Clay Richards, anarchist blogger, writes about politics, art, sexuality and emerging digital realities. More poststructuralist than postmodern, politically incorrect to some, harshly critical to others, the Postmodern Anarchist believes in anarchy without anarchists, yet will freely discuss anarchism at the drop of a hat. Contact: postmodernanarchist(at)netweed(dot)com
The Postmodern Anarchist now resides at postmodernanarchist.com!
I thought I'd pass along some news links in case you missed these this week plus some timeless oddities. I thought of you, dear readers, when I read them.
For me, the biggest news of the week has been the unfolding exposure of initial government success in keeping NY citizens from understanding how bad the environmental aftermath of the Twin Towers destruction was going to be. This is another opportunity for the Democrats to step up and show some leadership.
Speaking of leadership, with the leader of the party animals in the White House, why are people so disturbed by Schwarzenegger's past?
Speaking of privacy, why is everyone so concerned about the ease with which you can obtain Social Security numbers and private addresses of top Republican administrators?
Was your email blocked this week? It might not have been a worm, a virus or an evil entity. It might have been because everyone was labeled a spammer this week!
To end things with a smile: This asshole gallery did not make me think of you, gentle readers, but I thought you might find it of interest.
Truscello connects Eric Raymond's influential work, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, and related perspectives to the work of Michel Foucault, Hakim Bey (The Temporary Autonomous Zone), Gilles Deleuze and Lebbeus Woods. He also references Todd May's work, drawing on his development of ideas related to poststructuralist anarchism. All in all, a very useful connecting essay.
I've got to get to my day job but I'll get back to you with some more links. Some are on the netweed anarchy page but I've just discovered that the Todd May interview is on a site that has been redesigned and the search feature doesn't bring anything up. Hopefully I'll find it, cause it's a good one. Also there are links there to online editions of The Temporary Autonomous Zone.
In The Politics of Postanarchism he hones in on the fact that much of the classical anarchist critique of Marxist and related socialist politics from back in the day predate many more recent critiques by poststructuralists and postfeminists. He also points to the potentially productive use of post-positions to contemporary anarchism and goes into more specific detail regarding relevant concepts.
In Newman's earlier review of Laclau and Mouffe's "Hegemony and Socialist Strategy," On the Future of Radical Politics, he shares personal insights as well as discussing the history surrounding this perspective. I haven't had the time to really dig into this material as much as I'd like. But I plan to. I'd also enjoy hearing from folks who are into this kind of thing. In the long run I'd prefer that this not be a monoblog.
Now I'd been sleeping on the Al Franken lawsuit until reading about it at hiphopmusic.com. Basically Fox News has trademarked the phrase "Fair and Balanced" and they're unhappy with the fact that Al Franken's new book is called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. The weblog author, Jay Smooth, comments on many such things that go beyond the typically perceived boundaries of hip hop with recent entries on the Army's destruction of chemical weapons in Alabama as well as commentary on the political progress of Russell Simmons. Don't sleep!
Yesterday I mentioned "roach marketing." Although some people use that term, I prefer the more evocative "roach bait marketing." It just seems to make the point a little more clearly and has a nicer rhythm.
The Kuro5hin article is interesting because it's actually proposing a form of distributed protest. But more disturbing is the author's mention that demonstrations in San Francisco are being corraled and people are going along with it. My experience of such demonstrations in San Francisco, in particular, is that mobile demonstrations without permits are a rich source of tactical possibilities. Especially when there aren't enough cops or when a breakaway group evades cops for awhile. Submitting to permits and corrals certainly suggests sheeplike demonstrations and really crippled anti-Klan demonstrations in the Midwest in the 90s.
As discussion continues, what I'm getting is that people are excited about seeing the flash mobs appear but ultimately the relevance for protest is that we have the opportunity to integrate new media even further into our protest activities. The reality is that we've long used such networking devices as phone trees to be able to quickly mobilize people who have agreed to be mobilized. Email is simply another version that's a little easier to implement and, along with electronic bulletin boards and that sort of thing, has already been used in this way. It's the use of wireless, sometimes anonymous, devices for tactical street actions that seems to be moving things along but based in a long existing subculture of protest.
I should note that marketers are also getting interested in flash mobs. Although this article on viral distribution uses flash mobs more as inspiration. It seems rather obvious that pseudo-flash mobs will emerge in order to promote products and events. Of course, swarming fans are old news, street teams are an indie promotion technique taken up by corporate media and roach marketing is a featured detail in William Gibson's last novel. Actually Gibson's Pattern Recognition and Bruce Sterling's Distraction are particularly good for considering the development of these and related issues. Apparently science fiction writers have already considered the topic of flash mobs in detail.
Having just written the last paragraph, I did a Google search using the terms flash, mob and marketing. The marketing angle seems to be well covered both by marketers and social critics.
Having just rewritten the next to the last paragraph, I'm realizing that I don't want this to be a blog about swarming any more than I want it to be an electoral blog. But these are important themes to which I will return.
RAND has also been influential in pointing to ways in which current international military dynamics are unstable and poised for accidental escalation, both during the Cold War and in a more recent report on Russian/U.S. nuclear relations. Furthermore, they're the sort of group that is interpreting activities of U.S. militants in support of the Zapatistas and against the WTO for a variety of government forces. So I'm suggesting them as an important resource that makes its research available for both use and critique and that's worth keeping an eye on because they might be studying you.
Discussions on such tactics are continuing and one upcoming field of deployment is the Counter Convention during the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York. This should be interesting.
I bring this up because of this interesting article in the Chronicle by a person with a PhD in History that mows lawns for a living. His comments on class are especially interesting and it just reminds me of the cluelessness of so many of the people I encountered in academe.
Just found Punkvoter.com. A straightforward, simply designed site intended to mobilize punks to vote with a focus on ousting George Jr. Although being punk doesn't necessarily mean being an anarchist, this site reminds me of going to anarchist conferences in the 80s. At the first one I went to, there was a workshop on punk parenting. Even though I had punk friends, it surprised me to think of punks being parents. Now I'm no longer surprised, just glad to see it.
Design note: I particularly like the way the navigation buttons become scribbled out to show which page you're on. Nice touch.
(Yo, Clay, that's some insight right there!)
Look, I got this stuff from netweed at Daily Headline News. Clyde has finally found some decent sources for headlines. I won't be picking one a day but you could do pretty well just checking it out every couple of days. Stay informed and let me know if you have anything relevant for this column's readers: postmodernanarchist(at)yahoo.com
But it also makes me wonder why the mainstream press, with its supposed liberal bias, is so much harsher on the personal backgrounds of the Democrats. And why are the Republicans so much better at this whole game of digging up dirt and getting it in the news? And why are the Democrats so scared to go on the offensive? So far their dirt doesn't seem worse than the Republicans, so it's not like they should be scared of being exposed. They couldn't be afraid of rocking the boat, since the Republicans do that regularly. And certainly it can't be about taking the high ground, since it would involve exposing bad things. There's something about this situation that doesn't unfold easily. But it should also remind us that, no matter what choices we make about whether or not to vote, long term involvement with the Democratic Party is a dead end. While I can support a candidate for particular reasons, the Democratic Party has long served to take radical opposition and defuse it with the hope of incremental change.
I've just started reading Ventura and I'm finding him really good so far and no slouch with primary documents. Also worth checking out is his column on the recent legal victory regarding sodomy. Nice discussion on people power, sex as communication and the strengthening of the Constitution. Plus a thank you from Ventura to gay folks for helping expand his rights as a heterosexual. Hey, me too! Cause I'm a heterosexual sodomite!!
Conversations was created with Bruno Latour, another important figure, and it is the first volume in which Serres explicitly discusses what he's up to in his work. I am particularly moved by his understanding of chaos and complexity, his linkage of thinkers in multiple disciplines from multiple times and his dismissal of the agonistic relationships of academics and scholars. His work The Troubadour of Knowledge (Amazon link) is also quite powerful in its evocation of learning as a space between shores, in flux, without clear guidelines. I think his rejection of violence and the life choices he's made, choices he discusses in Conversations on Science, Culture and Time (Amazon link), make him an extremely important figure for those concerned with the tendency for left academics to waste their time on turf battles and internal ideological struggles.