Felix Stalder on Sat, 8 Jul 2017 23:41:07 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The alt-right and the death of counterculture

On 2017-07-08 10:53, Brian Holmes wrote:

> These lines, while pitched at Milo and the young sexy neofascists, 
> describe a lot of the cultural pranks we used to celebrate in the 
> festival circuits emanating out from Amsterdam. The big difference
> is that until very recently, the world was stable and the pranks
> were inconsequential. Now the ways that such nihilism feeds monsters
> have become all too obvious. The style of paranoid critique that many
> of us in the theory-world practiced is complicit in these devastating
> outcomes, because no matter how bad things may be, it is one's
> responsibility to seek for possible ameliorations of the common lot
> - by which I mean something much more widely shared than the rarified
> concept of "the commons." 

Looking back, the shortcomings of the approaches "emanating out of
Amsterdam", say tactical media in particular and, but the cultural/media
left more generally, seem to be twofold, in my view.

First, while the intuition about the necessity to interrupt the normal
flows of communication was correct and has proofed to be very powerful
since, there was no idea what do in the space that would thus be opened
up. We could have used the time when the system was relatively stable to
think about this, but we didn't. Now, the the system is falling apart,
the far right is capable of imposing an even darker version of disaster

Second, both the actions and the theories remained absolutely insular.
What passes as cultural/media theory still delights in jargon and
obscurantism. Or, in offering hypercritical takes that create no opening
(like Florian's erudite but otherwise baffling piece on public domain).

There has been very little interest in offering points of translation,
that is, to think about how people who are not in the same circuit could
appropriate and transform for their own use, the insights they find in
the theoretical perspective one offers.

For me, however, the concepts of the commons still remains useful. For
one, it at least points to a new social settlement, that is, towards
what might fill the void of the break-down of the old order. Second, it
has a certain resonance where I stand, thus it can lead unusual
alliances. And, third, it's vague enough a concept so that many
different strands of thinking might come into contact under this
umbrella and it does have a lot of potential to be appropriated by
different actors, not the least in the context of radical urban social


PS: This focus on the meme-culture of the alt-right makes it seems like
the import of ideas/tactics always goes from left to right. It has the
whiny undertones of an inventor who sees his idea commercialized by
others. But that's incorrect. If you look at what happens with the
"Indivisible Movement", they every clearly and openly copy tactics of
the tea party movement, namely to give senators and representatives hell
at town hall meetings, where the politicians face the people
face-to-face. And at the moment, its seems fairly successful eroding the
majority for the repeal of Obama care.


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