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Re: <nettime> Reverse Engineering Freedom and make world paper#3
florian schneider on Tue, 14 Oct 2003 13:13:31 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Reverse Engineering Freedom and make world paper#3


[this message got stuck in my outbox while travelling  from one outgoing
mailserver to another... sorry for the delay /fls]

On Wednesday, September 24, 2003, at 12:49 PM, David Garcia wrote:

> It is a sad truth that although imperfect, the most effective
> guarantor of the personal safety upon which the freedom Geert and
> Florian celebrate, including (perhaps especially) the innovations of
> the opensource movement, are not universal principals but the power
> sovereign states, able and willing to offer minimal conditions of
> safety to its resident netizens, activists and hackers whether in
> Brisbane, Berlin or Delhi.

may i disagree? it's a bit late, and very illegitimate but i guess i
still should. this argument somehow reminds me to the conservative
teacher who told me when i went to my first demonstrations in the
early 80ies: "you are going to fight against a system that at least
allows you to fight against it". he did not really understand that it
was precisely that hypocrisy of the western propaganda during the cold
war that was outraging me and lots of others young guys. why one
should have to decide between bad and worse?

geert and me are certainly not so tired that we would prefer to lay
back and refer to universal principals. i also feel limited gratitude
to the power of souvereign states, which tend to offer conditions of
paranoia rather than safety. when we are talking about freedom of
movement and freedom of communication we are referring to the everyday
struggles of millions of people crossing borders as well as pirating
brands, producing generics, writing open source code or using
p2p-software. there is a multitude of reasons to exercise these very
different practices; but first of all it refers to an impregnable
autonomy of resisting and refusing both the new border and the
intellectual property regimes which are set up by souvereign nation
states and global corporations.  apparently they rely existentially on
depriving more and more people of freedoms, which are even not the
privilege of some netizens anymore. what has been formerly known as a
human right, became subject of  all sorts of management strategies.

in this situation conscience-stricken moralizing makes us only weaker
than we are, because it plays into the hands of those whose power
originates from granting limited, temporary or no access to sources
and resources.

i feel no need to feel guilty or excuse for the bizarre coincidence
that i may be in possession of a passport that currently allows me to
travel across most of the borders of this world. but i feel a need to
enjoy such advantages with everybody on this globe. i feel a need to
struggle for freedom of movement,  not because i feel misery with
these poor victims, who have to escape from where they have been born
and should stay for the sake of authenticity, nativity and noble
savageness. the reason is that i have lots of respect and admiration
for anyone who makes the difficult decision to leave one's point of
origin.

i guess the excessive abuse of the verb "share" in this context (i.e.
file-sharing) carries enormous ideological impact. as if one would
loose something like "safety", if mobility is no longer exclusive to
those who pretend to be already fed up with it or are already too wise
and sophisticated to be affected by it; as if one would have only half
of the fun if others enjoy the same as oneself. actually the opposite
is true: i am glad, when i log onto my computer in the morning and
when i see how many people downloaded something they were looking for.
i am glad when i was able to support somebody to get at least a chance
to spend even some time in areas of the world that are supposed to be
reserved for the exclusive usage of only a few.

> Geert and Florian's words are as always provide an inspiring dose of
> boosterism but nevertheless (in this paragraph at least) they are a
> chimera because the condition of the privileged and mobile, net-savy
> intelligencia they generously wish to universalize is totally
> dependent on the existence of the network of states and their
> institutions whose boarders they would dissolve. To act as though
> globalization and the networks (from either above or below) have
> rendered nation states either illusory or merely an oppressive
> anachronism, is to fail to see the plight of the tens of thousands of
> stateless people, whose membership of the human family alone affords
> them little pity, protection or hope, let alone freedom (reverse
> engineered or otherwise). This outdated narrative which claims to be
> going beyond the naivetes of the dot.gone era, merely succeed (here
> and there) in recuperating its lack of (all but the most recent)
> historical awareness. Despite a critical ambience we are re-visiting
> the euphoria of another holiday from history. Geert and Florian
> dissolve in the universalising solvent of their rhetoric the fact that
> many important liberation movements (including that taking place in
> Palestine) are more than than ever likely to be nationalist movements.
> Kurds. Tamils, Kosovar Albanians all seek statehood and "the right to
> create a framework of legal and political protection for their
> people". Try telling Palestinian fighters who dream of living in their
> own country that they are "handcuffed to the myth of the
> nation-state".

you may be suprised or not believe it, but i do so. and i rather
wonder why so many activists prostrate before the agony of a
nationalism, that even doesn't allege any liberatorial potential. i
prefer not to promote understanding for corrupt regimes, just because
they represent the enemy of my enemy. i doubt that the adjectives
"historical" or "critical" are applicable for a notion of the nation
state, that assumes it protects people. i find it rather critical and
closer to reality as well as to history to demystify such
paternalistic views and point to the real-existing function of the
borders of the remaining nation states: i.e. to filter and illegalize
bordercrossers for the purpose of over-exploitation of affective labor
in the entertainment industries: migrant workforce in the hardware
manufacturing, janitorial businesses, health care, domestic work or
sex industries.

are you going to tell one of the 60,000 deportees from britain or one
of the 30,000 deportees from germany every year, that they are forced
to enter a plane in handcuffs because of protecting some legal
framework that is originally set up to help making the world a better
place but unfortunately not for them or somewhere else?

what is being protected and against whom? and who is benefiting from
it? [please don't tell now, it's all to save the white working class
or in order to set up proper frameworks for noble savage thirdworldism
in remote places. that's really outdated...]

if there is something that "makes world" it is the power of exodus,
the power of refusal and the desire to decide on one's own, where to
live and how. that's what we called reverse engineering freedom and by
the way, it is the opposite of some holidays.

> There are many hells in this world and many (admittedly by no means
> all) of the worst occur when not only through oppressive by states,
> but when states break down. And the technologies of violence that were
> previously under proprietary control of the nation are opensourced (in
> proliferation) to the warlords and the gangsters. When a state
> dissolves and our predatory side is unconstrained we will all ask just
> one question: where will I be safe? It is then that we discover
> (empirically) why boarders exist. Of course even under these
> conditions we remain within boarders.. but these boarders shrink,
> drastically -along with our freedoms- as we slide from nation to tribe
> to clan to gang.

in the end of our text we call for militant inquiries, in order to get
rid of the all to known media cliches of immigrants, pirates,
traffickers, hackers, crackers etc. and replace it with empirical
material, that is available, accessible, and world-writable, that
enters into commitment as well as hybridity.

i find that there is an urgent strategic need to confront ourselves
who spent years in the skies of tactical media activism with some of
the realities down to earth which have changed dramatically since the
early/mid-90ies. that's a goal of yet unknown extent.

best,
florian

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