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<nettime> irrelevant and useless digest [bc, rochkind]
nettime's_old_world on Wed, 5 Feb 2003 04:04:22 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> irrelevant and useless digest [bc, rochkind]


Re: <nettime> France, Germany Irrelevant; Switzerland Useless
     bc <human {AT} electronetwork.org>
     Jonathan Rochkind <j-rochkind {AT} northwestern.edu>

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Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 12:02:09 -0600
Subject: Re: <nettime> France, Germany Irrelevant; Switzerland Useless
From: bc <human {AT} electronetwork.org>

  it should be mentioned that on some big media
  broadcast (may have been the BBC) reporting on
  the Davos meeting, that one of the participants
  commented on the rest of the world (outside) with
  a pithy remark about 'those outside' the process as
  'throwing snowballs' at those inside the building. it
  may have been a symbolic reference to protesters,
  yet it seemed to indicate everything outside the old
  industrial worldview. a masterwork for media archives.
  bc

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Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 15:14:05 -0600
From: Jonathan Rochkind <j-rochkind {AT} northwestern.edu>
Subject: RE: <nettime> France, Germany Irrelevant; Switzerland Useless

Kermit Snelson comments on different categories to put people and 
ideologies in.

I think he's on to something, but missing something. If I could have 
slogged through Hardt and Negri's Empire, maybe they'd have told me what it 
was. But the first chapter, all I got through before giving up in disgust 
at their impenetrable language, gives some clues.

Snelson's description of Statfor's description that the WEF is a "a society 
of transnational progressives, dedicated to the proposition that building 
the ideal society is a matter of the correct application of modern science, 
economics and management techniques."  I think this is a reasonably good 
description, but the interesting thing is that the "United Nations crowd" 
is basically the same thing. Those who are 'anti-unilaterilist', and insist 
the US attack Iraq only once the UN officially approves it---they are 
subscribing to the same ideology of globalization as described, fairly well 
I think, above.

So in this sense, I can see what Snelson means when he wants to put the 
'unilaterialists' and the (leftist?) 'culturalists' in the same camp---in 
so far as they are opposed to "transnational progressive technocracy" 
ideology of globalization.  I must admit I'm not entirely sure what is 
meant by 'culturalists'---although Snelson doesn't say it explicitly, I get 
the feeling he means to suggest that it's a bad thing---that whether 
leftist 'culturalism' or rightist cowboy 'unilaterialism', it's an ideology 
of perpetual war. Against the presumably preferable ideology of perpetual 
peace offered by the "Davos crowd".

But perhaps I'm misinterpreting and Snelson doess't mean to put himself 
solidly behind the Davos crowd. As always, dichotomies are inventions, and 
choosing the dichotomy that becomes the subject of debate can end the 
debate before it has started. I'm not neccesarily buying Snelson's. Does 
"economic-scientific" necessarily imply globalized 
'multilateralism'?  Maybe, in the age of globalization. Not sure. Does 
opposition to the "Davos crowd" of transnational capitalist technocrats 
necessarily doom one to a commitment to "perpetual conflict"?  I'm not 
buying it, despite the fact that the White House seems quite openly 
committed to such, and the Black Bloc seems wed to it despite their best 
efforts (I truly believe). It's worth repeating that The Davos Crowd, their 
ideology to the contrary, is hardly preparing the world for perpetual peace 
in fact.

Most importantly, Snelson leaves out any analysis of control and power 
dealing instead with abstract ideology: from my point of view, the 
opposition between the cowboy White House crowd and the Davos crowd is more 
about WHO gets to pull the strings, then it is the composition of those 
strings, rhetoric to the contrary. The 'unilateralists' may not realize yet 
what the inevitability of our globalized era means (or they may be smarter 
than we think), but that doesn't mean they aren't playing their own role in 
it.

The important reminder is that the Enemy of my Enemy is not in fact 
necessarily my Friend. Neither is the Friend of my Friend. Still trying to 
figure out who the heck is the Friend of my Enemy.  But this applies as 
much to Snelson's recasting of the dichotomy, as it does to Sterling's or 
Stratfor's that he means to critique. It's a crazy 21st century globalized 
world out there, and few of us have yet figured out how to figure out what 
it all means without resorting to outdated 20th (hell, 19th) century 
analysis. Wheels within wheels.

--Jonathan

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