Re: [ox-en] Re: [ox] Re: Oekonux and politics
- From: Thomas Berker <thomas.berker hf.ntnu.no>
- Date: Sat, 11 Oct 2003 00:06:43 +0200
Some days ago, Graham asked for a short summary of the discussion around
power, domination, anarchism, and organisation on the German list a while
ago. Later on, this reply to Stefan contains some of this. I should say
that I was not a neutral observer...
--On 10. oktober 2003 19:57 [PHONE NUMBER REMOVED] smerten oekonux.de wrote:
Yesterday franz schaefer wrote:
there is much confusion about the "left" at seems a lot of people have
different definition of what this word means.
Actually I don't think so. Most people reacted as if they have at
least a very similar concept of the left as me. To me it seems there
are "only" different opinions about how Oekonux should deal with this
concept in showcases like its conference.
Don't know about 'most people', whoever that may be, I do not. I really
think your understanding of 'the left' is quite limited. You admit that you
do not know much about social fora, but that does not make you interested
and willing to listen and learn. Quite the opposite. It looks a lot like
shadow boxing to me.
But nonetheless we can really stop that.
Agreed. After all, it is just a label. Still, I am under the impression
that _you_ insist on identifying 'the left' as opposed to 'open' and
'independent' Oekonux. Politics of any kind, which is not open and
independent, is nothing I could support either. But I do not really need a
label for that. Come on, the equation: "Oekonux + social forum = arrogant,
irrelevant leftwing stuff" is really too simple, don't you agree? There are
so many varieties of possible contact and of possible perceptions from
outside, and nobody really wants Oekonux to become a subsection of the
Austrian social forum. Am I right?
[...] At the moment we have some support in the Free Software
community - which is really not self-evident. This support is vital
for Oekonux and IMHO it could be more. Putting this support at stake
is IMHO wanting to kill Oekonux.
This almost sounds like you want to defend Oekonux from a death threat.
However, in my understanding this discussion is rather about which people
we want to have at the conference. Is it the guy who enjoys coding but is
bored or even scared away by the words 'left', 'exploitation' or
'capitalism', is it the professor, who is used to a comfortable hotel as
reward for his precious presence, or is it the guy who appreciates sleeping
on the floor when s/he is in turn able to have endless discussions (as
another Thomas described his experience from the first conference). One
size does not fit it all and there is no neutrality. Instead, there are
choices whom to trust, with whom to share beds, to discuss and spend time.
[...] I remember well how the OHA discussion started more than 1 1/2 year
ago. I dared to cite a systematic sociologist. Have I been bashed on
the German lists! From the start there were all kinds of suspicions
against me and my intentions. If there is one important debate on
Oekonux which may receive the label "closed-minded" then it is this
one. IMHO it is not by chance that this is on a classical topic of the
I was one of the people 'bashing' Stefan for approvingly citing mainstream
sociological theory, which tries to legitimise power and domination by
naturalising it ('when groups reach a certain size they have to be ruled in
one way or another, if they want avoid chaos'). [Stefan may provide you
with another story]
I think this has changed a bit now but there is still *a lot* of
scepticism only to admit other ways of thinking about
OrganizationDominionAnarchism than the traditional left (may be more
the anarchist currents).
The 'traditional left' was not sensitive about power at all. Holloway's
text (cannot find it now, but there is a review of his new book, which
seems to be similar in tone:
<http://eserver.org/bs/reviews/2002-12-3-04.19PM.html>), which was cited
against Stefan's source, is exactly about this turn away from traditional
leftwing thinking, which just seeks to impose power itself, instead of
overcoming power as such. Social fora, at least to my understanding,
embrace pluralism, sharing a lot of this understanding that traditional
ways of doing leftwing politics have failed.
At least I'm sure other political currents could easily identify with
some of the things I said. Actually *this* is what I think makes
Oekonux an open project instead of a left one. In a left project of
the size of Oekonux I would not have dared to even pose the question.
In all the 'radical left' projects I was part of, you could have dared to
promote certain forms of power as you did in this discussion. You would,
however, have annoyed and in the worst case scared away some individuals as
you did in this case. As I said before: It is about a choice whom to scare
[...] Why think about financial markets when the GPL society does not have
exchange as a basis? For Oekonux this is a completely void question.
Why think about war when in the GPL society there is no more need for
states which wage war and people do not need to fight any longer for
resources? For Oekonux this is also a rather void question.
You can continue this list.
As I stated above: These are all important questions if you build
dams. If you build dams you need to know how to move earth in high
quantities and make it as hard as possible, compute all the angels as
good as possible and so on. The very most of these questions are
completely meaningless when you want to build ships.
Even if you build ships you will become involved in current currents the
very same moment you want to sail away. That exactly is the limitation of
this otherwise nice metaphor.
For sure there are many people in the Oekonux project which also have
an interest in building dams.
And some even want to start sailing on to new shores.
so you are talking about the kind of contacts like "organisation A
announced to support organisation B". the kind of contact that you
declared obsolete in the paragraph above? no. we do not need this kind
of contact. what it nees is that people mingle... do cooperation on a
personal level and not just send some official speaker. this is why i
wanted the oekonux at the social forum in the first place..
I'm wonder whether I should become bored or angry.
Until now Oekonux *never* sent an official speaker somewhere. How
should this work? Invitations of Oekonux such as yours go to
individual people or directly to [pox]. If someone has time and energy
enough to accept the invitation then it happens - otherwise it
doesn't. Simply as that. This is cooperation on a personal level -
An 'Oekonux conference' is something else. It is not accidentally that
fundamental disagreements surface around the conferences. Here, in personal
contact and visible to the outside world, collective identities are
constructed, something which is rewarding and challenging at the same time.
[...] Once and for all: You are free to invite Oekonux to the ASF. If
someone from Oekonux wants to do something there - good. What this
someone does exactly can hardly be determined here. If you, however,
say: If the Oekonux conference does not want to be part of the ASF
then Oekonux should not happen at all at the ASF then simply do not
I find the second position absolutely arrogant but frankly: That is
what I'm used to from the traditional left: If you do not comply
completely then you are not our friend.
FranzS never wrote that. Less aggressive defense, more collaboration! If
that is how you construct 'the left' then I can see how you come to your
Best, Thomas Be