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Re: <nettime> Hackers Take Aim at GOP + CrimeInc LOGISTICS ENCLOSED
Willard Uncapher on Sat, 21 Aug 2004 11:37:51 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Hackers Take Aim at GOP + CrimeInc LOGISTICS ENCLOSED

At 04:57 PM 8/17/2004, Ricardo Dominguez <rdom {AT} thing.net> wrote:
>[Here is my fasinating introductory comment on hacktivist culture for the
>nettime community: notice how my deep and lucid remark upgrades the nettime
>readers general understanding of the issue - r]
>  Hackers Take Aim at GOP
>   By Noah Shachtman
>   02:00 AM Aug. 17, 2004 PT


Thanks for the hactivist update. It certainly encouraged me a chance to
think a bit about the role of satire, protest, and confrontation in the
age of Net Access.  What is the power of the Net best used for, how do we
deal with the use and abuse of power, and how are we to both fathom and
make light of the slippages of meaning in everyday life.  I link its
impact to that of Phil Agre's excellent paper on Conservatism as "the
domination of society by an aristocracy." (or an oligarchy to be more
exact)  <http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/conservatism.html>, a paper
introduced to NetTime in the last few days, and available before that on
Red Rock Eater listserv.  The underlying question animating a close read
of Agre's excellent paper is to determine just how conservatism, so
defined, can take root in 'liberal democracy.' How do people chose fates
that might be antithetical to many of their most important interests?  
How is deception possible. Agre suggests a few elements of the practice:
1. the destruction of conscience; 2. the destruction of democracy; 3. the
destruction of reason; and 4. the destruction of language.  The key
element of the arguments is that it is the liberals who are are secretly
elitist, even as they feign to respect the public. It is the liberals and
their radical friends who cannot deign to 'rational' argument, who do not
respect the little guy, who devise social programs to coddle
under-performing schools, institutions, and individuals to get their
support, and to make it clear to the liberals just how advanced they are
in their own minds.

This impact protest and critical art practices in a number of ways.  
Protest, particularly painful, anti-rational, potentially destructive or
grandly disruptive gestures are seen (by the conservative patsy's and many
undecideds) as the last gasp of a 'liberal mindset' that cannot use
rational argument, that must childishly throw a tantrum to gets its
elitist way.  The black anarchist might want to "send a message" that
there is an underground that doesn't abide by the "Washington Consensus,"  
but in fact that is already known.  There are, after all, also terrorists
who don't believe in the "Washington Consensus" (eg. the World Bank, IMF,
WTO, and certain affiliated institutions).

Protest in the Network era is had become something different than in, say,
John Milton's era. Then there was a need for 'freedom of speech' in order
to actually critically propound something of how power and meaning are
organized.  It was important for there to be a place for the soapbox in
the square, and for the minority view paper to propound 'unpopular' and/or
critical views. But now these views may be found, if one looks.  The
problem for the nations of fragmented world-views is not now to propose
one more fragment, but how to actually engage people in their intellectual
hideaways.  Hactivism and some forms of confrontational art can in fact
make the unprepared retreat- since they are seen as elitist.

As Agre and others point out, we need to make it clear to all just what
governmental and quasi-govt. institutions can ideally do when they do work
and are responsive: protect consumers, protect investors, promote research
and education, and cultural experimentation, protect the weak, promote the
development of shared infrastructure for all people, allow diversity to
flourish, limit the otherwise immune paleo-hierarchies of large
corporations (made possible by networking technologies), and so on.  This
means a positive engagement by creating alternatives, by confronting
specious arguments of the neo-cons, while finding ways to enhance culture
and diversity. Granted, the 'positive' view can become quite weak without
serious (and wacky) self-criticism, but at the same time, angry,
inarticulate acts of vengeance against the system seem to be
counter-productive.  Such disruptions handsomely play into the neo-con
gameplan.  Well, we'll see how things play on in NYC.


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