chapter  3
29 Pages

The Migrant: The Speed-Elite’s Daydream of Radical Alterity

As I explained in the previous chapter, the complicities of new media activism in acceleration run through various hallucinations of radical alterity, like the romanticisation and objectifi cation of ‘the’ Zapatistas, ‘the’ Iranians, or even ‘the’ people. These romanticisations are particularly problematic because they mistakenly oppose the desires from those groups of people with ‘oppressive institutions’ like the corporate media, whereas oftentimes such desires are eff ects of such powerful arrangements. The opposing of desires from ‘the’ margins versus neo-liberalism homogenises groups, and disregards internally divisive issues of class, gender, and race. It also dissimulates the entanglements of its own discourse of resistance in acceleration. The general homogenisation of the folks which I discussed in Chapter 2 notwithstanding, I suggest in this chapter that there exists under speedpolitics one particularly popular romanticisation: that of the migrant. An analysis of this contemporary obsession with the migrant fruitfully complicates alter-globalism as well as this book further. This is because it draws us closer to the issues of the mutual relatedness and complicities of contemporary alter-globalist activism and theorisation under neo-liberal capitalism, which occur as the eff ect of the dominant discourses of trans-national mobility, resistance, and new media as some kind of ‘open’ or ‘unconditional’ space. The current romanticisation of ‘the migrant’ is also in many ways an updated version of the techno-happy celebrations of the hybrid and the cyborg, which was and still is quite pervasive in various academic

circles during the globalisation of computer networks in the 1990s. The persistence of such metaphors in activist and intellectual work points to an amplifi cation of the supposed benevolence of the discourses and (technologically endowed) potentials to cross borders, which are both crucial to the speed-elite.