Saturday, December 04, 2010

False dichotomy watch

We've seen plenty of this sort of stuff before:
These networks such as the UnCut movement or the student movement with outstanding micro-organisations such as the UCL Occupation (which has received over 60,000 hits on its blog in a little under a week) who have so dynamically organised yesterday, today and going forward will inevitably be more flexible and effective than organisations with generic ‘leaderships’ such as major businesses, the police or even the National Union of Students.

Well, if your benchmark of effectiveness is the NUS... Mere snark, though. This particular Internet prairie fire does seem to be spreading nicely and doing more than tweeting. However, whenever someone starts going on like this, I do tend to suspect what they mean is "...more flexible and effective than organisations with people with funny accents who are train drivers an stuff".

I've said before, though, that I suspect that a lot of this network organising is structurally suited to negativity. Look at the 'baggers, for example. The classic examples political science types use, like open-source software projects, tend to be very different to the implementations in politics - rather than trying to recruit masses of people, they're usually driven by a hard core of the obsessed, or of people whose job it is. Order is difficult, mayhem is easy. Specifically, you can contribute significantly to mayhem by putting in an hour here or there.

On the other hand, though, it's not as if we're likely to run out of rage. This is 'bagger lesson one. Negative tactics and the expression of inchoate rage are not without value. Nigel Stanley gets it right - it's a false dichotomy. Getrennt marschieren, vereint schlagen, and we'll all get there in the end.

1 comment:

Naadir said...

Have to say, I'm no fan of comparisons to open source software in contemporary political theory. I tried to read some of Hardt and Negri, but got annoyed as they get most of the internal dynamics of OSS projects completely wrong. Especially, when they posit them as these anti-capitalist ventures when of course, the top OSS projects are heavily resourced by industry.

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