Pit Schultz on Fri, 22 Nov 96 02:51 MET

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Re: nettime: The Anarchives... The Mythology of Technology: The Internet AsUtopia

----- Forwarded message from Mark Stahlman -----

>From radiomail.net!stahlman Wed Nov 20 18:41:21 1996
X-UIDL: afb80cf9615cffe9000ef0e2d8900de0
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 09:39:05 -0800 (PST)
To: jesse@tao.ca (Jesse Hirsh) (by way of jesse@tao.ca (Jesse Hirsh))
From: Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) <stahlman@radiomail.net>
CC: pit@contrib.de
Subject: Re: nettime: The Anarchives... The Mythology of Technology: The Internet AsUtopia
Message-ID: <RM:c0d83d13.0013d929.0>


This is direct reply to you which I hope will also be forwarded to the
nettime (and other) lists.  

You sent chills down my spine many times throughout your essay (a true
"multiple") -- for a number of reasons.  As you will notice from my
"English Ideology" essay, I've been working on the Utopian theme and
end-of-it-all theme for some time and you've beautifully captured the
horrors which await us if we allow the Internet-as-global-market to become
the New Media.  Beautifully.

You also correctly used McLuhan's aphorism in this context but you could
have made it even stronger by completing the quote.  "The medium is the
message . . . and the audience is the content."  We are the New Media.  If
we "choose" slavery then the way we will do it will be by participating in
an enslaving medium.  What you may not have known is that McLuhan thought
that the apocalypse is near -- literally -- and that TV would take us
there.  Close but now the Internet offers much more chilling possibilities.

When asked, "Are you an optimist or a pessimist?"  He answered, "An
apocalypsist!"  And, given both his extreme devotion to Catholicism (he
knew in a profound manner what an apocalypse truly means) and his
conviction that an evil cabal runs this world (see his letters to Ezra
Pound), the only way to read McLuhan is as a scared shitless
prophet-of-doom who spoke in "code" so that he wouldn't get busted.

The problem is that "democracy" is the ultimate honey-trap.  The
utopian/corporativist (i.e. fascist) impulse *needs* online "democracy" to
get a public buyin and to be able to constantly surveil the subject
population.  The "bizarre fusion" that Barbrook/Cameron spoke of is *both*
total jack-boot and total "freedom."  Both at the same time.  My friend, on
this planet, anarachy is totalitarianism.

The further problem is that a fundamental religious basis for this
totalitarianism is already emblazed in our skulls -- the insane notion that
the Earth is being threatened by humanity.  Not only is there no science
behind fear of eco-disaster (its a religion, remember) but by placing
Nature at the pinnacle of creation and by being willing to sacrifice human
progress at Nature's altar, we are sealing our fate.

The New Dark Age you describe will be an Eco-Fascist World State run by
Jaron Lanier's "Stewards" who define the boundaries of our jailcells while
we merrily embrace total surveillance of our thoughts and desires through
libertarian/anarchist "democratic" participation in decorating the

We must return to the Renaissance inventions of scientific knowledge and
the anti-empire nation-state or much more than Babylon will burn. 
Civilization will have died.

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City

----- End of forwarded message from Mark Stahlman -----
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