Both the phenomenal expansion of the public sphere through the Internet and the growing dependence of all aspects of everyday life on virtual communications have led to an unforeseen increase in transparency. Unforeseen, at least in part, because users of the medium usually know very little about how their behaviour on the major platforms – put at their disposal, ostensibly free of charge, by “bestowing capitalism” (Alexander Kojève) – is automatically and statistically monitored in various ways to produce Big Data. In turn, many prod-users promote transparency as their own rallying cry and Holy Grail. In their eyes, it promises grassroots autonomy, a critical twenty-first-century public sphere and the dawn of a new, more democratic era. Such “Digital Democracy” also increasingly demands that this new public sphere be constantly used – to express opinions, sign e-petitions, blog, comment, and post or support a cause with a single click. But are these predominantly pseudo-activities? Diversionary tactics? How does a desire for absolute transparency relate to the dictates of constant communication and social or political participation? Ought not the ethics of our time lead us to avoid hasty conclusions and closure – be this the imperative “Transparency!” or “Act now!” – and to devote time instead to understanding and reflection? For the latter are quite possibly the key to self-determined action and collective forms of expression.
Manfred Schneider was born in 1944 in Gliwice, studied German, French and Philosophy in Freiburg, then taught there and in Essen before accepting a Chair in “New German Literature, Aesthetics and Media” at the Ruhr-University Bochum, in 1999. Publications inter alia: The Barbarian. The Apocalyptic Mood and Cultural Recycling and The Assassination: A Critique of Paranoid Reason.
Andreas L. Hofbauer is a philosopher, psycho-historian, and author, who in various books and numerous essays recurrently addresses socio-economic aspects of political science. He is co-editor of Schriften zur Verkehrswissenschaft. He has translated several books by Jason Schwartz, Momus, Jeremy Bentham as well as work by Thomas De Quincey, Marshall Sahlins, Tom McCarthy, and Slavoj Žižek, inter alia.
Mark Fischer is a writer, blogger (k-punk), lecturer, author of “Capitalist Realism”.