[iDC] faux radicality

Bernard Roddy bproddy at yahoo.com
Fri May 11 09:18:19 EDT 2007

Oh, man, you're right, Trebor, this really burns.  And there better be a damn good reason to be taking this route.  Let's hope you're out there in the trenches talking to the people who are really paying the price.  Faux radicality.  How do you tell the faux from the real?  Let's see some faces and incomes.  Oh, man. . .  I remember back in Buffalo we ran into each other at a campus Starbucks.  I had just made my first post to a list you began there with grad students.  I had written about Hal Foster, and in person you said he started out radical, but then . . How does this happen?  Is it the university?  Maybe it all depends on who your friends are, where your allegiances rest.  I mean, let's just haul up here someone who thinks that slavery enabled the black population in the U.S. to enter the middle class.  Somewhere Deleuze talks about two kinds of forgetting.  One kind is the Nietschean that enables movement.  The past is constructed today, and you get the past you ask
 for.  Faux radicality.  Damn, Trebor, let's see some signs of engagement other than a stupid list serve discussion.  What are we calling progress or success here?  Why manipulate this into a critique of binary thinking?  Here's a Chicago effort, for the hell of it:
  Another question: who exactly do we have in mind when we talk about change?  Which populations?  And can we at least make reference to some language that is going to be useful?  I mean, is there theorizing going on here?  Jesus.


Message: 2
Date: Thu, 10 May 2007 10:32:39 -0400
From: Trebor Scholz 
Subject: [iDC] Re:From Counter Culture to Cyber Culture
To: IDC list 

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII

Thanks very much to Fred Turner for joining this forum. I highly
recommend his book From Counterculture to Cyberculture in which he
argues that the political influence of cultural resistance in the 60s
and 70s is vastly overestimated. Friends of mine who claim that they
stopped the Vietnam War with the San Francisco Summer of Love
and ten years of persistent demonstrations would not be too pleased.
Fred would be frank, he would disagree. 

He is also cautious with his beliefs in the power of information;
revealing the facts and mobilizing affect may not change much at all,
he'd say. He has been there- he was a journalist for ten years. That's
tough stuff to swallow for artists with political intent. As it is, it
needs a whole lot of faith to believe in art having a reach that goes 
beyond the market. So, what does he suggest? 

Fred learned to respect the power of mighty brick and mortar
institutions and suggests to link (social) networks to these power
centers that are often wrongly portrayed as villains, he says. His
argument is grounded in his research of the Back to the Land Movement,
the communitarians who distrusted everybody over 30. Their attitude, in
fact, did not change much at all, Fred argues.

I agree that the times for binary oppositions are over and that hybrid
interventions are the most hopeful sites for social change today. 
Fist raising rhetoric is not helpful. Simplistic activism is not
helpful. It makes people feel radical, it gives us a rush, it sounds
cool but it shuts down the other side and it does not convince many
people. I don't think that faux radicality moves us ahead. 

Changing things from the inside, however, is an old and definitely
dangerous, tactic with many historical precedents; many agents who
worked for the Stasi motivated their actions exactly like that. For
Fred, the powerhouses of real social change are hegemonic institutions
and the only actual chance for networks to not kid themselves in their
aspirations for building alternatives is to infiltrate those
institutions. Did I get that right, Fred?

If so, how do you make sense of the social networks-- mailing lists and
BBS's of the 90s-- that were the intellectual back bone and inspiration
of social movements like those in Seattle, Genoa, ...? What about
February 2003 with its ten million Iraq war demonstrators, coordinated
through the Internet? Sure, the WTO is still around and even ten million
demonstrators did not stop the war. Does not your argument give up on
cultural resistance as part of a multiplicity of contributions to social


Trebor Scholz


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