smallaxe on Sun, 22 Nov 1998 18:23:01 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> ECD digest

Dear all,

In response to the ongoing ECD discussion, I would like to say that I think
this is a most relevant debate & I therefore resent the suggestion of having
it put away safely on some separate mailing list. I may be confused about
the function of the mailing list at hand (i.e., nettime), but I feel the
discussion is getting more interesting with each posting, & I'd like to
follow it. Perhaps there are other subscribers who feel the same way.

Furthermore, I think so far all sides have come up with some good arguments,
but (I do not suppose I'm the first to notice this) I am strongly reminded
of the eternal discussion within leftist circles regarding action vs.
information/communication/education, or that regarding violence vs. more
diplomatic means. I have never come up with a definite viewpoint on the
latter & do not expect to come up with one on the current discussion, but I
do feel this is an interesting continuation of the same conflict in a new

I should like to cite as an example the campaign against Shell & other
investors in S.A. in Holland during the late '80s. We had a group burning
down several divisions of a big department store chain that was involved,
besides a larger movement of individuals cutting fuel hoses & performing
other acts of sabotage against Shell (quite apart from an even more general
movement to boycott Shell), which for all practical purposes might be called
milder forms of action than the former (tho' that's not how authorities saw
it, of course). btw The department store did actually withdraw from S.A.
after a few attacks, quite simply because insurance companies would no
longer cover them.

The point being that one major consequence of these actions was that every
side in the campaign, whether radical or moderate, felt a need to dissociate
themselves from every other, so that in the end one sometimes got the
impression that there was less concern for trying to define common goals
than to define & consolidate one's own position. This held true for the
radicals as much as for the moderate, I believe.

Again, I do not presume to have an answer to the conflict between the more
violent and the more diplomatically inclined, but obviously one may assume
that the two have more in common than it would seem at first glance. I'm
getting the impression that a lot of the turns in this discussion so far are
likewise to do with consolidating positions & consequent strategies. 

For instance, & not wishing to contribute to any mutual attacks, Jesse
Hirsch's question to Stefan (neither of whom I am acquainted with) as to
what he is doing for the homeless in his hometown struck me as echoing the
classical leftist method of shutting up dissidents. I understand Jesse's
argument & am sure it's frustrating to see your work on a more practical
level (indirectly?) criticized by some salon revolutionary (besides, from
the discussion I take it ECD's actions are interfering with's
functioning?), but I still feel a reaction like that is rhetorical &
ultimately censorial, to pick up on another lead in the discussion. The fact
whether or not someone is doing something for the homeless (I'm sure Jesse
*does* actively support them, however it's used in such a general way here
that it might as well read the third world, underaged mothers, the
Zapatistas or whomever) should not need to prevent them from trying to
analyze & criticize the, often simulative & spectacular, nature of
contemporary society. 

That is not to say that I agree wholly with the ECD's proposals, tho' I'd
have to say that toying with the theatrical has a long and respectable and
most of all FUN (if somewhat marginalized & often demonized) tradition
within the left. Moreover, I lack the necessary technological knowledge to
see who's bugging who in the most practical of senses, i.e. & again, I take
it the people at tao feel the ECD are somehow interfering with their work.
Tho' so said the official S.A. support groups with regards to the militants
in the abovementioned Dutch campaign, to round up my argument.

To conclude, I would like to get the opportunity to follow this discussion
further, & I strongly feel that there's more to link the `opposing' factions
than meets the eye. Perhaps this will surface in the time to come.

Sakhra -l'Assal
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