on Thu, 25 Mar 2004 16:15:12 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Limits of Networking


Hi, I am glad this got posted again as it helps me get back to trying to 
put a line of thought together.

I have been trying to think through these two points you raise. They 
resonate with me in a way that doesn't seem to have been picked up in 
the discussion to date.

> The second point is about tactics. In reality, counterprotocological
> practice is not "counter" anything! Saying that politics is an act of
> "resistance" was never true, except for the most literal interpretation
> of conservatism. We must search-and-replace all occurrences of
> "resistance" with "impulsion" or perhaps "thrust." Thus the concept of
> resistance in politics should be superceded by the concept of
> hypertrophy. Resistance is a Clausewitzian mentality; the strategy of
> maneuvers teaches us instead that the best way to beat an enemy is to
> become a better enemy. One must push through to the other side, rather
> than drag one's heels. There are two directions for political change:
> resistance implies a desire for stasis or retrograde motion, but
> hypertrophy is the desire for pushing beyond. The goal is not to destroy
> technology in some neoluddite delusion, but to push technology into a
> hypertrophic state, further than it is meant to go. We must scale up,
> not unplug. Then, during the passage of technology into this injured,
> engorged, and unguarded condition, it will be sculpted anew into
> something better, something in closer agreement with the real wants and
> desires of its users.
> The third point has to do with structure. Because networks are
> (technically) predicated on creating possible communications between
> nodes, oppositional practices will have to focus less on the
> characteristics of the nodes, and more on the quality of the
> interactions between nodes. In this sense the node-edge distinction will
> break down. Nodes will be constructed as a byproduct of the creation of
> edges, and edges will be a precondition for the inclusion of nodes in
> the network. Conveyances are key. From the oppositional perspective,
> nodes are nothing but dilated or relaxed edges, while edges are
> constricted, hyper-kinetic nodes. Nodes may be composed of clustering
> edges, while edges may be extended nodes.

Both of these points to me seem to be building upon two ideas that I 
have been tossing around in relation to "the power of life" and the idea 
of "ease" that Agamben talks about int he Coming Community.

In your Protocol article from rethinking Marxism you quoted Deleuze 
quoting Foucault ....

"[1] … power … takes life as its aim or object, then resistance to power 
already puts itself on the side of life, and turns life against power . 
. . [2] Life becomes resistance to power when power takes life as its 
object . . . [3] When power becomes bio-power resistance becomes the 
power of life, a vital power that cannot be confined within species, 
environment or the paths of a particular diagram"

Now I have been playing with this and with things that came out of 
difference and repetition for some time, trying to grapple with legal 
things and ways of re imagining relationships and law. I started out 
thinking about this in respect of work I had done with Aboriginal 
artists in Australia and the way the courts accommodated "communal 
production" within the law of copyright using principles of equity.

Here is a snip from the paper I gave back then at UF 
( which cited that part 
of Protocol:

To go back to Deleuze "If exchange is the criterion of generality, theft 
and gift are those of repetition. There is, therefore, an economic 
difference between the two".[46] Similarly, the idea of equity acts, in 
personem, on the conscience and conduct of people towards an end, where 
the concept of law acts in rem, on property, based upon rules. Thus 
there is an economic difference between a law that acts over property 
and an equitable idea that acts on the person's conscience. Equity's 
language, like repetitions, is also of gift and theft. Equity deals with 
gifts (fiduciaries, trusts, wills, intention) and with theft (undue 
influence, unconscionability, restitution and other breaches of 
equitable duties). It may be here that in their economic and quality and 
in their language, equity and repetition are most closely related.
Equity can be said not to be about the concept of rules but about an 
idea, a bevaviour. It not only looks to substance, over form it regards 
as done, what ought to have been done, thus one who seeks equity must 
come with clean hands, they must have done equity themselves to be 
entitled to equity's relief. It will not reward those that it regards as 
scoundrels, those lacking in conscience or virtue.
Equity builds its body of law, its "artifact … and testament"[47] not 
through the creation of rules but through the idea of repeating 
behaviour over time. The singular repetition of equity is the "singular 
subject, the interiority and the heart of the other"[48], its "artifact" 
the "other is only the external envelope, the abstract effect".[49]

Now the problem with my equity argument here is that it can easily be 
read as saying lets just adopt this aspect of the positive legal system 
in our tactics .... some have seen it like that. But the more I have 
done my research on Floss, the GPL etc the more I have become convinced 
that like so many aspects of law today they exist within a state of 
exception. My rough thinking at the moment as that like the current 
state of international law or the way in which positive law treats 
law the current state of intellectual property law in relation to 
software I think can also fairly be described as existing in such a 
"state of exception". On the constitutional side or that of "positive 
law" there exists a state whereby many of the modernists underpinnings 
of legal theory are up in the air. This explains why I think many of the 
U.S. legal academics (eg Lessig) and those within the open source 
movement (eg Moglen etc) have great difficulty in explaining why legal 
decision making by courts and governments is at odds with their 
understanding of the basis of the law. It also positions their inability 
to move out of this discourse and I think the failings of their 
approach. As I keep arguing what is important for law now appears to be 
its economic functionality and not modernist legal theory. On the other 
hand the main legal response by the free software movement, the GPL or 
General Public Licence itself seems to exist with this state of 
exception, that is it only has validity whilst it retains the appearance 
of the force of law. One point is that this seemingly discrete area of 
law in fact reflects(and could even be central, tied as it is to new 
forms of production, i.e. to immaterial labour) the broader state of 
exception and tendency toward imperial society. Anther point and maybe 
more relevant here is that rather than "pushing through to the other 
side" the GPL etc remains within that side and in my view (as outlined 
in my recent article risks 
being firmly entrenched on that/this side.

So I suppose my question is, or my observation is, that does one "push 
through to the other side" by adopting what (even though now you reject 
the term resistance - I can see why) you described or took as resistance 
before - "resistance becomes the power of life"? Secondly to focus "more 
on the quality of the interactions between nodes" raises with me (as I 
allude to above) what Agamben talked about when he discusses "ease". In 
line with the "the power of life" this quality of interaction seems to 
involve the "substituting (yourself) for someone else, that is, to be 
Christians in the place of others"( Agamben at 23).

Frankly what worries me with lots of our talk of new media, intellectual 
property, information etc etc is that in some ways they seem to reject 
the idea of the possibility of "separate" commons. That is that there is 
a call for “universals of communication" which in some ways are bland 
and shallow attempts to claim to be pursuing forms of life or pushing 
through to the other side. After reading a fairly recent Negri piece on 
the commons 
I felt a little heartened that maybe the commons of which we speak is 
not a universal commons a "free" (as in freedom) commons but one that 
requires us to treat others with "ease" and act with the "power of life".

Maybe what I am getting at here is that we are all pretty clear now that 
networks et al are the new way of doing things but the question is for 
what do those networks exist - over or of life? To continue just to laud 
networks and free information to me gets us nowhere (hence my fairly 
negative piece recently). But this question that I see in your piece 
seems to be in many ways a core issue. But we need to start to really 
grapple with how to act "of life" how to act with "ease" without just 
repeating the mantras of freedom which really are pretty meaningless for me.

I hope somehow what I toying with is not lost in this muddle of thought.



"the riddle which man must solve, he can only solve in being, in 
being what he is and not something else...."

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