Andreas Broeckmann on Wed, 3 Jul 96 11:35 MDT

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nettime: Re: CDA/Barlow

Dear John Perry,

I had no intention of restarting this discussion because I honestly had the
feeling that it had passed its sell-by date. So apologies to everyone for
the necessary repetitions, I have nothing original to say after five months
of lively debate.

John Perry Barlow writes:
>I did admit that I might have said it better. But
>I will stick with the fundamental premise of the Declaration, a premise
>supported by the Judges in Philadelphia: No single existing world
>government has the right, the authority, or the ability to stifle the Great
>Conversation of Cyberspace.

What is always slightly disconcerting for me is that only US Americans
would talk about 'the world' in this way in this century, with this
messianic passion. What I thought had become clear in Madrid was that
neither the myth of the Great Conversation of Cyberspace, nor the myth of
the 'world governments' imposing some code or behaviour, was tenable, and
that we had to accept the diversity without a shared 'net community' house.
It was also pointed out that the self-entrenchment suggested by the
Declaration might lead to very worrying internal dynamics (the other f-word
was mentioned).

>>Both statements, the CDA and the
>>Declaration, seem to have neglected very important aspects of the reality
>>of global network communication, its nature, its diversity, and its
>Of the various insults I've endured over this, Andreas, I'd have to say
>that comparing my Declaration with the CDA is about the nastiest.

Don't worry, a word is not an index, and there is no contamination to be
feared from being mentioned in the same sentence. I am intrigued by the
fact that the two seem to share a similar fate, which as I say may be pure
temporal coincidence, but may also lie in the logic of the Grand

>Kindly illuminate how I neglected the reality of global network communication.

Well, you were there at the 5th Cyberconf, too, you heard the critics from
India and Australia remind us how restricted that Great Conversation might
be, how exclusive, and possibly also alienating for many people both inside
and outside the net; you heard the North American criticism about how the
vision of the Declaration is deeply rooted in a (Judeao-) Christian belief
system that does not account for other world views where governments,
authorities, freedom, independence, the individual, may take on a
completely different meaning; you heard the comments about how the
'declaration of independence' does not necessarily have to lead into a
happy, translocal hippy community of free spirits, but that the 'same'
gesture was performed by the Freemen in - was it Montana?, where a small
community of people severed all links with the surrounding civil society -
until the FBI went in. You heard the plea made in this context for sensible
regulation, rather than complete deregulation. (Why is it that you
constantly told us that governments are bad and that the corporate world is
disorganised and not to be feared?) And you also heard the explanation to
the misunderstood Kevin Costner 'why the natives are not grateful' - a
speech which I would rather see published as a transcript than summarise

John Perry, I trust that the initiative of the Declaration was
well-meaning, but I also believe that the criticism of it which, for me,
culminated in the meeting in Madrid, showed that it was not only the words
but also some of its preconceptions that made it unacceptable for many
people who share many of your ideas.

Kind regards,


V2_Organisatie * Andreas Broeckmann *
Eendrachtsstr.10 * NL-3012XL Rotterdam * t.+31.10.4046427 * fx.4128562
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coming up:
DEAF96, the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival, 17 - 22 Sept 1996 <>
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