[iDC] California is burning/The Necrosocial and UCLA Students Mased in the Face as UC Regents Run!

Brian Holmes brian.holmes at aliceadsl.fr
Mon Nov 23 13:52:02 UTC 2009

Thanks to Christiane and Ricardo for sending these links. For more, 
there is a great section of Democracy Now you can watch:


The university struggles, in California and around the world, have been 
the elephant in the room of iDC. Yet what is happening is fundamental to 
what we will all become over the course of the next decades, because the 
very definition of the sayable and the unsayable is changing.

If universities are managed as corporate profit centers -- for that is 
the issue, and not only in California -- then all non-functional 
departments will either radically shrink or disappear. It will still be 
possible to speak about the technical functioning of the Internet and 
about the interaction protocols supplied by the corporations or the 
start-ups; but the intricacies of something like the Mechanical Turk 
will no longer be discussed, because the cultural resources will no 
longer be available. As for the labor theory of value, forget the pro 
and the contra -- such things have no function in the economy as it is. 
The question of what is valuable will be formulated only in terms of 
potential profit.

Does anyone remember tactical media? The idea of tactical media in the 
90s and early years of this decade was always to open up new spaces of 
speech, gesture and action. The Internet, as a relatively uncontrolled 
medium, could be seized and used for that purpose. I would say that the 
proliferating media structure of this series of conferences -- with the 
list, the videos, the live events, and the universe of people and 
projects they link to -- is really an _amazing_ instrument  for 
continuing to open up discussion about what the world is becoming and 
about the possibilities of intervention in that process. What we have, 
thanks to Trebor, his students, his collaborators and ourselves, is a 
fabulous tactical media network at a very high level of technical and 
cultural potential. In fact, this is a network that could become 
strategic: it could exert real power for the better. But for its 
potential to be fulfilled, it cannot just be used academically, that is, 
self-referentially. We have to engage much more with the social context 
in which our individual research and production is evolving. Consider 
these two paragraphs from The Necrosocial:

"The university is a machine which wants to grow, to accumulate, to 
expand, to absorb more and more of the living into its peculiar and 
perverse machinery: high-tech research centers, new stadiums and office 
complexes. And at this critical juncture the only way it can continue to 
grow is by more intense exploitation, higher tuition, austerity measures 
for the departments that fail to pass the test of 'relevancy.'

"But the 'irrelevant' departments also have their place. With their 
'pure' motives of knowledge for its own sake, they perpetuate the blind 
inertia of meaning ostensibly detached from its social context. As the 
university cultivates its cozy relationship with capital, war and power, 
these discourses and research programs play their own role, co-opting 
and containing radical potential. And so we attend lecture after lecture 
about how 'discourse' produces 'subjects,' ignoring the most obvious 
fact that we ourselves are produced by this discourse about discourse 
which leaves us believing that it is only words which matter, words 
about words which matter."

California is burning, students are being maced in the face. Actually, 
the United States and most of the so-called "advanced" countries are on 
the verge of becoming totally corrupt, at the very moment when the full 
potential of humanity is needed to face what looks like a great crisis 
on the near horizon. Let's talk about it, and about our own roles in 
this crisis. Let's use this incredible media network to open up the 
discussion of what the university is becoming, and how that 
transformation is linked to the crisis of neoliberal society as a whole. 
There is a use value of theory. If we don't put it to use, I am afraid 
the universities, our multiple and diverse cultures, and even our 
intimate selves will be sitting ducks for people who only want to use 
the present crisis as an excuse for imposing more of the same radical 
reduction of knowledge to pure functionality -- without even any more 
room for our cherished words, words, words.

best to you all, Brian

rdom at thing.net wrote:
> The Necrosocial
> Occupied UC Berkeley, 18 November 2009.
> Being president of the University of California is like being manager of a
> cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening.
> UC President Mark Yudof
> Capital is dead labor which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living
> labor.
> Karl Marx
> Politics is death that lives a human life.
> Achille Mbembe
> http://savingucsd.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-necrosocial-and-ucla

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