Brian Holmes on Thu, 1 Jun 2006 23:25:27 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Technologies of Resistance: Transgression and Solidarity in Tactical Media

Miguel Afonso Caetano wrote:

>I have recently finished a M.A. dissertation about Tactical Media
>that I've talked about here a few years ago

I'd be totally interested to read your dissertation Miguel, is it

>I think it would be good to start a debate here in the list about the
>actual relevance of tactical media in the age of Web 2.0, which has
>embraced (co-opted?) much of the same DIY ethos in places like Flickr
>and MySpace. On the other side, we're also living in the midst of the
>"state of exception"/War against terrorism where every subversive
>activity is considered suspicious - the bioterrorism paranoia case
>against CAE.

My feeling is that cooptation is an infinite process - part of
social struggle, which demands that every dissenting or antagonistic
expression be abandoned and reinvented soon after its first release
into the infosphere. I also think that the expression "tactical
media" was launched at a great moment of political weakness and
under-the-radar diffuse experimentation from the left/anarchist side
of the cultural and political spectrums - a moment coinciding with
the massification of a new communicational toolkit. That those days
are gone is pretty clear (the state of exception was definitely the
turning point), but what's interesting is all they produced, the new
possibilities. The questions of what at the time was called tactical
media, and more, the forms of experimentation with communicational
politics from below, are something you can only move through as
it happens and leave aside as it disappears. Still, histories are
fascinating when they're not confused with futures.

>Judging from the brazilian example, I think that it is becoming
>more adequate to think about tactical media in peripheral countries
>like Brazil and India where there's a sense of more severe urgency
>in social transformation, of reappropriation of technology by the

There's something to that. First of all, De Certeau was inspired
by Brazil and wrote about it, if I'm not mistaken. Second, the
massification of the Internet toolkit is still underway in Brazil and
India. Third, the state and therefore, the cooptation apparatus is
weak in Brazil, though as far as I can see (on short visits) it still
works all too well. Actually, I think people in Brazil and India would
be best off inventing new concepts to really drive home the point that
things are happening - and should happen, are urgently needed - in
those specific contexts.

The thing that amazed me on my last trip to Sao Paulo was hearing
about the PCC weekend. What does nettime think about that? A gang
that has totally dominated the prison system in Sao Paulo state, that
controls the drug trade in the cities of that state (including the
megalopolis itself), that has built up a very sophisticated economy
and a functioning leadership structure, and is able to coordinate
an attack on the police using cell-phones from inside the prisons,
burning 60 buses and assaulting reportedly a hundred police stations
(is that true?), carrying out what friends of mine described as a
"subjective occupation" of the minds and emotions of one of the
largest cities in the world! Talk about tactics... It seems as though
a networked criminal organization (the Primeiro Commando da Capital)
is able to run rings around a state which cannot catch up to it,
cannot install the kind of hi-tech protection and distributed control
mechanisms that the US and other Western countries are working so
deperately to perfect. This is fantastically interesting, actually
hopeful in some wierd respects (if the state fails to that degree,
must it not be reinvented?), but mostly just astounding, with the
great danger that a kind of fascist electoral reaction will come out
of it (as in the US), as well as police death-squads which, I have
been told, immediately formed to exact repraisals. The whole thing is
incredibly important as a phenomenon of our times, I would be curious
to know what others think about it.

best, BH

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