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<nettime> NME and Its Disconnects [Dickinson, Holmes]
Ian {AT} bbs.thing.net, Ian Dig on Wed, 22 Oct 2003 16:35:08 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> NME and Its Disconnects [Dickinson, Holmes]

   Re: <nettime> New Media Education and Its Disconnects [2x]                      
     Ian Dickson <ian {AT} iand.demon.co.uk>                                              

   <nettime> New Media Education and Its Disconnects                               
     Brian Holmes <brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr>                                          


Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 11:02:34 +0100
From: Ian Dickson <ian {AT} iand.demon.co.uk>
Subject: Re: <nettime> New Media Education and Its Disconnects [2x]

In message <200310191822.h9JIMAn23762 {AT} bbs.thing.net>, nettime's digest 
<nettime-l {AT} bbs.thing.net> writes
>From: joseph rabie <joe {AT} overmydeadbody.org>
>Subject: Re: <nettime> New Media Education and Its Disconnects
>> First of all you like to use the term "in a perfect world". Which is
>> great, except of course that rules designed for perfect worlds tend to
>> be unable to cope with smart, ruthless and imperfect human beings.
>One can have two views on human beings. The first is that by evolution
>and genetics, we are naturally rapacious creatures in a kill or be
>killed world - in other words "smart, ruthless and imperfect". The
>second is that we are capable of inventing a humanist moral conception
>to structure our lives, in which societies function on the basis of
>solidarity and responsibility. The second is more difficult, since it
>means that we have to constantly oppose our "survival of the fittest"
>nature with altruistic behaviour. Generally corporations and the right
>wing political forces that second them prefer the former, since they
>favour personal gain before social progress.

You misunderstand evolution. It is not the dichotomy you suggest.

Evolution has created, in man, a species which is by and large 
co-operative, because co-operation is the best way for most individuals, 
most of the time, to succeed in evolutionary terms, (maximising the 
number of surviving adult grandchildren).

However there is a small proportion of people who are parasitical on 
that general position, and, unless the system is able to cope with them, 
history shows that such people are able to take control of it. These 
parasitical types come in various flavours, but the most dangerous is 
the person motivated by a desire for power.

To simplify - anyone who wants power probably shouldn't be given any. 
Since that appears to be impossible the best of the bad lot of 
compromises is the ensure that power is divided. USA, western style 
systems work least badly.

Utopian ideas must have a coping mechanism to handle those who simply do 
not agree, and will actively seek to overturn, subvert the utopian 

So far the only serious attempts along these lines have been theocracies 
and communism, and all have failed to deliver the promises.

So, apart from motherhood and apple pie, what is your suggestion as to 
what such a successful utopian society might look like?

Personally I'd love to live in one. I just haven't seen it yet.
>. Kids need shoes, but they force their parents to
>buy Nike not because they are better or cheaper, but because they are
>constantly brainwashed to do so.

NO is a very useful word. "Get a paper round" is a very useful phrase. I 
remember them well from my seventies/eighties childhood.

Part of my job as a parent is to teach my children that they cannot have 
everything they want, and that they need to make choices.

As a boy I could choose between brand clothes or a skiing holiday. I 
only got a fiver a week from my paper round and couldn't do both. (We 
were middle class, my parents could have bought me everything, but they 
choose not to).

>> In a world of perfect information everyone would be their own agent.
>Do you mean like in the New Economy? RIP. Lots of independent people
>working as their own bosses? Please explain, I am perplexed.
In a perfect world:-) The world is imperfect and this situation will 
never be reached, but the trend is real. (As to the New Economy, I never 
bought it. I spent the nineties running a little financial dot com, and 
bought NO stock market traded tech shares for my own portfolio. I even 
turned down a CEO role because I pointed out their business plan was 
silly and so the options would be worthless).
>> From each according to his ability, to each according to their need?
>Well said!
You do realise that I was quoting Marx, don't you? That that single line 
is the essence of a true communist society. As found very attractive in 
theory and rather wanting in practice?
>> This already happens in some sectors, (mainly those which are natural
>> monopolies - for example in the UK the Gvt determines investment rates
>> and price limits in the water industry).
>The privatisation of water distribution throughout the world is leading
>to higher prices for consumers and a drop in the quality service. Ask
>the people of Atlanta how they are faring with Vivendi. In general, the
>difference between a public service and a private company in our brave
>corporate world is that the latter serves to create value for its
>shareholders, and its clients are merely the means for arriving at this.

This is largely a matter of regulation. In the UK the private water 
companies were required to invest very high sums in repairing a 
deteriorating infrastructure, and as a result our water is cleaner, as 
are our rivers and beaches.

In lost of the developing world the poor are outside the infrastructure 
and public water is little more than a subsidy to the middle classes and 

In the US the water laws are complete shambles.

>Another good example is British Rail.

A fine example that highlights just how important regulation and 
structure is when dealing with natural monopolies.

Personally I would have privatised it, but as one single unit. (I'd also 
bring in road charging, based around road use as a property right and 
thus distributing money from the heavy uses to the light users, a 
process that would help rebuild public transport, but enough of that).

You will notice that I no more support Ayn Rand theories of capitalism 
than I do other utopias.

Free markets, with an appropriate rule structure, are what works for me 
re greater good of mankind.

The rules will depend upon circumstances, and will need to be reviewed 
over time. For example at present there is a clear problem with wealth 
capture by managers. Hardly new - Adam Smith long ago noted that the 
interests of managers were fundamentally different from those of owners.

>Well, I have just raised money for the company that I direct. I was
>forced to accept extreme conditions because they've got the money, while
>I am afire to get to work on my project. They didn't even come see what
>we are doing, all that interested them were the figures in the business
Was that equity investment or debt? If equity, can I hire you to write 
mine, because that is not a common result:-)
>> Always remember that a company or any organisation is nothing more
>> than a legal fiction, an invented tool and rule set designed to
>> balance frequently conflicting interests.
>No, a company or any organisation is a group of people who have a common
>aim, project, or passion. The company allows them to pool ressources
>(financial, intellectual) to get the job done and also to get some
>satisfaction out of their meagre three score and ten of earthly
>presence. Please stop with the jungle bullshit.

But a group of people can pool their resources (financial, intellectual) 
without forming a company or organisation, and doing the job can be it's 
own satisfaction.

Linux anyone?

You only need to form the legal fiction of a company (or other 
structure) if you need a way to balance those interests, (of the various 
people involved). As you have just done.
>> Whenever anyone starts talking about "respecting a company" or
>> "companies respecting the state" I get worried. Companies cannot
>> respect or be respected, only PEOPLE can do that
>That is your mistake, putting PEOPLE in that position. The whole point
>of society is that the sum of people, the whole, is greater than its
>constituent parts. We are individuals, but our dignity as individuals
>can only be expressed through our social integration.
I'd suggest that our dignity as individuals can only be expressed in so 
far as we are able to socially integrate on terms that we, as 
individuals, wish to do so. Society is an emergent property of 

Look at the hard cases - dictators and theocracies are often very keen 
on social integration precisely because it enables them to trample the 
dignity of the individual.

Might I suggest that you read some political theory?

It sounds to me that you are basically a Marxist. This is a perfectly 
rational position, but if you would like to try and put those ideas into 
practice you might find it useful to try and work out where all the rest 
of them went wrong. After all, the first Marxist who can actually build 
true communism will be the individual who does more to improve the lot 
of more people than any person in history.

In my opinion the fundamental error of Marxist practice (as opposed to 
theory) lies in your last paragraph. It always seems to (at best) a 
smothering of dissent and debate, and at worst, Gulags.

- -- 
ian dickson                                  www.commkit.com
phone +44 (0) 1452 862637                    fax +44 (0) 1452 862670
PO Box 240, Gloucester, GL3 4YE, England

           "for building communities that work"


Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 13:26:04 +0200
From: Brian Holmes <brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr>
Subject: <nettime> New Media Education and Its Disconnects

Ian Dickson writes:

>Do you buy everything you are told to buy?
>Who does?
>Are other people, but obviously not you, or me, or anyone else on
>Nettime, so weak willed that they buy what they are told to buy?

Is anyone so utterly blind as not to see that humanity remakes its 
consciousness through the aesthetic, i.e. media environment that it 
creates around itself? Is anyone so utterly blind as not to have 
noticed that this environment is overwhelmingly dominated by the 
imperative of selling products - with the political imperative to 
justify this commercial system coming in at not even a close second 
place to the first imperative? Is anyone so profoundly naive as to 
think that they are not personally, intimately affected by what 
constitutes the common language of commercial society, in which we 
are all immersed like fish in the sea?

Ian, I consistently hear you speaking this language that candidly 
explains how things are not so bad, how the historical sequence 
leading to the present is perfectly reasonable and has been 
consciously chosen by the majority, how all alternatives have 
definitely failed and thereby extinguished the very notion that any 
alternative to any aspect of the current capitalist system is even 
imaginable, and finally, how your company is nonetheless going to 
make things a little better.

Apparently the advertising campaign of Mme Thatcher convinced somebody!

in deep and lasting disagreement,

Brian Holmes


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