t byfield on Sun, 25 Feb 96 22:45 MET

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Re: nettime: CYBERSPACE

At 11:45 PM 2/18/96, John Perry Barlow wrote:

>I've begun to think that, unless one couches one's rhetoric in warmed over
>Marxism-Leninism, that it has no place before this list. As though no
>enslavement arose from their ideas...

        Very little that's been posted to this list bears any resemblance
to "Marxism-Leninism," so remarks like this aren't warranted. In fact, a
lot of people on this list are well acquainted with the downside of
"Marxism-Leninism," having spent more years living under such regimes than
the EFF has been agitating for its ideals--just check the subscriber's
domanin names. Given that, blanket innuendos like this might seem to
suggest that our eastern European subscribers are either intellectual
cripples, recidivists, or, at best, profoundly unimaginative. None of which
is true. So, differences notwithstanding, can we maybe find some common
ground and _do_ something?
        Name-calling isn't needed, now or ever. Certainly, many of the
list's subscribers are skeptical about certain goals of the EFF and some of
the larger cultural values that inform what it advocates. Is that BAD? Does
that make anyone who doesn't toe the line a "Marxist-Leninist" by default?
For that matter, does citing something that Lenin wrote automatically make
someone a "Marxist-Leninist"? No, no, and no, respectively. Voicing
concerns and criticisms on matters of public policy isn't necessarily
reducible to "leftist quibbling" or other dismissive caricatures.
        Mr. Garwood's remarks could've been clearer, I think, but his main
point (as I understand it) is a simple one: that anachronistically judging
all of history according to our know-it-all values is silly. Fine,
Jefferson kept slaves: yes, that fact should a definite and _limited_
place in how we think about the past, but, no, that doesn't make him just
another Satanist from before Our Enlightened Times. When Richard Barbrook
gave his presentation at N5M, I enjoyed it, but I was a bit dismayed at
this aspect of what he said--i.e., this willingness to invoke such facts as
a way of dismissing entire segments of the historical record. As though all
the hypocrisies and inconsistencies of the masons who built the Great Wall
of China made it--poof!--go away.
        I may be speaking for myself when I say that it'd be a Bad Thing
for this list to lose you, John; I doubt I'm the only one who thinks that.
        So. Can we move?
        And: How should we move on? I think limiting this list to more or
less finished pieces and no discussion is lethal. What's the use of reading
this or that in a "context" that precludes discussion? <heh heh> What is to
be done?


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