In order to keep grips on social complexity and thus to have capacities for political action, it is still necessary to find the appropriate tools. In an article published in 2009 (“Knowledge and praxis of networks as a political project”, Twenty-First Century Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, available here for a pdf version of the text), I showed the potential power of the network concept and I proposed to use it more effectively. The challenge is not only to be able to follow the evolution of the world. The challenge, especially in the context of recent months, is also to get out of a situation of “organized irresponsibility”, to use Ulrich Beck’s words: a situation related to the development of what he calls the “risk society” and that would result in the difficulty to find and analyze the origins of often multiple and intertwined risks produced by the industrial system with the advent of modernity (see Gegengifte. Die organisierte Unverantwortlichkeit, Suhrkamp, 1988, translated into English under the title Ecological Politics in an Age of Risk, Polity Press, 1995, and especially the third chapter “Industrial Fatalism: Organized Irresponsibility”).
Making this type of observation is useful, but it would be unproductive to stop there. Tracing and following the vast networks of the contemporary economic system would precisely allow a better understanding of causal pathways, and consequently avoid dissolving responsibilities or making them ascribable where they should not. This could give the basis for differentiating degrees of responsibility, that is to help see if such groups or types of actors have a greater responsibility than others. Rethinking the understanding of social phenomena by finding the networks that make their frame would be another way of looking at political action and of initiating it.