Alterman on Chomsky (near the end of a loooong lbo thread): Yeah and lots of lefties get THEIR credentials by bashing people to their
right. Lots of people position themselves by who they are against, both to
their left and to their right.

Maybe I'm more tolerant of Chomsky bashing because I find Chomsky's
hair-splitting on issues like Cambodia irritating; justifications in various
places aside, his original statements on the issue conveyed a certain
blaseness and agnosticism towards what happened in the country. To argue
about the "details" of what he said is, especially in the case of a
professor of linguistics who understands that meaning is in what is
conveyed, a bit besides the point.

And I just don't buy that Alterman spends much time bashing other lefties.
Cockburn spends a far larger portion of his column space bashing other
progressives, admittedly because they are to his "right", but also because
they are not as car-loving, militia-consorting or otherwise as authentic as
he is. Hitchens of course loves nothing better than to bash other folks. I
can go down the list of columnists with their pet peeves with other

Why is Chomsky so sacrosanct that bashing him gets Alterman kicked off the
progressive island? Yes, Alterman is not a hard leftie, which is why he
gets mainstream columns, but he is still more progressive than anyone else
out there.

The fact that so much debate is expended on him, rather than on
conservatives who oppose the issues we care about is one of the problems of
left discourse.

Nathan Newman (News & Views WebLog)
- posts from here on down

Dear Florian,

Thank you for your useful essay, 'Concepts, Notations, Software, Art'
recently posted to nettime.  In the spirit of it being a new version of
an old text, I'd like to suggest a plug-in.

At the very least, a brief patch may be required if we are not to have
a repetition of the usual scission, in the last few paragraphs, between
the simply 'formal' and simply, and woollily, 'social'. (The twentieth
century is dotted with too many of such debates.)  I'd like to make two
short suggestions:

1  'Formal' operations do not occur alone.  There is clearly a current
of art using computer networks or instructions which believes itself to
be primarily formalist.  However, this belief is the result of a
particular perspectivalism that cleaves the work from it's more messy
or productive implications and connections.  In order to clarify this,
two examples drawn from the text:

1.1 Hugo Ball's poem Carawan.  Do we misunderstand the work if it is
read in relation to certain of the Dada Zurich artists' ostensive
reference to 'African' speech and symbolism, to further read this in
relation to the predatory colonialism of Europe, or in relation to
Ball's own yearning for a mystical language of immediacy (along the
lines of that which you usefully describe in 'Language as Virus') which
could be accessed via such poetry?

1.2 Sol LeWitt.  LeWitt's work exists both as a series of instructions,
and their execution.  There are two ways in which we can understand
this simple formalist limit to the work as requiring an expansion.

1.2.1 Organisation: the work is addressed to a possible executor - a
socius of two or more is thus composed. This at the very least allows
the work to be carried out and shown without any trouble to the artist,
one can also note that it is one of the mechanisms which allowed
conceptual exhibitions to be mounted by post and by phone in across the
world in several locations at low cost.  (See Katherine Moseley's
excellent catalogue, 'Conceptions, the conceptual art document'.)

Further, if you wish to include an authorised LeWitt in an exhibition
it is necessary to contact his representative in order to receive
permission to carry out the particular set of instructions you wish to
have realised.  As is common in much of the conceptual work begun in
the sixties there is a deployment of a particular set of apparatuses
which define roles, often by contract: representative,
artist/instructor, executor, and so on.  It is clear that such
arrangements are immediately 'social' in a variety of ways.  Making the
notary an explicit rather than implicit transactor of some art systems
is one of the minor ways which certain conceptual works addressed
themselves to the political and economic dimensions of such systems.

1.2.2 Material 'substrate':  one of the problems of an approach which
allows for a simple formalism is that it reduces the components of its
realisation to a simple 'substrate' through which the work is realised.
 A kind of matter is captured and given form by an idea.  What might
usefully be proposed instead is that particular works, including those
you discuss, operate by arranging combinations of material,
organisation, perception etc.   LeWitt's work here for instance might
be seen to operate as a particular realisation of a certain combination
of the propensities of: postal and fax networks; orthography, geometry,
and the materials wall/paper and pen/pencil for their actuation;
alphabetised language, linguistic technologies of description; art
economies of desire, command, and authorship, art economies of objects
and spaces, of publications, or theorisations and naming; the pleasure
of repetitive exercise and expectation in the person/s of those
actuating the work, the conditions of employment of gallery assistants
who carry out such work; etc.

The particular compositional terms by which such an arrangement is
made, correspond in some way with what is reductively described as the
'formal'.  However, such a way of engaging with a work immediately
connects art to the question of what to do with life, with the world,
without loosing any of the power assigned to it under the schismatic
and reductive term, 'formal'.

2 Such compositional terms are dynamics are generated in order to be
launched into an outside.  To name or describe such a system, the modes
of a dynamic, the terms of an arrangement, calls it into being - with
one or another degree of virtuality.  Each such act depends on the
arrangements that it is part of in order to become actuated and

For purposes of presentation,, for instance, uses both the
actual script and the operation of the program within a computer where
a sound / graphics generation program is also running.  Forkbomb
'competes' with this program for resources as it gradually uses them
up.  As the number of fork commands increases it gradually makes the
operation of this other program impossible, producing variation in
sound and image.

This variation allows the perception of the two programs' interactions
to become perceptible in a different way - to different senses and
aesthetic codes, and in terms of duration.  The production of sound and
image is also notably varied by the configuration of the particular
machine that the work is being run on.

Part of the work in deciding how to best mobilise Forkbomb is
therefore to bring it into some kind of arrangement with the contexts
it operates in, as well as cpan and the normal routes for code
distribution, these include exhibitions and conference presentations.
Part of a work is also its means of promotion, its mobilisation in
'secondary' contexts, the way it appeals to certain kinds of
interpretation, or of remobilization by or participation in  certain
kinds of discourse - such as this.  Utilising various ways of making it
'sensible' are a way of generating its operation in an 'outside', the
contexts in which it appears and to which it is addressed.  (This does
not of course preclude things occurring or being repurposed in other

To remove the possibility of such a work being understood as 'social'
would therefore seem to deny part of what is important in what is
brought together in its different actuations.

I have not touched up the presence of what you describe as simply
'formal' in the those works you describe as simply 'social' because for
the purposes of this text that would be unnecessary.  The work
mentioned, other related work, as well as the texts around them give no
grounds for the repetition of this doubly useless scission.

The above couple of proposals of course make only a slight amendment to
the tail-end of what is otherwise a valuable argument - I look forward
to seeing more!

nettime's_timekeeper on Wed, 19 Jun 2002 14:34:06 +0200 (CEST)

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 <nettime> the download times they are a changin' digest [plasmastudii, Geer, Beaubien]

     Subject: <nettime> the download times they are a changin' digest [plasmastudii, Geer, Beaubien]
     From: "nettime's_timekeeper" <>
     Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 08:55:23 -0400
     Reply-to: "nettime's_timekeeper" <>

   Re: <nettime> where has all the bandwith gone?
     uospnJ <>

   Re: <nettime> the download times they are a changin'
     Benjamin Geer <>

   Bandwidth redux, was EboneKPNQwest going down
     Beatrice Beaubien <>


Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 00:11:44 -0400
From: uospnJ <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> where has all the bandwith gone?


What you describe is a really cool use for the web.  But on a day to
day basis, the average user just is not as resourceful.  We look up
the medical sites and long-winded (basically ads for the medical
world).  We aren't always culling useful information from the sea of

In your case, you found some helpful stuff.  I have never found
useful health-medical type info.  But I have no idea where to look
and very little interest in giving it much of my time (as the great
majority of surfers who aren't particularly enthralled by the net).
Not that someone hasn't posted it, but that after wading through few
hundred MBs worth of junk, I have to get up

The net COULD be a beautiful garden of uses but first we have to clip
off the 3000 layers of weeds.  Bandwidth is only going to make it
worse for now.  If it helps for one movie, it'll facilitate 20
innocuous ones.  What's the hurry?  The web will eventually grow into
some purpose, whereupon we can decide then if it's worth more
band-width.  Not give more bw and hope a use fills it.



223 E 10th Street
PMB 130
New York, NY  10003


Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 17:56:41 +0100
From: Benjamin Geer <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> the download times they are a changin'

Florian Cramer wrote:
> - - Free Software (and software downloads in general).  Much of the
>   server/downlaod bandwidth for Free Software is provided by company
>   servers like; many of them originate in the dotcom
>   area and, producing no revenue for their operators, have a doubtful
>   future.

There is a similar problem with the hosting of web sites for activist groups.
Some Indymedia sites, for example, are hosted on PCs with DSL connections in
people's homes.  Commercial web hosting is cheap if you're happy with static
web pages or a limited variety of basic, pre-configured software, but if you
want to run an application server or a custom content management system, or
if you need to do any system administration yourself, you need a dedicated
server, which is very expensive, considering the budgets of most volunteer
groups.  A lot of the best Free Software for running dynamic web sites is
currently supported by only a few, very expensive commercial hosting
packages.  Therefore, many activist groups run their own servers on home DSL
connections.  Naturally, this is completely inadequate if your site gets a
lot of visitors.  Also, DSL in Britain is extremely unreliable; it's quite
common for a connection to go down for several days.

If bandwidth were a lot cheaper, it would dramatically increase the ability
of small volunteer groups to run dynamic web sites built on the best
available technology.  There would be a lot more things like Indymedia, and
they'd be a lot more reliable.


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Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 13:56:13 -0400
From: Beatrice Beaubien <>
Subject: Bandwidth redux, was EboneKPNQwest going down

Dear Nettimers,

The beat goes on.

Thanks to Pit Schultz, enbyoire e, and Morlock Elloi for their further

Firstly, I solicited the insight of someone in operations at a major
European ISP. Here are his comments, lightly edited:

> The majority of the KQ Network is maintained and built by EBONE which
> was aquired last year..... The EBONE people got in a very weird
> situation
> because EBONE BV isnt bankrupt all, but KQ is.
> Thus they didnt get a cent of this weird construction, but they kept on
> maintaining the network for a few weeks.
> They were fed up and said if they didn't get payed they would shutdown
> (sounds normal doesn't it? They are proud of the things they have built
> over the past few years).

> The people who look after the bankruptcy agreed with payment, no
> problem there.
> No shutdown, no inet falling apart, nothing.
> And believe me.... if KQ should go down it will matter and you will
> feel it, even
> if europe is a long way from your home.

> There IS a shortage of bandwidth, we have got to the level that if we
> miss one carrier
> we experience slow and unreachable sites (route is a world of its own),
> and btw next
> up is Qwest holding.
> (ever did a traceroute that didnt say qwest in eg canada?) so bummer...
> we will
> all loose like 55% (yes 55%) of our so-valued but empty virtual world :)
> About sitting on an empty network, are you nuts? Ebone/KQ did 25% of
> european
> network..... thats not empty.
> Seems it isnt as easy as you thought to pinpoint european internet isnt
> it? Or heck seems
> you dont understand internet at all :)  <-- WATCH THAT SMILEY


Although I find your language a bit hard to follow, I agree with some of
your points.

> the broadband issue is of great interest for nettimers
> for different reasons. the materiality
> of the internet besides the invested labour of users,
> is represented by its lowest layers, the physical one
> and the the one of switched packets. controling those
> layers means controling the 'means of production'.

And any constraints on it, like service interruptions due to providers'
financial problems, impacts us all.

> non-mainstream content shouldn't be hirarchized by
> data-types. a usual text needs 40 kb, a usual audio track 4 MB,
> and a usual movie takes 800 MB (divx) and in DVD quality 4,5 GB.
> it would be a bit absurd, to claim that trough 'bandwidth
> scarcity' textual production would play a higher role in
> cultural production than other formats.

The converse is also true. Bandwidth is sucked up by divx files clogging
the ether every time a blockbuster film is released, and this does
effect the average 80 kb/day user.

> the cultural politics of the net are very much co-determined
> by it's economical basic conditions. the implications might
> be different for producers, distributors, consumers and their
> various mixes, but it certainly matters if i have to pay
> 6 euros per gigabyte or just 10 cents. the latter would be
> possible if kpnquest,  firstmark, globallcrossing and however
> the fibreoptics backbones are called, would have made their
> full capacity available to resellers.

I can't comment on this. The suggestion seems to be that it is in the
best interests of providers to hold back bandwidth and I haven't heard
of this practice. Also, in the current climate it doesn't seem fiscally
viable, i.e. their shareholders might not approve.

> interestingly there is not much investigative online journalism
> concerning the developments of the bandwidth market.

There has been a river of ink spilled on this, but it is in the
financial press which apparently some nettimers don't read.

> a long time ago, i tried to remember nettimers to george gilder's
> dream of the bandwidth glut. like other messianic out-of-control
> consultants he influenced the dot-com mania a lot, in its
> underlaying ideology of hypergrowth. the negativity of this
> absolute optimism turns out today as a phase of restauration,
> a rethorics of dull praxis, a culture of looking backwards and
> historify the last glorious years. that not all nice ideas
> about the future (like free bandwidth) get real as fast as promised
> by the cyber-prophets mean that they are completly wrong.

Yeah, and glorifying the past results in a present day nihilism; trading
one extreme position for another.

> first it seems that the users themselves stand in the way of
> an unlimited bandwidth future. enjoying the new
> possiblities of digital fluidity (p2p etc.) they activily
> supported the crash of almost every 'soft' content driven
> audio, video, streaming or otherwise broadband driven
> dot-com project, which started with 'free services' in
> expectation to "buy out" the "free floating" productivity
> of its users. this 'fall of the profit rate' resembles the story of
> immaterial labour, the promises of communism... the question
> is what went wrong in building up a consciousness of the users?

Lesson learned: whether or not you embrace the realities of global
marketplace you will be subjected to its fluxes and (mis)fortunes.

> clear is, that there are no larger numbers of customers which
> pay for the infrastructure layed out arround these glorious
> info-autobahn-plans, might they be called broadband, next generation
> mobile
> phones, video-telephony or flying cars. it is the tragedy
> of the wired economy, that the leading american technological dreams,
> were inspired by a immature or at least incomplete intellectual culture
> and not by social needs. the broadband future was mostly described
> in scenarios resembling the techno-futurism beginning in the
> 50ies, with fully automatic homes, and a user experience directly
> inspired by the narratives arround extraterrestial space
> colonialisation.

and the banks got sucked into this futurism to the tune of 4 trillion
dollars in a span of months. Hence the situation we find ourselves in

> let's take another look at the laws of internet traffic.
> today just the costs of streaming down a 90 minute divx
> video with 1000kbps at the side of the host (website)
> is at least as high than what one has to pay to rent out
> two VHS tapes at the local video shop. (6 euro) any royality
> payments have to be added to it. if the video content industry
> would be willing to compete with p2p services they would have
> to first find a way to pay prices for bandwidth which are
> not 'free market prices', it possibly means they would simply
> own those backbone infrastructure, which is available for
> a low price at the moment. once described heroically by
> neil stevenson, the big fibreoptic grid is "for sale" like
> a ghost town after the gold rush.

Hmmm, that is chillingly accurate.
> another technology, called multicasting which would make internet
> broadcast economical, is not happening yet, because some smart
> companies are customizing old switching protocols to the max,
> developing 'smart routers' and therefore adding complexity on
> the backbone level, instead of upgrading to the next stage.
> legislation of standards is not taking place, because the
> 'out of control' ideology still supports in the market forces.
> (see above)

One consequence of the meltdown in the past year is that ISP's (and most
other tech businesses) are oriented to make do with less. There is a
global gun-shyness of investment in radically new technology, and this
is going to delay implementation of broadband, wireless and other

> it is obvious that the future of broadband is delayed
> as long digital rights management, supported by copyright
> laws which are written for and by the industry, plus all
> kinds of dirty tweaking of routing protocols, and caching
> traffic is basically *closing* the internet modeled after what
> is known from private sattelite tv. in the moment payment
> schemes will be in place and alternatives can be shut down
> technically and legaly, very likely broadband will be
> there immediatly.
> strange is that in germany, the royality collectors are
> claiming to get payed back for every piece of hardware,
> cd-burners, harddrives. the other option, that internet
> traffic itself, through some kind of copy-tax, a per
> gigabyte fee for using the internet like radio stations
> or public tv is not considered yet.  it would  possibly
> enable the smaller content  holders and providers to run
> viable business models. it is again a mix of cultural
> backwardness and "mafia lobbyism" which supports models
> which are not innovative and do not support small business.
> the time in which filesharing is sponsored through
> DSL flatrates can be also over soon.

Bell Canada is trying exactly such a byte-levy in Canada for their DSL
service. We will see how far they get.
> there are plenty of projects which really need "public
> bandwidth" to contine to provide their cultural content
> for free, and i speak about many terabytes a month.
> there is plenty of interest on the side of the users.
> i'd be interested if nettimers are interested to discuss
> these practical issues on this list.

Hear Hear. But come to think of it, what cultural content would suck up

> it is one thing to make a "we want bandwidth" campaign
> sucessful, it is another to find 'open' ways to
> distribute and allocate available public bandwidth
> usefully once you got a lot of it from your local
> cultural authority... so far institutions of
> media culture do not see their role in the tradition
> of a project like  maybe that can
> be changed?

I see the lack of familiarity with issues facing the
telecom/cable/backbone providers as one of the major impediments in
getting people to realise bandwidth is a resource to be appreciated.
After that would come the challenge of how to distribute "free" access.
Morlock Elloi responded:

> Aside, there is no such thing as "social needs" - that is the phrase
> used
> to justify whatever needs to be justified at the moment (to paraphrase
> famous propagandist, "when I hear 'social needs' I go for my gun").


> The issue with bandwidth is really simple. There is no content (outside
> movie industry) to justify it. Average user has nothing to offer to
> average user. Zilch. Zero. Average user is a dumb empty nitwit that may
> be
> able to create 0.5-1 kilobytes of original material per day. And outside
> his own house he can't really force his family videos onto anyone. The
> only other possible use would be videoconferencing, and guess what -
> people don't really like to videoconference.
> So almost all P2P bandwidth today is used for re-distribution of
> commercial stuff or material made high-value by government intervention
> ("illegal"). Assuming that someone will find interest in making this
> cheaper in today's global juristiction is plain silly.


(I'm reminded of people that have downloaded recent blockbuster films to
discover they were shite when they viewed them.)

>> in scenarios resembling the techno-futurism beginning in the
>> 50ies, with fully automatic homes, and a user experience directly
>> inspired by the narratives arround extraterrestial space
>> colonialisation.
> As opposed to some "natural" societal evolution ? Bullshit. Masses were
> always and always will be buying dreams.

What I find particularly fascinating is that the people who were sucked
into this la la land were the banks (Canadian banks were remarkably
vulnerable to this hype). Call it greed. The average consumer was and is
pretty sanguine about utopian dreams, but will respond to marketing
efforts eventually.


Enb's comments were well-spotted:

> Well- it does matter! Even if there have been overcapacities, there was
> "some!" routing trough the cables of KPNQWest/Ebone. I've heard of a
> capacity of 80+ Terabits of possible transfers trough their net- if
> only 5
> Terabits were used(for example), it is sure an overcapacity- but to stop
> that net now, it would mean that 5 Terabits must get routed trough the
> nets
> of other companies. The question for reprogramming all those routers is:
> Where does KPNQWests/Ebones "net" begin, where does it end?

> And a second thought:
> They've served not only thousands of B2B-customers like small/medium
> ISP's
> and Webhosting/Housing-Providers, but also ten-thousands of
> B2Endcustomer
> like companies and SOHO. Those big enough to have lines from 2 different
> ISP's are the lucky ones now(if at least one of them doesn't rely on
> KPNQWests backbone), the others rush to find an alternative from
> KPNQWest/Ebone (or hope that a solution will be found).


> Somewhere I've read
> the following from an ISP "usually, we've had 5-10 requests for a big
> new
> line per month- now this number increased to 100+". Sure these dealings,
> coordination with local telco and installations all will take their
> time,
> 2-3 weeks for a complete migration in normal times are ok, at the
> moment,
> 4-6 weeks are fast...

Not sure where you dig up your sources, but they are spot-on. And if
this happens again in, say 6 months time with another backbone provider
(a situation which is developing) the fall-out will be even more severe.

> But also: All these assumptions of "what will happen" are useless as
> long as
> they find new investors every other week ;-)

Which they can't, hence the seriousness of the situation.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Be well,



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     Subject: <nettime> Arundhra Roy: The holy name of liberty
     From: "roya.jakoby" <>
     Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2002 12:03:27 -0400
     Reply-to: "roya.jakoby" <>

(The following article appeared in London's New Statesman on June 10 issue
of the weekly magazine.)

The holy name of liberty
Arundhati Roy
New Statesman
Monday 10th June 2002

With each battle cry against Pakistan, India inflicts a wound on herself.
As nationalism becomes synonymous with anti-Muslim prejudice, the
subcontinent risks repeating the horrors of the Nazi regime. By Arundhati

A friend from Baroda called. Weeping. It took her 15 minutes to tell me
what the matter was. It wasn't very complicated. Only that a friend of
hers had been caught by a mob. Only that her stomach had been ripped open
and stuffed with burning rags. Only that, after she died, someone carved
'om' on her forehead.

Precisely which Hindu scripture preaches this?

Our prime minister justified such violence as part of the retaliation by
outraged Hindus against Muslim 'terrorists' who burned alive 58 Hindu
passengers on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra, Gujarat, last February.
Each of those who died that hideous death was someone's brother, someone's
mother, someone's child.

Which particular verse in the Koran required that they be roasted alive?

What shall we do? What can we do?

In the Bharatiya Janata Party, we have a ruling party that is
haemorrhaging. Its rhetoric against terrorism, the sabre-rattling against
Pakistan (with the underlying nuclear threat), the massing of almost a
million soldiers on the border on hair-trigger alert, the attempts to
communalise and falsify the school history textbooks - none of this has
prevented it from being humiliated in election after election. Desperate,
it has turned for succour to the state of Gujarat.

Gujarat, the only major state in India to have a BJP government, has, for
some years, been the Petri dish in which Hindu fascism has been fomenting
an elaborate political experiment. In March, the initial results were put
on public display.

Within hours of the Godhra outrage, the militant, nationalist Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (World Hindu Council) and Bajrang Dal put into motion a
meticulously planned pogrom against the Muslim community. Officially, the
number of dead is 800. Independent reports put the figure at well over
2,000. More than 150,000 people, driven from their homes, now live in
refugee camps.

Women were stripped, gang-raped, parents were bludgeoned to death in front
of their children; 240 dargahs and 180 masjids were destroyed. In
Ahmedabad, the tomb of Wali Gujarati, the founder of the modern Urdu poem,
was demolished and paved over in the course of a night. In Baroda, the
tomb of the musician Ustad Faiyaz Ali Khan was desecrated and wreathed in
burning tyres. Arsonists looted and burned shops, homes, hotels, textile
mills, buses and cars. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs.

The killers still stalk Gujarat's streets. The lynch mob continues to be
the arbiter of the routine affairs of daily life: who can live where, who
can say what, who can meet whom, and where and when. Its mandate is
expanding quickly. From religious affairs, it now extends to property
disputes, family altercations, the planning and allocation of water
resources . . .

Muslim businesses have been shut down. Muslim people are not served in
restaurants. Muslim children are not welcome in schools. Muslim students
are too terrified to sit their exams. Muslim parents live in dread that
their infants might forget what they have been told and give themselves
away by saying 'Ammi!' or 'Abba!' in public, and invite sudden and violent

Notice has been given: this is just the beginning.

Under this relentless pressure, what will most likely happen is that the
majority of the Muslim community will resign itself to living in ghettos
as second-class citizens, in constant fear, with no civil rights and no
recourse to justice. What will daily life be like for them? Any little
thing, an altercation in a cinema queue or a fracas at a traffic light,
could turn lethal. So they will learn to keep very quiet, to accept their
lot, to creep around the edges of the society in which they live. Their
fear will transmit itself to other minorities. Many, particularly the
young, will probably turn to militancy. They will do terrible things.
Civil society will be called upon to condemn them. Then President Bush's
canon will come back to us: 'You are with us, or you're with the

Those words hang frozen in time, like icicles. For years to come, the
butchers and genocidists will fit their grisly mouths around them
('lip-synching', as the film-makers call it) in order to justify their

One party leader, Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena, has the lasting
solution. He has called for civil war. Isn't that just perfect? Then
Pakistan won't need to bomb us: we can bomb ourselves. Let's turn all of
India into Kashmir. Or Bosnia. Or Palestine. Or Rwanda. Let's all suffer
for ever. Let's buy expensive guns and explosives to kill each other with.
Let the British arms dealers and the American weapons manufacturers grow
fat on our spilled blood. We could ask the Carlyle Group - of which the
Bush and Bin Laden families are both shareholders - for a bulk discount.
Maybe if things go really well, we'll become like Afghanistan. When all
our farmlands are mined, our buildings destroyed, our infrastructure
reduced to rubble, our children physically maimed and mentally wrecked,
when we have nearly wiped ourselves out with self-manufactured hatred,
maybe we can appeal to the Americans to help us out. Airdropped airline
meals, anyone?

How close we have come to self-destruction. Another step and we'll be in
free-fall. And yet the government presses on. At the April meeting of the
BJP's national executive in Goa, the prime minister of secular, democratic
India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, made history. He became the first Indian
prime minister to cross the threshold and publicly unveil an
unconscionable bigotry against Muslims, which even George Bush and Donald
Rumsfeld would be embarrassed to own up to. 'Wherever Muslims are,' he
said, 'they do not want to stay peacefully.'

Fascism's firm footprint has appeared in India. Let's mark the date:
spring 2002. Although we can thank the American president and the
Coalition Against Terror for creating a congenial international atmosphere
for its ghastly debut, we cannot credit them for the years it has been
brewing in our public and private lives.

It breezed in in the wake of the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998. From then
onwards, the massed energy of bloodthirsty patriotism became openly
acceptable political currency. The 'weapons of peace' trapped India and
Pakistan in a spiral of brinkmanship - threat and counter-threat, taunt
and counter-taunt. And now, one war and hundreds of dead later, more than
a million soldiers from both armies are massed at the border, eyeball to
eyeball, locked in a pointless nuclear stand-off.

The escalating belligerence against Pakistan has ricocheted off the border
and entered our own body politic, like a sharp blade slicing through the
vestiges of communal harmony and tolerance between the Hindu and Muslim

In no time at all, the godsquadders from hell have colonised the public
imagination. And we allowed them in.

Each time the hostility between India and Pakistan is cranked up, within
India, there is a corresponding increase in hostility towards Muslims.
With each battle cry against Pakistan, we inflict a wound on ourselves, on
our way of life, on our spectacularly diverse and ancient civilisation, on
everything that makes India different from Pakistan. Increasingly, Indian
nationalism has come to mean Hindu nationalism, which defines itself not
through a respect or regard for itself, but through a hatred of the Other.
And the Other, for the moment, is not just Pakistani, it is Muslim.

It is disturbing to see how neatly nationalism dovetails into fascism.
While we must not allow the fascists to define what the nation is, or to
whom it belongs, it is worth keeping in mind that nationalism, in all its
many avatars - socialist, capitalist and fascist - was at the root of
almost all the genocides of the 20th century.

The incipient, creeping fascism of the past few years has been groomed by
many of our 'democratic' institutions. Everyone has flirted with it -
parliament, the press, the police, the administration, the public. Even
'secularists' have been guilty of helping to create the right climate.
Each time you defend the right of an institution, any institution
(including the supreme court), to exercise unfettered, unaccountable
powers that must never be challenged, you move towards fascism. To be
fair, perhaps not everyone recognised the early signs for what they were.

Fascism is also about the slow, steady infiltration of all the instruments
of state power. It is about the slow erosion of civil liberties, about
unspectacular day-to-day injustices. Fighting it means fighting to win
back the minds and hearts of people. Fighting it does not mean asking for
the religious schools to be banned, it means working towards the day when
they are voluntarily abandoned as bad ideas. It means keeping an eagle eye
on public institutions and demanding accountability. It means putting your
ear to the ground and listening to the whispering of the truly powerless.
It means giving a forum to the myriad voices from the hundreds of
resistance movements across the country which are speaking about real
things - about bonded labour, marital rape, sexual preferences, women's
wages, uranium dumping, unsustainable mining, weavers' woes, farmers'
worries. It means fighting displacement and dispossession and the
relentless, everyday violence of abject poverty.

In little parks, in big maidans, on empty lots, on village commons, the
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (the cultural wing of the BJP) is marching,
hoisting its saffron flag. Suddenly they are everywhere, grown men in
khaki shorts, marching, marching, marching. Where to? What for? Their
disregard for history shields them from the knowledge that fascism will
thrive for a short while and then self-annihilate because of its inherent
stupidity. But, unfortunately, like the radioactive fallout of a nuclear
strike, it has a half-life that will cripple generations to come.

These levels of rage and hatred cannot be contained, cannot be expected to
subside with public censure and denunciation. Hymns of brotherhood and
love are great, but not enough.

Fascism has come to India after the dreams that fuelled the freedom
struggle have been frittered away like so much loose change. Independence
itself came to us as what Mahatma Gandhi famously called a 'wooden loaf' -
a notional freedom tainted by the blood of the thousands who died during
partition. For more than half a century now, the hatred and mutual
distrust have been exacerbated, toyed with and never allowed to heal by
politicians, led from the front by Indira Gandhi.

Every political party has tilled the marrow of our secular parliamentary
democracy, mining it for electoral advantage. Like termites excavating a
colony, they have made tunnels and underground passages, undermining the
meaning of 'secular' until it has become merely an empty shell, about to
implode. Their tilling has weakened the foundations of the structure that
connects the constitution, parliament and the courts of law - the
configuration of checks and balances that forms the backbone of a
parliamentary democracy.

Under the circumstances, it is futile to go on blaming politicians and
demanding of them a morality of which they are incapable. If they have let
us down, it is only because we have allowed them to.

Over the past 50 years, ordinary citizens' modest hopes for lives of
dignity, security and relief from abject poverty have been systematically
snuffed out. Every 'democratic' institution in India has shown itself to
be unaccountable, inaccessible to the ordinary citizen, and either
unwilling, or unable, to act in the interests of genuine social justice.
And now, corporate globalisation is being relentlessly and arbitrarily
imposed on an essentially feudal society, tearing through its complex,
tiered social fabric, ripping it apart culturally and economically.

There is very real grievance here. And the fascists did not create it. But
they have seized upon it, upturned it and forged from it a hideous, bogus
sense of pride. They have mobilised human beings using the lowest common
denominator - religion. People who have lost control over their lives,
people who have been uprooted from their homes and communities, who have
lost their culture and their language, are being made to feel proud of
something. Not something they have striven for and achieved, not something
they can count as a personal accomplishment, but something they just
happen to be. Or, more accurately, something they happen not to be. And
the falseness, the emptiness of that pride, is fuelling a gladiatorial
anger that is then directed towards a simulated target that has been
wheeled into the amphitheatre.

How else can India explain the project of trying to disenfranchise, drive
out or exterminate the Muslims, the second-poorest community in the
country, using as its foot soldiers the very poorest (Dalits and
Adivasis)? How else can India explain why the Dalits in Gujarat, who have
been despised, oppressed and treated worse than refuse by the upper castes
for thousands of years, have joined hands with their oppressors to turn on
those who are only marginally less unfortunate than they themselves?

One hundred and thirty million Muslims live in India. Hindu fascists
regard them as legitimate prey. Do our governing politicians think that
the world will stand by and watch while they are liquidated in a 'civil

Press reports say that the members of the European Union and several other
countries have condemned what happened in Gujarat and likened it to Nazi
rule. The Indian government's portentous response is that foreigners
should not use the Indian media to comment on what is an 'internal matter'
(like the chilling goings-on in Kashmir?). What next? Censorship? Close
down the internet? Block international calls? Kill the wrong 'terrorists'
and fudge the DNA samples? There is no terrorism like state terrorism.

But who will take them on? Fascism itself can be turned away only if all
those who are outraged by it show a commitment to social justice that
equals the intensity of their indignation.

Are we ready to get off our starting blocks? Are we ready, many millions
of us, to rally not just on the streets, but at work and in schools and in
our homes, in every decision we take, and every choice we make? Or not
just yet . . .

If not, then years from now, when the rest of the world has shunned us (as
it should), like the ordinary citizens of Hitler's Germany, we too will
learn to recognise revulsion in the gaze of our fellow human beings. We,
too, will find ourselves unable to look our own children in the eye, for
the shame of what we did and did not do. For the shame of what we allowed
to happen.

This is us. In India. Heaven help us make it through the night.

2002, Arundhati Roy

This article first appeared in the New Statesman

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"McKenzie Wark" <>
     hacker class, further considderations
Doug Henwood <>
     Re: <nettime> on material and 'immaterial' labour

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From: "McKenzie Wark" <>
Subject: hacker class, further considderations
Date: Tue, 04 Jun 2002 04:51:00 -0400

Further Considerations on the Hacker Class
{response to nettime contributors)

McKenzie Wark <>

Anyone proposing a new theory of class is always going to
have to spend more time resisting misinterpretations than
actually advancing the theory, so, here goes.

The hacker class produces what is realized in the form of
intellectual property, but does not own the means for
realizing its value. As Diane McCarty says, "maybe we are
all hackers and we don't know it." Yes indeed. And as Pit
Schulz points out, the 'immaterial labor' of the user is also a
point at which value is created. While I find the notion of
'immaterial' is based on a false distinction, Pit is otherwise
quite right. The hacker class may indeed include many kinds
of people who produce many kinds of value, but who don't
know it.

It won't, however, include those who turn creativity into
property and property into commodification. Bill Gates is a
vectoralist. So too was Ken Lay, interestingly enough, when
you think about Enron's failed attempt to monopolize the
market for the simulation of the oil market.

These two classes confront each other, and have for some
time, which why it is remarkable that, as Pit points out H+N
have very little to say about class and property in Empire,
when class and property is where the action is, and has
been for years. They clearly see the need to supplement
their work in this area.

The hacker class has no given cultural identity. It conforms
to no representation. It has been the historic failing of class
theories to try to think of class in terms of an identity and
to make it conform to a representation. Politics is always just
as divisive, and culture just as diverse, within a class as
between classes. Artists, scientists, engineers are all hackers
in the specific sense in which I use the term -- they create
what may become a form of property.

The notion of the 'organic intellectual' is, as Pit points out, a
very useful precedent for thinking about the hacker class.
But the hacker class has absolutely nothing to do with
theories of 'symbolic analysts'. I agree with Kermit Snelson
about the limits to that concept, but perhaps for different
reasons. All theories of the 'new middle class', 'symbolic
analysists', the 'intelligentsia' and so on have to supplement
class analysis with new terms. My approach to class theory
adds no new level of analysis at all. It goes back to the heart
of classical class theory -- property -- and takes the
formation of intellectual property seriously as *property*.

Far from being a 'philosophical vulgarity', the philosophical
simplicity, or rather, the abstraction, of this approach to
class is precisely what it has to recommend it. It is not based
on the separation of information from manufacturing, or of
a service sector from a secondary sector, or material from
immaterial labor. These are all poorly constructed concepts,
in my view. They describe appearances but they don't map
abstraction at work in the world. The class struggle
between hackers and vectoralists is just as 'material' as any
other level of the class struggle.

I agree with Russell Carter that it would be most useful to
"investigate the ecology of these hacker processes",
although we may agree on little else. But it is important to
remember that property turns creativity toward
commodification. Not only are the fruits of creativity
commodified, but the commodity becomes the fruit of
creativity. One has to decolonize the critical mind in order to
imagine creative production freed from the straightjacket of
value. Beppe Caravita is right to say that Negri is "in reality,
only a poet", but we need poets in order to imagine the
world otherwise.

We don't need another hero, as Lorenzo Taiuti says. But
the rhizomic production of theory outside of the
commodified star system of the academy, in media that
permit an open distribution and circulation of ideas is exactly
what I have always thought nettime is. One has to begin to
write in this space negatively, with a critique of a theory
star, in order to edge it toward a critique of the
commodification of theory that produces stars, and
produces intellectual consumers who need stars -- not least
as the vehicles for their resentments.

But -- why not? -- 'open source' theory. John Hopkins
points us towards the sciences, and indeed the leading pure
scientists have been practicing a version of such for years.
Science is also "building language-based blocks" for the
creation of worlds, and is also in danger of having its
creativity commodified and turned away from the discovery
of the virtuality of nature and toward the commodification
of nature. But if we can forget about the cultural differences
between the arts, sciences and humanities, we might see a
common interest in keeping a margin of free creativity, at
the very least. Or -- why not? -- dream of a world in which
the creativity of all the producing classes -- farmers,
workers, hackers -- is free.

Who really cares what the origins of the word 'hacker' are?
Its a good old fashioned English word. To hack is to cut,
perhaps a bit crudely -- and isn't that what every truly
creative person does? Make a new cut, perhaps not a clean
one at first, but one on a new vector. Yes, as Diane
suggests, maybe we are all hackers. Or rather, it is the
unrealized potential of human social organisation that we
could all be hackers. I do not entirely agree with R A
Hettinga that "our network evolution follows our social
complexity." Not without a struggle, it doesn't. A struggle
to overthrow the limits imposed upon our evolution by
those who benefit only from the current stage of it.

One must focus critique on what limits our collective

See also, A Hacker Manifesto

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Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2002 11:58:28 -0400
From: Doug Henwood <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> on material and 'immaterial' labour

McKenzie Wark wrote:

>Things still get made, but they are increasingly made elsewhere.
>I'm surprised that Doug of all people would appear to deny that
>manufacturing in the United States is in trouble. Its one of the
>great achievements of American marxist political economy to show
>1. that this is the case and 2. the reasons why. Most writing on
>the topic focusses on the way corporations have used 'globalisation'
>to drive down the price of labour. I simply add to that something
>that is turing up in the management literature -- the discovery of
>the value and power of IP to the contemporary corporation. You
>can subcontract your component manufacture to the cheapest bidder,
>but it helps to invest heavily in the value of your brands and the
>strength of your patent portfolio.

This is true for sure, but not the whole truth. It's no longer the
case that U.S. manufacturing is "in trouble." The Rust Belt was a
fair characterization in the 1970s and early 1980s, but parts of U.S.
manufacturing are quite strong. The Midwestern industrial states have
some of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S., and as a UAW
educator told me a few years ago, the unions' real threat comes less
from Mexico than from nonunion parts plants in Ohio.

It was, of course, not news to me that, as another poster indicated,
most U.S. workers are employed in services. But that doesn't mean
that manufacturing has become economically insignificant. Eighteen
million workers is not a small number. (And quite a few workers for
temp firms, who are classified as service workers, are actually
working in factories.) Many service industries - advertising,
couriers, management consultants, janitorial services - depend on
manufacturers to hire them.

Much New Economy discourse serves to disappear the worker, and the
excessive attention paid to IP obscures the fact that people still
work on assembly lines, turning screws and stuffing boards. And a lot
of that happens right here in the U.S. We even have a few garment
workers in Manhattan, still.


Doug Henwood
Left Business Observer
Village Station - PO Box 953
New York NY 10014-0704 USA
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A Rift Among Bloggers

t is one of the enduring cycles of the Internet: the techies build a
utopia and then complain when noisy crowds crash their party.

This time it is happening to Weblogs. Five years ago a few
programmers pioneered this form of hyperlinked online journal,
posting their thoughts on technology matters and personal musings.
Later they built Weblog publishing tools for nontechies, and a vast
spectrum of Weblogs - blogs for short - quietly bloomed.

Then came the war bloggers. The war-blogging movement took off after
Sept. 11 as people used blogs to vent their anger about the terrorist
attacks. Though they are still commonly known as war blogs, these
sites now address a wide range of news and political topics, usually
from right of center.

Thanks in part to the participation of some prominent journalists and
academics, the pundit-style blogs quickly reached a level of public
and media recognition that other blogs had never achieved. As a
result, some latecomers now think Weblogs are inherently political.
That has perturbed some Weblog veterans, who say the war bloggers are
rewriting history and presenting a distorted view of blogs. They say
the diversity of Weblogs is being overshadowed by the
attention-getting style of war blogs.

"War blog editors need to make it clear to their audience that they
are not the only kind of Weblog out there," said Cameron Barrett, a
programmer and Web designer in New York who has been publishing his
Camworld blog ( since 1997, making him one of the first

In response, the war bloggers say they represent the evolution of a
medium that might have languished in obscurity without them.

"The Weblog world before Sept. 11 was mostly inward-looking - mostly
tech people talking about tech things," said Glenn Reynolds, a law
professor at the University of Tennessee who publishes, a popular site in the war blog camp that attracts
about 19,000 readers on weekdays. "After 9/11 we got a whole
generation of Weblogs that were outward-looking" and written for a
general audience, he said.

The war bloggers and veteran bloggers have largely ignored each
other, rarely reading or linking to one another's sites. What brought
some factional tensions to the surface was a plan, hatched by several
war bloggers, to compile the best Web writings about the aftermath of
the terrorist attacks into a book to benefit charity. In mid-April
two bloggers, Eric Olsen and Ted Frank, took charge of the project,
setting up a Weblog ( and asking people to
nominate their "favorite 9/11-related posts from ANY blogger." Mr.
Reynolds agreed to make the final selections for the book, which is
not yet titled.

The project was in part a reaction to the release of "September 11
and the U.S. War: Beyond the Curtain of Smoke," a book of
left-leaning essays about the attacks. On the project site, Mr. Olsen
called on fellow bloggers to crush "Western-civilization-hating,
lefty-fascist essayists."

The partisan talk was not out of place in the war blog sphere, but it
brought a sharp response from Jason Kottke, a blogger from another
sector of the Weblog universe.

Mr. Kottke, a Web designer in San Francisco, has been updating for four years, offering tidbits of personal insight on
Internet happenings and his favorite movies, among other things. His
site is popular within a tech- and design-minded Weblog crowd whose
most influential members have some connection to Pyra Labs, the small
San Francisco-based company behind the publishing tool Blogger.

On his site, Mr. Kottke mocked the suggestion that all bloggers were
hawkish right-wingers and questioned the "us versus them" rhetoric:
"How about letting everyone play . . . or at least make folks who may
not be right-wing or pro-West feel welcome to contribute?"

A few other bloggers in Mr. Kottke's circle also chimed in. Members
of the book team quickly responded on their own site, saying the call
to arms had been exaggerated and that all submissions were welcome.
They also got in a few digs. "It strikes me that a lot of the
backbiting is really a complaint from longtime bloggers that the
center of the Weblog universe isn't where it used to be," Mr. Frank

In an interview, Mr. Frank suggested that the veteran bloggers were
also annoyed at how much media attention the war bloggers were
getting, and how blog pundits like Andrew Sullivan were being called
Weblog pioneers.

Mr. Kottke acknowledged that he felt a little resentment about the
rise of war blogs, but said that was natural when an underground
phenomenon goes mainstream. "It's like being the punk-rock fan who
was into punk rock before everyone else," he said. The criticism of
the book project was meant to improve the book by providing some
perspective, Mr. Kottke added.

Three other old-school bloggers, all former employees of Pyra Labs,
are also trying to convey a broader view of blogs with a site called
Blogroots ( The site, introduced on Friday, has
discussions of Weblog-related news and issues. It will eventually
include the text of the trio's forthcoming book, "We Blog: Publishing
Online With Weblogs," which includes a chapter on Weblog history.

Veteran bloggers say they are happy that blogs are catching on with a
wider audience, but some challenge the idea that war blogs are
somehow more relevant than other kinds. "I talk about things Glenn
Reynolds doesn't understand, but that doesn't mean they're not
important things to talk about," said Dave Winer, founder and chief
executive of UserLand Software, whose Scripting News (
is one of the oldest blogs.

At the same time, there are war bloggers who feel little need to pay
homage to the tech crew. Ken Layne, a journalist in Los Angeles who
publishes a blog at KenLayne .com, argues that he, Matt Drudge and
others were writing about current events on the Web long before the
term Weblog had been coined. "There's nothing novel about the tech
bloggers, beyond the fact that a few of them made simple tools for
updating Web sites," he wrote on his site last week.

Mr. Reynolds was more diplomatic, saying he "never would have gotten
started without Blogger," Pyra's publishing tool. He cautioned
against making too much of labels like war blog, and said he hoped
that in the end the Sept. 11 book, which is still accepting
submissions, "will represent the best work of the blogger community."

Mr. Reynolds said he was not sure why the old guard should have a
problem with war blogs. "The essence of the Internet is constant
change, and to get your nose out of joint about that is just silly,"
he said.

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe
they are free...."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Despite the momentary hype and all the folklore, trendism and hysteria
that surrounds them, we must reckon thar blogs are here to stay. In my
mind, they embody - often in primitive ways, for sure - the concept of
Collective Intelligence coined by Pierre Levy. The problem with the
debate about blogs is that normally the discourse is very basic, centered
in questions like: Are bloggers journalists? Is the information that they
publish accurate and ethical? Are blogs compared to a news outlet?

These questions are useless and vain if we don't dare to go beyond the
surface level and explore new ways of blogging, enlarge the range of
cultural and political options offered by these new technologies that
help us create in half an hour our own information channel. Here we have
in front of us the chance to materialize complete freedom of expression in
a time were culture and communication are being bought by big multimedia
corporations. Is there anything more DoItYourself than blogs?

On the other side, I see blogs as the personal diaries of the 21st
The big difference is in the openess of the information stored in each
"media", compared with the closeness of the manuscript diary. Blogs are
something like a collective construction, albeit personal in its essence.
And that is profoundly post-modern, sorry for the clich=E9. Its core ideas
are the same of open-source software and Peer-to-Peer Networks.

In the end, it doesn't matter if blogs are journalistic publications,
gossip-makers, joint collections of essays or even confessions of a
teenager. We do what we want AND what technology enable us to do with
Blogs should be more examined in their technological, aesthetical and
cultural terms, taking in account its durable effects and long term
context in media history. As like other communications technologies, if
they are considered as a temporary trend, the analysis is going to be
short-sighted and trivial.

Miguel Caetano

Casa dos Bits - Edi=E7=F5es, Lda.
Av. Miguel Bombarda, n=BA 70, 4=BA andar=20
1050-166 Lisboa - Portugal=20
tel.: +351 1 21 780 31 70

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