Newmedia on Wed, 2 Jun 1999 02:41:09 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Re: <.nettime> the baby boomers war

Dear Open (Borders):

<< Open letter to all the people active in '68 who today have the power 
 to decide between war and peace

I was active in the anti-Dow Chemical demonstrations in Madison, Wisc. (the 
Berkeley of the Midwest <g>) in '68, perhaps I qualify . . .
<< The war that is being fought in Kosovo has been conceived and 
 launched in the name of the ideals of '68. The leading cultural, political, 
 even military powers that decided to resort to war are all children of '68: 
 Joshka Fischer, Gerard Schroeder, Dani Cohn Bendit, Jorge Solanas, 
 William Clark and even Clinton himself.

This is a fine beginning for trying to understand the remarkable paradoxes we 
now must all confront.  How could the anti-war generation, my generation, 
organize and relentlessly pursue and direct a world-threatening war?  

Is this just power corrupting?  Is war beyond human control?  Are people 
blinded by their own "ideals"?  Or, it there something else going on here?  
Something paradoxical?

<< The ideological genesis of this war can be found in the theories of 
 Glucksmann, Henri-Levy, Finkielkraut: it is the product of a rethinking 
 process that took place inside the conscience of '68 during the eighties 
 and nineties. The utopian ideals of '68 which found a foothold in maoism
 have turned into a utopia which is no less noble but a thousand times 
 more deadly.

Noble?  As in "aristocratic"?  Could the leaders of NATO possibly think of 
themselves as a new, "natural" aristocracy?  History teaches us that the 
social role of aristocracy is war.  How did my generation become 
"aristocrats"?  Noble?

To grasp the paradox you are introducing (or any other), you must be willing 
to question the presumptions which lie underneath it.  You must be willing to 
question whether utopia is *ever* anything but deadly.  Ever.  

Utopia=death?  Hmmm . . . is the paradox beginning to sink in?
 <<(snip) 31 years ago, when in May we took over the centres of 
 almost every city in Europe, we had no concept of winning or losing. 
 Our only aim was to hold aloft the banner of Justice and Freedom.

Ah, but now you are confusing the soldiers with the generals.  Those streets 
were also filled with very real representatives of communist and other 
governments.  Other agendas.  Agent-provocateurs, hardened 
social-revolutionaries, battle-tested demogogues -- everyone was there -- all 
in the mob.  (Or, as we used to call it, the MOBE.)

Now, you need to question your presumptions about how the "demos" -- the 
"people", the populace, the crowds -- functions.  Therein lies another great 

<<Today, those same people, I am sure with the best of intentions, 
 are acting in the same way, without realising that what they are doing 
 may explode into a horrific war that will involve the whole Eurasian 

The road to hell -- precisely the destination of many leading participants in 
this conflict -- has always been paved with the best of intentions.  
<< (snip) The problem also lies in the fact that the losers in this 
 world (who incidentally, outnumber the winners by ten to one) have 
 now discovered that the giant who towers over them is not as 
 omnipotent as he seemed. First with Saddam Hussein, then in 
 Somalia, then with Bin Laden and the Talibans and now with 
 Milosevic, Arkan and Sesely, this list of butchers and mafia
 godfathers continue to prove how weak the West is. After all, it is 
 common knowledge that bombs cannot crush mass psychopathy 
 and the fact that bombs excite psychopaths is surely not news
 to anyone.

Fascinating.  Filled with paradoxes.  Who is this "West"?  The U.S.?  Hardly. 
 Europe's "parlimentary left" who you began your note with?  Closer, but this 
is *their* first war , so the rest of your list doesn't make sense.  

And, since we all know that bombs stimulate madness, why don't you presume 
that madness is exactly the result that these bombers are looking for? 
"Strategic Bombing" was invented (sorta) by the British in WW II.  (H.G. 
Wells actually invented it earlier, but that's another story.)  Remember the 
firestorms of Dresden?  

"Strategic Bombing" was then and is now a technique of psychological warfare. 
 Hiroshima was psychological warfare.  Modern warfare is mostly psychological 
warfare and has been for 50+ years, many military historians agree.  Why 
would this war be any different?

Psychological warfare against whom?  How about you and me.  We are all being 
bombed.  (Which is certainly not to minimize the horrendous suffering of the 
millions on the front lines.)  We are all at war.  Feel safe?  You aren't, 
sorry.  Madness is everywhere.
<<Paul Watzklawicz, an expert in pragmatic communication 
 disturbances, maintains that the best way to resolve an international 
 or interethnic conflict is to close the leaders of both sides in a room 
 and to have them perform a purely linguistic exercise. Both of them 
 must recite to the other, the others grievances and motives and the 
 exercise can only be concluded when they have both realised that 
 the other is actually outlining their own point of view.
Okay, so if you are at war (with whom?  the "fascists", the "winners", the 
"imperialists"), then are you willing to adopt the point of view of your 

<<According to the greatest communication psychotherapist of all 
 time (Watzklawicz) the correct cure is not Rambouillet.

No, as we are all informed, Rambouillet was a staged excuse for this war.

<<However, we all know that there was nothing systematic about '68, 
 it was not a psycho-relation or a communicative disorder it was dialectic. 
 On one side right, on the other wrong, the good versus the bad.

Aha!  Now you are approaching the heart of the paradox.  Is it possible that 
we will somehow extract ourselves (even a little) from this deadly, utopian 
"dialectic"?  Dialectic=death?  Who needs a system when you have a dialectic?

<< (snip) Of all the probable solutions for the next century, the one 
 that puts the American government in control seems to me to be 
 the least dangerous. The United States is a society that has learnt 
 more than any other how to assimilate ethnical and technological 
 complexities. It would not be too much to ask for us to surrender 
 our national identity (for what it is worth) in exchange for a pacifist 
 government covering the entire complexity of the planet. 

Now you have really done it!  Which American government?  The one which 
refused to vote in support of the present air war or the one which will never 
agree to send in a ground invasion or the one which has absolutely no 
interest in running the world or the one which is obsessed with high-school 
kids who have been raised by machines so they act like machines or the one 
which will never surrender its own national identity?

Which one?  The one without a president?

If we trade nation-states for an empire, it won't be an American empire 
(except by accident of URL).  And, it won't be a pacifist empire, either.  
And, while it will be very friendly (have a nice day), it won't be pretty at 

<<Anti-Americanism is both rancorous and reactionary.

Not to mention (in this context), stupid.  This is not an American war.  
World government is not an American project!

<<Deprived of an alternative international prospective, anti-Americanism 
 on fascism.

Hmmm . . . you lost me there.  Fascism is economic "corporativism", right?  
It is a situation where commercial interests are fronted by the government 
(who also uses various techniques to distract the "demos").  In general, the 
anti-Americanism around here (i.e. nettime) is really anti-corporativism, or, 
strictly speaking . . . anti-fascism.  Right?

How about an "alternative international perspective"?  How about we revive 
the Roman Empire?  Too long ago?  Okay, how about we revive the most recent 
empire, the British Empire.  Doesn't need to be revived you say?  Already in 
charge, you say?  Hmmm . . . now you're getting somewhere.

Is it any wonder that Blair is the leading hawk?  Is it any wonder that MI-6 
(technically they work for the Royal Family, not Blair, but anyway) supplied 
the details to the court in the Hague to ensure the recent "war criminal" 
indictments would prolong the war and possibly even make negotiations 

Which empire is your real favorite?  The best?

 <<In this war, however, the decisive factor is not what the 
 chanters of thirty year old slogans would have us believe. 
 The decisive factor is not the imperialistic drive of the United 
 States (which does exist, it would be ridiculous to state the contrary). 

So, call me silly.  It . . . does . . . not . . . exist.  Many people who 
live on the North American continent are indeed very modern imperialists but 
this imperialism is not the policy or interest of the United States, to the 
extent that this nation-state still exists, of course.

<<This is not an imperialistic war, as empires have other means 
 of reaching their objectives: money, image, virtualisation. The decisive 
 factor of this war is humanitarian fanaticism indifferent to the
 consequences of its actions. The consequences of these actions 
 fired by fanaticism runs against the concept of global American 
 government. They only serve as the catalyst for a global war which 
 multiplies all the present day fascisms and integralisms and leads 
 to an increase in violence and nuclear armament.

Well, here you go introducing those paradoxes again.  Who says that "human 
rights" is not a vital matter of imperial policy?  "Human rights" -- as a 
political movement -- has never had a life independent of imperial 
objectives.  Who says that "human rights" is really about helping humans?  
"Human Rights"=Death?
<<This is why I am writing to you friends, you who live in the longstanding
 spirit of '68.

To remind people of the paradoxes of their lives?  I congratulate you!!  
Someone had to do it.

<<I share your desire for a world in which the universal principal 
 of human dignity triumphs over that of national sovereignty, 
 substituting the suicidal principal of national self-determination 
 (after all, what is a nation, if it is not an entity that defines itself 
 on the basis of its own aggression?).

But, the alternative to national sovereignty is empire and who ever told you 
that humanity is a priority for the empire?  Not to mention that we are on 
the verge of inventing remarkable "genomic" technologies which will be able 
to replace humanity with something er, . . . new-and-improved.  

Do you really want the empire to make the rules on replacing humanity with 
something "better"?  Do you really want the same people who can't see how 
they are threatening the entire world with this war to decide the genetic 
future of the human species?  What's the margin for error on that calculation?

 <<(snip) That is when I realised that in this war, the guardians 
 of Auschwitz speak two languages, one Serbian, the other 

Just to be clear on this, Auschwitz was a "work" camp.  "Work Makes You Free" 
hung over the entrance.  Corporativist (i.e. fascist) Nazi Germany (actually 
Himmler's SS) needed "workers."  So too, the corporativists behind this war.  
Fascism (i.e. corporativism) indeed speaks in many tongues.

<<(snip) Thirty years ago, who would ever have thought that the 
 grandchildren of Mao would one day become cannon fodder in an
 Anglo-American war?

Anyone who grasped the paradoxes of that time, that's who.  

Indeed, if Maoists have ever been anything but cannon-fodder, I'd be really 

If one is willing to grabble with the paradoxes, which you yourself have so 
expertly raised, one might at least avoid surprise the next time around.
<<(snip) What can be done?  The solution is the exact opposite 
 of the war to defend borders. Borders between aggressive nationalisms, 
 borders between the West and poorer countries, these are the taboos 
 that must be destroyed if we wish to escape the nightmare of planetary 
 civil war.  

Imperial rule #1:  Divide and Conquer.  (Read Carrol Quigley's "Hope and 
Tragedy" and then ponder what it means that Quigley was Clinton's mentor at 

Wherever you see people who have lived together all their lives fighting 
brutally with each other, you might suspect that some imperial power is 
benefitting.  Civil war is the only way that an empire can survive.  Divide 
and conquer.  The war of all against all.

<<The solution is to open all borders.

Solution for whom?  The humans or the empire-rulers?  This solution is worse 
than the problem!  Paradoxically worse.  Perversely worse.

 <<The West is conducting a war against the economical 
 and demographical redistribution that global immigration demands. 
 The redistribution of the wealth that is concentrated in the hands 
 of a tiny minority of humanity and global class, can only take place 
 through the liberal movement of citizens of poorer countries towards 
 the wealthier ones.

Boy, this is truly rich with paradox.  Have you talked to the Sierra Club 
lately about immigration?  

How do you balance population growth with immigration with 
living-standards/living-wages with destruction of indigenous cultures with 
massive media/technological invasion of human minds?  Haven't you heard that 
25% or more of the population of the advanced technological world is slated 
to become the "Lost"?  Permanently cut-off, permanently un-employable, 
permanently ready to slit your (or my) throat.

<<(snip) Just as it has devastated the lives of men and women 
 throughout the twentieth century, the tyranny of ideas may this 
 time be responsible for the death of us all.  >>

Thanks for concluding so forcefully.  Ideas -- if by this you mean "ideology" 
or fixed points-of-view -- continue to destroy and de-humanize, that's 
undisputable.  Now we see it again, right before our eyes.

So, you might consider getting beyond point-of-view.  Grasp the paradoxes of 
the good-guy/bad-guy duality trap.  For it is beyond these paradoxes where 
some small measure of understanding may lie.  

Yes, the truth may lie.  Especially, those truths you never dare to question. 
 Lie paradoxically, of course.


Mark Stahlman

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