[iDC] Fwd: Egyptian Revolution: 2nd decolonialisation for all

Armin Medosch armin at easynet.co.uk
Thu Feb 3 20:17:55 UTC 2011

Davidand IDCers,

thanks for forwarding this to IDC, as indeed my initial post on nettime
also had the thread on IDC on 'twitter revolution' in mind. 

In your forwarded version of my post, however, some important paragraphs
in the middle are missing. The main motivation for my posting was not to
bash nettimers for staying so quiet during a historical moment, but
rather to highlight the mass intelligence of the Egyptian people. 

Their mass intelligence stands in stark contrast to the attitude of
politicians who keep talking down to people as if they were children, as
John Barker has analysed in a lucid piece some years ago:

To quote John:
"There are many other versions of the
shepherd and his flock: monarchy; racist
colonial; or modern day autocratic. The monarch
and his or her subjects; the lords of all they
surveyed; the great democrat of the Founding
Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, saying that "to free
negroes was like abandoning children"; King
Leopold and the 'children' of the Congo; fascist
states; nominally Communist states; or, more
often in the modern world, authoritarian states,
or those with instinctively elitist tendencies."

Those instinctively elitist tendencies are not only at work in
autocratic regimes but also in the extemely stratified class structure
of financialism in the networked society. 

The underlying assumption is that people cannot be trusted to run their
own affairs. This is coming through in many media reports who keep
complaining since a week that the revolution has no figurehead - to then
suggest a western approved potential figurehead such as El-Baradei. 

This is a conspiracy against the people which wants to portray their
genuine revolt as if it had been some 'infantile disorder': you had your
angry moment but now go home, let the forces of order take over again. 

The mass intelligence which Egyptians of all walks of life have
displayed so far, and also the sheer bravery against a regime playing
very dirty, defies this elitist outlook on social relations. 

Any discussion then which highlights esclusively the role of media, be
it social media or al jazeera or what have you, becomes part of that
conspiracy, because it takes a stance regarding the following question:
who is the subject of history?

In the discussions in so called media theory that is exactly the point
that the prevailing viewpoint is that media have become the subjects of
history, not people. and this has deep theoretical as well as practical

The second point is of a more outright political nature. the revolts in
Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the middle east have a deeper
significance as they can be understood as a new wave of

Here the ambiguities of US and EU (EU being those little petty bourgeois
hiding behind the world policeman with smoldering canons) foreign policy
shows in full clarity. On one hand the revolts in the middle east are
democratic revolts fighting for values such as representative democracy,
free and fair elections, a free press, an independent judiciary and
basic human rights. At the same time however, decisions taken early in
the Cold War by the US and never really changed independently of which
president was at the helm, have denied the peoples of those nations
exactly those rights in the name of first fighting Communism, now
fighting Islamicism. The world historic role of the US as declining
hegemony has penned it in to patterns of behavior from which even the
Obama administration with all its appearant committment to democracy
finds it difficult escape. Which brings us back to the beginning. 

Were Egyptian people becoming a bit too free and having free and fair
elections, they might make the wrong choice and vote for the Muslim
Brotherhood. I actually dont believe they would, but many media pundits
and governments appearantly do. therefore they dont know whats good for
them,  some form of elitist rule is therefor justified, etc., ... 

Buried in all that mess and what is still a very dangerous situation
where it feels rather strange to become just another armchair
commentator is also a chance: that this new wave of decolonialisation
can also contribute to a decolonialisation of the minds in the core
countries, where opposition to the regime of fincancialism has been very
weak so far. 

As, according to some reports some of the protesters adopted the Bangles
song "walk like an Egyptian" as a slogan, maybe more people should try
to walk that walk. 

I am preparing to go onto an offline holiday. Thus, should I not respond
further to any emails if there should be any, its not for lack of
interest but because I am enjoying the remote countryside


On Thu, 2011-02-03 at 12:42 -0500, David Golumbia wrote:
> posted to nettime, but in part inspired by ulises's idc postings &
> almost sent several times here re: that. 
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com>
> Date: Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM
> Subject: Re: <nettime> Egyptian Revolution: 2nd decolonialisation for
> all
> To: nettime-l at kein.org
> i have been wanting to remark for a while on a silence is not
> just deafening, but revelatory. it makes these lists seem like "places
> to talk about politics so long as and only in so far as you think
> politics are being radically transformed by one electronic technology
> or another." in such a context, the fact of resistance is more
> important than its success, so that we can talk about failed uprisings
> as revolutions. 
> the members of the various lists you mention are among the smartest
> and most attentive people i know in the world. Obviously nettime, idc,
> aoir, etc., are not forums for discussion of world politics. Yet their
> transient dips into such topics (like those of mass media pundints)
> come to seem both interested and strangely quietist.
> "we're interested in your revolution/catastrophe/big political change
> if it is fueled by twitter/facebook/AJAX and if one government or
> another uses the internet to access or block parts of the huge
> political conversation; otherwise, don't care much." 
> very few of the egyptian protestors appear to be using electronic
> devices when they are protesting, even as our pundints narrate over
> the pictures with stories about facebook transforming the political
> fabric. 
> this is not to deny the role of various forms of social media in all
> forms of political activity. it is to ask what exactly are we talking
> about, and in what way do we see our discussion itself as contributing
> to contemporary politics? 
> DG
> uncomputing.org
> On Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 5:48 PM, Armin Medosch <armin at easynet.co.uk>
> wrote:
>         the silence on nettime regarding the Tunisian and Egyptian
>         revolutions
>         is really deafening. is it that the vanguard of net-criticism
>         has
>         nothing to say when a genuine people's movement is rearing
>         it's
>         hydra-like head?
>         justifiedly a few voices have been heard here and on IDC
>         condemning the
>         viewpoint that this is a #twitterrevolutuion or
>         facebookrevolution. such
>         media-centric viewpoints, as much as they are propounded by
>         Western
>         commentators, are old-hat indeed.
>         It is telling that the media-centric vanguards (netcriticism,
>         transmediale, IDC, etc.) have very little to say in this
>         situation.
>         The Mass Intelligence of the people of Egypt shows that there
>         is an
>         alternative. Although the outcome is not yet clear, and any
>         genuine
>         renovation of a grassroots democratic idea is bound to run
>         into
>         organised resistance by capitalists and religious autocrats
>         alike,  the
>         current example should invigorate all who are looking for
>         genuine
>         change. It is definitely a 'moment in history'
>         (some of the ideas and notions put forward in this posting
>         have been
>         developed in collaboration with Brian Holmes in the
>         technopolitics
>         project)
> -- 
> David Golumbia
> dgolumbia at gmail.com
> -- 
> David Golumbia
> dgolumbia at gmail.com
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