Radical media, politics and culture.


Manchester, 2nd-4th April 2002

The eighth international conference on ALTERNATIVE FUTURES and POPULAR
PROTEST will be held at Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester,
England from Tuesday 2nd April to Thursday 4th April 2002.

This Manchester conference series has proved a small but significant
success. Reflecting the inherent cross-disciplinary nature of the issues,
previous participants (from over 40 countries) have come from such
specialisms as sociology, politics, cultural studies, social psychology,
economics, history and geography. The Manchester conferences have been
notable for discovering a fruitful and friendly meeting ground between
activism and academia.

Louis Lingg writes: "Over ten years ago, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, the journal Foreign Affairs published 'The End of History' by Francis Fukuyama. Fukuyama argued that civilization and humanity had reached its apex in the development of capitalist political economy and liberal democracy: there would be no future substanitve ideological challenges, no contradictions to resolve, no dialectic.

Following the 9/11 attack and the sudden realization (by some in the West) of a formidable and belligerent aversion to Western values and traditions by the Islamic world, pundits and others have proclaimed that Fukuyama was wrong.

In The Independent (UK) Francis Fukuyama insists that he was and remains right."

Willard Uncapher writes: "I must admit that reading Naomi Klein or even Edward Said's comments, I
feel that they over-emphasize the US wardrums and ideological control
aspect of the media coverage. The truth, at least up here in Northern
California, has seemed more complex. As the public becomes more aware, or
rather concerned with the fact that we, as planetary citizens (and where
appropriate, as US citizens) are all inter-connected in complex global
socio-cultural-economic- political- technological webs or networks, the
more difficult it has becomes to posit problems (and 'enemies' as belonging
'over there').

This makes for an almost hitherto unique (at least in the US), but newly
emerging "network polity." Social-cultural attitudes and institutions can
change. This can be hard to see in networks. When you represent 'things'
that are networked together, a politics of approximation becomes more
important, a politics by which approximate processes are turned into
deliminated 'things' or categories seen or argued about from a 'higher
level' above the process. We move between levels, whether by means of
digital technology, social scientific investigations, cultural
interpretations, semiotic systemics, natural evolution, using mechanisms
'approximation.' Naomi Klein might be right about some of the edges, but
what does this imply about the bulk of activities it contends these events
represent? I think network epistemologies (and their associated politics
and arts) will deal with this issue more and more. In my view,
approximation is part of the process of representation, part of the pattern
of moving from one level to another. I would invoke von Neumann, G.
Bateson, or Anthony Wilden who look at the 'digital' as a mode of
approximation, of a necessary metonymy, as a perspective about a network,
but from a position that claims to be outside of it. Accepting an
approximation as a whole fact is part and parcel of the politics of
epistemology. Older dialectical logical forms, with their assumptions of
'ontology' over process cannot find a hold. At the same time 'systems
views' need a more realistic approach to the emerging dynamics of power and
surveillance. We are becoming a verb that needs a new focus. This is an
element of an emerging network epistemology and politics.

Autonomedia writes: " "The Outcome Could Not Be More Uncertain

Immanuel Wallerstein Oct. 1, 2001

In his speech to the U.S. Congress and to the world, President Bush
said, in asserting what the U.S. intended to do, that there
were many difficulties ahead, "yet its outcome is certain." This could
not be more untrue. If his statement was meant as
hortatory rhetoric, it may be considered normal discourse for a leader
of a nation besieged. But if it reflects the analytic view of
Bush and his principal deputies, then it is a dangerous misperception.

Of course, the first obscurity is to which outcome Bush is referring. He
may mean the destruction of Al-Qaeda, which is a
possible albeit extremely difficult objective. He may mean the
elimination or defanging of all groups anywhere that the U.S.
will designate as "terrorist," in which case the possibility of success
seems extremely dubious. He may mean a restoration of the
belief of the American people and the world in general in the military
prowess of the United States government, which is, as of
this point, an objective whose success is quite uncertain. He may mean
sustaining the interests of the United States as a country
and of its enterprises, an objective whose likelihood of success is at
best shaky.

It is important in thinking about "outcomes" to give oneself different
time lines. I propose three: six months, five years, 50
years. The picture for Bush looks rosiest within a six-months
perspective. Consider what he has already gained in the short
period since Sept. 11. Before that day, the Bush administration was
subjected to opposition, of varying degrees, from just about
everywhere, and notably from the Democrats in Congress; the allies in
Europe; Russia and China; the governments and
populations of most of the countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America;
and a worldwide "anti-globalization" movement. That's
a formidable list, and almost all of this opposition has either
disappeared or been greatly muted since the attack on Sept. 11. The
Democrats in Congress and the allies in Europe have rallied round the
U.S. under siege. Russia, China, and most of the
governments of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have given some kind of
at least qualified support to a U.S. response to the
attack. The "anti-globalization" movement has been relatively quiet and
is wondering whether it should transform itself into a
"peace" movement.

read the rest of Immanuel's commentary here

George Caffentzis, Midnight Notes Collective

I write this essay to participate in a discussion within the antiglobalization movement on the events of September 11. I am anguished about the lives lost in the bombings of that day and also because of the scenario that is in front of us:

*Plans for massive bombings against Afghanistan and protracted warfare against a list of countries (perhaps sixty, according to President Bush) presumably supporting terrorism.

*The escalation of xenophobia especially against Arabs, but targeting all immigrants, and this not just in the US. In Italy the Northern League (part of the coalition of parties that now govern the country) has already proposed that all undocumented workers should be treated as potential terrorists.

*The demonization of the anti-globalization movement, accused of being an enemy of "western civilization."

*New, wide-spread restrictions on civil liberties.

What can we do in this situation?

Our first task is obviously to stop the escalation of violence, and mobilize against a US-led war on Afghanistan or any other country the Bush administration picks to be a target for its "war on terrorism." We also need to build solidarity with the Arab and immigrant communities in the US now under attack physically and ideologically. But we must gain a better understanding of what has happened, since any confusion on this point can have the most serious consequences for the antiglobalization movement.

Louis Lingg writes: "Egyptian site www.ahram.org has posted an interview with Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University.

Among other topics, he addresses the idea that we may be approaching the brink of a "clash of civilizations.""

Anonymous Comrade writes: "
Indymedia Germany has posted an article analyzing the current relation of the wealthy and indebted nations in light of the WTC disaster by Saskia Sassen: ENTRAPMENTS RICH COUNTRIES CANNOT ESCAPE: GOVERNANCE HOTSPOTS. Sassen is a US urbanist (author of “Global Cities”); this piece appeared first in the Wall Street Journal on 9-12-01.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

Dear Comrades,

We are living through scary times. Clearly the US Government and its allies believe they have a grand opportunity to realign domestic and international relationships in their interest. This is frightening: major shifts in the political landscape threaten to tear the ground from beneath our feet.

However, these glacial shifts in the political scene also offer
anti-authoritarians a unique opportunity to obtain a new, more secure
footing in our struggle against economic exploitation, political hierarchy, and cultural domination. Political conditions are changing radically and, if we respond correctly, we have the chance to advance our movement to a much higher level.

(unauthorized translation by soenke.zehle@web.de, source: FAZ 09/20/01)

On Security and Terror
By Giorgio Agamben

Security as the leading principle of state politics dates back to the the birth
of the modern state. Hobbes already mentions it as the opposite of fear,
which compels human beings to come together within a society. But not until
the 18th century does a thought of security come into its own. In a 1978
lecture at the CollÈge de France (which has yet to be published) Michel
Foucault has shown how the political and economic practice of the
Physiocrats opposes security to discipline and the law as instruments of

David Cox writes: "Images are themselves a lens on the culture which makes them. Walter
Benjamin was both right and wrong about art in the age of mechanical
reproduction. He was correct in stating that as images proliferate, their
overall commercial value in depreciates. He was wrong in assuming that
manufactured images are worth less than their 'real world' referent.

As manufactured goods accelerate away from the decade in which they were
made, they themselves gain a kind of new cultural value. Some commodities
seem to accrue more cultural gravitas than others. The dodgiest of global
trade in junk, the antique market bears testimony to the ways in which
even the most trivial of manufactured items can become obscure objects of
desire once made to enter the domain commodity relations.
manufactured images are worth less than their 'real world' referent.

Read the whole essay athttp://www.netspace.net.au/~dcox/lens.html"


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