McKenzie Wark on 24 Aug 2000 16:07:27 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] RE: <nettime> The New "Left" - OR why inequality is politicallyuseful

Kevin has, as usual, added wise if slightly cryptic meat to the debate.

In the larger scheme of things, rather than in a provocative paper for
Melbourne Fabians, ethics was what i thought i was doing, particularly
in _Virtual Republic_ and _Celebrities, Culture and Cyberspace_. The
former is about minoritarian ethics, the latter about majorities. The
ethical necessity of majorities in a democracy, for instance.

A layer of the current political debate hovers around the
critical/postcritical threshold, to be sure. Once you move to the latter,
one is obliged (ethically) to deal with what working people actually
say they want, rather than what critical theory says they ought to want. 
One is thus also moving along another axis at the same time, the
authoritarian/democratic axis. 

Which is why i've been writing about soap operas, game shows, pop songs
-- and the Labor party. All expressions of actual popular desire, and
as such more interesting to me that the abstract theoretical constructs
of old line leftism. The prolertariat, etc. 

To misappropriate Roul Vanegeim, those who speak about the working class
without talking about actual workers speak with a corpse in their mouth

cheers comrades


On Thu, 24 Aug 2000, Propaganda wrote:

> This debate between the forward and rearguard directions never really got
> going at the Fabian Society conference. The gentle globalist Mark Latham
> was too readily howled down by old guard. And the elders of the Australian
> Labor Party didn't cock an ear to the really critical issues -- resting
> instead on worn catch phrases. 
> McKenzie Wark's argument had a Foucauldian edge to it: forget the
> confected theories, the real business is to win power. I was familiar with
> the post-critical line, that there is no Archimedean point of resistance
> left, but I hadn't imagined what it would sound like in a political
> context. One positive effect was to help clarify the missionary heritage
> of the left. 
> Coming from the Melbourne liberal tradition, Guy Rundle's evolutionary
> story of alienation had much to offer. It seemed to make sense of how the
> ex-Premier of the state, Jeff Kennett, could move so easily from champion
> of multimedia to crusader for depression. I'm naturally inclined to this
> old-fashioned critical distance on power structures, but have real doubts
> about its veracity. Perhaps it is so, that the prefabricated consumer
> culture is perfectly satisfying for the vast majority of the western
> world.  Maybe there's no reason now to play the stern doctor, warning the
> bon-vivant against over-indulgence. 
> Maybe it is time to change from the diagnostic attitude to an openly
> ethical stance. Like, it is not better for you to produce your own
> culture, it is better in the broader scheme of reciprocity between
> cultures. 
> Of course, to develop such an ethical argument today is hard work and
> likely to make more enemies than friends. But it seems that the power-care
> dialectic, as played out in the Wark-Rundle argument, helps force the
> issue. 
> __________________________________________________
> Precis Forecasts for Melbourne
> Issued at 0505 on Thursday the 24th of August 2000 for today and tonight
> Few showers.                             Max 14
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McKenzie Wark
Guest Scholar, American Studies, New York University
"We no longer have origins we have terminals"

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