Rene -- Zizek -- Disaster movies as the last remnants of Utopia

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 04.30.04

So what role does the image of destruction play in reality?

There is another meaning which we haven't emphasized. Apparently it's so
hard for us to imagine a new global utopian project based on work and
cooperation, that the only way we can entertain the thought is to pay a
mental price of extreme catastrophe. What fascinates me about disaster films
is how circumstances of vast catastrophe suddenly bring about social
cooperation. Even racial tensions vanish. It's important at the end of
Independence Day that

everyone pulls together - Jews, Arabs, blacks. Disaster films might be the
only optimistic social genre that remains today, and that's a sad reflection
of our desperate state. The only way to imagine a Utopia of social
cooperation is to conjure a situation of absolute catastrophe. Disaster
films might be all that's left of the utopian genre.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Brian Holmes -- Commons-based political production : Open source to an alternative society?*

Topic(s): Open Source
Date Posted: 04.30.04

Commons-based political production:
Open source to an alternative society?*
Brian Holmes

...It is well known that the Linux operating-system kernel, and free software generally, is made cooperatively under the provisions of "copyleft," or the General Public License, without any money changing hands. This is something that quickly caught the attention of artists and culture critics, with the result that in the early days of the Nettime mailing list, for example, there were a lot of discussions about what Richard Barbrook called the "high-tech gift economy." The expression recalls the work of the anthropologist Marcel Mauss, the author of the famous essay on The Gift. His essential contribution was to underscore, at the very heart of modern economic exchange, the presence of motives irreducible to the calculation of the value of material objects, and also of the individual interest one might have in possessing them. As Barbrook points out, the heritage of Mauss was very much alive in alternative circles, his ideas having inspired the Situationists, who passed them on to the do-it-yourself media ethic of the Punk movement. But mostly what fueled the discussion of the Internet gift economy was not theory, but the simple practice of adding information to the net. As Rishab Ghosh explained, "the economy of the Net begins to look like a vast tribal cooking-pot, surging with production to match consumption, simply because everyone understands – instinctively, perhaps – that trade need not occur in single transactions of barter, and that one product can be exchanged for millions at a time. The cooking-pot keeps boiling because people keep putting in things as they themselves, and others, take things out." By placing the accent on the overflowing abundance and free nature of the available content, Ghosh responded implicitly to one of the most contested themes in Mauss's essay, which cast each gift as the deliberate imposition of a debt on the receiver, instating hierarchies which were quite foreign to the practice of networked information exchange.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Open Source Intelligence

Topic(s): Open Source
Date Posted: 04.30.04

Open Source Intelligence
by Felix Stalder and Jesse Hirsh
First Monday, volume 7, number 6 (June 2002)

The Open Source movement has established over the last decade a new collaborative approach, uniquely adapted to the Internet, to developing high-quality informational products. Initially, its exclusive application was the development of software (GNU/Linux and Apache are among the most prominent projects), but increasingly we can observe this collaborative approach being applied to areas beyond the coding of software. One such area is the collaborative gathering and analysis of information, a practice we term "Open Source Intelligence". In this article, we use three case studies - the nettime mailing list, the Wikipedia project and the NoLogo Web site - to show some the breadth of contexts and analyze the variety of socio-technical approaches that make up this emerging phenomenon.

[Continue Reading]

Mustafa -- The uneasy triangle

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 04.29.04

The uneasy triangle

As the date for the transfer of power in Iraq approaches, US pressure on Iran over the nuclear issue grows more intense. Mustafa El-Labbad investigates the link

The ongoing Iraqi resistance against the US-led occupation highlights how regional crises remain as problematic as they were at the time of the fall of Baghdad one year ago. The victims it has claimed bear witness to Iraq's most crucial problem -- its loss of sovereignty, an issue that had been pushed into the background. Instead, emerging ideological and sectarian rivalries have dominated the mainstream media's coverage of the Iraqi scene.

Regardless of the conflicting views on the movement led by Al- Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr, there is little doubt that its impact has stretched well beyond Iraq's boundaries to affect, almost directly, the politics of neighbouring capitals. At the outset, resistance against the US-led occupation seems a purely Iraqi concern, just as the nuclear question seems purely an Iranian concern. But the two issues are intrinsically linked.

[Continue Reading]

Avi -- Hass -- Was it just some guy who's afraid of dogs?

Date Posted: 04.29.04

Was it just some guy who's afraid of dogs?
By Amira Hass

Last Friday, April 23, Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed Dr. Yasser Abu Laimun, 32, a resident of the village of Taluza, north of Nablus in the West Bank, and a lecturer in hospital management at the Arab-American University in Jenin.

Military sources told Haaretz that the purpose of the operation was not a "preemption." Since April 2002, "there are no preemptions in Judea and Samaria" (meaning deliberate liquidations of wanted individuals), "and there are no operations whose primary purpose is to liquidate or kill an unarmed person." In contrast to the Gaza Strip, the IDF can today get to any place in the West Bank at any time in order to capture wanted individuals. However, in the case of a Palestinian who is openly armed, the basic assumption is that he intends to use the weapon, thus placing the soldiers' lives in mortal danger. Therefore, armed individuals are shot without the soldiers implementing the arrest procedure.

According to the military sources, an IDF unit was in an open, hilly area, filled with pits and overgrown with thick brush, outside Taluza, last Friday. The goal was to arrest two Hamas activists, A'sam Fuka and Imad Jinajara (who, according to the army, are responsible for attacks against soldiers and civilians in the northern West Bank) - certainly not the university lecturer. An undercover force identified two armed men and opened fire immediately. One was wounded, but the two "disappeared from the sight of the force" (the wounded man was Fuka, who was later caught.) At this stage, the force released its attack dog, which is trained in seizing wanted individuals (by means of signs the army prefers not to divulge).

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Georgia on the brink of civil war

Topic(s): Georgia
Date Posted: 04.29.04

The Georgian Messenger
26 April 2004

Saakashvili: "We will not hesitate to use force"
Abashidze warns of invasion in Adjara
By Anna Arzanova and Allison Ekberg

Defying protests from Tbilisi, the Autonomous Republic of Adjara again
imposed a state of emergency on Saturday across the territory of
Ad-jara. This decision was made at a joint meeting of the Supreme
Council and Senate of the Autonomous Republic and prompted by rumors
that Tbilisi is planning military incursions into the defiant
region. According to legislators, there is a real and imminent danger
of destabilization in Adjara, specifically an armed invasion of the
region. Local leaders also declared a 12 am - 8 am curfew for Batumi.

Just one hour after the decision was made, President Saakashvili,
standing before over 1,500 U.S.trained Georgian troops at the final
GTEP graduation in Republic Square, bellowed a strict warning that
criminals will not be tolerated in Adjara and that while he prefers
peace, he "will not hesitate to use force" to deal with those who take
up arms against the Georgian state or threaten the territorial
integrity of the country. The president, who has repeatedly tried to
clarify that the current confrontation is not between the "center" and
the "region" but between the center and criminals in Adjara, repeated
on Saturday that he is committed to ridding the region of criminals.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Tehran escalates war of plaques with Berlin

Topic(s): Iran
Date Posted: 04.29.04

Tehran escalates war of plaques with Berlin

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Tehran city council will erect plaques denouncing
Germany as a supplier of chemical weapons to Iraq, the council said
Thursday, in retaliation for a plaque in Berlin accusing Iran of
killing four Kurds 12 years ago.

City council official Mehdi Chamran said the two plaques, one of which
will be placed in the same street as the German embassy in Tehran,
will commemorate the thousands of Iranians killed by chemical gas
attacks in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

[Continue Reading]

How to Get Out of Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.27.04

From the New York Review of Books

How to Get Out of Iraq
By Peter W. Galbraith

In the year since the United States Marines pulled down Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad's Firdos Square, things have gone very badly for the United States in Iraq and for its ambition of creating a model democracy that might transform the Middle East. As of today the United States military appears committed to an open-ended stay in a country where, with the exception of the Kurdish north, patience with the foreign occupation is running out, and violent opposition is spreading. Civil war and the breakup of Iraq are more likely outcomes than a successful transition to a pluralistic Western-style democracy.

Much of what went wrong was avoidable. Focused on winning the political battle to start a war, the Bush administration failed to anticipate the postwar chaos in Iraq. Administration strategy seems to have been based on a hope that Iraq's bureaucrats and police would simply transfer their loyalty to the new authorities, and the country's administration would continue to function. All experience in Iraq suggested that the collapse of civil authority was the most likely outcome, but there was no credible planning for this contingency. In fact, the US effort to remake Iraq never recovered from its confused start when it failed to prevent the looting of Baghdad in the early days of the occupation.

[Continue Reading]

Home From Iraq, and Without a Home

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.24.04

April 24, 2004

THIS is how Nicole Goodwin travels these days: with her 1-year-old daughter pressed to her chest in a Snugli, a heavy backpack strapped across her shoulders, and a baby stroller crammed with as many bags of clothes and diapers as it can hold. When you are a homeless young mother, these are the things you carry.

And tucked away somewhere are the documents attesting to Ms. Goodwin's recent honorable discharge from the United States Army, as well as Baghdad memories that are still fresh.

Two months ago, she returned to Bronx circumstances that were no less difficult than when she had left them three years earlier; no yellow ribbons greeted her. Now, every day, she soldiers on to find a residence where the rent is not covered by in-kind payments of late-night bus rides to shelters and early-morning rousting. All the while, she keeps in mind the acronym she learned in the Army: Leadership. L is for loyalty; D for duty; R for respect; S for selfless service; H for honor; P for personal courage. "And I is my favorite," she says. "It's integrity."

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Craig -- Canadian Parliament Recognizes Armenian Genocide

Topic(s): Armenian Genocide
Date Posted: 04.22.04

WebPosted Wed Apr 21 22:39:42 2004

OTTAWA--- The House of Commons has reversed a long-standing policy and
passed a resolution denouncing the Turks for committing genocide against
Armenians in 1915.

The vote passed easily, 153-68.

The motion said: "That this House acknowledges the Armenian genocide of
1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity."

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Pilger -- Get Out Now

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.21.04

Get Out Now
Invaders have Ripped Up the Fabric of a Nation that Survived Saddam
Hussein. This is a War of Liberation and We Are the Enemy

Friday, April 16, 2004
New Statesman/UK
by John Pilger

Four years ago, I traveled the length of Iraq, from the hills where St
Matthew is buried in the Kurdish north to the heartland of
Mesopotamia, andBaghdad, and the Shia south. I have seldom felt as
safe in any country. Once, in the Edwardian colonnade of Baghdad's
book market, a young man shouted somethingat me about the hardship his
family had been forced to endure under the embargo imposed by America
and Britain. What happened next was typical of Iraqis; a passer-by
calmed the man, putting his arm around his shoulder, while another was
quickly at my side. "Forgive him," he said reassuringly. "We do not
connect the people of the west with the actions of their
governments. You are welcome."

At one of the melancholy evening auctions where Iraqis come to sell
their most intimate possessions out of urgent need, a woman with two
infants watched as their pushchairs went for pennies, and a man who
had collected doves since he was 15 came with his last bird and its
cage; and yet people said to me: "You are welcome." Such grace and
dignity were often expressed by those Iraqi exiles who loathed Saddam
Hussein and opposed both the economic siege and the Anglo-American
assault on their homeland; thousands of these anti-Saddamites marched
against the war in London last year, to the chagrin of the warmongers,
who never understood the dichotomy of their principled stand.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- U.S. is on Wrong Side of the Wall

Topic(s): US Analysis
Date Posted: 04.21.04

U.S. is on Wrong Side of the Wall
By Blatantly Backing Israel's Ariel Sharon, President Bush has given
Arabs Another Target

by Gwynne Dyer
Friday, April 16, 2004
Newsday / Long Island, New York

You never know which straw will finally break the camel's back, but it
may have been Wednesday's summit between President George W. Bush and
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The public endorsement that Bush gave to Sharon's abandonment of the
"peace process" in favor of "unilateral disengagement" was mostly
symbolic, since the Israeli leader was committed to doing it
anyway. But in the Middle East, patience is finally running out.

The people of the Arab countries have been remarkably patient as they
watched their living standards decline under corrupt and oppressive
governments backed by the West. They have been patient as Israel sat
on the conquered Palestinian territories for 37 years, pushing Arabs
off the land and planting their own settlements on it. They have been
patient about a lot of things - but that dry, snapping sound you heard
a moment ago may have been the camel's back breaking.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Fisk -- George Bush has legitimised terrorism

Topic(s): Ethics.Politics
Date Posted: 04.21.04

George Bush has legitimised terrorism

What better recruiting sergeant could Bin Laden have than the President of
the United States?

By Robert Fisk
16 April 2004
The Independent

So President George Bush tears up the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan
and that's okay. Israeli settlements for Jews and Jews only on the
West Bank. That's okay. Taking land from Palestinians who have owned
that land for generations, that's okay. UN Security Council Resolution
242 says that land cannot be acquired by war. Forget it. That's
okay. Does President George Bush actually work for al-Qa'ida? What
does this mean? That George Bush cares more about his re-election than
he does about the Middle East? Or that George Bush is more frightened
of the Israeli lobby than he is of his own electorate. Fear not, it is
the latter.

His language, his narrative, his discourse on history, has been such a
lie these past three weeks that I wonder why we bother to listen to
his boring press conferences. Ariel Sharon, the perpetrator of the
Sabra and Shatila massacre (1,700 Palestinian civilians dead) is a
"man of peace" - even though the official 1993 Israeli report on the
massacre said he was "personally responsible" for it. Now, Mr Bush is
praising Mr Sharon's plan to steal yet more Palestinian land as a
"historic and courageous act".

[Continue Reading]

NU-E -- Platform formalism

Topic(s): Art World Stuff
Date Posted: 04.16.04

FROM: The Nordic Art Review

Running on empty: What happened to the art within the exhibition? Today it
seems as if exhibitions, big or small, have become spectacles beyond their

Platform formalism

Rather than being an inspiring way of creating or displaying art, the platform
format has begun to function as a conventional practice, used without much
consideration. The original intentions behind it – generosity, real interaction
and open dialogue – have developed into an aestheticization of a certain
politics. Is it still possible to create a stimulating chill-out room?

By Pernille Albrethsen

I have the feeling I have been invited to hundreds of so-called platforms in
the name of art. Over the last couple of years, I have read countless press
releases declaring that "artist x has constructed a platform which explores…"
or "the exhibition is to be viewed as a platform for the investigation of…".
The prototypical model for a platform art project as seen in numerous exhibitions is environments such as the chill out space, obligatory reading room, various versions of ‘self-service’ situations, like the archive or the complete office setting (ready to be used for any kind of activity), and other environments in which the public somehow are invited to join in, interact or ‘just be’. The platform strategy is used both as the fundamental structure for entire exhibitions and in single works of art.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Why all the fuss about the Bush-Sharon meeting?

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 04.16.04

Why all the fuss about the Bush-Sharon meeting?
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 14 April 2004

President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after talking with the press in the Cross Hall of the White House on April 14, 2004. White House photo by Eric Draper
The 14 April meeting between President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Washington sent Palestinian leaders into a flying panic. But their response reeks of desperation and self-interest rather than any real concern for the fate of the Palestinian people and their land or because the results of the meeting represented any new setback for Palestinian rights.

Hours before departing Israel, Sharon announced that large Israeli settlement blocks would remain in the West Bank forever. Referring to the largest Israeli colony, east of occupied Jerusalem, Sharon said, "Ma'aleh Adumim will remain part of the state of Israel forever and ever." Sharon who spoke at a Passover celebration in Ma'aleh Adumim itself, named other settlements he plans to keep, including the large Gush Etzion block south of Jerusalem, Giv'at Ze'ev, Ariel and Kiryat Arba.

When he got to Washington, Sharon received the two public assurances he badly wanted from Bush as prize for his announced withdrawal from Gaza. At their joint press conference following their meeting, Bush said that Palestinian refugees should be resettled in a Palestinian state, not in Israel. Sharon had wanted such a statement of US opposition to Palestinian refugees exercising their right of return to homes in Israel from which they were expelled or fled. Bush also said that any final peace deal should reflect that "realities on the ground and in the region have changed greatly." This was a nod to Sharon's demand that Israel ought to be allowed to keep its large illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Arabs, Muslims are not behind European anti-Semitism

Topic(s): Europe
Date Posted: 04.16.04

Arabs, Muslims are not behind European anti-Semitism
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 16 April 2004
Pro-Israel groups in the US and Europe have campaigned to suggest the European Union is aflame with a "new anti-Semitism," and to thereby stifle criticism of Israel. But recently they've suffered several setbacks.

A new 344-page study from the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) found that there has been "a noticeable rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents" in recent years. But contrary to the findings in a EUMC report produced in late 2003, the new report concluded there was no evidence that the increase could be attributed mainly to Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups. Rather, the largest group of perpetrators was made up of young, white Europeans incited by traditional right-wing extremist groups.

The earlier EUMC report was never officially published because the EU concluded that its methodology was flawed. Norman Finkelstein, a history professor at DePaul University and author of The Holocaust Industry, examined the earlier EUMC report and pointed out that it defined almost any criticism of Israel as "anti-Semitic." Examples of anti-Semitism cited in the earlier report included complaints that someone wore a keffiyeh at a meeting of the Italian Communist Party, where books by Palestinians were being distributed. Greta Duisenberg, the wife of the president of the European Central Bank, famously unfurled a Palestinian flag from the balcony of her Amsterdam apartment. This too was cited in the original report as an example of anti-Semitism.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Fisk + Goodman -- Robert Fisk -- Most Of The People Dying In Iraq Are Iraqis

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.16.04

Robert Fisk: "Most Of The People Dying In Iraq Are Iraqis"
Robert Fisk Interview with Amy Goodman

This transcript is available free of charge, however donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.

AMY GOODMAN: Right now, though, we're going to go to Iraq. We're joined by Robert Fisk, veteran war correspondent with the London Independent for decades. With less than 100 days to go before U.S. authorities hand over sovereignty to an Interim Iraqi Government, daily attacks throughout the country kill Iraqi civilians and occupation forces alike. An emotional former president George Bush defended his son's invasion of Iraq and lashed out at White House critics in a speech he gave to the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Convention, the elder Bush said, quote, "It is deeply offensive to hear intellectuals dismiss progress in Iraq since last year's overthrow of Saddam Hussein." Meanwhile in and around Fallujah up to nine people were killed, including five U.S. Soldiers in two separate attacks. Robert Fisk is on the line with us from Iraq. Can you respond to the elder Bush's statements, and what the situation is on the ground where you are? Robert Fisk, are you on the line? Robert Fisk, can you hear us?


AMY GOODMAN: Hi. Can you hear us?

ROBERT FISK: Yes, I can.

AMY GOODMAN: Could you, did you hear that statement of President George H.W. Bush defending George w. Bush's invasion of Iraq saying it's deeply offensive and contemptible to hear elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail dismissing progress in Iraq?

ROBERT FISK: Listen, I didn't hear it for two reasons, one because I have no activity, even though Mr. Paul Bremer says we do, and secondly, because like most of my colleagues here, we are chasing a story of the killing of American citizens in the city of Fallujah. It appears that two sports utility vehicles carrying a number of armed men, one of whom appears to be American, was stopped in the city of Fallujah, about 60 miles west of Baghdad, and they were dragged from their vehicles. There are unconfirmed reports there were two, four, six, even eight foreigners, not all Americans in the vehicles, and two of whom we know have been murdered because I spoke just a few hours ago to a close Iraqi friend of mine who was in Fallujah and saw their bodies hanging upside-down from the side of Agirder Bridge over the Euphrates river. I'm sorry if I seem a little out of touch, the horrors of Iraq are rather close here and that's what I have been following up at the moment.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Holmes + Marion von Osten -- The Spaces of a Cultural Question

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 04.16.04

Title    Brian Holmes, "The Spaces of a Cultural Question"
Date    Monday March 22, @08:26PM

"The Spaces of a Cultural Question"
Brian Holmes interviewed by Marion von Osten

[In preparation of "Atelier Europa: A Small Post-Fordistic Drama," opening April 2, 2004 in the Munich Kunstverein.]
Marion: You are editing the next issue of Multitudes on cultural and creative labor. Can you explain why and out of what perspective you look on cultural labor and creative work, i.e. do you think it is possible to explain the inner dynamics of post-Fordist production modes due to this specific form of work and its conditions?

Brian: Actually we have prepared what is called the "minor" of Multitudes 15 on the theme of "creativity at work." The basic notion of immaterial labor is that the manipulation of information, but also the interplay of affects, have become central in the contemporary working process even in the factories, but much more so in the many forms of language-, image- and ambiance-production. Workers can no longer be treated like Taylorist gorillas, exploited for their purely physical force; the "spirit of the worker" has to come down onto the factory floor, and from there it can gain further autonomy by escaping into the flexible work situations developing on the urban territory. These notions have made it through to mainstream sociology, and several authors have taken artistic production as the model for the new managerial techniques and ideologies of contemporary capitalism, with all its inequality, self-exploitation and exclusion. The most recent example is Pierre Menger's "Portrait de l'artiste en travailleur" ["Portrait of the Artist as a Worker"]. We don't see it exactly that way. Of course the individualization of innovative work practices exposes people to flexible management; and linguistic and affective labor is vital to the capitalist economy in terms of shaping the mind-set in which a commodity can become desirable. But we also focus on the real autonomy that people have gained. This is why we have devoted the "major" of the issue to activist art practices, and the theme of "research for the outside." We're also very interested in the ongoing struggle of the part-time cinema and theater workers in France, concerning the special unemployment status which they have won since 1969, which provides a supplemental income making it possible to live an artist's life in an efficiency-oriented capitalist society. The right-wing, neoliberal government of Raffarin wants to dismantle this unemployment regime, because they know that those who benefit are actively producing another ideal of society.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Holmes -- Imaginary Maps, Global Solidarities

Topic(s): Resistance?
Date Posted: 04.16.04

Imaginary Maps, Global Solidarities

Brian Holmes

Earth at Night – November 27, 2000

Introduction: The Social Imaginary

Incommensurably large with respect to human perception, what we call "the world" appears first in the domain of representation – most concisely in the form of maps. For the literary mind, a map is the round earth on a flat sheet of paper, the planet at your fingertips: an invitation to dream of far-off continents and climes. In practical terms, a map is the graphic or computer-generated depiction of a clearly outlined territory, with features that are natural (mountains, oceans, rivers) or artificial (highways, cities, borders). Most people use these printed or pixellated guides to get somewhere, asking only for effectiveness in motion. Yet so-called "thematic maps" (or "information graphics") carry a far wider range of knowledge about human beings and their activities, their relations to each other and to the environment (demography, industrial production, political orientation, cultural and linguistic grouping, educational levels, infrastructure, etc.). What's more, topological figures, derived from landforms and mathematics, are now used to chart processes and relations outside any geographic frame, the most obvious example being the virtual realms of the Internet. In these representational adventures we rediscover the terra incognita of the ancient cartographers. By condensing complex information about the human world, thematic maps can have the uncanny effect of making us feel disoriented – lost amidst the flows and the conflicts. In a period of political, social, and technological upheaval like the one we're living through now, when ordinary people find themselves entangled in processes of global scale every day, maps can help us to expand our perception of ourselves, of our present situation and our closest or most far-off possibilities. The stuff of dreams then mingles with the challenge of reality. But how to meet that challenge, the way one meets another human being on common ground?

[Continue Reading]

Ayreen -- "The Revenge of the Concept: Artistic Exchanges and Networked Resistance"

Topic(s): Resistance?
Date Posted: 04.16.04

Brian Holmes writes: "[There follows the lecture I gave at the expo "Geography - and the Politics of Mobility" in Vienna. It revists the gift economy debates, via Karl Polanyi, with some new ideas thanks to the talks at the WorldInfoCon, all in the hope of understanding networked mobilizations. Plenty of things for nettimers to disagree with anyway! -- BH.]"

"The Revenge of the Concept:
Artistic Exchanges and Networked Resistance"
Brian Holmes

Since June 18, 1999, I have been involved in a networked resistance to the globalization of capital. This resistance has been inextricably connected to art. It has taken me from London to Prague, from Quebec City to Genoa and Florence. It has given me an interest in experimental uses of advanced technology, like the Makrolab project. It has pushed me to explore new organizational forms, like the research network developed by Multiplicity. It has encouraged me to support cross-border solidarity movements, like Kein Mensch ist illegal. And it has resulted in collaborations with Bureau d'Ètudes, in their attempts to map out the objective structures of contemporary capitalism. But the experience of the movement of movements has also led me to ask a subjective question. What are the sources of this networked resistance? And what exactly is being resisted? Is revolution really the only option? Or are we not becoming what we believe we are resisting? Are the "multitudes" the very essence and driving force of capitalist globalization, as some theorists believe?

To look deeper into this question, consider the work of Anthony Davies and Simon Ford, who observed how artistic practice was being integrated to the finance economy of London during the late 1990s. These critics pointed to the establishment of convergence zones, "culture clubs" sponsored by private enterprise and the state. In these clubs, so-called "culturepreneurs" could seek new forms of sponsorship for their ideas, while businessmen sought clues on how to restructure their hierarchical organizations into cooperative teams of creative, autonomous individuals. Basing themselves on the new culture clubs, Davies and Ford claimed that "we are witnessing the birth of an alliance culture that collapses the distinctions between companies, nation states, governments, private individuals - even the protest movement." For unlike most commentators from the mainstream artworld, these two critics had immediately identified a relation between the activism of the late 1990s and contemporary forms of artistic practice. But what they saw in this new activism was the expression of a conflict between the "old" and the "new" economy:

"Demonstrations such as J18 represent new types of conflict and contestation. On the one hand you have a networked coalition of semi-autonomous groups and on the other, the hierarchical command and control structure of the City of London police force. Informal networks are also replacing older political groups based on formal rules and fixed organisational structures and chains of command. The emergence of a decentralised transnational network-based protest movement represents a significant threat to those sectors that are slow in shifting from local and centralised hierarchical bureaucracies to flat, networked organisations."

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Why we need a multilateral Magna Carta

Topic(s): Negri/Hardt
Date Posted: 04.15.04

I thought this would be a nice addition to the article Garrett submitted:

Why we need a multilateral Magna Carta
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

It is becoming increasingly clear that a unilateral or “monarchical” arrangement of the global order – centred on the military, political and economic dictation of the United States – is undesirable and unsustainable.

The crisis of this arrangement presents the opportunity for the proposition of a new global order by the “global aristocracies” – that is to say, the multinational corporations, the supranational institutions and the other dominant nation states.
The primary challenge facing these global aristocracies is to reorganize the global system in the interest of renewing and expanding the productive forces that are today thwarted by poverty and marginalization. To do this, a new agreement is needed – a Magna Carta contract for the age, that today’s aristocracies are in the position to demand of the monarch.

Imperialism, in our view, is no longer possible today. In other words, no nation state, not even the United States, is capable of acting as a sovereign power to rule over the global order.

Furthermore, the contemporary global order will not be defined by the competition among imperialist powers, as it was during much of the 19th and 20th centuries. A new form of sovereignty is emerging today – a properly global sovereignty, which we call Empire.

We use the term Empire in part because the new structures of power resemble those of the ancient Roman Empire. Specifically, the new global sovereignty is characterized, as it was in ancient Rome, by the constant collaboration and interplay between the “monarchy” and the “aristocracy”.

This means that the United States cannot act independently as a global monarch and “go it alone,” dictating the terms of global arrangements in military, political, economic or financial terms.

[Continue Reading]

Garrett -- Counseling the aristocrats

Topic(s): Negri/Hardt
Date Posted: 04.15.04

from The Marxism List

Over the past five years, no Marxist theorist except for Zizek has been
lionized as much as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, the co-authors of
"Empire". In 2001, at the height of their fame, the two were chatted
up in a NY Times article titled "What Is The Next Big Idea? The Buzz
Is Growing."

As if writing about a trendy restaurant in NYC, reporter Emily Eakin
focused on how they had arrived.

"It comes along only once every decade or so, typically arriving
without much fanfare. But soon it is everywhere: dominating
conferences, echoing in lecture halls, flooding scholarly
journals. Every graduate student dreams of being the one to think it
up: the Next Big Idea.

"In the 1960's it was Claude Levi-Strauss and structuralism. In the
1970's and 1980's it was Jacques Derrida and deconstruction, Michel
Foucault and poststructuralism and Jacques Lacan and psychoanalysis,
>followed by various theorists of postcolonialism and New Historicism.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Armenia, Georgia Battle Dissimilar Crises

Topic(s): Caucuses
Date Posted: 04.15.04

Armenia, Georgia Battle Dissimilar Crises

Armenian security forces confront protestersBy Richard Giragosian
Washington, 14 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The South Caucasus once again faces the threat of instability as the still-fragile Georgian and the well-entrenched Armenian governments each face escalating internal challenges. There are key differences, however, between the Georgian and Armenian situations that suggest very different trajectories for the two countries.
First, there is a fundamental difference in the nature of the threat faced by each state. The immediate challenge to the Georgian government posed by its ongoing confrontation with the assertive leadership of the autonomous region of Adjaria is only one aspect of a much greater challenge that constitutes a serious test of legitimacy and authority for the struggling Georgian state. That threat is further magnified by the loss of territorial control over the breakaway unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and by the steady erosion of authority from the central government to the regions. Resolving the confrontation with Adjaria is therefore just one step toward the larger task of reversing this devolution of power and strengthening Georgian sovereignty by restoring central-government control over the entire country.

[Continue Reading]

Avi -- As in Tiananmen Square

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 04.15.04

As in Tiananmen Square

Tanya Reinhart
Yediot Aharonot, March 30, 2004. Translated from Hebrew by Netta Van Vliet

An extensive discussion has already taken place in Israel regarding the cost-benefit ratio of Yassin's assassination. But the question of justice has hardly been raised.

According to international law, the execution of any person in an occupied territory is not allowed. The Geneva convention, born out of the horrifying experience of the second World War, sets limitations on the use of force even in times of war. The convention distinguishes between war and a state of occupation. Its fundamentals are, first, that occupied people are "protected", and that the occupier is responsible for their safety. Second, it determines that the occupied people have the right to fight for their liberation. International conventions are one of the means people have developed for self-preservation. Without them, there is a danger that the human race would annihilate itself - first the strong would wipe out the weak, and then each other.

[Continue Reading]

Avi -- Hass -- A masked reality

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 04.15.04

A masked reality

By Amira Hass

Media interest in the separation fence is dying down, although construction is continuing. The disengagement from Gaza is still making headlines, but does not go further than words at this stage. Between the rising and ebbing waves of interest, two basic assumptions are being established. One, that the separation fence is the way it is due to the typical Israeli brouhaha in government and administration procedures. Two, that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement is integrally tied to his and his sons' legal entanglements.

However, these assumptions derive from the reality we know within the Green Line. Within the Palestinian territories that were occupied 1967, there is a reality of rigorous, elaborate long-term master planning that disguises itself as confusion. This is a reality of evicting as many Palestinians as possible from their lands, concentrating them in crowded residential enclaves, and thwarting their desire to establish a state that will enable them to live with respect.

[Continue Reading]

Kevin -- Britain's Botch/Killing lawyers, Laughing It Off

Topic(s): Ireland
Date Posted: 04.15.04

Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial
Britain's Botch/Killing lawyers, Laughing It Off
April 7, 2004

Perhaps it's natural to bear hard feelings toward lawyers who represent defendants accused of violence. But most people who feel this impulse shake themselves back to sense: Every accused person, they remind themselves, deserves the right to counsel. For a century or more, that idea has guided government in every civilized country in the world.

With the exception of England. There, lawyers who dare to take on an unpopular defendant risk taking on a bullet -- sometimes with a little help from the government.

Just ask Geraldine Finucane, widow of a prominent Belfast lawyer, who one evening in 1989 watched -- along with her three children -- as a member of the Ulster Defense Association broke in on a family dinner. The masked gunman fired 14 bullets into Pat Finucane's head, neck and torso.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- NU-E -- Bridging the gap

Topic(s): Art World Stuff
Date Posted: 04.15.04

Bridging the gap

The supposed gap between art and life has been of great interest both for philosophers and artists. In the artworld there has for some time now been a surge for reality, a will to work in the real world and in real time. But can one really say that, for example, relational art has closed the gap between art and life?
By Rikard Ekholm

Art is fiction, and life is reality. Yes, that used to be the conclusion. And in most examples it’s actually a characterization which still fits rather well. In general, the artworld seems to be a place one comes to visit from the real world. One arrives to the artworld as a tourist to experience art-fiction-ventures. Then after a while, when one gets satisfied or disgruntled, or maybe somewhere in between, one leaves the fictional-artworld for safer, real ground. This supposed gap between art and life has at times been of much interest both for philosophers and artists. And through history there have with shifting success occurred artistic ambitions to bridge this gap. The most evident examples of such ambitions might be found in the Fluxus movement and with members of the Vienna Group. Paintings, performances and texts are of course real artefacts, which one can view and touch. But they are also something else than objects made for the real world, they are fictional objects – they are made for the fictitious artworld. These fictional objects do not only include things made in a mimetic tradition. The concept of art as fiction includes for example such differing artefacts as “The Brillobox” (1964) by Andy Warhol, “And for Today – Nothing” (1972) by Stuart Brisley, and “Cleaning the House” (1995) by Marina Abramovic. At a glance “The Brillobox” can be mistaken for the real soap pad box, although it doesn’t take long to realize that it isn’t, and to identify that it is an art object. Both Brisley’s happening and Abramovic’s performance are as well clearly connected to the artworld. If not by the mere artefacts in themselves, then through where they have been presented – in traditional spaces made for art.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- NU-E -- Felix Gmelin + Ronald Jones

Topic(s): Interviews
Date Posted: 04.15.04

Brigitte Bardot out of Monsters
During last summer's Venice Biennale, Felix Gmelin's two videos with people running with red flags around an empty city, "Farbtest, Die Rote Fahne II", became one of the most talked about works. The work is both a tribute to his father as much as it discusses how revolution has turned into fashion today, something he continues in his new work "Flatbed, The Blue Curtain", exclusivly online for NU-E.
By Ronald Jones and Robert Stasinski
Ronald Jones: I happen to be reading Carol Loebs’ book on Lucinda Joyce, James Joyce’s daughter, who grew up in a household filled with artists and creative people. Felix, your father was a filmmaker and theorist, your mother an internationally known violinist. What was it like to grow up in that kind of home?
Felix Gmelin: My father, in my childhood, always spoke to me as an adult, so in that sense I never had a childhood. But I guess Mrs. Joyce, if she is still alive, is spending all of her time taking care of her father’s biography and bibliography. What a nightmare. What I do is misuse my inheritance, I’m happy I don't have to administer it.
RJ: Still, you, like Lucinda knew yours was a creative family from your earliest memories?

[Continue Reading]

NYT -- Still Agitating (Never Mind the Arthritis)

Topic(s): Activism
Date Posted: 04.15.04

Still Agitating (Never Mind the Arthritis)

here is Aron Kay, alias Yippie Pieman, who infamously flung pies at political and public figures during the 70's and 80's - including Abe Beame, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Andy Warhol - but retired after smearing Randall Terry, the anti-abortion activist, with a creamy pineapple cheese in 1992.

There is Jerry Wade, better known as Jerry the Peddler, who said he would "bring the medical marijuana."

Joanie Freedom, a veteran protester of park and camping rules in the city and in national forests, would be in charge of infrastructure. Penny Arcade, the performance artist known for erotically avant-garde shows, would handle theatrical entertainment.

And providing legal aid is Lynne Stewart, a lawyer known for representing people accused of terrorism against the United States and who is awaiting trial in May on charges of providing material support to a man accused of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks.

[Continue Reading]

Garrett -- Okwui Enwezor: The Artist as Producer in Times of Crisis

Date Posted: 04.15.04

Okwui Enwezor: The Artist as Producer in Times of

On April 27, 1934 Walter Benjamin delivered a lecture
at the Institute for the Study of Fascism in Paris. In
the lecture, "The Author as Producer", Benjamin
addressed an important question that, since, has not
ceased to pose itself, namely to what degree does
political awareness in a work of art becomes a tool
for the deracination of the autonomy of the work and
that of the author? Benjamin's second point was to
locate what a radical critical spirit in art could be
in a time of such momentous, yet undecided direction
in the political consciousness of Europe: between the
Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the productivist
model of artistic practice it instantiated and the
storms of repression unleashed by fascism and Nazism
in Western Europe. In a sense, Benjamin's lecture
addressed the question of the artist's or writer's
commitment under certain social conditions. This would
lead him to ask "What is the attitude of a work to the
relations of production of its time?" Georg Lukács
posed a similar question in his 1932 essay "Tendency
or Partisanship?". The conditions of production of the
time was the struggle between capitalism and socialism
as the driving force behind modern subjectivity.

[Continue Reading]

Kevin -- PBS Gets Picky

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.15.04

Press Clips
by Cynthia Cotts
PBS Gets Picky
A Reporter Disses Halliburton, and Newshour Producers Decide His 15 Minutes of
Airtime Are Up
Village Voice March 17-23, 2004

In a recent Nation cover story, Christian Parenti described hanging out with
insurgents in Iraq. That got the attention of producers on News- Hour With Jim
Lehrer, and on March 2, Parenti said something live that knocked Lehrer off his

Parenti, author of an upcoming book on occupied Iraq, was being interviewed by
NewsHour's Ray Suarez. He and Middle East history professor Juan Cole were analyzing
the recent suicide bombings in Iraq and various groups that might have been
involved. Then something went terribly wrong: Parenti suggested that Halliburton and
Bechtel have failed to provide "meaningful reconstruction" and that the U.S.
occupation might actually be contributing to the instability in Iraq. Lehrer
apparently went ballistic.

Michael Mosettig, senior producer for foreign affairs and defense at NewsHour, told
me, "This was not reportage, this was giving his opinion, and that's not why we
brought him on." The next day, according to Parenti, Dan Sagalyn, NewsHour's deputy
senior producer for foreign affairs and defense, called to inform him that top
people were upset, that his comments had lacked "balance," and that Lehrer was
planning to run an Editor's Note acknowledging the mistake. It seems they had
violated one of Lehrer's internal "rules of journalism," which mandates that
producers "carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories" and
label it as such.

[Continue Reading]


Topic(s): Latin America
Date Posted: 04.15.04


The Venezuelan government announced Feb. 26 that it will cease all
training of soldiers at the US Army's School of the Americas (now
known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation),
the controversial military training school for Latin American
soldiers, based in Fort Benning, GA.

The announcement was made by Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente
Rangel in an address to the Venezuelan National Assembly. In an
earlier meeting with a delegation of U.S. human rights activists,
Rangel stated that the SOA is a training school for dictators,
torturers and terrorists. During a visit of religious leaders from the
United States in Venezuela in January, President Hugo Chavez also
spoke out against the SOA, saying: "This school deformed the minds of
many Latin American soldiers, who from there went on to become
dictators." (El Nacional, Jan. 19)

[Continue Reading]

Avi -- Where is the World?

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 04.14.04

Where is the world?
January 24, 2004
Kelly B.

Two weeks ago the Israeli Army and news sources claimed the invasion of Nablus ended. Daily operations continue, showing that the army has not, and does not plan to leave. Last week soldiers surrounded the house of curtain-maker, Abdul al-Qassa. They arrested al-Aqsa activist Ibrahim Attari who was sleeping in the house. After taking both Attari and al-Qassa out of the house, soldiers demanded that al-Qassa tell them who Attari was and why he was sleeping in his house.

He replied that he did not know. Soldiers responded by shooting him in the knees, stomach, and mouth. He died bleeding in front of his house. They then took Attari to another location and assassinated him.

[Continue Reading]

Avi -- Levy -- Only the knafeh is still sweet

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 04.14.04

Only the knafeh is still sweet
By Gideon Levy

NABLUS, West Bank - The knafeh here is still the best in the world,
living up to its reputation. In the early evening, Abu Salha's pastry
shop, by the side of the road that climbs to the Refidiya neighborhood,
is deserted, the shelves almost empty. A salesperson wearing transparent
gloves slices the traditional sweet oriental hot cheese delicacy, the
taste of which is the only thing that remains unchanged in this beaten
and battered city.

From one visit to the next, one sees Nablus declining relentlessly into
its death throes. This is not a village that's dying behind the concrete
obstacles and earth ramparts that cut it off from the world; this is a
city with an ancient history, which until just recently was a vibrant,
bustling metropolis that boasted an intense commercial life, a large
major university, hospitals, a captivating urban landscape and age-old
objects of beauty.

[Continue Reading]

Klein: An Iraqi intifada

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.12.04

Now the war is being fought in the open, by people defending their homes

Naomi Klein in Baghdad
Monday April 12, 2004
The Guardian

April 9, 2003 was the day Baghdad fell to US forces. One year later, it is rising up against them.

Donald Rumsfeld claims that the resistance is just a few "thugs, gangs and terrorists". This is dangerous wishful thinking. The war against the occupation is now being fought out in the open, by regular people defending their homes and neighbourhoods - an Iraqi intifada.

"They stole our playground," an eight-year-old boy in Sadr City told me this week, pointing at six tanks parked in a soccer field, next to a rusty jungle gym. The field is a precious bit of green in an area of Baghdad that is otherwise a swamp of raw sewage and uncollected rubbish.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Klein -- The U.S. is Sabotaging Stability in Iraq

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.08.04

The U.S. is Sabotaging Stability in Iraq

by Naomi Klein

Monday, April 5, 2004
Globe and Mail / Canada

BAGHDAD -- I heard the sound of freedom yesterday in Baghdad's Firdos
Square, the famous plaza where the statue of Saddam Hussein was
toppled one year ago. It sounds like machine-gun fire.

On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers, trained and controlled by coalition forces,
opened fire on demonstrators here, forcing the emergency evacuation of
the nearby Sheraton and Palestine hotels. As demonstrators returned to
their homes in the poor neighborhood of Sadr City, the U.S. army
followed with tanks and helicopters. As night fell, there were
unconfirmed reports of dozens of casualties. In Najaf, the day was
equally bloody: 19 demonstrators dead, more than 150 injured.

But make no mistake: This is not the "civil war" that Washington has
been predicting will break out between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
Rather, it is a war provoked by the U.S. occupation authority and
waged by its forces against the growing number of Shiites who support
Muqtada al-Sadr.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Defence or murder?

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 04.08.04

Defence or murder?

Does Israel have a legal right to assassinate its enemies - or are such
executions war crimes? After two years deliberating, its supreme court
is set to decide. Anthony Dworkin reports

Tuesday March 30, 2004
The Guardian

A half-blind man in a wheelchair is blown apart on a crowded city
street. An insecure 16-year-old boy is coaxed into donning an
explosive vest. Are the events of last week in Israel a preview of the
future of warfare in the ageof "asymmetric" conflict? And if so, what
rules of law and morality should govern such a conflict, bringing its
conduct into some semblance of conformity with recognised humanitarian
principles? When Israel killed the Hamas founder and spiritual leader
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin with a missile launched from a helicopter, it
provoked a storm of criticism. As one Israeli commentator put it, this
was the mother of all targeted assassinations. From Kofi Annan to Jack
Straw tothe European Union's Javier Solana, international statesmen
lined up to denounce the strike as unlawful. Among the western liberal
democracies, only the United States stood partly aside from the chorus
of condemnation - its muddled response a telling reflection of its own
contentious anti-terrorist war.

Israel countered by describing Yassin as the "godfather of the suicide
bombers" and giving notice that its campaign of targeted killings
would be intensified. Anyone involved in the terrorist war against
Israel should know there is no immunity, said the country's public
security minister the day after the attack.

[Continue Reading]

Rene -- Klein -- Bremer has destroyed my country

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 04.08.04

Bremer has destroyed my country

Even the pro-US manager of Iraq's Pepsi plant feels betrayed by an
occupation which has spawned fear, hatred and chaos

Naomi Klein in Baghdad
Saturday April 3, 2004
The Guardian

'Do you have any rooms?" we ask the hotelier. She looks us over,
dwelling on my travel partner's bald, white head. "No," she replies.

We try not to notice that there are 60 room keys in pigeonholes behind
her desk - the place is empty.

"Will you have a room soon? Maybe next week?"

She hesitates. "Ahh ... No."

We return to our current hotel - the one we want to leave because
there are bets on when it is going to get hit - and flick on the TV:
the BBC is showing footage of Richard Clarke's testimony before the
September 11 commission, and a couple of pundits are arguing about
whether invading Iraq has made America safer.

[Continue Reading]

June 2004
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