nettime's_roving_reporter on Thu, 7 Oct 1999 02:57:08 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> cyber-communism

[In just one month Richard Barbrook's seminal Cybercommunism manifesto,
posted in four long installments on nettime [Mon, 6 Sep 1999 00:56:56
+0000], appears to have triggered a revolutionary shift in the
consciousness of the average net user. He (as we learned from the
manifesto gender issues are completely irrelevant in the current
installment of communism) is beginning to develop from revolutionary
subject in himself to fully conscious subject for himself. Witness to this
shift are two major initiatives which have surfaced recently.
Cybercommunism[TM] and the First Cybercommunist International. 

To the uninitiated, this might seem confusing, a revolutionary organization
and what appears to be a transnational corporation fighting for the same
course. But read the manifesto again. It contains all you need to know. No
matter what its all the same. Technological determinism is saving us all.
Even the dumbest American does actively contribute to the creation of
Cybercommunism. And now, they know it and are working even more keenly on
it, just, poor Americans, the only way to organize they can think of is to

Never mind. Just go to sleep the Internet will take care of things. And if
you sleep long enough, you will wake up in utopia itself. This sure ain't
Kansas here! There is just one little nagging question here, a minor detail
to help history find it itself. Can there be Cybercommunism in only one
domain? ]

1.... CyberCommunism[TM]
2.... Statement of the First Cybercommunist International

Subject: THE GIF ECONOMY: How Several Layers of Lossy Images Are
Synthesized into a Moving Image that Will Animate the Masses and
Inspire Them to Do What They're Doing Anyway, Namely, Clicking
Their Way to Liberation; Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and
Love the Californian Ideology




Just imagine...a specter is haunting HAUNTED_VARIABLE for the
second time. Luckily, if it's a tragedy the first time, the second
time around it's only a farce - so fear not: no more messy dogmatic
truths, state bureaucracies, apparatuses of oppression, proxy
wars, or national collapses. CyberCommunism[TM] GUARANTEES
you won't have to change a single setting, preference, or property
in order to build a communist society! You can contribute DIRECTLY
to the construction of a workers' paradise on a GLOBAL scale from
the comfort and privacy of your own home or office WHENEVER you
feel like it - just by surfing the Internet!

And you don't even need to visit any special sites, click on any
banners, or read do anything else you don't want to do. At
CyberCommunism[TM], we don't care whether you're downloading
kiddyporn or providing desperately needed Windows security advice
on the BUGTRAQ mailing list - it's all the same to us! Because no
matter what you do or where you go, you're participating in the
new GIFT ECONOMY. (And definitely don't be fooled: the GIFT
ECONOMY may be new, but it's *not* the "new economy" all those
Conservatives are always blowing smoke about.)

Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "I thought EVERYONE
participates in the gift economy ANYWAY, whether they like it or
not," you're *absolutely right*. So why should you join the
swelling ranks of CyberCommnunism[TM]? Well, we'll tell you - just
compare CyberCommnunism[TM]'s features and benefits with the old
Conservatism competition:


     CyberCommunism[TM]                   Stalinismo-Californian-
     ------------------                   -----------------------

     100% digital                         all analog
     point-and-click                      command and control
     relative definitions                 absolute truths
     positive dialectics                  negative dialectics
     artisanal                            proletarian
     creative                             conformist
     simple                               complicated
     love                                 hate
     good                                 bad
     take                                 give
     new                                  old
     :)                                   :(
     __________________                   _______________________
     double-plus fun!                     double-plus UNfun!


     CyberCommunism[TM]                   Stalinismo-Californian-
     ------------------                   -----------------------

     you'll make friends                  you'll make enemies
     you'll feel good                     you'll feel bad
     you'll be right                      you'll be wrong
     YOU are doing it anyway!             THEY are doing it anyway!

The fact of the matter is that the old Stalinismo-Californian-
French-Post-Structuralist-Neoliberal-Conservatism wasn't able to
bring about the Information Revolution - it could only stand in the
way of the INEVITABLE march of PROGRESS. But CyberCommunism[TM] is
different: it was *caused* by the Information Revolution! At
CyberCommunistInternational[TM], we're not stupid enough to fight
the power: we conquered it - by *giving in*. And you should too!

Still not convinced? Well, let us tell you some of the FREE GIFTS
you'll receive if you sign up:

     - porn, warez, MP3s, hacking/phreaking filez
     - jokes, strange news stories, URGENT VIRUS WARNINGS, and
     wacky urban legends, and sign-on letters so authentic that
     you can actually see the aura left by thousands of your
     fellow CyberCommunist[TM] comrades ("> >> >>>>> >>")
     - vital announcements about new GIFTS and rare opportunities
     to "MMF"
     - surprising letters from old friends and family members
     you thought you'd never hear from again
     - invitations from intriguing foreign visitors to stay in
     your own living room for "a few days"
     - interesting exercises in typography and creative new
     ways to spell words you thought you knew

We bet you're thinking something like "But I get those anyway!"

Well, you may *think* you do, but in fact you really *don't*...

Here's how it works. If you haven't joined the CyberCommunism[TM],
even if these things objectively enter your mailbox, you don't
understand them - or anything else for that matter! But when you
sign up for CyberCommunism[TM], we'll give you a FREE login and
password to access our patent-pending TrueConsciousness[TM]-
enabled website, where you can find out everything you need to

To help you to control your destiny - and to receive a FREE GIFT -
we need to know a little bit of information about you:

Name:                 ___________________________
Street:               ___________________________
City:                 ___________________________
Postal Code:          ___________________________
Country:              ___________________________
Tel (home):           ___________________________
Tel (work):           ___________________________
Fax:                  ___________________________
Mobile:               ___________________________
Email:                ___________________________ Password: ______________
URL:                  ___________________________
Date of birth:        ___________________________
Place of birth:       ___________________________
Mother's birthname:   ___________________________
Annual income:        ___________________________
Identifying number:   ___________________________ (government issued only)
Bank:                 ___________________________
Account number:       ___________________________ PIN: ______________
Credit card 1:        ___________________________ (circle one: V MC AE)
Credit card 2:        ___________________________ (circle one: V MC AE)
Credit card 3:        ___________________________ (circle one: V MC AE)

Operating system:     [ ] Win [ ] Mac [ ] Linux [ ] Other

Fingerprints (left):
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |

Fingerprints (right):
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |
|             |             |             |             |             |

Optical prescription:     _________________________

Do you have any medical conditions, prescriptions, identifying features
(e.g. scars, tattoos) we should know about? If so, please tell us about
them on the back of this form.

     [X] I'd like to be informed about future theories that legitimize
         business as usual by calling it Cybercommunist and denouncing
          everything else as Stalinist.

Check one:

     [ ] I am a STALINIST and do NOT want to control my destiny.
     [X] I am a CYBERCOMMUNIST and DO want to control my destiny.

                    |   SUBMIT   |


Statement of the First Cybercommunist International

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, incorporate ourselves as the First Cybercommunist
International, and hereby wish to give notice:

That we have until this time been in a state of false consciousness as
regards our DOINGS ON THE NET. For we were "down with the Americans", and
understood not what we did.

That from today forth, we declare our unanimous and univocal belief in the
really existing’ cyber-communism which is now being constructed within the
Net; even, yeah, by those very Americans who believe themselves to be
libertarians, or neo-libertarians or even (God Forbid) "beyond politics".
For they too are in false consciousness and in need of revolutionising.

WE also set forth the following and ancillary points:

1. In this matter we are most grateful to Dr. Richard Barbrook, the
spearhead of the materialist avant-garde itself, who shows very well,
through his eclectico-systematic method, how the prophecies of Saint-Simon
and Karl Marx are, despite all appearances to the contrary, becoming

2 That we are mightily impressed by Dr. Barbrook’s ability to resolve the
diverse regimes of digital life into the true and previously unseen
dialectic between the CAPITAL and GIFT economies online. Only Barbrook has
been able to discern the true and prevailing relationship between these,
and this is surely due to his unquestioned rigour and excellence.

3. We applaud the cunning skill with which Dr. Barbrook, in his latest
paper, sets about the synthesis of these polar opposites. For, as he is
undeniably right to assert, "the synthesis of these dialectical opposites
must happen for pragmatic reasons." Only fools do not see the deep wisdom
in sentences like "in the age of the Net, the exchange of commodities is
being both intensified and prevented by the circulation of gifts." To
wonder that this is possible at all, that a thing could be intensified
whilst be simultaneously prevented, amounts to counter-revolutionarism of
the worst sort and will in the future be punished with immediate unplugging.

The key points are  matter of faith, not of logic. The tactic is obvious,
and we praise and applaud the good Doctor for the way in which he
simplifies these complex issues into a paradox which can only be meant to
perplex and excite revolutionary zeal in the reader, precisely as we
forgive his innocent ignorance of the precise terminologies such as Free
Source and Open Software. All meaningless details in comparison to the long
march of history!

For now we know that in the cutting edge economy, hi-tech gift exchange
means the end of private property, and that
really-actually-honestly-existing cybercapitalism is laying the foundations
for honest-to-god-would-i-lie-to-you cybercommunism ("a communism [...]
sponsored’ (you guessed it) by corporate capital", as we are very grateful
to understand finally) which will now precede to the laying waste of
capitalism with a new, special, gentle cleansing action as described below.

4. Because we are in good faith that Dr. Barbrook has all the answers
ready, to reveal to us as and when they may become necesssary.

5. Against those who argue, in brute meanness of spirit, that Dr. Barbrook
is - in "cybercommunism" - merely attempting yet another patented neologism
(the last of which, we are cruelly informed, was the apparently dead
"Californian Ideology" - "not dead!"’ we reply, "just resting!"); against
those who argue that this behaviour is actually very similar to the
patenting of domains, and of Intellectual Property, which is identified by
him as the force of Capital, and that this speaks against academia as a
gift exchange simple and pure; against those who say that Cybercommunism is
merely an attempt to force the varied and multifarious forms of life online
into one constricting schema which it blatantly does not fit; we reply that
Barbrook’s revolutionary reading of dialectical materialism has truly moved
us beyond all such petty considerations.

We, the first cybercommunist international, revel in the online revenge of
Saint-Simon. The Net realises the potential of communism as a force for
threatening the dominant mode of production! Hoo! Cybercommunism realises
the Net as a force for realising the full potential of that dominant mode
of production! Hoo! Long live the Net! Long live actually-something
cybercommunism! And hurray for nasty-old cybercapitalism too! And Boo! to
those who say it's all a big load of hogwash. Boo! To the American false
disciples. Their language of libertarianism is in fact nothing more than
the language of radical communism:

"Within right-wing American politics, hi-tech neo-liberalism has long been
the optimistic alternative to traditional conservatism. Far from fearing
the future, its prophets confidently predict that economic progress will
eventually liberate humanity. Unable to use the 'L-word' for peculiar
historical reasons, American neo-liberals even describe themselves as
'libertarians': a moniker taken from revolutionary left-wing anarchists.:

Marx, we see it now, would have been happy to see these fat old rich yanks
wanking into their monitors, chugging on a fat Havana given as pure gift’
from their neighbour, whilst swapping facial cumshots over the Net for
free! Wouldn't he? Yes, yes, we hear you cry! That's cybercommunism, there
you have it! And that academic, that one there who writes paper aftern
forlorn paper in the sad hope of getting enough RAE points together to
slide him up the academic Sphincter Scale until some University gives him a
professorship, until he hits that 50g salary mark and, finally, a nice
office in some London Uni - yes, you guessed it! He's a cybercommunist too!
You, you exchange email for free don't you? What do you mean you've got a
god-awful job working long hours in an advertising agency looking after the
Budweiser and Brains' Faggots account? You're a fucking cybercommunist,
boy! Now get out there and spread the word!

Cybercommunism is a market choice. You'll do it because it's right for you.
You'll do it because it’s good for you. You'll do it as and when it suits

Cybercommunism's so simple and easy to get involved in: act in your own
self-interest, and you act the interests of your comrade! No thinking about
the Party any more! No thinking at all! If the Americans can do it, why
can’t we? As Dr. Barbrook says, "cyber-communism is now an unremarkable
everyday experience within the USA. The users of the Net are spontaneously
adopting more enjoyable and efficient ways of working together. Instead of
destroying the market economy, Americans are engaged in the slow process of
superseding capitalism.’ Hurray for the supercession of capitalism, and its
replacement with cybercommunism Rememeber, the most wonderful thing of all
is this: when it’s over, you even won’t notice the difference. Changing to
Cybercommunism (tm) is that easy and painless!

[Endless list signees deleted, since it doesn't matter if you sign on or
not, since by virtue of being online, you joined the party.]

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