Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Preface to 'The Battle Roar of Silence - Foucault and The Carceral System'

Preface to 'The Battle Roar of Silence - Foucault and The Carceral System' - Meinrad Calleja Faraxa Publishing 

At the end of his ‘Discipline and Punish – The Birth of the Prison’ Foucault alerts ‘in this central and centralised humanity, the effect and instruments of complex power relations, bodies and forces subjected by multiple mechanisms of ‘incarceration’, objects for discourses that are in themselves elements for this strategy, we must hear the distant roar of battle’.[1] This essay is primarily concerned with illustrating the complex power relations and their strategies for the silencing of this roar, as well the political articulation of the roar of silence and its battle for radical freedom.   
            Foucault’s afore-cited text opens with a gruelling description of the torture of Damiens the regicide that occurred in March 1757 as reported in the Gazette d’Amsterdam.[2]  Nearly three centuries later, consumers of ‘statist’ democracies are to some extent still being acquainted with the imagery of inhuman and degrading forms of punishment. The spectacle of people who are publicly beheaded, stoned to death, flogged, have their hands amputated, shot by firing squads, hung from cranes, electrocuted, administered lethal injections, kept in concentration camps, chained, gagged and caged, is widely disseminated. Less spectacular unjust punishment is also perpetuated by governments who claim to champion human rights, promote democracy, set standards of justice, and uphold doctrines of global policing. Guantanamo Bay prison, for example, appears to have been hastily set up for assumed terrorists after the 2001 9/11 attacks on the United States of America. This prison presents globally disseminated imagery of degrading, inhuman, harsh and cruel punishment of offenders who have been arbitrarily detained without recourse to adequate justice.  It is also symbolic of an alliance of regimes deploying unlimited resources to apprehend anyone they label as worthy of punishment, wherever they may be, without any legal constraints. If this is how democratic governments operate, we can begin to imagine how inhumane punishment must be in traditionally despotic jurisdictions.
            To answer the question why unjust and cruel punishment is tolerated, we need to look at some recent historical landmarks that seem to have changed public opinion dramatically, while actually always having existed as a possibility. Since 9/11, consumers of political discourses seem to have experienced a form of anxiety, if not paranoia, that exposed both their vulnerability to assumed transnational terrorism and their impotence in the face of domestic tyranny inflicted by their own immediate political regimes. Again, a domestic tyranny not exclusively restricted to the regimes Westerners traditionally accepted as ‘despotic’ and expect no better of. Now, the label ‘despotic tyranny’ may apply just as appropriately to the seemingly freely-elected ‘democratic’ parliamentary governments.
            The predictable four suicide attacks carried out in the United States of America, including attacks on the New York ‘Twin Towers’ and Washington’s  ‘Pentagon’, shocking, ruthless, and spectacular as they were, followed by attacks on other urban centres elsewhere, spell out a number of obvious conclusions. Far too many political economies are characterised by uneven development, ruthless dictatorships, unequal exchange, lack of basic freedoms, inhuman depravations, and virtually no hope or prospects beyond subsistence. Burning effigies of empire and chanting militant slogans were to be taken to their logical conclusion. The writing had been on the wall for ages. It had been dismissed in a state of denial as mere ‘graffiti’ – an inconvenient fact of life we simply had to put up with given the wide disparities in development and standards of living, and within a context of seemingly unrestricted freedom.
            The images of the ‘Twin Towers’ collapsing amidst shock and panic disseminated in real-time were unprecedented both in their force of violence and in the fact that they were not the act of war of a legitimate state against another. State centric and super-power security was given yet another colossal blow by a group of adherents committed to a contestatory ideology, Islam. Led by a figure of relative humility and deviously innovative courage and determination, Bin Laden appeared to be articulating the battle roars of the disillusioned and disenfranchised irrespective of whether they adhered to the same religious faith. The vulnerability of state security in the West was compounded by the fact that many potential terrorists are willing and able to die for their cause. This required an exponentially greater counter-initiative to both reassure law-abiding citizens and dissuade potential terrorists, while also temporarily silencing the ever-approaching and rapidly intensifying battle roar.
            The unfolding of events also displayed the inherent dangers of Eurocentric ‘democracy’ and statist ‘parliamentarism’, and the myths of freedom and justice that sustain them, particularly the ability of statist interests to recruit consent, or simply by-pass it. In the aftermath of 9/11, Saddam Hussein was incapacitated on false pretences when consumers of discourse were led to believe Iraq had ‘Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction’, which it clearly did not. The initial ‘axis of evil’ singled out by the Americans responsible for harbouring, aiding and abetting international terrorism included North Korea, Iran, Syria and Libya. These were subsequently all given the generous benefit of doubt much to the chagrin of their respective populations. These despotic regimes were not only rehabilitated, but engaged in international dialogue and in some cases allegedly covertly assisted to retain power and eliminate opposition, reportedly using inhuman torture and punishment to quash dissent through ‘rendition’. All forms of potential Islamic militancy had to be swiftly eradicated, giving many totalitarian states a convenient pretext to eliminate all opposition in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’.  This event thus also illustrated that governments can pursue any agenda, no matter how sinister, if they manage to recruit sufficient consent and foist a plausible ‘security’ scenario alarm-card. 
            The subsequent outbursts of sporadic violence generated by the very citizens of so called ‘democratic’ states (in Europe, for example) illustrate that people not only need outlets to vent off their accrued frustrations, but new modes of politics beyond the discourse of representative parliamentary statist democracy. These forms of popular protest are actually the results of ‘democracy’ in real terms as a despotic form of parliamentary governance that reduces participation to mere symbolic representation of indifference and complacency with no real ‘political’ value or any affirmative or secure freedom. However, they also seem to infer that so called ‘democratic’ countries can tolerate and encapsulate a degree of rebellion without any serious challenge to the apparent legitimacy of their institutions.
            The ‘thematic’ of the non-religious protests vary considerably from economic respite to racism or abuse of police power.  The ‘narrative’ within which the contextual features are framed usually portray the protestors as violent hooligans or rebels without a cause. This tends to reduce the intrinsic metapolitical features to their extrinsic socio-economic and cultural mode of expression without ever posing any serious challenge to the mode of production of politics and statist democracy. This singles out the glaring lack of any articulation of a political ‘contestatory’ ideology that can challenge neo-liberalism. The corollary of this seems to infer forceful and affirmative ‘contestatory’ ideologies are only subsumed by the illicit as an act of ‘transgression’ or ‘aggression’. Legal ‘compliance’ infers a harmonisation of the flattened and pacified, even if apparently nuanced, ‘political’ within the exclusive institutional framework of parliamentary democracy or tolerated dynastic oligarchies (that also serve to make parliamentary democracies appear more humane and pluralistic). Thus construed, parliamentary democracy appears to accentuate its ‘consensus’ feature, while intransigently ignoring at its peril the ever approaching battle roars that it manages to silence by divesting of political articulation and encapsulation, but not sufficiently address, quash, extinguish or permanently exterminate. Consensus may appear to simply mean surrendering, even if only partially and temporarily, one’s convictions, while backing one’s convictions appears always more intransigently irrational. The spectre of violent protest is lurking with intent in silence.   
            The accumulated suffering in certain Arab jurisdictions, for example, reached its tipping-point in 2011 after entire regions realised they would not be saved by anyone but themselves. The globally disseminated Jasmine Revolution and the Arab Spring quixotically seemed to offer some degree of temporary gratification. The dramatic and relatively accelerated fall of the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan leadership offered respite, if not hope. Some intermediary dominos were quickly pulled out to save others from also falling. However, as one model of dictatorship reaches its expiry date on the shelves of political discourses, a new model replaces it. The new product, as Chomsky and Kellner have often alerted, may indeed be more subtle and sophisticated in design. There can be no doubt that the Tunisian and Egyptian power shifts were hijacked by ‘internal’ coups secured by the military establishment, subsequently endorsed by popular vote in a form of parliamentary democracy engineered to appease consumers, while also guaranteeing the status quo for the international establishment. The de facto United Nations’ sanctioning of the Libyan regime, and its secured vote to allow NATO military intervention, ensured the West would enjoy all the credit for this supplanting of a former foe turned ally, and again, turned foe. Other despots were tolerated to dissuade further rebellion fuelled by the apparent victories of the ‘popular masses’. The fact that other dictators were not so easily dethroned illustrates the crude reality that popular revolt and social networks have their limits.  
            We seem to have ushered in a ruthless international ‘franchise’ of autocratic despots that care little about human life. The international elite seem to be teaming-up to augment the privileges of a select caste, bound only by their insatiable urge to retain power and pursue profit, while consumers mortgage the future of humanity. This alliance of regimes hides behind a façade of meaningless democratic rhetoric while actually perpetrating and facilitating more violence and injustice than it claims to oppose. In advocating urgent interventions to reduce despotism, it claims to be bound by democratic constraints and international conventions that inhibit efficacious solutions. However, when convenient it simply ignores or by-passes these political and juridical obligations.  Recent events have illustrated clearly that in some cases the international power elite tolerate despotism and violence by default of adequate intervention, (or simply convenient complacency and procrastination), while in yet other scenarios it foists what it would like consumers to believe is forceful intervention. Syria is a clear example.  
            How is punishment configurated in such scenarios? One of the very conditions of possibility of abuse of power is a readiness of brutally enforcing one’s will and defiantly getting away with it. What better way to express such absolute power than through inhuman punishment that cannot be restrained by the international and domestic institutions of democracy. Allegations related to torture in Guantanamo Bay and other allegedly notorious detention centres presumed to exist in covert jurisdictions, for example, continue to feed images of a new ruthless and omnipotent despotism of democracy with allegedly multi-national stockholding. These cabalistic manoeuvres would not be possible without a notion of punishment, indeed arbitrarily enforceable harsh and cruel punishment – ‘tellishment’, lurking in the consciousness of consumers of these political discourses. Indeed, these forms of ‘tellishment’ are actually allocated space (of possibility/ actualisation/as practises) by democracy itself. Western governments and their satellites use the logic of ‘tax-evasion’ or ‘tax-avoidance’ to by-pass human rights issues through the use of customised ‘offshore-punishment’ and ‘offshore-law-enforcement’. In ‘rendition’ this includes torture, and inhuman and degrading punishment, illustrating the difference between the ‘letter’ of the law and its assumed ‘spirit’, which is the very expression of ‘power’. The great loss of human life and lack of fundamental human rights appears to simply be a ‘moral-overhead’ consumers need to rationalise and fatalistically accept as a consequence of potential dangers lurking in their midst. They are rendered plausible to citizens by the very discourse citizens of democracy have consumed, including a plausible ‘blameworthiness’ catalogue and ‘criminogenic’ narrative.
            Punishment is rarely grounded on any consistent moral or ethical values. Quite frankly, punishment seeks to veil an oppressive ideology embedded in law that we repress. These atrocious abuses are possible because the contemporary political culture has initiated consumers of carefully articulated political discourses to be passive observers at the very best, if not totally disinterested, complacent, and apathetic, to all forms of injustice and human rights abuse, of which ‘tellishment’ is one example. The dissemination of hegemonic ideological content through various fonts has created a model of citizenship and indeed an ontological abstraction of humanity that is devoid of active political literacy simply because indoctrinated consumers fatalistically accept the disciplinary boundaries they have been confined within. This essay seeks to explore these dynamics which to some extent are codified and articulated through ‘punishment’ and carceral system discourses that feed this plausibility structuring. 
            The essay is not concerned with any single polity, any particular mode of legal justice, or any specific context or temporalization. While trying to avoid being reductive, I have been obliged to make certain generalisations. Punishment, for example, simply refers to coercive punishment, particularly its actualisation as ‘incarceration’. States and society refer to Euro/ State-centric models based on industrialised democracy – ‘democracy’ that is upheld by institutions, rules, and social practises, that are based on an alleged consensus, usually of a majority, that is tested, usually though not necessarily, through elections, in which consent is recruited through information dissemination relays and exchange, and then takes the form of a representative parliament. An essay about ‘punishment’ is intrinsically linked to the values a group agree upon, the goals of this group, the legitimacy of ‘authority’ they bestow on decision-makers acting on their behalf agreed upon by consensus, the ‘rules’ that they agree ought to regulate the desired behaviour and normative order, and the relations of power and subordination that come into existence or play. Put differently, ‘punishment’ may ensure the preservation of ‘values’, the achievement of ‘goals’, the legitimacy of ‘authority’, the compliance to ‘rules’, and the delineation of ‘power’. It is essential to any mode of state-centric power exchange based on a notion of consensus.    
            Contemporary Euro/ State-centric models of industrialised democracy are governed by a political culture which combines knowledge, information, science, and technology. This political culture imposes forms of vigilance and discipline we are often oblivious to. These ‘strategies’ are upheld by institutions and the social practices they encourage. Consent is recruited through subtle and not so subtle forms of socialisation that shape public opinion and achieve consensus. Multi-national media industries and academia extend their sphere of influence on a global scale. This essay situates these forms of discipline and vigilance within an institutional power structure that is an integral feature of a specific mode of production based upon an ideology of unequal distribution and exchange causing a number of social antagonisms. What is being ‘antagonised’ is actually an unfair or unequal distribution of resources, particularly intangibles like ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’, but also tangible material welfare. This then appears to consumers to be consonant with the contemporary crisis of modernity, a crisis of ‘meaning’, ‘values’, and ‘certainty’. The combination of the lack of access to these resources and constant legitimacy deficits currently being experienced in areas as far apart as ‘welfare’, ‘peace’, ‘environment’, ‘human rights’, ‘civil liberties’, and ‘cultural tolerance’, make this a ‘metapolitical’ project. 
            Punishment is seen as the corrective mechanism to restore legitimacy and order, confer meaning, repress antagonisms, and eliminate negotiation. This buttresses a conception of ‘the social’ understood as a ‘totality’ in which every actor imagines a degree of autonomy and participation in ‘the political culture’, together with a rather simplistic notion of ‘justice’. Punishment appears necessary, beneficial, and above all rational. Contemporary problems like organised crime and international terrorism make ‘punishment’ appear to be an urgent imperative that people need and are prepared to pay a social cost for.
            Punishment is a tool that is used to sustain a particular narrative and deter or repress all forms of subversion and contestation. Its actualisation often justifies coercion as a form of ‘deterrence’, ‘incapacitation’, and ‘rehabilitation’ or ‘reform’. What are also being deterred and incapacitated are all forms of subversion of meaning, and what are also being reformed are the strategies of efficient modes of dominance, discipline, vigilance, and subordination that shape political consensus. The urgency of ‘punishment’ allows notions like ‘governmentality’, ‘encapsulation of conflict’, ‘domestic colonisation’, ‘domestic mission’, and ‘the logic of emergency’ (all of which will be discussed in the text) to pave the way to a ruthless global politics of incarceration.  
            In short, people are pacified, domesticated, and massified into a more manageable and coherent ‘totality’ when they accept coercive punishment without critically assessing its ethical, metapolitical and logical ramifications. They are dissuaded from being seduced by ‘other’ possibilities beyond those suggested by ‘legitimate’ authorities. Punishment has a conservatising effect on people. While the hold of ‘traditional’ institutions like the ‘Nation-state’, ‘family’ and ‘religions’ may have diminished, other contemporary ‘institutions’ attached to ‘knowledge’, ‘science’, ‘technology’, and ‘information’, and the political culture they produce, are adamant that their ‘verities’, ‘certainties’, and ‘meaning’ ought to be dogmatised, when necessary by sustaining coercive punishment. Modern panopticons ensure constant vigilance, but a notion of ‘punishment’ in itself helps achieve a degree of compliance.
            Such a narrative of punishment discourse within a political culture could not be complete without some sort of pseudo-scientific status being conferred on a professional, academic, collegiality of ‘service-providers’ endowed with authority to confer and restore ‘meaning’ through the very knowledge it creates. This collegiality has been designated with the task of justifying or legitimising ‘punishment’, while using punishment to legitimise their authority. Their pseudo-science is assembled by collating allegedly ‘positivist’ data drawn from empirical correspondences as far apart as psychiatry, psychology, sociology, anthropology, physiology, neurology, biology, and the economy, using punishment as their ‘object’. At stake is the reproduction of a caste of sectoral interests who monopolise intervention while enhancing the premium on their own cultural capital. These dominant discourses attempt to sustain a notion of ‘responsibility’ expressed as ‘rationality’, denying ‘determinism’ in favour of an inflated and over-determined ontology. This essay shall critically discuss this ‘hyper-scientization’ and ‘professional impairment’ and will argue in favour of a ‘post-positivist’ approach, dismissing much of the epistemological basis of this knowledge as ideologically value-laden and socially constructed to sustain the despotism of democracy. 
            One question seems to frequently resurrect – why should law-abiding citizens care about those that have chosen to transgress against the law?  Punishment affects those that are never actually exposed to its material concretisation in practise, but are nevertheless exposed to its force through ‘deterrence’. Their ultimate compliance and subordination is an indicator of this efficiency. Thus punishment coerces those that do not transgress or subvert by their very reluctance to refuse consent, repress alternatives, and their mechanistic contribution to social order expressed as ‘democracy’ and actualised by symbolic concessions. How does this impinge on notions of ‘freedom’? Is the notion of ‘freedom’ contradictory, metaphorical, and polysemic? This essay seeks to explore these facets of the production of ‘meaning’.
            This essay is indirectly about phenomena like xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, ethnocentricity, racism, eco-imperialism, war, aggressive economic conquest, and widespread inequality and intolerance, all symptomatic of modernity’s failures. This essay provokes a politically-charged radical critique of the dominant rationality sustaining these prejudices, upheld, albeit partially and indirectly, by punishment discourses. Punishment is often the irrational response to misinformed and misguided policy that in turn feeds other prejudices. The sum total of these strategies feeds a particular configuration of power ‘structured-in-dominance’, while ‘punishment’ is their crude and vulgar expression of subjectivity.
            I feel I am bound to a strictly ‘political’ agenda. This essay seeks to critically reflect on the role of an emancipatory and empowering conception of political participation from a notion or position of ‘metapoltics’ (in line with Badiou’s use of the term) that deters inequality, incapacitates oppression, and reforms political culture to secure radical freedom. The text itself is ironically a result of a perspective transformation brought about by prolonged and intense punishment, systematically punctuated by various human right violations this author suffered. So the corollary of this experience is the thrust of the argumentation and the accompanying choice of bibliography that expresses the formation of this author’s bias. These are in fact the actual sources of solace this author found in the solitude of a prison cell while these injustices were being perpetuated that in turn garnered the energy to see this project through to publication.
            A literature review of the literature cited will establish that this text is predominantly shaped by philosophy. Why philosophy? A philosophy lecturer once told me that she enjoys reading fiction to relax from philosophy; perhaps I read philosophy to relax from fiction! Philosophy can be empowering. It can help those being punished reflect and establish a critique of their reality. This is how this text was initiated.  Authors that have contributed significantly to the formation of this text’s philosophy apart from Foucault (d.1984) include Deleuze (d.1995), Gauattari (d.1992), Baudrillard (d.2007), Lyotard (d.1998), Derrida (d.2004), Althusser (d.1990), Canguilhem (d.1995), Marx (d.1883), Wittgenstein(d.1951), Kant (d.1804), Russel (d.1970), Bourdieu, Laclau, Mouffe, and Badiou.
            This text may appear to be dedicated to Foucault’s ‘Discipline and Punish – The Birth of the Prison’. Indeed, his text was a major influence on the ideas gathered here, however, all his texts contributed significantly. I draw heavily on the works of Foucault, particularly his work on institutions, and primarily his methodologies. I should like to declare my main bias; I have privileged Foucault’s works and believe his work is essential to any critical study of contemporary modes of rationality. Without harbouring any pretensions, this essay is Foucauldian in scope. I attempt to reveal aspects of the irrationality of punishment by critically assessing the dominant modes of rationality sustaining these foundations in a format that relies of an archaeological and genealogical approach to the dissemination and consumption of contemporary discourse. This text specifically deals with the philosophy of Foucault.
            The essay modestly seeks to examine ‘punishment discourses’ as part of a configuration of power, expressed in a specific ‘scientific’ language, within a political culture. Having been exposed to first-hand experience of punishment within this political culture, Foucault helped me along with this project in no uncertain terms. We are all part of this political culture, and we are all exposed to the scrutiny of this scientific language, and dominated by its power-structure. We are both ‘objects’ and ‘subjects’ of this mode of rationality that imposes constraints we may be oblivious to. Foucault raises our awareness to these concerns. 
            By examining the flaws in pseudo-scientific epistemological discourses that shape the rationality of punishment, both philosophical and sociological, I intend exposing the archaic, ephemeral, arbitrary, and subjective nature of punishment rationales. The rationality governing punishment discourse is not as ‘rational’ as it claims. It certainly lacks an intuitive perspective. I shall illustrate that often ‘punishment’ is shaped by mere ‘opinion’; it is a pseudo-science based on conjecture, necessary illusions, constant-conjoins, and logical fictions that together form ‘consensus’. Punishment is merely a passionate response fuelled by emotive instincts whose irrationality is masquerading as ‘public opinion’, ‘common sense’, and ‘collectivity’. It is a form of ‘repression’. It is also an ideological weapon deployed to accommodate contemporary prejudices and institutional ‘functional-imperatives’. It is a defeatist tool deployed to restore legitimacy in crisis. It is a prop in a specific political culture and ‘power-game’. It sustains modern slavery.
            The bottom line is that this text is quite simply about the coercive aspects of punishment many people overlook, deny, repress, or are indifferent towards. People convince themselves they are safe in the knowledge they will never be liable to punishment themselves through their own compliance. They suffer in silence. This essay is primarily focused on illuminating the fact that we are all victims of coercive punishment. I hope the text will serve to enlighten whoever reads it. It may also allow us to hear the battle roar of silence Foucault alerted us to.

Meinrad Calleja, 2012

[1] Foucault, 1991: 308
[2] Foucault, 1991: 3

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


 Aspects of Hijra – Meinrad Calleja

This essay shall discuss the consequences of the Hijra tracing its concrete relevance and symbolic representation. Mohamed’s move from Mecca to Medina will be discussed to highlight how this move was not simply immigration from one zone to another, but was undertaken for both logistic reasons and its symbolic severing of former modes of socio-economic organization, facilitated both culturally and spiritually.
The Quranic verses received in Mecca prior to the Hijra (610-622) emphasize eschatology, prophecy, and omnipotence of god. Mohamed’s preaching was critical of contemporary society based on tribal lineage, polytheism, unscrupulous trade, monopolization of resources (including spiritual, military and political patronage), and moral decadence. Tribal leaders attempted to preempt any social upheavals that could have challenged the status quo. They made no secret of their contempt of Mohamed, organizing his systematic persecution and boycott. This was partially subdued by patronage of Mohamed’s uncle, some important conversions (Abu Hamza, Umar), and his links to dominant tribes. When Abu Talb and Khadija died in 619, Mohamed was faced with the prospect of isolation and further persecution, particularly stemming from Abu Lahab’s quarter. Following some preparatory negotiations with some members in exile, Mohamed moved to Medina in 622.

The Hijra symbolically represents the severing of all ties with Meccan hegemony. This includes assertively cutting the umbilical chord of clan membership dependency, implying a denial of all former social mores, norms or affiliations based on memory institutions and socialization, or the correlative modes of conduct they presuppose. This rupturing entails a forceful challenge to traditional Meccan authority. The subsequent articulation of competitive structures directly seeks to establish Medina suzerainty codified through Islam and the Quran, with Mohamed as a leader. This was not simply inter-tribal conflict for the Islamic ideology Mohamed espoused incorporated wider social bases extended not only to tribal Arabia, but beyond to universal humanity.

Medina symbolizes an end of former tribal apartheid based on resources secured through ascriptive lineage that favoured traditional power elites. The Hijra represents a transition to a more democratic entitlement based on religiously-determined meritocratic principals and assumed equity before one God, the monotheism of which entailed total submission to God. This also annihilated any notion of temporal power based on patronage, specifically Meccan control of sacred symbols, artifacts, or territory, formerly associated with polytheism. While not directly challenging Meccan historically determined territorial significance, even if an intermediary phase did seem to suggest, for example, Jerusalem may have been considered as an alternative to supplant Mecca, and while not explicitly altering the solidity of former belief/ value systems and world views, the Medina ideology did substantially reshape the normative systems, ethos and mores of traditional Arabian society and their socio-political structures.

Resources were allocated more fairly, human ontology was afforded some primacy, a step towards some recognition of a possibility of minor gender equity was attempted, individual existential responsibility was initiated, and legal codes were circumscribed. Private, as opposed to collective, property was re-articulated. Rather than having ‘centrally-planned’ distribution of goods to individuals based on clan membership, Islam now entailed a ‘collective’ contribution system based on eleemosynary welfare (zakat) from and to adherents, while discriminating against non-members divided into people of the book (ahl al katab – jews, Christians and sabians) and pagans who were also expected to submit to their Islamic temporal authority discriminatory taxation. Community based relations were based on a new community of believers. These were apparently radical revolutionary changes.   

The Quranic verses received in Medina, compared to those formerly received in Mecca, see an important thematic shift. Here these texts seem to be primarily concerned with organizing Islamic society as one society (Umma), codifying the legal, moral, and ethical frameworks (Sharia), foundations for a more democratic political participation based on wider consultation (shura), and establishing a corporate ideology based on expansionist ambitions viewing the religious conversion of non-Muslims to Islam as a duty (jihad).

In this respect, referring to the Hijra simply as ‘emigration’ does not assure semantic sufficiency. This move was de facto permanent and irrevocable, in as much as there could be no turning back. Tribalism is based on absolute obedience to traditional authority and is assured against sanctions of exclusion. Any questioning of this authority would cause a serious legitimacy deficit. Membership would also exclude possibility of self-determination, individual actualization, autonomy or independence. All was collective. So rupturing ties with traditional authority also perforce entailed a loss of historically and culturally formatted identity. There was no possibility of returning to Mecca, unless under conditions of humiliating obeisance. This meant that those that defected from Mecca to follow Mohamed to Medina were to be permanently socially excluded and ostracized. This Hijra meant they also had to create a new alternative collective identity to address the psychic and social pressures that no doubt impinged on their emotional welfare. The Medina-inspired Islam supplanted tribal identity and was considered to be the permanent underpinning of all future forms of socio-political exchange and organization. Mohamed’s astute leadership and circumstantial incidentals secured this risky enterprise was not abandoned.  

The ensuing reciprocal hostilities propelled into conflict, both material - tribal raids on each other (Badr, Uhud, Ditch) as well as symbolically - in ‘divine’ language. Medina Chapter 111 surat al masad, The Palm Fibre, for example, is a short but forceful criticism of Abu Lahab and his wife. ‘Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab, and perish he. His wealth and his children. He will be burnt in a fire of blazing flames. And his wife, too, who carries wood, (thorns of Satan which she used to put in the way of the prophet, or use to slander him. In her neck is a twisted rope of masad (palm fibre).’ In other verses Meccan leadership is associated with a pharo rather than Abrahim or Moses, and Meccans as mujrimun – criminals, disbelivers, iblis –satan refusing to prostrate before allah, while Medinese, in sharp contrast, were ansar and muhajirun, birr /piety , al khashiun true believers, who see in mecca its true spiritual Abrahamic tradition of manasik, hahh and umrah ). Mohamed consolidated his military power eradicating competing ideologies in the process (Jewish rivalry), also bringing about his initial recognition as Head of Medina. 

This bellicose terminology (jihad, seif al Islam, harb) actually signifies a religious mission statement that seeks to divide the criteria of membership now exclusively in religious terms, if necessary through military force, facilitated through the spatial boundaries the Hijra forged. Islam is thus assumed to be either permanently at war or in a perpetual state of truce regulating by provisos articulated and codified in Medina from this context. Membership was no longer a matter decided exclusively by Meccan utilitarian imperatives based on inter-tribal confidence-building measures determined by the transient interests of power elites or tradition. Membership was an exclusively religious affair based on total submission to Allah, Islam and the Quran, accepting Mohamed’s prophecy and his temporal leadership. The dichotomous groups were now determined by the sphere of Islam (dar al islam) or those outside (dar al harb), ‘harb’ meaning war. In verse (9:5) Al Musrikun, those that perform shirk –idolatry- and zalimun – polytheists and wrong doers - are to be hounded and if they refuse conversion, destroyed. This was an attack on the intransigent pagan Meccans made in spiritual terms and forceful symbols. Medinese, again, in stark contrast, were referred to as al muttaqun – pious. This gave Islam a semblance of universality, at once both challenging the insular fragmentism, particularism or localism of Mecca, as well as extending Islamic monotheism over a greater range of temporal jurisdiction. Mohamed’s leadership was also commensurately enhanced.

The validity of Medina can also be extrapolated by Mohamed’s return to Medina after visiting Mecca (small haj 929 and final haj 632) once his ascendancy was secured. This was not simply a matter of pride or tribal honour. Mecca was to lose all its temporal hegemony in favour of a spiritual title for all Muslims, irrespective of class, ethnicity or race. While also removing all competing religious imagery, Meccan ritual was restructured to symbolize a more universally coherent monotheism consonant with the codes the Hijra had facilitated. Mohamed’s Hijra also consolidated his power base as he was able to separate the chaff of association based on pragmatic hypocritical expediency, from the wheat of unflinching friendship based on sincere loyalty, securing his undisputed leadership of the umma and his status of prophesy.    

Meinrad Calleja, 2004

Innovation Management

Innovation Management- An Introduction
Meinrad Calleja, 2005

Innovation has been described as ‘the generation and application of new ideas and skills’. Innovation usually concerns product/ process. However, innovation ‘management’, as distinguished from ‘evolution’, is concerned with identifying innovation opportunities and facilitating their implementation. In short, innovation management does not only encourage ‘innovation’ as in technical development, but actually manages its parameters beyond mere ‘production’. Innovation management actually gauges impact assessment and sustainability of innovation, managing both the demand and supply variables over long-term time-frames, while also exploring ancillary consumption opportunities within a wider context.

Post-Taylor / Post-Fordist scientific management was concerned with de-layering the vertical management hierarchies, deskilling, technological innovation, and democratizing institutional practices to facilitate the channeling of ‘innovation’ recommendations that may have been overlooked because of sterile bureaucratic practices that stifled active constructive participation. This type of management encouraged ‘innovation’ through business models that explored what was wrong, why it was not working, and what could be done to improve the production process and wok environment. Some major cost-cutting recommendations were highlighted as the apotheosis of this seemingly hybrid management culture. Major corporations restructured their organizations’ management policies to reflect this novel ethos. Such management was not always clear on whether it was merely enhancing its corporate image cosmetically or restructuring its business practices. On both counts, management was not always coherent on identifying whether change was cyclical or structural. Often, innovation was encouraged but not ‘managed’.   

Innovation seeks to improve the efficiency of products and processes. Innovation management seeks to understand the dynamics of these relationships and (through ‘foresight’) to preempt possible demands and provide for delivering supply through innovation, while actually controlling this innovation. This is crucially different to simply purging the environmental and climatic conditions conducive to innovation. Sometimes innovation management need not alter the product or process at all, but only the external environment.

Innovation management may also break down innovation deliveries to be spread out over incremental provisions. This ensures market orientation for deliverables, cost spreading, induced demand, branding acclimatization, and value creation. An example of such innovation management is found in consumer products that involve notable R&D and marketing costs, as well as an envisaged long-term ‘brand-loyalty’. For example, when Gillette invested heavily in the innovation of a razor blade, they broke down the ‘innovation’ into incremental provisions that were delivered to consumes in piecemeal trounces according to various pre-determined economic factors related to (a/ pro- gnostic) market research analysis. Where products are relatively accessible this is quite common. Technological products, like for example, mobile phones or DVD’s are also availed gradually. This is a typical innovation management model. It factors-in not only the innovation of the product, but the entire supply-demand dynamics management chain. To understand innovation management the entire dynamics of this chain has to be appreciated.

In this scenario, innovation may be described as ‘a process through which economic or social value is extracted from knowledge through the creation, diffusion, and transformation of ideas to produce new of significantly improved products and processes’.

Innovation management is concerned with holistically identifying the ‘value-development and transformation’ through the employment of analytical skills and de/ in- ductive processes managed from competence centers that make use of competitive intelligence data gathering/ mining, creatively diversified R & D targeting metrics, foresight hind/ fore-casting processes that take cognizance of holistic contexts and trends, and flexible stakeholder resource sharing. Innovation management ought to be capable of ‘networking’ otherwise dispersed or scattered sources of intellectual capital and developing and transforming this into value. Cultural, infrastructural, and strategic corporate policy organization has to be aligned to a transformative development synthesis that is capable of stimulating creativity and facilitating or enabling this to be transformed into ‘exchange’ / ‘use’ potential, rather than isolated transaction-centric value. Rather than focusing on isolated variables within production and end-user processes, innovation management ought to look beyond the concrete economic to the intangible socio-cultural and technological realms of consumption ‘potential’ to ‘spot and shape’ demand and supply.  

Innovation incubation business models often tend to evolve into template-management manuals bound by sterile protocols that are based exclusively on the adherence to rationality criteria. These models are based on dominant paradigms that tend towards fossilization. Paradigm shifts (in Khun’s sense) occur only when a dominant model is superceded by revolutionary innovation.

Innovation management is concerned with accentuating the ephemeral or transitory nature of these production / processes and seeking their modification by abstracting initially untested yet apparently viable non-core-competence conduit [demand] possibilities that could be potentially shaped and nurtured. A business model that exemplifies this innovation management, for example, would be the evolution of recent mobile telephony use and the extension of what was previously merely a communication process to now incorporate extensive non-communication services previously un-thought of. Such a transformation would not have been possible if management adhered to strictly rational models based on ‘tested’ core competence business manuals and bureaucratic templates. Such rigid models exist not only in the exclusively corporate organization but in a wider cluster of institutions that the corporation depends upon (for example, financial and academic institutions). It is crucial to break with these models and the practices they induce. Often, to put it semantically, these models rely on tiresomely over-familiar clichés. Thus innovation management ought to be implemented outside and beyond, and independently of, the production processes.    

Innovation management requires a reconfiguration of intellectual capital and a new language. Such a language needs to be morphologically and lexically re-coded to create a new form of syntax. This is what creativity is all about. Innovation management is only the medium of this communication. Lateral and creative thinking is a crucial tool for innovation management.

Meinrad Calleja
The International Journal for Innovation Research, Commercialization, Policy Analysis and Best Practice

Blog :manag/ journal



Foresight - Meinrad Calleja


One of the distinguishing features of modernity was an assumption to be able to precisely make certain predictions. The assumed efficacy of these predictions was based on accurate empirical measurements of contextual/ ecological features, the conjoining of various ‘scientific’ interpretative disciplines, and the assumed causal relationships and potential correspondences between the findings. Such ‘tested’ empiricism was the basis of what is known as ‘forecast’ laws.

While ‘forecast’ is thus concerned with predictions, ‘foresight’ is primarily about anticipating uncertainty. It involves dealing with ambiguity. Foresight looks at the obstacles of ‘forecast’ scenarios and seeks to provide contingency for their eventual elimination. While ‘forecast’ deals with ‘determinism’, ‘foresight’ deals with a/in/un- determined scenarios. In this respect, certain mundane applications in financial markets (e.g. futures, bonds, securities), trade (e.g. insurance, commodity provisions), commerce (e.g. market analysis, advertising), security (e.g. Echeleon, intelligence gathering), and industry (e.g. product design, technology) seem to rely on forecast provisions, some of which seem to infer seminal premises abstracted from foresight. Applications like silicon and nanotechnology are examples.   

Foresight deals with intentional actions that are not necessarily subject to empirical verification, causal laws, or rational deliberation. Foresight is thus a participatory intuitive reasoning process. Foresight is concerned with direction setting, determining priorities, anticipatory intelligence, consensus generation, and advocacy. It is based on the development, fusion, and cross-hybridization of technologies, consultation, scenario creation (‘steep’), patent analysis, critical technologies, and technological road-mapping. It focuses on hybrid approaches to innovation in market and industrial research and development while seeking to engage stakeholders. It is both a commercial as well as an educational tool. It may be applied for social demographic planning. It is crucial to any knowledge-based deliberation process.

A concrete application of ‘foresight’ would be ‘intelligent-foresight’ – a form of video monitoring that can scan anomaly detection to check trend-spotting comparatively to alert specific anomalies. Data warehouses use holography and quantum computers, with enhanced quantum cryptography, activating IT-denominated ‘foresight’. Hind-casting algorithms are used to make foresight scenarios. These often include cluster analysis of diverse, even unrelated, individual molecular components. Such applications have been used in meteorology and security intelligence. The development of telematics or telephony business and IT denominated applications seem to have been tangibly directed by foresight imperatives. Perhaps GM agricultural production and its capacity for cross hybridization and polynisation may to a certain extent be termed symmetrical with foresight derivatives. How do we demarcate our perimeter between forecast and foresight?

This paper will discuss some fundamental issues concerning foresight and the implications that orbit around its application and limitations. To assume foresight is a supplement of forecast is quite inadequate and any attempt to focus on foresight in this light actually defies the objective. Theoretically, one ought to factor in the limitations and obstacles that forecast either ignores outright or seeks to unsatisfactorily address through insufficient determination. In this paper we shall explore some of the theoretical underpinnings of foresight philosophy.           


Foresight critically addresses two important features of ‘forecast’ - ‘professional impairment’ and ‘hyper-scientization’. ‘Hyper-scientization’ are ‘those approaches that stress intellectual elegance and consistency to the seemingly permissible neglect of ‘reality’.’[1] Reality includes ambiguity and uncertainty. Lindblom’s ‘professional impairment’ is ‘the imposition of an alien perspective, disregard for the knowledge of the observed, over concern with rigour, operationalisation and coherence at the expense of insight into the context of action and into the meaning with which actors endow situations.’[2] Foresight privileges ‘context-insight’ and ‘meaning-endowment’ while to a certain extent de-sacralizing rigidly configurated knowledge.

Foresight is an emancipatory approach that probes virgin configurations of knowledge by broadening boundaries, inverting cluster components, and redefining domains. Foresight is orientated to de-formulate ideality and ideal goals. System dynamics are dismantled and rearranged according to untested exploratory modelling. Scanning scenario planning to generate ideas may involve the engagement of hitherto uninitiated participants. Foresight enfranchises an a-credentialist perspective to transcend ‘specialization’.   

Foresight thus also deals with knowledge analysis. Foucault has shown that ‘the possibility of a science of empirical orders requires an analysis of knowledge – an analysis that must show how the hidden (and as it were confirmed) continuity of being can be reconstituted by means of the temporal connection provided by discontinuous representations.’[3] Foresight deals with this ‘discontinuity’. In this context we may already state that foresight is crucial to steering epistemology by directing knowledge to move from a mere configuration of tested reliability to a more hybrid approach. 

Every truth-shift, even mere paradigm shifts, are based on the constituent truth status of the knowledge-matrix, even when such an undertaking revealed the errors in the former, as Kuhn has shown us in theoretically mapping out all major scientific breakthroughs. Knowledge, taken as a ‘taxonomy of truths’, is based on this consistency and continuity, and ‘plausibility’. Occasionally errors are revealed; sometimes they are only superseded by new errors. Kuhn insists that scientific change occurs by ‘revolutions’ that make former assumed verities redundant. When a given scientific matrix is assumed to be ‘true’ it is a ‘paradigm’. Can we determine these errors? Sometimes, not even in retrospect. However, ‘foresight’ is concerned with tentatively addressing this ambiguity. It may contribute to innovatively and creatively designing qua knowledge.

In a scenario of accelerated technological change one may be inclined to attach a transitory and ephemeral value to technological innovation. While innovation management is concerned with endowing end-users with skills to access technological applications and the ethos they require to adapt to rapid change, foresight scans the environment to detect anomalies that could potentially create disruptive lacunae and rationality deficits to restore planning coherence and stability for the future. However, this is not to say that foresight may be reduced to a tool of transition that seeks to make a compensatory deposit to settle change or bridge irreconcilable paths. Foresight ought to settle ambivalence by disrupting neat boundaries and sedimentation to expose the despotism of rational order.   

Foucault has pointed out, ‘if one wishes to undertake an archaeological analysis of knowledge itself [...] one must reconstitute the general system of thought whose network, in its posivity, renders an interplay of simultaneous and apparently contradictory opinions possible. It is this network that defines the conditions that make a controversy or problem possible, and that bears the historicity of knowledge.’[4] Foresight attempts to focus on these ‘posivity networks’ to jettison unnecessary stages, supersede sterile conceptions, and transcend obstacles. Such a task requires the abolition of all mechanistic schema and template diagrams.   

Each conception of knowledge seeks to create a body of knowledge that it defines as ‘objective’ and ‘scientific’, or, to put it bluntly, ‘true’ and ‘correct’. These discourses attempt to establish an assumed unity of relations, or as Foucault calls it, a ‘discursive constellation’.[5] Foresight assumes dealing with unpredictable clusters of uncertainty by anticipating them and eliminating unnecessary consumption of resources. 


When we examine the rationality governing empirically formatted ‘forecast’ we note that there was an attempt to: (a) selectively isolate a number of variables, (b) assume correspondences between them, (c) draw teleological aggregates from a ‘discursive constellation’, (d) arrive at ‘axiomatic’ symbols, and (e) confer universally valid truth status on formulae that help maintain this scientific/ professional body of knowledge and their interpretations. This is done through the conjunction of ‘taxinomonia’ and ‘genesis’. [Sociological] predictions based on empiricism always represented the climax of these relations through verification and confirmation. Foresight deals with disruption of order scenarios. Using an analogy Popper makes, we may postulate that forecast deals with ‘clockwork’, while foresight deals with ‘clouds’. Our physical laws have shown reality is often a cloud reality. Newtonian science has allowed peeking holes to alert us to these facts, many of which were rather naively relegated to the periphery of inquiry as though they were mere exceptions that enforce the rule, rather than demolish it.  

Ambiguity and uncertainty are essential features of our ontological primacy. Life, indeed human life, cannot be reduced to simplistic signs, certainly not coefficient signs. Modern forecast empiricism seems to consider the body of knowledge it assumes is its speciality or its exclusive sphere of influence is subject to established applications and correspondences borrowed from other areas. Often this is based on an over-determination of ‘science’.


Canguilhem cites Koyre who stated bluntly that science is theory, while theory is fundamentally mathematization. (‘La science est theorie et que la theorie est fondamentalement mathematisation.’[6]) Canguilhem was critical of this over-determination. That is why we are with Foucault when he states ‘all hasty mathematization or naive formalisation of the empirical seems like ‘pre-critical’ dogmatism and a return to the platitudes of Ideology.’[7] Mathematics has become the proto-language of all science. Foresight addresses this deficit by acknowledging contradictions and either adapting to them or eliminating the contradictions outright.

Sometimes, mathematization ‘laws’ are shaped both a posterior and a priori. These laws may actually be totally random and they may even defy certain rationality or logic. If one were to toss a coin, for example, one would expect both sides to appear as equal, which is rarely the case. The Monte Carlo fallacy, for example, is based on the anticipation of equal tosses for ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ to the extent that when one side of the coin appears more frequently than another, one is inclined to imminently expect the other side to start compensating the deficit. This forecasting is fallacious. Reality need not adhere to plausible ‘forecasts’. We cannot even ‘hindcast’ correctly. Doctrines of ‘forecasting’ applied to policy design are often unwittingly based on these calculations. However, we can also assemble arbitrary ‘laws’ and ‘forms’ based solely on a notion of ‘experience’ which would make our errors or prejudices less obvious. Pathologies are based on such empirical schematisation. This accentuates the importance of ‘foresight’.

Most of the sciences of sociology are corroborated by empiricism that is based on mathematization stretched to its limits, often assembled through a methodology akin to the Monte Carlo Fallacy. Criminology, for example, was actually a branch of the ‘sociology of deviance’, but gained its independence as an autonomous subject resembling a science when it extended its mathematization, and conjoined other sciences like, for example, biology. ‘Mathematization’ is never neutral or innocent.

Karl Popper, in his ‘Conjectures and Refutations – The Growth of Scientific Knowledge’, refers to the empiricism of ‘astrology’ to explain how conjecture can not only claim to be ‘scientific empiricism’ but also appear ‘plausible’ and ‘rational’. Forecast technologies are often based entirely on a sort of so called ‘astrologically-interpreted empiricism’[8] as though we were accepting the language of ‘horoscopes’ as ‘scientific’. This analogy to ‘astrology’ shows us that even reliably collated and rigorously corroborated observations, - that are empirical facts - as occur in the case of ‘astronomy’, can be selectively ‘interpreted’ subjectively. These are simply ‘modes of rationality’ or ‘languages’ based on pure conjecture. What Russell refers to as ‘logical fictions’.[9]

Roseanne Benn discusses the contemporary ideological role of ‘mathematics’ in the light of recurring ambiguity and uncertainty. ‘The relationship between mathematics and reality became increasingly problematic and puzzling [...] Attempts to either picture the world as it is or use a perfectly consistent neutral meta-language ultimately failed. Indeed, in late modernity, mathematics appears to deliberately deceive by masking even awareness of the absence of any reality. Within the wider context of human thought and experience, the development of mathematics can bee seen as the ‘grand narrative’ of academic Western mathematics which pathologises inability to relate to this mathematics and ignores or marginalises alternative or ‘other’ mathematics. Difference is repressed, the central narrative is held as certain and the workings of power are concealed.

This characterisation of mathematics has provided an elaborate rationale and legitimisation for the pre-eminence of academic Western mathematics and has contributed to the dominance of certain cultural groups in society. The mathematical narratives of subordinate groups have been denigrated or ignored. [...]. To question the certainty of mathematics is to challenge the hegemony, irreversibility and sweeping narrative of modernity.’[10] The philosophy of foresight is concerned with questioning and challenging these assumed verities and illusory synergy. Foresight is used in complexity research that engages non-linear component parts to explore unpredictability and inexplicability not otherwise ascertainable.  

We know from Russell that ‘the mathematicians have constructed a multiplicity of possible spaces, and have shown that many logical schemes would fit the empirical facts. Logic shows that space is not ‘the subject matter of geometry’, since an infinite number of subject matters satisfy any given kind of geometry. Psychology disentangles the contributions of various senses to the construction of space, and reveals the all-embracing space of physics as the outcome of many empirically familiar correlations.’[11] This irrationality is addressed by ‘foresight’.

Wittgenstein made it amply clear that ‘the propositions of mathematics are equations, and therefore pseudo-propositions.’[12] Foresight seeks to reveal the subjective, arbitrary, and ephemeral nature of these pseudo-sciences, and their misuse in forecast-related discourses. Certainty is not just questioned rhetorically, but it is actually translated as uncertainty and ambiguity, and tentatively steered to become an opportunity. Foresight illustrates alternative ‘language games’. Rather than alternative ‘rules’ we may need to consider their abolishment. 

On the question of ‘arbitrariness’ we can draw on Adorno who stated ‘the irrationality, in which the philosophically absolutized ratio perishes, confesses to the arbitrariness of whatever seeks to eliminate the arbitrary.’[13] However, we are not negating the arbitrary to privilege those interpretations that are not arbitrary; rather we are merely accentuating this arbitrariness. Adorno agrees that ‘mathematics is tautology also by the limitation of its total dominance to what itself has already prepared and formed.’[14] Here ‘foresight’ is elucidating this ‘total dominance’ as a ‘limitation’ that is rigidly and mechanistically enforced in the hope that these ‘forms’ and ‘laws’ may be transcended. 


Today we emphasise an assumed ideal rationality that emphatically claims objective valence – hence ‘responsibility’- which is foisted as ‘scientific’. In the area of establishing how ‘uncertainties’ occur, with the ontological implications related to existential responsibility and free-will, the governing rationality claims to have achieved an acknowledged degree of reliability and rigour, particularly after the alleged breakthroughs of assumed unquestioned ‘certainty’ in DNA, genetics, bio-technology, ITT control, satellite tracking and surveillance, quantum computers, cybernetics, nanotechnology and forensic science. In the field of understanding ‘why’ ambiguity occurred one may be tempted to assume sociology, social anthropology, neuro-biology, psychiatry, psychology, phenomenology, and hermeneutics have tendered plausible readings. However, this has not settled issues of ambiguity or eliminated uncertainty. Plausibility is in fact in some cases an obstacle. 

Bachelard states that ‘phenomenology does not involve an empirical description of phenomena. Empirical description involves enslavement to the object by decreeing passivity on part of the subject.’[15] Foresight ought to address both the issue of ‘passivity’ of the subject and ‘enslavement’ to the object. The crucial error is often dogmatic ‘methodology’. Bachelard refers to ‘epistemological obstacles’ and ‘epistemological breaks’ in this light.

As Gadamer puts it, ‘every event of understanding […] is essentially dialectical.’[16] If we ignore this dialect, we can only reach forlorn conclusions. ‘All modern sciences possess a deeply rooted alienation that they impose on the natural consciousness and of which we need to be aware. This alienation already reached reflective awareness in the very beginning stages of modern science in the concept of method.’[17] We have to avoid what Gadamer refers to as ‘methodological sterility’,[18] (which is not to be confused with Searle’s ‘referential opacity’). This is one of the crucial aspects of foresight. Foresight ought to transcend this sterility and address it.


Cybernetics, coined by Norbert Wiener in 1947, refers to systems of communication that manipulate information by feedback and feedforward to enhance the concept of control by taking account of these fluctuations.[19] Karl Deutsch’s ‘cybernetic-reasoning’ uses the concept of [‘negative’ or ‘positive’] ‘feedback’ (entropy of ‘input’) as a measurement of communication. ‘The difference between the entropy of the input and the equivocation of the input with respect to the output thus measures the capacity of the channel as a reliable conveyor of information.’[20] Our over-determination of empiricism is based on this modeling.

In his ‘Cybernetics and the Philosophy of Mind’, Sayre quotes Tribus that ‘entropy only measures the extent of our ignorance about the detailed behaviour of a system’.[21] These initial obstacles sought to enhance empiricism by diverse fonts of induction, and prognostic and agnostic deliberations that included a reconfiguration of both subject and object depiction. Econometrics, simulation and modeling were reformatted. We may be entitled to assume this is being done to preserve the system’s ‘homeostatically’ protected parameter. This ensures the system has ‘recovery’ powers or capacity. A ‘homeostatic’ system of this sort maintains its structure through constant piecemeal change and incremental improvements. In short, parameters can be changed.

Here we are experiencing a type of system ‘of feedback that works to maintain the organism in a certain relationship with its operating environment, rather than to sustain a certain internal state. […] ‘Heterotelic feedback’ which ‘differs from ‘homeostasis’ in directing the response of the environmentally stimulated system back to the environment rather than containing it within the system itself.’[22] New contemporary modes of foresight rationality, that are also modes of domination, are based on rendering these systems more controllable and predictable. Systems of ‘foresight’ used in contemporary policy-making ensure these forms of influence are always more efficient in not only controlling the derivative context and predicting the future, but actually designing and directing it to deal with uncertainty. This can only be done through innovation management and codification that engineers this social process politically and culturally through holistic dissemination policies.

While it is true ‘cybernetics’ is a ‘machine-based’ form of methodology and not a ‘human’ application, its form of rationality does permeate human reasoning. A machine does not desire and is thus an expression of ‘absolute repression’ because it has been programmed a priori to exclude all human reasoning. It cannot experience ‘ressentiment’. But where does this leave ontology?


Foresight also deals with ethical and moral ramifications. Many doctrines of radical social engineering (for example, genetic engineering, or eugenics) are influenced by, or, perhaps, merely symmetrical with, cybernetic reasoning applications or their cloned subsidiary derivatives. Discourses in circulation seem to gradually influence these doctrines. Note how genetically modified agricultural produce and human genetic cloning are gradually gaining plausibility. They infiltrate and colonize neighboring domains. Euthanasia, now known as ‘mercy-killings,’ for example, is accepted in some contexts. This approach to human ontology is not only reductive and simplistic, but it is amoral and unethical. So being alert to a potential epistemological evolutionary trajectory that steers the ontological discourses engaged in this existential ‘path-building’ process is not impractical. Foresight thus has an ethical dimension.

I would like to mention only two illustrations of ‘feedback’. ‘Sentient feedback’ is exhibited in a system when ‘its behaviour is governed in part by changes in variables that can withstand wide fluctuation without system impairment, but which would be followed by states detrimental to the system if corrective activity were not quickly forthcoming.’[23] Foresight anticipates the corrective activity. It may even eliminate its need outright.  

This is the first ‘type’ of feedback that fits our purpose. This type of feedback responds to stimuli after their occurrence. It takes place as an adjustment. This is how the dynamics of ‘ambiguity’ and ‘uncertainty’ occur in a scenario of the logic of emergency (e.g. responses to 9-11, or even meteorological catastrophes and climate change). The deficiencies in the system are corrected through ‘sentient feedback’ that corrected policy errors to ensure the system was not impaired. The preservation of the ideal system is the primary objective of all initiatives. Sometimes goals are redefined. Yet one notes little radical change. Often, evolutionary change is slow and cumbersome.

Another form of feedback serves to pre-empt deficiencies in systems by responding to threatening states before they occur by basing judgments on antecedents. These may be referred to as ‘anticipatory feedback’. [24], Protecting the system from impairment is one of the primary goals of these methodologies. Doctrines of preemption or deterrence, or even risk management or incapacitation, related to, for example, terrorism are reliant on these principals. A concrete prototypical system directing international trade could be the IMF-WTO et al cluster. Such a system would be structured by its own restricted language. The strict adherence to the pre-established criteria would stifle creativity and innovation. Potential foresight would be transformed to goal-directed despotic sanctions. Foresight transcends this mechanistic approach.

The concepts born of, restricted by, dependent on, or attached to, ‘cybernetic-reasoning’ - and so ‘feedback’- are to our knowledge the cause of a latent epistemological obstacle, restriction, or contradiction. This sort of deductive or empirical method can receive erroneous interpretations. Moreover, aggregating atomised indicators does not give an accurate account of each individual component along its trajectory, nor does it take into account such liabilities as ‘digressions’ or the spatio-temporal reality beyond or outside the controlled area and its predetermined optimal status.

This system groups together aggregates bound by the definition of its goal; but it ignores any concept of ‘ontological primacy’. As the flows are led in predetermined patterns we rest our analysis on reading the flow charts born from ‘feedback’. Intermediary interruptions are not always taken into account. Reading F.H. George’s ‘Philosophical Foundations of Cybernetics’ one immediately notes that this theory is far too flexible in jettisoning criticism. 

This ‘method’ may reduce essentialism or metaphysics, but to a certain extent it is mechanistic and deterministic. It may serve social-psychology to examine and predict consumption profiles, for example, but it does not necessarily explain the existence of these consumers. There can be no ontology based on this schema. It can be used to gauge or profile subjects or objects being dominated; it cannot be used to liberate or emancipate them. Its temporalizations are not ‘supra-dimensionalised’, ‘a-dimensionalised’, or ‘a-temporalised’. This is why ‘foresight’ is so important. It liberates language from morphological, grammatical and syntactical enclosures, (that are also conceptual boundaries), to probe and generate untested possibilities. Foresight transcends both diachronic and synchronic approaches by radically deploying innovative conceptual tools not bound or defined by rationality templates.

Broadly speaking, cybernetic-reasoning consists of piecemeal temporalizations that are laboriously assembled. It can be useful to interact with environmental stimuli, but it cannot operate outside its predetermined ‘rationality-template’, not matter how complex and versatile the ‘template’ may appear in any set of possible permutations. Two computers using Artificial Intelligence and cybernetic reasoning could play master-class chess. Winning would simply be a matter of mathematical value. They would not experience any anxiety, stress, excitement, or pleasure. The opposing player (a computer) would be classified according to former ‘pattern-formations’. Neither system could distract the other or use any form of psychological deliberation. All games would be [pre] determined. This exemplifies the difference between ‘forecast’ and ‘foresight’ and excludes the possibility of assuming they are ‘incongruent counterparts’.  

The cybernetic-reasoning schema of feedback (and ‘forecast’) is a form of ‘classified thinking’. Bachelard states that ‘concepts are drawers in which knowledge may be classified; they are also ready-made garments which do away with the individuality of knowledge that has been experienced. The concept soon becomes lifeless thinking, by definition, it is a classified thinking’.[25] Can we transcend these neat positivist schemas, this lifeless thinking, this classified thinking? Foresight seeks to address this dilemma.

Bachelard is critical of ‘correspondences that have been examined too empirically’.[26] He speaks of a ‘need to ‘dephilosophize’ to shun the allures of culture to place ourselves on the margin of convictions acquired through long philosophical inquiry on the subject of scientific thinking. Philosophy makes us ripen quickly, and crystallises us in a state of maturity’.[27]  Foresight partially resolves this creativity seizure. Wild card management systems, for example, attempt to exit from this classified thinking.


Restricted resources are often subject to regulatory controls that attempt to secure smooth exchange transitions. Commodities that are exposed to volatile environmental conditions either in production or distribution are protected by networked underwriting and secure reserve provisions. These mechanisms are so swift and efficient in securing contingency, that one can accurately forecast allowances for indemnity. Futures markets, re-insurance, and even some aspects of stock markets are indicative of this reliability. The fact that we can even talk of indemnity, demurrage, insurance, or contingency illustrate our appraisals confirm a degree of subjectivity, unpredictability and inexplicability that we cater for. Meteorology is perhaps one area of recent interest testing; terrorism another. All very impressive.

Discussing the volatility of dependency on fossil fuels both for consumers as well as for producers, former Saudi oil minister and OPEC delegate, Shiek Yamani, succinctly stated that people did not leave the ‘Stone Age’ because of a lack of stones. In spite of deceivingly accelerated technological change, our dependency on fossil fuels epitomizes the fact that we seem unable to address this creativity seizure or exit from this impasse. Foresight can assist innovation management address these problems.

Forcing human behaviour descriptions or observations to fit neat schema and dismissing misfits as pathologies has proved to be costly and unethical. Attempting to forcefully direct the future according to predetermined goals has wrecked havoc and depleted strategic resources. Maintaining complex structural infrastructure has not settled disparities or justice. Reconciling consumption with production, experience with theory, or the past with the future, cannot be met without the analytic discernment of reality. Uncertainty and ambiguity are recurring features of this reality. In the past such discrepancies were addressed by the deployment of historicism, myths, irrational values, faith and belief systems, all to a certain extent still prevalent today. Some contexts have re-structured their plausibility structures or value-definitions to facilitate uncertainty and ambiguity.

Foresight can be developed to steer the future more coherently. Research and development of foresight need hybrid approaches that engage participants willing and able to transgress, explore, and innovate creatively. New knowledge clusters need to be designed and assembled to tri-dimensionalise time to look at the future free from the misconceptions of the past.


[1] Wagner, 1995, A Sociology of Modernity, London, Routledge, p 147
[2] Wagner, 1995,A Sociology of Modernity, London, Routledge,  p 148
[3] Foucault, 2003, The Order of Things, London, Routledge, p.80
[4] Foucault, 2003: The Order of Things, London, Routledge p.83
[5] Foucault, 2002: The Archaeology of Knowledge, London Routledge, p74
[6] Canguilhem, 1989, Problemes et Controverses, Paris, Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, p.14
[7] Foucault, 2003: The Order of Things, London, Routledge p.268
[8] Popper, 1989, Conjectures and Refutations, The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, London: Routledge, p. 34
[9] Russell, 1994, Logic and Knowledge, London: Routledge, p270
[10] Benn, 1997, Adults Count Too, London, NIACE, p 29
[11] Russell, 1994: Logic and Knowledge, London: Routledge 146
[12] Wittgenstein, 1997, Tractatus Logicus Philosophicus, London Routledge, p.65
[13] Adorno, 1982, Against Epistemology, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, p.22
[14] Adorno, 1982: Against Epistemology, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, p 11
[15] Bachelard, 1971, The Poetics of Reverie, Boston, Beacon Press, p. 4
[16] Gadamer, 1976, Philosophical Hermeneutics, Berkeley, University o California Press, p/ xxvi
[17] Gadamer, 1976: Philosophical Hermeneutics, Berkeley, University o California Press, p/ 39
[18] Gadamer, 1976 Philosophical Hermeneutics, Berkeley, University o California Press, p/:11
[19] Audi,1999, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Cambridge, CUP, p. 173-4
[20] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p.28
[21] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 39
[22] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 54
[23] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 57
[24] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 58
[25] Bachelard, 1968, The Poetics of Space, NY, Orion Press, p.75
[26] Bachelard, 1968 The Poetics of Space, NY, Orion Press, p. 193
[27] Bachelard, 1968 The Poetics of Space, NY, Orion Press, p.236

[1] Wagner, 1995, A Sociology of Modernity, London, Routledge, p 147
[1] Wagner, 1995,A Sociology of Modernity, London, Routledge,  p 148
[1] Foucault, 2003, The Order of Things, London, Routledge, p.80
[1] Foucault, 2003: The Order of Things, London, Routledge p.83
[1] Foucault, 2002: The Archaeology of Knowledge, London Routledge, p74
[1] Canguilhem, 1989, Problemes et Controverses, Paris, Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, p.14
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[1] Adorno, 1982: Against Epistemology, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, p 11
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[1] Gadamer, 1976 Philosophical Hermeneutics, Berkeley, University o California Press, p/:11
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[1] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 39
[1] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 54
[1] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 57
[1] Sayre, 1976, Cybenetics and The Philosophy of Mind, London, Routledge, p 58
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[1] Bachelard, 1968 The Poetics of Space, NY, Orion Press, p. 193
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