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!

8/30/2003

News Briefs and Interesting Bits 

I've been negligent this week. Events are transpiring that may keep me from posting daily, but I'll keep posting and will try to be as daily as possible.

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.

8/27/2003

Interview with Todd May 

Here's an updated link to an interview with Todd May regarding poststructuralist anarchism. More to come.

Open Source Anarchy 

I've been looking more at the open source movement and the various perspectives that take the concept of openness into other areas, such as open access and open content. I've always known anarchists into open source development, for obvious reasons I hope, but just found this great essay by Michael Truscello entitled The Architecture of Information: Open Source Software and Tactical Poststructuralist Anarchism.

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.

8/25/2003

PostAnarchism - Saul Newman 

I haven't been talking explicitly about anarchism and various post-philosophies that often. Recently I received some information from the autonomedia mailing list about a talk being given by Saul Newman in New York. Though I couldn't make it, I have been checking out some of his writing online and finding it useful. He does a good job of talking about the contemporary significance of anarchism and its relationship to post-Marxist philosophy.

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.

8/24/2003

A Bit More on Al Franken 

As you've no doubt heard, the recent legal troubles of Al Franken have resolved in victory over Fox News. Perhaps this will help jump start the development of liberal talk radio at AnShell Media. I should make it clear that I generally object to being associated with liberals. Their politics are usually too weak and just don't go far enough. But I do wish them success in this endeavor.

8/23/2003

The Voice of netweed 

That's right, your's truly, the postmodern anarchist, is now the editorial voice of netweed. You know, like those guys in the newspaper you skip over to check the political cartoon? That's me, but I've tricked you. There's NO CARTOON!!!

8/22/2003

Fair and Balanced Hip Hop 

A lot of people today aren't aware of the fact that many folks involved with hip hop are highly conscious politically and refuse to be obsessed by bling bling and related temptations. Here at netweed you can see that in Clyde Smith's Hip Hop Logic weblog. But an even better example of a hip hop weblog that comments on American politics in an astute manner (no disrespect to Clyde intended) is hiphopmusic.com, currently subtitled "Fair and Balanced Hip-Hop" in reference to the recent lawsuit against Al Franken by Fox News.

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!

8/21/2003

News Feature 

One of my favorite news sources, Common Dreams, has a feature they call the Most Forwarded Article of the Week. This feature takes you to that week's article most forwarded by people visiting Common Dreams. And, so far, they're pretty darn good articles.

8/20/2003

Technoscience and Politics 

Like a lot of people these days, I'm into Science and Technology Studies (STS). And one of the best examples of the social construction of science is in the political arena. If you find such topics of interest, or are simply interested in the fucked up things the Republicans are currently saying about science, you'll probably want to check out this site which focuses on Investigating the Bush Administration's Promotion of Ideology Over Science. Of course, all science is ideological, but this is still an interesting resource. Why, I'd say it's TECHNOSCIENTERRIFIC!!

8/19/2003

Reporters Without Borders 

If the ongoing deaths of journalists in Iraq disturbs you (17 and counting) perhaps you should check out Reporters Without Borders. Not only are they keeping up with the situation in Iraq from a journalist's perspective, but they also follow the international assault on journalism and freedom of speech. For example, they offer a free download of their second annual report, The Internet Under Surveillance.

Roach Note:

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.

8/18/2003

More Flash Mob/Protest Discussions 

For additional coverage of the emergence of the political flash mob you can check out articles with commentary at Indymedia and at Kuro5hin. These discussions are especially interesting because of the critical tone of much of the feedback. Typically, some of it is simply dismissive, but attacks on the sheeplike nature of people willing to simply show up and do what they're told via email is definitely an issue. Plus the current manifestation is mostly political in an aesthetic/absurdist sense, though that's not to be taken lightly.

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.

8/17/2003

A Brief Report on RAND 

The swarming site I mentioned yesterday had an interesting link to a RAND report called The Emergence of Noopolitik. The cool thing about RAND (drawn from Research and Development) is that they make much of their research available for free online. Saying, "the cool thing about RAND," probably makes some of my readers shudder at the thought of coolness associated with a research institution that initially developed out of a US Air Force Project and that still does quite a bit of research for the military. While I don't think of RAND as a progressive institution by any means, their research agenda has greatly expanded and provides a lot of useful information in a wide range of areas including the arts, education and health.

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.

8/16/2003

Swarming Tactics 

There's a great article on swarming protest tactics called An Introduction to Swarming and the Future of Protesting that keeps expanding at Why War?. Interesting links to the military strategy predecessors of swarming as well as other useful background material. But the really nice part is the discussion of protest situations and the use of various communication systems to create a responsive network that is more informed in the moment than folks would otherwise be.

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.

8/15/2003

Ah, the Academic Job Market! 

Some people come here by finding my article that ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education about my job search and knowing someone on the hiring committee. Their presence didn't do me any good in getting the job but it helped me find out what happened in the process. Since then I've discovered what it's like to explain to people why you have a PhD but can't get a job in higher ed. In my case, it has a lot to do with pursuing interdisciplinary work in a way that put me too far between disciplines and not having had good advice from anyone about how to be sure I was really preparing myself for actual jobs. But they sure loved my work and ideas! And boy were they hopeful about my prospects!!

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.

8/14/2003

Punks That Vote 

I guess electoral politics is going to become an ongoing theme. That's not what I planned but this is a weblog and I approach it with a process orientation.

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.

8/13/2003

Thought for the Day 

Remember how, after the events of 9-11, the FBI was investigating people who had been reported with subversive posters on their dorm room walls and making understanding comments at the local gym about anti-Americanism? And weren't the things they were doing totally legal? So weren't they really being investigated for being reported by fellow citizens?

(Yo, Clay, that's some insight right there!)

8/12/2003

Howard Dean and Stuff 

Let me make some things clear. This is not an electoral politics column. This is not news of the day. This is not a diary. But if you're interested in the Howard Dean thing, here's a good article posted yesterday at Common Dreams that addresses a lot of the issues that will be raised regarding the Dean candidacy. My guess is that this one article would be enough for you to have clearer insight than most people you'll be talking to about the upcoming election.

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

The Background of George W. Bush 

Here's an interesting interview with J.H. Hatfield that's been held for three years about the President's background involving cocaine and other such things. Hatfield basically wrote a book about Bush, was attacked for his own background and then apparently committed suicide. Particularly interesting is his comments that after the book was on its way, somebody leaked Hatfield's past to a Dallas morning paper. Up to that point the mainstream press had avoided the topic because of pressure from the White House but then jumped all over the issue of Hatfield's past. It's an interesting interview and it's worth questioning why Democracy Now held on to it for three years.

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.

8/11/2003

News Sources 

netweed has just added new headline news sources at Daily Headline News. The new sources are supplied by MyAntiwar.org and are drawn from Common Dreams, ZNet and Democracy Now. These are all excellent news sources and hopefully the feed will work out, etc., etc. As always, Indymedia is a good source for mostly anarchist generated news with homepage links to more local Indymedia groups. If you haven't checked out Daily Headline News, you might want to try it. I find it useful for linking to news sources and, with these new feeds, I think it will be more useful now for daily news headlines.

8/08/2003

More Insights on Nader 

Actually I don't have more to say at the moment, but Michael Ventura does in his column, Letters at 3AM. In A Friendly Letter to the Greens, Ventura discusses why this Bush regime really does distinguish itself from the Democrats in a way that Nader should have recognized. He points to Nader's weak analysis of this topic as a fairly serious flaw in Nader's perspective and it's worth considering for those who haven't totally rejected electoral politics.

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!!


8/07/2003

Michel Serres 

Michel Serres is really one of my favorite French theorists, though he's received much less press than others working at his level. A former student, then colleague, of Michel Foucault, Serres has taken a solitary path that wanders rigorously between literature and science, finding unexpected vantage points and connections. Until the publication of Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, Serres's work was particularly mysterious to many. Up to that point, I could only decipher bits and pieces of what he was up to, in part due to my lack of knowledge of the literary and scientific references he was making.

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.

8/05/2003

Burning the Flag 

This site got it's start from an essay I wrote about post-911 flag burning and why that still seemed appropriate to me. Quite a while back it was included in a list of links on flag burning, which remains a worthy topic.

8/04/2003

Moblogging 

A recent article on moblogging may be of interest to those watching current play with the mob concept. More from Howard Rheingold plus multiple relevant links. The use of the Internet and mobile technologies to record news from the masses, nonprofessional, etc. is a growing phenomenon. Indymedia gets a brief shout out. Can you say, affinity moblog?

8/03/2003

More Mob Action 

I recently wrote about smart mobs and flocks and thought they were interesting anarchistic events. But now I find that there are, in fact, anarchists organizing a SmartMob Project.

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