Lachlan Brown on Wed, 20 Nov 2002 05:10:01 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] [Masses and Multitudes] a question and mini-critique Hardt on theNetwork

A thought on reading Hardt on Networks

Much of the present political engagement follows an assumption
of evenness of the distributions of power and equality of relations
of power on each and every axis in a network. This is an assumption
that is not reasonable to make. Additionally it is assumed that each 
node in a network is a monad not a collectivity (as with a discussion 
group) and that power is not exercised (often in overt contradiction 
to the assumed mandate of the group and stated (or contractual) norms
of editing, moderation, filtering, selection on one hand, and participation
from contribution to reading on the other [you  may have noticed I 
explored this issue among a numner of discussion groups from academic 
to subcultural to alternative ie. the Association of Internet Researchers 
list http://). Networks, even 'virtual' networks celebrated by Lovink et. 
al. do not appear ad nihilo (out of nothing). They are condensations
of already existing mappings of power.

The consequences of assuming the absence of a matrix of power
in the formation of any network leads us to the situation in which
political movement occurs without diversity, articulated in a forced
similarity, and hostile to creative traits, attitudes or interests.
One that becomes a sort of tourism in other peoples' misery. 

Perhaps this is why the network cannot discuss abuse of power in 
online relations. The virtual world Europeans+Americans in particular 
desire begins to look a little like former Imperial desires for 
Lebensraum, for mastery and domination to exclusion of even slightly 
contrary critical currents while groups formed with alternative mandates, 
constructed precisely to oppose the prevailing norm (ie Sarai, Coco Fusco's - 
since the four moderators of this list soon became subaltern to the One] 
undercurrents etc.) begin to take on the character and tone of the groups 
they are initially constructed to provide alternatives to.  They become 
polarised to the grain of the overall orientations of the network, 
the reiterations and repetitions of the culture. Such as the anxieties
illustrated in the so called 'Nigerian Scam'.

The deployment of the idea of the Network as inherently alternative or 
oppositional seems naive, the assumption that binary oppositions are not 
reproduced in nodes and in dialogue between nodes is not a convincing one. 
It seems entirely, well, ...inappropriate to assume that the idea of the 
network, a virtual world, or a virtual politics, is a useful one without 
consideration in depth of what the network cannot articulate, or refuses 
to discuss. 

Lachlan Brown

Hardt on Networks:

> How do you argue with a network? The movements organized within them do exert their power, but they do not proceed through oppositions. One of the basic characteristics of the network form is that no two nodes face each other in contradiction; rather, they are always triangulated by a third, and then a fourth, and then by an indefinite number of others in the web. This is one of the characteristics of the Seattle events that we have had the most trouble understanding: groups which we thought in objective contradiction to one another梕nvironmentalists and trade unions, church groups and anarchists梬ere suddenly able to work together, in the context of the network of the multitude. ''
> -- 
> __________________________________________________________
> Sign-up for your own FREE Personalized E-mail at
> Single & ready to mingle?  Where singles click. Free to Search!

Lachlan Brown
T(416) 826 6937
VM (416) 822 1123


Sign-up for your own FREE Personalized E-mail at

Nettime-bold mailing list