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Re: <nettime> Richard Barbrook and Luther Blissett
owner-nettime-l on Tue, 25 Nov 1997 02:13:18 +0100 (MET)


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Re: <nettime> Richard Barbrook and Luther Blissett


Dear Professor Barbrook,

Many thanks for your reply, really! I posted my note to the nettime members
because I didn't know how many of them had actually seen the text (I've been
a subscriber for less than a month), and I didn't have your e-mail address.
Therefore it was the only effective way to get in touch with you. I may have
raised hell, but isn't this what communication is all about? I know that you
didn't mean "pro-situ" sound like an insult, though it was invented by the
Situationists themselves as a synonim of "arsehole".
Anyway, your piece has some flaws, to say the least. As regards Italy and
Radio Alice, pardon me, I dont' mean to be rough, but you really don't have
a clue.


1. DELEUZE, GUATTARI AND ITALY

First of all, the gossip. Let's get the record straight. Guattari was NOT in
Bologna in March 1977, as far as tradition goes (I'm from Bologna and have
been an activist in Autonomia Operaia during my college years - nothing to
be proud of though). Guattari turned up at the "Convegno contro la
repressione" as late as September 1977, i.e. seven months after the police
raid in Radio Alice's studios. 
And now the serious issues: believe it or not,  Radio Alice was a successful
experiment, unlike Frequence Libre. Thousands of students and, as Toni Negri
would put it, "operai sociali" used to take part in the life of the radio
station, whose role was central in the renowned "movement of 1977", which
was far from simply being "a student riot" (as you wrote) but was a national
uprising - followed by the occupation of almost all Italy's universities, a
massive output of hundreds of 'zines (most of which drew inspiration
directly from Dolce & Gabbana's "The AntiOedipus") and a real insurrection
in Rome on March 12th, the day after the police killed the student Francesco
Lorusso in Bologna. 
If you happened to read Italian, you would get access to a treasure of
sources, self-published books etc. Unfortunately, this seems not to be the
case, which negatively compromises your criticism of the ways D&G's theories
were tentatively put into practice. In Italy there's always been an obvious
connection between the 1970's movement of community radios and the
present-day net activism (with Bifo being a major figure of both scenes).
Since the beginning of this decade, every newspapers' article on
(aaaarrrrggghhh!) "cyberpunk" and/or "net culture" has traced the origins of
the discourse back to the "radio libere", and commentators couldn't help but
mentioning Radio Alice, rhyzomes and all. It's even become a disgusting
commonplace!  
Your discourse is affected by an ill-conceived anglo-americo-centricism.
Given that some crusties and closet Thatcherites have fucked with Deleuze &
Guattari in the USA and the UK, you assume that EVERYBODY has fucked with
D&G EVERYWHERE. The Italian scene is an example of how people managed to
perceive (and put into a praxis) all the similarities between the past
movements 'described' by D&G and some contemporary achievements. I don't
know whether this is just an exception to Barbrook's Rule or not, but it's
worth dealing with it, innit?       


2. BORDIGA AND BARBROOK

You don't have a clue about Bordiga either, though I could go as far as
forgiving this, because anglo-saxon scholars don't know anything about the
guy. First of all, he was expelled from the Komintern in 1930, that is 6
years after Lenin's death, and he was expelled due to his radical
anti-Stalinism. Beside that, he was also a theorist who wrote his best
things in the Fifties. His pioneering study of Marx's "Grundrisse..." is a
masterpiece, and was written many years before the first Italian translation
of Marx's posthumous major work. As you should know, the Grundrisse are a
dense, psychedelic, amazing piece of writing - such concepts as "General
Intellect" (see also negri's "Marx Beyond Marx") cast light upon the whole
information society brought about by the so-called "Third Industrial
Revolution". Bordiga, almost intuitively, grasped all this, and wrote it in
1956. 
Another issue raised by Marx both in his early writings and the Grundrisse
(the latter being the missing link between young and elder Marx) was the
_Gemeinwesen_, the human community-being. Bordiga wrote a lot about that,
and his friend and disciple Jacques Camatte carried the speculation much
further starting from the early Sixties. 
When I mentioned Bordiga in my previous posting, I was obviously alluding to
this. Several Camatte's works were translated in English by such "hip"
publishers as Autonomedia, thereby it's surprising that you don't know a
damn about this important debate, and keep spreading the same old smears
about Bordiga time and again. 
Bordiga's concept of "organic centralism" was certainly verticistic and
non-libertarian, but his works on the human community-being are an
effective, homeopatic antidote to any Leninist intoxication. You hang around
with Tony Blair, which I reckon is more alarming. 

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