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Re: <nettime> Live Your Models
Brian Holmes on Wed, 4 May 2016 06:00:50 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Live Your Models

Molly Hankwitz wrote:

I am interested in this idea of yours of the "flexible self" as I
wrote much about "flexibility" in my critique of wireless imagination
in my dissertation but did not know, at the time about your work

Molly, when I was a kid in the 70s I went to the SNACK concert: "Students Need Athletics, Culture and Kicks," a benefit for defunded public schools. The great San Francisco bands showed up at Kezar Stadium, the Dead, Jefferson Starship, Neil Young (with special guest Bob Dylan). At some point Joan Baez came out with her acoustic guitar and said, "Everyone's playing their hits, so I guess I'll play mine." Which was unforgettable. Well, it's quite a comedown after that, but if you like, you can still play mine:


I guess that text was just an echo of Barbrook and Cameron's "Californian Ideology" -- same general conclusions, but I was after something different. A dialectics of social theory and of grassroots aspirations. I didn't want to just criticize silicon hippiedom, but to see how a real revolt in a complex society gave rise to vital new problems. How a negation, a Great Refusal, was by itself negated, producing a new positive, an unbearable norm. Real cultural critique is always an autobiography, an inquiry into how one has been made -- but not only. In "Live Your Models" I try to twist the rearview mirror forward and ask what future compromises *we* could create today, if only the present political generations had the strength and the courage to do for the future what others already have done for the past that still haunts us so powerfully.

Florian Cramer wrote:

>     There is hardly a system that is more dependent on
>     efficiency-optimized global supply chains, high investments into
>     manufacturing capacities, economics of scale and, well, the neoliberal
>     economic system as computer electronics. So far, their mainstream story
>     is that of Hegelian progress. We lack informed critical cultural
>     analysis of how frail these systems are, how quick technologies
>     collapse, along with their associated research and know-how, when only
>     one of their critical components (sucn as: mass market demand, or
>     natural resource supply, or cheap manufacturing) is removed.

Florian, this is spot on and ruined Detroit is living testimony that such failures happen at the very center of capitalist accumulation. As climate change hits we're gonna see a lot more of those breakdowns. I hope that in the process, people will be able to regain some use of tools, which may indeed be less "efficient" than a big centralized factory (at least, less efficient when it comes to the production of the obsolescent trash that factories currently spit out). As machines of active solidarity, however, the tools of community production could be immensely more significant and directly useful than any alienating global supply chain is today. Can we imagine a "folk culture" that knowingly choses immediacy over the abstract forms of domination, and deploys science in the tragic context of its many undesired consequences? It's a highly cultivated ethos, in my view.

Jaromil wrote:

> When analysing the new, rather complex and shifting forms of
> liberation that are manifest today, I recommend to consider first and
> foremost the conditions, desires, fears and problems of people at
> the bottom and at the boundaries. These are many people, for
> instance the huge amounts of migrating youth across Europe. Or the
> huge amount of migrants which Europe has to learn to live with, who
> are perfectly capable of working, but cannot.
> You may consider it a detail, but Bitcoin today is catering to the
> needs I depict, which are in fact the backbone of the phenomenon.

Jaromil, did you ever read Keith Hart's book "The Memory Bank"? At the time of its publication, around the turn of the millennium, I think it was almost impossible for people to understand Keith's idea that money was not a colorless odorless abstract universal equivalent, but rather a tabulating language for the preservation of human memory. It seems to me that unbound from its parasitical relation to finance, the block chain could be that memory bank, that's the pragmatic real horizon. At HKW a couple weeks ago we heard another Keith, Breckenridge this time, talking about the unbanked 40% of Africans - a proportion he seemed to think was characteristic of the entire so-called "global south." He showed various biometric identity schemes aiming to get people hooked up to either microcredit or, more likely according to him, a universal basic income, the dole in short -- and he scandalized the public by saying this surveillance you're so afraid of is the vital minimum. Pressing further, more audaciously, what about an expansion of capital that is also a radical hybridization of what money can do and be? A vital maximum, in short? That's what you're getting at, no?

All I want to say with "Live Your Models" is, the future is foreclosed and radically open. The grist of capitalism's mill has always been its discontents, its saboteurs, its sworn enemies, and in that struggle, the winners lose, the losers win, and vice-versa. The wierd thing about civilization's mortality is that all kinds of people grow up young in that deadly embrace -- and it's their moment, plus by extension, everyone's. Nobody could have predicted that the archest neoliberal technology of all, the networked computer, would also be the vector of emancipation for all of us on this list and a few billion others, which does not just come down to a Californian Ideology or anything that I wrote about either. But we who lived through that, can't we see it coming again, despite everything? What gets invented right now is the grist of a future struggle. "It was one hell of a ride" said my father of his own life, and that story isn't over.

love and revolution to you all, BH

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