Igor Markovic on Fri, 14 Mar 97 23:40 MET

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nettime: Nettimism? No thank you!

No more ideologies - keep cyberspace clean!

With the growth of importance and influence of the nettime (list, circle of
people and concepts etc.) people who lived at least a part of their lives
in socialism - but not only them - can recognise emerging of some
nteresting processes. I have in mind selfunderstaindable leadership of
dominant idea, ideology, viewpoint.
Since the time of the First International and famous Haag congress discussion
about leadership and/or problems of representation of other voices is
present, particularly in the "left" whatever one could consider into that
term. And nettime is "left". There is no doubt about it.
Some recent highlights, at the first look not connected with the topic, warn
that there is place for being worried. Set is prepared and only from the
actors itself (there is no director in this play!) depend the end. At the
final discussion on Next5Minutes Conference it was kind a lot of
discussion about "being neo-marxist" and how to fight "bad" ideologies on
the Net, and some reflection were available in several following
discussions, including some postings to this list.
Recent private discussion I had with Geert Lovink about meanings of the term
"net criticism", and how it should be recognised and used along with
Toshiya Ueno's visit to Zagreb start alarm in my head.
It happened before. It also start innocent, it was in good purpose, but it
finished into Holocaust. I will dare to try to compare period just before
the Soviet revolution and present position of nettime. It's very important
to stress that ideologically those two things have very little in common.
Only important similarity is at the field of organisation. At the Congress
Bolsheviks have very few representative, but they have some of the most eminent
individuals of the time, and they somehow manage to turn some
sindycalists, anarchists, and Tkachevist on their side, get majority,
proclaim marxism-lenism as a favourite ideology and the rest is history.
(Lately, during the Spanish civil war it was shown that people do not need
some specific leaders who will explain them meanings of life.)
What, in my humble opinion happens at the field of net criticism, and around
nettime (it work for some other emerging groups, circles or lists) is
something with similar characteristics.
First, there is some kind of felling of being something special - it is more
then obvious in the discussions, at the conferences and in different
articles and papers around. Non-academism could also be a form of elitism.
It's nothing bad in being aware of personal values, but it easily could be
turned into pejorative elitism. Usually there is no discussion (on-line)
with the people from "outside", who do not share enthusiasm for the
nettime idea, which is mainly their fault, but it is not good for the
idea, which can grow and develop only in constant discussion, re-thinking,
and if it is necessary flaming. It happened to the Marxism in Eastern
Europe: no real enemies, no controversies, just Marx-Engels: Werke.
Excellent point in resistance to possible autoghetoisation were stopping
the moderation of the list, unfortunately discussion is still focus
only to some specific "inside" points, without broader audience. But
possibility exist! It's on the people to use it.
The bigger problem, however, could be (and it already is) insisting on common
platform (particularly neo-marxist!) and sharing ideologies of resistance/
progress or whatever. It was strange before, and it is even stranger today
to insist on wide spread organisations against the Others - no matter how
"bad" they are. Why is it necessary to insist on some new -ism, on one
and ultimate theoretical explanation which will take care and explain to the
"common" people how and way they should resist to MegaGodzila, Californian
ideology, or McDonalds? History show that it is irrelevant was it done on
purpose or not - people in and around nettime have no such ambitions, but
danger remains! After all, who saw the Stalin shadow behind Marx in 19th
century? Insisting on common aims, or thousands of other phrases like that will
produce the Thinkers, the Philosophers, the Politicians who will have
prepared answers to problems, and who will then became the Leaders - it
doesn't matter do they want to be Leaders or not! They will be installed -
from the "common people!" as Leaders, and sooner or later they will have
to accept such label, or leave the real life and live quiet life in
country house with a gazebo.
Danger is double. First there is no person who can guarantee for itself that
such privilege position wouldn't change it at least a bit. Power change
people, and in this case ultimate power to be interpreter of what is going
on, and how to deal with it, it may finished in the catastrophe. On
Stalin's dead Ionescu wrote - very correctly - that it's not the Stalin
who was real monster - but all those small Stalins in kolhozes, factories,
Secondly, nettime put together some of the biggest minds at the field of the
social implications of the new media, lot of people would like to be part
of it, and in minds of people with modest capacity (myself for example) it
look like club in the Ivy League. Those people produce a lot of new ideas,
which knowledge hungry "ordinary people" just grab and try to digest. Look
just what happened with post-modern and Baudrillard! It is necessary for
thinkers and theoreticians to permanent fight against such tendencies, and
on the other hand they can not do that all the time, they are just human
I have no right answer how to fight those processes - if I describe them
correctly in the first place, and it would be very dangerous if anyone
will came with the final solution, but recognition of the problem and
discussion about it sounds like a good starting point.
Cause, if I have to choose - and it might happen - between Negropontean or
Californian or whatever global state and nettimean or rhizomean or
netizenshipean or whatever avanguarde of the working class, I have to
choose the first one. Not because I like it, but for the simple fact
that Soviet revolution failed with the Kronstadt, not with the Berlin wall.

Igor Markovic
Intelectual cooperative Bastard

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