Crisis Time: Networks, Acceleration and Politics within Late Capitalism

Resetting Theory

Crisis Time: Networks, Acceleration and Politics within Late Capitalism

In this essay I seek to explain the central role that temporality plays in the constitution of liberal democracy. The key argument is that our present-day institutions of liberal democracy are too slow to operate effectively (that is to say, democratically) within a neoliberalised, high-speed network society. By ‘liberal democracy’ I refer to those various political articulations that have evolved since the 18th century, and express similar basic principles of universal suffrage, parliamentary representation, and a system of checks and balances that (more or less) kept the judiciary, the executive and the legislature separate and distinct. It is my contention that liberal democracy thus expressed, is no longer able to act in broad synchrony with the new and dominating and accelerating rhythms that drive the global economic system. Traditional political institutions — at the local, regional and international levels — now lag seriously behind the actual forces for change in today’s world. It is with the rise of 1970s neoliberalism that this temporal crisis for democracy took place. Where once liberal (or social) democracy was able to lead and shape economic and social change, the rise of neoliberalism has meant that the realms of the economic and the social have entered a new hierarchy of speed that is based upon a network temporality; and the institutions of democracy, especially in the context of their democratic decision making processes, are still stuck (and necessarily stuck, as I shall show) within the temporal rhythms of its founding phase over two-hundred years ago.

The problem of temporality and democracy

What might be termed the ‘temporality of democracy’ has not been an issue that was traditionally at the forefront of political science or political theory. This relative dearth of inquiry is a lacuna that has been replicated across the social sciences more generally. Questions of temporality have largely been sidelined to the status of a priori phenomena, a taken-for-granted and unchanging backdrop to the world, where time (like space), constituted the stage within which social, political, economic and cultural development took place.

There are notable exceptions, however. In a prescient 1973 essay, just at the onset a phase of great economic turbulence that was to transform capitalism and compel it to globalise in the form that we experience it today, Herbert Reid observed the temporal problematic in our traditional approach to framing and analysing politics. Beginning a theme that permeated his later works, he noted that: ‘We have hardly begun to explore either the intimate or large-scale ways in which the dominant time-orientation has conditioned the public realm and agenda in terms of which our political life is supposedly conducted’. [1] Reid was referring to the time of the clock, and by identifying it as a ‘dominant time-orientation’ opened up the idea that other time-orientations were being dominated. This was an insightful concept that questioned our historical assumptions regarding the constitution of time and argued that the way we understand time and experience time is subject to change.

It was a conclusion that others had arrived at too. In 1967 E.P. Thompson published his now-celebrated essay ‘Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism’. In it he emphasised how time-sense or time reckoning is grounded both at the intimate (personal) level, and at the macro-level of large-scale social structures. Thompson argued that ‘the essential conditioning in differing notations of time [are] provided by differing work situations and their relation to “natural” rhythms’. [2] In short, Thompson saw that the temporal rhythms of the large-scale social, political and technological structures of 19th century industrial capitalism were transforming the more ‘natural rhythms’ that had existed before that time. The industrialising process meant that as former agricultural workers were being drawn into the factories, they underwent not only a radical change in their relationship to labour — but also an equally fundamental transformation in their relationship to time. This temporal change was expressed through the prism of what Thompson called ‘task orientation’. [3] In pre-industrial towns and villages, time was understood and its rhythms were generated through the primary tasks that constituted rural life such as seed sowing, milking, harvesting, and so on. Industrialising Britain was Thompson’s area of study, and in the early years of transition from a rural economy to an industrial economy, workers in the new factory system were being compelled to face entirely new ‘task oriented’ rhythms. Labour was being ‘industrialised’, ‘divisioned’ and ‘synchronised’ to the very unnatural time of the clock.

This was a world-historical temporal transformation. Indeed, the harnessing of the tempo of the clock to the organizing and scheduling of production under an increasingly rationalised and ordered system, saw clock time emerge, as Lewis Mumford noted, as the most important technology of the industrial revolution. [4] By focussing explicitly on the social dynamics of time, what works such as these revealed is that the industrial revolution constituted a new form of temporal reckoning in the form of clock time. And, moreover, the subsequent spread and domination of industry over the 18th and 19th centuries constituted also the spread and domination of a new form of technologised time.

Reid and Thompson were part of a new appreciation of the role of time in human affairs, one that was beginning to reject the assumptions derived from Newtonian physics that regarded space and time as ‘containers’ that were abstract and ‘absolute’ forces of nature. For them, time and our relationship with it, was very much part of the social realm and therefore subject to the vagaries of society that generate change. These authors and others in the Anglophone intellectual community were influenced by contemporary French theory that was at the forefront of this new thinking — much of which was a rediscovery and reinterpretation of the early 20th century phenomenology of Husserl and Bergson who had rejected modernist, clock-based conceptions of time. For instance, sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu and Henri Lefebvre were stressing that our understanding of space and time must be rooted in our understanding of the dynamics of society. This new sociological, historical and phenomenological work was helping to build an emergent corpus that served to remind us of something we had largely forgotten due to the domination of the industrial way of life — that time could be understood and experienced in ways other than the linearised and rigid and ‘absolute’ reading on the face of a clock.

Reid began his interest in the connections between time and politics with his 1968 PhD dissertation called ‘Ontology, Technology, and Democracy: Toward a Political Philosophy of Time, Identity and Action’. The title says much about what concerned Reid in this question and much about the methods of inquiry he uses to interpret it. The question of Being, for Reid is wrapped up with questions of ‘technology’ and ‘democracy’. And these, being ‘social’, are therefore mixed up in questions of temporality. Time, democracy and technology, in other words, are mutually implicating processes that are all subject to change and transformation because they are all humanly produced. This is an idea that has profound implications for the function of democracy and the institutions of democracy. Let us unpack this claim: The relationship between time and technology are fairly obvious: time, for example, can be shortened through the production of faster machines — and this relationship, as Marx reminded us in Capital, is a basic precondition for capitalist society. But what of the broader relationship between time, technology and democracy? My argument is that democracy has its own temporal rhythms. If this is indeed the case, what kind of time is it, where does it emerge from, and how flexible is it? Importantly, how well, or how poorly, are the rhythms of liberal democracy able to interpenetrate (and synchronise with) the rhythms of capitalist technological development and the ineluctable processes of ‘social acceleration’ that have been a persistent feature of modernity and capitalism? [5]

That democracy has its own innate time — baseline rhythms that were set down in the phase of its birth in the context of early modernity and industrial capitalism — seems to be the most important point to demonstrate if my premise of the temporal crisis of democracy is to hold. Before we get to that point, however, it is necessary to do two things: first, I need to show that time is indeed something that is socially produced; and second, it must be demonstrated that the changing rhythms of time within modernity and capitalism meant that at some point the temporality of democracy would become disconnected from the always accelerating rhythms of what would become a post-modernity and a late-capitalism.

The social production of time

During the 1980s social theory began to articulate more sophisticated understandings of space and time. Thinkers such as Henri Lefebvre, for example, were instrumental in inaugurating what has been termed the ‘spatial turn’ and were influential in generating a wider audience for spatially oriented theoretical frameworks. Anglophone writers inspired by this turn, including Edward Soja’s Postmodern Geographies from 1989, [6] and David Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernity [7] from the same year, developed a phenomenology-evolved stance towards space that enabled consideration of ideas such as ‘positionality’, ‘site’, ‘place’ and ‘horizon’, which gained a foothold in a growing range of social science disciplines. The lead had been given here in Lefebvre’s pioneering book, The Production of Space. In this he argued that space is created socially. It is what he terms a ‘practico-sensory realm of social space’ that overrides or displaces the ‘formal abstraction of logico-mathematical space’. [8] With particular reference to the capitalist mode of production, Lefebvre argues that it (capitalism) tended to produce spaces of systems of production, networks of distribution, roads, canals, factories, cities and nations which reflect its own imperatives, and that these capitalist ‘social relations call for new space, and vice versa’. [9] In short, there can be no ‘non-produced’ spaces, because space is profoundly and necessarily social.

The ‘spatial turn’ was very significant in contemporary social theory, and contributed to new thinking in disciplines such architecture, social geography, sociology and cultural studies. However, as Jon May and Nigel Thrift observed in an edited collection called timespace, there arose in the mid-to-late 1990s a ‘growing sense of dissatisfaction’ with the ‘increasing prominence of space and spatiality’. [10] These authors and those who contributed to the book felt that the ‘spatial turn’ had been ‘curiously one-dimensional and…at root, seemed premised upon a familiar and unhelpful dualism moving around the foundational categories of Space and Time’. [11] What we find here is an echo, in part, of Reid’s frustration with a relative lack of intellectual attention to the subject of time. May and Thrift take this further by linking the frustration explicitly to the ‘unhelpful dualism’ between the spatial and the temporal. Indeed, and by way of example, this dualism and the consequent tendency to privilege space over time was evident in Harvey’s influential thesis of ‘time-space compression’ in The Condition of Postmodernity. In this book, and after having opened up the immense social-theoretical possibilities within the articulation of a time-space unity, Harvey nonetheless proceeded to give time relatively short shrift in favour of space. [12]

Other writers have stressed the need for consistency in a unity of timespace as a foundational category for social and political science analysis. We see this evident in the work of Doreen Massey. Her 1999 book Power-Geometries and the Politics of Space-Time recovers the philosophical traditions of phenomenology, of Husserl and Bergson, and argues that the pervasive antinomies of time and space had been damaging to a more holistic perspective on forms of human organization. Massey articulates the time-space mutual dependency in the following way:

Time cannot somehow unaided bootstrap itself into existence…unless one holds to some notion of an immanent unfolding of an undifferentiated entity, only interaction can produce change (creativity) and therefore time. However, the possibility of interaction is dependent upon the prior existence of multiplicity (there must be more than one entity for interaction to be possible…) [and therefore] … for there to be multiplicity there must be space’. [13]

Social change is the generator of temporality, in other words. It produces the beats, rhythms, cadences, sequences, pauses and so on that constitute the phenomenology of our experience of duration. For change to occur, there must be the prior multiplicity of social relations that exist in space. To accept that change inheres within time-space is therefore the powerful realization that time (and space) are produced as a consequence of social interaction, a realization which in turn has profound ramifications, as we shall see, for our conceptions of the ‘timelessness’ of the institutions of liberal democracy.

This is precisely what Reid was trying to articulate in 1973, and went on to develop in his more recent works. For example, we see a more mature and holistic temporal perspective in a 2003 article he co-authored with Betsy Taylor, titled ‘John Dewey’s Aesthetic Ecology of Public Intelligence and the Grounding of Civic Environmentalism’ Reid brings the time-space thesis to bear upon the political economy of environmentalism and the need for the creation of a new civic space that is grounded in a more explicitly spatio-temporal context. They write that ‘Place is not a neutral location within interchangeable space/time coordinates. It is a nexus of multiple and unfolding chains of events and multiple pasts and futures are enfolded into an immediate reality’. [14]

The idea of the social production of time now has a clustering of theorists and theories that deploy this general framework to a range of sociological and social-theoretical tasks. For example Helga Nowotny forwards the idea of ‘eigenzeit’, which roughly translates as ‘a time in everything’. Time is in our bodies, our ‘biological time’, but time is also ‘filtered through institutions and regulated in temporal systems and conveyed through means of transport…’ and Nowotny goes on to assert that the basis of this structuring of time is social, for ‘…it is we human beings who make time’. [15] However, as with Reid and Thompson, the fact that human society is hierarchical means that forms of time are appropriated as forms of power and used to dominate and/or sublimate other time-reckoning practices in the service of a larger socio-political and economic project. And so: ‘In the machine age, the notion of the linearity of time prevailed because time, following the laws of economics, was equated with money for the first time and thus made into a scarce resource’. [16]

Another important theorist in this regard is Barbara Adam. In her book Timescapes of Modernity, Adam introduces a robust framework for contextualizing the social production of time, which she terms ‘timescapes’. Adam too stresses the need for a time-space unity, but also stresses that temporality needs to be made more explicit instead of implicit. She writes that the benefit of the timescapes approach is that it:

…is a way of seeing and a conceptual approach… Where other scapes such as landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes mark the spatial features of past and present activities and interactions and organisms and matter, timescapes emphasise their rythmicities, their timings and tempos, their changes and contingencies. A timescape perspective stresses the temporal features of living… [17]

Here, social time is generated through intersecting scapes to produce a constantly dynamic temporal context. The modern city, for example, is a growing and vibrant and unfolding timescape wherein are generated uncountable ‘rythmicities’, ‘timings’, ‘tempos’, ‘changes and contingencies’. We experience it in the throb of traffic, in the movement of people and in the rhythms of the business day. The city enfolds the multitudinous tempos of the created and natural environments, of people sleeping, working, eating and meeting with others to create a shared timescape; and these are social times that are imbricated with natural cycles of seasonality, with the variable patterns of weather, and so forth. Scapes of time intersect to produce temporalities that may be brief, or more drawn-out. Indeed, these clashing durations can merge: for instance a ten-second text message to a loved one to say ‘be home ASAP’, can be a brief time-space context surreptitiously produced within in the middle of a long and pointless meeting. And across all these scapes are the organic temporal processes (slow or rapid) of decay and renewal, of birth and death.

This foundational phenomenological perspective is evident through contemporary thinkers such as Elizabeth Grosz who, following Husserl and Bergson — and capturing well the thinking of Adam as outlined above — stresses the essentially malleable and unfolding nature of temporality. In her The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely, she writes that ‘Time is neither fully present, a thing in itself, nor is it a pure abstraction, a metaphysical assumption that can be ignored in every day practice. We can think it only in passing moments, through ruptures, nicks, cuts, in instances of dislocation, though it contains no moments or ruptures and has no being or presence, functioning only as continuous becoming’. [18]

I have tried to make that which is implicit in our relationship with temporality more explicit. However, to get a better understanding of what this means for the institutions of liberal democracy, we need first to understand the temporal context within which this democracy was born.

The timescapes of technology, capitalism and modernity

The interrelated dynamics of technological development, industrial capitalism and the processes of social, cultural and intellectual modernization constitute the bedrock of western society. A gathering momentum that began to move in 18th century Britain produced, eventually, the dominance of Enlightenment reason, the triumph of the mechanical worldview through a technologically radical capitalism, and new social and political institutions that promoted the ideas of democracy and liberty. As historiography, much of this is well known. [19] What I want to do here, however, is to approach this process in the manner of Reid, Adam and others, and make the temporal aspects much more explicit — and then to view the evolution of liberal democracy from that vantage-point.

If we see time as a socially produced dynamic, then it is possible to see technological development, industrial capitalism and modernization (in all modernity’s forms), as the constitution of a timescape. That is to say, following Adam, these intersecting processes create an always-evolving temporal context, or in this case a temporal meta-context, that has shaped our world in profound (and profoundly temporal) ways. It is through this perspective that we more fully appreciate Mumford’s insistence on the pre-eminence of the technology of clock time as the shaping force of industry, capitalism and modernity. The clock overlaid rationality and universality upon a social world that had hitherto been more organic, disordered and localised. The ticking clock constituted the abstract force that rationally and organizationally linked the development of technological innovation with capitalist expansion, providing the temporal surety that both need as logical and plannable processes; and it provided the ‘absolute’ backcloth upon which the Enlightenment could paint modernity in the geometric and linear patterns of order and progress along a specified and futurally projected path.

From the early 18th to the late 20th century, a clock-metered world was a world of constant upheaval and transformation. Its rhythm permeated all aspects of life and constituted an essential element of modernity. As Marshal Berman put it: ‘There is a mode of vital experience — experience of space and time, of the self and others, of life’s possibilities and perils — that is shared by men and women all over the world today. I will call this body of experience “modernity”‘. [20] Berman’s ‘mode of vital experience’ conveys well, I think both the zeit and the geist of how modernity was experienced from at least the time of Marx until Berman wrote these words in 1982. Modernity was, for Berman, ‘a maelstrom of perpetual disintegration and renewal’, and quoting Marx, argued that it was a governing context wherein ‘all that is solid melts into air’. [21]

The constant change and transformation that characterises modernity can be usefully read in the context of Massey’s idea that temporality is produced through change that was referred to above. Modernity, then, with its attendant features of capitalism and technological innovation, can be framed in such a way as to make its temporality explicit. In this way we can see these processes as both change-filled and time-filled. Speed (as a measure of time) had been a common trope of modernity, from Marinetti onwards. But as moderns, our weary familiarity with speed and with the time of the clock, masked another process at the heart of these dynamics — and that is acceleration.

To take the measure of acceleration in society we need to focus on the temporal economy of capitalism. As Marx showed in Capital Volume 1, the transformative energy of the capitalist system comes from competition. [22] The crucial (and well understood) equation is that time equals money. For Marx, labour time is commodified in the production process, and to stay competitive in a context where time equals money, individual capitalists have to intensify the abstract exchange value inherent in labour. Competition, moreover, constantly compels employers to seek ways to intensify the labour process (to make it more productive in the same time-frame) to stay profitable. From the very beginning of industrial capitalism, then, employers have continually sought ways of finding technological solutions that would make productive processes faster.

The inescapable need to compete within the capitalist system meant that not only machines were required to run faster and to produce more products, but that society itself also accelerated in tandem. [23] At its most fundamental level, capitalism is competition whether it is regulated it or not, and competition constitutes the germinal logic of the system. What this does, however, is to insert not simply speed (which can be constant) into the core of modernity and technological innovation — but a continuum of acceleration that is open-ended, and with no intrinsic or measurable or knowable limits.

The explicit (though scattered) links that Marx make between the processes of capital accumulation and what amounts to an in-built accelerative dynamic have been developed and focused by contemporary theorists such as Ben Agger who reveals the powerfully destructive core in this ostensibly ‘efficient’ process; and by Teresa Brennan who similarly saw speed-driven and increasingly instrumentalized capitalism as being a form of ‘exhaustion’ of modernity and ‘a more complete and final form of death’ for not only the human subjectivity and the forms of temporality that may be experienced outside the growing realm of capital — but as a final form of death for our global ecology. [24]

The ideas, processes and institutions of politics are of course deeply implicated in the overarching timescape of accelerating modernity that I’ve just described. Politics acts upon this world and is acted upon by it. Nevertheless, to make the case that institutional liberal democratic politics is no longer is able to ‘keep up’ with a constantly accelerating economy and society that has ‘broken free’ from the dominating rhythm of the clock (more on this later), we need to recognise the temporal context within which liberal democracy evolved.

Temporality and democracy

In his essay ‘Socialism: A Life-Cycle’, Regis Debray makes the simple, but profound observation, that it is: ‘Impossible to grasp the nature of conscious collective life in any epoch without an understanding of the material forms and processes through which its ideas were transmitted — the communication networks that enable thought to have social existence’. [25] It is my contention that the ideas of liberal democracy were shaped by the specific communication networks of the 18th and 19th centuries, and these ideas were more or less laid in stone as Lincolnian ‘self-evident truths’ that were, by implication, timeless. In other words the ‘timeless’ ideas of democracy, or the optimal way of politically organising a modern and modernising society, evolved within a larger meta-context of temporality that was itself evolving — but was nonetheless evolving with a very different social, technological and economic temporal logic, one that had speed at its core, and an open-ended orientation toward acceleration. The ‘timelessness’ of equality and freedom, to put it simply, was born in conjunction with the vibrant ‘mode of vital experience’ wherein everything always changes, everything has its own times, and ‘all that is solid melts into air’.

For most of the history of liberal democracy, however, this incipient asynchronicity did not matter so much. The increasing inability of democratic politics to act positively upon economy and society was the effect of political institutions gradually falling behind an economy and society that accelerated as competition within capitalism became more acute, and the technological means of production became faster and more complex. To understand how this came about, we need to look more closely at the material forms and processes of the communication networks of the 18th and 19th centuries to get some sense of their growing tempo, and set this against the more time-consuming rhythms of liberal democracy.

As a rationalising and linear measure of temporality in the emerging industrial society, the clock, as already noted, was its most important technology. Not only did clock time organise this new society around a predictable temporality that was amenable to networking and organization through systems of information production and dissemination, but it also acted as disciplinary force upon people within this society, synchronizing them to the baseline tempo of the new order of modernity. The material forms of information communication and the ‘speed’ at which they functioned (what Debray calls the ‘means and relations of transmission’) have been and are, of course, myriad and not limited to the influence of the clock. [26] The timescapes that created the context in which liberal democratic politics and institutions took hold were more complex. Debray proposes a ‘periodisation for the history of ideas’ [27] and this expresses forms of transmission that synthesise well with Adam’s concept of timescapes. Through this fusion we can see more clearly the level of technological complexity of the industrial revolution and how as a temporalizing force, it constituted the basis of Reid’s ‘essential conditioning’ for a nascent democratic politics.

Debray lists three major periods since the dawn of human civilization: the first he terms the logoshpere, which arose with the development of writing and lasted until the invention of the printing press in the 15th century. Second was the creation of moveable type, a revolution that inaugurated the graphosphere that emerged and dominated with the production and dissemination of ideas through the printed word. This phase lasted until the rise of television in the late-20th century when the third phase, the videosphere of today, governs through the production and circulation of ubiquitous digital images. The rate at which these communication networks disseminated information was a central factor in habitualising the speed of those societies. For example, writing on tablets or papyrus as in the age of logoshpere made for the relatively slow (and narrowly focussed) production of ideas; whereas information and communication technologies (ICTs) have produced a network society where computer-based media are able to generate almost unimaginable quantities of information on numberless subjects at lightning-fast speeds across the whole world. [28]

It is the graphosphere that concerns us most at this point, however. For Debray it was constituted by the technologies that made the industrial revolution and modernity possible — the machine-based mass production of printed information through machine-based and clock-time scheduled communications networks. The graphosphere was also a meta-timescape that comprised what Debray terms a ‘vast arc of time’. [29] And so in the phase of early modernity we see the vastly increased production of books, newspapers, pamphlets, and so forth, as well as the creation of more numerous schools, universities, associations — and political parties themselves. The new production of ideas through new technologies was the ‘common medialogical basis’ — that engendered a ‘particular sociotope, a milieu for the production of certain kinds of life and thought’. For Debray the beginnings of the graphosphere laid down the basis for ‘the age of reason and of the book, of the newspaper and political party‘. [30] Reason, industry and politics were able to flourish and give shape to the graphosphere, in turn influencing it and being influenced by it. Moreover, and this is an important point, the new politics was able lead this process. In young republics such as the USA and in older and gradually democratising monarchical systems such as in Britain, politics, through novelties such as the congress and parliament, were able to transform society and industry through political reform and the fostering of technological innovation. Throughout history, this ‘democratisation’ process was interspersed, of course, with reaction and repression, but this was all part of a political process that — in conjunction with an evolving and increasingly powerful industrial capitalism — shaped the life and the times of modernity. [31]

The ‘vital mode of experience’ that was modernity continually produced technological innovation and incrementally ramped up the speed of the economy and tempo of society. We see his clearly in the development of steam power in the 18th century, of train and telegraph networks in the 19th century, and with the automobile, the radio, and the Fordist system of mass-production in the 20th. Notwithstanding this growing acceleration, the institutions of democracy were still able to grow and lead the way because the material forms of social communication were still dominated by the printed word in the service of the production and dissemination of democracy’s basic elements — ideas and information.

The ideas of democracy were conceived, fixed in print, and given life through practice in the social world. For example, the perceived ‘self-evident’ and essential ‘truths’ of Lincolnian democracy were perfectly suited for fixing forever on a page in the form of Constitutions, statutes, and laws–whereupon they became, in effect, timeless. This was an implicit attitude towards time that was empirically reflected in a clock- and calendar-based linearity that was the dominant tempo of modernity. Accordingly early liberal democracy was able to build into its structures and institutions a linearised past, present and future perspective that became part of its locked-in, inalienable features. This is evident in liberal democracy’s formal separation of powers into the judiciary, legislature and executive. If we make the temporal dynamic explicit in this example, then a whole new perspective is gained: The judiciary emerges as being concerned primarily with the past and with the cogitation of already written laws and with precedence. The legislature deals largely with the future insofar as it debates the implications of proposed laws, makes plans for the potential shape of society through forward thinking, and makes continual assessments of the needs and wants of society through research and consultation. The executive is present-oriented, in that it is geared towards making rapid decisions in circumstances (such as war, and economic crises) where time is short and where the legislature would be unable or unwilling to act with the necessary speed. [32]

Making the temporal explicit once again, we see that with the exception of a (potentially) fast-moving executive branch, there is a purpose-built time-boundedness and intrinsic resistance to be rushed beyond a certain speed within democratic institutions. The judiciary and legislature were created with different temporal rhythms at their core. Their rhythm is geared to the slower times needed for reflection, debate, research, deliberation, and so on, where questions of policy and political philosophy were concerned. This fundamental antithesis toward speed and acceleration was identified by Jean Chesneaux who wrote that:

Speed has become one of the paramount values and requirements in our modern societies. Yet democracy needs time, as a major pre-condition for political debate and decision-making; it cannot surrender blindly to speed. Nor does speed favour the dialogue between present, past and future, which is fundamental for the proper exercise of democracy. [33]

That these arms of government needed their ‘own’ times points to the fact that democracy is inherently temporal and has specific rhythms. And as Reid noted, this is something we have hardly begun to think about in terms of what happens when the meta-timescape or ‘arc of time’ changes radically.

To summarise: the rhythms of liberal democracy were developed through the times generated by the technologies of the graphosphere, and these were regulated (like everything else) by the rhythms of the clock and calendar. These democratic rhythms remained part of the ‘vibrant mode of experience’ that was modernity through their growing linkages with a spreading and complexifying and accelerating capitalism. Whenever ‘events’ took over from the ability of political institutions to shape and lead economy and society — events such as deep economic slump, or war — politics was usually able to regain the initiative through economic reform, or general mobilization, or through the adoption of more radically contrasting politics, such as communism or fascism. Overall, however, and right up until the last quarter of the 20th century — and notwithstanding the continual speeding up of economy and society — the timescape of this historical ‘arc of time’ of the graphosphere was still ‘slow’ enough to allow for more-or-less effective democratic institutions to function. These could keep developing ideas that were suited to the reality of the times and able to act upon them to change or develop this reality in ways that (again, more-or-less) reflected democracy’s historical obligation to lead and to produce a society that met the democratic needs and aspirations of the majority.

It was around the 1970s that capitalism’s intrinsic drive towards speed and acceleration began to see economy and society move into a new phase of technological and economic development, into Debray’s videosphere. It was here that we see the beginnings of the temporal disconnect between liberal democracy and the economic imperatives of a new form of capital accumulation.

Neoliberalism and the network society

So why did a new phase of technological, economic and political development occur at this time? More particularly, what caused the transformation of the ‘communication networks that allow thought to have social existence’ — and what caused the processes of liberal democracy to degenerate into a form of politics that seems to prioritise capitalism’s agenda above that of its responsibilities to ‘the people’? Answers to these questions will give us insight in the malaise that affects democracy in a high-speed networked world.

Today’s crisis of democracy emerged from a corresponding crisis within global capitalism in the 1970s. [34] This was, at a fundamental level, a crisis of capital accumulation. According to David Harvey, the system of Fordism, which had become a ‘whole way of life’ in the West in the decades after 1945, had become sclerotic and inefficient. As a mode of production and as a ‘whole way of life’, Fordism had been predicated upon the ‘managed economy’ system where government, big business and organised unions were involved in determining the broad shape and general direction of economy and society. However, the western system of Fordism, organised as it was through structures of mass production for mass consumption, and through the conscious planning of these cycles, was able to grow only so much, so far and so fast. Ultimately, its bureaucratically organised dirigisme proved to be innately inflexible. A global system of tariffs and nation-based systems of industry protection meant that over the decades, growing amounts of accumulated capital could no longer be optimally utilised. In other words, as global capitalism grew, there were correspondingly fewer spaces into which accumulated capital could be channelled. In this shrinking spatial context a crisis of profitability set in, with too much capacity producing too many goods for markets that were unable to grow sufficiently. As Harvey puts it, the ‘crises of Fordism’:

…can be to some degree interpreted, therefore, as a running out of those options to handle the overaccumulation problem…As these Fordist production systems came to maturity, they became new…centres of overaccumulation. Spatial competition intensified between geographically distinct Fordist systems, with the most efficient regimes (such as the Japanese) and the lower labour-cost regimes (such as those found in the third world) driving other centres into paroxysms of devaluation through deindustrialization. Spatial competition intensified, particularly after 1973, as the capacity to resolve the overaccumulation problem through geographical displacement ran out. [35]

This situation precipitated the dismantling of the economic and social structures of Fordism — as well as triggering a retreat from the experiment with social democracy that had nurtured this system in the West since 1945. The vacuum was filled by a virulent Anglophone neoliberalism, which was both a political philosophy and an economic programme for capitalism. For possibly the first time in history, ‘democracy’ and ‘capitalism’ had been explicitly conflated and then organised into a singular logic that would change the world. There is a large literature that covers the rise of neoliberalism and the economic globalization and revolution information technologies that grew out of this transformation, but it is outside the immediate focus of this essay. More pertinent, and less considered within this context has been the relationship between democracy and temporality — and it is to this that I should like to turn for the remainder of this essay.

A mantra that encapsulates neoliberalism’s perceived rasion d’etre is that of the unquestioned primacy of ‘market forces’. The naturalization of this concept is in itself remarkable. Acceptance of the idea that markets, unbridled competition and deregulation are ‘good’ represents a change within popular consciousness. Free-markets were once viewed with suspicion and trepidation, and as remnants of an immature and volatile 18th century ideology that produced boom-bust cycles that culminated in the devastating global slump of the 1930s. Today, however, and notwithstanding the severe jolt to its legitimacy in the global economic crisis of 2007–, the free-market is still viewed in mainstream media and in the political and economic establishments as an article of faith, so deeply has it become part of our new ‘whole way of life’. Grasping bankers and crooked funds managers, tragically, have been identified as the main problem. The supremacy of the neoliberal way has been made possible in no small measure by the abnegation of political institutions, beginning in the Anglophone West, from their role as the leading force for social and economic development. By allowing market forces to play the major role in the shape and nature of economy and society, the primary function of political institutions to meet their democratic responsibilities has been dramatically downgraded in importance. Accordingly when neoliberal politics act upon the society it has helped to create, it is increasingly in the role of ideological legitimator for capital, and as the disciplining force against a growing lumpenised element for whom the market society has been a disaster. Again, this development (and its consequences) has been extensively critiqued, and forms a familiar story regarding the essential (and historical) non-equivalence of capitalism and democracy.

As far as temporality and democracy are concerned, however, something new has emerged. Neoliberalization and the ICT revolution have created a post-Fordist society, one that is predicated upon acceleration, flexibility and the ‘informationalization’ of nearly every register of economy and society. Prescient theorists such as Paul Virilio and Ben Agger have mapped the problematic trajectory of this development. [36] Free-markets, flexible production systems and labour, coupled with the speed-enhancing capabilities of ICTs were viewed as the spatial-temporal solutions to the problem of accumulation. But why is this high-speed society necessarily undemocratic?

The spatial crisis of capitalism was also a temporal crisis. By the 1970s the time of the clock and the modernity that it helped generate, were no longer adequate (no longer fast enough) for capital to be deployed profitably. Increasingly intense competition meant that the analogue systems of Fordist clock-time were exposed as inefficient when set against the new speeds of production that were possible through the revolutions in information technology. Computer driven neoliberalism has taken capitalism to a globalised and networked plane of temporality, one that transcends the place-based and zone-based time of the clock. This is a ‘network time’ that is a global, multi-temporal and wholly unique relationship to time. Essentially, the space-time compression process that had always been a key effect of modernity becomes ever more intense and all-encompassing through the effects of unconstrained ICT networking. In the network we communicate (transferring information in bits and bytes) within an open-ended continuum of speed. This continuum is radically different from the regularised and unerring tick of the clock. This is because as we make a connection in the network, through a mobile phone, PC, PDA or whatever, we also produce a unique temporality — a time generated by the user and the technology in the creation of a context. This could be an email communication, a chat room, a voice conversation with another person, a video-call, a text message or ICQ note to someone, somewhere else. The point is that it might be 5am at one end of the connection and 7pm at the other. However, the context created by the network means that these times are rendered irrelevant. The same goes for computerised applications that connect with others around the world in banking, manufacturing, data-processing and so on: clock time is extraneous to their functioning. ‘Ubiquitous computing’, or the suffusion of networked communications into every register of economy culture and society has created a generalised continuum of network temporalities, ‘timescapes’ that evolve, merge, break and reform within the context of the network whole. For the first time in over two hundred years, clock time is not central to the ‘effective function[ing] of capitalization’ as √Čric Alliez argues. [37] Production, distribution and consumption operate now on a much faster, more volatile, more disorganised basis. In short, capitalism is entering uncharted temporal waters, and is dragging culture, society and polity along with it through the hyper-flows of networks. [38]

Capitalism has developed a faster and open-ended logic of speed based upon flows of information and powerful computing networks that have produced a ‘digital capitalism’. [39] `In a similar vein, Manuel Castells sees this as the development of a new spatio-temporal order, a virtual space and a ‘timeless time’ that ‘flows’ at an ever-quickening pace through digital networks that ‘constitute the new social morphology of our societies’. [40] These changes in their turn constitute a new relationship with space and time that forms the basis of a transformation of the processes through which ideas are transmitted.

The deep interaction between the economic and the social through networked flows of information has produced a generalised mode of ‘social acceleration’. [41] Society speeds up as it tries to synchronise with economic processes that are themselves driven to ever-greater speeds and ever-more flexible work practices through the capitalist’s need to compete. Living and working in what has been termed a ‘constant present’ has meant that the more stubborn rhythms of our political institutions begin to become disconnected from an economy and society that gets faster and faster. [42] Accordingly, as they lag behind, politics and politicians have become increasingly remote; they have become institutions and people that no longer speak to the concerns of citizens in their everyday lives. It has often been said that many people, especially the young, have ‘drifted away’ from institutionalised politics; but in this perspective, it is institutional politics that have been drifting away from a society of increasingly time-deprived people. This is because the ‘time-squeeze’ that Arlie Hochschild wrote of in the 1980s has become a permanent feature of living and working in the network society.

Living in a ‘constant present’ where the past (with its lessons and traditions) is increasingly seen as irrelevant, has meant that politicians and political institutions tend to ‘forget’ their histories and their reasons for existence. However, the perceived remoteness of the political process does not mean that institutional politics are now redundant. What it does mean is that the temporal structures of traditional liberal democracy have been reordered and made ‘flexible’ to accommodate a demanding neoliberal free-market system. In an increasingly dominant business culture, political leaders (and run-of-the-mill representatives) see themselves first as professional business managers who must look after the needs of business. But some elements of institutional politics are faster than others, and in a speed-driven environment, it is the executive arm of government that has become the most relevant and useful to the needs of a neoliberalised society. Let us develop this idea further and then look at an empirical example of the nature of the executive in the context of economic and social acceleration.

First, the idea that politics is continually ‘playing catch-up’ with developments in economy and society is not a new one. For example, the heavily market- and computer-driven advances in research into human DNA have opened up many ethical, legislative and rights-based issues over the last couple of decades. New technological developments and their novel social applications such as profiling, or fingerprinting or genetic engineering more broadly, has left institutional politics trailing in the wake of rapid change. Similarly, new medicines or treatments that can prolong life, or computerised applications that can enable assisted death, have left legislators struggling to bring swiftly evolving social and technical transformation into a normative political sphere. In short, the effects of new media and the new economy have generated so many issues, from ‘cyberporn’ to computer fraud, that policymakers are kept busy with new (and usually second-order) social challenges that arise almost every month.

A consequence of the focus on second-order and derivative distractions is that rarely are issues concerning the inability of political institutions to vigorously lead, as opposed to lamely follow, seen as being a problem of temporality or as a problem of democracy. Yet it is both. As William Scheuerman concludes in his innovative book Liberal Democracy and the Social Acceleration of Time, the dichotomy between ‘liberal democracy’s time’ and the socal acceleration of the network society means that:

Slow-going deliberative legislatures, as well as normatively admirable visions of constitutionalism and the rule of law predicated on the quest to assure legal stability, mesh poorly with the imperatives of speed, whereas anti-liberal and anti-democratic trends benefit from it. [43]

To conclude this essay I will build on Scheuerman’s theoretical and political science based account with an empirical illustration of the temporal crisis of democracy as it is almost surreptitiously being played out in our own time at the highest levels of US policy making circles.

The signing statement and the ‘motorization of lawmaking’

In July 2006 the American Bar Association (ABA) released a report on the huge proliferation in the use of an executive instrument called the ‘signing statement’. These are statements that the president attaches to a Bill sent up from Congress that he has signed into law. The Bill passes, and on the face of it, it seems like there has been no executive veto or interference. However, the signing statement written by the president says, effectively, ‘I pass this Bill into law, but intend to ignore it and do not feel bound by it’. The ABA noted in its report that ‘…it was Ronald Reagan who first used signing statements ‘as a strategic weapon in a campaign to influence the way legislation was interpreted’. And since 1980 there have been more signing statements attached to passed legislation than at any other time since the inception of the American Republic. Incredibly, and with almost with no publicity, the George W. Bush administrations (2000-2008) signed over 800 of them, whilst only 600 in total had previously been signed since the time of George Washington. [44]

The timeline of the burgeoning of signing statements in the US is instructive. It follows the timeline of the rise of neoliberalism, with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The pressures on George W. Bush were evidently even greater than his predecessors, and executive authority has been wielded to a historically unprecedented degree. Indeed the extent of the use of executive authority by the Bush administrations was on full view to the world with the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003. This has been widely seen as a Washington elite-led military expedition to protect the interests of US capital in the Middle East and to ensure hegemony over a strategic region of oil production upon which the US economy is critically dependent. [45]

Within the context of such logic, short-termism becomes the norm for planning and for legislative programmes more generally, with economic imperatives mandating that there is literally ‘no time’ to conduct appropriate research, debate and to analyse the possible consequences of legislation before it is enacted. Lawmaking becomes ‘motorised’ as Scheuerman puts it. [46] What this means is that the ‘dialogue’ between past, present and future that Chesneaux argued was an essential element of a democracy has become ever more attenuated. The use of interdepartmental email and executive fiat increasingly replace the dialogue of the parliament or the congress in the Anglophone countries. And the deleterious effect spreads as neoliberalism spreads across the rest of the world. [47] Montesquieu’s ‘checks and balances’ are thus continually weakened through the deregulatory process and the rise of executive discretion. Neoliberal democratic polities no longer shape the ‘pace of events’ as liberal democracies once did in the 18th and 19th century, and as social democracy did during the experimental and evanescent post-1945 phase. Neoliberal politics does not lead, and indeed makes a virtue out of this fact. Its self-appointed role is to leave markets to find their ‘equilibrium’ and to concern itself with the inevitable social fall-out when such equilibrium inevitably proves elusive. As Scheuerman puts it, executive-centred government today acts on the basis of a permanent ‘economic state of emergency’, where the free-market health of capital is the primary objective and the optimal solution. [48] In such a context democracy is inevitably weakened.

That Scheuerman’s ‘economic state of emergency’ has become the default position for neoliberal government was evidenced with the financial crisis of 2007. Notionally powerful and structured to function quickly, executive government has shown itself to be weak and reactive in response to the banking crisis and its effects upon the rest of the global economy. Measures to deal with the crisis (and the rapidity with which they were enacted) were largely unreflective, and oriented primarily to get capitalism back to the status quo ante: in other words, to do whatever is necessary to restore global capitalism to the super-consumption growth (and speed) oriented trajectory that fed the crisis to begin with. [49] The lead governments from North America and Western Europe focused on so-called ‘stimulus packages’ — which were in essence a bailing out of capitalism — to keep consumption growing and spreading. In short, in dealing with the crisis, executive government (and in the main, key decision were taken at that level) responded only to the needs of capital — not to those of people or the ecology that ultimately pays for system breakdown. Moreover, even the cosmetic issues, such as executive pay, which should have been easy to deal with because they were so popular, were half-hearted and ineffectual, because under the aegis of neoliberalism big business has proven itself far more powerful than popular sentiment or congresses or parliaments.

A note on determinism

Consideration of the arguments laid out above may give the impression that the logic is overly deterministic. This is a reasonable assumption, and is one that should be dealt with. Technological determinism in particular is a theory that has been driven to the margins of social science debates. The counter position of the ‘social shaping’ of technology (SST) has become the orthodox, default position. [50] However, a review of the critiques of technological determinism, and the evidence to support SST, are largely concerned with discrete technologies, i.e., the mobile phone, or the iPod, or whichever new technology creates a social impact at any particular time. Often, indeed, the SST thesis is argued exclusively at the level of theory, with no concrete examples given at all. [51] What I have tried to show, and as Castells and Debray have emphasised in their differing ways, is that it is the networking of technologies (in this case information technologies) that is of primary importance. It is through a designed connectability that discrete computer-based technologies are able to derive their immense power and act as the ‘social morphology of our societies’ to cite Castells once more. [52] This digital logic, combined with a virulent neoliberal ideology has transformed our world in a ways that reflect the instrumental intent of computerization and neoliberalization in what has been an unprecedented way. [53] It is of course possible, at the level of discrete technologies, for users in society to exert shaping influence over the functionality of, say, a mobile phone. However, existing as part of a network of digital technologies that are oriented towards speed, efficiency and the pursuit of even more connections across even more registers of social life, the mobile phone is but a node within a vastly more complex and powerful force that shapes and orients the world in particular ways that reflect and intensify capitalism’s imperatives. Social shaping, such as it exists in the networked context, is limited and unable to seriously impinge upon the economic logic of the network totality.

Conclusions

Looking through a temporalised lens at the predicament of liberal democracy, we see a crisis of democracy, one that does not lend itself to easy solutions or glib answers. Political institutions are now required to function on an open-ended scale of acceleration. The faster they operate (through executive power) the less democratic they become. Accordingly, liberal democratic politics, notwithstanding its hyperactivity in all realms of life, has lost much of its democratic vitality. The intellectual energies of social democracy and other great experiments of the 20th century have similarly been dissipated into dealing with the social destruction wrought by neoliberalism. Modernity and its clock-based rhythms are being displaced by the postmodern speed and flexibility of the network. Social acceleration seems set to increase, so deeply has the logic of neoliberalism infused the consciousness of the life of the individual, and permeated the lifeblood of our democratic institutions. Markets are viewed as the only way and accelerating speed is seen largely as a positive force.

Can neoliberalism slow down to a manageable pace; a rhythm or tempo that allows politics to ‘catch up’ and become more democratic again? It seems unlikely. The system has an inherent logic, which means that change has to come from the outside, from politics. However, capital has never been freer to do what it deems necessary for its continuance; and people have never been more completely strapped to its fate. A new politics are required, one that can offer an alternative to neoliberalism. But where to start? In the wake of the 20th century failures of socialism and communism — and in the wake of a social democratic experiment that is viewed by the current political and economic elites to have been less than successful — it is difficult to know even where to begin. Not by looking to ICTs themselves to transform or ‘revitalise’ democracy. The growing literature that extols the benefits of ICTs and the political process, i.e., blogging, ‘electronic democracy’, ‘cyberdemocracy’ and so on, has been seriously overblown by theorists who give little or no empirical evidence. Moreover, it is a mode of thought that has been compellingly critiqued by writers such as Kevin Robins and Frank Webster (1996), Cass Sunstein (2007), Scheuerman and Rosa (2008) — and by Paul Virilio in his own inimicable way, and in numerous publications. [54] Alternative politics are required, and alternatives, as Scott Lash has argued, must come from within the logic of information itself. [55] However, the speed of information flow–the information upon which new politics needs to be constructed–is too fast and is accelerating daily. Political action that is actually concerned with democratic procedures needs time, as Chesneaux reminded us above, time to reflect, to consolidate, to hold its ground and to move in ways that take people with it at the necessary pace. Network society and network time dominant the nascent alternative politics in the blogoshpere, or in the new commercially driven applications such as Facebook or Twitter. These platforms bring people together, but in ways that are very difficult to predict, or project into recognisable future in terms of their sustainability. It’s often forgotten that for all the promise that is invested in platforms for a new politics, many of them did not exist half a decade ago, and because of their essential commerciality, they may not exist five years hence. Something else will have taken its place, and the tasks of political organization, of projects and actions, will need to begin all over again. Meanwhile, high-speed capitalism roars on to the next crises that we will be even less prepared for than the last financial collapse. [56]

Herbert Reid identified the problem of time and politics in his 1973 essay. And 1973 was a fateful year as far as the global economy was concerned. It marked the beginning of a previous general economic crisis that brought neoliberalism to dominance and then domination. Reid’s critique consequently found little purchase in a climate that was being conditioned for a new politics and a new economy. The world got both, and with them our memories of what democracy meant, and is able to achieve, were lost. A generation on, Reid still has his concerns and has shifted focus to the potentially fruitful realm of environmental politics. William Scheuerman gives us a more detailed account of the problem for politics in an accelerated society, and similarly sees grave problems for the proper functioning of democracy. Both these theorists are at the forefront in making the connection between time and democracy, and what they offer is an insight into the democratic deficit due to temporal acceleration in economy and society. By making temporality an explicit factor, they allow us to see that time, like space, should be considered a central issue in what constitutes citizenship and democratic political rights. If we can have individual and collective sovereignty over space (our personal space and our collective local and national spaces) then the same rights should be applied to the time of the individual and collectivity in society. In short, if we ‘produce’ space and time, then we have a stake in their uses in society. As it is, temporality has become hypercommodified and is ‘lost’ to us through high-speed communications networks that are the basis of neoliberal digital capitalism.

There is a growing need for a reconsideration of the nature of liberal democracy within a temporalised context. We need to ask ourselves: is democracy as timeless as its founders assumed it to be in the 18th century? Is it something almost metaphysical that should be the indelible benchmark for societies to organise themselves around? That is to say, should the particular rhythms of democracy constitute the rhythms of culture and society, with the economy being a somehow separate and regulated temporal realm? Alternatively, should liberal democracy society be viewed as much more contingent? Should it have hierarchies of speed, where, say, the economy with its propensity towards competitive acceleration should be regulated or restricted from those parts of society with differing temporal rhythms, such as in education, science, environmental protection and healthcare? Who decides, and on what basis?

An initial step is to begin to think of society more in terms of the importance of temporality. We need to recognise (and consider the consequences of the fact) that there are differing temporal rhythms between the neoliberal marketplace and, say, the running of a university or hospital system. Such recognition could only begin when we no longer think of time as abstract and money-based, and view it rather as something inherently diverse and social. Temporality would thus become an important political factor in our lives: something precious. However, until temporal sovereignty is seen as a precondition for the functioning of democracy we will continue to cede this element of political freedom to abstract technocorporate systems and processes that are unable to offer us a past or a future — only a commodified and time-starved present.

Notes

[1] Herbert G. Reid. ‘American Social Science in the Politics of Time and the Crisis of Technocorporate Society: Toward a Critical Phenomenology’ Politics and Society 3 [2] (1973): 201-243.

[2] E.P. Thompson. (1991) ‘Time Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism’ in Customs in Common (London: Penguin, 1991), 357.

[3] Ibid, 358.

[4] Lewis Mumford. (1946) Technics and Civilization (London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1946), 31.

[5] Hartmut Rosa and William Scheuerman. High-Speed Society: Social Acceleration, Power, and Modernity (Penn State University Press, 2008).

[6] Edward Soja. Postmodern Geographies (New York: Routledge, 1989).

[7] David Harvey The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989).

[8] Henri Lefebvre. The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), 15.

[9] Ibid, 59.

[10] Jon May and Nigel Thrift, Nigel timespace: geographies of temporality (London: New York: Routledge, 2002), 1.

[11] Ibid, 1.

[12] Eric Sheppard. ‘David Harvey and Dialectical Space-Time’ in David Harvey: A Critical Reader (Noel Castree and Derek Gregory (Eds) (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 34-56.

[13] Doreen Massey. Power-Geometries and the Politics of Space-Time (Heidelberg: The University of Heidelberg Press, 1999), 33.

[14] Herbert Reid and Betsy Taylor. ‘John Dewey’s Aesthetic Ecology of Public Intelligence and the Grounding of Civic Environmentalism’ Ethics and the Environment 8 (2) (2003): 202.

[15] Helga Nowotny. The Modern and Postmodern Experience (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), 6-7.

[16] Ibid, 72.

[17] Barbara Adam. Timescapes of Modernity London and New York: Routledge, 1998), 11.

[18] Elizabeth Grosz. The Nick of Time: Politics, Evolution, and the Untimely Duke University Press, 2004). 5.

[19] Eric Hobsbawm. Industry and Empire (London: Penguin 1969); Eric Hobsbawm. Age of Capital (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1996); Eric Hobsbawm. Age of Extremes (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1996a)

[20] Marshall Berman. All That is Solid Melts into Air: the Experience of Modernity (London: Verso, 1982). 15.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Karl Marx. Capital Volume 1 (London: Penguin, 1973), 534.

[23] Hartmut Rosa. ‘Social Acceleration: Ethical and Political Consequences of a Desynchronised High-Speed Society’ Constellations Volume 10, Number 1 (2003), 27.

[24] Ben Agger. Fast Capitalism (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1989); Ben Agger. Speeding Up Fast Capitalism: Cultures, Jobs, Families, Schools, Bodies (New York: Paradigm Publishers, 2004); Teresa Brennan Exhausting Modernity: Grounds for a New Economy (London: Routledge, 2000).

[25] Regis Debray. ‘Socialism: A Life-Cycle’ New Left Review 46 July-August (2007), 5.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid,5-9.

[29] Ibid,6.

[30] Ibid, 5-6.

[31] Berman, op.cit. Chapter.1.

[32] William Scheuerman. ‘Speed, States and Social Theory: A Response to Hartmut Rosa’ Constellations Volume 10 Number 1(2003).

[33] Jean Chesneaux. ‘Speed and Democracy’ Social Science Information, Vol. 39, No. 3 (2000), 407-420.

[34] Robert Brenner. ‘Uneven Development and the Long Downturn: The Advanced Capitalist Economies from Boom to Stagnation, 1950-1998’ New Left Review No. 229. (1998)

[35] Harvey op.cit,187.

[36] Agger, 1989 and 2004 op.cit; Ben Agger ‘Time Robbers’ in 24/7: Time and Temporality in the Network Society by Robert Hassan and Ronald Purser (Editors) (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007); Paul Virilio, ‘Speed and Information: Cyberspace Alarm!’, Ctheory, http:// www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=72 (accessed 19th September, 2009)

[37] Eric Alliez. Capital Times (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).

[38] Robert Hassan. ‘Network Time and the New Knowledge Epoch, Time & Society Volume 12 Number 2/3 (2003), 218-234; Robert Hassan. Empires of Speed (Leiden: Brill, 2009).

[39] Dan Schiller. Digital Capitalism (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2000).

[40] Manuel Castells. The Network Society Vol 1 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 469.

[41] Rosa and Scheuerman. (2008) op.cit.

[42] Ronald Purser. ‘The Coming Crisis in Real-Time Environments: A Dromological Analysis’ (2000) http://online.sfsu.edu/~rpurser/revised/pages/DROMOLOGY.htm (accessed 25th May 2009).

[43] William Scheuerman. Liberal Democracy and the Social Acceleration of Time (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 213.

[44] American Bar Association (ABA) See ABA Recommendations Report at: http://www.abanet.org/op/signingstatements/aba_final_signing_statements_recommendation-report_7-24-06.pdf (2006) (accessed 12th October 2009)

[45] Tariq Ali. Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq (London: Verso, 2003).

[46] Scheuerman, (2004) op.cit,105-143.

[47] Monica Prasad The Rise of Neoliberal Economic Policies in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States (London and Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2006).

[48] William Scheuerman. ‘The Economic State of Emergency’ Cardozo Law Review 21, (2000), 119.

[49] Robert Hassan. ‘The Speed of Collapse’ Critical Sociology ( 2010)(forthcoming); Robin Blackburn ‘The Sub-Prime Crisis’ New Left Review 50 March-April (2008).

[50] Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman, Judy (eds.) The Social Shaping of Technology (Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1985); Wiebe Bijker and John Law, (eds.) Shaping Technology/Building Society: studies in socio-technical change (Cambridge/MA, London: MIT Press, 1992).

[51] Robin Williams, and David Edge, ‘The Social Shaping of Technology’, Research Policy Vol. 25, (1996), 856-899.

[52] Castells, (1996) op.cit, 469.

[53] Robert Hassan The Chronoscopic Society (New York: Lang, 2003a).

[54] Kevin Robins and Frank Webster. Times of the Technoculture (London: Routledge, 1999); Cass Sunstein. Republic.com 2.0, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007); Rosa and Scheuerman (2008) op.cit.; Virilio, Paul (1995), op.cit.

[55] Scott Lash.) The Critique of Information (London: Sage, 2002).

[56] Hassan, Robert (2010) op.cit.

Robert Hassan is a Senior Research Fellow in Media and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He has written widely about the interface between new media, theories of temporality and politics. His most recent book is Empires of Speed (Leiden: Brill, 2009). He is co-editor of the journal Time and Society.