John Perry Barlow on Tue, 3 Jun 1997 02:50:34 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> The Piran Nettime Manifesto

At 3:46 PM -0700 5/27/97, t byfield wrote:
>On Tue 05/27/97 at 10:05 AM -0600, John Perry Barlow <> wrote:
>> Wow. It sounds as if you folks had yourselves quite a time. Probably a good
>> thing I wasn't there...
>If I may ask: Why? I'm sure various people have various ideas about
>this, but fractionalism is one thing, but separatism quite another.

I think there is so much difference between the beliefs stated in the
"manifesto" and my own that I would have been enormously frustrated to find
myself so deeply at odds with the consensus.

>If "pan-capitalism" is "the natural state of things," then there's
>no point in talking about it: it has all the conceptual clarity of
>the word "stuff." I suppose you can evaluate "the natural state of
>things" in a positive way, but what you're pretty much saying that
>the world's a great place. Indeed it is--now what? Well, now we'll
>need to think about it in clear terms that convey *some* amount of

What I meant to say is that nature is itself a free market system. A rain
forest is an unplanned economy, as is a coral reef. The difference between
an economy that sorts the information and energy in photons and one that
sorts the information and energy in dollars is a slight one in my mind.
Economy *is* ecology.

.So let's do that... The notion that every regime that
>has imposed a planned economy has failed is clearly false: there's
>been a recent wave of collapsing governments in a specific region,
>and they followed a limited range of economic planning strategies;
>but they were never the monolithic bogey that the US made them out
>to be when they were in power--and nor were they the only examples
>of "planned economies."

Very well. Can you give me an example of a planned economy that seems to be
healthy...and appears likely to remain so for the long term?

> No amount of quibbling can change the fact
>that every major industrialized country imposes an incredibly wide
>range of procedures that serve to regulate their economies, and to
>do so with the aim of meeting very specific goals: *planning*. And
>they *all* do so through a range of techniques, which rely on both
>"incentives" and "coercion."

There is a lot of tinkering with industrial economies through regulation
and tax incentives, but I would say more of these techniques are in decline
and increasing low repute. Look at what is happening with
telecommunications worldwide. I don't know a single country that still
believes the PTT model is the way to optimize communications.

>Maybe that brings us full circle, to the
>claim that pan-capitalism is somehow "natural"; but if it does, it
>does nothing else--and leaves us wondering whether you're claiming
>that whatever you mean by "planned economies" was unique in all of
>world history as an unnatural creation of man.

I'm not sure that anything humans do is unnatural.In a sense, it's all
nature. But some our efforts are so mechanistic as to be
counter-productive. I would assert that planned economies have been about
as successful as many planned ecologies: tree farms, drained wetlands, etc.
Mother Nature is cruel, but she can be far kinder than the unintended
results of our best intentions.


John Perry

John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident
Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

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simplest things, and because it takes a man's life to know them, the little
new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he
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                                  -- Ernest Hemingway

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