problem-solving processes on different scales that would allow any citizen to formulate architectural solutions in order to meet their specific needs[34] . Years later, patterns were incorporated into software design with the book Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software, and in 1990 the wiki format was created by Ward Cunningham. Like Alexander’s patterns, many wiki projects, starting with Wikipedia, facilitate and democratize a practice outside of expertise. 

The democratic potential of the QPR experience gives rise to what we might call a cybernetic politics. Cybernetics as principle of non-linear feedback and constant experimentation with that feedback was identified in the nineteen-seventies by Norbert Wiener as a way to dissolve the dichotomy between the mechanical and the organic: cybernetics exists in animals as well as machines. Today, cybernetic machines engage us in a cyber-physical system with its algorithms; James Lovelock understands the entire Earth to be a cybernetic system, and Yuk Hui sees its resourcefulness as a means to go beyond the end of metaphysics. QPR took resourcefulness to politics. Data feedback is not just a valuable instance of citizen participation in an information and monitoring platform—perhaps even an instance of horizontalization of digital surveillance—but also a new way of seeing a territory.

A lot of postmodernity has gone by since, in the nineteen-thirties, Alfred Korzybski first said that the map is not the territory. In Argentina’s political language, “territory” refers to local political life, especially on the outskirts of large cities, a space where—among other things—local residents, with their own set of the interests and demands, engage in protest in the face [35] of poor infrastructure, the informal economy, political corruption and patronage, local party bosses, and criminal organizations and networks. For the Argentine political imaginary, the “territory” is where the rubber meets the road, [36]  the “real” social instance. It is where theories are played out, where ideas and even certain ethical and judicial principles came to a standstill before the complexity and muddy reality of social relations. That gives rise to what we might call territorialism, an ideology that cuts across all political tendencies; daunted, intellectual and political frameworks back down [37] before a reified and seemingly unfathomable reality: a conservative chaos. Despite its communitarianism, territorialism reenacts the mechanism of the state insofar as it attempts to puncture [38] from above a zone it never forms part of, choosing—even predefining—the actors it will find: an essentially working-class, local, organized, human—overly human—subject with a sense of solidarity[39] . All it takes is a local political boss to change her [40] affiliation or be replaced by an illegal organization no less capable of delivering services and protection[41] , or a network of relations to move just a few meters in any direction for any territory-based intervention to fall to pieces.

The QPR experience does not solve those problems or attempt to replace that mechanism. What it does, rather, is open up an alternative entryway, an organic map as alive and complex as the territory that constantly feeds it with data, a map capable of capturing that which territorialism ignores, namely the relationship between humans and non-humans. The cybernetic principle makes it possible to visualize on the map networks that no other rendering of the territory would show: the multiple relationships that bind one resident of a shantytown to another, to residents of another shantytown, to the landfill, to the factory, to the river, to the shit that flows in and out. The loop of resources captures those networks and creates new ones by connecting all those actors to an online platform that ends up being another actor[42] . It counters political realism with a material realism that assembles human and non-human objects, enabling a new type of community. The utopian dimension that territorialism inevitably fails to see now emerges from a “realer” approach to the territory. Chaos becomes the promise of community.

Visit to Paulino Island after the dredging of the access canal to La Plata Port (2013)

A Thousand Basins: A Materialist Politics

Between the floods of April 2013 and the end of the QPR experience in 2016, Torroja and Corbalán published a series of texts in Mancilla, a literary magazine. In them, they envision different scenarios in the Riachuelo, Paulino Island[43] , the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Saavedra and its tunneled Medrano stream, and the soy-producing plains. These scenarios act as a means to describe the ecology of different river basins and their multiple actors. In 2018, m7red self-published those texts as the ebook Mil cuencas (A Thousand Basins).

Mil cuencas is, in a sense, the text version of m7red’s networked experiences. Its authors present their writings as a “methodology,” a sort of self-mapping of the communities that have become—to use Gilles Deleuze’s word— [44] “localities,” communities that motor a “local radicalization.” But Mil cuencas is also the practical application of a new materialism. Building networks between human and nonhuman actors requires a horizontal [45] ontology, where a small farmer, a pipeline, a wetland, and the worms under the ground are on the same ontological level. This intellectual operation makes clear reference to Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory: an action, insofar as a hub of agencies that encompasses human and nonhuman objects, must be untangled. m7red’s operation also makes reference to Object-Oriented Ontology, a strain of philosophy based on the premise that everything that is is an object and all objects are equal. Any object might be the subject of any other. Be that as it may, these materialisms—or realisms, which is not the same thing—are the response to the limits of the now-old discursive turn in Western thought. After all, problems like the climate crisis and recurrent pandemics are clearly something other than linguistic constructions.

In chronicle format and with the lyrical quality that that brings, the texts in Mil cuencas trace those networks of human and nonhuman objects. The water circuits in the Matanza- Riachuelo basin river that Torroja describes, for instance, flow in and out of factories, treatment plants, and shantytowns. They carry waste, imbue goods (it takes one thousand liters of water to clean and tan [46] one leather hide[47] ), and gush into the bathrooms and tanks of consumers who “act as mini sluicegates” on a network that cannot be drawn in its entirety.

Another network of conflicts and coexistence is the one that connects the small farmers on Paulino Island to the port that expands menacingly, the island’s salinized soil, the boats that go by and bring down stretches of coastal land, the YPF [48] pipeline, the island’s new inhabitants, and a sense of environmental decay that no longer revolves around the contrast between the present and an unrecoverable past [49] but is, rather, constituent of the island, its very tissue, [50] history, identity, and modus vivendi: “The island doesn’t want electricity,” explains a small farmer, aware of the threat that an electrical connection through the port would bring.

       That Luddite conclusion might lead us to think that these networks are held in a homeostatic dynamic, a steady brew of persons, animals, and things that reproduces a stable, stagnant landscape. With the networked practice of m7red, though, nonhuman occurrences can be incorporated as political events—and that reflects the actual story of the floods. [51] 

Floods: From the Eruption of Gaia to Political Event

Isabelle Stengers uses the term “the eruption of Gaia” to refer to environmental catastrophes that alter life and the human political and economic order. These eruptions remind us [52] of the costs and material limits that the planet imposes on any human organization. One of Gaia’s most frequent ways of erupting is floods. When, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina, for example, hit the southeastern coast of the United States, it lay bare the precariousness of the infrastructure of that country’s poorest states and the need to use all the state’s might: the federal government redeployed some of the troops stationed in Iraq to the disaster area.

For m7red, the floods are also an “event” as Alain Badiou understood it: contingencies that polarize particles and constitute a subject. Or, to put as m7red, with its distinctive logic, would, the alteration of the objects of a network around a new network. In the basins that Torroja and Corbalán study, “the flood exposes the conditions in which we actually live[53] . It shows the precariousness of being hosted provisionally […]. April 3, 2013 witnessed our traumatic passage from citizens to inhabitants of the alluvial plain of a hydraulic basin,” and «a catastrophic vision of the urban” became undeniable.

The consequences of an event are, of course, never linear. The cases that m7red studies in Buenos Aires province (floods in 1985 in the southern part of the province and, in 2013, in a number of cities, including Buenos Aires) led to both a reexamination of local histories and new business models. Let’s take a look at some cases.

The 2013 floods led residents of the Saavedra neighborhood in northwestern Buenos Aires to reconnect to their “natural history.” The demand that the Medrano stream be untunneled, as the Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul had been, to prevent future overflow enabled the neighborhood to recover a riverfront past where sociability revolved around the course of water that was, at the time of the flooding[54] , hidden from view. A horizon of expectations was opened up: perhaps the neighborhood and its forums could be based on a hydraulic basin, not on a location in the urban grid.[55] [56]  Memory of the neighborhood as stream basin is the result of awareness that “the ground is not an inert support for self-enclosed buildings and objects with finite surface areas, but a place where life depends on the constant exchange of flows and materials.” But that catastrophic consciousness problematizes the right to the city. “We are all going to end up living in urban areas. But what are most cities build on? Rivers and river basins, which also have rights […] Rivers demand the restitution of their courses, which were straightened out and tunneled.”

Another significant event was the flooding of Buenos Aires province in 1985. It generated an atmosphere of uncertainty in the agricultural sector that led to the “second revolution of the plains”: tenants, rather than landowners, planting transgenic and glyphosate-resistant soybeans. The soybean business was built on this more flexible system that requires minimal action, a somewhat precarious system for the circulation of information[57] . Constant work on the land which meant a permanent rural population [58] gave way to quick business cycles that employ very few. The soybean crop not only absorbs little water, but also forms a nearly impermeable compact sheet, More floods and unemployment further the displacement of animals and persons—persons who invoke their “right to the city” to settle precariously in “shantytowns” in the marginal gaps of Buenos Aires. This sort of “social cycle of water” is also a network of humans and nonhumans.

Floods are the material and contingent event that alters the network of objects and triggers agencies: new business models and forms of collective organization[59] , new problems and reworked slogans[60] . And that is precisely where m7red has something to contribute. The blind spot of the new philosophical materialism is its political immobility. Stuck [61] in a universe of things, it seems [62] not to recognize any dynamic other than inertia, or entropy. And hence nihilism and transhumanism, and the other political solutions offered by realist philosophers are misguided. On the other hand, poststructuralist-inspired “critical thought”—the “theory” of which Fredric [63] Jameson speaks and that in Argentina, like in much of Latin America and Europe, forms part of the canon of cultural and humanistic studies—seems to need to reduce everything to language in order to politicize or radicalize it, giving up on any idea of a determinative material environment—until the wind blows and the water rises, that is.

m7red’s materialism is capable of drawing networks between human and nonhuman objects, of studying the impact of contingencies also material in nature, and of seeing how those contingencies usher in a politics. “Urban flooding introduced a new paradigm that implies advancing with measures that are not structural: maps of risks, contingency plans.” To come up with a wetland policy, we don’t need to close ourselves off in language or freeze up before so much mud. A politics of materialism is possible.

History of the Dock Sud petrochemical pole on the platform «Que pasa, Riachuelo?” Version 2 (2014)

Glocal Anthropocene Thought

“We need an aesthetic understanding of soil closer to a description that recognizes territories as porous [64] assemblages; we need to come up with a new [65] perception of the land,” say Torroja and Corbalán. While all current thinking is, in one way or another, part of the Anthropocene, we have yet to come up with global thinking on the Anthropocene. That thinking would pose new difficulties and challenges, two of which I would like to discuss here.

First, the Anthropocene is less a geological epoch than a “hyperobject” as Timothy Morton[2] uses the term: a helicoidal and viscous phenomenon that envelops us so much that we can’t see it in its entirety. To study the Anthropocene in the abstract means to lose sight of the different ways it is manifested locally and, conversely, concentrating on local experiences fragments the discussion of a problem that must be dealt with globally. The world of business uses the term “glocal” to refer to a business strategy that heeds global needs and opportunities as well as local markets. As is often the case with business concepts, this one has academic roots. First Ronald Robertson and then Ulrich      Beck[66]  used it to counter the most homogenizing notions of globalization that emerged in the nineties. But even these uses of concepts contain the limits of their origin: the glocal is either hemmed in by business needs or framed by the functionalism and phenomenology of mainstream sociology.

The second difficulty has to do with the constant contingency posed by both the climate crisis and new forms of social and political conflict—a state of affairs that brings into the present the term “postnormal” [67]  coined almost three decades ago by Silvio      Funtowicz[68]  and Jerome Ravetz. They were referring to the challenge of science in an age of mounting and scalable risks due to technology. At stake were situations that scientific authority could not govern because outside the low-stakes “normal science” practiced in the uncertainty [69] of [70] the lab according to a peer-review protocol, but also outside professional practice performed with established methods and regulations. That is where “postnormal science,” which deals with global phenomena like pandemics, nuclear energy, or environmental crisis operates, a science where uncertainty turns into out-and-out ignorance and the stakes in decisions are vast. Data becomes soft and value hard. Since there is no normal, there is a science of the postnormal[71] . «We have no way to know reality, truth, or what scientific decisions to make,” says Funtowicz. “We must rather decide, along with governments, our propose, why we do what we do. New methods must be developed for making our ignorance usable[72] .» The time has come to open up the game, to extend review from scientist-peers to the community, to come up with flexible contingency plans and test them out. Climate, energy, and health crises will undoubtedly be on the rise, and sciences and experts alone are not up to the challenges they pose. But isn’t that extended community of peers a risk in these times of tribalized opinions? A lot has happened since Ravetz and Funtowicz wrote what they wrote, and today the post-normal exists alongside post-truth. A new institutional design is needed to operate in complex situations, a design capable of mapping and encompassing the interests at play while also producing what is required to make a rational policy decision.

Hyperobjects, glocalization, and the postnormal seem to be the coordinates of what we call the Anthropocene—and that is where the experience of m7red has something to tell us. Its map of networks ties the local to the global and human objects to nonhuman objects. Its counter-expertise democratizes approaches to complex social problems. Its recursion [73] helps us to visualize chaotic situations and to administer precarity through accessible technologies. These are practices that adapt to the local conditions of the postnormal while opening up a horizon of new networks, a new community. 

Any of the recent proposals to redesign the relationship between human communities and their environment—from Yuk Hui’s cosmotechnics to Benjamin [74] Bratton’s terraforming—will require a survey not only of local data but also of voices and interests. Neither today’s institutions, which still draw inspiration from a Westphalian model, nor traditional sociological paradigms are capable of performing that survey. We will need many territorial cybernetics like m7red’s. And the institutional precarity, economic scarcity, and constant threat of social collapse characteristic of “exceptional” cases on the periphery are, in fact, the distinctive traits of the global Anthropocene, as the effect of Covid around the world is making clear. Local experience in all that might enable us to confront the ever-expanding postnormal with a battery of concepts, practices, and institutions[75]  prepared to advance with non-structural measures, maps of risks, and contingency plans.

Alejandro Galliano is a journalist with a degree in history. He teaches in the History and Communication Science Departments of the Universidad de Buenos Aires. He was a coeditor of the online political and cultural magazine Panamá. He is a regular contributor of cultural criticism and political analysis to the newspaper La Vanguardia and to the magazines Crisis, Playboy, and the Nueva Revista Socialista. He published Los dueños del futuro. Vida y obra, secretos y mentiras de los empresarios del siglo XXI (coauthor Hernán Vanoli, Planeta press, Buenos Aires, 2017).

For other texts of his authorship, see café de las ciudades, and the introduction to the book[76]   ¿Por qué el capitalismo puede soñar y nosotros no?, a brief handbook of leftist ideas to envision the future[77] .

On m7red, see Comentario a Para-formal – Ecologías urbanas. Una exploración colectiva sobre la compleja transformación del territorio by Marcelo Corti in issue 104 of this publication[78] .

[1] Stengers, In Catastrophic Times. Resisting the Coming Barbarism.

[2] Morton, Hiperobjetos, Adriana Hidalgo.