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Re: <nettime> A Puff Piece on Wikipedia (Fwd)
Brian Holmes on Mon, 6 Oct 2003 18:15:22 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> A Puff Piece on Wikipedia (Fwd)


Michael Goldhaber wrote (speaking of far left and right in the US):

"...on either side, too readily donning this mantle of persecution 
and using it as an excuse for anonymity or for covering up one's real 
intent undermines any possibility of genuine democracy, and must lead 
to a general and debilitating distrust across the board."

Thanks for your reply, Michael, this thread is rather interesting and 
the opinions of all are appreciated. The two of us could go on 
talking at cross-purposes for a long time, and I suspect it would be 
somewhat my fault. Personally, I have always signed my name, and in 
the economy of "commentary" and "reasonableness" (of which I am 
certainly part) this is the only way to go. At a certain point it may 
also become a way to go to jail, which would then be the place for an 
honest man, as one of our great literary heros of the American 
tradition once said. We're not there yet, apparently not so far from 
it either. Personally I will continue in all modesty with the modus 
operandi you have eloquently detailed, for want of better options.

But what I have been trying to get at here is this (and I'm sorry to 
have been so unclear): I'm amazed and increasingly disappointed about 
how little searching doubt is expressed concerning the trends in our 
present, Euro-American civilization that point to the unviability of 
same over even the medium term (i.e. the upcoming half-century). 
Sustained examination leads to further questions as to whether 
exchanges of the type we're having now will change anything either. 
One would think this kind searching doubt might lead to the 
conclusion that other steps are required to change things. One of the 
reactions to this kind of frustration is, effectively, to fulminate 
insurrection without a signature (as for instance the journal Tiqqun, 
and a rather wide spectrum of post-situationists in France). We are 
all cybersavvy enough to know how unlikely it is for the identity of 
such fulminators to go undiscovered, and we may therefore conclude 
that their production must be inconsequential. However, consider 
this: the present form of "globalized" Euro-American civilization 
depends, actually quite heavily, on a network called the SWIFT 
(interbank transfer), just to take a prime example. Who can imagine 
unplugging this network, which (along with others) makes the 
contemporary financial sphere possible? Under current conditions, one 
can hardly imagine even a nation-state doing so, as Bureau d'Etudes 
pointed out in their text for the Next 5 Minutes. Is it possible to 
imagine a form of collectivity that could "tame" or even do away with 
certain systemic phenomena such as the domination of capital via the 
systems of quasi-instantaneous financial speculation? In a completely 
vague, even lazy (sorry about that) and rather lamely oracular way I 
was trying to point to that possibility, when I suggested that there 
might be a thought dangerous enough that it would require anonymity. 
(Please note that events seem to prove that Mr. Bin Laden's thoughts 
are not dengerous enough to change anything, except by polarizing the 
situation for the worse and actually lowering the chances of systemic 
change: however, the story is till unfolding on that one.)

It seems that such an anti-systemic "thought" will not unfold from a 
"personality" which can be located and targeted for neutralization 
within the current onomastic system (I could be wrong about that, but 
that's what I think). I remain rather curious about the social 
formation that could succeed in halting or even slowing the 
irreversible ecological damage and mounting social catastrophe which 
is being effected by the contemporary (and marginally "enlightened") 
pattern of human development. How might such a social formation 
develop? How would it escape the many mechanisms which guarantee the 
equilibrium of the present system? And how could it remain 
self-conscious enough to keep from falling into the millenary, 
religious pattern that we associate with apocalyptic fears? (All of 
this, by the way, does relate directly to the experiments of 
collective authorship currently centering around still-fledgling 
technology such as Wikis.)

I find myself required to ask these rather broad questions because I 
do not believe, for instance, that Mr. Clinton was particularly 
better than Mr. Bush. I think that Mr. Clinton's management of the 
capitalist globalization process in the 1990s was disastrous, 
followed very closely the pattern set since the early 1980s, led to 
September 11 among many other things, and therefore created the 
opening for a resurgence of the noxious oligarchy around Mr. Bush, 
whose positions in the US are, in any case, structurally very well 
established and well defended, seemingly inexpungible within the 
present frameworks of humanity's possible self-reflection on its own 
evolution.

I realize these kinds of opinions may not be popular and may lead to 
outraged accusations that I am something less than a democrat. 
Unfortunately (I mean this last word in a strong sense) democracy 
also appears to be something less than what it has claimed.

best, Brian Holmes

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