Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) on Tue, 3 Jun 1997 21:26:18 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Political Economics 101


Raging against "pan-capitalism", demanding the end of work after age 40,
re-hashing St. Fred and St. Karl's follies, isomorphing economics with
ecologics (Bateson, anyone?), decrying the "end of the social", wailing
about why Soros is the only water-supply, pretending that British or French
"Social Democracy" is anything but a brutal and cynical safety valve,
exhalting the pathos-soaked hobos of the world, yearning for "noble
savagery" and farting loudly about "unintended consequences" all
demonstrates a profound and posturing ignorance of the basic political
economics of the Information Age.  Why are we -- apparently deliberately --
so ill-informed about the mess we are now in?

Who runs the world?  Nobody?  Guess again.

When Newt Gingrich stepped up to the PFF podium in January 1995 -- with
J.P. Barlow on the stage (to deliver a lyrical but typically deceitful
attack on the "natural" free-market policies, "red in tooth and claw",
which he now embraces), he credited two people as the principle architects
of the Information Age -- Peter Drucker and Kenneth Boulding.  Newt said
that he was merely the "hand-maiden of the intellectuals" and he wasn't
kidding.  Instead of hanging out with us in Ljubljana, Barlow (that
"infernally cussed" acid-head) was sitting at the feet of Drucker (the
ultimate management guru), his new idol -- does a pattern seem to be
emerging?  How many of us have even read Boulding or Drucker?  

Earth to nettime!  We live in a post-industrial oligarch-controlled world.  

It is a world that is characterized by economic scarcity (Maastricht
austerity), studied irrationality (post-structuralism), electronic
narcotics (user interfaces and virtual reality), semiotic occultism
(hermenetics), accelerated looting and the global crushing of hope.  This
world was absolutely planned and it has been quite deliberately articulated
and implemented.  It was designed in order to end the possiblity that human
creativity would ever again threaten the oligarchs and their power.  In the
name of guarding against dreaded "instability", post-industrialism's target
has consistently been economic growth, creative intellect and
anti-oligarchist sovereignty.  To pretend otherwise is to have missed the
past 50 years of human history (and then some).  

To imagine that this economy isn't planned by the oligarchs for their own
overwelming advantage is utterly naive.  And, for the aristocratic
hanger-on Barlow (personally selected by Jackie-O to finish JFK Jr's
"schooling" in drugs and women, fer chrissakes), such naivety is quite
unlikely.  This "poet" is an oligarchist whore -- not exactly a "job in the
formal sense of the word", I would agree.

In the real world, unemployment is endemic (or "jobs" are low wage and
unproductive), overall wages are stagnant (except for the "Brain Lords"),
productivity is paradoxically "flat" (computers cut costs not generate
wealth), unrest is palpable (deadly in many locales), China is declared the
new "enemy"(it's not post-industrial), schools no longer teach learning
(keyboard skills and behavior mod are plenty), narcosis is considered truly
religious (Wow, God lives in the rocks!), plagues are threatening (or real)
and the stock market is booming (cut costs boost profits) and all of this
is for the same reason -- oligarchist post-industrialism.  Each of these
"consequences" was widely forecast and absolutely intended.  Read Boulding
and Drucker and it's all layed out.  To pretend otherwise is to profoundly
misunderstand what and who we are up against.

And, in championing misunderstanding, we are thoroughly impotent against
these oligarchs and their minions.  All we can do is "refuse."  All we can
do is spin our own utopian fantasies.  All we can do is long for an
autonomy from necessity, from authority and from rationality -- from being
human.  All we can do is take our medicine, pick at our nits and lay down
to die.  Or, worse yet, we can become "Social Democrats."

But, in forging an understanding, we see other possiblities, however dimly.
 History makes some semblance of sense.  Power is real and ideas actually
have consequences.  Technology becomes a two-edged sword.  Despair is
checked.  Strategies begin to come into focus.

Which will it be?  Studied irrationality or tentative pattern recognition? 
What the hell, let's party.

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City
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