Speed

Speed

Project scope

From the great confinement to the general discharge of the “dromocratic” era, understanding the present depends upon our understanding of time and the political use of time.

From the earliest emergence of war as a meta-principle organizing human populations, movement and speed — surprise, the attack — emerged as vital domains of understanding and training. Amid the uneven development of human civilizations, time and the control of time, has emerged as an often hidden zone of determinations. With the rise of the modern State, backed by the modern money economy, speed and acceleration became key components to power. As technology ever more aligned to the primary ordering function of the State, time emerged into greater relief as arguably the primary zone for the organization of mass populations.

In this, the 18th century marks a fulcrum point, beyond which, in the conception of Paul Virilio, we enter into the “dromocratic age,” or the “age of the accelerator.” It is not possible to understand completely the politics of our societies without understanding the primary relation between speed and politics, and how time became a discipline, and a disciplinary technology in its own terms. Hence to understand power, we need to understand time and pace in the context of the unfolding of events, and the regularization of the human animal.

Globalization is the most obvious phenomenon linking politics and speed, but it is not the origin of it — at least if we consider globalization in its contemporary context, related to technologies that both link locales and reduce the effective distance between them. Rather, speed is innate within warfare and arguably all forms of survival. But what is of interest is the moment at which speed became a general principle. And why. Power does not operate only in space, but also in time. The time horizons of populations is a key domain of political investment. And speed is a key technology of the State, and government.