Andreas Broeckmann on Tue, 12 Jan 1999 20:33:23 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> [n5m3] Call for PGO Contest !

Next 5 Minutes 3 Conference - The PGO Debate and PGO Contest

The N5M3 Conference (De Balie and Paradiso, Amsterdam, 12-14 March 1999) is
an international working conference on tactical media. It consists of
public programmes and a variety of smaller-scale workshops, presentations
and discussions centred around four main topics: The Art of Campaigning;
How Low Can You Go (or The Aesthetics of Low-Tech Media); Tactical
Education; The Post-Governmental Organisation.

* The PGO Contest at the N5M3 *

The Get Organized! Contest
Design your own Post-Governmental Organisation

N5M3 will host a unique 'PGO Contest', in which contributors will present
the most and the least effective strategies for achieving global presence.
The PGO Contest will offer models and counter-models, witty and serious,
inspiring and ridiculous proposals for organisations that just _might_
change the world for the better.

An open call is issued to all those who have the blue-print for a
Post-Governmental Organisation and who want to present it to an
international audience of enthusiastic, desperate, and power-hungry minds.

After an initial selection, the most promising model PGOs will be
demonstrated and discussed during the PGO Debate on Friday, 12 March 1999.
The best and the worst examples in different categories will be selected by
public acclaim and will be awarded prizes of insignificant financial, yet
high symbolic value.

Categories can cover a wide variety of areas like:

- the independent tactical Internet Service Provider
- the PGO that legally issues passports to the Sans Papier
- the ideal trade union for digital workers
- the producer of the most effective infowar weaponry
- the director of the Global Proletarian Monetary Fund
- the Culture Board which fights the state's disregard for culture
- the PGO that recycles redundant, y2k-incompatible computer hardware to
the next Silicon Alley
- the Interfund that creates an independent funding infrastructure for
media culture
- the Bureau of Investigation and Counter-Surveillance that tackles racism
in police and other public organisations

If you want to enter the NGO Contest, please, get in touch with the
editorial team <> with a short outline of your achievements
and future plans. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 1999, earlier
submissions will be very welcome as they will make the proceedings of
invitations etc. a lot easier.

How Will You? Get Organised!

The PGO Debate

One of the four main themes of the N5M3 is the 'Post-Governmental
Organisation', a title that is meant more polemically than descriptively.
The 'PGO' label raises the question of the practical, political and ethical
implications of strong, potentially global, independent organisations. The
theme will be approached from different critical, analytical and ironic
perspectives in a public debate  on Friday, 12 March) and several smaller
workshop sessions.

The PGO Theme

The notion of the 'Post-Governmental Organisation' is obviously an ironic
variation on the now well-established concept of the NGO, the
Non-Governmental Organisation. Over the past twenty or so years, NGOs have
become important actors in the arena of national, international and global
politics. The role of NGOs in the struggle for human rights, the ecology,
debt relief, migrants' rights, humane working and living conditions, etc.,
is increasingly recognised by official political bodies, so that NGOs are
now regularly represented at global eco-summits, they advise different UN
institutions and are used as experts in court cases. Thus, NGOs are taking
over tasks that traditionally were the domain of nation states, whether
democratic or not, and become part of what Saskia Sassen has referred to as
a 'crisis of  governance' in which political decision-making and control is
shifting away from national governments towards private and public NGOs of
all sorts and types. NGOs which do not only survey, criticise and
complement such governmental structures, but which take on an active role
in replacing government functions, can be called PGOs.

This implies that the PGO cannot to be seen as generally good or bad.
Rather, the hypothesis of the PGO suggests that for many independent
initiatives and organisations, the question of responsibility and power is
changing in a fundamental way. Whereas they used to be able to define
themselves as the 'other' of given power structures, the erosion of
hierarchical political structures has created a more heterogeneous
political arena in which public agency is 'up for grabs'. Much of the
political vacuum is created and filled by unholy alliances between
political and private actors who make sure that they benefit from the
retreat of the nation state. But many well-meaning, morally sound,
independent PGO are also finding themselves in a position where they have
to switch from strategies of protest and campaigning, to strategies of
political agency and the building of organisational structures.

The PGO theme at the N5M3 tries to straddle the double-sidedness of the
theme. It tries to formulate a constructive critique of the PGO, pointing
out its dangers and, at the same time, analysing the most creative and
inspiring models for building PGOs. After all, there is a continuing need
for new, critical and independent organisations that are able to challenge
the debilitating and exploitatory political structures that stifle large
parts of the world. And why not learn from the successes and failures of
Saatchi&Saatchi, Soros, the IMF, financial consulting companies and
informal networks of independent radio producers.

Experience has shown that, in many ways, organisations like Greenpeace and
Amnesty International are better equipped to deal with the conditions the
new system of power create. This is partly due to the fact that they have
always been organised as distributed, international entities, relying
heavily on their communications infrastructures. They also seem to be more
fit for the new environment because they are organised around spheres of
interest rather than traditional geographic and socio-political structures.
The NGOs have therefore become important actors in the arena of
international and global politics, but at the same time they have also
become bureaucratic structures that act as a 'state without the state' with
little democratic accountability or legitimisation.

The PGO is neither East nor West, North or South, nor Post
East/West/Modern, it is rather an attempt at an answer to the
contradictions and the syndromes of globalisation. Therefore, some people
prefer to translate PGO as Post Global Organisation. For them, the crucial
question at this stage is not so much the relation with governmental
structures, but how we can get over the myths of globalisation, and what
the necessary organisational structures for this era beyond the ideology of
globalism would be.

The challenge for the PGO strand at the N5M3 will be not to get stuck in an
impasse, but to use the critical debate as a starting point for a fresh
approach to the construction and the shaping of strong tactical
organisations. The PGO Debate will therefore be followed by the PGO Contest
which will show-case new ways of organising social, cultural and political
action, often on an international level, beyond the politics of the nation
state as well as beyond the NGO. Get Organised!

* The PGO Debate at the N5M3 *

The PGO Debate deals with the organisational, political and ethical
challenges of PGOs for which the tactical use of networking technologies
and other media has proven to be a powerful tool. The debate will raise
questions of size and organisational structures, of strategic alliances
with government and private corporate instititutions, and of the social and
political implications that the use of digital media can have in the
construction of PGOs. Quite crucially, the PGO Debate will address the
question of power, and how PGOs and their members deal with the political
and ethical responsibilities that accrue.

The PGO Debate will be organised as a public forum with a maximum in
audience participation. The debate will be interspersed by presentations of
contestants in the PGO Contest.
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