nettime's_groupuscule on 26 Feb 2001 11:47:11 -0000

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<nettime> comment en l'ecrit l'histoire digeste [wark, sanborn, mandl, brozefsky]

   Re: <nettime> In Defence of Agreement!                                          
     McKenzie Wark <>                                                    
   Re: <nettime> comment on ecrit l'histoire digeste [sanborn x3, hankwitz]        
     Keith Sanborn <>                                                
   Re: <nettime> In Defence of Cultural Studies aka Debord and nostalgia           
     David Mandl <>                                                  
   Re: <nettime> In Defence of a Modest Proposal                                   
     Craig Brozefsky <>                                            


Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 01:18:10 -0500
From: McKenzie Wark <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> In Defence of Agreement!

Finally some sense from the Debordians! Now here is a statement to which
I would happily subscribe.

David Cox writes of
"...the importance of friendship, adventure and the romance of social
The idea is to promote the fact that people can change society, and
routinely do change society. Debord was able to always demonstrate that
ideas can become actions, and that it is possible to work from the margins
to effect action alongside a poetry of proposals which everyone can
identify with."

Mind you it is usually what Keith thinks of as 'medicocrity'  that are the
kinds of proposals that matter to 'everyone'.

Since Doug Henwood has turned down his Trotskyist abuse filter a notch,
i'll respond to him for a change. Ok, so we've given up pining for
revolution, and pretend Marx has no responsibility for Stalinism, so
what have you got left to write home about? All of the actual successes
in the 20th century history of the labour movement come from the
non-Marxist camp. That capitalism has some civilised edges is not
to be credited to its generosity but to the struggle to make it so, by
organised labour, its political expression as social democracy, and
the social movements. I'm not disputing the anaytic use of Marxist
thought, but its viability as a political program. As a program, it is
a history of failure. If it is indeed to be thought a 'theory of praxis',
then from the failure of the practice ought to come some scepticism
about the comprehensiveness of the theory.



Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 02:09:05 -0500
From: Keith Sanborn <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> comment on ecrit l'histoire digeste [sanborn x3, hankwitz]

A general response to Molly and an attempt to sum up from my perspective:

I think that we can all learn lessons from the variety of examples 
you cited and of course in different ways depending or where we're 
standing. And the contradictions and complexities never cease: the 
social history of the SI is largely unwritten, though the ideal of 
the Sadean woman, as Angela Carter calls it, is an aggressive 
sex-positive one. Also, Vienet takes us places most of us won't go, 
suggesting there might even be a sex positive, non-exploitative 
relationships among adults and children, including men and girls and 
men and boys. I cannot remember any female/female relationships, 
though there may be in "Les filles de Kamare." Reich was a 
springboard from which the situs went further.

Nonetheless, questions of gender, as differentiated from sexuality, 
remain largely unaddressed or compartmentalized by both mainstream 
Marxism and the situs, as far as I can tell. As far as "race" goes, 
though the group largely consisted Europeans, there were North 
African and Middle Eastern (Israeli and Algerian I believe) and even 
North American members. But the question that remains is a good one: 
is the dialectical tension between a Situationist International and 
the radical subjectivity of the individual members enough to keep 
them honest? I would argue that it did, though it must be remembered 
that at the end, there were very few members left, after the 
exclusions and resignations made in pursuit of consensus. It was at 
this point that the SI disbanded, recognizing that their projected 
had superceded itself. (Think: Aufhebung.)

This does not mean, I will sit by and observe Debord's being 
qualified as a dandy and a fascist without responding.

Cultural studies has a history, in its feminist aspect, of being 
mostly the province of WHITE women. I think even now there is a 
reluctance among women of color to identify themselves as feminists. 
And it took a long time for NOW to openly accept Lesbians as members 
whose issues were fundamental to the well being of all women. But, 
that's not my can of worms to dig into, but in its political aspect, 
it is something to recognize. To privledge one discourse is to 
exclude others. What matters is how the power is divided. Academia, 
including Cultural Studies, is still largely male and largely white. 
"Pluralism" is often a tepid movement to recuperate strident voices 
into the dominant bureaucracy. It's not enough. Separatism, however, 
brings its own rewards and punishments. Radical subjectivity anyone?

The SI is dead, long live the SI.


Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 03:16:26 -0500 (EST)
From: David Mandl <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> In Defence of Cultural Studies aka Debord and nostalgia

On Sun, 25 Feb 2001, McKenzie Wark wrote:

> I'm sure Keith Sandborn is not intentionally asserting a racist
> view of the world, but what else are we to make of this:
> "Certainly the 3rd world power elite would like
> development and if they can become rich and stash the money in Swiss
> bank accounts they hardly trouble over fouling the nest of their
> fellow countrymen and women, or anyone else, which ultimately
> includes the 1st world as well."

I don't see the racism here.  Most "Third World" leaders are corrupt
thieves who not only don't have the interests of their "subjects" at
heart, but are often trained, educated, and even installed by "First
World" elites.  Much as I hate to say it, many of them are even more
corrupt and violent than their Western counterparts, simply because
they can be.  What does this have to do with racism?  Does criticizing
Stalin and Marie Antoinette make me a Russophobe and a Francophobe?

> It doesn't seem to be possible in this framework to listen to voices
> from the developing world and take them seriously. What you can hear
> if you listen is a desire shared by elites and ordinary people
> alike. A desire to experience growth in jobs, income, economic
> power. [...]

I don't think there are too many desires shared by ordinary people and
elites in the developing world.  And to tell you the truth, I think
the main desire for a lot of these ordinary people is simply for some


- --
Dave Mandl


Date: 26 Feb 2001 04:12:29 -0500
From: Craig Brozefsky <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> In Defence of a Modest Proposal

McKenzie Wark <> writes:

> The Napoleonic grandeur of radical thought from Marx to
> Debord has an intrinsically anti-democratic cast. Its a question
> of making the masses into a tool for a mission not of their
> making. People's actual wants and desires are to be discounted
> in favour of what the intellectual desires that they desire.
> Of course there is always a 'theory' or a 'method' to legitimate
> this divergence on the part of the self-appointed vanguard
> from any notion of consensus in politics.

At what point do I stop being one of the masses and become an
intellectual?  At what point do my political desires become the
desires of an intellectual, rather than the desire of one of the

After writing these questions I tried to answer them myself. I could
come up with no satisfactory answers.

I tried to differentiate based upon the degree of alienation from my
labor that I experience as a white-collar worker, but that didn't pan
out, since I don't think that my present occupation overdetermines my
class allegiance, or even the extent to which I'm alienated from my
labor.  Even if it wasn't, that would just an example of class
differentiation, not the seperation of the intellectual from the

Then I thought that perhaps it was defined by the abstraction of an
"intellectual" political desire from the day-to-day needs and wants of
the working class.  But many of the people I know who would not be
labeled as intellectuals; mechanics, salesmen, retail clerks, factory
workers, waitresses, are quite capable of articulating their political
desires beyond the immediacy of their day-to-day needs.  So I felt
that was another dead-end.

- -- 
Craig Brozefsky                             <>
In the rich man's house there is nowhere to spit but in his face
					             -- Diogenes


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