KATERINA D. on Tue, 26 Jun 2001 11:44:22 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> new rules for the new actonomy

Excellent piece of writing by Geert Lovink and Florian Schneider.
Inspiring and with some powerful ideas.
Thanks a lot,
----- Original Message -----
From: "florian schneider" <fls@kein.org>
To: <nettime-l@bbs.thing.net>
Sent: &Tgr;&rgr;&iacgr;&tgr;&eegr;, 26 &Igr;&ogr;&ugr;&ngr;&iacgr;&ogr;&ugr; 2001 12:17 &pgr;&mgr;
Subject: <nettime> new rules for the new actonomy

> By Geert Lovink & Florian Schneider
> That the world is changing wasn't really noticed for a while, and if at
> all, only in positive ways - at least for a long as the fall of the Berlin
> Wall and the overcoming of the Cold War gave rise to great hopes, the Boom
> of the New Economy hid its bad points, as long as the post modern fun
> spread nothing but good vibes. Nowadays the signs have become more
> obvious, that there are many political, cultural, economic and social
> conflicts simmering under the cover of digitalization, infotization and
> globalization, the extent and breadth of these conflicts can not yet be
> estimated.
> Seattle, Melbourne, Prague, Nice, Davos - Quebec has just been added to
> this list, and Genova soon will be, where the G-8 meeting will take place
> at the end of July, and Qatar, where the next WTO will be, and a global
> day of action will be carried out. At the first glance it seems as if a
> new global protest generation is emerging, which endeavors to equal,
> include and battle against that of 1968.
> However no-one should yield to this illusion: The great social movements
> of the past centuries from labour to environment seem to be exhausted.
> Simple recipes have lost all credibility, of course. The way back to
> familiar models is obstructed, and the complex cohesion of an ever more
> closely networking global economy and of ever more differentiated living
> conditions seem to be immune against any form of criticism.
> The field of the political has collapsed into thousands of single
> fragments, but it is exactly in this chaos that a new activism with new
> ways of political articulation and action is breaking through. All these
> new beginnings are extremely flexible and operate with tactical and
> strategic plurality. They strive for up-to-date notions of solidarity and
> self-determination, and they try to link and to short-cut immediate and
> local conflicts with global ones.
> So what has changed?
> In former times, it was all about imprisoning people somewhere in order to
> discipline them (in schools, the army, factories, hospitals). Nowadays
> people are monitored in real time practically everywhere. In all
> political, social and cultural fields networking techniques of control
> replace the former techniques of power exertion. Chip-cards, biometric
> systems, electronic collars control the access to proprietary and
> privileged areas. Borders are subjected to a special change of meaning in
> this context. At electronic frontiers and virtual borders everything is
> about matching user-profiles and instead of in- or exclusion: networking
> against one's will.
> There is no outside anymore and that is why the archimedical point of
> criticism has vanished, to settle exactly on the border and to risk a
> glance into the circumstances without really being a part of the
> controversy. The "New Left", as it emerged from the student settings of
> the 1960s and 70s had made their ideological criticism from these safe
> positions. Little wonder that the remains of such a protest culture excel
> at complaining, winging, griping and if it really gets radical, at making
> someone feel guilty.
> Work that is no longer calculable and measurable anymore is certainly
> nothing really new. But their meaning for production process is pivotal.
> What some call "Affect Industry" covers work in hospitals and in the film
> industry, in software sweat-shops and kindergartens, in the entertainment
> industry and in nursing homes. Classic reproduction work which aims to
> stir emotions and create a feeling of well-being. The newest development
> in the emotion industry opens up a biopolitical dimension where the most
> riddling aspect which exists on earth - life itself - becomes the object
> of production.
> Nowadays, almost all habits of political thinking and action are more or
> less radically questioned. Necessary is, a redefinition of the political
> practice and its theorizing, not starting from point zero, but from where
> we are now. In this context it is extremely exciting not to abandon all
> insights, but on the contrary: to investigate experience from a new
> historical upheaval and to recapitulate and to develop new terms and
> refuel old ones; to let struggles communicate with each other, regardless
> of if they are old or new, regardless of where they are physically
> located, and how they will end.
> Resistance always comes before Power and sabotage derives from the French
> word sabot, which is a wooden shoe that is secretly introduced into a
> machine and blocks the production temporarily. This interruption aims to
> reduce the efficiency of the machine to such an extent that the emerging
> material damage underlines the concrete demands or a general disgust of
> the condition of exploitation.
> As the normal strike, sabotage as a means of direct action aims directly
> at the pickpocket of the corporation in order to achieve the realization
> of certain conditions. Particularly when workers are robbed of their right
> to strike, sabotage was appropriate although an illegal means of struggle
> within the factories. Sabotage is a direct application of the idea that
> property has no rights that its creators are bound to respect. That way
> sabotage can be seen as a sort of anticipated reverse engineering of the
> open source idea.
> Indeed, in the current political debate about direct action there are
> several parallels to the situation of the late 19th Century, which can be
> made. Sabotage is radically antagonistic to the representative discourse,
> i.e. in the institutionalized contexts of the working class or social
> movements. Those representative forms have always referred to a nation
> state while spontaneous, un- or better organized forms of resistance (e.g.
> the Industrial Workers of the World IWW) have expressed a global class
> consciousness. What is nowadays called direct action re-presents sabotage.
> >From "No Logo" to "Ruckus Society", from wild strikes in the hardware,
> Hi-Tech- and service industries to the semiotic guerilla of Indymedia,
> RTmark or Adbusters.
> We suspect: current forms of activism attempt a redefinition of sabotage
> as social practice, but not in the usual destructive sense, rather in a
> constructive, innovative and creative practice. Such a constructive
> approach results in a movement without organs or organisation. In a
> variety of perspectives - self-determined cybernetic thinking, that spurs
> on different approaches and connections; that refers to a social
> antagonism refers to the level of production; and that is constituting a
> collective process of appropriation of knowledge and power.
> So far three layers of net.activism appeared in a still rudimentary way:
> - Networking within a movement: The first level of net.activism consists
> of facilitating the internal communication inside the movement. It means
> communication on and behind mailinglists, setting up websites, which are
> designed as a toolbox for the activists themselves. It leads to creating a
> virtual community, whose dynamics do not so much differ from romantic
> offline-communities, besides the fact that people do not necessarily need
> to meet physically, but very often they do afterwards.
> - Networking in between movements and social groups: The second level of
> net.activism is defined by campaigning and connecting people form
> different contexts. It means joining the forces, collaborative and
> cooperative efforts, creating inspiring and motivating surroundings, in
> which new types of actions and activities may be elaborated.
> - Virtual movements: The third level of net.activism means using the
> internet vice versa as a platform for purely virtual protests, which refer
> no longer to any kind of offline-reality and which may cause incalculable
> and uncontrollable movements: E-protests like online demonstrations,
> electronic civil disobedience or anything which might be seen as digital
> sabotage as a legitimate outcome of a social struggle: counter-branding,
> causing virtual losses, polluting the image of a corporation.
> Time is Running Out for Reformism.
> This is the golden age of irresistible activism. Accelerate your
> politices. Set a target you can reach within 3 years--and formulate the
> key ideas within 30 seconds. Then go out and do it. Do not despair. Get
> the bloody project up and then: hit hit hit. Be instantly seductive in
> your resistance. The moral firewalls of global capitalism are buggy as
> never before. Corporations are weakened because of their endemic dirty
> practices, mad for profits. The faster things are changing, the more
> radical we can act. The faster things are changing, the more radical we
> have to act.
> The green-liberal idea of slowly changing capitalism from within no longer
> works. Not because the Third Way parties powers have "betrayed" the cause.
> No. Simply because their project is constantly running out of time. Global
> systems are in a state of permanent revolution, and so is subversive
> politics. Society is changing much faster than any of its institutions,
> including corporations. No one can keep up. There is no time anymore for
> decent planning. The duration of a plan, necessary for its implementation
> is simply not longer there. This mechanism turned the baby boomers into
> such unbearable regressive control freaks. There is no more time to go
> through the whole trajectory from research to implementation. Policy is
> reduced to panic response.
> Government policy is reduced to panic response. For the complex society
> its enemies are the blueprints of five years ago. The future is constantly
> being re-defined, and re-negotiated. Global systems are in a state of
> permanent flux between revolution and reaction--and so is subversive
> politics. Society is changing much faster than any of its institutions can
> handle. In short: no one can keep up and here lies the competitive
> advantage of today's mobile actonomists.
> Instead of crying over the disappearance of politics, the public, the
> revolution, etc. today's activists are focussing on the weakest link
> defining the overall performance of the system: the point where the
> corporate image materializes in the real world and leaves its ubiquity and
> abstract omnipresence. Shortcut the common deliberations about the
> dichotomy between real and virtual. Get into more sophisticated
> dialectics. It's all linked anyway, with power defining the rules of
> access to resources (space, information or capital). Throw your pie, write
> your code. Visit their annual stockholders meeting, and do your goddamned
> research first. What counts is the damage done on the symbolic level,
> either real or virtual.
> The new actonomy, equipped with pies and laptops, consists of thousands of
> bigger and smaller activities, which are all by themselves meaningful,
> manageable and sustainable. For this we do not need a General Plan, a
> singular portal website, or let alone a Party. It is enough to understand
> the new dynamics--and use them. Create and disseminate your message with
> all available logics, tools and media. The new actonomy involves a
> rigorous application of networking methods. It's diversity challenges the
> development of non-hierarchical, decentralized and deterritorialized
> applets and applications.
> Laws of semiotic guerilla: hit and run, draw and withdraw, code and
> delete. Postulate precise and modest demands, which allows your foe a step
> back without losing it's face. Social movements of the last century were
> opposing the nation state and disclaimed it's power. In the new actonomy
> activists struggle against corporations and new forms of global
> sovereignty. The goal is obviously not so much to gain institutional
> political power, rather to change the way how things are moving--and why.
> The principle aim is to make power ridiculous, unveil its corrupt nature
> in the most powerful, beautiful and aggressive symbolic language, then
> step back in order to make space for changes to set in. Let others do that
> job, if they wish so. There is no need for a direct dialogue in this
> phase. Exchanges on mediated levels will do. Complex societies have got
> plenty mediators and interfaces. Use them. Indirect contact with the power
> to be does not effect your radical agenda as long as you maintain and
> upgrade your own dignity, both as an acting individual and as a group.
> Radical demands are not by default a sign of a dogmatic belief system
> (they can, of course). If formulated well they are strong signs,
> penetrating deeply into the confused postmodern subjectivity, so
> susceptive for catchy phrases, logos and brands. Invent and connect as
> much intentions, motivations, causalities as possible.
> These days a well-designed content virus can easily reach millions
> overnight. Invest all your time to research how to design a robust meme
> which can travel through time and space, capable to operate within a
> variety of cultural contexts. The duality between 'small is beautiful' and
> 'subversive economies of scale' is constantly shifting. Low-tech
> money-free projects are charming, but in most cases lack the precision and
> creative power to strike at society's weakest link. Be ready to work with
> money. You will need it for the temporary setup.
> Think in terms of efficiency. Use the staff and infrastructure on the site
> of your foe. Acting in the new actonomy means to cut the preliminaries and
> get to the point straight away. A campaign does not rely on ones own
> forces, but on those of your allies and opponents as well. Outsourcing is
> a weapon. It is a means of giving someone else the problems you cannot
> solve yourself. Remember that you won't get very far without a proper
> infrastructure such as offices, servers, legal frameworks to receive and
> pay money, etc. However, you can also treat these institutional
> requirements as flexible units. You do not need to own them, the only
> thing you need is temporary access so that you can set up the machine
> ensemble you need for that particular project.
> Radical demands are not by default a sign of a dogmatic belief system
> (they can, of course). If formulated well they are strong signs,
> penetrating deeply into the confused postmodern subjectivity, so
> susceptive for catchy phrases, logos and brands.
> Invent and connect as much intentions, motivations, causalities as
> possible. Nowadays activists use multi-layered and multiple voice
> languages that reach out far beyond the immediate purpose of a campaign or
> a concrete struggle, and in doing so, they create a vision much larger
> than what is accessible right at the moment. This mechanism needs a
> re-assessment of rhizomatic micro-politics which sprung up in a response
> to the centralized macro politics of the decaying communist parties in the
> seventies.
> Act in a definite space and with a definite force. Dramaturgy is all that
> matters. Precision campaigns consists of distinct episodes with a
> beginning and an ending, an either smooth or harsh escalation and a final
> showdown. Accept the laws of appearance and disappearance. Don't get stuck
> in structures which are on the decline. Be ready to move on, taking with
> you the (access to) infrastructure of the previous round. Action is taking
> place in a variety of locations and thus refers in a positive way to a new
> stage of people's globalization from below. One that is not just an empty,
> endlessly extended market, but full of energy.
> Refuse to be blackmailed. If attacked, make one step aside or ahead. Don't
> panic. Take all the options into account. No one needs cyberheroes, you
> are not a lone hacker anymore. The attack maybe be done by a single person
> but remember we are many. The corporate response may be harder than you
> expect. It may be better to evade a direct confrontation, but don't trust
> the media and the mediators. Ignore their advice. In the end you are just
> another news item for them. If trouble hits the face, scale down, retreat,
> re-organize, get your network up, dig deep into the far corners of the
> Net--and then launch the counter campaign.
> Program and compile subject oriented campaigns! These days a lot of people
> talk about a global upraising, which is only in the very beginning and
> definitely not limited to running behind the so called battles of the
> three acronyms: WTO, WB and IMF. But the urgent question of that movement
> is: what new types of subjectivity will raise out of the current
> struggles? Everybody knows, what's to be done, but who knows, what are we
> fighting for and why? Maybe it doesn't matter anymore: net.activism is of
> a charming fragility. In the end it means permanently revising and
> redefining all goals.
> The revolution will be open source or not! Self determination is something
> you should really share. As soon as you feel a certain strength on a
> certain field, you can make your power productive as positive, creative
> and innovative force. That power opens up new capacities, reducing again
> and again unexpected and incalculable effects.
> Ignore history. Don't refer to any of your favorite predecessors. Hide
> your admiration for authors, artists and familiar styles. You do not need
> to legitimize yourself by quoting the right theorist or rapper. Be
> unscrupulously modern (meaning: ignore organized fashion, you are anyway
> busy with something else). Create and disseminate your message with all
> available logics, tools and media. The new actonomy involves a rigorous
> application of networking methods. It's diversity challenges the
> development of non-hierarchical, decentralized and deterritorialized
> applets and applications. In the meanwhile leave the preaching of the
> techno religion to others. Hide your admiration for everything new and
> cool. Just use it. Take the claim on the future away from corporations.
> Remember: they are the dinosaurs.
> Read as many business literature as possible and don't be afraid it may
> effect you. It will. Having enough ethics in your guts you can deal with
> that bit of ideology. Remember that activism and entrepreneurial spirit
> have a remarkably lot in common. So what? Benefit from your unlimited
> capacity of metamorphosis. With the right spirit you can survive any
> appropriation. Free yourself from the idea that enemy concepts are
> compromising the struggle. You don't have to convince yourself, nor your
> foe. The challenge is to involve those, who are not yet joining the
> struggle. The challenge is to use resources, which may not belong to you,
> but which are virtually yours.
> Sydney/Munich, June 2001
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