[iDC] Re: Art

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Mon Dec 12 12:37:14 EST 2005

On 12-Dec-05, at 11:09 AM, Brad Borevitz wrote:

>  it is easy to say "TAZ," to say "route around
> it" - but the precariousness of these solutions and their isolation 
> betray
> them, their limits, their selfishness.

There have been so many deeply felt and deeply insightful posts to 
these recent threads that I hesitate to attempt any kind of 
simplification, but I do think that this point of Brad's brings us back 
to the core of this discussion. Despite calls for a useful political 
platform, for leadership, for ambitious strategic pragmatism, despite 
valuable rememberings of insights from past rebels and visionaries, 
despite appeals to grassroots populism and ancient generative energies, 
we still find ourselves (or at least, I do anyway) stuck wondering how 
to transcend the Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) of artmaking and 
honest acts of local resistance to fascistic tendencies in myself and 
my world. How do I engage with the macrosphere of global politics in 
all its self-destructive glory without buying into its endlessly 
co-optive temptations? Are there legitimate alternatives? If so, what 
are they? Who can we turn to to guide us and what direction do we want 
to go in? Or is it just me and my family, my friends, my school, my 
neighbours, trying to work out a decent community in a fearful age? 
(Not that this is in any way an unworthy thing, just, according to most 
of us on this thread, less than what is currently needed.)

At the risk of sounding hopelessly naive, and also knowing full well 
that many people on this list were part of the great techno-dreamings 
of the recent past (and their fracturing as well) in much more engaged 
ways than was I, it seems to me that we are overlooking something. Why 
have we abandoned – or at least retreated from – the notion that the 
Internet itself may eventually provide the critical mass, the economic 
levers and the social dreams that will enable and impose progressive 
movements. Not utopically, and not inevitably and not easily, but to 
some extent organically, as a consequence of the introduction of this 
extraordinary new enabler of peer-to-peer communication?

Again, I know that this kind of determinism is terrible out of fashion 
but I remain convinced that the social destabilization resulting from 
this new technology has barely even begun to emerge. We're thinking in 
terms of days, weeks, years, a couple brief decades at best, whereas 
real social change happens mostly in terms of generations. As leaders 
(surely many if not most of us are) of minds and dreams in the 
ascending sphere of new media, should we not look first to the children 
who will not just inherit our technological world but who will in large 
measure create and control it? What and how are we teaching them, what 
alternatives are we offering them, where will we be positioned (old 
guard, prophet of yore, trusted advisor, party leader) when they mature 
and make choices that will shape our future? Where are we now?

For one thing we are all online. In the online sphere if we do not have 
the advantage over the killing machines then we are at least on a more 
equal footing. Why should we not continue nurturing this realm with 
constructive and liberating discussions such as this, all the while 
taking stock – as we are doing – of both past and present, seeking 
allies, building bridges? Similarly, I would argue that just as we need 
to enable young people to leverage their techno-power wisely, we who 
seek justice should also look to those who are suffering injustice as 
allies in the virtual sphere, and as potential partners in collectivist 
movements therein. I'm thinking here of developing nations and the 
tremendous opportunity that digital networks may afford them. What if 
eBay had been a Brazilian company that early on had been nationalized 
and that now generated billions annually for the people of Brazil?

It may sound anachronistic to say that children and disenfranchised 
workers are our only real hope for the future, but i actually think 
that it's true. When it is their time, if we are lucky and have worked 
hard and wisely, it may also be our time.

With gratitude and tempered optimism...
john sobol

bluesology • printopolis • digitopia

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