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<nettime> 'Netocracy' review in New Scientist
geert lovink on Mon, 8 Jul 2002 10:08:30 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> 'Netocracy' review in New Scientist


http://www.newscientist.com/opinion/opbooks.jsp?id=ns23507

Netocracy: The new power elite and life after capitalism
Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist
£17.99 Pearson/Reuters

WHAT would Karl Marx have made of the works of 20th-century radical
philosopher Gilles Deleuze - or the cultural contagions or "memes"
identified by biologist Richard Dawkins? Maybe the old Newtonian rogue would
have been baffled into silence. We'd all have copies of Capital as Idea by
Friedrich Engels and Emma Goldman on our shelves, rather than Das Kapital.
It would probably be rather better than Marx's great unread work - or
Netocracy for that matter.

This title must have been handy when pitching to publishers in the depths of
the dot.com era. But the book itself is much better than that would lead you
to expect.

The netocracy, say pundits Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist, will be the
new power elite, controlling networks - both social and digital - and
displacing the bourgeoisie as the ruling class. Its members will understand
that equilibria and static positions are boring and artificial
approximations, and dynamic fluxes are neither. And that interesting logical
structures are not tree-like hierarchies, but are interconnected in
potentially very complicated ways - what Deleuze called the "rhizome" - just
as Web pages, genes and friendship networks are.

Netocracies exist: the crypto-diplomats who represent corporations at
conferences and the non-members of anarchistic disorganisations are two
examples. Though their goals may collide head-on, it seems that they have
more in common structurally than either would like to admit - or than either
has in common with democracy as we know it. Bard and Söderqvist, you will
not be surprised to hear, think democracy is doomed, along with the nation
state.

For their intended readership of fellow pundits, the authors' claim to
supersede Marx is bold, but their view on how truths and realities are
constructed is commonplace. Netocracy is wrong on some details too, such as
copyright. But read it for the reason business information company Reuters
published it: to understand why power in your workplace and your world isn't
where you thought. It's fluently rendered from the Swedish, though
translator Neil Smith would have got more of the jokes if he'd remembered
more Marx and Deleuze, and maybe Plato too.

Mike Holderness is a disorganiser

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