Nettime conversations (on money mostly and on empire (Snelson, Hart Henwood, Wark) ------------- a review of Michael Lewis' new book by Geert Lovink) ----------- 184168 RICH SHALL EAT THEMSELVES (english) Kevin Phillips, Judas of the GOP ---------- Center for book culture dot org Being and Seeming: the Technology of Representation Richard Powers ------ Google gags body shop?? ------------ 184377 (excellent, repeated at 184395 + 10) ------------ International Action Plan for Earth;IAPE-A Modest Proposal (english) The Eco Solidarity Working Group (related to the; viacampesina----------  Money freed us from space and time, 5000 years before the internet. And it also freed us from the tyranny of barter< ------- Keith Hart: By now everyone knows where money came from. Our remote ancestors started swapping things they had too much of and others wanted. This barter ran into a bottleneck. It wasn't always easy to find someone who both wanted what you had and had what you wanted. For many natural products, the timing of supply and demand may simply not coincide. So some objects were valued not just for their consumption, but as tokens that most people would be willing to hold to swap with something else in future. It might be salt or ox-hides, but metals became the most common items to be used in this way. Gold, silver and their ilk were scarce, attractive, useful, durable, portable and divisible. They became the prototype of commodity money. The restrictions of barter were lifted as soon as sellers would regularly accept these money tokens, knowing that they could be exchanged at any time for whatever they wanted to buy. The money stuff succeeded because it was the supreme barter item, valued not only as a commodity in itself, but also as a ready means of exchange with everything else. This is a myth of course. What does it tell us? That money is a real thing and a scarce commodity. That it rose to prominence because it was more effective than existing practice. That it originated in barter, the timeless, 'primitive' form of exchange. What else does it tell us, about society, for instance? Well, almost nothing. When Adam Smith first told this story, in a book published at the same time as the Americans declared their independence, he claimed that the "Wealth of Nations" resulted from the slow working out of a deep-seated propensity in human nature, "to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another" (p.17). He went on, "It is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals, which seem to know neither this nor any other species of contracts. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog. Nobody ever saw one animal by its gestures and natural cries signify to another, this is mine, that yours; I am willing to give this for that." He concluded that the distinctive human propensity to make exchange contracts probably originated in the evolution of reason and speech. Here too not much is said about the social conditions necessary for such behaviour. But at least Smith acknowledged a degree of social complexity in the transactions: the ideas of contract, private property (mine and yours) and equivalence (fairness), none of which could plausibly be traced to the non-human world. His latter-day successors have not shown similar modesty, routinely claiming that the markets of fin-de-siècle Wall Street are animated by impulses that are not just eternally human, but shared with the animals too, or at least the primates. Thus one recent exposé is called Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (Rolfe & Troob, 2000 -- every page number has the icon of a swinging monkey beneath, lest we forget). More seriously, Inventing Money is the story of Long-Term Capital Management, once the largest hedge fund in the world. Its founders had won Nobel prizes in economics for their contribution to financial theory and its failure in 1998 was as damaging to Wall Street as the East Asian crisis and the collapse of the Russian rouble in the same year. It begins with a section entitled, 'The origins of trading': "In chimpanzee communities, individuals exchange gifts (such as fruit or sexual favours) within a group to cement alliances, and punish those who attempt to cheat on such mutually beneficial relationships. Anthropologists believe that early humans started trading in much the same way. The word they use to describe this behaviour is 'reciprocity' and our personal relationships work on this basis." (Dunbar 2000:2-3). The author finds it necessary to claim that Wall Street culture in the 1990s is an example of human nature, a nature that we even share with the primates. That is to say, LCTM may have gone wrong, but the system of trading it exemplifies is as primeval as motherhood. This is one way of arguing that 'there is no alternative' to the free market (TINA was a favourite expression of Mrs. Thatcher's). If we can show that there are alternatives in history or just that the story on view is a defective representation of social reality, we thereby increase our choices. But first let us look more closely at what Dunbar actually said. There are some loaded words here that scholars normally have difficulty untangling, even with the benefit of dictionaries, never mind on the basis of observing chimps who don't talk at all -- communities, exchange, gifts, sexual favours, group, alliances, punish, cheat, mutually beneficial relationships, anthropologists believe, trading, reciprocity, personal relationships. That's a lot of metaphysics piled onto the observation that chimps sometimes hump each other and may pass on the odd bit of fruit. Notice also that trading is assimilated to politics and personal relations more generally, on the basis that "anthropologists believe" such human behaviour emerged "early". There are thus two claims being made: that the private property complex essential to trading is natural, therefore inevitable, and that it underpins most other important things in our lives. Adam Smith seems almost cautious in comparison. When he sought to demonstrate exchange without the use of money, he drew on reports of 'primitive' exchange from eighteenth century North America, describing natives bartering beaver for deer skins in what was no doubt a typical scenario from the fringes of the contemporary world fur trade. It is always unreliable to draw inferences about prehistory from present-day behaviour at the margins of civilization. It is one thing to imagine two noble savages swapping animal skins, quite another to work out how living people contrive such an exchange as an ongoing social practice. So, for our purposes, ethnographic descriptions of exchange in societies that have traditionally known neither states nor merchants nor even money offer material for thinking about how people might build their own economic communities now. This was after all once the main reason for doing anthropology. It was understood that states and capitalism were an unsatisfactory basis for society, the one being out-of-date and the other a recent anomaly, so that the study of stateless societies might offer clues to doing better in future. At the very least, by widening the scope of knowledge beyond our own situation, we are able to test claims about its universality. Traders are unusual people. We might say intuitively that something belongs to someone either because they made it or because they were given it and intend to use it. Traders own things they neither made nor will use, but they still claim the right to the value of their sale. At the same time, they are willing to give up their goods unconditionally in return for payment; and their customers then have the right to do what they like with what they have bought. This kind of behaviour is so commonplace in our world that it seems reasonable to think of it as eternal. It is in fact quite rare within the range of known human societies. What gives buyer and seller confidence that they each have exclusive rights to dispose of the commodity? It is the power of state law reinforcing their contract and usually offering similar support for the money involved. They can operate as isolated individuals only because of the huge social apparatus backing their exchange. Think of a situation where property is not backed up in this way. A group of nomads herd cattle in the dry savanna, far from the reach of any state. They can hold onto those cattle only if they mount effective resistance to other groups who might try to steal them. In such circumstances, an individual's property rights are a function of being a member of the group, all of whom have some claim on the cattle, since they all must defend them together. Trading the cattle would then be a far from simple matter. The same problem arises when a peasant tries to raise a loan on the security of family land. If he fails to pay back the loan, the land must be sold to the bank. But it is often unclear who actually owns the land and sometimes where it begins and ends. The citizens of advanced capitalist societies are not immune either. Other family members will have something to say if we try to sell off grandma's jewels. But this last example is not economically central, as the cattle and the land are. For us, most of the things we own were once bought for money through trade. If trading is a special institution, usually involving money, how else have people circulated objects between themselves? We have already encountered barter and the classical economists' assumption that money arose in order to simplify a cumbersome form of exchange. Barter is a spot transaction where two parties exchange goods taken to be equivalent. Each has what the other wants. It is obviously a difficult kind of transaction to pull off. The timing and the quantities must be right and you have to agree on what each is worth. Both sides must also have the right to dispose of their goods without involving others. There is a risk of conflict in any haggling. How much simpler for me to persuade you to give up your goods in return for money which you can then hold for purchases from others in different times and places. You can see their point. What is not convincing is that such a complicated arrangement as barter would be prevalent before people thought of inventing money. Barter is often found where markets using money prices are ineffective, usually because of a shortage of liquidity. Thus the Argentinians, in the crisis of their national currency, the peso, flock to barter clubs. People have a fair idea of what their goods are worth because of the co-existent markets they didn't have enough money to participate in. The North American fur trade in the eighteenth century would be another case in point. The ratio of beaver to deer skin was broadly set by the world market, but cash was scarce on the frontier. Nigeria and Brazil, being short of foreign currency, once arranged to barter oil for manufactures, knowing the price of each on world markets. This arrangement was closed down after Britain and France complained that their market share was being usurped by unfair trade. One of the fastest-growing sectors of trade today consists of commercial barter networks (b2b), allowing businesses, for a commission, to swap unsold goods directly between themselves. Barter does not require faith in any currency or other medium. What you see is what you get. More important, it allows trade to continue when the currency is lacking. It is cumbersome because both sides of the swap have to coincide. Apart from that, barter resembles normal trading quite closely, especially in its assumptions about property relations. It is easy enough to conceive of barter as markets without money. Perhaps this is what recommended it to the economists as a possible precursor of markets based on money. All that is missing is the money. Everything else is business as usual, especially the condition of exclusive private property in the goods traded. Barter is not much of an alternative then, just an inferior market mechanism. What other candidates are there for moving goods around? We have already been introduced to the idea of 'reciprocity' as a key concept in economic anthropology. The author of this idea thought that the original form of exchange was contained in the gift. Marcel Mauss was a co-operative socialist. He was therefore interested in how we make society where it did not exist before, as voluntary association, and especially in what keeps it going, the glue of social relations. Anthropologists had recently (in the 1920s) written about stateless societies with elaborate exchange systems conducted by means of giving rather than trading; and this recalled to his mind some practices of the ancient Celts, Indians and Romans. The free gift appears to be an act of pure selflessness, a bit like the ideal of parenthood. So how are social relations established or maintained through gifts? What binds us to these relations? The gift seemed to hold the key to this and it turned out not to be so free after all. Mauss found the roots of society itself in what he called the rule of reciprocity, which he took to be a human universal. What do we do when we would like to make a social connection? We offer a gift. Diplomats bring rare items from their homeland; boys offer flowers or chocolates on a date; middle class guests bring a bottle of wine; lonely travelers put themselves at the mercy of unknown hosts. What do they hope to achieve by this? Acceptance of the gift implies reciprocity, a return in future, at least the expectation of kindness. Mauss concluded that human beings were bound by giving in three stages. First, there was the obligation to give; second, the obligation to receive; and third, much the most important for his theory, the obligation to make a return, to reciprocate. I give to you so that you will give to me. Although market economy has evolved a long way from its origin in the gift, all forms of exchange share this fundamental logic. For Mauss, the essence of the gift was that it should not be reciprocated immediately. It would be impolite to return it at once, since this would constitute a canceling out of any interdependence created by the act of generosity and therefore no basis for projecting the relationship into the future. There is thus both a material and a spiritual aspect to the construction of relations over time. And these relations are highly personal. It is as if the gift contains a spirit compelling a return to its source. Mauss speculated that the origin of this institution lay in sacrifice. Out of fear and insecurity, human beings made gifts to the spirit powers who they imagined controlled the world, in the hope that they could compel concessions in return. The awful sense of that religious alienation then attached itself to gift-exchange between human beings. And, as anthropologists know all too well, the so-called free gift is never free, since it exercises some kind of hold over the recipient. If we don't return the gift in kind, then we must defer to the giver. Parents, the ultimate givers, ask for nothing but deference from their children. Whoever heard of parents and children being equal? The surprising fact of giving therefore is that it generates social inequality. We all know what to do if we wish to avoid becoming too closely involved with people through this kind of deferred exchange. We pay our own way, go Dutch, split the bill into equal parts. This is also the ethos of market exchange. I pay my money and I walk away free. Markets largely dispense with the unequal ethos of giving by making the exchange simultaneous and impersonal, removing time, person and spirit, in the end society itself, from the circulation of objects and money. But Mauss pointed out that markets are more than just spot transactions for cash. Many contracts have a time dimension. We work first and are paid our wages afterwards. We pay the rent before we occupy the lodgings. And of course the whole principle of loans and credit is buy now, pay later. We are constantly giving or receiving in ways that require us to project society into the future as the expectation of reciprocity, as contracts in other words. Mauss wanted the citizens of capitalist societies to see the logic of giving that still underpins our complex interdependence-- and not just at weddings or Christmas. Exchange is more than the interplay of private interests, more than the coercion of state laws. It is the way that human beings reconcile their individuality with belonging to others in society. If that is difficult to grasp, then perhaps the economic activities of remote South Sea islanders will make it clearer. In the Western Pacific, off the coast of New Guinea, a complex system of inter-island trade once flourished without benefit of merchants, markets or money and without centralized authority (states). The people shared a common culture with elaborate material needs that could not usually be met out of local resources alone. The islands were not self-sufficient: one would be rich in sago palms, another in stone or clay, while yet another may be noted for a particular kind of fish. How could these specialist items circulate between islands in the absence of any guaranteed peace? Long-distance trips are fraught with danger, making the unrestrained competition of commercial barter too risky. So an alternative method evolved, based on the exchange of valuables between leaders of expeditions and their hosts. "Kula" is both the practice of exchanging these valuables and the name for the tokens themselves. The leaders emphasize an ethos of generosity in handing over these valuables as gifts to their partners in other islands. They deny that it has anything to do with ordinary commerce. Nevertheless, a lot of mundane trading goes on under the umbrella of these kula partnerships. It works like this. Very few communities in the region have official chiefs. Instead there is an unstable pattern of political leadership in which "big men" (leaders without office) compete for followers. If people from island A want to acquire a commodity x from island B, they organize a canoe expedition under the leadership of a big man who has a longstanding partnership with a big man in island B. They take with them kula valuables, of which there are two types: red necklaces and white armshells. These valuables are named and the history of transactions involving the more famous ones is well known. Big men vie with each other to attract the best pieces to themselves. On this occasion the big man from A will set out carrying, say, red necklaces only and no other commodities. The canoes arrive empty-handed except for the necklaces. The big men from A and B will discuss which white armshell the latter may bring the next time he visits A. In the meantime their followers strike up partnerships, make promises of valuable exchange and load up the canoes with commodity x. They may also haggle over other individual items, safe in the peace secured by their leaders. The canoes return home and, when an expedition from B arrives some time later, carrying white armshells, the process is enacted again in reverse, with commodity y being loaded into B's canoes. The relationship between gift and barter as modes of exchange is perhaps revealed more clearly in another example. Kula is a ceremonious exchange of personal ornaments as gifts. "Gimwali" is an undignified haggling, individual barter, "trade pure and simple".. The contrast between them is as great as that between generosity and selfishness. On one of the bigger islands, coastal villagers exchange fish for yams or vegetables with landlocked villages, allowin asure of specialization between fishing and agriculture. Sometimes the exchange takes the form of gift exchange between community leaders ("wasi", following the pattern of kula); where there is no such relationship, individual barter at the household level ("vava", like gimwali) is normal. So, whereas in one case a big man hands over a job lot of fish to his counterpart, who rations them out among his followers and organizes a future return of yams, in the other individuals wander from house to house trying to get a reasonable deal for what they have to sell. The first is marked by ceremony, separation of the moments of exchange and conflict avoidance; the second by informality, simultaneous exchange and haggling. Thus one is a temporary framework erected in the absence of society, implying high social distance and weak political order. The other is an atomized interaction reflecting a relatively strong social order. In one case, society has to be made visible by means of the gift; in the other, it is the invisible background to barter, but a necessary presence nonetheless. Wasi and vava are thus different means of securing the same ends, the circulation of commodities between independent communities. Individual barter is favoured when the general peace is such as to allow commodities to be exchanged at their equivalent values; ceremonial gift-exchange is a temporary construct of peace based on alliance between leaders of communities at war, with political redistribution of commodities an inevitable corollary. A breakdown of political relations between coastal and inland villages might occasion a shift from vava to the more formal wasi. Equally, unpredictable fluctuations in supply (failure of the fish catch or a yam glut) might undermine the price-setting mechanism of barter and require the intervention of big men as rationing or stockpiling agents. Exchange thus oscillates between two poles in response to imperfections both of the political order and of supply and demand. Normal conditions grant low-level agents considerable autonomy which is superseded by high-level regulation when the environment is especially uncertain. The reputation of big men hangs on their generosity, so they affect to despise ordinary commerce. But we should not rely on their rhetoric to deny the complementarity of gift and barter in practice. Perhaps we can now take stock of the place that gift and barter occupy in the conventional myths of market origins. Markets and barter alike depend on an evolved social order which becomes invisible the more effective it is. Each depends on private property and tolerance of a degree of individual conflict in exchange. The essential equality of the parties to a given trade, reflected in the assumed equivalence of the money and commodities exchanged, is the result of a complex evolution, not a simple expression of human nature. At another level, a contrast can be made between markets and gift-exchange in which "we" moderns are selfish individuals, whereas "they", the primitives, serve only the interests of their communities. By labeling one practice primitive and the other modern, we imply that the direction of social evolution is, however regrettably, towards economic individualism. Mauss profoundly rejected this argument and so do I. First of all, market economy rests on social institutions (including state-administered laws) as well as on individual interests. Then too, the gift still flourishes in pockets of capitalist societies. Equally, systems like the kula reveal a rampant egotism on the part of competing leaders which hardly squares with the stereotype of primitive communism. All of this no doubt sounds pretty esoteric -- South Sea islanders and defunct Scottish philosophers. But the conventional wisdom about money, markets and their alternatives perpetuates a blindness to what matters in economic life that can have devastating consequences. The Cold War was fought in the name of the State and the Market. One side was society centralized a single agent, the other society dissolved into individual atoms. The United States, which operates the largest collective in the world, the Pentagon, claimed to represent 'free enterprise' against the 'Evil Empire'. Reagan and Thatcher denigrated the state while assiduously building up its strength. No wonder it was impossible to conceive of society as both an economic association of individuals and a political order. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Europe and soon afterwards Russia renounced state socialism. Hooray, say most of us. The obvious candidate as a replacement was liberal democracy and its twin the free market economy. After a decade of neo-liberal conservatism in the West, this recipe was in the ascendant. Privatization was the slogan of the hour. The former socialist societies actually paid consultants to help them privatize their economies. The notion that western market economies rested on a complex history of political institutions, like their states, for instance (whisper the word), had no place in liberal rhetoric. All the effort went into establishing private property and supplying the money needed to lubricate the markets. Deregulation was the order of the day, not the erection of a suitable political framework. The result we all know. The state was weakened beyond repair; the economy went into a tailspin; and the consequent void was filled by gangsters. These criminal mafias bear comparison with the big man societies who make up the kula ring. Without a framework of lawful institutions, commerce could only take place under the umbrella of a temporary framework erected by powerful individuals and their gangs. Violence was everywhere close to the surface. Contracts were personal and the gift economy took its most sadistic form ("He made me an offer I couldn't refuse"). This is what feudal Europe was like before the Italian Renaissance invented modern states, law and bureaucracy capable of guaranteeing an impersonal order necessary for commerce, or what Emile Durkheim called "the non-contractual element of the contract". If we remain unaware of this history, if the social infrastructure of markets i s invisible and unheeded, how can we prevent ourselves from sinking back into barbarism, as we cheerfully encouraged the Russians to, after they lost the Cold War? These questions are central if we set about building economic community where it did not exist before. If anything has emerged from the above, it is that both the individual and the collective are indispensable to economic order, both the personal and the impersonal. It is a profound error to assume that the superficial individualism of commerce was either primeval (the barter origins of money) or has evolved from its antithesis in the gift. Only the strongest of social infrastructures operate so effectively that they are invisible, thereby allowing the actions of many individuals to flourish. When they are weak, a few leaders assume personal responsibility for general interests. But at all times, it is the unity of individual and collective interests that counts. We have to pay attention to both sides, not oppose them in some fruitless re-enactment of twentieth century ideology. Keith Hart ------------------ Felix Stalder: "Not even capitalism, despite its ostensible organization by and for pragmatic advantage, can escape this cultural constitution of an apparently objective praxis. For, as Marx also taught, all production, even where it is governed by the commodity-form, by exchange-value, remains the production of use-values. Without consumption, the object does not complete itself as a product: a house left unoccupied is no house. Yet, use-values cannot be specifically understood on the natural level of 'needs' and 'wants' -- precisely because men do not merely produce 'housing' or 'shelter': they produce a dwelling of definite sorts, a peasant's hut or a nobleman's castle. This determination of use-values, of a particular type of house as a particular type of home, represents a continuous process of social life in which men reciprocally define objects in terms of themselves and themselves in terms of objects." Marshall Sahlins: La Pensee Bourgeoise. 1976 (2000) ---------- It is true that exchange involves subject-object relations as well as those linking individuals to society. There is a like about Sahlins' cultural approach, as expressed above and more fully in the essay cited , to be found in his wonderful recent collection, Culture and Practice (Zone, 2000). Moreover a strategic focus on material objects as symbols of social relations has been developed very profitably in anthropology, history of science and other disciplines following the work of Appadurai, Latour and Callon, Miller etc. Marcel Mauss, who was the inspiration for the first quote above, certainly recognised that capitalist markets had made both the social and the personal or spiritual aspects of exchange invisible. It is less obvious that Marx could be recruited as a source for this idea, since, from the very beginning of Capital, he rejected consumption of use values as a basis for the social analysis of commodity exchange and hence of capitalism. It seems different to us now, but remember that he was writing at a time when the price of corn was taken as a useful proxy for the value of workers' wages. And of course the consumptionist emphasis expressed so eloquently in the Sahlins quote has itself been attacked from the left, most recently in a new book by David Graeber, Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value (Palgrave, 2001). I'm with Sahlins and Mauss and the Marx of Grundrisse who so brilliantly demolished the hierarchy of production and consumption that he chose to endorse in Capital. Keith Hart --------------------- I don't think it's a question of subject-object vs subject-subject relations. Relationships rarely come in pairs (not even conventional relationships, as AIDS taught us), but in long chains, made up of links of all kinds of materialities (humans, viruses and latex, in the case of AIDS). I think we will never understand what people do, if we do not include the objects that help them doing it. In this sense, subject-subject relations are always mediated by objects (even if the object is immaterial, like speech). Some call this mediation process "translation" for it never simply transports but always transforms, in the same sense than a text is being transformed when it is translated. Some times translations stay close to the original, some times they don't. This, I think, is what an inclusive media theory is about, trying to understand this mediation process, which always involves technology. McLuhan used to differentiate between transportation theories of communication (Shannon Weaver) and transformation theories (his own). ----------- > a continuous process of social life in which men reciprocally define > objects in terms of themselves and themselves in terms of objects. --------------- Latour once wrote a brilliant article called "technology is society made durable". In this (or perhaps somewhere else) he compares human societies with primate societies (baboons). The difference he sees is not that one is more complex than the other, but that some (the baboons) have nothing other than their bodies to construct their society, they have real subject-subject relationships. Very little mediation. Hence their societies hardly extend over time and space and have, essentially, to be recreated every day. This, to some degree, accounts for their cultural stasis, there's only so much you can do on a single day. Humans, on the other hand, use objects to constitute society (and themselves). This allows them to bridge time and space and accumulate social learning in something more stable than human bodies. The pyramids still hold a powerful grip on Egypt, long after the last pharaoh has died. Felix -------------------- This is a response principally to Brian Holmes's contibution to this thread of 25th May, but it spills over into his various posts on the Zagreb interview with Michael Hardt. Brian began by disagreeing with my assertion that Capital endorsed a hierarchical version of production and consumption that Marx had demolished in Grundrisse. He said that Marx was keen to dismantle the hierarchy imposed by capitalism and was fully aware of the restrictions it imposed on human creativity. He went on to suggest two possible approaches to an oppressive system -- exit (dropping out) and voice (political opposition). The latter option always carries with it the danger of reproducing what is opposed. He ended by suggesting that contemporary conditions deny us the luxury of a choice between these approaches. This was related to the thread principally with reference to the argument that a vast invisible infrastructure supports transactions involving markets and money; and that this can and does support a variety of other human exchanges. In one of the Zagreb posts, he poses the question in a way that might inform the invocation of 'multitude' as a concept sustaining transnational politics: >Is it possible to name all those non-contractual, non-market principles on which a multiplicity of human exchanges in reality depend? Is it possible to acquire a much clearer understanding of what kind of solidarities the transnational networks are based on, how and why they function, and how they interact with existing representational institutions?< I fully the support the impulse behind these interventions, which I read as a desire for greater clarity and realism in building the associations capable of deflecting transnational capitalism for its curreent path. It's just that there are several arguments going on here and it might pay to keep them separate. No-one disputes that Marx was animated by the desire to move us beyond the iunhuman restrictions imposed on society by capitalism. Equally, there were times when he was able to give vent to a more wideranging human philosophy (as in the notebooks of Grundrisse) and others when he chose to pitch his tent closer to the ruling orthodoxy of political economy (as in Capital). Marx's own intentions are secondary to the policies pursued by the movement carrying his name and these played straight into what became a twentieth century orthodoxy to privilege work in public places over what people do at home. This had an obvious relationship to gender politics. In the post preceding Brian's contribution, I suggested that the subordination of consumption (use value) to production (exchange value) in Capital chapter 1 made it anachronistic to invoke Marx as the author of a cultural theory of use value, as Sahlins did. The point of this scholasticism is to oppose the notion that the society we live in and have lived in for two centuries is best understood in terms of a totalizing social logic known as 'capitalism'. Indeed I would argue that Marx's most original contribution to understanding modern history was his depiction of capitalism as feudalism in drag. He did this by making surplus value his central concept, thereby drawing an explicit analogy between the extraction typical of wage capitalism and feudal serfdom. Remember that at this time the capitalists usually enlisted the workers on their side against the militiary landlord class. Only later did it become apparent that the capitalists now joined with the latter to keep down the workers (in the political revolutions inaugurating state capitalism). So capitalism is not so distinct from the social formations it pretended to displace and this leaves plenty of room on all sides of the political spectrum for the institutions of agrarian civilization to flourish (patriarchy, landed property, world religion etc). That is why the state, presumed in the late 19th century to be out on its feet, was revived with such deadly effect in the 20th century. And this is only to speak of those parts of the planet in which capitalism is most developed. What about the more than 2 bn human beings who still work in the fields with their hands? Or the vast areas of the world where the machine revolution has hardly penetrated at all? It would not be surprising if Marx, around 1860, sometimes wrote as if capitalism were a transient blot on the human landscape and at others as if it was already the dominant force in society. Brian evoked the non-contractual, non-market principles on which human exchange depends. This is to rehearse the project of Karl Polanyi who hoped to oppose the market with a form of state planning based on timeless principles of householding, reciprocity and redistribution. The affinities with Stalinism are obvious and Polanyi never recovered from being in the USA during the Cold War. Marcel Mauss, on the other hand, considered the market to be itself an expression of timeless qualities of human exchange and, following his Uncle Emile, wanted to expose to view the non-contractual institutions that made market contracts possible, as a way of getting citizens to think more constructively about the conditions of cooperation in societies that already depend on markets and money. That is broadly speaking my agenda too. The main problem with the empire/multitude pair developed by Hardt and Negri is that it offers a totalizing simplification of the world we live in. Brian is right to demand greater specificity concerning the forms of transnational association that might be capable of resisting capitalism effectively and beyond that of building better societies for us all. I would argue that the long boom of the 80s and 90s supported a teleological vision of 'globalization' in which the left participated as much as the right (who orchestrated it). But now that we are living in the aftermath of the bust and its apocalyptic political symbol, when the Bush regime seems to have reverted to 'state capitalism in one country' and all kinds of ugly politics are surfacing, it may not help the left to persist with intellectual traditions based on an assumption that 'capitalism' is all we need to know about our world. Vague notions of a self-mobilising 'multitude' are even less likely to help. If capitalism is the culmination of the age of money and unequal property, its roots are 5,000 years ago and it will take more a myopic presentism to dislodge them. To my mind, the last 150 years have witnessed a regression from the liberal democracy promised by the 17th and 18th century revolutions and that retrograde movement is picking up speed as I write. Yes, we need to be more precise about the means we hope to live by, but we also need to be able to question the historical vision that has us largely emancipated from five millennia of the old regime. Keith ------------------ by Mckenzie Wark, on Empire; this post ( nettime-l-0205/msg00207.html) has a handful of responses (I post the one by Keith Snelson) --- Hardt and Negri's Empire takes a strange turn early on, when it discusses the legal framework of an emerging international order. On one level, this is a standard Marxist analytic technique: Look to the transformations of the visible superstructures for underlying infrastructural changes otherwise hard to detect. But what I find curious is the particular legal infrastructure chosen for attention. Had they chosen to look at the development of intellectual property law, H+N might have come closer to a revival of class analysis. Property is the basis of class. The privatization of land, the capital, and now information divides the world between classes whose interests are antithetical. The enclosure of land pits farmers against landlords. The development of private capital pits capitalists against workers. But now there is a new dimension to class struggle, which pits the producers of intellectual property, what I would call a hacker class, against a new class that gathers into its hands all of the means of realizing the value of commodified information -- the vectoralist class. Much of what we grasp through the crude prism of 'globalization' is explained by the development of this third level to class struggle. Marx was always well aware that commodification had two phases -- agricultural and industrial. Ricardo had already instructed him on the difference between rent (the return on land) and profit (the return on capital). It is a pity that H+N did not choose to look further at the fundamentals of class. By choosing instead international law and sovereignty, they pursue another important but not necessarily dominant dynamic at work in the world. This I would call the struggle between the vector and the envelope. It is an historical conflict, partially capture in D+G's concepts of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. However, they preferred an ahistorical use of these terms, with the partial exception of their exemplary analysis of the state in Anti-Oedipus. It is by making a of the politics of vector and enclosure, and ignoring innovations in class formation and class analysis that one ends up with the sterile opposition between 'neo-liberalism' and 'anti- globalization'. In H+N, what is innovative is that they in effect shift the axis of conflict toward two competing forms of vectoralization -- Empire versus the multitude. However, since the former is in some ways considered a form of autonomous 'self envelopment', it doesn't escape the flirtation with romantic discourses of people and place (crudely ' m') which dogs the anti-globalization movement. Moreover, H+N have not really thought through the material means by which 'globalization' is effected. Looking at the law of post-national sovereignty is to look at an effect and not a cause. The rise of a matrix of communication vectors, increasingly under the control of a vectoral class, is not very well analyzed in Empire. Communication merits the odd description, but rarely conceptual development. Here H+N reproduce a weakness in Marx's original analysis of the commodity form. It is all very well to talk about the relationship between money as the general equivalent and the exchange value of commodities, but Marx never really talks about the material means by which such a relation is communicated and effected. What makes possible relations of value is what is at the heart of 'globalization', namely, a vectoralization, by which things can be posited as independent of their conditions of formation and placed upon a plane of acknowledgement and comparison. Not only the market but all forms of relation become vectoralized, particularly since the mid-19th century invention of the telegraph, the point at which the information vector takes off and becomes a time-space domain for the ordering of relations between people and things. Vectoralization has micro as well as macro effects, and it is important to grasp both at once -- something the terms of the 'globalization' debate do not. Neither do H+N, who require supplementary concepts to account for the micro scale changes they see, which are not necessarily compatible with their macro level concepts. There's no neat fit between the theory of empire at the macro scale and the theory of the disciplinary society and its transformation into the society of control, which are meant to account for micro-level changes in subject formation. H+N turn the history of theory into a theory of history, Foucault followed by Deleuze, but this is not a conceptually abstract enough procedure to really grasp the tendencies currently at work in the world. Considered together, a class analysis that takes intellectual property seriously, together with a theory of the vector and the envelope attuned to the material basis of vectoralization, gives a better account of appearances than the more cumbersome and scholastic theory offered by H+N. One sees that current developments don't add up quite so neatly to a new totality. Very contradictory forces are at work. The old state system, which grew out of the power of the vector has come in turn to be undermined by it. As the ruling class becomes itself vectoral, its wealth based on guarding its patents and copyrights, its channels and stocks of information, it frees itself from its spatial commitments within the state. States become subject to capture by particular interests, and set up temporary envelopes against vectoralization at the behest of different class forces in different places at different times. H+N's theory of empire has been overtaken by events. The theory works well for the Clinton years, when the American state did indeed seem more or less committed to vectoralization, to undermining its own envelop in the interests of the vectoral class. The Bush jr years are far more contradictory. Bush is currently the leading anti-globalization campaigner in the United States -- if a very selective one. His breach of the spirit, and the letter of the WTO to protect the steel industry is a tactical switch from the politics of the vector to the politics of the envelope. As such it is not uncommon -- Japan, the EU and the US constantly switch from one to the other, under pressure from different alliances of class forces. What may be far more significant is the continuous pressure from the vectoralist class to achieve the total enclosure of information within a regime of private property. This has both national and supra-national dimensions. A remarkable amount of the WTO negotiations concern intellectual property issues. These agreements are in part at least merely symbolic, but they have their parallel in very effective national regimes of IP law and regulation which secure once the property of the vectoral class. Just as the enclosure acts sealed the fate of a free peasantry and created commodified agriculture; just as the development of the4 joint stock company secured the commodification of capital, so too IP law is creating a third tier of class polarization and conflict. But one finds very little resonance of these issues of H+N. Negri made some tentative steps towards a new development of class theory in The Politics of Subversion, but in Empire this is not taken any further. Perhaps the effort of rewriting Marx as Spinoza has pushed any new developments in class analysis or in the analysis of the materiality of the forces of abstraction in the world into the background. The Spinozist turn gives rightful emphasis to the productive and creative aspects of labor. Here H+N continue the work they set out in The Labor of Dionysus. But this theoretical preference determines, in advance, a political preference, for the kind of 'worker's power' movement Negri sponsored in Italy. One might want to cast a cold and critical eye over the successes and failures of this type of political theory and practice over the last 30 years in Italy before signing onto it as a global political stance. And see also  projects/hackermanifesto/version_2.0/ ------------------- Had they chosen to look at the development of > intellectual property law, H+N might have come > closer to a revival of class analysis. True enough, but there's a very good reason why Negri (forget about Hardt, for he knows not what he does) didn't talk about IP law in Empire. It's because the entire book is one grand apotheosis of the legal fiction upon which IP law is based. In fact, it generalizes the basic idea of IP law to a level of ontological totality. The faint and pale term "intellectual property" simply wouldn't have done it justice. This basic idea, this legal fiction, is what educated people call "primitive word magic". Empire, on the other hand, calls it "the linguistic production of reality" [34]. Or as Negri says elsewhere in his let's- wow- the- undergrads mode: "The production of commodities tends to be accomplished entirely through language, where by language we mean machines of intelligence that are continuously renovated by the affects and subjective passions" [366]. The first real-world implication of all this, which Negri develops at length, is that labor is now "immaterial" and "beyond measure". A kid who lights a joint, puts a ring through her nose and throws a rubbish bin through a Starbucks window is working just as hard as a steelworker and so deserves a "social wage" [401-3] as compensation for her valuable time. Except, of course, for the fact that "time" is itself a corrupt term, produced by the "violence of power" and "capital's colonization of communicative sociality" [404]. The multitude, having realized that seizing "control over linguistic sense and meaning" is the "first aspect of the telos of the multitude" [404] now prefers the phrase "biopolitical production of new temporalities". [cf 401] Now THERE's a slogan that will set the masses in motion! Such considerations lead Negri directly to the second real-world implication of his revival of primitive word magic: that the most urgent revolutionary task is "free access and control over knowledge, information, communication, and affects." [407] Again, the term "intellectual property" simply wouldn't have done justice to such a totalizing ideal. Sure, Negri talks about all of this as a "commons" [300-3,358] But that recurring word "control" reveals that he's not against IP rights. He's simply saying that We should control information, not They. And by We, he doesn't mean some diffuse concept such as humanity or the proletariat. He's talking about a "postmodern posse" that results from "the construction, or rather the insurgence, of a powerful organization" [411]. After all, Negri's no anarchist. In his own words, "we are not anarchists but communists who have seen how much repression and destruction of humanity have been wrought by liberal and socialist big governments" [350]. It would be understandable to conclude from this that "communists" are people who talk like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. But that would be incorrect. To understand what Negri's really saying, read Sorel's 1908 "Reflections on Violence". Negri has done nothing except to recast that book into today's inelegant academic idiom. And then read up a little on what Sorel's disciples went on to do. A few recent comments on nettime have delicately pointed out that Negri's concept of "multitude" may need a little more work if it is to shed the whiff of m. I respectfully disagree. Negri's work is as worked out as it's ever going to get, and that whiff of m about it is actually an unbearably noxious reek. But the most effective and appropriate response to Negri's nonsense is simply to laugh at it. Reading Empire is a lot like reading Aristotle. It is almost as if, paraphrasing Marx, all great ideas happen twice: the first time as genius, the second time as stupidity. You find yourself immersed in page after page of almost unparseable sentences about time and motion and material teleology, of generation and corruption, of actuality and potentiality and virtuality. And on the next page, you're solemnly informed that goats breathe through their ears. Caveat lector. Or, as they say in today's university vernacular, don't believe the hype. Kermit Snelson -------------------another Wark post, last third from fourth part, 00086 (may): ; he drew some responses on part 1 (on with his vectors (a bit more still and)) yet again): In writing about September 11 as an event happening in a network of global vectors, which made it that much more instant, that much more deadly, writing struggles to recall that we are not just spectators. The whole thing about the media vector is that its tendency is towards implicating the entire globe. Its historic tendency is towards making any and every point a possible connection — everyone and everything is a potential object and/or subject of a mediated relation, realized instantly. In September 11, to see it was to be implicated in it. There is no safe haven from which to observe, unaffected. Nor is there a synoptic vantage point, above and beyond the whole process for looking on in a detached and studious manner. We are all, always, already — there, in third nature. As the possibility of an extensive war of revenge increased, the media's role changed, ever so imperceptibly. No longer did it exist in a relation to an audience assumed to be a mass of consumers or a public to be educated. The event turns the media into part of a feedback loop connecting the spectator to the action via the vagaries of 'opinion' and the pressures of the popular on political elites. The media user becomes a vague and quixotic, unpredictable yet manipulatory 'delay' in the circuit of power. This is the curious thing about telesthesia. It can make events that connect the most disparate sites of public action appear simultaneously as a private drama filled with familiar characters and moving stories. The vector blurs the thin line between political crisis and media sensation; it eclipses the geographical barriers separating distinct cultural and political entities; and it transgresses the borders between public and private spheres both on the home front and the front line. There is no longer a clear distinction between public and private spaces, now that the vector transgresses the boundaries of the private sphere. As Donna Haraway suggests, "we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrid of machine and organism." Our chimerical confusion may result from the dissolution of the spaces which kept aspects of the social order separate. Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of the event is that it exposes the ironic ability of the vector to disrupt all seemingly stable distributions of space and the more or less water- tight vessels that used to contain meaning in space and time. As September 11 unfolded, the hallowed ground bled into the profane domain — of media. One keeps the sense of what it means to be in public life as opposed to private life by keeping them spatially separate. The horror of bodies jumping from the towers -- a rare image, quickly edited out -- has a layer to it which draws on the horror of the separate and excluded part reappearing in the everyday sphere of 'normality.' The reasons why these interpretations should spring to mind stems from another sense of separation, the separation of such things off from Wedom and their projection into an other. Yet here they are, returned to haunt us, in an uncontrollable way. Here they are in everyday life, intersected by the rays of the screen. To adapt a line from William Burroughs, in an incongruous yet strikingly apt context: "These things were revealed to me in the Interzone, where East meets West coming around the other way." The interzone is this space where chimerical and monstrous images become a part of everyday life. The interzone is the experience, in everyday life, of the ironizing impact of the event. The media weave a Wedom and a vast map of Theydoms together as the light and dark strands of a narrative distinction within the event as it of threads its way across these other kinds of border. In breaking down solid old boundaries, the vector creates new distinctions. Flexible distinctions airily flow through the story-time realm of information. They selectively replace the heavy walls and barriers that compartmentalized information in days when vectors were less rapid and less effective. This cruder narrative structure can be applied to more sudden and diverse events to produce the same effect of apparent narrative seamlessness. The application by the media of simple temporal structures, in a flexible fashion, produces more rigid and uniform stories about events. There are many analyses of these war-time bed-time stories that expose the interests of capital and empire that lie behind them. What matters is telling convincing stories, which show others ways to account for the facts -- and for the way facts are produced. Or persuasive stories, which help as many people as possible to credit this version of the event over other ones. The democratic forces that want to rewrite this event as a chapter in the story of, say, American imperialism or Orientalist racism, must learn the tools and the tricks of the story trade — and prevail. But as the technology of persuasion grows more complex, the art of telling stories in the wake of events grows both more complex and more instantaneous. If this essay is less concerned with telling these alternative stories it is not because such things are not important. It is because it is also important to understand the nature of weird global media events and the power field of the vector. This is the field of becoming within which a certain kind of power is immanent. A field in which democratic forces need to speak, and attempt at least to make good sense, for and with, the many against the few. But the tools for doing so may have less to do with the hypocritical ernestness of Wedom and more to do with pushing the ironic spatial and temporal displacements of vectors to the limit. -------------------------- On Friday 10 May 2002 21:10, you wrote: > One of the ways that so much unaccountability happens in society is that > money has no history... we never know what we are inadvertently supporting > by passing along particular currency. The article below describes "dirty" money, but even "clean" money sucks and corrupts. It is a deliberately scarce commodity that, by it's very nature, exploits people and resources (nature) until both are exhausted. People will do anything to get money, especially when desperate. It is the fuel that feeds the corporate machine. Fortunately, there is a solution - free money - as in free speech, not free beer. A different kind of money - created by us as a medium of exchange, sufficient to our needs - . . ernie yacub ey@open . "Dirty Money" Foundation of US Growth and Empire Size and Scope of Money Laundering by US Banksby James Petras Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University La Jornada, Mexico, 19th May 2001 Posted at 29 August 2001 [...] In other words, an incomplete figure of dirty money (laundered criminal and corrupt money) flowing into U.S. coffers during the 1990s amounted to $3-$5.5 trillion. This is not the complete picture but it gives us a basis to estimate the significance of the "dirty money factor" in evaluating the U.S. economy. In the first place, it is clear that the combined laundered and dirty money flows cover part of the U.S. deficit in its balance of merchandis which ranges in the hundreds of billions annually. As it stands, the U.S. trade deficit is close to $300 billion. Without the "dirty money" the U.S. economy external accounts would be totally unsustainable, living standards would plummet, the dollar would weaken, the available investment and loan capital would shrink and Washington would not be able to sustain its global empire. And the importance of laundered money is forecast to increase. Former private banker Antonio Geraldi, in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee projects significant growth in U.S. bank laundering. "The forecasters also predict the amounts laundered in the trillions of dollars and growing disproportionately to legitimate funds." The $500 billion of criminal and dirty money flowing into and through the major U.S. banks far exceeds the net revenues of all the IT companies in the U.S., not to speak of their profits. These yearly inflows surpass all the net transfers by the major U.S. oil producers, military industries and airplane manufacturers. The biggest U.S. banks, particularly Citibank, derive a high percentage of their banking profits from serving these criminal and dirty money accounts. The big U.S. banks and key institutions sustain U.S. global power via their money laundering and managing of illegally obtained overseas funds. U.S. Banks and The Dirty Money Empire Washington and the mass media have portrayed the U.S. as being in the forefront of the struggle against narco trafficking, drug laundering and political corruption: the image is of clean white hands fighting dirty money. The truth is exactly the opposite. U.S. banks have developed a highly elaborate set of policies for transferring illicit funds to the U.S., investing those funds in legitimate businesses or U.S. government bonds and legitimating them..... -------------------- The trouble with rants like Petras is they leave the reader powerless. Think about direct action, instead. Money freed from space and time, 5000 years before the internet. And it also freed us from the tyranny of barter, i.e. - the limitation to a particular trading partner, - the limitation to trades of equivalent value, and - the necessity of deep analysis of comparative value, in every trade. But its curse is that it blocks information, first of all you cannot associate your own judgments of the value of this and that, as well as the market can. As a result, young people have the continual experience of losers. You're fifty years old before you understand the value of money itself. Evil issuers increase and decrease the value intentionally, within a calculated to maximize their takings from money users. The curse of money is that it's *incapable* of conveying a history even between consenting parties who *want* the history available for analysis. Better money would allow the user to collect the details of all transactions, rather than coercing the discarding of the information content of the money. Settlement itself, is a relinquishing of claims by the payor, making the history of the money irrelevant for most purposes. But we have computers now :-) Doesn't that invite a re-examination of the idea of settlement? Settlement itself is an intentional blocking of information. (Product codes such as EAN UCC or other barcodes, similarly, destroy all of the supply chain contributions, stripping all producers of their reputations except the "Brand" seller at the top of the pyramid.) In a utopia, perhaps, nothing would ever settle. Obligations might be left to run in an open-ended way. Communities would observe balances of their members, and members would have the power to provide views of historical transactions to other members. The persistent nature of this information and the fact it was controlled by members rather than banks, would reduce the role of the state in financial matters. Again-- there has never been a computable infrastructure that could provide a history to money - -but it could be done fairly quickly, within an intentional community, using e-business standards like ebXML which focus on collaboration and trade. You can't cure the Money problem, by trying to fix the Money system. Todd AR/AP everywhere --- end forwarded text -- ----------------- R. A. Hettinga The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA "... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity, [predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' ------------------- > Had they chosen to look at the development of > intellectual property law, H+N might have come > closer to a revival of class analysis. True enough, but there's a very good reason why Negri (forget about Hardt, for he knows not what he does) didn't talk about IP law in Empire. It's because the entire book is one grand apotheosis of the legal fiction upon which IP law is based. In fact, it generalizes the basic idea of IP law to a level of ontological totality. The faint and pale term "intellectual property" simply wouldn't have done it justice. This basic idea, this legal fiction, is what educated people call "primitive word magic". Empire, on the other hand, calls it "the linguistic production of reality" [34]. Or as Negri says elsewhere in his let's- wow- the- undergrads mode: "The production of commodities tends to be accomplished entirely through language, where by language we mean machines of intelligence that are continuously renovated by the affects and subjective passions" [366]. The first real-world implication of all this, which Negri develops at length, is that labor is now "immaterial" and "beyond measure". A kid who lights a joint, puts a ring through her nose and throws a rubbish bin through a Starbucks window is working just as hard as a steelworker and so deserves a "social wage" [401-3] as compensation for her valuable time. Except, of course, for the fact that "time" is itself a corrupt term, produced by the "violence of power" and "capital's colonization of communicative sociality" [404]. The multitude, having realized that seizing "control over linguistic sense and meaning" is the "first aspect of the telos of the multitude" [404] now prefers the phrase "biopolitical production of new temporalities". [cf 401] Now THERE's a slogan that will set the masses in motion! Such considerations lead Negri directly to the second real-world implication of his revival of primitive word magic: that the most urgent revolutionary task is "free access and control over knowledge, information, communication, and affects." [407] Again, the term "intellectual property" simply wouldn't have done justice to such a totalizing ideal. Sure, Negri talks about all of this as a "commons" [300-3,358] But that recurring word "control" reveals that he's not against IP rights. He's simply saying that We should control information, not They. And by We, he doesn't mean some diffuse concept such as humanity or the proletariat. He's talking about a "postmodern posse" that results from "the construction, or rather the insurgence, of a powerful organization" [411]. After all, Negri's no anarchist. In his own words, "we are not anarchists but communists who have seen how much repression and destruction of humanity have been wrought by liberal and socialist big governments" [350]. It would be understandable to conclude from this that "communists" are people who talk like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. But that would be incorrect. To understand what Negri's really saying, read Sorel's 1908 "Reflections on Violence". Negri has done nothing except to recast that book into today's inelegant academic idiom. And then read up a little on what Sorel's disciples went on to do. A few recent comments on nettime have delicately pointed out that Negri's concept of "multitude" may need a little more work if it is to shed the whiff of m. I respectfully disagree. Negri's work is as worked out as it's ever going to get, and that whiff of m about it is actually an unbearably noxious reek. But the most effective and appropriate response to Negri's nonsense is simply to laugh at it. Reading Empire is a lot like reading Aristotle. It is almost as if, paraphrasing Marx, all great ideas happen twice: the first time as genius, the second time as stupidity. You find yourself immersed in page after page of almost unparseable sentences about time and motion and material teleology, of generation and corruption, of actuality and potentiality and virtuality. And on the next page, you're solemnly informed that goats breathe through their ears. Caveat lector. Or, as they say in today's university vernacular, don't believe the hype. Kermit Snelson ---------------- While i don't agree with everything Kermit writes in his post on Empire, i do agree that the concept of 'immaterial labour' is misconceived. *All* labour is simulataneously material and immaterial. All labour is about the transformation of both matter and information. Even within the terms of an analysis of immaterial labour, one has to ask, for whom does labour appear to become immaterial? Only for those of us in what Paul Gilroy so aptly called the 'overdeveloped' world. In a place like China, the 21st century is very much an *industrial* era. Take a look at Shenzen and you lose count of the smokestacks. There is a privileging of the experience of the overdeveloped world in H+N, and indeed in Negri. But it is no longer necessarily the case that what happens in the overdeveloped world has some determining role for the rest of us. But one thing that does seem to me to be worth pointing out is that IP becomes a new source of power for a new class, what i call the vectoralist class. A class whose power is based on the control of copyrights and patents, not on the control of the productive assets of agriculture or manufacturing. There has been a hollowing out of the corporations of the overdeveloped world. They have passed from a capitalist to a vectoralist formation. They control the means of designing and branding things, but subcontract manufacturing out elsewhere. An example might be the American corporation ADM, which was once about the production of agriculture, then about the secondary processing of food products, but is now about patenting plant varieties and branding foodstuffs. Its history spans the history of commodification through land, capital, information. But there is nothing 'immaterial' about this. Its a misunderstanding of materiality to think that information belongs to the real of the ideal. Its a weirdly imperial move, reserving the immaterial (aka the ideal) for the overdeveloped world. If what happens in the overdeveloped world still matters, it is that a new mode of commodified life has been born there. The monopolisation of information affects the life chances of everyone everywhere. The emerging regime of global IP is heavily biased towards the needs of the overdeveloped world. One forgets that when the US was a 'developing' country, it freely stole patents and copyrights from Europe. The immaterial comes to exist precisely *because* it becomes a form of property. This crucial insight is to my reading missing from H+N. By treating it as an ontological category, H+N dehistoricise the relations of power by which the 'immaterial' comes into being. Which is why i prefer this other way of conceptualising it, which puts IP as a class instrument at the centre of the analysis. Many thanks ot Kermit for inciting me to think this through further, k McKenzie Wark wrote: >But one thing that does seem to me to be worth pointing out is >that IP becomes a new source of power for a new class, what i >call the vectoralist class. A class whose power is based on >the control of copyrights and patents, not on the control of >the productive assets of agriculture or manufacturing. There has >been a hollowing out of the corporations of the overdeveloped >world. They have passed from a capitalist to a vectoralist >formation. They control the means of designing and branding >things, but subcontract manufacturing out elsewhere. Ever hear of these little entities called Ford and General Motors? Or Toyota and Volkswagen? In case you've forgotten, they're based in the First, or if you prefer "overdeveloped," world, own big factories, have hundreds of thousands of employees, and make cars and trucks by the tens of millions. There are some 18 million manufacturing workers in the U.S. Manufacturing generates over $1 trillion in income annually in this country. We've got a ways to go before we hit pure virtuality. -- Doug Henwood writes, >Ever hear of these little entities called Ford and General Motors? Yes, and look how far down he Fortune 500 they have slid in the last 50 years. >In case you've forgotten, they're based in the >First, or if you prefer "overdeveloped," world, own big factories, And are moving those factories to Mexico or the former Eastern Europe. >There are some 18 million manufacturing workers in the U.S. Which is less than the number working in the fast food industry. >Manufacturing generates over $1 trillion in income annually in this >country. We've got a ways to go before we hit pure virtuality. I have never argued that the economy of the overdeveloped world is in any sense becoming a 'pure virtuality'. I argue that *power* in that economy is less and less tied to manufacturing ability, and more and more tied to the research and development of new things and new images, new patents and copyrights. Nothing 'virtual' about it. 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. --------------------- Geert Lovink: TechnoGenerationalism, the Latest Escape Review of Michael Lewis - The Future Just Happened By Geert Lovink The Future Just Happened is Michael Lewis' next publication after his model hype story on Jim Clark and the Netscape IPO, The New New Thing. Lewis wisely keeps his mouth about the whereabouts of his New Thing heroes and the tragic marginalization of the web browser company Netscape after its sellout to AOL. For Lewis Dotcommania has not been a process shaped by technologists, but a scheme, ran by financial professionals. In an opportunistic manner Lewis states: "In pursuit of banking fees the idea that there was such a thing as the truth had been lost." The active role that his own, immensely popular, dotcom book might have played in talking up stocks remains undiscussed. Suffering from short memory, Lewis sets out to map the social impacts of the Internet. The Future Just Happened is the book accompanying a television series with the same title Lewis wrote for the BBC. For this occasion Lewis develops a wildly uncritical crackpot sociology. In order not to have to talk about the flaws of dotcom business models, the Microsoft monopoly, the corporate and state crackdown on privacy and other urgent issues, the "amateur social theorist" Michael Lewis discovers the teenagers, innocent pioneers not corrupted by Wall St. money and corporate greed. For Lewis technology has no agenda. It has only got heroes who are driving a wild and unspecified process. "The only thing capitalism cannot survive is stability. Stability-true stability-is an absence of progress, and a dearth of new wealth." Instead of looking into marketing, the production of new consumer groups and the role of early adopters, Lewis reverses the process. He mistakenly presumes that the first users of technology are actually driving the process. Sadly enough for the early adaptors, this is not the case. If any identifiable agency is driving technology it would arguably be the military, followed by university research centers, in conjunction with large corporations and an occasional start-up. In The Future Just Happened Lewis' heroes are no longer dotcom CEOs but ordinary people, in particular adolescents. Finland is used here an example. The Fins were successful because they were especially good at guessing what others would want from their mobile phone. Lewis follows the corporate rhetoric of Nokia who presumably spent a lot of time studying children. However, the assumption made here is a wrong one. Finnish school kidz did not invent instant messaging. What they did was using existing features in a perhaps unexpected way. An interesting detail is that SMS is a relative low-tech feature. The Nokia anthropologists then picked up on this informal mobile phone use in their marketing strategy. In short, the Finnish youth neither invented nor further developed the SMS standard. It found new social uses, in a close feedback with the corporate (research) sector. Loops between marketers and the 'cool' rebels are short. Such dynamics are perhaps too complex for Lewis. He sets out to portray them, celebrating his heroes in an uncritical fashion, as he had done before with Wall Street financial analysts and Netscape entrepreneur Jim Clark. The Future Just Happened tells the story of the fifteen-year-old Jonathan Lebed, "the first child to manipulate the stock market." In September 2000 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settled its case of stock market fraud against this computer wiz kid who had used the Internet to promote stocks from his bedroom in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. "Armed only with accounts at AOL and - , the kid had bought stock, then, using "multiple fictious names," posted hundreds of messages on Yahoo Finance message boards recommending that stock to others." Lebed agreed to hand over his gains of $285.000. Lewis' inability to frame events becomes clear here. He completely fails to mention that these same young fellow day traders only a few months after the Lebed case lost billions and billions of dollars. Of course Lewis is not visiting losers. This obvious fact, known to Lewis, doesn't fit in his success story about the "democratization of capital." Instead, the impression of the reader has to be: clever kids can make a lot of money on the Net and the establishment doesn't let them. How unfair. In The Future Just Happened Michael Lewis features the Gnutella, peer-to-peer (P2P) software, launched in March 2000 by the twenty-year-old AOL employee Justin Frankel. The Gnutella case is a real challenge for the capitalist Lewis' belief system. He interprets the post-Napster free exchange movement in an interesting way. For Lewis P2P stands for the post-1989 'capitalism without alternatives', which 'allows' peer-to-peer networks to experiment. "Now that the system is no longer opposed [by communism, GL] it could afford to take risks. Actually these risks were no luxury. Just as people needed other people to tell them who they were, ideas needed other ideas to tell them what they meant." Read: corporate technology needs its own internal  antagonists such as Linux, PGP and Gnutella. All the virus does is test the system. "That's perhaps one reason that people so explicitly hostile to capitalism were given a longer leash than usual: they posed no fundamental risk." In Lewis' one-way street model the rebel has no option but to integrate. Duped by a fatal cocktail of historical necessity and the greedy human nature, the Internet rebel will ultimately change sides. Sooner or later "some big company swoops in and buys them, or they give birth to the big company themselves. Inside every alienated hacker there is a tycoon struggling to get out. It's not the system he hates. His gripe is with the price the system initially offers him to collaborate." Hear deep throat of the capitalist doctrine talking here, speaking on behalf of the 'speechless' hackers. In order to explain real struggles between inside and outside, Lewis has to recourse to the good-evil distinction. Capitalism in essence is pure and good and cares for the Internet. However, it is the lawyers, CEOs and financiers who are the evil elements. They are imperfect, greedy human beings trying to frustrate "change" as practiced by the youngsters. Lewis does not ask himself the obvious question why the Internet has not been able to disassociate itself from the dotcoms in an early stage. Good capitalists go to Sillicon Valley, bad ones to Wall Street. This simple 'Westcoast good, Eastcoast bad' scheme is making waves these days, with cyber visionaries having to explain what went so wrong. Lewis then sets out to reinterpret 'socialist' intentions of youngsters as "rebel ideas of outsiders" whose only wish, and legitimate right it seems to be, to get incorporated. Here Lewis really shows his cynical nature, overruling legitimate concerns of hackers in favor of his own conservative political agenda. Lewis advises us not to take notice of anti-capitalist sentiments. "Socialistic impulses will always linger in the air, because they grow directly out of the human experience of capitalism," Lewis reassures us. "The market has found a way not only to permit the people who are most threatening to it their rebellious notions but to capitalize on them." Daniel, a fourteen-year-old English Gnutella developer "didn't see things this way, of course. He was still in the larval state of outsider rebellion." In reference to the debate sparked by SUN's senior technologist Bill Joy on the ethical borders of the  technological knowledge (published in Wired Magazine, April 2000), Lewis states that such questioning is dangerous because it could stop "change". In his puritian techno-libertarian worldview progress is a blind process without direction of values, which cannot and should not be given a direction. Obviously Lewis can't speak of class, race and gender issues. What remains is friction between the generations. Lewis calls for the Old to make way for the New. "The middle-aged technologist knows that somewhere out there some kid in his bedroom is dreaming up something that will make him obsolete. And when the dream comes true he'll be dead wood. One of those people who need to be told to get out of the way. Part of the process." But power doesn't exactly follow the logic as Lewis describes it. Those in power, worldwide, are perhaps not interested in "change". But they are perfectly aware how to own "change" once it has reached the point of profitability. Giving up power is not "part of the process." The babyboom elites are in no danger of being overruled because the youngsters lack basic understanding how power is operating (and Lewis would be the last one to tell them). It's pathetic to suggest the elderly will voluntarily make way for the next generations in the disruptive affair, often caused by (cultural) revolutions, (civil) wars and recessions. Lewis avoids the looming conflicts over intellectual property rights, censorship and ownership over the means of distribution. The a priori here is one of technology, marching on, blindly. This is perhaps the most outdated idea, that technologists are the only ones who shape the future. If we follow the argument of the democratization of knowledge, everyone will shape technology, in one way or another. This makes the premise of Lewis' book, young hackers shaping history, abundant. Ageism is a bad escape route if you prefer, like Lewis, not to talk about real power issues in information technology. --- Michael Lewis, The Future Just Happened, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001. --------------------- --------- 184168 RICH SHALL EAT THEMSELVES (english) Kevin Phillips, Judas of the GOP 8:40pm Mon Jun 3 ´02 (Modified on 11:16pm Mon Jun 3 ´02) address: book review by Theodore Roszak, SF Chronicle article#184168 Far from signing on with the liberals, Phillips has pitched his camp deep in progressive-populist territory. Incensed by "two decades of glorifying markets, consumption and self-interest," he is ready to entertain reforms every bit as sweeping as those advocated by Ralph Nader, among them soak-the- rich taxation, sharing the wealth through increased entitlements, a federal takeover of corporate charters and economic nationalism to save jobs and raise wages. Judas of the GOP lashes out at corporate greed Reviewed by Theodore Roszak Sunday, June 2, 2002 cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/ 2002/06/02/RV207386.DTL Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich By Kevin Phillips BROADWAY; 472 PAGES; $29.95 It´s unlikely Kevin Phillips will be lunching at the White House anytime soon. Once Richard Nixon´s chief campaign adviser and author of the cheerleading "The Emerging Republican Majority," he has now produced a run of books (among them, "Boiling Point" and "The Politics of Rich and Poor") castigating "the forces of avarice" that have captured the Republican Party. In "Wealth and Democracy" he shows no sign of relenting. Rather, he adopts a more strident tone and extends his indictment to include the runaway "financialization" of American business, meaning the manipulation that turned the dot-com boom into a bust. Worse than a maverick, Phillips has become the Judas of the GOP. Not that he has gone over to the enemy. When it comes to chastising the sins of "the money power," he finds plenty of blame to go around. Remember Bill Clinton´s quip in the 1992 elections? "The rich got the gold mine and the middle class got the shaft"? Phillips endorses that as a neat summary of the last decade, but sees only a difference of degree between the major parties when it comes to toadying up to big business by way of corporate bailouts, rescues, welfare demolition, deregulation and the globalization of investment. Even so, he aims his heaviest artillery at the right-wing ideologues and "market Darwinists" who have ushered the last three GOP presidents into office. The only Republican president besides Lincoln who earns his praise is trust- busting Teddy Roosevelt. Far from signing on with the liberals, Phillips has pitched his camp deep in progressive-populist territory. Incensed by "two decades of glorifying markets, consumption and self-interest," he is ready to entertain reforms every bit as sweeping as those advocated by Ralph Nader, among them soak-the- rich taxation, sharing the wealth through increased entitlements, a federal takeover of corporate charters and economic nationalism to save jobs and raise wages. His views are based on a number of historical parallels, including the ruthless Dutch and British plutocracies of an earlier period. But more cogently, he compares the United States today with two previous Republican eras: the Gilded Age of the robber barons and the Harding-to-Hoover Roaring Twenties -- sordid times when raw corporate power ruled the land and "get-rich- quick" was the reigning social ethic. In Phillips´ eyes, those periods of "market idolatry" pale in comparison to the way wealth has concentrated since the Reagan presidency. Here´s one eye- opening example. If you´re lucky enough to make $100,000 a year, you place in the most prosperous one-fifth of U.S. households. Not bad, you may think. But in 1999, 90 percent of all the wealth gained by that upper fifth went to the top 1 percent, which means there´s as much of a dollar distance between you and the nation´s ultra-rich above you as between you and the struggling poverty-line families down below. "As the new millennium unfolded," Phillips observes, "the United States, long shed of its revolutionary outlook, . . . had become home to greater economic inequality than any other Western nation." In our day, CEOs who bankrupted their companies, cheated their stockholders and burned their employees make 400 times more than production workers. And since money talks, income disparity of that magnitude easily translates into power. As aggravating as Phillips finds this "morphing of politics into a marketplace," he is more concerned that the corporate elite makes most of its money off finance, tax avoidance and shifty speculation, adding little to the true wealth of the nation. "Market theology and unelected leadership," he concludes, "have been displacing politics and elections. Either democracy must be renewed, with politics brought back to life, or wealth is likely to cement a new and less democratic regime -- plutocracy by some other name." The "free" market, as he makes clear, has never been free of the services and favors the rich can afford to buy from government. The very status of corporations is a political artifact guarded by laws and courts. Trading in the tax-funded government debt has been one of the shortest roads to riches. Even shorter has been owning influence in the state house, the Congress, the courts, the Fed and the White House. As Phillips observes, the hottest investment in the land is legislation. Money spent buying political candidates can yield returns (by way of tax breaks, contracts, corporate welfare, friendly regulatory decisions) of up to 100,000 percent. In the current year alone, lobbyists have bought steel and soft-wood tariffs and the fattest farm subsidies on record. Conservatives quibble about Phillips´ statistics, but his analysis of our deepening "democratic deficit" is hard to fault. Unfettered self-interest makes a mockery of markets. In "Wealth and Democracy," Phillips may be raking the same pile of muck over again, but his message bears as much repetition as any Pepsi commercial: Mr. and Mrs. America, you´re getting screwed. I came away from this fine and principled book enraged and instructed but with a sense of abiding despair. There´s not much here about lying, cheating and stealing in high places that hasn´t been front-page news. Greed parades itself brazenly across the media. So how do the rich get away with it? How does a president succeed in engineering a crippling tax cut for his pals and come right back with an encore? Why wasn´t the Enron-Anderson scandal sufficient to bring down the whole corroded corporate structure? True, we´ve had dissenting political movements: Ross Perot, Nader. But a century ago when Teddy Roosevelt lambasted "malefactors of great wealth," he spoke for massed ranks of furious Populists and crusading Progressives. Roosevelt feared that revolution was at hand. Who would fear that today when even on PBS "Antiques Roadshow" and Suze Orman crowd "Frontline" exposes out of prime time? Why do so many acquiesce in their own indignity? Maybe it´s something in the water. ------------------------------------ Center for book culture dot org Being and Seeming: the Technology of Representation Richard Powers If I had to name the preeminent art form of the pre-informational era, I would go with architecture. It is at once the most durable, representative, and comprehensive of our available artistic utterances. Buildings embody our most profound, ambitious, and capital-intensive attempts to overhaul the conditions of existence. More than any other aesthetic instrument, monuments stand metonymically for whole cultures and eras. Old chestnut definitions for the field attest to how it incorporates the expressive capabilities of the other arts. Cathedrals are the bible in stone. The exterior of a classical faade sounds as frozen music in the mind. Archaic spaces are said to open onto pure theater, infinity made imaginable. The architect Mulciber was one of the first to be cast out of heaven. Writers, painters, and musicians had to take a number and get in line behind him. And this demonic creators masterpiece, the city of Pandemonium, has stood the test of time, outlasting all other created works except, perhaps, the first. Because our idea of art is still grounded in the Romantic myth of individual achievement, we often try to tell the history of architecture as we do the other arts, in a litany of names like Phidias, Sinan, Wren, and Wright. But Architecture has always been a profoundly collective enterprise. It exists in that unique interface between individual, aesthetic impulse and public, material necessity. The problems of form and function will yield only to a joint solution that makes the ingenuities of the most ambitious novel writing seem like a five-finger exercise. From the Temple of Nike Apteros to the Guggenheim Bilbao, architecture takes on the massive--and massively social--challenge of assembling a thing that is at once useable, beautiful, and sound. But I single it out above the other arts for another reason altogether, one that seems more profoundly strange the longer I reflect on it. Where painting and writing and even music represent things, architecture is one of our few pre-information age arts whose products are the things they stand for. Now if I were to go out on a not-so-daring limb and predict the preeminent medium of the new age that we are just now in the process of bringing about, I would say, without a hesitation, that the great art of the future will be the data structure. Like a good stone monument, the data structure lays claim to comprehensiveness, sweeping all the other arts up into its compass. The bitmap file promises to encode the full arsenal of visual expression. The MIDI file--written in the selfsame binary medium--provides for all the elements of music that can be formalized, every would-be composers Esterhazy in a box. Hypertext markup represents a kind of superset of the syntax of prose, making simple linear fiction a kind of zero-case boundary condition of a more daring, far-flung toolset. And while they do not yet command the required specificity and resolution for us to fully credit them, V-CAD (Virtual Computer-Assisted Design) and VR promise to port even architecture into the realm of what the digital Platonist might call the universally-deformable Forms. Here, then, is the motive of worldwide digitization: to render every impulse, whether aesthetic or utilitarian, in the same, fully-transformable panglossary. And like architecture, the target medium of this world-wide conversion blurs the line between representing and being. The digitals great source of peculiar leverage lies in its rendering equivalent the operand and the operator. When data and the commands that operate upon that data are made of the same, indistinguishable stuff, the way is clear for recursive feats of representational manipulation heretofore unseen outside the human brain. Strings of binary digits are totally fungible. You cannot tell, upon cursory inspection of an array of memory, whether youre looking at an account or at a behavior, at data or at an algorithm. Even upon program execution, that old distinction gains a new kind of protean permeability. A MIDI file might also be a self-performing score. A bitmap image can become a set of encoded commands made to drive an analog painting machine. Looked at from the representational side, a data structure of--to invoke the ghost of John Stuart Mill--a chair is just an image, a string of bits given over to modeling color depth and volume and spatial orientation, perhaps realized with a zeal for surfaces that would be the envy of Dutch Golden Age painters, yet a mere depiction nonetheless. But looked at from the operational side, that same encoded chair becomes a set of computational algorithms that can instruct other digital bodies below a certain virtual weight to conform to it and stay aloft in space. The digital chair can creak or break. It can possess tensile strength, texture, pliancy, abrasion, any affordance its joiner might care to give it. Set free to execute, it becomes an instance of its own description. The digitized world increasingly releases symbols, frees them to become actors and agents. The digital data structure hovers in a place not quite material, yet not simply emblematic. Like architecture, the data structure can join aesthetic impulse with functional accountability. As we now copyright verbal descriptions, we will come to copyright scenes so rigorously specified that they become a place much like the one they depict. Legally secured characters will perform their characteristic personalities upon a sea of public data. Authors will hold patents on certain kinds of anger, certain expressions of computational elation, certain curves of encoded denouement. Hip literary agents have already begun to sniff whats in the wind, negotiating into tired old iron-age boiler-plate contracts the rights for new media, that is, everything that lies beyond print and film. This is the futures architecture beyond architecture, an operant beyond opera. What Bayreuth was to the sum of music, drama, and design, the artistically realized data structure will be to the sum of imaginable, real-world Bayreuths. We will live in the shadow of these things, as we once lived in the shadows of the Hagia Sophia and we now live in the shadows of the World Trade towers. We will live in a realized Van Goghs Bedroom at Arles, one that detects its occupant and grows around him. What the epic recitation or the cave painting once worked in the guts of their receivers, these operational sculptures have already begun to work on the hearts of the revised human community. Art and story have always dreamed of this transport: the script, the name of God, placed under the Golems tongue that will bring the imitation body to life and be the thing it has heretofore only stood for. And since the beginning of symbolic reference, this is the translation that life has feared. From Islam to medieval iconoclasts to Baudrillard and Lacan, we have heard the cry: in the image is the murder of the thing. Imagine two square blocks of a small Midwestern town in one of the great Fly-over states, a residential neighborhood of older houses, call it Oak Street between Market and Lincoln. Thirty houses face the street, sheltering, for the rough purpose of this exercise, an even one hundred lives. Now imagine an 18-hour period, from dawn until midnight, on a day sometime early in this millennium: make it Labor Day, 2020. Now suppose that every datum of every event in this two-block universe during this 18-hour period has been digitized. The days document, the complete space-time graph of the life-lines passing in and out of this tesseract has been captured in a single, immense data structure, the kind of linked, modular, multidimensional array of arrays that NASA satellites make of the surface of Jupiters moons. The entire two-thirds of a day has been recorded, as on a thousand dispersed panoramic video cameras, and the structure transported to a state-of-the-art quantum computer, where it can be retrieved and projected into that wonderfully opaque medium, the invention we call real-time, creating a kind of life-sized, walk-through holographic Main Street or Our Town, traversable in six-by-ten foot scrolling intervals. You can move through this space as often as you like, starting anywhere, and traveling any space-time path that you wish, up to the boundaries of the representations container. Since you are just a shade passing through this world image, the bits that make up a door or a wall will be permeable to you. Some compact, thought-driven joystick gives you dominion over all dimensions, allowing you to float in any direction, up to the rooftops or down to the cellars. You can enter the world at dawn, stand invisibly by and watch, laughing, as the residents fumble out of bed, trying to find the snooze button, the coffee maker, the showers hot water tap. You can join them at breakfast, without attracting the slightest attention. You can stand in the middle of the streets morning traffic, and the cars will pass right through you. At a little before seven, near the intersection of Market and Oak, two neighboring residents on their way to work stop and exchange a few words. They will do this each time the data structure runs, whether you are there to see them or not. Should you wish, you can follow either one, until they leave the edges of the recording and pass into data incognita. At a little after seven, the single parent in number 507 walks the children to school, just off of the holograms northern border. And so the day begins, and so it continues, a day that you can reenter and relive at will, journeying up to midnight, free to discover the webs of quiet desperation and clandestine connection between these lives, the petty deceptions and surprise faithfulness, the incapacitating fears and the acts of impulse generosity. For a while, you get off on straight-up ism. You learn the exact moment of everyones showers. You watch them in bed with one another, and in their would-be solitary rituals. You see how people really behave, when they are not you and when you are not there. Then, tiring of this dramaless standing Now of existence, perhaps even after a matter of mere days, you ask, Why am I doing this? And I say, This is the futures supreme art form. You disagree violently. Art? But this is tedious. This is boring. As an old, second-millennium comedian would say (you say), if I wanted to sit through a long, pointless story, I have my own life. If its boring, I say, make it New York. Make it Lower Manhattan, Horatio Street, between Washington and Hudson. Surely, with that much more density and diversity, you can find something of dramatic interest on any given day. You try it for a while. Somebodys unemployed. Somebodys just been hired. Someone is the target of a racial animosity you cant begin to understand. Some fight substance abuse, others depression. A lot of screw-ups are sleeping out in front rooms on flip-down futons. Here and there, would-be artists spend the day potting about in archaic media--paint and music and words. A Russian woman who never learned a stick of English is dying by inches up on the third floor of the Northwest corner of Greenwich. Its frustrating, you say. The point of view, the focalization--arbitrary geography--is too constraining. The story of life is not in the place; its in the people. No sooner do you begin to get intrigued by someone than they head uptown, falling off the edge of the known simulation. Fine, I say. Weve just upgraded the hardware. We can give you all the way to the far border of the East Village. You hold out for Midtown. While you are busy negotiating, Moores Law coughs up the whole damn island, from the Battery all the way up to Washington Heights. Now you see how you might begin to be in real trouble. You could get lost here, really hurt, although none of the traces of these lives can impact yours. You could give this playground more interest, more engagement, more zeal than you have ever given your own existence. This is your chance to see the top of Trump Tower or safely sample the desperation of certain northern neighborhoods, where the life expectancy is shorter than that of Bangladesh. You press up against the map paradox so beloved by Borges and Lewis Carroll: here is a representation of the whole island, at the scale of an inch to an inch. Only: how do we make room to unfold it, where do we lay it out? How can we possibly use the thing to navigate? It begins to nag at you: if what you want is to move through a web as wide and deep and dense and varied and unpredictable as New York, why not go to New York? And yet, this safe representation confers on you certain irrefutable advantages: invisibility, permeability, repeatability--being anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like. For real life is constrained in the stream of time, while here, for a while, you can see the stream at last, from up on the raised vantage of the dry stream bank. You race around town, overwhelmed, your head turned by local prettiness or pathos. Yet for all the exhilarating chase, you cant seem to enter in to the simulation. You dart off again, uncertain how to turn or where the story lies, exactly because the story lies everywhere. You come out of the simulation after several extended excursions, more agitated than enlightened. You cant get hold of it, you say. The place is too big. First it was too small, I say. To which you say, OK, all right, I know. And then you find the point. This thing is not pointed. This thing is at best sociology, you say. You say: art has to be composed. And I say bingo. Wish granted. Well make it composed, then. I clap my hands or tap my heels or invoke the interrupt request handler of digital creation, and we are back on Horatio Street, or on Oak, but this time with all the artifice of compression, all the evident design of narrative. The walk-in hologram is no longer a transcript, but an elaborate, artful script. Make that scores of playscripts, six long, ten wide, and three deep. Do not underestimate the scale of the undertaking here. We are talking Chartres. Angkor Wat. The Taj. You go back in to the simulation, aware that the sampler of random stories has now been put together for your viewing discovery. You begin to savor the constructedness of the lines, the ironies and the reverses. The hapless veterinarian in 402 who unwittingly becomes everyones confidant, planning to take his own life. The estranged daughter, just down the block from him, coming across a long-forgotten family heirloom at a garage sale. Letters crossing in the mail, going to the wrong recipient, slipped under the door and accidentally slipping under the carpet as well, lost forever to their intendeds. The block is suddenly thick with plot, and you could roll around in it for days like a possum in a dumpster. The shape of things as you change your viewing angle now carries the patina of meaning. You want it to grow, to become. You want to be a part of it, to touch and alter its contents. You want it to know that you are there. To change with you, to change you, your standing in it. And I say: Whatever you say. You take on a virtual character and move in. For a while you are thrilled, the thrill of dice , of dress-ups, of massively persistent, parallel, populated role-playing , the rush of lying to someone at a wild party, completely reinventing who you are, and, for a while, getting away with it. You have finally found another life, a sculptable, moldable, replayable thing. You make yourself into the Count of Monte Cristo, come back to set this sleepy little bourgeois fable alight. You make yourself into Tess or Anna or Emma, and vow to stay alive, to get it right this time. You thrill to your growing stats, the heaping up of fortune here, the unlooked-for, surprising, incremental addictive payoffs of this alternate existence. And then, in time, another sadness sets in. The sadness of consummation. The sadness of infinite freedom. Of save and reboot. Of having the world, in all its heft and bruise and particularity, go utterly your own way. We dream that a new tool might put us closer to the thing that we are sure lies just beyond us, just outside the scale of our being. A little heavier throw weight, a few fuller colors, a finer brush, another dimension, greater syntactical innovation, stylistic breakthrough, twice the trombones, a bigger set budget, a few extra megabytes or megahertz is all we need to do the trick. Artists and their audiences are both like that robber baron--Carnegie I think--who, when asked, How much is enough? replied, Just a little bit more. The curse of the body is that it habituates, and every signal from outside our senses already starts the cycle of its own attenuation. The brighter the insight, the quicker our pupils contract. Innovation has been arts time-honored way of countering the fade of time. New media have forever promised to take us to the place we can no longer get to. And the fate of a new medium is invariably to be celebrated for exactly the thing that most impedes the power of artistic representation. Without question, new technologies do add to the available palette of human expression. But it follows that they will necessarily do so at a cost. Take the single most destabilizing technological development of all time. I picture the great, singing bards sitting around the campfire the day after writing was invented, throwing their hands up in the air, proclaiming, Damn it all, there goes our collective memory. The price of innovation is endless. The payoff for each destabilizing increase in artistic techne is usually misunderstood to be an increase in leverage, verisimilitude, or articulation. Our dream of a new tool inclines us to believe that the next invention will give us a better, fuller, richer, more accurate, more immediate image of the world, when perhaps just the opposite is the case. Television does not improve on the verisimilitude of radio, nor photography on that of painting. The more advanced the media, the higher the level of mediation. The hypersymbolic nature of the digital--the fact that its descriptions have that odd ability to rise up and walk--leaves it particularly vulnerable to this mistake. More than ever, we are in danger of reifying our artifacts, of mistaking them for a priori entities. Consider the way that the digital age has completely reversed the sense of the word transparent. We speak of transparent applications, of transparent operating systems, and transparent interfaces, when what we really mean, here, is opaque. We want these new, active, symbol-like actants of ours to hide from us everything under the hood. The problem with the digital promise lies not its frivolity or its shallowness. (Remember that only upon its deathbed has the novel no longer needed to defend itself from being only a novel.) The problem with the digital promise lies in its potential depth, in the degree and the force of an emulation that might make us content to take the map for the place, the sign for the thing signified. We want of art something that will break the tyranny of space and erase our defeat at the hands of time. But we tend to look for this deliverance in the wrong place, shooting for a victory that overplays itself in the domain of the way-too-literal. New media have to date suffered not from a surfeit of virtuality but from not being virtual enough. They struggle to reproduce the world image where they might much more profitably engage in interrupting it. For the full force of art depends only in part on the audiences identification with the represented thing. In the presence of a transforming representation, we must still come to feel the full, reflected force of the representer. What new art can give us is not better images of the world, but better images of the gazers at that world. Every act of depicting, Bakhtin reminds us, is itself a depiction. Now more than ever, the world is too much with us. Late-day commodity capitalism depends on making sure that we are never alone, never away from the world image, never out of ear- or eyeshot, never outside the flood of signals that stand in for the source that they are signaling. To turn arts time-honored trick and subvert this comfort, I suggest that new media look, for a model, to that last act performed in solitude that consensual society doesnt yet consider pathological. Imagine, for a moment, that there is no frigate like a book. You say, OK. I can still do that. And I say, imagine an act performed in solitude that is not solitary. One that depicts the flow of time, and in the fluidity of its aerial depiction, shows the stream to be a man-made canal. Run that one past me again, you say. And I say, what is the rate of time of a book? A mother carries her son upstairs, and that might last forty pages. You may take an hour to release it. Yet World War One can pass in a sentence and a half. And now consider: what is the rate of time of time? You laugh nervously. One second per second? And I say: and you believe that one? Breaking the illusion of that man-made flow gives us the closest thing to a sense of immortality were ever going to get. When we read, we stand in the flow of thought and outside the flow of ephemeral event. This is the magic re in representation. New media too often reverse this relation. In place of the time of thought--the time of Chartres, of Angkor, of the Taj--they serve us real time, transparent time. Time too much like the one that we are already too inclined to believe in. But the beauty of a book lies in its ability to unmake us, to interrupt our imaginary continuities and put us head to head with a maker who is not us. Story is a denuding, laying the reader bare, and the force of that denuding lies not in our entering into a perfect representation, but in our coming back out. It lies in that moment, palpable even before we head into the final pages, when we come to remember how finely na is the life outside this constructed frame, a story needing only some other minds pale analogies to resensitize us to everything in it that weve grown habituated to. Now that we may lose forever the art of contemplative and private fiction, the novel has developed an urgency of purpose it never had when it was the new tech on the block, when it had to be defended against being only a novel. Now there is another new tech, another only, and reading as we once knew it must find a place to hide its timelessness, harder to reach, harder to destroy. Michael Heim, one of the great prophets of the new media, nods to this urgent purpose in this passage from his book, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality: We can only hope that the postmodern hyperflood will not erode the gravity of experience behind the symbols, the patient, painstaking ear and eye for meaning. . . . Cyberspace . . . should evoke the imagination, not repeat the world. . . . The final point of a virtual world is to dissolve the constraints of the anchored world so that we can lift anchor--not to drift aimlessly without point, but to explore anchorage in ever-new places and, perhaps, find our way back to experience the most primitive and powerful alternative embedded in the question . . . Why is there anything at all rather than nothing? For like a book, digital representation, in all its increasing immersiveness and free agency, may finally locate its greatest worth in its ability to refresh us to the irreducible complexity of the analog world, a complexity whose scale and heft we might always have underestimated, without the shortfall of its ghostly imitations. Our technologies are the congealed projections of our hopes and fears. Like our art, they are the engrams of our unwillingness to live in any place that would treat us the way this place does. And like our preeminent arts--like building, like architecture--our new techs strive to remake the world in our own image, to re-form, through re-presenting, the place we recognize but cannot yet find. The data structure tran that old battle of building to the true locus of our discontent: the restless, reified image of the outside that we carry around in our own mental spaces. Our constantly increasing ability to alter the terms of material existence will necessarily alter, beyond recall, the shape and content of our arts, even if those arts somehow choose, impossibly, never to change their means. What we build will naturally depend upon the available building materials, but it will not be determined solely by them. From the beginning, part of us has always sought to assemble the cathedral that would rise without material constraints. But any building, however monumental, however disembodied or virtual or gravity-defying, will always be constrained by the material of collective story, the plot of its appearance here, the narrative shape of its makers, the hopes and fears passing underneath its tentative, constructed canopy. No change in medium will ever change the nature of mediation. A world depicted with increasing technical leverage remains a depiction, as much about its depicters as about the recalcitrant world. We shape the data that we aspire to live in. But the place that we make will stay at best a running approximation, a long act of iterated guess, of near-miss metaphor, of like-thisness. The course of technology, like the course of information, like the course of art, which it always informs, takes as its sole available topic people talking to one another, revising, revisiting, re-presenting, re-presenting this open conversation, this short glimpse of long time, our condition of hindered need and standing bewilderment. Our answer to thats all. Thats all. And Oh!, you answer. Maybe. And Yes, I say. Maybe. Oh. Back to CONTEXT No. 3 -------------------------------- at (via robotwisdom): Published on Friday, May 31, 2002 by Gagged by Google Body Shop Founder Censored by Search Engine by Laura Flanders Media activists have a put up with these days. Not only is there more to complain about than ever when it comes to the timidity and lap-doggishness of most journalists — not to mention the shrinking spectrum of views that get aired — but, in addition, there are the clichés one has to contend with. The one that peeves me most right now is the one about the glories of the Internet. According to the oft-repeated mantra, those who have a problem with the networks, the cable channels, the newspapers and Clear Channel radio, have their own outlet now — it's the World Wide Web. I heard this argument most recently in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia from a co-panelist at a public forum, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA),Co-Chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus. You've got the Internet, you've got the Internet. The Representative said it so often that finally I proposed a trade: let Disney, Viacom, GE and AOL/TIME Warner take the Internet, I suggested. We'll give it to them — in exchange for the broadcast television networks, cable, publishing and Hollywood. The Congressman said it was an idea he hadn't heard before. Indeed. The World Wide Web is a fabulous phenomenon. It's fantastic for getting news out that can be spread no other way, but is it the answer to the media-related prayers of social change activists? Hardly, as Anita Roddick found out this month. Roddick is the founder of the Body Shop, the notable socially-responsible health-and-beauty store chain. She resigned as co-chair of the company this February to dedicate herself to activism full-time. Roddick has lots to say (she recently edited a book called Take it Personally, it's out now from Harper Collins) and she keeps a politically-oriented "blog" (or Web log). Driving major traffic to one's site is almost impossible without advertising or good search engine placement, as bloggers know. Roddick advertised on the popular Google engine — or did until they took exception to what she had to say. It began when Roddick posted a short comment on her site about actor John Malkovich's public threat to shoot Scottish Member of Parliament George Galloway and Independent reporter Robert Fisk. (Malkovich railed against critics of Israel at a high-profile speech at Cambridge University.) "John Malkovich often plays disturbed and dangerous men in his films," wrote Roddick, "maybe he's not acting. His threat to shoot Robert Fisk for his honest reportage on Israel is but further evidence that Malkovich is a vomitous worm." "Vomitous worm" didn't go down well with Google. Shortly after Roddick made the comment, she got word that the advertising staff at the search engine were suspending her ad campaign. "They said that my ad violated their editorial policy against 'sites that advocate against groups or individuals,'" writes Roddick. Apparently Google saw no irony in the text of the ad they pulled. It read: " ." By this logic, points out Roddick, "no one could advertise who maligned any human being, be it Stalin, Hitler or even Bin Laden." She could have added "George W. Bush" to the list. When Roddick's website editor spoke to the Google team about their policy, they told her they do not accept ads for sites with any political content that could be perceived as "anti" anything. It'd be funny, and it's riduculous on its face, but Roddick's ads have in fact, been pulled. "I am virtually invisible," says Roddick. Actually, the former CEO's visibility is hard to suppress, but the lesson should sober up bloggers everywhere. Big media are happy to sell their critics the crumbs that fall from the corporate table. Blog away, be happy, they tell the activists. But far from a free-speech paradise, the Internet is fast becoming the next corporate-controlled universe, going the way of cable TV or publishing. As long as censors operate as gatekeepers, dissenters can speak all they like — but they won't be heard. Journalist Laura Flanders is the host of Working Assets Radio with Laura Flanders -- (listen live on line) and author of "Real Majority, Media Minority: The Cost of Sidelining Women in Reporting." Her Spin Doctor Laura columns appear weekly on WorkingForChange. You can contact her at © 2002 Working Assets --------------------- ----- ESTABLISHMENT LEFT--HANDMAIDEN OF REPUBLICAN RIGHT? (english) Bev Conover 9:59pm Tue Jun 4 '02 (Modified on 11:07pm Tue Jun 4 '02) address: Online Journal phone: YEA ! GO, BEV ! ! Editor and Publisher of Online Journal article#184377 This cabal of lily-livered leftists, ensconced in their ivory towers, have decreed we are bad kiddies for even suggesting that the Bush administration was complicit in or took advantage of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the baddest of all is Michael C. Ruppert, who publishes From the Wilderness. Has the Establishment Left become a handmaiden of the Republican Right?  Media/Conover060402/  conover060402.html By Bev Conover Online Journal Editor and Publisher June 4, 2002; Gangway for the self-appointed gatekeepers of the left who are on a crusade to spin, smear, attack, and label as loony anyone who won't accept the official line that the events leading up to and surrounding September 11 are nothing more than a series of coincidences and intelligence failures. This cabal of lily-livered leftists, ensconced in their ivory towers, have decreed we are bad kiddies for even suggesting that the Bush administration was complicit in or took advantage of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the baddest of all is Michael C. Ruppert, who publishes From the Wilderness. Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive, in his May 29 article, Crude Politics of Scandal, wrote, "The claim that Bush knew the U.S. would be attacked and intentionally let it happen for his own nefarious purposes is well beyond my significant skeptical powers. It assumes callousness at the loss of innocent American lives that I wouldn't want to impute to any President. And it greatly underestimates the likelihood of bureaucratic incompetence. (A hedge fund against such incompetence would be a sure profit-maker.)" Someone should clue Rothschild that his "significant skeptical powers" have failed him, because we have a Supreme Court selectee in the White House, not a president. So it is not a president we are imputing such "callousness" or possible criminality to. Or has he joined the "get over it" crowd? Among the others lobbing missiles at us from the battlements are Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy; David Corn, The Nation's Washington editor; Michael Albert, co-founder of Z Magazine and system operator of the magazine's; Steve Rendall, FAIR's senior analyst; Chip Berlet, senior research analyst for Political Research Associates; Larry Bensky of Pacifica Radio's flagship station, KPFA; and Noam Chomsky, writer, philosopher, and professor of linguistics at MIT. Quite a lineup, eh? And there are others. Ask yourselves why, if we are so loony, and Mike Ruppert is the looniest of all, why these gentlemen are expending so much energy in writing reams of copy denouncing us, with what has become the new epithet, "conspiracy theorists?" Why not simply ignore us? Pretend we don't exist? What worse punishment can they mete out for our ignominious behavior than ignoring us? Or is there more to their motives? Might this be a tip-off that the Ivory Tower crowd prefers not to soil its hands, but is using those of us in the trenches to do their work? This could explain Rothschild calling for an independent commission to get to the bottom of September 11, followed by, "But what we don't need is crazy conspiracy theorists coming from the left," then destroying his own argument with the following: "Almost every time I've spoken in public since September 11, I've heard variations of the following theme: Bush not only knew about the attacks, but wanted the United States to be attacked so that he could (and here you can take your pick): "a) Increase his popularity by waging war "b) Justify an increase in Pentagon spending "c) Boost the profits of the Carlyle Group, a private military investment group that includes Bush's father, among other heavyweights." So the "crazy conspiracy theorists" are confronting him wherever he goes. That says something about people not buying in to the official spin. And some would even say that they would answer "all the above" to what George W. Bush & Co. knew or took advantage of. Let us not forget the "dastardly" Rep. Cynthia McKinney, one of the few Democrats in Congress with some spine, who had the gall to call for an investigation into what warnings the Bush administration received before the attacks. Rothschild included her among the "arch conspiracists," leaving the others unnamed. Corn, blowing a gasket for the second time over Ruppert's September 11 investigation—this time in a diatribe called The September 11 X-Files—stooped to the old Soviet trick, since picked up by the right wing, of questioning Ruppert's sanity. The most malicious part of this smear is to stigmatize everyone who seeks psychiatric treatment, as Ruppert did while he was on the Los Angeles police force. "Ruppert is not a reporter," Corn wrote, as if to imply journalism is some sort of elite club and one must possess special credentials to gain admittance. We don't license journalists in this country—yet. . Furthermore, Corn is also dismissing the fact that Ruppert does have credentials as an investigator. He was, after all, a cop. He goes on, "He mostly assembles facts, or purported facts, from various news sources and then makes connections. The proof is not in any one piece, say, a White House memo detailing an arms-for-hostages trade. The proof is in the line drawn between the dots. His masterwork is a timeline of fifty-one events (at last count) that, he believes, demonstrate that the CIA knew of the attacks in advance and that the US government probably had a hand in them. Ruppert titled his timeline "Oh Lucy!' You Gotta Lotta 'Splaining To Do." While ripping Ruppert's timeline, contending he has no hard proof, Corn, like the others, offers no hard proof that events surrounding September 11 were merely a series of intelligence blunders and coincidences with tragic results. He completely omits the fact that Ruppert's timeline is but one small part of a nine-month long and multi-faceted investigation, which includes pre- and post-September 11 geopolitics, and evidence of US government and corporate crime that no one else has touched. Not content with trashing Ruppert and also bashing on McKinney, Corn dismisses Delmart "Mike" Vreeland, whom he calls Ruppert's "one truly original find," as a con man with a long criminal history. With no proof to counter Vreeland's claim of being a US Navy intelligence officer, Corn dismisses the memo Vreeland said he wrote last August, while being held in a Canadian jail on charges that were subsequently dropped, and gave to his jailers for safekeeping. This is the memo in which Vreeland claimed he had foreknowledge of the horror that was to transpire in the US. Michael Albert and Stephen R. Shalom ramble on for 18 pages in an attempt to cast conspiracy theorists as nutcases, but "institutional theorists" as good guys, all in another attempt to debunk the very idea that there was anything conspiratorial in nature about September 11. Norman Solomon, of all people, who for years has taken the corporate media to task in his weekly column Media Beat, has been at the forefront of the effort to discredit Ruppert, again without offering any hard evidence that refutes what Ruppert has been writing. In his April 25 column, Solomon wrote, "A former Los Angeles cop named Michael Ruppert has been proclaiming that Vreeland 'was able to write a detailed warning of the attacks before they occurred' on Sept. 11. Ruppert has attracted a loyal following, but he's likely to lose all but the most faithful adherents if they look at the actual 'warning note' or find out a lot more about Vreeland's background." He accuses Ruppert of being an "expert at combining facts with unreliable reports and wild leaps of illogic," when, like a good prosecutor, all Ruppert has been doing is laying out bits and pieces of information that seem to point to either the Bush administration's foreknowledge of September 11 or its callously taking advantage of the horror to strip the people of many of their constitutional rights under the guise of "homeland security"a term that should be sending chills through every thinking person, not to mention an nonelected occupant of the White House who has taken it upon himself to declare war without end on some enemy defined only as "terrorists," when the Constitution says only Congress can issue a declaration of war. Where Solomon has erroneously called those who have been helping and support Ruppert in his research "a loyal following," Steve Rendall has ratcheted that up to "Ruppertites," implying that they are nothing more than a bunch of mindless groupies. Shame! Noam Chomsky, to some the father of the Establishment Left, who has been persona non grata on corporate-controlled US airwaves recently turned up on CNN with the "virtuous" Heritage Foundation fellow and Washington retread William Bennett, who on a previous CNN appearance with Paula Zahn dismissed Chomsky's bestseller "911" as appealing to "the kooks in our midst." That insult apparently didn't bother Chomsky one iota as he essentially agreed with Bennett that the September 11 attacks were carried out by "terrorists" because "they hate us." Chip Berlet on Larry Bensky's Sunday Salon provided convoluted and erroneous responses as to why military planes weren't scrambled the moment it was known that a hijacking was in progress. Said Berlet, "Why weren't there plans in place to scramble jets. why wasn't there an assumption that hijackers would seize planes and fly them into buildings?" And if you research every one of those questions, what you find is information that goes back, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 years about discussions about the cost effectiveness of changing the way that hijackings are responded to. Remember that the air traffic controllers were out of New Hampshire, and they were sitting with a book in front of them, telling them what to do in what order, okay? And if you lookand this is all stuff that you can find, not on the web, but if you go to government repositories, you'll look at documents, and they'll say things like, 'You don't scramble planes until you've made contact with the hijackers.' Now why? Because the assumption, which turns out to be false, is the hijackers are either going to make a demand or want to land. And that if you hijack [sic] planes before you're talking to them, they could freak out and shoot the pilot. So you don't want planes flying next to hijacked airliners until you're talking to the hijackers. Now is that a bad idea, in retrospect? Sure it is, but it goes back 7 or 8 years." Talk about pulling stuff from thin air. The FAA's and Joint Chiefs of Staff's instructions pertaining to hijackings say nothing about communicating with hijackers before taking action. To the contrary, it is the absence of communication with a plane that makes the situation an emergency. Has Berlet forgotten that in October 1999, when a twin-engine Lear jet carrying champion Payne Stewart and four others lost contact with ground controllers, shortly after taking off from Orlando International Airport in Florida for what was supposed to be a routine flight to Dallas, the FAA requested help from the military? Two Air Force F-16s were dispatched and followed the runaway plane as it raced across a half-dozen states, then ran out of fuel and crashed in central South Dakota, killing all aboard. It gets better: "'Why weren't the planes flown out of New Jersey instead of the Cape?' Well, because the citizens of New Jersey who live around the air force base, which is being dismantled little by little, McGuire Air Force Base and several other air force bases which have been being deconditioned and lowered in status for the last 30 years because suburbs grew up around them, and they don't want jet fighters scrambling from those bases all the time." All the time? How many planes have been hijacked or lost contact with ground controllers in the last 10 years? Is there something else we don't know about? And a New Jersey community's sensitivity to noise would hardly be a factor in such circumstances. Yes, it is possible we could be wrong about the way the dots seem to connect. But September 11 did not occur in a vacuum and more and more keeps coming out each day. Moreover, the nonelected occupant of the Oval Office and his cronies by manipulating energy costs; oil, gas, electricity started the economy on a downward spiral even before they were handed the White House. Now we not only have an economy in tatters, an empty treasury, the Social Security trust fund and the federal workers' pension fund tapped out to hide the fact Washington has defaulted on its loans, an illegal war that has been decreed to go on into perpetuity, but an administration that in a little more than 16 months has broken the record for scandals. So how do we explain this behavior of the lily-livered left? If the Ivory Tower gentlemen are leaving it to us in the trenches to get to the truth, because they won't dirty their hands to help us collect the bits and pieces to connect the dots, why then are they so ferociously attacking our efforts? Are they currying favor with someone? Is it time for us to start following the money?  ============ Reason is as reason does (english) m. 11:07pm Tue Jun 4 '02 comment#184387 Maybe its a sign. Its time to shed this right left . If the case made is a reasonable one, then its reasonable. If its not then its not. Albert has said a lot of reasonable things in his day. Now he's just talking . --------------------========= pjd 6:53am Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184413 These "conspiracy theorists" and now their attacks against those who would disagree with them, are agent-provocoteur plants from right-wing groups, or perhaps the FBI, to divide the movement...and if their not, their pernicious effect is the same. Frankly, even if I believed the preposterous notion that the S11 attacks were planned and/or allowed to happen by the bush adm. it still doesn't matter. US power and the neoliberal agenda kill more than S11 every day. Let's stay focused on that... ======== conspiracy and exception (english) Tired 7:16am Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184419 The problem with the conspiracy theorists, strategically, is that they presuppose an honest, proper, government. The conspiracy theorists have nothing against the government as long as it does what it is supposed to do, legally, properly. So, they thrive on events occuring of a "state of exeption" where the government is doing things illegitimately. The fact that needs to be addressed is not that the government did something wrong in a particular case, but that it is fundamentally wrong, illegitimate, in all its actions. ========= Who Is (english) hmm... 7:23am Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184421 Online Journal gave Bev Conover a platform for her vague allegations. But who's behind this website? is an affiliate of the "Political Information Alliance" (  /Affiliates/affiliates.html). Their mission statement states that "The Political Information Alliance is merely an informal umbrella organization for liberal and progressive Democrats." In the original, "liberal and progressive Democrats" is in boldface. The domain for Online Journal is registered to the same person as the domain for the Political Information Alliance. So, it's safe to say that OnlineJournal is a Democratic publication. So is the above article simply a way for members of the Democratic Party to place itself at the forefront of "the left" by discrediting more-radical figures? Yes, The Nation is merely liberal, not too different from, say, a liberal Democrat. But Noam Chomsky and the people at the Progressive and Z Magazine are not the types of people to settle for merely replacing Republicans with Democrats. It sounds to me like some of the pro-conspiracy-theory complainers are jockeying to push out people who want more than meager reforms. Follow the money? Yeah, and while you're at it, follow the money of and the Political Information Alliance. Registrant: Online Journal Bev Conover 850 NE 125th Terrace Road Silver Springs FL US 34488 Phone: 352-625-3864 Domain Name: Administrative Contact: Bev Conover 850 NE 125th Terrace Road Silver Springs FL US 34488 Phone: 352-625-3864 Technical Contact: Bev Conover 850 NE 125th Terrace Road Silver Springs FL US 34488 Phone: 352-625-3864 Fax: Billing Contact: Bev Conover 850 NE 125th Terrace Road Silver Springs FL US 34488 Phone: 352-625-3864 Fax: Record Created on........ 2000-08-11 15:29:27.000 Record last updated on... 2000-08-11 15:29:27.000 Expire on................ 2006-09-04 00:00:00.000 Domain servers in listed order: Registrant: Political Information Alliance Bev Conover 850 NE 125th Terrace Road Silver Springs FL US 34488 Phone: 352-625-3864 Domain Name: Administrative Contact: Bev Conover 850 NE 125th Terrace Road Silver Springs FL US 34488 Phone: 352-625-3864 Domain servers in listed order: ========== Why The Revolution Has Not Come (english) Kurt the Yank 8:13am Wed Jun 5 '02 address: Brooklyn, NY USA comment#184428 You know, Bev, your article is a perfect example of why the revolution has not come in this country. You are indeed a part of the "whacko left" along with nut cases like Cynthia McKinney. For the past 50 years the American far left has evolved into an ever decreasing circle of paranoid self-haters., Is it any wonder why most Americans can't identify with it? ========== hmm - Thank-you (english) pjd 8:14am Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184429 Well, that pretty much confirms my conspiracy theory, my only mistake was not assuming it could also be democrat-liberals as well as right-wingers or the FBI. =========== Online Journal is a Democrat Mouthpiece (english) 9-11 8:19am Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184430 But the issue of 9-11 is a valid topic of inquiry. Many people on the radical left have started to examine this issue of the American Government's role in the 9-11 attacks--not just Democratic Party flunkies. Granted, Online Journal is only interested in using this issue to attack Bush--and support Democrats. What they ignore is the fact that the Clinton Regime supported and sponorsed Islamicists connect to Al-Queda in the Balkans. in order to attack Yugoslavia. This is an issue that Online Journal will not touch, but Radicals will most definitely touch. See or www.globalresearch or for excellent examples of this analysis. Radicals are interested in exposing the increasing evidence of American governement involvement in the 9-11 AND ANTHRAX attacks, not in order to get rid of Bush, but in order to BRING DOWN THE GLOBAL AMERICAN EMPIRE IN GENERAL. Moreover, radicals don't believe the American system can be "fixed" by replacing the current American Regime with "better leaders" but rather that the USA is fundamentally bankrupt in terms of its morality and politics. The fact that America may have tacitly or directly sponsored or supported the 9-11 attacks is further proof of this fact. ========== Chomsky's work guides my suspicions (english) m. 11:57am Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184465 What guides my suspicions that US elites had a hand in the 9/11 crimes against humanity? Well, for one, lots of Chomksy's work, which points to the Nazi like elements that continue to run rampant in the American power structure. This should be a wedge that divides the left. On the contrary, it should be a bridge that encourages communication of people with different ideological stripes. Revolution is as revolution does. I think that the biggest mistake we can make as activists is to say that being left is a prerequisite for forcing change. I don't care what your ideological stripes are if you show up at the march, assert your rights, make sure people know that the Oil Industry criminals are running this country. If Albert and Corn deny a 9/11 "Conspiracy" that's fine. We can stil fight the same fight. I for one believe strongly in getting the word out about 9/11 because I think it DOES shed light on the institional workings of statism and capitalism. If people find the case for conspiracy compelling, then they will hopefully be inspired to learn more about the workings of the system on their own. ========== What Nonsense (english) Taj 1:04pm Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184481 It gets better: "'Why weren't the planes flown out of New Jersey instead of the Cape?' Well, because the citizens of New Jersey who live around the air force base, which is being dismantled little by little, McGuire Air Force Base and several other air force bases which have been being deconditioned and lowered in status for the last 30 years because suburbs grew up around them, and they don't want jet fighters scrambling from those bases all the time." This is an insult to ANYONE'S intelligence. The obvious answer is that the Air Force was stood down just long enough to let the highjacked planes get to where they were going. As the Yes Men have proven, the so-called experts can spout any gibberish they like, and the masses will soak it up. Fifty years of nazi-style conditioning will do that. ========== So Many Idiots To Respond To, So Little Time (english) J.I. 1:14pm Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184482 pjd - "These 'conspiracy theorists' and now their attacks against those who would disagree with them, are agent-provocoteur plants from right-wing groups, or perhaps the FBI, to divide the movement...and if their not, their pernicious effect is the same" Excuse me, but who attacked who!? Corn boy and Solomon picked this fight for us! They openned up the rumble, all we did was try and get them to step down from their ivory towers and treat us as the concerned leftist comrads we are by listening to what we are saying without resorting to McCarthyite attacks on our psychological stability. Now you goose stepping, self proclaimed, vanguards of the left are attacking us, making disgusting, repugnant, cowardly, claims that we are government agents, with no evidence, and the whole time *you* are deviding the left by attacking *us*. Tired - "The problem with the conspiracy theorists, strategically, is that they presuppose an honest, proper, government." Woa! Let's stop right there! I'm an Anarchist, buddy! I'm able to concieve of the evil of the government *because* I know that governments are inharently evil! I'm sick and *tired* of weak minded ditto heads like you who simply porrot whatever they read or hear from the leftish light "progressive" sacred cows. If you can't think for yourself, I don't want to hear from you, because whatever comes out of your mouth, I've read in the Nation. hmm - The domain for Online Journal is registered to the same person as the domain for the Political Information Alliance. So, it's safe to say that OnlineJournal is a Democratic publication. "It sounds to me like some of the pro-conspiracy-theory complainers are jockeying to push out people who want more than meager reforms" Oh, give me a break! You just can't bring yourself to face what the article said, can you! I don't care if Satan himself wrote the article, it's right on target. If you can't deal with the actual material in the article, then you are by default a mental coward. Go ahead, run circles around it, find spelling errors, look for Democratic finger prints, do anything but face it. If democrats are "behind it", it only makes you and the other self proclaimed "radicals" look like pathetic tools for being even less radical then democrats, for goddess sake! Kurt the Yank "You know, Bev, your article is a perfect example of why the revolution has not come in this country. You are indeed a part of the "whacko left" along with nut cases like Cynthia McKinney. For the past 50 years the American far left has evolved into an ever decreasing circle of paranoid self-haters., Is it any wonder why most Americans can't identify with it?" Your a right wing troll. Unfortunately you have allot of allies in here claiming to be leftists. pjd again - "Well, that pretty much confirms my conspiracy theory" Wow, and you tell *us* we don't have any evidence! What a hypacrit! ========== Good Work (english) not Satan 3:48pm Wed Jun 5 '02 comment#184499 Thanks, JI! On the money and cracked me up with the Satan remark ------------------- International Action Plan for Earth;IAPE-A Modest Proposal (english) The Eco Solidarity Working Group 4:03pm Tue Jun 4 '02 article#184305 The only plan for change that is understandable, applicable worldwide, and cuts straight to the critical restructuring needs of Debt; Land; Reparations; Bans on Corporations and Arms Sales; and Ecological Rural Development INTERNATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR EARTH - IAPE ANDES LIBRE: Agencia de Info-News Jason Marti, Director 01 520 312-6662 (USA To realize the Earth Charter many groups from Food First and Via Campesina to Indias Vandana Shiva and the International Forum on Globalization have been working on a range of policy proposals. The Puerto Allegre Statements, the "A Better World is Possible," publication and the International Action Plan for Earth (IAPE) cover the economic restructuring issues that could make a world based on the Earth Charter real. Radical re-structuring programs are becoming the rallying cry of billions of people opposed to any continuation of US-led Global Corporate Hegemony The People International Civil Society' demand autonomy, land reform, political overhauls, agrarian policy shifts and an end to US military, economic and corporate interventions worldwide. INTERNATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR EARTH (IAPE) I. GOAL: TO CREATE A WORLD OF DIVERSITY, EXPERIMENTATION AND TOLERANCE WHERE CIVIL SOCIETY CAN IDENTIFY AND IMPLEMENT POLICIES TO PROMOTE AND PROTECT EQUITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF ECOLOGICALLY AND SOCIALLY SUTAINABLE COMMUNITIES  A GLOBE OF AUTONOMOUS VILLAGES. DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO ACCOMPLISH THIS GOAL IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS. II. STRATEGY: Exert concerted pressure in the streets, legislatures and international forums to force governments and international institutions to adopt the following programs and policies: a. A moratorium on all debt payments (government and commercial) by the poorest 100 nations until an international economic structure of sustainability and localization replaces the WTO Neoliberalism. b. Erasure of all debts owed by the 50 poorest countries and any countries to which significant reparations are owed for past exploitation OR environmental damage. c. Guaranteed and automatic funding for a comprehensive international program of land reform, agrarian reform and ecological rural development, accomplished through taxes on international trade and finance and additional taxes on all stages of the production and consumption of fossil fuels. This people-decided social investment program would replace the World Bank, the IMF, their clones, all foreign aid programs, and all corporate investments outside of their home nation. d. Penalties for countries spending more than one percent of their GDP on the military. e. A ban on weapons sales worldwide. f. An end to most farm chemical use in the OECD countries and an end to all agricultural production or export related subsidies in the OECD. g. Enforcement mechanisms for the Earth Charter and the IAPE, such as increased taxes for non-compliance, international boycotts and the seizure of the foreign assets and bank deposits of violators. The social, ecological and economic crises mount moment by moment. We cannot wait for the United Nations to act decisively. People and communities must quickly push forward their demands. Civil Society has the power in their numbers to enact the changes necessary. II. TARGETS: People should protest or target their rage at those businesses or institutions that they feel are the greatest threat to their communities. The following list presents a generalized prioritization: 1. Any public service or public goods like water, electric power, education, mass transit or telephone service that have been privatized should be high priority. 2. Foreign corporations, especially banks. 3. Large landowners. 4. Local partners of large foreign corporations or their subsidiaries. 5. Corrupt public or business officials. 6. Any business or government enterprise, which creates significant pollution. 7. Media outlets (Television, Radio, Newspapers) which refuse to cover popular issues fairly. 8. Genetically engineered crops 9. Facilities used to export food commodities. The following tactics represent actions or tools that various citizens groups have employed. People will have to decide for themselves which tactics or group of tactics are appropriate for their situation, the level of the threat, the repercussions and how far they are willing or forced to go: 1. POPULAR ASSEMBLIES: Form Popular Assemblies in neighborhoods and in rural communities. Organize and complete research on the local needs and desires of the people. Operate as if the IAPE and the Earth Charter are the law. Inventory the local environment and draw up sustainable development plans. Identify problems and resources. Conduct surveys of poor people and education campaigns to inform and recruit participation in the Popular Assemblies. Do participatory budgeting and demand your share of funding from local, national and international institutions and governments. 2. BOYCOTTS: When combined with picketing, protests and creative media campaigns, boycotts can be modestly effective against corporations or products. Boycotts are most effective when the corporation cannot easily move or switch markets. Example: a soda or beer bottler (fixed investment and heavy/cheap product). Food products are easy to boycott because the consumer can easily buy something else to eat from a different (local/national) company. Gasoline is a poor item to boycott because consumers have little choice and the product is valuable enough to re-ship to other markets. 3. MASS PROTESTS, GENERAL STRIKES, AND ROLLING STRIKES: There is nothing that corrupt governments fear more than masses of people in the streets, especially if they are joined by striking workers. Rolling strikes and work slow-downs can be disruptive and leave the government or corporation uncertain about what will happen next. 4. PHONE, FAX AND E-MAIL JAMMING: Many people continuously flooding a government or corporate communication systems with complaints and requests can seriously disrupt their operations. Inside knowledge of all phone and e-mails addresses is helpful. 5. ROAD AND RAILROAD BLOCKADES: Burning tires, burning cars and masses of determined people can block roads for days and shut down transportation routes and port facilities. THIS IS EMPOWERING!, EDUCATIONAL, BONDING. 6. DIRECT ACTION: Sometimes drastic tactics have been used in community self defense such as burning genetically modified crops or destroying bridges and powerlines that lead to polluting projects that threaten the community. Broadcast towers and satellite uplinks are also vulnerable. Be creative and confident and remember that the whole world is watching through independent media – the actions in one region inspire action in the whole world. IAPE is what Global Participatory Democracy looks like – A Globe of Citizen-Directed Villages FOR MORE INFO on the Earth Charter CONTACT: ------ The Western Hemisphere Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee, May19, 2002, Oficina del Norte DECLARATION OF MAY 19, 2002: TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION: THE ANDEAN AND CENTRAL AMERICAN CONFLICT ZONE WE are people who have lived and worked in the war zones of Central America and the Andean region, and WE are the Civil Society of Earth who reject completely the WTO, FTAA and the existence of the US-led corporate agenda for World Government. WE declare these demands in order to initiate a hemisphere-wide dialog for negotiating Peace with Social Justice. An end to the violence of the US supported Oligarchies that rule Latin America will only come when people of the region and the International Civil Society stand up to the US and demand that the US cease arms shipments to the region and withdraw its intelligence agents, military trainers and other tainted personnel. We call for the establishment of a permanent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to assist similar national commissions in the region. Due to the emergency conditions of the Latin American economic, social and political crises WE commit our efforts to host a Hemispheric Meeting to Establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on August 1, 2002 in Caracas, Venezuela. WE demand that the Organization of American States (OAS) appoint an Independent Commission to investigate the role of the US in the Carmona Venezuelan coup and in other criminal acts in Latin America. The US must open the books on the US Central Intelligence Agency and let the world know the truth. We demand that the US remove the Colombian FARC-EP and ELN from its list of terrorist organizations and WE demand that the US stop supporting the AUC death squads in Colombia which the US has on its own lists of terrorist groups and known major cocaine and heroin traffickers. AL Giordano and Narco News Service stated the situation in Colombia precisely: "WE reject the cowardly and ignorant statements from some "moderate" quarters that seek to create a moral equivalence between the rebel guerrillas and the paramilitary troops. That view reflects official pro da, not reality. The rebels oppose the rule of the large landowners, foreign capital, and the Colombian oligarchy. The paramilitaries seek to maintain that status quo. The governments and the paramilitaries, together, wish to enforce a brutal and undemocratic regime to violently prevent every aspect of an open society; they seek to keep the impoverished majority from participating in elections, in unions, and in civil organizations. By assassinating and repressing all social movements, they have made violent revolution inevitable." WE declare our support for taxes on international trade and fossil fuels to fund major agrarian reform programs of ecologically sustainable development throughout the zones of conflict in Latin America, as others have proposed for countries worldwide. WE declare our support for the International Action Plan for Earth and call on Civil Society in all parts of the world to fight for adoption of the UN Earth Charter and for international legally binding enforcement mechanisms. IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE POOR WHO SAY " ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE" AND THE EARTH WHICH WE ALL DEPEND ON: The Western Hemisphere Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee, May19, 2002, Oficina del Norte -----------------------