t byfield on Wed, 28 May 1997 01:04:58 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> The Piran Nettime Manifesto

On Tue 05/27/97 at 10:05 AM -0600, John Perry Barlow <barlow@eff.org> wrote:

> Wow. It sounds as if you folks had yourselves quite a time. Probably a good
> thing I wasn't there...

If I may ask: Why? I'm sure various people have various ideas about
this, but fractionalism is one thing, but separatism quite another.
This "manifesto" doesn't especially summarize anything that *I* saw
or heard in Ljubljana--not any decisions, and certainly none of the
debates. (Saying that implies no stand on the manifesto's content.) 

> > We denounce pan-capitalism and demand reparations. Cyberspace is where
> >  your bankruptcy takes place.
> Reparations from whom and for what? It seems to me that pan-capitalism is
> the natural state of things unless you have sufficiently authoritarian
> governments to impose planned economies. The latter seem to have failed
> universally. What's your alternative?

If "pan-capitalism" is "the natural state of things," then there's
no point in talking about it: it has all the conceptual clarity of
the word "stuff." I suppose you can evaluate "the natural state of
things" in a positive way, but what you're pretty much saying that
the world's a great place. Indeed it is--now what? Well, now we'll
need to think about it in clear terms that convey *some* amount of
specificity. So let's do that... The notion that every regime that
has imposed a planned economy has failed is clearly false: there's
been a recent wave of collapsing governments in a specific region,
and they followed a limited range of economic planning strategies;
but they were never the monolithic bogey that the US made them out
to be when they were in power--and nor were they the only examples
of "planned economies." No amount of quibbling can change the fact
that every major industrialized country imposes an incredibly wide
range of procedures that serve to regulate their economies, and to
do so with the aim of meeting very specific goals: *planning*. And
they *all* do so through a range of techniques, which rely on both
"incentives" and "coercion." So we have a spectrum or continuum of
governmental techniques and styles of economic planning; some work
better than others. For now, at least; wait two or ten years--your
"results" will be quite different. So is this evanescent, shifting
state of affairs "pan-capitalism"? I don't think so, for the quite
simple reason this state of affairs--a hodgepodge of regimes using
a mishmash of techniques to manage their economies--has lasted for
as long as anyone can remember, certainly before industrialization
and before feudalism too. Maybe that brings us full circle, to the
claim that pan-capitalism is somehow "natural"; but if it does, it
does nothing else--and leaves us wondering whether you're claiming
that whatever you mean by "planned economies" was unique in all of
world history as an unnatural creation of man. Thus genocide would
be natural, atomic or genetic manipulations would be natural, even
the histories of art, architecture, music, dance would be natural,
but--I'll assume--Marxian-inspired socialism alone was somehow un-
natural. It's possible you believe this, though I really doubt it.
However that may be, your request for an alternative really has to
be disingenuous: you're asking people to propose an alternative to
"nature." I can't imagine that anyone would answer you or that you
would for a second actually consider their suggestion if they did.
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