[iDC] Art

Kevin Hamilton kham at uiuc.edu
Mon Dec 12 00:15:00 EST 2005

I appreciate the efforts of recent posts to identify specific 

And the acknowledgement of the academic context as a site ripe for action.

Just wanted to add this question: Beyond civil disobedience as a tactic, 
has anyone come across discussion of pacifism in relation to new media 
and activism?

Pacfism sometimes resembles a "third way" between strategy and tactics - 
literally, in the case of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, who step 
between tactical rock-throwing and strategic troop deployment in 
Palestine. For some of their members, the motto "getting in the way" 
came fully true this week when they were captured in Iraq.

Not something I can claim as my own way of life, but I remain interested 
in what pacifism has to offer to some of the confrontations described in 
this thread.

I'm speaking here not only of Civil Disobedience as a tactic, but of 
pacifism in the anabaptist sense - what I understand to be a deeply held 
and lived belief:
-that (short of heaven or Christ's return) power will always prevail
-that (again, on this earth) the powerful will always overlook and abuse 
the disempowered
-that efforts to aid the disempowered must then come from 
extra-governmental action

Pacifists sometimes seem to be the most active people around. What reads 
as fatalism to some is a call to action for others.

I haven't made it far enough in Hardt and Negri to discover where, as 
Kester pointed out, they dismiss NGO's. And I have no history with 
direct activism.

But I do share many of the concerns expressed in this discussion so far, 
especially as a professor in new media at a research university. 
Subjectivity, still never fully  granted to so many, seems to be under 
attack for those to whom it was granted. I understand and can see the 
role of specific material, media decisions in this process. Hacktivism, 
culture-jamming, tactical media, all excite me and inform my teaching. 
de Certeau, the Situationists, took hold of me strongly as a student.

But in addition to some of the concerns about "effectiveness" expressed 
here and in my classrooms,

I also wonder about how many tactical actions are damned to mirror the 
strategies they attack, and thus to bolster or even repeat power. I 
wonder whether we might learn from pacifism some alternatives to this, 
whether violence is the problem.

Would you be sorry to discover GI-Joe dolls in the closet of a media 
tactician? (And I don't mean the ones used for Barbie Liberation.)

All this humbly submitted by someone who has not lived this discussion 
as long or deeply as others who have posted here, and whose thoughts I 
have very much learned from this week.

Kevin Hamilton

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