Geopolitical thinking is the default, “natural” model of structuring the social institutions and interactions between peoples and cultures. Fixation on the physical properties of land had locked down in geopolitical borders other aethers of political imaginary, such as air, water, vacuum and digital networks. The nation states are drawing borders upwards into the air and even cosmos as well as downwards towards the seabed for the centuries. Contextualising the present in critical perspective, we are introducing aeropolitics to challenge the naturalness of assumptions about power dictated by convention and convenience, as well as institutional inertia that blocks our abilities to tackle the contemporary crises and our political imagination from expanding its horizons.
How to challenge the monopoly of geopolitical thinking in policy planning and introduce the vital issue of the rights of the air in the decision-making processes of the institutions and agendas of the think tanks producing policies?
During this session, the members of the community are invited to brainstorm on the methods, agenda and actions of political reification of the alternative political imaginary using the existing political infrastructure. The pathway towards political ecology requires destabilisation of the geopolitical focus. This text is an open invitation to co-build the foundation for the development of a long term aeropolitical agenda of engagement with the agents and institutions of political power.
— Denis Maksimov & Timo Tuominen
co-composers: Denis Maksimov, Timo Tuominen, Tomás Saraceno, Alice Lamperti, Roxanne Mackie + …
SUPRAPOLITICS IN AEROCENE
The philosophy had started from searching for the fundamental elements or political aethers [αἰθήρ, “quintessence”, the element that constitutes fundamental system of coordinates in socio-political design] of life, among which the water, the air and the land were proposed. Aether defines relations towards topos, the living conditions at the specific location, and socio-political metabolic regime there.
The land was ultimately established as the fundamental and exclusive foundation of the imaginary. The Westphalian Treaty of 1648, which ended multiple religious wars in Europe, sealed the shared reality of geopolitics: it legitimised the territorial borders between the European kingdoms and separated the issues of faiths from the right of the sovereign to claim the domination over the territories. From that moment onwards, the imaginary of the geographical border was introduced into the reality of politics as the most sacred parameter of power-holding. This laid the foundation for short-term fragmented planning that ultimately led to a rapidly deterioration environment.
Suprapolitics [supra, “above”, and πολιτικά, “affairs of the citizens” - beyond and outside of borders of normalised political thinking] is a future protocol of the universal equality for all aethers. It opens a gateway towards planetary thinking and emphasises the subjective, arbitrary and functional nature of ‘grounding’ politics in the exclusive boundaries of any aether. Suprapolitics is politically ecological, planetary and atmospheric.
In the context of the climatic and socio-political challenges that humanity and other forms of life face today on the planetary scale, it is clear that unchallenged domination of geopolitical imaginary is harmful - if not fatal.
The principles of respect, freedom, inclusivity and multidimensional thinking can not be reflected in a world obsessed with vertical accumulation of power and uncompromising absolutism of the sovereignty over the land. In order to unleash new horizons of potentiality for our humanity and the life of the planet we need to think beyond binaries and attempt to map politics in the aether where dimensions are potently limitless.
The imaginary of the air is colonised by the primacy of the value of the land. Geopolitics defines how we look at the atmosphere, sees, rivers, oceans and even cosmos and digital networks. Borders are drawn as imaginary lines in the air, on the water, the Internet and cosmic vacuum; borders extruded solely from the land. This hammer that treats anything around it like the nail has to be put to an end.
AETHER OF AIR
The air is fundamentally indivisible by imaginary ‘borders’, unlike the land. There are no anthropological markers of permanence, such as mountains and rivers. The air is an essentially fluid aether where only the winds create the shape of the terrain. The air represents the cosmic, interdependent nature of relations between the forces that constitute the physically perceived reality - such as gravity and the Coriolis force. The aether of air highlights the importance of the micro-macro sensitivity of co-dependence within itself and with the other aethers of politics.
The air offers an opportunity to re-think political logic and causality, defined now by the geopolitical thinking. As there are no borders, capitals and accumulation in the air, there are no fixed destinations, homes, nations or cultural determinisms. In the air one experiences the effect of stillness-in-motion: it is the world that is rolling around the still, floating agent. The destabilisation of the geopolitical and anthropological ground of imaginary is apparent. There are no end goals, no autonomies, and no eternal growth. The air inter- and intra- connects everything and everyone; it flows through, in, and around.
The air is a space of emergence. It constantly floats and its unstable processes allow not the growth, but the evolvement of the potential towards possibilities beyond the one projected future. The change and adaptation in floating context towards a better, fairer balance is the only constant.
The fundamentally free subjectivity of the air permits radical deconstruction of geopolitics. The air cannot be privatised, limited, excluded or cornered; and neither can be the political relations within it or based on its principles. Therefore, the Latin geopolitical encoding Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos [“Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.”] has to be removed from the legal language and the air rights have to be freely and equally regarded with the rights of the land as well as the other aethers.
The wind power and solar energy cannot be dominated by any geopolitical power as a physical fuel resource, unlike many other sources of energy, and therefore the air holds the potential of redefining the normal concept of vertical power prone to accumulation and centralised redistribution. The air is one of the potent vessels of supranormal power.
The recognition of the political agency of the air has to be equally shared with the other aethers of politics: land, whose monopoly has to be put to an end, and also water, cosmos and digital space. All the aethers share the potentiality of being platforms for the suprapolitical life beyond the intention of all-homogenising, imperial and colonial normalisation. The convergence of the aethers into networks of transience will unleash a rich future beyond the static understanding of life that is assumed to be ‘natural’ by the current hegemony of geopolitical imaginary, of which we are all a complicit part - willingly or unwillingly.
Clean air is a necessity. It is a prerequisite of life and society. Without preserving it there will be no future.
The pollution of the air for the sake of land-bound developments reached an unprecedented level in the history of humanity and poses an immediate existential risk to human and non-human survival. Minimising the emissions of carbon dioxide is not a debatable question, but an urgent and vital necessity.
The rights of the air and the aerial rights of the living things must be protected in the same rigorous way as the rights of the other aethers, paving the way towards the new social contract based on the principles of political ecology. Aerial rights belong to all the living things on the planet. A Planetary Charter of the Aerial Rights has to be drafted and protected accordingly.
Emerging low altitude flights have to be free from geopolitical control. This will empower individuals to move towards an accessible and sustainable way of flying free of fossil fuels.
We, as inhabitants of the same planet, need to engage with the geopolitical policy-making now in order to transform the monopolistic land-bound thinking into multidimensional pluralistic imaginary - focusing on what politics of the futures can become.
Our humanity has infinite amount of possible futures beyond the unsustainable idea of the perpetual economic growth and accelerating speed. There are paths we can choose from in order to make what is desirable and plausible: what we think we can become and what we are able to imagine and believe in - we can make real.
To unlock another future we have to start from rethinking the limits of the imagination in what human communities can be, where they can be constructed, and how their politics can look like in the age of thinking beyond the exclusivity and primacy of land rights. The holism of imaginary cannot be complete without expanding our minds.
Aeropolis is a political planetary forum transcending the divisions of the cultures and geographies towards one humanity.
Aeropolis is a space of planetary solidarity. It is anywhere. The power of digital networks allows to materialise the solidarity in communicational infrastructures, further embodying its realness.
Humans and all other living things are the equal citizens of the Aeropolis: the space that embraces the Earth with life-granting layered atmosphere. Citizenship therefore is defined as the inherent, indivisible and irretrievable right to live and evolve equally in co-dependence with the other humans and species.
The Aeropolis is politically climatological and the flexibility of the conditions of the air define its future. Aeropolis is a community of citizens that consciously understand and accept their responsibilities towards the planetary context they share. Aeropolis is defined by upholding the principle of active, participatory and reflective citizenry.
Aeropolis defies hierarchies. It evolves from the shared principles and dynamic dialogue about the futures to come and resilience of the humanity’s ethical achievements.The core strengths of Aeropolis are its horizontality and indivisibility. It is the political imaginary we desperately need.