nettime's bable fish on Fri, 16 Nov 2001 21:54:10 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Maria Bianchini, Serge Quadruppani: An Appeal about the Volksbad Declaration.


This is a Q&D translation of a post on several French mailing lists.
(this version from Multitudes-Info)

Yann Moulier Boutang has written a long rejoinder to it, equally on 
Multitudes-info - but that stays in french for the time being... ;-)


Maria Bianchini, Serge Quadruppani
An appeal about the Volksbad Declaration

The text of the Munich Volksbad Declaration has been sent to various
mailing lists as a petition, and has subsequently been signed by
economists, sociologists, net-activists of many countries etc. etc.  The
comments that we have been reading, and the diversity of the signatories
show that there has been a strong support for this initiative.  We
consider this text interesting because it testifies of a will to break
lose from previous, outdated and ever-lamenting activist discourses

And yet... zones of shadow, a haziness that cannot only been ascribed to
the use of metaphors, and various proclamatory assertions makes it for us
in the end a text that can only be handled with considerable caution. We
wish therefore to share with the authors of this declaration our questions
and our disagreements.

In the text, globalisation is claimed as ours too, and we understand this
is done in the name of the opening up of borders, the withering away of
national barriers and the advent of the 'Empire'. But is it reasonable to
put professionally mobile managers, undocumented migrants, and (new)  
social movements all on the same plane? One may think otherwise, after
Genova, and the new anti-terrorists laws being enacted after the 11 th of
September. If not, one simply rehashes, in this description and claim of
globalisation, the basic tenets of capitalism about the free circulation
of goods, capital, and human beings. If that is a sociological statement
of facts, it is a gross generalisation, because it reflects on
intrinsically different social realities and representations, on
unquantifiable living experiences, and on contradictory formats of
mobility. To be against crude anti-globalisation is an attitude that
should not boil down to the use of simplistic imagery.

The indictment of the neo-liberal ideology that is to follow in the text
is equally too simplistic in its argumentation. This ideology has only
preached to those already converted that it would bring peace and
security. In fact, it only promised the generalisation of the market's
iron rule to all sectors of life from the single individual up to society
as a whole, and the subordination of all to its (mercantile) values
(re)defined as universal. Hence, we do not really believe that the acting
multitudes have ever felt let down by it...

The declaration the proceeds to tackle the issue of war, and of the
terrorist acts of September 11, and does so by taking a stand that in our
opinion should have raised a lot of questions among the signatories. "We
are not in favor of war, we are not against war, more than ever, we need
to organise the struggle outside of war, outside of organised panic"  
Court-room gesturing? Syllogism? Need to symetrise the dialectic?  
Provocative rhetoric aiming at bagging together and disposing of both the
Dollar-talibans and the Religion-talibans? The aesthetics of distanciation
practised here should however not make you forget that to decline to be
against the war means support to the bombings. Otherwise, you could have
opted to simply mark your refusal of war. "We are not against war"... does
that mean that, for you, this is merely a war among fanatics? And yet,
behind the fighters, the corpses that are piling up are those of the
bricked in Afghan women and of the illegal Mexicans working in the World
Trade Center before them...

To conclude, you appeal to the Net-economy to liberate us from the
war-economy. It would seem to us that the net-economy foundered on and
with the NASDAQ, and hence the substitution looks like a somewhat weak
one, taking the needs of the real economy into account. If the liberation
of the world, which you are wishing for, needs to happen through the
development of networks of countervailing power, then it is unlikely to be
found in the economy, but rather in resistance against the mercantile and
economist order, as is already exemplified by a good many actors in the
radical Network...

Q&D translation by Patrice Riemens

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