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<nettime> siva vaidhyanathan: the new information ecosystem
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<nettime> siva vaidhyanathan: the new information ecosystem

     [via <rah {AT} shipwright.com>, processed  {AT}  nettime]

< www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=8&debateId=101&articleId=1319 >

   Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of the forthcoming The Anarchist in the
   Library and a true scholar of the internet age, presents a compelling,
   five-part panorama of the implications of electronic peer-to-peer
   networks for culture, science, security, and globalisation. His
   provocative argument registers peer-to-peer as a key site of contest
   over freedom and control of information. Bill Thompson of
   openDemocracy responds to Siva in a sparkling exchange of powerful,
   lucid intelligence.

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   Part 1: Its a peer-to-peer world

   The rise of electronic [55]peer-to-peer networks has thrown global
   entertainment industries into panic mode. They have been clamouring
   for more expansive controls over personal computers and corporate and
   university networks. They have proposed radical re-engineering of
   basic and generally open communicative technologies. And they have
   complained quite loudly often with specious data and harsh tones that
   have had counterproductive public relations results about the extent
   of their plight.

   But the future of entertainment is only a small part of the story. In
   many areas of communication, social relations, cultural regulation,
   and political activity, peer-to-peer models of communication have
   grown in influence and altered the terms of exchange.

   What is at stake?

   This is the story of clashing ideologies: information anarchy and
   information [56]oligarchy. They feed off of each other dialectically.
   Oligarchy justifies itself through moral panics over the potential
   effects of anarchy. And anarchy justifies itself by reacting to the
   trends toward oligarchy.

   The actors who are promoting information anarchy include libertarians,
   librarians, hackers, terrorists, religious zealots, and
   anti-globalisation activists. The actors who push information
   oligarchy include major transnational corporations, the [57]World
   Trade Organisation, and the governments of the United States of
   America and the Peoples Republic of China.

   Rapidly, these ideologies are remaking our information ecosystem. And
   those of us uncomfortable with either vision, and who value what we
   might call information justice, increasingly find fault and
   frustration with the ways our media, cultural, information and
   political systems are changing.

   The most interesting thing about these challenges and battles is that
   we can observe how ideologies alter our worlds. Ideologies are, to use
   a phrase from Pierre Bourdieu, structuring structures. Ideologies are
   lenses, ways of thinking and seeing, that guide our perceptions and
   habits. They are permeable and malleable. They are not determinative.
   But they make a difference in the judgments we make and the habits we

   In recent years we have seen the rise of anarchy as a relevant
   ideology in many areas of life. Our ideologies affect the technologies
   we choose to adopt. And using certain technologies can alter our
   ideologies. Anarchy is not just a function of small political groups
   and marginal information technologies any more. Anarchy matters.

   This is more than a battle of ideologies. It is also the story of
   specific battles. There are dozens of examples of recent and current
   conflicts that arose out of efforts to control the flows of

     * The story of the Locust Man, an imprisoned dissident democratic
       activist in China who distributed political messages by attaching
       them to the backs of locusts.
     * The ordeal of the public library in Arlington, Virginia, at which
       two of the hijackers of 11 September 2001 used public terminals in
       the days preceding their attack. An increasing number of American
       librarians have had to [58]endure federal law enforcement agencies
       asking them to violate their code of ethics and their patrons
       privacy since this incident.
     * The [59]controversy over the complaint that some Canadian women
       can no longer get tested for genes that indicate a predisposition
       for breast cancer because an American company has patented those
       genes and charges too much for the test.

   Through such incidents, we can examine the following issues:
     * The battle to control democratic sources of information such as
       public libraries, which are suddenly considered dens of terrorism
       and pornography. Libraries are under attack through technological
       mandates and legal restrictions.
     * [60]Efforts to radically re-engineer the personal computers and
       networks to eliminate the very power and adaptability that makes
       these machines valuable.
     * The cultural implications of allowing fans and creators worldwide
       sample cultural products at no marginal costs through peer-to-peer
       computer networks.
     * Futile attempts to [61]restrict the use and distribution of
       powerful encryption technology out of fear that criminals and
       terrorists will evade surveillance.
     * Commercial and governmental efforts to regulate science and
       mathematics, including [62]control over the human genome.
     * Attempts to stifle the activities of political dissidents and
       religious groups.
     * The information policy implications of recent United States
       policies including the [63]USA Patriot Act, [64]Total Information
       Awareness, and the [65]Department of Homeland Security.

   This essay is the first of a series for openDemocracy that will
   consider these battles for control of information. This introductory
   piece will examine the proliferation of peer-to-peer systems.

   The nature of peer-to-peer

   Peer-to-peer electronic networks such as Napster, KaZaa, and Gnutella,
   solve two communicative problems and create two more.

   The first problem is somewhat trivial. Where do we find a convenient
   index to files on other peoples hard drives? Or, in the case of
   Napster founder Sean Fanning, a Boston-area university student, how
   can I find music on other peoples computers without asking them to
   expose themselves to threats by copyright holders?

   The second problem is more substantial. How do we exploit two of the
   great underused resources of the digital age: surplus storage space
   and surplus processing power? More significantly, how do we do this in
   a way that is effectively anonymous and simple?

   Fundamentally, peer-to-peer file-sharing systems such as KaZaa,
   Gnutella, Freenet, and the dearly-departed Napster attempt to
   recapture or at least simulate the structure and function of the
   original internet, when all clients were servers and all servers were

   This original vision of the internet, call it Internet 1.0, arose in
   the 1970s and devolved around 1994 with the rise of ISPs and dynamic
   Internet Protocol (IP) numbers. The handful of netizens of Internet
   1.0 worked with mainframe computers linked to each other through the
   Domain Name System (DNS), which helped direct packets of data to the
   proper destination. Each sender and each destination had a discreet
   and constant IP number that identified it to the network hubs.

   But as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) proliferated in the mid-1990s
   and connected millions of personal computers to networks for only
   several minutes or hours at a time, it became clear that rotating and
   re-using [66]IP numbers would allow many more users to share the

   Thus began Internet 2.0, in which increasingly personal computers
   allowed their users to receive and consume information, but allowed
   limited ability to donate to the system. This extension of the network
   cut off personal computers from the server business. Most users
   donated information only through e-mail. And it became clear that
   while the internet once seemed like a grand bazaar of homemade goods
   and interesting (albeit often frightening) texts generated through
   community dynamics, it would soon seem more like a shopping mall than
   a library or bazaar.

   Two new problems

   Peer-to-peer file-sharing technology is a set of protocols that allow
   users to open up part of their private content to public inspection,
   and thus, copying. In the digital world, one cannot access a file
   without making a copy of it. From this fact arose the first
   peer-to-peer problem: there is no way to enforce scarcity on these
   systems. The popularity and common uses of these protocols produce
   massive anxiety within the industries that rely on artificial scarcity
   to generate market predictability.

   The second problem is less well understood because there is no special
   interest constituency complaining about it. So states have stepped up
   to take the lead in confronting it. That problem is irresponsibility.
   Because most of what happens over peer-to-peer networks is relatively
   anonymous, servers and clients are not responsible for the
   ramifications of their communicative acts. Using widely available
   forms of encryption or networks that assure privacy, one may traffic
   in illicit material such as child pornography with almost no fear. In
   many places in the world, the availability of adult pornography or
   racist speech through peer-to-peer systems undermines a decade of
   efforts to cleanse the more visible and therefore vulnerable World
   Wide Web.

   This second problem is actually a solution to another communicative
   problem that exists primarily in illiberal communicative contexts.
   Many of the same states that hope to quash pornography also want to
   quash the speech and organisational communications of democratic
   activists. So the very existence of these communicative technologies
   creates moral panics throughout the illiberal world as well as the
   liberal world. While some worry about the erosion of commerce, others
   worry about the erosion of power. And the same technologies that
   liberal societies would use to protect commerce might find more
   effective uses in Burma or China.

   Listening to Napster

   But most of the popular discussion about the rise and effects of
   peer-to-peer technology has read like a sports story: who is winning
   and who is losing? Some has read like a crime story: how do we stop
   this thievery? I am more interested in looking at peer-to-peer
   communication in its most general sense. How do we explain the
   peer-to-peer phenomenon? How do we get beyond the sports story or the
   crime story?

   Peer-to-peer communication is unmediated, uncensorable, and virtually
   direct. It might occur between two computers sitting on different
   continents. It might occur across a fence in a neighborhood in Harare,
   Zimbabwe. What we are hearing when we listen to peer-to-peer systems
   are bruits publics, or public noises not the reasonable, responsible
   give and take of the bourgeois public sphere.

   This is very old. What we call p2p communicative networks actually
   reflect and amplify revise and extend an old ideology or cultural
   habit. Electronic peer-to-peer systems like Gnutella merely simulates
   other, more familiar forms of unmediated, uncensorable, irresponsible,
   troublesome speech; for example, anti-royal gossip before the French
   Revolution, trading cassette tapes among youth subcultures such as
   punk or rap, or the distribution of illicit Islamist cassette tapes
   through the streets and bazaars of Cairo.

   Certain sectors of modern society have evolved with and through the
   ideology of peer-to-peer. Academic culture and science rely on an
   ideal of raw, open criticism: peer-to-peer review, one might call it.
   The difference, of course, is that academia and science generally
   require a [67]licensing procedure to achieve admission to the system.
   The [68]Free Software movement is the best example of what legal
   theorist [69]Yochai Benkler calls [70]peer production, but what we
   might as well, for the sake of cuteness and consistency, call
   peer-to-peer production.

   This form of speech has value. But it has different value in different
   contexts. And while peer-to-peer communication has an ancient and
   important, although under-documented, role, we are clearly seeing both
   an amplification and a globalisation of these processes.

   That means that what used to occur only across fences or on park
   benches now happens between and among members of the Chinese diaspora
   who might be in Vancouver and Singapore, Shanghai and Barcelona. As
   cultural groups disperse and reify their identities, they rely more
   and more on the portable elements of their collective culture which
   are widely available through electronic means.

   The clampdown strategy

   Several technological innovations have enabled this amplification and
   globalisation of peer-to-peer communication:
     * The protocols that makeup the internet (i.e. TCP/IP) and the
       relative openness of networks that make up the internet.
     * The modularity, customisability, portability, and inexpense of the
       personal computer.
     * The openness, customisability, and insecurity of the major
       personal computer operating systems.
     * The openness, insecurity, and portability of the digital content

   Understandably, states and corporations that wish to impede
   peer-to-peer communication have been focusing on these factors. These
   are, of course, the very characteristics of computers and the internet
   that have driven this remarkable almost revolutionary adoption of them
   in the past decade.

   These are the sites of the battle. States and media corporations wish
     * Monitor and regulate every detail of communication and shift
       liability and regulatory [71]responsibility to the Internet
       Service Providers.
     * Redesign the protocols that run the internet.
     * Neuter the customisability of the personal computer and other
       digital devices.
     * Impose security on the operating systems so that they might enable
       [72]trust between a content company and its otherwise
       untrustworthy users.

   These efforts involve both public and private intervention, standard
   setting by states and private actors. The United States Congress, the
   Federal Communication Commission, the Motion Picture Association of
   America, Microsoft and Intel have all been involved in [73]efforts to
   radically redesign our communicative technologies along these lines.
   And they are appealing for complementary legal and technical
   interventions by the European Union and the World Trade Organisation.

   These moves would create Internet 3.0, although it would not actually
   look like the internet at all. It would not be open and customisable.
   Content and thus culture - would not be adaptable and malleable. And
   what small measures of privacy these networks now afford would
   evaporate. These are the dangers that [74]Lawrence Lessig warned us
   about in 1998 in his seminal work [75]Code and Other Laws of
   Cyberspace. Only now are we coming to understand that Lessig was

   These regulatory efforts have sparked an arms race. The very
   suggestion of such radical solutions generated immediate reactions by
   those who support anarchistic electronic communication. Every time a
   regime rolls out a new form of technological control, some group of
   hackers or hacktivists break through it or evade it in a matter of
   weeks. The only people who really adhere to these controls are those
   not technologically proficient: most of the world.

   It might surprise casual observers of these battles that the important
   conflicts are not happening in court. The Napster case had some
   interesting rhetorical nuggets. But basically this was classic
   contributory infringement by a commercial service. KaZaa is a bit more
   interesting because it is a distributed company with assets under a
   series of jurisdictions and a technology that limits its ability to
   regulate what its clients do. KaZaa might collapse and only fully
   distributed, voluntary networks might remain: namely, Gnutella and

   The real conflicts will be in the devices, the networks, and the media
   products themselves. And there seems to be few areas of healthy public
   discussion or critique about the relationships between technology and

   Meanwhile, the strategies and structures that limit peer-to-peer
   communication also quash dissent, activism, and organisation in
   illiberal contexts that is, oppressive, totalitarian and authoritarian
   states. And for this reason, p2p systems like Freenet encrypted,
   completely anonymous, and unquenchable are essential tools for
   democratic activists in places like Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Zimbabwe,
   Burma and China.

   The lessons for the public sphere

   Where there is no rich, healthy public sphere we should support
   anarchistic communicative techniques. Where there is a rich, healthy
   public sphere, we must take an honest, unromantic account of the costs
   of such anarchy. And through public spheres we should correct for the
   excesses of communicative anarchy.

   Still, we must recognise that poor, sickly, fragile public spheres are
   more common than rich, healthy public spheres. And the battles at play
   over privacy, security, surveillance, censorship and intellectual
   property in the United States right now will determine whether we will
   count the worlds oldest democracy as sickly or healthy.

   Anarchy is radical democracy. But it is not the best form of
   democracy. But as a set of tools, anarchy can be an essential antidote
   to tyranny.

  55. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer
  56. http://www.bartleby.com/65/ol/oligarch.html
  57. http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/intel2_e.htm#copyright
  58. http://www.arl.org/info/frn/other/antiter2.html
  59. http://www.organicconsumers.org/Patent/010903_patent.cfm
  60. http://www.wired.com/news/mp3/0,1285,54153,00.html
  61. http://www.epic.org/crypto/
  62. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=407
  63. http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism_militias/20011031_eff_usa_patriot_analysis.php
  64. http://www.epic.org/privacy/profiling/tia/
  65. http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/
  66. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address
  67. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=336
  68. http://www.free-soft.org/
  69. http://www.benkler.org/
  70. http://www.benkler.org/CoasesPenguin.html
  71. http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,57326,00.html
  72. http://www.trustedcomputing.org/tcpaasp4/index.asp
  73. http://news.com.com/2100-1009-997223.html?tag=nl
  74. http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/lessig/blog/
  75. http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/code/

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   Part 2: Pro-gumbo: culture as anarchy 

   In much of the American South before the Civil War, drums were
   illegal. Slaveholders were aware of the West African traditions of
   talking instruments and tried everything within their means to stifle
   free, open, unmediated communication across distances. Drums could
   signal insurrection. And drums could conjure collective memories of a
   time of freedom.

   Mostly, slaveholders realised that to subjugate masses of people, they
   had to alienate them from their culture as much as possible. They had
   to strand them in a strange land and try to make that land seem
   stranger than it was. They had to strictly regulate slave culture.
   They had to outlaw slave literacy. They had to commit social and
   cultural homicide to keep otherwise free people from rising up and
   taking charge of their own bodies.

   That the rhythms of Africa and the Caribbean still set the time for
   American culture speaks to the determination and courage of African
   American slaves. The slaveholders outlawed the tools. But they could
   not stop the beat (see Eileen Southern, [55]The Music of Black
   Americans and Christopher Small, [56]Music of the Common Tongue)

      That the rhythms of Africa and the Caribbean still set the time for
      American culture speaks to the determination and courage of African
     American slaves. The slaveholders outlawed the tools. But they could
                                                      not stop the beat. 

   As oligarchic forces such as global entertainment [57]conglomerates
   strive to restrict certain tools that they assume threaten their
   livelihood, they should consider that throughout the history of
   communication, people have managed to use and adapt technologies in
   surprising and resilient ways.

   Once in a while, a set of communicative technologies offers
   revolutionary potential: [58]peer-to-peer networks do just that. They
   are part of a collection of technologies including cassette audio
   tapes, video tapes, recordable compact discs, video discs, home
   computers, the internet, and jet airplanes that link [59]diasporic
   communities and remake nations. They empower artists in new ways and
   connect communities of fans.

   The battle to control these cultural flows says much about the
   anxieties and unsteadiness of the power structures that had hoped to
   exploit cultural globalisation. It also teaches us much about the
   nature of culture itself.

   Global culture by the download

   A couple of years ago, a journalist friend of mine put me in contact
   with a gentleman who does consulting work for the World Bank. This
   gentleman called me to see if I was interested in participating in a
   meeting in New York that June which would enable cultural ministers
   from a handful of African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, and
   South Africa to meet leaders from the American music industry. The
   goal was to brainstorm about how African musicians might exploit
   digital music distribution systems to market and deliver their songs
   directly to diasporic communities.

           The battle to control these cultural flows says much about the
     anxieties and unsteadiness of the power structures that had hoped to
        exploit cultural globalisation. It also teaches us much about the
                                               nature of culture itself. 

   He had no way of knowing what I thought of this idea. I had yet to
   publish anything on the subject. So my opinions were not widely known.
   So he was not quite prepared for my reaction.

   Why do they need record companies? I asked. The artists can do it all
   themselves for less than $10,000.

   He was stunned. Having a World Bank perspective on development, he
   assumed that the artists of the developing world would need and
   welcome the giant helping hand of Bertelsmann or AOL Time Warner. So
   he responded with an appeal to technological expertise. The artists
   would need the major labels, he said, because the labels are working
   on incorporating digital rights management [60]software into digital
   music files. Without watermarking or copy-protection features, the
   artists would just be giving their music away.

   Then I explained to him that it was too late for all that. The power
   of digitisation and networking had beaten him and the record companies
   to it. I didn't even touch the subject of the complications inherent
   in asking African musicians who are often [61]dissidents to work with
   government culture ministers. I just made it seem like he had missed a
   technological moment. He had the best of intentions. But he had not
   considered that certain technological changes had fostered a new
   ideological movement as well. And that these trends might change the
   nature of global music and creativity.

   All music will be world music

   One of the great unanswered questions is how file sharing and MP3
   compression will affect the distribution of what music corporations
   call [62]world music, tunes from non-English-speaking nations,
   offering rhythms that seem fresh to Europeans and Americans who have
   grown up and old on the driving four-four beat of rock-and-roll.

   Now, rhymes and rhythms from all corners of the Earth are available in
   malleable form at low cost to curious artists everywhere. Peer-to-peer
   has gone global. Of course, there are some big economic and
   technological hurdles to overcome before it can affect all cultural
   traditions equally. As the differences narrow, how will the
   availability of a vast and already stunningly diverse library of
   sounds change creativity and commerce? Wont all music be world music?

   The riches of ephemera

   On any given day, on any peer-to-peer file sharing system, one can
   find the most obscure and rare items. I have downloaded some of
   Malcolm Xs speeches, Reggae remixes of [63]Biggie Smalls hits, various
   club dance mixes of Queens Bohemian Rhapsody, and long lost
   [64]Richard Pryor comedy bits that were only released on vinyl by a
   long-defunct company. Through nation-specific and general world music
   chat rooms on the now-defunct Napster, I had been able to find Tamil
   film songs, [65]Carnatic classical music, and pop stuff from [66]Asian
   Dub Foundation, [67]Ali Farka Toure, [68]Orisha, and [69]Youssou
   NDour. The most interesting and entertaining phenomena of the
   MP3-peerto-peer is the availability of mashes new compositions created
   by combining the rhythm tracks of one song and the vocal track of
   another. (The best example of a popular mash, currently, is Genies
   Revenge, a combination of vocals by Christina Aguilera and a guitar
   riff by the Strokes).

   Anxious ethnomusicology

   This is a phenomenon that ethnomusicologists are just starting to
   consider. During the 1980s and 1990s, anthropologist Steven Feld
   raised some serious questions about the future of global cultural
   diversity as world music gained market share and generated interest
   among western producers and labels.

   Feld published some of his thoughts as an [70]article called A Sweet
   Lullaby for World Music. The article traces the development of
   marketing efforts for this new genre of world music, which meant
   anything from drum beats from Mali to the ambient sounds of lemurs in

   Feld expressed concern early on the very term world music made some
   forms of music distinct from what academics and music industry figures
   call music. Since the rise of the world music genre as a commercial
   factor, music scholarship has been asking the question, how has
   difference fared in the new gumbo? Feld wrote that recent world music
   scholarship has revealed the uneven rewards, unsettling
   representations, and complexly entangled desires that lie underneath
   the commercial rhetoric of global connection, that is, the rhetoric of
   free flow and greater access.

   Free flow is a buzzword in north-south communication policy debates.
   Stemming from 1970s arguments in [71]Unesco forums, the United States
   argued that the world community should establish standards that would
   encourage the free flow of information across borders, ostensibly to
   spread democracy and ensure civil rights.

   Many oppressive states chiefly India under Indira Gandhi argued that
   the doctrine of free flow was merely a cover for what we now call the
   neoliberal agenda: sweetening American corporate expansion by dusting
   it with the sugar of [72]enlightenment principles.

   The free-flow vs. [73]cultural imperialism argument (which has since
   been supplemented by another approach that emphasises the complex uses
   to which all audiences put cultural elements) has unfortunately
   limited our vision and stifled discussions about what we might do to
   encourage freedom and the positive externalities of cultural flow
   while limiting the oppressive and exploitative externalities of the
   spread of American and European modes of cultural production and

   Feld also outlined the reaction to scholarship that embraced this
   cultural imperialism model. In contrast to those who raise concerns
   about the spread of new loud noises, celebratory scholarship
   emphasised the use and re-use of elements of American and European
   musical forms in the emerging pop sounds flowing from the developing
   world. It also celebrated the new market success that artists from the
   developing world were achieving. This scholarship emphasised fluid
   cultural identities and predicted an eventual equilibrium of the power
   differences in the world music industry.

   This school, which I subscribe to, downplays the influence of
   [74]hegemony and underlines the potential creative and democratic
   power of sharing. Instead of celebratory, I prefer the term

   Steven Feld, who belongs to that group of scholars who utilise what he
   calls anxious narratives, sees little possibility for resisting the
   [76]commodification of ethnicity and musical styles. For the anxious,
   global becomes displaced; emerging become exploited; cultural
   conversations become white noise. To make his point that we should not
   ignore the effects of the cultural violence that is [77]primitivism,
   Feld writes, The advertisement of this democratic and liberal vision
   for world music embodies an idealism about free-flows, sharing, and
   choice. But it masks the reality that visibility in product choice is
   directly related to sales volume, profitability, and stardom.

   Even though I celebrate sharing, free flows, and gumbo, I must concede
   the gravity of Felds concerns. But my question now is: how does
   peer-to-peer change these issues?

   Feld is really writing about the anxieties of ethnomusicologists. He
   is not so concerned with the effects on the actual music and how it
   works in the lives of musicians and fans:

     In the end, no matter how inspiring the musical creation, no matter
     how affirming its participatory dimension, the existence and
     success of world music returns to one of globalizations basic
     economic clichés: the drive for more and more markets and market
     niches. In the cases here, we see how the worlds of small (UNESCO
     and Auvidis) and large (Sony) and major independent (ECM) music
     owners and distributors can come into unexpected interaction. We
     see how production can proceed from the acquisition of a faraway
     cheap inspiration and labor. We see how exotic Euromorphs can be
     marketed through newly layered tropes, like green
     enviroprimitivism, or spiritual new age avant-garde romanticism. We
     see how what is produced has a place in a larger industrial music
     zone of commodity intensification, in this case artistic encounters
     with indigeneity, as made over in popular Western styles. In all,
     we see how world music participates in shaping a kind of
     consumer-friendly multiculturalism, one that follows the market
     logic of expansion and consolidation.

   The peer-to-peer solution

   Perhaps the spread of peer-to-peer libraries should allay the concerns
   of anxious critics. Peer-to-peer music distribution so far has been
   all about decorporatisation and deregulation. Music corporations do
   not control the flow, prices, or terms of access anymore. Music
   distribution has lower barriers of entry than ever before, and offers
   the potential of direct, communal marketing and [78]creolisation.

   We should acknowledge some key concepts about cultural globalisation:
     * Its happening, but its rolling out in ways that are alarming to
       those who hoped to profit the most from it.
     * The prices and profits of globalisation are falling unevenly and
     * Culture is not zero-sum. Using something does not prevent someone
       else from using it, and does not degrade its value. In fact, it
       might enhance it.

   Culture is anarchistic

           We often mistake the collection of end-products of culture the
           symphonies and operas, novels and poems that have survived the
      rigorous peer review of markets and critics as the culture itself. 

   [79]Culture is anarchistic if it is alive at all. It grows up from the
   common, everyday interactions among humans who share a condition or a
   set of common symbols and experiences.

   We often mistake the collection of end-products of culture the
   symphonies and operas, novels and poems that have survived the
   rigorous peer review of markets and critics as the culture itself.
   Culture is not the sum of its products. It is the process that
   generates those products. And if it is working properly, culture is
   radically democratic, vibrant, malleable, surprising, and fun.

   These two different visions of culture explain much of the difference
   between the assumptions behind information anarchy and information
   oligarchy. Anarchists and many less radical democrats believe that
   culture should flow with minimal impediments. Oligarchs, even if they
   seem politically liberal, favor a top-down approach to culture with
   massive intervention from powerful institutions such as the state,
   corporations, universities, or museums. All of these institutions may
   be used to construct and preserve free flows of culture and
   information. But all too often they are harnessed to the oligarchic
   cause, making winners into bigger winners, and thus rigging the
   cultural market.

   What Matthew Arnold thinks of P2P

   In 1867 the English critic [80]Matthew Arnold published a treatise
   called [81]Culture and Anarchy. The book was an extended argument with
   the cultural implications of [82]John Stuart Mills 1859 book On
   Liberty. Arnold took Mill to task for endorsing a low level of
   cultural regulation. Culture, to Arnold, was all the good stuff that
   cultural authorities such as himself said it was. And culture, in the
   Arnoldian sense, was preferable was in fact and antidote to anarchy.

   [83]Samuel Huntington expresses this same oligarchic theory of culture
   in his simplistic yet influential book, The Clash of Civilizations and
   the Remaking of World Order. Huntington sees cultures as grounded on
   certain immutable foundations. He sees the emphasis on cultural
   transmission, fluidity, and hybridity as trivial when compared to the
   deep, essential texts and beliefs of a culture. Huntington affirms the
   role of the Bible in what he calls western civilization and the role
   of the [84]Analects of Confucius in what he calls Confucian

   In this way, Huntington disregards how people who live in these
   cultures actually use the texts and symbols around them. The essence
   of Western Civilization is the Magna Carta, not the Magna Mac,
   Huntington writes, despite the fact that most residents of the nations
   he labels western have no idea of the history or significance of the
   [85]Magna Carta, yet no one can underestimate the cultural power of
   the [86]Big Mac. Huntington is arguing against cultural globalisation,
   against fostering flows and exchanges of ideas and information. He
   looks at a dangerous and angry world and prescribes walls instead of

   Huntingtons preferred world might be quieter, but it would also be
   darker and dumber. The fact is, cultures change, grow, and revise
   themselves over time if they are allowed to. And cultural life is
   healthier when cultures are allowed to grow and revise themselves.
   Only during the European [87]Dark Ages (5th to 12th centuries CE) have
   we seen a large portion of the world sever its cultural arteries and
   rely on internal and local signs and symbols. Europe was stuck in a
   time of crippling cultural stasis while the rest of the world, led by
   Persian and Arab traders, moved on. The Dark Ages in Europe were a
   time of mass illiteracy and not-coincidental concentrations of power
   among local elites.

       Every area of the world becomes more diverse in the local sense as
     long as people are free to borrow pieces of cultural expressions and
                                        re-use them in interesting ways. 

   As [88]Tyler Cowen explains in his book Creative Destruction: How
   Globalization Is Changing the Worlds Cultures, cultural exchange
   generates cultural change. Exchange might make disparate cultures more
   like each other, but it also infuses each culture with new choices,
   new ideas, and new languages. Every area of the world becomes more
   diverse in the local sense as long as people are free to borrow pieces
   of cultural expressions and re-use them in interesting ways.

   Culture as process

   This idea of culture as temporal, contingent, dynamic, and Creolised
   best describes how culture actually works in peoples lives. No one
   lives in [89]Matthew Arnolds culture; and few would want to live in
   Samuel Huntingtons. The fact is, most of us dont have a clue why the
   Magna Carta as a document is important to us, if it is at all any
   more. Many more of us can wax about how Madonna is important to us.
   And she is important to our culture in different ways to different
   people at different times.

   [90]Madonna, like the culture that rewards and follows her, is
   temporal, contingent, and dynamic. As [91]Lawrence Levine explains in
   Black Culture and Black Consciousness, culture is not a fixed
   condition but a process: the product of interaction between the past
   and the present. Its toughness and resiliency are determined not by a
   cultures ability to withstand change, which indeed may be a sign of
   stagnation not life, but by its ability to react creatively and
   responsively to the realities of a new situation.

   If we use some instrument of technology or law to dampen that
   vibrancy, malleability, or dynamics, of culture, we risk cultural
   stasis. Deployed carelessly, such instruments can freeze-in winners
   and chill losers or those merely waiting to play.

  55. http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall96/music.htm
  56. http://www.dartmouth.edu/acad-inst/upne/0-8195-6357-9.html
  57. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/issue-8-24.jsp
  58. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer
  59. http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search=diasporic&go=Go
  60. http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search=digital+rights+&go=Go
  61. http://africanmusic.org/artists/felakuti.html
  62. http://www.worldmusic.net/
  63. http://dir.salon.com/news/feature/2000/10/16/biggie/index.html
  64. http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/specialevents/marktwain/pryor_bio.html
  65. http://www.carnatic.com/
  66. http://www.asiandubfoundation.com/adf_home_fs.htm
  67. http://africanmusic.org/artists/alifarka.html
  68. http://www.orisha.com.au/index1.htm
  69. http://africanmusic.org/artists/youssou.html
  70. http://www.uchicago.edu/research/jnl-pub-cult/backissues/pc30/feld.html
  71. http://www.unesco.org/
  72. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enlightenment
  73. http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search=cultural+imperialism&go=Go
  74. http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/marxism/marxism10.html
  75. http://www.gumbopages.com/food/gumbo.html
  76. http://it.stlawu.edu/~global/pagescapital/commodification.html
  77. http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search=primitivism&go=Go
  78. http://www.uwichill.edu.bb/bnccde/epb/creole.html
  79. http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search=Culture&go=Go
  81. http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/nonfiction_u/arnoldm_ca/ca_titlepage.htm
  82. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/m/milljs.htm
  83. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/gergen/january97/order_1-10.html
  84. http://www.human.toyogakuen-u.ac.jp/~acmuller/contao/analects.htm
  85. http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/D/1400/magna.htm
  86. http://www.mcdonalds.com/corporate/info/history/history3/index.html
  87. http://cfcc.net/dutch/DarkAges.htm
  88. http://www.aworldconnected.org/people.php/21.html
  89. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/the_westminster_hour/archive/3018799.stm
  90. http://www.madonna.com/madonna/
  91. http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/sia/levine.htm

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   Part 3: The anarchy and oligarchy of science

   During the cold war, scientists behind the [55]iron curtain yearned
   for life in the United States. Not only were basic needs and
   conveniences better met in the free world, the principles of open
   dialogue and frank examination created fulfilling intellectual
   communities. Because Soviet scientists were among the few citizens
   allowed to travel frequently to Western Europe, North America, and
   India, they were among the first to see through the lies and
   exaggeration of Soviet tyranny.

   In early 2001 Russian scientist [56]Elena Bonner gave a speech about
   the recent lurch back toward authoritarianism in Russia under
   President Vladimir Putin. In the speech, she pointed out that if not
   for Soviet scientists in the 1960s, anti-Soviet dissidents would not
   have had a sense of the shell of lies in which the government had
   encased Soviet society. Soviet scientists had communicated with the
   outside world. They had the power to let a little light and a little
   air into an otherwise blind and suffocating nation.

   Science is the most successful, open and distributed communicative
   system human beings have ever created and maintained. The cultural
   norms of science, and by extension academia in general, are
   anarchistic in the best sense of the word. Science and academia should
   be radically democratic. Although membership in these communities is
   effectively closed to a select few, the papers and books that come out
   of these communities are more often than not open to public perusal
   and commentary. And the traditions of blind peer-review do allow for
   motivated [57]amateurs to participate occasionally in discourse and
   discovery, even if they cant get past the guards protecting labs and

   Science is a culture. Its also a method. And its an ideology that
   supports the method and maintains the culture. But its also an
   industry (or set of industries) through which billions of public and
   private dollars flow every year. The stakes of science have never been
   higher nor its justifications clearer. The second world war, we are
   told, was won because one side had a group of well-funded immigrant
   scientists who developed better radar than the other side did. And,
   ultimately, it developed a better bomb as well. The challenges of the
   21st century poverty, security, and disease -- can all be addressed
   with advances that start in the laboratory or computer and flow out to
   the market, the farm, the school, or the clinic.

   The great river of science

   [58]Scientific knowledge often moves from a spring of open discourse
   into a stream of adoption and exploitation. The stream often moves
   from the public arena to the private sector. We have developed complex
   rules that guide this process. And each step embodies a tangle of
   values and ideologies. The rules and terms of discussion evolve from
   consensus-seeking processes within scientific communities. They then
   consider the demands of market forces to create and enforce scarcity
   and state demands for security.

   Different ideologies, habits, and rules govern the upstream source of
   knowledge and the downstream deployment of it. But the first step, the
   action in the lab and the library, depends very much on the academic
   devotion to radical democracy and openness. The essential question in
   this matrix of rules and norms is this: at what point in the knowledge
   stream should we install controls and restrict access to generate
   incentives and protect people from bad actors who would exploit
   dangerous knowledge?

   and its dams

   Within scientific communities, of course, members face significant
   real-world barriers to true and ideal openness and equality. The first
   is the relatively soft barrier of expertise. The rare amateur in
   theoretical physics must spend years mastering the body of work that
   preceded her or his curiosity. Without such mastery and the luxury of
   the time spent pursuing it, a potential contributor would not know
   where the gaps in knowledge lay or which questions are particularly

   Such time-intensive immersion, of course, would prevent someone from
   pursuing work that would pay the rent. So while scientific discourse
   is open to experts only, becoming an expert demands such an investment
   of time and money that it tempers the potential excesses of
   information anarchy: the persistence of rumour and error, and the cult
   of personality.

   The second, harder barrier is one of credentials. In a messy, crowded,
   busy world, degrees and titles serve as imperfect proxies for
   knowledge and connections. You might not know whether it is worth your
   time listening to a dissertation on the virtues of genetic engineering
   given by the person seated next to you on the train. But if she
   introduces herself as a professor of molecular biology at Rockefeller
   University, you might decide to listen.

   Of course, [59]credentialism is inherently oligarchic. Admission to
   the academy of credentials is severely restricted, as its members
   prefer to limit competition for jobs and resources. Credentialism can
   be self-fulfilling. A board of credentialed experts reviewing grant
   applications is likely to dismiss applicants who lack the same basic
   credentials they have earned and reward those who went to the right
   schools, regardless of more subtle measures of knowledge or expertise.

   Credentialism embodies all the potential excesses of oligarchy. That
   professor on the train could be full of crap, as many professors
   generally are. Even very bright, educated, licensed professionals can
   be wrong. The chief problem with credentialism comes from the synergy
   of status anxiety and arrogance: such professionals might be less
   willing to admit error than an amateur or novice might. Fortunately
   for scientific progress, any group of credentialed experts is likely
   to contain significant disagreement on the burning questions of the

   So credentialism trumps credentialism and real debate can occur. Its
   impossible to know which conversations and debates dont happen because
   of the inherent conservativism of communities of the credentialed.
   Despite some elements of oligarchy, science as a practice succeeds
   because of, not despite, its ideology of relative openness.
   Credentialism is more an imperfection rather than a corruption of

   A community of amateurs

   Science, as an ideology and culture, is supposed to be open to
   contributions from the non-licensed. Unlike the humanities, where
   credentialism is a much bigger problem and necessity, science can be
   somewhat free from the tyranny of credentials. Its supposed to be
   disinterested in questions of nationalism or commercial gain.

   While the public hails legends like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein
   who have broken open scientific fields and rewritten textbooks, the
   truth about science is that it is most often done within and among
   teams of researchers, collaborating among even larger communities
   across borders and oceans. Science has always been global,
   cosmopolitan, messy, inefficient, and troublesome. And with the rise
   of global communicative technologies and more sophisticated methods of
   computer modeling within areas as diverse as cell biology and nuclear
   physics, the barriers of entry should be lower than ever and
   collaboration and criticism should be easier and cheaper than ever.

   Significantly, one community of researchers and creators the [60]Open
   Source or Free Software movement, has adopted radically democratic
   academic principles to its guiding philosophy. While professional and
   degreed computer scientists make significant and notable contributions
   to the evolution of free software, the amateur matters greatly. Its
   more often the community of amateurs that de-bugs and improves a piece
   of code, or finds a new way of using it in the new context.

   Computer science is new enough and its tools are cheap enough that
   thousands of amateurs who lack credentials are able to gain expertise
   through trial, error, experimentation, collaboration, and
   communication. Its the ideal scientific community, one [61]Francis
   Bacon would have envied and Aristotle could not have even imagined.
   And recently it has emerged as a place-holding metaphor for values and
   habits that have much older currency in the sciences. Open source has
   become a model and an argument, yet its principles used to be
   unarticulated because they were the default within science.

   As in so many other areas of life from music to political action just
   as communicative technology has allowed the flowering of a new
   scientific revolution, the oligarchic concerns of commerce and
   national security have crowded out these democratic values at their
   sources the university and laboratory.

   Government against enlightenment

   Now, more than a decade after Elena Bonner and her husband [62]Andrei
   Sakharov helped end the cold war, we must start questioning how much
   of a scientific haven United States will be in the future. Citing
   legal threats against encryption researchers and the criminal
   prosecution of Russian computer scientist [63]Dmitry Sklyarov and
   nuclear scientist [64]Wen Ho Lee, and increasingly strict visa
   restrictions governing students and researchers, many scientist and
   mathematicians have been frightened away from traveling to or working
   in the United States.

   And scientists are finding it harder to do their jobs in the new
   security environment since 11 September 2001 and the still-mysterious
   anthrax attacks that quickly followed. Over the past two years, the US
   government has severed important links on federal World Wide Web
   sites, deleted information from other government websites, and even
   required librarians to destroy a CD-ROM on public water supplies.
   University of Michigan researchers lost access to an Environmental
   Protection Agency database with information they were using to study
   hazardous waste facilities. Unclassified technical reports have
   disappeared from the [65]Los Alamos National Laboratory website.

   Rules regulating the use of dangerous materials or the distribution of
   information potentially open to abuse traditionally evolve slowly
   through the scientific process. Groups of scientists, in concert with
   government officials, will examine risks and propose restrictive
   protocols. Some are encoded in law. Others remain part of the
   self-regulating culture of science. But since 2001, the US government
   has taken to dictating the new security rules, regardless of the
   scientific merit of the restrictions.

   Many of these rules have generated criticism among scientists who fear
   a chill on certain essential research (on bioterrorism, for instance)
   and on the review process that requires other researchers to replicate
   previous experiments. If some data or conclusions are kept secret,
   then science cannot proceed in a self-correcting fashion.

   Most alarming, the US government has decided to restrict and monitor
   contacts with non-US scientists and graduate students. The global,
   cosmopolitan nature of science is at stake if the worlds largest
   source of basic research explicitly favors its own citizens instead of
   letting the best American scientists collaborate with the best
   non-American scientists (see Peg Brickley, New antiterrorism tenets
   trouble scientists, [66]The Scientist, 28 October 2002).

   Yet even before the attacks of 2001, something serious was changing in
   the relationship between science and the United States government.
   Since the early 1980s, increasing emphasis on the potential
   profitability of publicly funded basic research and concern for the
   perceived security risks that open networks, open journals, and open
   discussion afford have pushed scientists to re-assert their principles
   and defend their peers.

   There have been battles over the content of journal articles, the
   control that journal publishers exercise over material, the role of
   foreign-born and ethnically suspect scientists, and the ethics of
   privatising basic information about the world and the human body. In
   other words, scientists are having to argue for the enlightenment all
   over again.

   The copyright economy: commerce and control

   As molecular biologist [67]Roger Tatoud has written, It is widely
   accepted that science should be an open field of knowledge and that
   communication between scientists is crucial to its progress. In
   practice, however, everything seems to be done to restrict access to
   scientific information and to promote commercial profit over
   intellectual benefits.

   Tatoud is most concerned with the increasing influence of two systems
   of regulation on the culture of science: copyrights and patents.
   Copyrights directly affect the price of scientific journals and thus
   their availability to researchers in developing nations, at poorer
   institutions, or those unaffiliated with a company or university.

   The absurd copyright economy forces scientists to assign all rights to
   a major commercial journal publisher for no remuneration, then buy
   back the work through monopolistic subscriptions. As a result, many
   scientists are forming free and open collaborations to distribute
   [68]peer-reviewed scientific literature outside the traditional
   commercial journal system.

   The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is sponsoring the public library
   of science and the George Soros foundation funds the [69]Budapest Open
   Access Initiative. The website for the Budapest project declares:

     An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make
     possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the
     willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of
     their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake
     of inquiry and knowledge. The new technology is the internet. The
     public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic
     distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely
     free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars,
     teachers, students, and other curious minds. Removing access
     barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich
     education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the
     poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be,
     and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common
     intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge.

   While the copyright system benefits the publishing oligarchs at the
   expense of scientific openness, it has not had nearly the restrictive
   effects that the patent system has had on science. Since 1980, when
   the United States Congress passed the [70]Bayh-Dole Act, which
   encourages universities to patent work generated with public funds,
   and the US Patent Office approved the patenting of living things and
   the genes that operate in them, there has been a mad rush to control
   information that might be medically relevant.

   An American company, Myriad Genetics Inc., that has managed to wrest
   control of two mutant genes that influence breast cancer in a small
   number of women has been able to reap immense monopoly rents from
   medical care providers who must pay the company $2,500 each time they
   screen a woman for these mutations.

   As British biologist John Sulston has [71]written, By claiming
   proprietary rights to the diagnostic tests for the two BRCA genes and
   charging for the tests Myriad is adding to total health-care costs.
   Even worse, once scientists really understand how the BRCA 1 and 2
   mutations cause tumors to grow, they might be able to devise new
   therapies. But because of these patents, Myriad has exclusive
   marketing rights.

   In other words, researchers have a financial disincentive to act as
   free agents when developing new tests and therapies for these
   mutations. And throughout the world, these tests remain beyond the
   financial reach of billions of women (see also Sultston's [72]the
   heritage of humanity).

   The privatisation of science

   While favouring centralised information control and efficient
   short-term commercial gain over openness and the long-term
   accumulation of knowledge is the major theme of this story, its not
   the only one. In fact, in many of the battles between openness and
   control of processes and information, over-control has had a perverse
   effect on commerce.

   Proprietary control of databases of essential genetic information, for
   instance, raised the specter of redundant, imperfect, competitive
   private databases that would simultaneously lower the profits for
   companies that maintain them and raise transaction costs for companies
   that wish to use the information to develop drugs or therapies.

   For this reason, several pharmaceutical companies have joined with the
   Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom to form a free, public database
   for SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), the markers of difference
   among individuals who share a genome. By identifying the location of
   SNPs, researchers can pinpoint factors that might signal
   susceptibility to specific diseases that have genetic influences.

   Before the public SNP database obviated the gold rush to identify and
   patent hundreds of SNPs, lone companies were trying to hoard the
   information and patent the SNPs. Had they succeeded, research on
   particular SNPs would have been more expensive and potentially
   monopolistic. So the public SNP database is an example of companies
   heavily invested in a healthy and reliable patent system overtly
   avoiding the abuse of the system and investing in public domain
   information. They realised that [73]too much control was bad for

   The United States government had nothing to do with the open public
   database, besides funding some of the research on SNPs. US science
   policies heavily encourage universities, public sector researchers,
   and private companies to file for patent protection on every step of
   the knowledge-producing process, upstream and downstream. These
   policies have generated an exponential increase in the number of
   patents owned by universities for work done with public funds.

   In 1979 American universities received 264 patents. By 1997, that
   number had increased tenfold, to 2,436. In that same time, the total
   number of US patents issues per year only doubled. US science policies
   have also erased any functional difference in the ways universities
   regulate and license basic science and commercially exploitable
   technology. Perhaps most importantly, the American people are paying
   at least twice for any research that generates a marketable technology
   or treatment through the grant and through the market price of the
   procedure or drug).

   What if during the second world war the United States had considered
   scientists of German, Italian, or even Danish descent too suspicious
   or untrustworthy to be involved in code-breaking, radar development,
   or weapons research? What if during the cold war the United States had
   restricted instead of encouraging scientific communication between its
   scientists and those behind the iron curtain? What if Leibniz had had
   to ask Newton for permission to work on the calculus?
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  55. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Curtain
  56. http://www.brandeis.edu/departments/sakharov/h_description.html#Bonner_bio
  57. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=15870
  58. http://www.powells.com/psection/HistoryofScience.html
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  61. http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/bacon/
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  68. http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue7_11/willinsky/index.html
  69. http://www.soros.org/openaccess/
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  72. http://mondediplo.com/2002/12/15genome
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  74. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/debate.jsp?debateId=101&id=8
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  79. http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/forum.jspa?forumID=72
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  82. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=8&debateId=101&articleId=1378
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   Part 4: The nation-state vs. networks

   In the last decade, the nation-state has survived three challenges to
   its hegemony from the Washington Consensus, the California Ideology,
   and Anarchy. The promise of a borderless globalisation unified by
   markets and new technology has been buried. The fourth part of Siva
   Vaidhyanathans compelling series asks: what then remains of the
   utopian vision of global peer-to-peer networks that would bypass
   traditional structures of power?

   Part 4: The nation-state vs. networks

   Just yesterday, it seems, influential thinkers were imagining a world
   in which the nation-state would wither, and many decisions that affect
   everyday life would be shifted up to multilateral institutions or down
   to market actors. Technologies were to play a leading part in that
   change linking cosmopolitan citizens and transnational markets in a
   way that would enable more direct forms of governance, cultural
   [55]creolisation, and efficient commercial transactions. Human beings
   were on the verge of finding new and exciting ways of relating to each
   other. Arbitrary barriers of ethnicity and geography would shrivel.
   Through technology, we were in the process of mastering the dynamics
   of, and therefore controlling, our cultural evolution.

   This vision was informed by a sort of soft anarchism and
   techno-fundamentalism. It assumed that the state would slough away
   eventually. But in the mean time, we would have to push and prod it to
   relinquish centralised control over daily matters.

   The tautology worked as follows. This sort of radical globalisation is
   going to happen anyway. The technology would determine it, so we might
   as well make personal and policy choices that would guarantee it. In
   the meantime, if those outside the global, technocratic, educated
   elite suffered a bit, that would be the price of cultural evolution.
   We could wire their villages and gently inform them of the impending

   Of course, in practice, the instruments of this particular form of
   globalisation did not actually serve the softly anarchistic vision of
   a decentralised species acting in concert. Like a Soviet-era
   ideologues permanent deferral of rule by the working class until it
   was ready, this approach required a centralisation of authority within
   corporate boardrooms and multilateral confederacies until all the
   villages were wired.

   Of course, now we see that the [56]nation-state is not going anywhere.
   And ethnicity and geography still matter quite a bit within and among
   states. We might even be experiencing some sort of cultural
   devolution. If anything, the nation-state has capitalised on the mania
   of globalisation and information to reinforce its powers and
   jurisdictions. We might have had a moment of techno-globo-utopian
   idealism in the 1990s. But it should be clear by now that the
   nation-state is back with thunderous fury. And the dominant form of
   globalisation is [57]oligarchic, not anarchistic. So the most
   pronounced forms of opposition to that dominant model are
   understandably informed by anarchism.

   Thats not to say that the nation-state is what it was, or that it will
   behave the same ways in the future. The pressures on state
   sovereignty, identity, and security are significant. People,
   currencies, culture, and information are more portable and malleable
   than ever, and this has increased the [58]anxieties that nation-states
   endure concerning identity and security.

   These pressures come from inside and outside: reactions to and from
   immigrant groups that retain interest in the politics and culture of
   their homeland, and expatriate communities dispersed around the globe,
   willingly funding and enabling new challenges to state security and

   Different pressures on sovereignty also come from above and below:
   from multilateral governing institutions and from teeming mobs of
   techno-libertarians and disgruntled rebels. The triple forces at work
   here are the Washington Consensus and a strange synergy between the
   [59]California Ideology and the [60]Zapatista Swarm.

   Soft oligarchy: the Washington Consensus

   The [61]Washington Consensus is a form of market fundamentalism
   complicated by some serious bad faith. Although its advocates claim to
   champion free trade and open markets, there is nothing free or open
   about the Washington Consensus. Its more Washingtonian than
   consensual. Its a consensus among major institutions located in
   Washington, D.C., and represents the vested interests of developed
   nations. While it intends to empower market forces, it depends on
   coercion by institutions that resemble super-states, yet have no
   direct democratic accountability.

   In practice, increasingly powerful multilateral institutions such as
   the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund
   (IMF), and the World Bank determine policies for many nation-states.
   And clearly the multilateral institutions that enforce the Washington
   Consensus are only serving the interests of a handful of already rich
   and powerful states, chiefly in North America and western Europe.

   Techno-libertarianism: the California Ideology

   From roughly 1981 to 2000, the Washington Consensus represented the
   potential of a new political order: a weakened, less relevant
   nation-state in the 21st century. Meanwhile, on the left coast of the
   United States, a revolution was brewing that encouraged the passive
   erosion of state influence on markets and peoples lives. At least,
   everyone involved thought it was a revolution, declared it a
   revolution, and acted as if it were a revolution.

   It turned out to be less revolutionary in real terms than many hoped.
   Yet its ideological influence was undeniable. Political economist
   Christopher May has called it the California Ideology, but it might
   more properly be called the [62]Northern California Ideology.

   The California Ideology predicted that the new communicative
   technologies that linked consumers directly to producers (without
   middlemen) and allowed consumers more and faster information with
   which they might make decisions that would radically alter global
   capitalism. Transaction costs would fall. Consumers would demand
   better quality and service at lower prices. The smartest firms would
   offer them just that. Workers would no longer be tied to offices and
   plants. Managers would slough away as corporate hierarchies collapsed.
   Employees would find greater satisfaction working contract-to-contract
   for a variety of firms on individual projects rather than latching
   their fortunes and reputations on one firm. Firms would outsource much
   of their work, from printing to data storage, to shipping, to
   research, to accounting.

   At every level consumers, labour, management, and the firm itself
   everyone would be a free agent. Firms that worked better with their
   minds than their muscles would win. Work would be flexible and workers
   would be free. Social needs would be better served through private
   ventures that capitalise on quick applications of knowledge and
   networks of experts. The nation-state would not only [63]wither in
   importance because private firms would serve consumers, (what used to
   be called citizens) better, it would be actively dismantled because
   its interventions in many areas of life perverted the flows of
   information that would fuel this revolution in the first place. Every
   transaction would be a lot like shopping on [64]eBay.

   The rise of caffeinated anarchy

   Anarchy in some ways growing directly out of the new communicative
   technologies fostered by the California ideology, in other ways
   brewing up from the disgruntled subalterns in developing nations burst
   into relevance and importance in 1999.

   It filled the streets of Seattle and [65]shut down a round of
   negotiations at a meeting of the WTO. Taking inspiration from the
   1994-1995 [66]Zapatista uprising in the southern state of Chiapas in
   Mexico, activists from all corners of the earth had been communicating
   about ways to challenge the Washington Consensus.

   Using the slogan, The Revolution will be Digitised, activists all over
   the globe took direct inspiration from the issues and success that the
   [67]Zapatistas generated. Anti-Washington Consensus parties in
   Venezuela and [68]Brazil won elections in the mid-1990s. Meanwhile
   Mexican voters, many of whom have benefited from increased trade with
   the United States, elected a conservative [69]president who had once
   worked for Coca-Cola and lived in the United States.

   European anarchists and activists helped Zapatistas organise the
   [70]First Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against
   Neoliberalism in Chiapas in 1996. Through that and subsequent meetings
   in 1997 and 1998, the movement spread to include several important
   trade unions in Europe and Canada.

   These activists sought true and complete [71]globalisation. Partial,
   rigged globalisation, as promulgated by the Washington Consensus,
   served only to bind workers to one place. The Washington Consensus
   encouraged the movement of money, resources, and goods. Yet it did not
   allow for the free flow of people and ideas (unless these ideas were
   encased in Hollywood films and music, and then only under strict
   market, legal, and technological controls).

   If there were such a free flow of people and ideas, then authoritarian
   states would sense deep threats grumbling up from their subjects and
   multinational corporations could not exploit wage differences
   effectively enough to undermine unions. These diverse groups forged a
   movement with a coherent message: that the appearance of incoherence
   was in fact coherent because it reflected the diversity of concerns
   and methods.

   We declare, the founding document of the movement read, that we will
   make a collective network of all our particular struggles and
   resistances, an intercontinental network of resistance against
   neoliberalism, an intercontinental network of resistance for humanity.
   The sociologist [72]David Graeber, an anarchist activist working
   against the Washington Consensus, wrote that this new global anarchism
   is not only pro-globalisation in the sense that it hopes to erode
   borders and allow people to seek fulfilment wherever and however they
   might imagine it; it is the first major social and ideological
   movement to spread from the south to the north, from the developing to
   developed nation-states, in many decades. And, in this effort to
   define in their first principles a bond with humanity over nation,
   these activists were echoing a sense of [73]Diogenic cynicism.

   The Zapatista swarm hits Seattle

   [74]Diogenes found an ideal playground in Seattle, whose economic
   success in the 1990s made it the ideal showcase for the Washington

   The home of Microsoft, Boeing, and Starbucks was also a node of global
   communication and the flow of tourists and workers. But its proximity
   to Native American communities and old-growth forests made it a symbol
   of all that the Washington Consensus threatened. Moreover, the very
   technologies that the WTO celebrated in Seattle intercontinental air
   travel, large quantities of cheaply grown caffeine, and unmediated
   global digital communication undermined the institutions that supplied

   When anarchists, environmentalists, labour union members, farm
   workers, and general critics of the Washington Consensus shut down a
   meeting of the WTO in Seattle in the fall of 1999, the ruling
   institutions of the world were shocked and found themselves completely
   unprepared. They had read anti-Washington Consensus [75]activists as
   fragmented, unsophisticated, and unable to tap into widespread public
   support. Most immediate accounts of the protests falsely labeled the
   protest movements as anti-globalisation instead of pro-globalisation.
   And they were falsely labeled violent uprisings when they were most
   definitely anti-violent.

   As in Chiapas, the government actually perpetrated the violence once
   the activists tactics overwhelmed their abilities to make sense of the
   situation. For the most part, the Seattle activists practiced direct
   democracy. The loosely-affiliated groups were themselves composed of
   loosely-affiliated members. They ruled themselves through protocols.

   When a member proposed an action, she or he invited participation and
   criticism. After deliberation and debate, members who still opposed
   the revised proposal could still opt out of the action. In response to
   extreme proposals that violate the core principles of the group,
   members could propose a veto. And the group would then consider the
   validity of the concerns and decide whether to act.

   Such loose consensus could degenerate into organisational paralysis.
   But the more urgent the issue and more reasonable the action, the more
   effective these organisations would be. Once these movements shifted
   from the conference and seminar rooms and chat rooms and web pages to
   the streets of Seattle, they were much more diverse, flexible,
   impressive, and effective than anyone in power (or in universities)
   could have predicted.

   The Seattle activists were mostly, in Graebers term, small a
   anarchists, as opposed to the more overtly ideologically-inspired
   Anarchists. Like the Zapatistas, they dabbled in anarchistic tactics
   and methods without overtly endorsing a stateless world vision.

   A bend in the river

   Efforts since 1999 to replicate the triumphs of Seattle have been
   frustrated by events outside the activists control. The protests in
   Quebec in the summer of 2001, intended to stop progress on a western
   hemispheric trade treaty on the model of the North American Free Trade
   Agreement ([76]Nafta), were impressive. But those in New York who met
   up to protest the World Economic Forum meeting in early 2002 when New
   Yorkers were in no mood for more chaos were largely unimpressive and
   ineffective. Between these two events, of course, the World Trade
   Center fell and citizens and states around the world shifted their
   immediate concerns from freedom to security.

   In Genoa in July 2001, an Italian policeman shot and killed a young
   man named [77]Carlo Giuliani who was protesting the meeting of the G8,
   the leaders of the eight most powerful nation-states in the world.
   Amid 80,000 protesters who were calling for cancellation of third
   world debt, a police vehicle ran through crowds of mostly peaceful
   protesters, chasing and beating many, to strike back against a handful
   of violent protesters. In [78]Genoa, the idealised vision of
   anarchists with a small a evaporated as more extreme and
   uncompromising anarchists reverted to violence against Italian
   security forces and world leaders, lobbing Molotov cocktails over

   These violent anarchists did not seem to be part of the global
   movement inspired by the Zapatistas. Yet their actions and the
   blowback by the conservative Italian government have become part of
   the governing mythology of the battle over globalisation. The
   protesters basked in glory after Seattle. And Italian authorities had
   no interest in seeming as overwhelmed, surprised, or incompetent as
   Seattle police had.

   This combination of hubris and militant defensiveness had fatal
   consequences for progressive forces in general, and Carlo Giuliani
   particularly. As global activist Nathan Newman [79]explains, There
   was, I think, a somewhat un-strategic overconfidence that developed
   among protesters post-Seattle. The Seattle cops were unprepared and
   played into the propaganda goals of the protesters. As Philadelphia
   and now Genoa showed, the cops are no longer unprepared and are
   developing both the repressive technology and propaganda to crush the
   Black Bloc-style protesters and the rest of the movement if we dont
   develop some new strategies to control the escalation of violence.

   No future beyond the nation-state?

   By 2003, these three ideological challenges to the power of the
   nation-state seemed stalled if not dead. Under the leadership of two
   very different powerful nation-states, the United States of America
   and the Peoples Republic of China, the 21st century would open with a
   clear call to think nationally first, and globally only if such
   strategies offered a clear and direct payoff to the nation-state. The
   ideologies and networks that seemed to threaten the nation-state all
   through the 1980s and 1990s faced challenges far greater than the
   nation-state ever did.

  55. http://www.cajunculture.com/Other/creolization.htm
  56. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=895
  57. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=1400
  58. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=1193
  59. http://www.arpnet.it/chaos/barbrook.htm
  61. http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidtrade/issues/washington.html
  62. http://www.oreillynet.com/lpt/wlg/635
  63. http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/G/guehenno_endpb.html
  64. http://www.ebay.com/
  65. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/11/99/battle_for_free_trade/534014.stm
  66. http://www.ezln.org/
  67. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=1208
  68. http://www.nhh.no/geo/114/lula.htm
  69. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/from_our_own_correspondent/945199.stm
  70. http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/andrew/encounter1_report.html
  71. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=637
  72. http://www.newleftreview.net/NLR24704.shtml
  73. http://www.learn.co.uk/yvote/glearning/cynicism.htm
  74. http://www.learn.co.uk/yvote/glearning/cynicism2.htm
  75. http://la.indymedia.org/print.php?id=3496
  76. http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/nafta-alena/over-en.asp
  77. http://www.carlo-giuliani.com/
  78. http://www.opendemocracy.net/articles/View.jsp?id=1221
  79. http://www.globalpolicy.org/ngos/role/globdem/globprot/2001/0802kill.htm
  80. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/debate.jsp?debateId=101&id=8
  81. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-8-101-1459.jsp
  82. http://www.opendemocracy.net/servlet/net.opendemocracy.cms.cda.utils.PDFDownload?id=1459
  83. http://www.opendemocracy.net/servlet/net.opendemocracy.cms.cda.utils.PDFDownload?id=1459
  84. http://www.opendemocracy.net/servlet/net.opendemocracy.cms.cda.utils.PDFDownload?id=1459
  85. http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/forum.jspa?forumID=72
  86. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-8-101-1459.jsp
  87. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-8-101-1459.jsp
  88. http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-8-101-1459.jsp

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