Prometheus Unhinged

This issue of Arena, number 17, ‘Prometheus Unhinged’ takes on the fundamental challenges of technologies such as AI, neural implants, crypto finance, space colonization and the reemergent danger of nuclear weapons, and explores their common basis: a renewed simplistic faith in the power of technology to deliver human perfection, a belief shorn of much of the critical reflection on technology that was common a generation or so ago. Several pieces thus tackle the failure of the left to effectively respond to technology, – not only its annihilatory potential, but also the pervasive way it has reshaped social and political life – a reshaping that has allowed some to gain a sense of ‘liberation’ but at the cost of a larger disruption that now marches back at full force to shape the political landscape.

Within this larger transformation, we look at the way in which such mega-cultural movements are reshaping international affairs, in the Middle East and the Pacific, with pieces the US, Israel and Gaza, and the potential realignment of powers in the Pacific. Having looked far into the future, we return to the past-in-the-present, with reviews of David Marr’s book on Killing for Country, Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, and the crackdown upon Māori and Pacific Islander gangs in New Zealand. We remember the life and work of John Pilger, explore the philosophy of degrowth, the politics of YIMBYism, and the return of ‘Big History’ that signals a change in focus from the micro-narratives of postmodernism. Plus poetry by Barry Hill, John Kinsella and David Mason.

Editorial: Prometheus Unhinged

The announcement that Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corporation has succeeded in implanting a microchip capable of working with a human brain has hit the news just as I write this editorial. By the time you read this, it may have vanished again into the news-ether, or it may be all anyone is talking about. It is impossible to know whether it is mere commercially advantageous hype and exaggeration, or a moment similar to that in late 2022 when ChatGPT and non-trivial artificial intelligence were introduced to the wider world. However much ChatGPT has fallen short of its hype, it was clear…

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Arena Quarterly issue no. 17, 2024

Contents

TitleAuthorPagePg.
Editorial
Guy Rundle1
World and Australia
Endgame for Beginners
The US push to retain empire is part of an older plan
Alison Broinowski6
Kitschynachts
On the uses of ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Gaza destruction
Emma Fajgenbaum11
Much More Than a Mirror Man
John Pilger’s life of truth telling, remembered
Binoy Kampmark16
Save Humanity! In 30,000 AD! With Crypto!
‘Effective Altruism’, tech bros, utilitarianism as ideology
Simon Cooper20
In the Land of the YIMBYs
The pro private development movement asks the wrong questions to get the wrong answers
Stephen Pascoe29
The Pacific
Great Powers Adrift in the Blue Pacific
An ocean of tiny states has returned to world importance
Nic Maclellan39
In Fiji, Vunisavisavi on the Edge
How top-down adaptation to sea level rise went over the top
Amanda Bertana48
Mongrel Mobs? The gang crackdown in Aotearoa
The new government's law and order push will destroy gangs' great work as family and cultural institutions
Alister McKeich (Ali MC)53
Arena Essay
Los Alamos to Neuralink
Humanity must resist its ceaseless, apocalyptic reconstitution
Timothy Erik Ström60
Theory and Practice
Degrowth and the Technocratic Turn?
Reradicalising degrowth via, among others, Arendt’s Human Condition, for a green politics of depth
Scott Robinson72
Ideas
Big History for World Revolution?
Karatani’s and Graeber and Wengrow’s very different new perspectives
Charles Barbour79
Reviews
Israel as the Abyss
Antony Loewenstein’s The Palestine Laboratory
Ned Curthoys86
David Marr’s Killing For Country: A Family Story
John Hinkson90
Unsettling Scorsese’s Killers
Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon
Alice Bellette93
Poetry
White Rose
Barry Hill15
Graphology Lambent 63 / Graphology Lambent 64 / Graphology Lambent 65 / I Think I Am Responding to Kohei Ando’s ‘Oh! My Mother’ (1969)
John Kinsella84
Paddock Edge / Rejoice / The HIllside
David Mason96

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