In the Chto Delat piece, What is to be done?, Delat begins by asserting that that the “postmodern has become impossible on a purely aesthetic level.” I believe Delat here is calling for a cessation of the purely theoretical and aesthetic approaches to postmodernism. Postmodernism’s only feasible conduit has to be on a pragmatic level, not on the abstract, purely artistic level. Delat then continues on to define the avant-garde’s role in art. The many extremist protests that have occurred in recent years provide a “reference point” for the new avant-garde, a situation similar to the time of the Revolution, specifically the Russian Revolution, and now again the aura of change is unarguably present throughout society. Russian artistic life had become, as Delat emphasizes using abstract English phrases, dependent on the ability to net-work, work as a community, remain “socially engaged”, and keep the view going that social change is possible. Russian artists, most crucially, hold the notions that they are no longer bound by anyone else’s rules, that they are capable of forming a society in which “life will be creative and the world fair.” Thus, the artists are motivated and driven to affect social change without thoughts to the feasibility or immenseness of their task. Without giving thoughts to how best represent themselves ot the general public, the artists must be willing to give, and thus, even the most meaningless and inconspicuous of acts can have far-reaching social consequences. Society must be saturated with the position of people to deny consumerist culture and reject the desires affected by the products of consumerism; this is the most dangerous weapon we have against the current situation of society. The artists, according to Dealt, no longer have a right to be “passive or pessimistic,” because if art is made a genuinely autonomous medium, then we will achieve the “capability to form and disseminate alternative models of aesthetic and social transformations.” Only then can the details and smaller aspects of original work be discussed with new inspiration, and thus, according to Delat, the artist will become as radical as the newly formed reality. Now I would like to talk a bit about Manifesto 003, in which the city of St. Petersburg is paid special attention to. The Manifesto calls the reader to rethink the future of St. Petersburg. Delat claims that the conservative politics of the city’s politicians ios choking the city. The only focus of the city is to restore what once was great, to focus on the past culture and history of St. Petersburg; however, there has been nothing new done, no new buildings built, no influential newspaper, that rival their counterparts in other areas of the western world. The city’s leaders need to involve the new avant-garde artists in the city’s planning in order to secularize the city and open it up. The authorities and artists should join forces in developing city projects as well as rejecting old, clos-minded traditions, such as the jubilee. Only then can the city be opened up to a series of artistic actions, performances, discussions, texts, aimed at the transformation of the city space and of the cultural politics” which will eventually also renew the city into a free space, without “roofs or barriers.”
The coming insurrection begins with a bleak introductory paragraph on the state of hope in the modern world. Those who have solutions for the current state of the human race are “immediately contradicted” and most agree that things can only get worse. Politics is a failure, as the whole spectrum, from “left to right” merely adjusts itself according to the polls in order to get reelected. The maturity of the people who are being governed far exceeds that of the ruling bodies. The riots that occurred in France and in other cities all over Europe in 2005 were not unified attacks against the state but merely people disgruntled with their current society. They didn’t have a vocalized purpose or unified political position but were merely protests against the current state of affairs. There is no “social solution” to the current crisis, THE Invisible Committee writes, one because the aggregate of society has no consistency and two because there is no unified language for common experience. The general mindset of society is one of stretched frustration. Cutting pensions will only anger the retirees more, and those living off crime will only continue to do so, despite any prison sentence. Nothing will satisfy the masses to be able to form a “New Deal” or “New Peace”. What the future holds is merely a further division between the upper classes and the poor of the city. Highways will be built to circumvent city centers and rough neighborhoods, effectively shielding middle class communities from that aspect of society. Many will try to form conclusions about what’s happening in society, but there will be no end “of psychologists, sociologists, and literary hacks applying themselves to the case” without much of a conclusion to show for it. The first circle is about “I am what I am”. The final stage of advertising, “following decades of concepts”, to get to I=I. Mass personalization and individualization of all conditions of life have left people to cling to themselves like a “coveted job title”. People are constantly attempting to be themselves, yet the more they try, the more empty they feel. In the quest to be ourselves we are constantly trying to mold our identities through the different facets of society, i.e. fashion, relationship drama, etc. These all create dependencies which become the price of one’s identity. However, the “need to be someone” is necessary to keep this society going. It’s a pathological state that is a requirement for things to run as they do. The most well-kept secret of today is “the maintenance of the self in a permanent state of deterioration,” which is required by the continuation of production and acceleration of technology. The person that will throw himself to anything new and then return to his original state. According to the Invisible Committee, our feeling of inconsistency is “simply the consequence of this foolish belief in the permanence of the self and of the little care we give to what makes us what we are.”
The Anti-Capital Projects article attempts to answer some broad and ambiguous questions about the occupations going on within the California UC system. The first question, Why Occupation, attempts to answer related questions such as why would a movement that is seeking to free people form debt and compulsory labor barricade the doors of a university? UC Berkley, which seems open only superficially, is actually closed to most students around their country on the basis of race, class or, logic, and is closed to those who would protest against “its exclusions”. Occupying the university removes those who participate from the protocols and rules of the university. In this paradox lies the answer to the question Why Occupy, which is that by closing down the school the students have actually opened it up, because now those who are inside can determine the future course of the school. Occupying the building is only the first step, however, because the main target is the injustices of the current social relation. Once the building is occupied successfully, once the students have defended themselves against the “police and administrators who themselves defend, mercilessly, the inegalitarian protocols of the university, the rule of the budget and its calculated exclusions”, then the students can begin to allow others in freely. The article states that once there are enough students to hold the space freely, then they can un-barricade the doors and “dispense with locks”, but the locks are necessary for the present time to ensure the occupation. Their goal is to make it clear that it is possible to take what “was never your”, such as workers taking their workspace while facing massive lay-offs. Another example they give is of foreclosed homes standing empty, which can be taken and given to the homeless who are in need of a place to live. The students are in favor of a socialist structure for society, and quote Thomas Mutzer when he said that omnia sunt communia, or everything belongs to everybody. They reject privatization of property, claiming that this type of socialist ideology is the only law of property they accept, that there is no private property but that everything is communal among all humans. The article goes on to say how the students are using this current occupation as a stage for the occupation of many more building to come, beyond the university. Another question the article attempts to answer is why the students have no demands. They claim that multiple student groups have led protests for long periods of time in the end to only gain back half of what they lost. And then after a year or two that half was taken away again. Demanding “a reduction or freeze of student fees, an end to the layoffs and furloughs” would only result in the return to the status of one or two years ago, which is inadequate at best. If the students are capable of achieving greater goals, such as “free education, a maximum salary differential of, for instance, 3 or 5, a university managed by faculty and students and workers” then the question is why settle for less and make menial demands? And thus, the students occupy the university to achieve these great goals and send a message to the upper levels of the UC system and to the greater ideas of socialism and the social relations of society.
Cyberfeminism, a type of tactical media that originated in the early 1990’s, is concerned with feminism’s role in cyberspace and digital art. In her article Cyberfeminism as New Theory, Jennifer Brayton claims that Cyberfeminism “takes feminism as its starting point, and turns its focus upon contemporary technologies, exploring the intersections between gender identity, the body, culture and technology”. Cyberfeminism is not about criticizing new information technology but about seeking new opportunities to utilize said technology as a means of change. Computers have been a largely male-dominated enterprise, according to Alexander Galloway in “Protocol”; however, Galloway claims that computers have always been “a technology of the female”, pointing to women such as Ada Lovelace who have been influential in the development of the protocol that governs information technology. As Sadie Plant argues, women may not have been the CEOs of major computer companies and such, but they have been the ‘simulators, programmers, and assemblers of the digital machines’. Thus, women have been extremely influential in the actual functions of the computer. They are the ones to test, build, and program the computers. The VNS matrix is concerned with Cyberfeminism as theory put into practice, Cyberfeminism in our daily lives. As the norms of society change, the old patriarchal structure of the male-dominated computer and information technology fields is changing. Women are no longer bound by the old constraints of sexism in the computer world. Alex Galloway compares Cyberfeminism to a computer virus because the protocol is disturbed. However, viruses provide for some of the most “interesting protological phenomena” to occur, which propels the system in new and fascinating ways. The Virus is merely an exploit in a logical weakness in the code. As Galloway points out, the reason a virus would spread so quickly is because of the widespread use of the application is targeting. Likewise, Cyberfeminism spread at an accelerated rate in the early 1990s because of the widespread exclusion of women from areas of empowerment within the information technology sphere. Plant argues that technology is ‘fundamentally female’ while her contemporary, Sandy Stone, focuses on the production of “bodies, identities, and spaces” within virtual communities. Plant sees Cyberfeminism as a detriment to Masculine Identity. Thus, as Galloway claims, the “universality of protocol gives feminism something that it never had at its disposal, the obliteration of the masculine from beginning to end”. Plant focuses on a “pure feminist space” instead of the negative space created by a male-dominated computer sphere, and in the VNS matrix looks at how this feminist space can “infect” the protological space. Plant uses several examples to show how women have always been the proprietors of protological technology, but, as Plant argues, feminism is still “technophobic”. This is completely against Plant’s ideas, as she feels that the intersection of women and information technology is extremely important. Because women have such a long history involved with protological technology, the digital provides a space with which feminism thrives and the male-domination of the computer sphere is non-existent. Thus, Cyberfeminsim is intrinsically intertwined with all types of feminism, for it provides the maximum potential for feminism to thrive in the face of patriarchal oppression.
Brian Holmes begins his article Do-it-yourself Geopolitics by describing vanguard art in the twentieth century. He first juxtaposes the constructivist movement, which “sought to infuse architecture, design and the nascent mass media with a new dynamics of social purpose and a multiperspectival intelligence of political dialogue” with the dada movement, which “sought to tear apart the entire repertory of inherited forms and dissolve the very structures of the bourgeois ego”. The culmination of these two movements was in the Situationist International, as Holmes argues, which used the construction of situations to project subversive art into the practice of everyday life. Holmes continues to say that the idea of a “vanguard” had been dissolved and the desire to create a real democracy “reopened”. This phenomenon was a result of the fact that so many people were being trained as artists and entered into the industry and could just as easily leave it because of the of the détournement, a technique developed by the Situationist International that “turned the expressions of capitalism against itself” (Holt). Holmes gives the Punk Movement of the 1970s as an example of a situation. Holmes argues that the Punk Movement, through garage bands and a large release of indie records, was “appropriating the media” which is equal to “appropriating the means of production”, for the media controlled the consciousness in that society. When art begins to be used as appropriation, Holmes argues, the “aesthetics of everyday practice” begins to be seen as political. The techno movement, with its “sophisticated computer technology” and “nomadic sound systems”, mail art with the advent of the Art Strike and Plagiarist movement, and tactical media can all be considered examples of this art transformation. The most monumental example of this though, as Holmes points out, is the Internet. All “of media available for appropriation” is connected through the monstrosity of the Internet, a tool which takes communications technology to a new level and allows for unprecedented information distribution. Hackers gave confidence to the Internet generation with their model of “amateur intervention into complex systems” and thus a desire arose to take on multinational corporations and expose their corruption and injustices. Thus, Do-It-Yourself Geopolitics was born. Holmes goes on to describe the Carnival that was held on June, 18 1999 in London’s financial district and the complex process of how it developed. The Carnival consisted of people wearing masks with an inscription on the back suggesting that the neoliberal control over individuals is sourced it the ability to identify and distinguish the masses, and thus the masks prevent this from happening. The Carnival took months of planning consisting of an “infinitely careful and endlessly chaotic process of face-to-face meetings, grapevine communication, cut-and-paste production and early activist adventures in electronic networking”. People were then invited to disrupt their local financial centers. The London RTS was part of the larger PGA that was responsible for the poetics of the Zapatistas. Thus, “a new cartography of ethical-aesthetic practice had been invented, embodied and expressed all across the world”.
Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri in their book Empire delineate the present political state of the world in terms of growing neoliberalism and globalization. They suggest that the imperial age has ended, and national conflicts are no longer relevant. The force of neoliberalism, according to Hardt and Negri, transcends all national and governmental boundaries. The “Empire” is composed of the dominant developed nations, including the United States and the G8, international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, and the WTO, as well as multinational corporations. The “Empire” allows for the rich to become richer and forces the poor to remain at the bottom of the economic food chain. Neoliberalism is unbeatable except through resistance, which also ties into many other topics that we have studied in class, including the Zapatistas, the EDT, etc. Hardt and Negri argue that the beginnings of this new world order can be traced back to the formation of the League of Nations, eventually the United Nations. The United Nations, as they state, demonstrates the limitations of an “international” order and points to the creation of a “global” order. They go on to discuss the philosophies of both John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, noting that there is some truth in what Hobbes and Lock suggested in terms of globalization, but, that Hobbes and Locke were mistaken in retaining the classic idea of sovereign national states and failed to recognize the “new nature of imperial power”, that is a global order that supersedes nation-states. In the next section, titled the Constitution of Empire, Hardt and Negri discuss capitalism in terms of the new world order. They claim that, although we should pay attention to the “universalizing dimensions of capitalist development”, we should not understate the fusion of economic and political power in the new world order that results in a “properly capitalist order”. Additionally, Hardt and Negri discuss war in terms of the new world order, suggesting that the legitimacy of the military is established as long as it is justified ethically and that military is used to effectively establish the “order and peace” required of the global neoliberal force. Hardt and Negri go on to define the Imperial Order of Authority in terms of the “right of the police”. The ability to summon a police force defines the Imperial Order of Authority, which allows the global force of neoliberalism to maintain order against uprising and to impose repression. In the next section, Hardt and Negri discuss Biopolitical Production of the Empire, which is the conceptualization of individual people within the larger context of the global society. Here I looked to outside sources to better understand Biopolitical Production. As stated in Philosophy.com, Biopolitical Production, as presented by Hardt and Negri, refers to the “management of the people’s subjectivity” (philosophy.com). Neoliberalism attempts to undercut any ideas of democracy or citizenship and to “enter the turbulent world of the global market as consumers and producers” (philosophy.com). Thus, neoliberalism attempts to remove our individual identities and make the general population into slaves of the capitalist market, serving its purposes without question. The ideas presented in Empire by Hardt and Negri are bold and powerful claims against the emerging world order of neoliberalism and globalization, and should not be taken lightly. They argue that a new world order is emerging in which we have no say in our own governance or even decisions, and thus any claims they have made should be examined carefully and assesses. If their claims to prove legitimate, then it is up to the general population to act, for a world in which individual identities is absent and the lower classes are continually oppressed is by no means desirable, and thus action must be taken against the order described in Empire.
Blog Post 6- Jonathan Hanna
Civil Disobedience is an idea that has been around since ancient Greece, evident in the works of Greek Tragedians such as Sophocles. The fathers of modern civil disobedience, namely Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. used civil disobedience to protest corruption they saw within the government. The idea behind this use of civil disobedience, as outlined in Thoreau’s essay “Resistance to Civil Government”, is that citizens are the cause of any aggression used against them if they continue to cooperate with the corrupt government or entity that is the source of said oppression; instead, citizens must peacefully resist any support or law of that government in order to affect change. Similarly, the Zapatistas adopted this type of resistance, civil disobedience, in order to protest neoliberalism and the oppression of the indigenous and lower classes of Mexico. Ricardo Dominguez, a supporter and sympathizer of the Zapatista movement, decided to utilize the power of modern day information technology to extend the grasp of the Zapatista movement. Civil disobedience thus entered into the modern age in the form of tactical media, and was now able to have vastly greater consequences because of the low-cost and far-reaching capabilities of the internet and other communications tools. Dominguez constructed a group known as the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) to create a platform by which to showcase the Zapatista movement on a global stage. The EDT enlists others to aid in the movement by performing actions such as flooding a target’s web server. But just how effective can this type of civil disobedience be? How can a virtual protest be just as effective as or even more effective than physical resistance, albeit peaceful? The crux of the issue is the sheer magnitude of the people involved. Consider an act such as a “sit-down”, such as during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, in which people would try to disturb a restaurant or business by merely blocking the door. A “sit-down” in tactical media terms, as the article from Brown University indicates, is when thousands of people are contributing to the shutdown of the websites of multiple corporations, effectively impeding their ability to function in a market that relies on the internet and communication. It’s not just the people who are physically present that are able to participate, such as the Zapatistas in Mexico’s case, but this EDT and the idea of using tactical media for the purpose of civil disobedience gives everyone willing the ability to participate, not just support the movement passively. As Carmen states in the video, this ability to “mobilize the masses” is what scares governments and corporations about EDT. Civil Disobedience no longer belongs to the movement itself and the people physically present but belongs to the masses. What the EDT has done by bringing civil disobedience to tactical media is to give a small coalition of rebels in Mexico a fighting chance against the monstrosity of neoliberalism. Essentially the EDT is a massive “draft”, for the Zapatista army, giving them the numbers they need to put up a fight against economic capitalism. The implications of this new form of civil disobedience extends far past just the Zapatista movement, for the ability to rally the people toward a cause against a large entity, such as a corrupt government or corporation, will prove to be indispensible for future movements in this age of information technology.