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Re: <nettime> The System Development Corporation
David Garcia on Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:47:44 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> The System Development Corporation


I imagine that Morlock’s original pithy statement of comparing activism to "grafitti on tanks” 
was an informed  re-mix of the old Mcluhan aphorism: 
"the content or message of any particular medium has about as much importance
as the stencilling on the casing of an atomic bomb”

The origin might be a clue that we are looking at something like
the good old  “The medium is the message” trope re-jigged for today’s 
rapidly changing internet, with Morlock (like Mcluhan) foregrounding 
“infrastructure” (instead of the medium) as the obligitory focus of our attention along with the 
suggestion that all other spaces of conscern and intervention are a futile distraction. 

This feels to me like a false dichotomy thats in danger of throwing too many babies out with the 
bath water. Dismissing activism and the politics of representation per se would be to dismis the “Me To” 
movement that is re-shaping feminsim for this generation,  the Black Lives Matter movement that is doing 
something similar for civil rights, to name but two social movements among many that again remind us 
that the battles for social justice are as urgent as ever. 

It is absurd to say that challenging the highly influential content of the memes carrying white supremacist 
and anti-feminist messages and sentiments are less important than investigating the dynamics of message 
board infrastructure.  They cannot be separated. The  infrastructures and the messages were intertwined and 
the activism that emerged did not simply “call the boss names”.. it played a role in facilitating the arrival of the boss who 
now sits in the White House. 

Addressing the platform politics of a hyperpartizan era are not entirely infrastuctural. The politics of representation and
the rise of the ant-feminst mannosphere was also a key part of the story. 

This is not to say that we must rush to the other extreme and neglect the importance of 
understanding and engaging in the shaping power of infrastructures and their platforms and devices
(including the infrastructure of government and the wider political economy). 

Morlock the knowledge and emphasis you make is vital and well made, but to make it the centre of all political gravity 
is in danger of producing a dangerous one dimensional formalism. The dichotomies you point to cannot be divided in 
so absolute a fashion. Its a one dimensional approach in an era when multi-dimensional thinking and acting is required. 

David Garcia



On 13 Mar 2018, at 23:26, Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

> > What do you mean by "confronting on an infrastructure level" and
> > "liberating the infrastructure"? Sure, one thing is to understand the
> 
> 1. Requiring equal access to switches and fiber. Like cities (most so far) cannot have private streets, and like Ma Bell was forced to provide phone service to everyone, and anyone was able to call anyone, everyone should be able to route and receive arbitrary packets. Not necessarily for free, but comparable to lifeline phone service cost.
> 
> 2. Dispensing with asymmetric protocols that prevent addressability of most of end users, leaving them at the mercy of 'providers'. IPv6 was supposed to fix this, but it was properly subverted.
> 
> 3. Mandate data storage at the edge. It has absolutely nothing to do with backups and availability - those are blatant lies. It's only about the power. These days Internet users are in the similar position as migrant workers, where the boss confiscates passports for 'safekeeping'.
> 
> and so on.
> 
> Those are the invisible chains. Without infrastructure changes the effects of activism are limited to calling the boss names.
> 
> With (some of) the above implemented MAGAf cannot continue to exist. Their existence is predicated on very material substrate, which is outside the allowed discourse.
> 
> > Yasha Levine's new book, Surveillance Valley, does a very good job at
> > this, basically relating advertisement as the business model of the
> > present, to counter-insurgency as defined since the 1960s. They are both
> 
> 
> I just started reading it, so far it has one important quality: it's factual.
> 
> 
> -
> 
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