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<nettime> Net Criticism 2.0/network extension
Jordan Crandall on Tue, 28 Jul 1998 18:44:52 +0200 (MET DST)


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<nettime> Net Criticism 2.0/network extension


Regarding the Net Criticism 2.0 dialog:

Geert writes, "I wonder if we can harass the masses to join a
competition about 'net criticism 2.0' and what it should be all about." 
One wonders why nettime speaks of this mass as some Other, and what is
implied in the taking of that very distance.  Who are we, as standing
apart, and from what bases do we draw that distinction?

For Geert the urgent question for NC 2.0 involves "new ways to organize
and gain hegemony outside of the neo-liberal project of the global
market."  He locates this "global market project" as a "problem" that
must be tackled.   "Which parts of it should we tear away at, which
parts should we keep, and how do we reconfigure those parts?"  Perhaps
the problem is in the positioning of an exterior that is no longer
tenable.  From where do we stand to say that the market is a problem to
be fixed by tearing down or rearranging some of its "parts"?  From where
do we have such a view, as some sort of ethical mechanic, and from what
bases of distinction do we draw the power to wield such a statement? 
How have we managed delude ourselves that we have "attained" this
exterior, superior state where the only statement is of reflexivity and
ethical consciousness?
 
Net Criticism 2.0 is spoken about as if it could facilitate the "design"
of something -- specifically, that it could be about "making free space
to design new forms of (collective) subjectivity."  As if!  An
alternative position would be to place oneself in the fray, and rather
than facilitate the design of new forms of subjectivity, the objective
would be to discover the new forms of subjectivity that are emerging -
and these not apart from, but deep within the guts of consumer society. 
How is contemporary subjectivity defined today?  You can bet it is not
"outside" of market culture in any sense.  You have to come down off the
perch and enter into the market to understand it.  Otherwise, you are
losing the ability to speak to an entire generation.  

What strategies have we developed in this weakening critical mode that
are workable and useful for a globalized world defined through
consumerism - from the urban markets of Nigera to the bazaars of India
to the souks to the American shopping malls to the emerging cyberstreet
markets, everywhere defined through the thrill of commerce and the
passion to enter the global consumer society?

We must come to terms with the market and its imperatives.  This does
not mean surrendering to it, but simply entering into it in strategic
ways.  Instead of  organizing as oppositional groups, lobbying from
ethical positions, we need to strategically put ourselves on the
marketplace as "people who count" -- as Manthia Diawara suggests, to
organize as a market and set our own prices in the face of international
capital.  We need to examine our own bases of organization, the very
assumptions of the locales from which we speak.  We need to take
consumerism more seriously and develop informed global market ideologies
that are critical and "resistant" in entirely different ways. 
  
I don't think there can be a 2.0 of net criticism without a
thoroughgoing overhaul of many of its basic assumptions, beginning with
the very nature of what it means to engage in critical work today, in a
landscape that has changed drastically even in a period of one year.  We
are beginning to understand how fraught critical positions are now - how
contradictory, how hypocritical, how implicated.  

Here is a good exercise for us.  How can we define what we do without
using the word "critical" or "critique"?  How can we describe it
completely avoiding that term?  

There are some models.  One interesting approach is that of Latour's. 
For him there is no outside - only extension.  The extension is what
does the work of critique.  One doesn't adopt a position against, or in
relation to, some exteriority - rather, one extends the network
further.  When you extend the network further, you bring in more
elements, more processes, and prompt further understanding of its
pervasiveness and omni-directionality.  It is informing, coloring,
detailing - tracing threads and processes, making them visible.  

Maybe we need to EXTEND the market as a network, rather than resist it,
developing ways of speaking through it. 

Ted wonders what it would be like to assume that the intellectual
vanguard "is in fact a reactionary force trying to protect its political
patrimony by imposing traditional interpretations and ideals."  We have
to be brave enough to realize to what extent this may be the case.

Jordan
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