Manuel Castells: Power and counter-power in the digital society

Welcome to a special night at Kino International. We are happy you
made it through the rain and the cold to make sense of the digital society it’s a
night to listen it’s a night to think about the world we live in to be more
precise the digital world we live in and it’s a night to talk about it so by the
way hashtag digital society and we’re going to do all three things tonight I’m
Miriam I’m nice to meet you although I can’t see you very clearly and I’ll be
the moderator for the next two hours this night is not a singular event but
it’s a whole starting point for a series that will take place over the year 2018
and it’s a series that is hosted by two institutions one comes from the side of
scientific research and the other one tackles citizenship education so as a
first start for tonight we’ll have a short introduction talk for the lecture
and for the series by our two hosts so please welcome with me mrs. Hoffman and
mrs. Kareena on stage so these are the people sitting on the
couch and watching us via livestream so we just say hi for a moment
who are these two ladies this is Jeanette Hoffmann
she is research director at the hick the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for
Internet and Society short the humble Institute and this one is PETA greener
head of the event department at B P B which means bonus and challah for
possible young as many of you know and an English I learned a new expression
that’s the German federal agency for civic education thanks for being here
mrs. Hoffman let’s start with you because I think you are the reason we
are here tonight because you had the idea for the series and for the lecture
to put it in simple words how come what inspired or perhaps bothered you yeah
thank you very much I’ve been doing research on Internet related issues for
quite some time it’s about to stop focusing just on single issues and try
to draw a broader picture of the social transformations of our modern societies
and I also thought this idea of generating a broader picture should be
both historically and theoretically grounded and not just consist of
anecdotes so my idea was that we need to invite great thinkers and I also wanted
to put an emphasis on European thinkers and there is a reason for that as well
most of the works we see on this issue of Internet in society and its
transformation actually come from the origins of the technology the US the
especially the US has put a lot of money into research
on the process of digitalization and my wish would be that we also cultivate
European perspectives and sort of build on our European research traditions and
then finally I wanted to create a public discourse that not only involves
academics but also the broader public and that’s why I’m so glad that we
convinced the Bundys centolla to help us doing that and you’re here tonight from
the Winston trailer from the BPP she just mentioned mrs. Hoffman just
mentioned the broader picture too not to have anecdotes but to know what it’s all
about to see the big picture do you feel the people you address like ordinary
people citizens like you and me do you feel like a need for that or is everyone
just happy with smartphone in hand and social media accounts online
well it depends a bit on who we are talking about because we have a quite
broad range of what we call what we call target groups but what we what we
observe during during the last year’s is that there is a lot of in the
traditional the traditional community of multipliers of civic education on one
hand there like for example teachers there is a lot of interest in more less
pragmatic questions so how can they use digital media it in school how can they
teach certain aspects of media literacy and but on the same time there’s also a
quite huge interest in these fundamental questions that will be raised during
during this lecture but this always let’s that’s how what we observe is it
always goes hand in hand with a mere rejection of anything that has to do
with digital society and well I or my institution we are not sure whether it’s
where this leads to if you have this attitude doesn’t it prevent
to also discover good potential of digitalization doesn’t it prevent to
think deeper and to analyze how we can how we can shape how we could how we can
find the right prerequisites to participate and influence the way that
the developments will take and this is a very very this is a very very
fundamental question for our organization so it’s it’s one of the
core topics and one of the cross-cutting topics that we are going to tackle next
year so it was a brilliant coincident that Jeannette approached us for
cooperation and it seems they’re quite a good match because you were talking
about the big picture the discourse and you talked about like breaking it down
being pragmatic and and making sense out of it ok let’s talk about expectations
what do you wish to achieve with the series one of my big issues is the
question of agency meaning who actually drives this process of transformation
very often when we listen to the public discourse it seems to be that the
technology is nearly an autonomous force and I don’t think that it’s an adequate
way of looking at the change we are seeing so we need to get a better
understanding of the interaction between society and what we see as
digitalization how we actually acquire new technologies what kind of
projections predictions we develop etc so what I want to achieve is that we
sort of sharpen our view of what’s going on and educate ourselves ok what is the
best that could happen tonight mrs. green what’s the best the best that
could happen tonight is that this would be that this would be a start to broaden
the platform of discussion on the topics that have just been mentioned by
imaginative men because what what we observe is that the discussion about all
this implication on society and politics of digitalization is discussed
in more or less closed closed circles of experts in the academic world and I
think it’s it’s the right time to open the platform for the debate and well
let’s be blunt I don’t I don’t think that we have a representative the
representation of all the population in Germany here but at least we started to
mix the communities of ppb and the CIM and the communities of the Institute and
this might be this might be quite quite fruitful this might raise
cross-fertilization of discourses and over the year we will take up some of
the of the topics of the series of lectures and to break it down and to
make it digestible for ordinary citizens let’s look at tonight’s guest because I
think that the opening night like sets a tone for the whole series why did you
choose Manuel Castells first of all he’s certainly the most
suitable person to invite as an opening lecture because he was actually the
first one was a social science background who preach the significance
of the changes to come he started publishing his trilogy of the
Information Age already in the mid 90s that was at a time when perhaps most of
the people here in the room didn’t even know what the internet is so I thought
he would be the best person to approach and then I sent him an email and I
couldn’t believe it he answered within a few minutes and said yes he would come I
feel I mean I was nearly shocked and thought this must be a ghost it can’t be
him but he did decide to come because he also liked this idea of developing a
European perspective ok so it was a brilliant idea thank you for having it
and thank you for sharing it with us and obviously 500 400 people
came tonight to hear him and to start the series thank you very much so how do
we proceed from here we’ll first listen to Manuel Costello and his lecture and
then afterwards we can have a talk with him and since it’s a talk about digital
society we use a digital tool so you can participate in it the only thing you
need for that is your smartphone where you can type in the questions you have
during the talk I’ll explain later on how it works it’s not complicated at all
and so we will be able to have a conversation with a lot of people in the
room so when we announced that Monroe Castel is tonight’s guest the
registration numbers jumped in too high it’s unknown before so we guess that you
know who is here so my introduction to him is quite brief Senora señoras please
welcome with me influential sociologist professor emeritus at Berkeley author of
the information etiology manuel castells bienvenido Thank You Miriam and I would like first
of all to thank the humbled Institute for internet society and the federal
agency for civic education for their kind invitation that allowed me to be
here with you tonight to change a number of ideas about my the research that had
been conducting in the last five six years and I really want to thank all of
you for your interest and presence here through the cold night of Berlin and I
like particularly to be here with you tonight and I can tell you that it’s the
secret but why I answer immediately to Janette I have a deep appreciation for
Berlin in many ways it’s among other things now Berlin is widely considered
one of the key nodes in in intellectual cultural political innovation in Europe
and this is acknowledged and this is one testimony to human resilience and to the
ability to overcome the mysteries of wars and States and bureaucracies to
ultimately have describing culture in every aspect to relax before the lecture
I spend significant part of the night yesterday night at the Berliner Republic
cafe which as you know is open until 5:00 a.m. and and that confirmed my
impressions of Berlin I had been several times the but I had not been in the last
eight years so the words about the about time to come back
of course my most significant experience in Berlin many years ago came to Berlin
even at the time and which was a divided
Berlin but of course meant the most significant experience in Berlin was in
the early 1990 when the moment we still the CDR was there but they it was
possible to cross the wall and with a small group of friends both Russian and
German we crossed the wall like seven times in a row to make sure that that
was possible and that would seem to be unthinkable was starting to create a
wall that would unite rather than separate and I was very moved by that
experience and since then on I have been coming regularly I presented in Berlin
the German version of my trilogy on the formation age a few years ago and that
continues to be a part emotional part intellectual interest to be somewhat a
little bit part of your society as as you know I are some people know I spent
much of my intellectual life in Berkeley but now in Los Angeles but still I spend
more or less half of my time in Europe mainly in my Barcelona but also going to
other places in Europe to feel the vitality of this cultural interaction my
lecture tonight will be relating thank you you know the only technology that
never worked with a sound technology in the lectures
sometimes I decide to just throw away the micro and pick myself since I in my
young age I was a actor in theater very close to sociologists and and then I
speak with my own voice Adam I am I trust German technology so now I’m going
to speak with some detail from here so they the topic of my lecture today to
some extent is for me for me the most important topic of the research he had
been doing for quite a while as some of this is in my book communication power
but throughout the last say six to seven years this has been my obsession because
power relationships are the foundational relationships of society this has been
my lamb motif throughout my entire career power why because those who are
empowered determine shape the institutions and the norms that regulate
our lives so in that sense power relationships are the foundational
relations of society are the DNA of societies however wherever the
interesting thing is that wherever there is power there is always counter power
and in that sense my analysis is not an analysis of domination in the classic
tradition of social sciences is always an analysis of domination counter
domination power relationships and resistance to this power and the ability
and the possibility for people whose values and interests are excluded from
the institutions of society to voice their dissent and to attempt as a
of the institutions that construct society and in fact our historical
experience then and now is always determined by the interaction between
power and control power a relentless interaction there is no social peace
sorry he’s an endless constant interaction
between the attempt to impose interest from destitution and the attempt to
change the institution democratically or through different means to be able to to
introduce new values and new interests in distributions of society and
therefore the problem that power has always been largely exercised through
two main means and this is also the way Power has been conceptualized in the
social sciences tradition there are many forms of power but fundamentally there
are two major processes institutions of power coercive power persuasive power
power over the bodies the power over the minds meaning on the one hand power in
the Max Weber tradition has the monopoly of violet but violence by the state well
I say the monopoly the monopoly of violence legitimate or not over the
state that’s that really what has been considered the main form of power but
always has been another form of power given that is the capacity of shape
Minds to elicit the consensus of the subjects by the action of different
centers of power in society or at least the resignation of the subjects that
that’s the way it is and we cannot do much
this is a fundamental process of power which goes long tradition in the social
sciences Foucault but also to some extent the notion of glam see about the
hegemony in society that was related to this capacity to shape minds to shape
the way we think however again this both coercive power and persuasive power can
be resisted and even assisted and people react against the their inability to to
be able to go into the discourse and into the debate and in ways that they
are protagonists of the debate and that they reshaped the debate and again so
there is power and under powerless coercive power and persuasive power in
both cases and in both cases but particularly in persuasive power all
depends on information and communication information on communication had been
the critical tools of power and the critical tools of counter power
throughout history why because it through communication people are
connected so if the process of communication is controlled by those who
are in power then the signals that people receive in their brains comes
from a system of values interests symbols that are adapted to what the
powerful think or would like that people think about themselves and vice versa
the only way to change is when people who do not agree do not accept the
social order communicate with other people who have similar attitudes and
similar experience to in my language to reprogram the process of communica
in terms of their own interest and again this communication system this
information retrieval system never ends and is in a constant dialectical
relationship however information and communication are the key factors in the
accumulation and distribution of wealth and power in society and the Ishrat
history and the actual processes that determine information on communication
largely depend on specific technological paradigms meaning communication is very
different depending on the communication technologies and information
technologies of each time could be the printing press could be the church
discourses from the church authorities but throughout history the distribution
of pamphlets has been essential in in any kind of of revolution so in other
words the way we think doesn’t depend only on ourselves or some abstract
culture in which in the metaphysical and the way we think depends on the signals
that we receive from others so the connection between our neural networks
and the communication networks on which any social activity is based now and in
that sense technology does not determine but is an essential medium of
organization communication and the interaction between our neural networks
on the basis of communication networks the fundamental transformation of our
time is the advent of ubiquitous digital communication and information networks anyway the student of mine German
actually Martin Hilbert and economies finished his dissertation with me in
Samuel is 2010 and published his summary of his dissertation in the journal
Science which is consider a standard of scientific research
and he this addition was for the first time he calculated they the entire
information existing in the planet and the platforms in which and countries and
institutions in which this information was processed
he showed that 92 percent of all the information in the planet mister
measuring in in bytes 92 percent was already digitized now the
proportion is about 95 96 percent so we live in a planet in Whitley and almost
entirely information is digitized which allows therefore two things allows the
existence of a common language of communication between different sets of
information and second allies allows the ability of processing information
digital technologies to recombine to exchange to move at high speed in terms
of volume and complexity the communication process and how this is
transmitted well the other that just give me it’s not really datas
illustration is reminding you where we are in in our society they currently
this of this 90 to 96 percent of digitized information the overwhelming
proportion is accessible by internet and wireless networks of communication we
have today four billion Internet users in the world on a planet of seven point
five and we have seven billion seven billion a planet or seven point five
wireless communication numbers not devices not phones subscribers meaning
numbers where you can go its cluding children under the age of three although
probably this is coming the moment which they have also their personal wireless
number that means that we have a planet which is entirely connected of course
with different technologies different capacities and particularly different
culture and educational capacities to use this communication but we are
connected and in addition we already have at this point fifty percent of the
adult population of the world has a smartphone that is a computer in a
wireless device so in this new environment a number of things are
happening that deeply affect the institutions of power making and wealth
making and here we have to remind which are still the fundamental logics of
these institutions institutions in general in society are organized around
the state and productivity and the source of wealth in our societies is
organized around capital state and capital are still the cornerstones of
our social organization so they still dominate anything that happens even in
the new technological environment although one of the critical matters
about the Internet is that the users of the Internet have shaped the actual
technologies and content of the Internet use throughout their history both state
and capital however operate in a given technological environment and our
societies that is the digitization of everything States seek to establish and
maintain power capital seeks to increase profits this has not changed power is by
taine buy destitution or control of communication either government or media
control by big corporations the maintenance of power required extensive
surveillance for competition with other states and for keeping order internally
while capital expansion depends on the real relentless capacity of commodifying
everything transforming everything in the commodity that can be bought and
sold and again in both processes informational communication meaning
digital communication in our society are essential indeed the internet was
characterized and it is as a technology of freedom of free communication and it
is a technology of free communication because simply because those who decide
the internet technologies in the 1960s 70s deliberately tried to have to design
a technology that would be difficult to control is one of the greatest paradoxes
of internet history that even if the program that led to internet was
financed by DARPA the Defense Department of the United States research agency
they actually was not intended as a military use by any means was actually
funding computer scientists working in designing new forms of computer
communication and at the beginning they really didn’t know what to use for they
mainly they try to use it for using the capacity spare capacity of computers to
increase time that they could use the computer so by sharing the capacity of
either computers but very very soon they’d arrive to our other uses and the
most important first he may lists that are developed by the computer scientists
mainly in the US the campus’s was about sharing science fiction
movies and Nobles and the way to buy weed everywhere this this is the source
of internet collaboration they however through that these technologies and
that’s the critical point technologies of freedom are only as free as they are
used for freedom but the fundamental transformation is that all communication
became digitized and interconnected and created this the basis for massive
global digital surveillance which is the most important expression of power in
our society digital surveillance is comprehensive in an entirely integrated
digital environment it what we call the digital exhaust the digital exhaust
means that all the information is connected and therefore can be treated
as a system the key issue is connecting credit cards phone calls computer
activity search history ID numbers financial transactions email
communication social networking sites and all the interaction the social
networking sighs because there’s the possibility of connecting everything
with everything there is also the possibility of surveilling retrieving
information and organizing this information in the interest of those who
serve a so what has emerged particular in the last decade is what I call a
global surveillance bureaucracy that whose major Kuantan lead took place
after the 9/11 bombing of New York because that created the basis for
funding and legal support in the United States and then throughout the world of
extraordinary powers given to the surveillance agencies particularly in
the United States they say the National Security Agency but all
major countries have strengthened the power of surveillance of their own
agencies GCHQ in in the United Kingdom it’s it is probably the most
sophisticated surveillance agency and the be the end agency in Germany is also
powerful surveillance agency and they are all connected that imported thing
they are all connected with France and Israel etc they are all connected and
the connection is extremely important because legislation in some cases forbid
and surveillance agency to spy citizens of their own country so what they do is
very simple and this is real life not not just examples
the French spied the Germans the Germans is by the French and then they exchange
information so that’s the most direct and important expression of the logic of
power in the digital age is the cause the formation of of a fundamental a
panopticon of extraordinary proportions in which everything is known by
governments with very little judicial control in fact at the same time there
is a different process that comes not from the state but from capital and the
logic of profit which is the commodification of information whose
most important effect is transforming consumers of communication meaning
everybody into data we are all data that become and these data are key
commodities these data are at the basis of the business model of all the major
Internet companies Google and others in the sense that
as they say in Silicon Valley you are not paying for the service you are
paying with your data you are the currency and this goes into advertising
goes into political manipulation goes into everything but the most important
thing is to retrieve the information for from everybody and here is certain
paradox but is a very important one a defining one because communication is
free communication free in the sense that people can communicate with
everybody because of that there has been a massive decentralization of
communication at the same time there is a massive concentration of information
meaning all the major companies as well as government’s concentrate information
from what from the Pratt the massive practice of people communicating with
everything and with everybody on a daily basis so because we actually communicate
everything the information retrieval agencies can pick up all our information
without any problem precisely precisely because we are a highly communicative
society at the same time there is a high level of monopoly of information both by
the state and by private companies yes we have the notion that we have the
rights protecting rights in terms of digital privacy well as you know it
Scott McNealy the founder and CEO of Sun Microsystems in 1999 already issued the
famous statement privacy in the digital age
get over it there’s absolutely no privacy yes companies have privacy
policies written google has a privacy policy please go to the google website
and read what is the privacy policy of google i can tell you the only
information this is citing the only information
Google reserves the right to obtain and process from its uses is the only one
name address location email phone number critical number search history browsing
habits purchases and selected content of emails other than that privacy respected
this is the official privacy policy I am NOT being the magazine and trying to be
analytical always so now we are moving into the direction of a new form of
total networking and digitization what is called in the pop culture the
Internet of Things meaning that what is connected increasingly is machines
connecting machines with machine connecting objects and creating a hybrid
network in which we are connecting among humans but each one of the humans are
connected with objects and these objects are connected among themselves and the
machines of different companies are organizing the connection according to
their programs certainly their programs are ultimately programmed by humans but
at the same time the logic of this connection follows certain protocols
certain algorithm that the key algorithmic ASUS both for the
government’s and for cameras are secret and this algorithm such as the ability
of a given network to reprogram itself constantly according to some meta
program to make it more efficient more comprehensive and faster so we are not
that we are moving this is not science fiction I never do science fiction what
I what I what it is is we already are in a world of not billions but trillions of
networks that all of them are programmed outside control and all of them
ultimately have their own logic which is partly taken partly technological and
partly linked to the interest of the state and not a large internet companies
now the state and companies interact through all kind of technological
economic and institutional corporations they have the companies have contracts
for these surveillance agencies the surveillant agencies make favors to the
companies but this is not exactly the same logic in fact during the key moment
in which the National Security Agency was given all power to do everything
they wanted there was they technologically they were not very
advanced particularly they were not able to break some of the encryption
procedures so they actually got most of the technology from the private sector
and participates from Google from Apple from Facebook and the companies that
originally were developing the new communication technologies but at the
same time there are some important contradictions because they if consumers
start panicking about the total like lack of privacy then they could try to
protect the information through the one procedure that companies fear the most
encryption and control by them the battle over encryption is a
fundamental battle because is ultimately the only way in which we could protect
ourselves and the ability the diffusion massive diffusion of encryption capacity
which the technology would be common but the actual code of each encrypted
message would be different and controlled by the user this is what
panas governments and word panics companies now companies fear that if
they push too much in the logic of controlling and providing
information of every one of us to government then the backlash could wring
their business model that remember their business model is our voluntary delivery
of our lives transformed into data for this data to be sold and organized in
the entire commercial world so that we can be targeted as consumers we can
predict it and so behavior you go to some place to a restaurant they will
know exactly you are supposed culinary tastes the same thing with books the
same thing with travel the same thing with everything that’s why companies
Amazon others provides you with a list of the things that you are supposed to
do because you have done in the past so you become a linear program trajectory
in which you are the reflection of yourself the rest of your life and every
is a very flexible programming so you change habits well this is also goes
into the program and you are guided in the new direction so the logic of power
is not the same thing not the logic of commodity in title
because the logic of power as the head of the National Security Agency of the
United States said well you know to find indications of a terrorist activity is
in the in the wall at large is like finding a needle in a haystack so to do
that I need the entire haystack meaning the entire set of information everywhere
and then the programs can work but this is the logic of power again is not a
logic of commercialization and commodity so there are contradictions and even in
some cases companies like Apple have resisted in other cases Mark Zuckerberg
has led a movement to stop the government of forcing the transmission
of data and in other cases companies simply
played this game of resisting and cooperating depending on moment so it’s
a complex logic it’s an interactive logic it’s not the same there are two
different logics but the two logics together control the entire information
system on which our life depends which are the consequences of this well first
of all democracy is threatened by comprehensive surveillance because there
is a symmetry between the surveillance and the survey meaning state and
companies have access to information to the uses of information to the users
information and the uses don’t so it’s one fundamental difference in asymmetry
in in our society privacy is of course obliterated by the communication of data
without consent so this analysis and this logic apparently moves toward the
so called Orwellian universe of Big Brother controlling everything
fortunately things in history and our society as well are more complicated
because people have the will under capacity and even needed are not
technology they have a passion for their freedom in general terms and
institutions of society are not one-dimensional institutions they are
the result of historical struggles between control and resistance to
control so wherever there is surveillance and where there is
breaching of privacy there is also counter surveillance and the defense of
privacy operating along various lines of action such as there are there is there
are a number of legal regulations depending on the institutions political
judicial institutions for instance there is more protection in the European Union
than in by far let alone in China however state
both state and capital tend to counter the autonomy of these institutions these
unstable violence depends on policy choices and ultimately there is in the
case of government there’s always one key argument national emergency security
in a world threatened by terrorist in a world in which the powers of governments
are constantly increased there is always the possibility to activate some
legislation which goes to through the judicial authority like FISA in the
United States with to obtain permission and with the judicial permission then
they can operate legally with total control of information how this works
very easy FISA has a number of judges and I could tell something similar about
your number of judges which are created by fission judges that are principled
independent judges but statistically speaking no one single decision by the
National Security Agency has been reversed by a FISA judge not one in the
last 20 years that the institution existed so national security and
emergency had become the cover of every attempt to curtail the liberty and
privacy that democratic societies in principle have but again they are still
a number of judicial and legal protections that limit the power of
surveillance also technologies of privacy protection encryption and others
which hackers continue to develop every day as a way to resist
they control the monopoly of information there are also a number of activities by
legal social activism number of organizations such as the Electronic
Frontier Foundation and Greenpeace and others that try to show the limits of
the surveillance power for instance Greenpeace was able to detect the
location of the repository of data of clandestine data by the National
Security Agency in a remote area of Bluffdale Utah and then flew a blimp
over the repository Greenpeace blimp with an arrow saying here is the earth
the data of the illegal spying which of course created a whole uproar in other
words and the Electronic Frontier Foundation files constant lawsuits
against the United States the same thing in the European Union I multiple actions
in as well as in the UK multiple actions of legal defense against the system hackers have developed all kind of
technology networks to protect free communication and freedom of information
in these particular countries for instance the network was constructed
originally from Sweden but later explanatory pices two countries tor
The Onion Router that for instance was able to maintain internet working partly
in Egypt in 2011 during the time Egypt canceled internet or tried to cancel the
internet for five days until they gave up because they were not able to then a
very important activity of the whistleblowers like Snowden and others
now then is only the last one that there were many others
within the security agencies of the United States and of the European Union
people who out of principle the site that they have to denounce what’s going
on it’s now then what happened with him is that he knew what happened to those
who were whistleblowers before him who were literally damaged for life in terms
of persecution in terms of confiscation of their goods of their homes order
everything they were written for ever so he prepared his exit way in advance to
start his activities of collecting data about what the NSA was doing as part of
a heroic mission to respond to this kind of activity against the principles of
the American democracy of course he ended up in a Moscow suburb so everybody
has concluded that he said was the rationale spy from the beginning was not
such he tried to do something else he tried to ask for political asylum in
some of the democratic regimes in Latin America particularly he was trying to go
to Ecuador but he couldn’t he couldn’t because once he was in Moscow escaping
from Hong Kong every flight in which was suspected that he could be including the
flight the flight of president of Bolivia Evo Morales would be intercepted
over the European airspace to search the plane to detain Snowden so at one point
just simply couldn’t move at all and so he’s still there and I would guess that
at one point the Russian influence starts being significant but was not the
origin of the of his of his resistance and as well as the very controversial
case of but important of WikiLeaks in which they are not the whistleblowers
but they publicize and they distribute throughout the world
the informations of illegal or not public activities from governments and
companies that should be known by the citizens but they are not they are not
so in other words this is to show that the more we go deeply into this system
of systemic surveillance and breaching of liberties and privacy at the same
time in many different ways individuals organizations social actives
technological activists react and create a counter dynamics which is different
moreover there has been the rise today nowadays of what is known as citizen
journalism using surveillance technology to surveil the surveillance and to
surveil those abuses of power from police brutality to financial wrongdoing
this today one of the most important information is that anyone with a cell
phone with a camera meaning all the cell phones practically can surprise some
personality some bureaucrat some politician some leader of the company
anyone doing something wrong or ethically wrong or legally wrong and can
take the picture and upload it immediately and that starts a whole
process of denunciation protest and sometimes legal action this is what
social movement is they do systematically against police brutality
everywhere that’s an incredible instrument of
control that’s why every time that people start talking about well we are
in a terrorist state because all these surveillance comes up on our like yeah
but I can tell you that politicians these days when they do not behave and
many of them don’t they live their lives under
you know they they most of their lives they spend their time making sure that
nobody sees them that nobody knows about the financial deals etcetera etcetera so
is both is both we surveil and we canter surveil all the time and then of course
there is a fundamental change that has taken place in social movements and on
the world with these particular technologies has been the rise of what I
have studied lately of networked social movement that is social movements that
is start outside the traditional political parties and traditional
institutions and that they organized their own connection or the basis of a
spontaneous uprising usually trigger but outrage and not decided by ideology and
then from there they grow into major social movements such as occupied in
number of years of the Spanish 15 of May movement and movements all over the
world in Latin America in Asia even in Africa so social movements of our time
our movement in which the capacity to organize their own communication members
on the basis of their own ideas and their own outrage sharing with others
without necessarily having an organization without having a common
ideology without having a common project these had been completely transformed
thanks to their capacity to use a free communication system to bypass the
traditional controls now as you know me a number of people but usually
traditional media and as well as the politicians of all kind have downplayed
the importance of these movements and well they kept tired they produce
nothing well in my book there was of outrage and and hope I showed a number
of key examples of actual political change and political transformation in
many countries linked to the ripple effects to the second level effects
of this social movement with that do not happen in one day because they are not
violent movements in any way but permit they use the transformation through the
minds of the people so the process is social movements organized themselves on
the basis of horizontal new forms of free communication networks based on the
internet and wireless communication interaction symbolic actions sometimes
is through the internet but mainly is through the combination of Internet and
occupation of urban space and the connection between the two sets of terms
urban network and Internet there was on the basis of this they create what I
call a space of autonomy this space of autonomy is the beginning of the ability
to connect with other people who are equally outraged and at the same time
star deliberation and process to provide alternative projects in society without
going through the same traditional channels of political organization
alright these movements through their action even if they don’t seize power in
the sense of occupying the state what they do is the influence the
transformation of consciousness in the minds of people as has always been the
role of social movement social movement and fundamentally aiming at changing the
values of society as the environmental movement as the feminist movement as the
identity movement of many different kinds so the same thing with this kind
of network social movements through their action the minds of the people
changed and eventually in some cases political changes also happen at the
level of distributions example of this is the transformation of the Spanish
political system through the actions of the parties that resulted from the 15
May movement particularly the so called polymers which and now controls about
20% of the Spanish vote or they most recent example because I like also
to show the examples that happened with some effects after three four five years
after the movement example in the Chilean presidential election in which
the leaders of the student movement of four four years ago now decided to
create a new party because neither the right or the center left respond to
their aspirations and they in the first election they have obtained over twenty
percent of the vote and therefore they are becoming the arbiters of the new
election the new presidential election in Chile and for you to see they had the
leaders of the movement were so young that they could not reach the legal age
to be present so they have to ask a friend a nice woman could you be our
presidential candidate because we cannot even so in other words the connection
goes through communication networks that creates a process of mobilization that
ultimately affects not just the people who are in the movement but the society
at large least in the case of a Spain there were 70 percent of the population
was in agreement with this movement in the case of the United States against
what is considered the failure of the Occupy Wall Street movement it actually
had a significant success and obtained a support of about one-third of the
population in terms of of the support the movement and the hostility only of a
20% of the population they were significant in changing the public
opinion particularly amount the young people of America now when someone would
say well ok so what a nice political effect thump point is the Trump as much
as one can say the mystery of this ignorant sexiest
races had regarding narcissus guy become president the United States has to be
understood as a reaction against the establishment of both the Republicans
and the Democrats that word made possible the election of term but on the
other hand there was also another and anti-establishment candidate in the
Democratic Party that had serious chances and in fact the studies show
that he would have beaten Trump in the general election Bernie Sanders senator
who was part of the Occupy movement literally part being in the cups of the
Occupy movement and therefore taking a huge mobilization among the young people
that was crushed in the process nomination by the bureaucratic apparatus
of the Democratic Party to present in in the most unbelievable mistake in
politics to present the super-stylish one candidate Hillary Clinton financial
establishment and political struggle against the anti-establishment candidate
so even even with that tongue being Isis as seriously as his hearing won the
popular vote by two million but some concentrated his support in key states
where the working class had been hurt by the realization and he was able to do it
but Bernie Sanders both had won in these same states and was actually pushed out
of the race by they own Democratic Party stuntman this is not to go down to this
electron analysis is to show that they were also important effects of the
network social movements in the political system even in the United
States I could go country after country when
there was a movement it doesn’t mean that because there were no movers in in
in our countries when there was a movement that had a significant effect
now these social movements could not have existed without the capacity to
communicate through digital networks of communication absolutely not
could be some protest but they can what they were what they did was possible
because of this new communication technologies problem is of course that
they were able to do so but at the same time they were somewhat prisoner of the
network technologies that existed they communicated through Twitter through
Facebook through Instagram etc however they are very conscious of that and they
have developed a series of new technologies of communication that could
be encrypted and not controlled by for instance Facebook but just in case
toward the future particularly they develop some technology encrypted angle
con n minus one the problem is that very limited works very well in a small
network but not in large number but a number of other experiences and
ultimately all these movements are massively using a different kind of
networking technology telegram that was in developed in Germany by Russian
hackers that emigrated from Russia but work on the possibility of generating
encrypted technologies for the communication of social movements
independent from the other major institutions so Internet ultimately has
become has shown its potential as a space of free expression and
disintermediation of communication control that way the defence of Internet
freedom has become one of the fundamental political battles for the
world because of course Internet in itself cannot be control but it can be
intercepted in many ways and also they those who propose messages that are
anti-establishment in the Internet can be identified for instance in China and
punished however I always say having a studied in death the Chinese system of
control that yes the messenger can be identified and punished and sent to
prison and there are many many many hundreds of Chinese activist in jail
however the message cannot be intercepted the message as such would
have to be intercepted in the entire internet level and this is literally
impossible so if you are the messenger that’s important but if you are the
message you can go on and live and communicate and defuse and in that sense
the net is space of free communication free communication doesn’t mean the kind
of freedom for the uses that we would like in normative terms the tram
movement was very active in organizing network of racist and sexist
mobilizations and the same thing in Germany with a neo-nazi parties an
alternative for Germany etc so the fact the Internet has free communication it
doesn’t mean that this is for the good uses according to each one’s taste if
for whatever happens in society internet is the mirror of society how good or how
bad Society is each one of us that is immediately reflected in the internet so
the key question is not about the if technology is good or bad because it’s
not as the great historian of Technology Marvin Glasper said technology is
neither good or bad neither it is neutral meaning what that is very
important but the defects the effects are undetermined Internet is
use to be and is free communication system but the uses of this freedom are
socially determined social media social networks now are largely taken over the
communication space and largely pushing aside the mass media mass media were not
always reliable were not always diverse system of communication and not always
as truthful as they want to say they are for instance remember the great New York
Times reporting the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq helping to
trigger the world but to a large extent the most important thing now is not the
replacement of one system another but what I call a general cacophony of
information and ideas in the in the social networks the period of post truth
they called now lives are called post truth so every everything is there lies
BOTS that multiply by hundreds and thousands they fake news that are
circulating in the in the Internet and in the social network and we do
something about that yes and no because technologically even if some of the both
programs can be deactivated by fake news is literally impossible to control these
people produce fake news if people pollute the information over the
Internet so the only answer is the ability of educated citizens informed
citizens to actively participate in these exchanges and correct information
and correct ideas according to their experience to the values and to their
interest and I finish the issue is that in a new technological environment which
have tried to show the historical novelty we still have the oldest social
struggle we still have the struggle against the abuses of power from the
state and the exploitation from monopoly companies and this
struggle continues to be and will continue to be in the fence of the
freedom and dignity of the humankind new technologies or the issues all form
of oppression and all new forms of struggle and response to the pressure
thank you for your tears chamomile medium thanks for coming so
it’s time for our talk now and not only between Manuel Castells and me but
between you and him if you would like to tweet that’s for you yeah because I have
my own if you’d like to twitter the hashtag is digital society and if you
would like to participate here or from your couch or sofa or whatever wherever
you are you can use your smartphone if you need the internet right here at
Kenan Tennyson al the password is digital 2017 so you can just open your
browser and go to the website that is down here
manty calm and the next step is that you type it in the code you see there 8 4 7
0 9 4 and with that you should be able to type in a question it’s the same like
intuitive it’s 140 characters so be sure to be precise with your questions and
let’s just try out if it works good question the problem is that we said okay 500
people in a room if we have one microphone it’s a question of power who
gets it you know so we chose to use that tool so
that many people can participate I can tell you one problem there is no escape
in that sense you can counter with your ideas they what the surveillance tries
to impose but this is being recorded okay and and it’s being a stream so we
are in the system they you know we one thing sorry the time the situation but
this is a critical point how I cannot but well it’s very simple
don’t be in Facebook don’t be in Twitter don’t be in any social network at all
don’t be in YouTube don’t don’t be in anything don’t use Google of course
don’t don’t use by do if you are in China don’t don’t use anything and in
addition don’t use credit cards and never give your ID connected to any
electronic transaction that you have and if you do Bitcoin be careful because
Bitcoin also transmits data okay so it’s there no way not to be in the visitors
exhaust is not to confirm to any of the current practice and habits of society
that why is so tricky so we’re not citizens anymore I see that you it’s
working the tool is working we I would like to ask you to just type in shortly
why you’re here you have already typed him some questions let’s just see why
your tonight because mrs. Hoffman for example she said I’m here to have the
bigger picture that’s why I mean my reason for being here so let’s just
check out the tool if it works and riot why you’re here what your reason is to
be here interest is one answer to better understand our society today
is one of the reasons this is the the audience nuts not me and there’s someone
riding master thesis on this course of power on Twitter so it’s a concrete
academic interest I would say okay so let’s go on to the question part so you
can type in your questions now I just put on the next slide so you should be
able to type in your questions and we continue why we’re waiting for the
questions then you send your castells I switch between Spanish and and English
I’m sorry Catalan oh I’m sorry you mentioned that shaping our minds is
where power comes from the ability to shape minds is the fundamental source of
power and you once said that torturing body is it’s less effective than shaping
the minds this is why pure repression won’t last so let’s see where that power
exactly comes from how does it work let’s have a closer look at it well it
can be promoting the main thing is resignation but can be promoting the
idea that your life is better if you simply mold your life what is happening
already and the instructions that that you do if you are a good citizen in the
sense that you just follow the norms and you follow instructions as women or
three generations ago were told by their mothers and grandmothers you have to do
this way up this way or you will not be able to marry and then you’re in trouble
that’s one way or the other which is more and more frequent is what I call
resignation meaning there is no other way and the system in in terms of when
you don’t follow some of the basic rules of society you may end up in very bad
situation in terms of paying your rent going on with your life having a regular
job that determines everything else that happens in life so ultimately since
alternatives to the existing order are not very visible since what used to be
Party politics has become two different versions of the same form of life and
nomination well then people are discouraged in terms of the any
possibility to change their life so they go into the intimate like their private
life they go into try to make my life in a
that at least I have some pleasure of existence with my friends my love my
family my work but only as long as you keep it within in your individual
existence and projects you will not find obstacles if you try for instance what I
we just discussed for instance if you don’t want your life to be known
completely known in every detail you have to become a much that person in
this society imagine that you don’t want to do to pay
with credit cards well because by the way but critical is the most important
element of loss of privacy that we have through your credit card everything is
known because then is connected to everything else so try to try to have a
life without a critical eye I can tell you people who can do it drug
traffickers and professional criminals they don’t use credit cards they pay
cash however they can work in terms of cash
because they are not afraid that someone taking the cash from them in the street
so that’s the critical matter the critical matter is that there are
certain norms of society that you have to abide by these norms or then you will
be marginalized as long as things are okay meaning that you have a life which
is not dramatic then then it’s alright but if you at any moment whether it’s a
financial crisis and economic crisis and job crisis or simply the incapacity to
accept stupidity in your daily life in terms of what happens in the school or
in the office or anywhere at that point any disinfectant behavior becomes
stigmatized and then you start having the series of gestures that poison your
life so you better stay quiet and behave that’s what I mean and that’s how
five his shape in the mind and this is reproduced in the mass media
this is reproduced in the schools this is reproduced in institutions this is
the normalization of life is through all the systems of communication that
ultimately define what is good what is bad what is dangerous what is standard
so one effect of power is resignation is what resignation yeah fundamentally fail
but how can we be active citizens participate have a normal social life
with a credit card and not resignate well the general experience in society
is that people accept resignation as the less evil until they cannot take it
anymore and so that’s why in terms of now talking about some kind of political
neuroscience there are two key emotions that shape human behavior most important
fear most important emotion safe in human behavior is fear we are the most
important one we law we all move for life in terms of fear being afraid of
this of this of this of this fear that nothing but happens to us
that’s one they and the antidote against fear it’s already another muscle which
is not and is known as outrage meaning when you can not take it anymore and
then you explode so that’s why my book is from outrage to hope because then the
third emotion is when you project the different life which is hope so
the sequin is you are afraid and therefore you don’t move you don’t do
anything you accept whatever at one point things are so unbearable that you
explode can be individual can be social can be at the school can be and your job
can be in society at large and then from there this explosion is communicated
through communication networks to others and then what is an individual
experience becomes a social experience through the act of communication and
that that leads to the deliberation of other possibilities which induce hope
which is the potent positive emotion to transcend your current state of life and
this is where social movements come in exactly okay a quick and a very tricky
question from the audience is the internet beneficial for or a
threat to democracy what is the internet beneficial or is it a threat to
democracy internet depends internet depends of what we call democracy
ebuy democracy we call the reproduction of the existing institutions without
deliberation or challenge from the citizens internet ism is a threat to
powers that be in every country you know I have been so many times in commissions
of different governments it is used in the European Union the United Nations
cetera about the Internet policy and the first question the government
representatives as always is how can we control the Internet and when I say
difficult as the cobra’s that try to do it and you cannot is like controlling
electricity internet is the basis of the entire information communication system
in our societies and therefore they are not interested anymore
in doing anything about the Internet in other words governments do not like the
Internet they generally I’m talking in general of course there are exceptions
such as I said but why not because governments are based in the terms in
terms of their power on the capacity to control information on communication and
internet actually removes much of the control of communication from the hands
of government institutions and every time that they they can they use a
protecting national security for instance to curtail
Internet freedom before and for instance in the 1990s with Clinton in the United
States they use they tried to use what everybody has used a child pornography
of course we are all indignant about child pornography so they tried to use
child pornography as a way to develop a number of controls over the Internet
well one of the examples of what I was telling you before but the judicial
protection of freedom in that particular case in the United States the act of
what was called the act of decency in the internet by Clinton a Democrat and
Liberal Democrat it was actually struck down by the federal courts in a sentence
that was quite interesting in terms of the language and the federal court of
appeals canceled the law as an attempt to curtail freedom of expression and
added yes is true that much of the sphere of expression in the Internet is
chaos but citizens have a constitutional right to chaos which i think is an
interesting notion so to a large extent the government’s the largest and
governors would like to divide internet between the useful internet education
business etcetera and the free expression of everything in the internet
which is in the essence of the internet culture and that’s a debate in society
should we be free of communicating even if this creates many uncontrolled
expressions for instance to take clear example sexism that is full of sexist so
should then should cut off the internet well the bad news is that even if we
wanted we cannot there are some critical voices here one says where is the theory
the other one says why didn’t you talk about society about about society
and oh yeah very legitimate and the other one says that these are phenomena
that have been described fifty years ago why do we see no theoretical advancement
why is signs so populist all right so that really very important question well
I talk about society because that’s my job and I’m a social scientist and I try
to understand the procedure of society I’m not a noise I’m trying to study and
I have been trying to study the interaction between new technological
forms and social processes of every kind but about the theory I actually I don’t
do theory I try I try to do research which means understanding real social
processes the world of course we need some theoretical tools but I don’t do
theory for the sake of theory I try to understand and what I need some concepts
I create the concepts or I borrow concepts sometimes and use these
concepts to organize the information that leads to the understanding of a
particular social process many of the theories for instance about social
movements do not really understand what is the novelty of social movements when
it’s based on free network of communication much of what is the
analysis of surveillance relates to all theories of surveillance and
construction of the discourse that do not really interact with the process we
observe now I’m going to make one exception that is Foucault which I do
think that it would be interested if he could see that beyond destitution that
he mentioned as as well other panopticon’s could be could be
experiencing humankind but fundamentally I would say that if you would today I’d
certainly did not use a theory percent but
in my books I developed theory on the basis of my observation and on this
particular topic I had a 600 pages book called
communication power which at the end of the book on the basis of all the
information and analysis Americanized and he produced proposes a theory of
power which I call a network theory of power so I certainly today I did
introduce much of your power although although I implicitly refer to the logic
of neurosis critical in our type of society but to be more blunt I’m a very
non typical social science in that say I don’t think that facts per se explain
anything we have to construct analytical frameworks but simply specific
analytical frameworks to explain something if is possible to relate to
grand theory and to general theory maybe but that not my personal interest my
personal interest is to understand the world as it works because what I would
like is that people and use my analysis to change it let’s talk about power and
encounter power there are some questions here from you one question is would you
suggest that there is a balance between power and counter power as you gave
examples for and another question is does the digital age make counter power
more effective more effective mm-hmm well the balance is always unstable
institutions are what I call crystallized power that is power
relationships that at one point in history were dominant and constructed a
constitution state laws that create the framework for human behavior so power is
is traditionalized these divisions are an expression of power but not only of
power were also stood users as the expression of the resistance to this
power for instance the most typical example
is not just the logic of capital and business interest it’s also the logic of
the working-classes struggles that developed for many decades and
ultimately created the welfare state workers unions workers rights etcetera
is both things at the same time but it never ends every time that there is an
economic crisis the main attempt is to cut down the wages on the with the idea
that this will increase the profits and the economy will work because profit
will be increased so it’s always an unstable matter women rights women
rights again thirty years ago were almost entirely ignored in many many
ways the feminist movement and the women move in general in many countries in
most countries have completely changed the consciousness of women and therefore
the women condition in many ways so this has changed in terms of legislation in
terms of appointments of women to positions of power in terms of what is
taught in the schools in terms of their gender relationship at all levels of
society but at the same time the reaction in many cases is violence
against women which is not prosecuted with too much
energy in many countries and in many instances so it’s constantly is a
constant struggle to reinstate the women rights that we’re Conquer decades ago so
that for me is an example that the situation is never completely stabilized
are we making progress toward more equal rights in every aspect depends depends
on countries depends on issues what was the stigmatization of homosexuals right
to marriage for instance years ago now has been normalized in some societies
but not in many others and the stigma and discrimination continues to work
against homosexuals against transsexuals and in the entire society so again there
is a constant struggle to the fed new frontiers of human rights and at the
same time a constant attempt to establish
instruments of discrimination or pleasure the most important thing in
Europe these days is enough obeah the hatred of people who are different
apparently different in culture or ethnic terms the hatred of people who
try desperately to make a new life in the context of rich affluent Europe well
this is human right which is being denied in practice under the pressure of
certain segments of the population so this struggle never ends there to
question there’s a question in Catalan by the way which I cannot read I’m going
to pass it on to you afterwards to say if you want to change language let’s
change there’s a basically fundamental questions are the non digital citizens
powerless this is one question because we were talking about the 4.5 billion
people being online and the other what what happens to the others and the other
question is what do we have a free choice in a digital world very good
question really well first of all I was talking about regular Internet users in
terms of the now in terms of connectivity I insist that not
necessarily through internet but in terms of connectivity everybody is at
this point everybody with some exceptions is connected if we have 7
billion numbers of mobile phones in practice of which half are so-called
smart phones right they the other thing is in terms of in terms of these uses of
the Internet the big divide is not anymore access or not access the big
divide is because literally at this point the large majority of people have
access to internet and this also is almost saturation in many countries and
those were not connected to their homes like
in many African latin-american countries they’re connected to internet cafes
schools workplaces etc the most important divide in the actual use of
internet business is H is H a large proportion of people who are over 60
let’s say don’t practice the Internet in developing countries in places like
Germany or the United States or England certainly also they are Internet users
but in most cases in the these billions that are still missing most of it is not
linked to lack of possible connectivity is lack is fundamentally age and this is
I always say when I will be gone my generation will be gone will be no
problem of digital divide in terms of internet use it will be a problem of
other problems than access you know one important thing about this is that the
most significant divide is the cultural and educational divide because the
moment we are all connected to the Internet the ability to know what to do
with this connection how to access resources how to use these resources to
develop your own life your own project which is ultimately education this is
what becomes the most important divide so what Internet does it reproduces and
expands the most significant divide that has been all over history education the
level of education determines what people can do or not with Internet and
we have a studies in the schools that show that children from poor families
you introduce internet in the school these children do even worse children of
middle class families with Internet in the school they do
much better why because they have the cultural resources to actually use the
internet for anything they want while the poor children with no background of
Education and their families they ultimately use it for games for playing
without any access not only to education but to a broader exploration of the wall
of information so if the divide is age for example it’s not the axis because
that was that there was one question here that said is the struggle for power
power different and the global north and the global south and by what I listen to
you right now you would say no it’s not no the let’s say the the most important
difference there is in terms of the quality of the connection the quality of
the access not as we used to say in terms of the capacity to access the
internet the grow-out south the large majority of the population has access to
Internet but what quality of access and what to do with this access is what is
different from the highly developed countries in which the education system
allows people to understand and process information you said that education is
the answer and one question here refers to that and the question goes so who
provides the education in principle the schools in every society at the
institutions that provide the education the problem is that schools are still
based on a very old pedagogy not only technology pedagogy in which are
determined on the basis of the authority of the teacher and the programs that are
marked by educational bureaucracies rather than by the geography that
internet would allow which is the ability for children to develop their
own ideas and their own explorations guided and supported by the teachers and
and the issue is that the freedom of exploration
is not part of most of the programs of the educational system but that is where
the problem is we did in Catalonia we did a comprehensive study all the
primary and secondary schools and what we found is that the school system was
such that teachers at home would use the Internet children at home would use the
Internet but not in the school because it was not
part not only the technical part but the the use of Internet in the school was
not made possible by the type of organization both institutional and
intellectual in terms of the content of the other programs I have a very simple
question we’re talking about power and counter power social movements
negotiation negotiating power so what is it that keeps us as a social and digital
society together what is the kind of glue between us in a digital age Oh
simple question they fundamentally the sharing of values the sharing of values
and the tolerance to share these values in other words if we have different
systems of valuation life different systems between what produces equality
or not in society if we do not agree on some fundamental principles sharing
these principles and making sure that everybody except the idea that are being
translated into practice then there is a breakdown of the basic social solidarity
for instance the European Union is largely disintegrating the most
important thing is that the European Union when everything went all right and
was no major crisis well people accepted some solidarity mechanism let’s
taking the typical example Germans helping Greek but when things are
different when the the issue is that there is costly sources then people who
are not like us don’t deserve support and therefore the mechanism of support
help and solidarity break down well what it’s easy to observe between Germany and
Greece is also within each country within Greece with in Germany when
situation is such that people need support they only they only support
those who they consider to be like themselves and that’s when a major issue
here is that this the rule that could apply to very heavy ethnically socially
homogeneous cohesive societies but it doesn’t work in multicultural multi
class multiracial societies which are most of the European societies nowadays
and therefore they the ability to accept common codes of behavior is being
challenged by the practice of social inequality in Germany is better in that
sense but overall the entire European countries like the United States are
reaching staggering levels of economic and social inequality and therefore this
dilutes social cohesion because of the idea that everybody agrees on some basic
principles is betrayed by the observation that those who have power
and resources have increasingly more power and resources and do not care
about the weaker segments of the population so it’s a process of social
fragmentation which is amplified by the internet and that’s my point
in relation to the internet because if because through the internet everybody
has access to information and has access to what’s happening and can’t debate and
can organize discussions in the social
networks about the reasons for the inequality and the injustice in society
so in a society in which there is consensus internet reinforces consensus
in a society in which there’s increasing inequality and increasing cleavages
between the population and increasing conflict internet amplifies this
conflict and therefore contributes to this integrating social cohesion okay we
have like five minutes left and they’re like 120 questions left so let’s choose
some of them there’s one question about post digital society how could a post
digital society look Mad Max or Blade Runner hmm
I don’t remember the film’s as you well can you repeat how could a post digital
society look and it refers through the two films Mad Max or Blade Runner and I
don’t remember them too well so we can’t we just have to cut all this kind of
reference so what is the poster to the world
like well I don’t I never frankly I never talk about the
future because it’s methodological is impossible seriously but I don’t want to
escape the question in terms of the which is which kind of futures can be
imagined I would not call it post digital because digital is a system of
communication which is there to stay forever will be deeper and more complex
and more extensive forms of digital communication lasts as we cannot say
that what happen in a post electricity society we will have electricity that
manages everything but the issue I think it’s not what it’s about
what which kind of new forms of social existence are being formed well the easy
answer is the new institutions and new forms of social existence
if those that will be constructed and developed by the humans in terms of
their own societies and that ultimately will be determined in terms of power
relationships in terms of who and the negotiations between those who exercise
power and those criticized country power as always has been in history but if we
see now in following this methodology if we see the current connections could we
observe is I mean the more we develop our technological capacity the more we
observe a huge gap between our technological power and our capacity to
live together and our capacity to tolerate each other and our capacity to
correct in justices and to correct inequalities institutionally speaking
and so we are moving we have been moving in the last ten years and we continue to
move toward in an increasingly violent conflicted world among other things
because we are all related in the planet now the so-called globalization is
simply a networking of all the global melrose in every domain of life we are
together but we are separated by religion by ethnicity by institutions by
democratic institutions by class by levels of development and we do not have
the mechanism to negotiate these dramatic conflicts because the
nation-states are defenders of their own interests and not offenders of the
overall interests of humanity and the United Nations has never been anything
else but the expression of the power of the network of the nation-states
themselves so the gap between our technological capacity and our
institutional and moral capacity to manage the problems is increasing and
the worst possible scenario is how to unleash this incredible technological
power for instance transforming human nature
per se and the weak ethical and institutional capacity to move toward a
common well-being rather toward the specific interest of groups who are the
most powerful this is the issue so at the end let’s come back to the focus of
the series which is a European focus and we talked about it in the introduction
in the talk do you think we should develop a specifically European
perspective on digital society and what could it be made of no and frankly I to
start with I don’t think is such a thing as Europe to start saying that’s my
latest book published a week ago is called the crisis of Europe and shows
why the European Union is disintegrating breaks it is only the beginning the idea
of a united Europe of a sharing project review was a wonderful idea that I
always supported as a personal citizen but what we observed is the contrary is
the fracturing of Europe and the inability of Europe to act as one single
entity among other thing because we do not have a common European identity what
has been common in Europe let be serious the only thing common in Europe has been
killing each other for several hundred years including the 20th century that’s
sad observation but so the idea of creating
a European project requires developing a common practice a common practice of
being Europeans we think like share labor market share cultural education
listed users share media systems but the only thing we have common Europe is what
we have with the rest of the world which is precisely the uses of Internet the
European Union that’s hell I mean some what a joint
Internet policy so some forms of economic and technological policy can be
European that that would be the perspective but not the digital society
because the digital society in an extremely diverse social situation as is
the case of Europe has different expression and different forms but
Europe does have some commonality in terms of the Internet related digital
policies which commonality there is a much stronger emphasis on the public
interest than for instance in the United States there is somewhat more protection
of privacy and of citizens rights in Europe so there are a number of things
in the values of Europe which are widely accepted in the population which make it
for a more humane and decent form of entering a new technological age no
question about that and that would be some to some extent the superiority of
Europe over other areas and nations in the world so in that sense a European
perspective is European it is the attempt to have a control of the
technological transformation closer to the values and interest of people’s
lives ok so you’re an optimist and pessimist at
the same time that life we have come to our last part of the evening and this
last part is called the quest and it’s a questionnaire and it will be the same
questionnaire for every guest of the series and of course we hope for
different answers from everyone or no answer or no answer at all that’s
possible as well and short answers of course and this is how it works I start
the sentence and you finish it no I don’t play games it’s it’s science
it’s a questionnaire yeah okay man you made the questionnaire but they can’t
okay we will see if you don’t like the question you don’t answer if you like it
you answer okay no because I don’t like the method you
like the method huh what is your method the make of this would you just express
okay particularly we thought preap with a previous warning hmm yeah that’s what
voting should be some nice twenty any attention later no no that should be in
this petition continuous no I hippies spontaneous the whole evening that’s you
yeah but you are not being spontaneous that is your questions are not a
spontaneous so why should give a spontaneous answers to non spontaneous
questions that’s a good question first with you it’s gonna make better
the game I may ask you the questions and then you respond and then we discover my
god this is like let’s try the first one okay because this is a fun one if I had
the chance to reinvent the internet I would these are problem that’s a
question that they raised for myself or I have never had this place we entering
that the realm of fantasy and power and you have the power to do everything you
want within that question I don’t so okay I’d imagine so thank you sorry
about that because I have great respect for you
of that top gimmicks know that you’re a wonderful person and moderator and
everything but I can have a drink together rather than thanks for this
Christmas Thank You medium for your work we of course want to thank you that oh
yes of course why not we are happy you’re here and we wanted
to give you present from Berlin and since we are not exactly a wine region
and we cannot compete with great Spanish wines this is a leader like foodie
package little things nice things to eat from Berlin and thank you very much for
being here and coming thank you very much for your understanding so you are very much invited to stay
here for a drink and the next chance to get more of the European perspective is
the 30th of January our next guest will be Christophe no Berger a
communicational scientist and professor and we would be very happy to see you
again and right now because we have so many questions left you asked of course
you can stay for a drink outside there at the panorama bar and have a real life
chat with us and with manuel castells thank you very much muchas gracias

3 thoughts on “Manuel Castells: Power and counter-power in the digital society

  1. Can we share this video on our local community TV channels in Humboldt County California, USA?

  2. Did you enjoy Manuel Castells' talk on power and counter-power in the digital society? Be sure to check out our playlist, Making sense of the digital society, for even more discussion on similar topics by clicking here:

    And don't forget to visit to see all upcoming events at the Alexander von Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft!

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