Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) on Mon, 7 Apr 1997 19:13:36 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Soros and The Great Divide


This isn't really all that confusing, is it?  There are two principle
factions within the oligarchy -- the left oligarchs and the right oligarchs
-- just like there has always been.  But, since left/right are terms that
come from the earlier "industrial" era (just as Liberal/Conservative are
Enlightenment terms for these oligarchist factions) there is a need for
some more up-to-date terminology to describe these factions in this new
utopian "post-industrial" era.  Remember . . . we're all post-biological
techno-utopians now!

Jaron Lanier (the utopian musician who coined the term "virtual reality"
and then lost his real company to Thompson) has coined the best new terms
to describe the present oligarchist standoff, which he termed the "Great
Divide" -- Stewards vs. Extropians.  It should be online -- take a look at
his homepage  Look for his guest editorial from
the Nov. 1995 issue of SPIN.  Yeah, that's the same issue where Lanier's
buddy JP Barlow wrote about the future of "goverenance" (who need
"government" post-nation-states?) and how it would be "post-reason."  Now,
that's a catchy idea.

The Stewards are the newest of the new left.  They want to protect and
manage in the name of the world's precious ecosystem.  Soros is one of the
"left" oligarch's pointmen.  He's simply a Steward -- like Wells before
him.  "Human Rights" is his game -- like Wells before him (Wells wrote the
original "Declaration of Human Rights" as the take-kids-from-their-parents,
anti-relgious manifesto of the post-modern era).

On the otherhand, there are the "right" oligarchs -- the Extropians.  These
folks are the ones who "believe" that enormous benefits (for them, of
course) will flow from unregulated techno-globalism.  Forbes magazine (yup,
they once asked me to be a columnist) is an unalloyed mouthpiece for this
faction.  Steve Forbes (past Wall Street candidate for U.S. President) has
adopted techno-utopian George Gilder (adopted son of David Rockefeller) as
one of his chief advisors.  Forbes ships an investment-grade version of
WIRED called ASAP as a supplement to their main magazine with Gilder
serializing his book "Telecom" as the feature articles.  Yes, it is edited
in San Francisco.

Just like the oligarchist London School of Economics had Fred von Hayek
(right) and John Keynes (left) on staff at the same time, Soros is just
another faithful disciple of his school.  He is taking advantage of the
pullback in funding for social activism throughout Europe and absorbing (or
discarding) networks of activists into his private army.  Many who are
involved with the nettime list are well aware of this process.  Having just
met Veran Matic (of B92 fame) along with Aryeh Neier (Soros' #2 and head of
OSI) and Veran's "savior" Kevin Klose (president of Radio Free Europe) in
Washington last week, I'm sure the irony in Veran's speech as he refered to
the help he got from the CIA to stay on the air wasn't lost on the panel or
the audience -- as Neier beamed approval to Matic from the moderator's

Naturally, the "right" oligarchs would attack Soros for his employment of
ex-communists.  What else would you expect them to say?  But, don't be
confused.  It's just the oligarchs trying to distract you by pretending
that there is a strategic issue on the table.  There isn't.  Either way,
the oligarchs win and the rest of us lose.  This is understood by us all,
isn't it?  Taking the "man's" money to defeat him has a long and very
tortured history.  I seem to remember something about the road to hell
being paved with good intentions.  Does anyone else remember that story?

How can we tell that Forbes *and* Soros are really cut from the same cloth?
 They are both starting from the same premises of no-nations, no-growth and
no-war (incidentally the three premises of H.G. Wells' "Open Conspiracy"). 
These premises are the techno-utopian oligarchists' unifying theme.  Forbes
(and the rightists) wants no nations to interfere with the(ir)
multinationals and Soros (and the leftists) wants no nations to interfere
with the(ir) global stewardship.  Forbes wants no material growth because
it favors digital growth ("Knowledge is Power", afterall) and Soros wants
no growth because it only leads to nasty state-to-state conflicts and
anti-earth assaults.  Both realize that the institutions which stand behind
nation-states and economic growth are the truly anti-oligarchist
institutions.  They only differ tactically in how they wish to eliminate
these institutions, and, thereby, to further consolidate their power. 

Yin and Yang.  Forbes and Soros.  Hmmm . . . which oligarch will we dance
with today?  Be careful.  We wouldn't want to get anyone angry now.

(I expressly forbid Bruce Sterling or anyone else from cross-posting this
note to the WELL, eMinds or any other related system.  Others should feel
free to x-post as they see fit.)

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City 
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