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Re: <nettime> A Movement Without Demands?
Keith Hart on Fri, 6 Jan 2012 17:17:54 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> A Movement Without Demands?

I much appreciated your testimony, Greg, as I have Dan Wang's careful
descriptions of political action such as in the post just now on Mic Check.
And like you I too appreciate Brian's impassioned rationalism.

Perhaps I refer too often to him on this list, but the paper that launched
this thread reminded once more of my mentor, the West Indian revolutionary
CLR James. He often drew attention to the intellectuals' impotence in the
face of mass pressure for enhanced democracy. When the force of people on
the move fails to conform to their own ideas, they make abstract calls for
them to fall in line. Many of them end up serving established powers of the
right and left, not that there are many of the latter these days.

The question of social divisions is important. James was often asked, by
the time he had become a guru, why he usually sounded optimistic. He would
reply that optimism and pessimism had nothing to do with it. He had no idea
who was going to win the political conflicts he engaged in. What matters,
he said, is to figure out who the sides are and what they stand for, then
do your best for your side. He settled for various pairs at different
times: empire vs independence, socialism vs barbarism, totalitarian
bureaucracy vs democracy. Ideas more than social classes. He studied
revolutions all his life and participated in some. What struck him was the
unlikely bedfellows that revolutionary struggles threw together.

I take Morlock's point about the 1%. In his Second Discourse, Rousseau
points out that one-man-rule favours its revolutionary antithesis because
everyone becomes equally subject to the will of the master. Surely the 1/99
formula highlights the extraordinary concentration of power in the
plutocracy and that observation matters more than picking over the social
differences between graduate students and policemen or union labour and the

It's always good to be reminded of Marcuse, Brian, but why refer concretely
to his writing and only abstractly to "the anarchists"? David Graeber, for
example, published a bestseller on debt to follow up his books and essays
on the theory and ethnography of political action. He has been everywhere
on TV, radio and the blogosphere. He was in on OWS from the beginning. He
and I share much in the way of economic thinking, but I never bought into
his brand of politics. The events of 2011 have changed that for me. I
suspect that 2012 will force more changes of mind.



On Fri, Jan 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Greg <gtrahman {AT} uidaho.edu> wrote:

> This is my first contribution on nettime, I believe.

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