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[ox-en] Digital Utopianism

On Wed, 12 Mar 2008 15:27:40 -0700 (PDT), Michael Bauwens
<michelsub2003> wrote:

As far as I understand Oekonux

Hi Michel, Oekonux is used in the title of that article as an example, it is not about Oekonux specifically, which is not mentioned in the article.

The self-description of Oekonux as wanting a "GPL Society" is simply
the most comical of any similar group, and thus the best example, and
my recent experiences on their list made it an obvious choice.

Oekonux is far from alone in utopian thinking.

There are many others, i.e. the whole Basic Income and/or Tobin Tax crowd,
or various others promoting that the State should adopt policy A, B or C
and who believe that democratic participation on it's own can end
exploitation, //if only the politicians would understand//, for as Marx
sarcastically comments "how can people, when once they understand
their system, fail to see it in the best possible plan of the best
possible state of society?"

Oekonux itself hardly presents a coherent or united view, but Merten makes
it clear, when he's not making wildly inappropriate accusations of
antisemitism and unsubscribing unwanted voices from his list, that is,
that he is against class antagonism and wants to "appeal to society
at large, without distinction of class."

Case in point:

   To: list-en
   From: Stefan Merten <smerten>
Message-Id: <20080204204241.E85C8ABE6>


Oekonux has nothing to do with class struggle in any meaning I know of



Later in the same message he demonstrates the late twentieth century
triumphalism that I refer to very well:

On exactly that base class struggle has been fought for 200 years - and failed. If there were any questions about this they have been answered
   in 1989.

The remarkable shallowness of the later quote should make It obvious that
Oekonux, of which Merten as the founder and most prominent spokesperson,
is not based on a "a close observation and analysis" of anything, but
exactly the sort of smug Utopianism my article is about.

Marx's prescriptions, and his critique of the utopian
socialist, seem pretty moot after 200 years of experience, with no
revolutionary labour movement in sight.


I'm far from a Marx scholar, but it is pretty obvious that Marx's
views, as well as those of other Socialist theorist including Anarchist
are much more relevant,  and far more visible, far more influential,
and far more widely held than "Oekonux" can ever hope to be.

If Marxian and Anarchist labour movements are nowhere in sight, despite
having at least hundreds of thousands of adherents in there ranks, then
how irrelevant is "Oekonux?" which is basically less than a dozen
confused people?

Your conceit here is laughable. Oekonux will never be as large a movement
as even the smallest, most obscure and most cranky branch of Socialism.

Your approach, which seems related to mutualism, seems based on the
creation of small commons-oriented enterprises, and it seems to me,
precisely what he criticized in the utopians.

You have confused Anarchism and Utopian Socialism. Mutualism
is a part of Anarchist theory.

As you can see from the actual quotation used, Marx was criticising
the Utopians, not for commons-oriented enterprises, but because
they "consider themselves far superior to all class antagonisms."

Specifically he was referring to Utopian socialist opposition to Jacobin
and Chartist activism.

And that "they habitually appeal to society at large, without distinction
of class; nay, by preference, to the ruling class."

It should be perfectly obvious that Marx's primary Anarchist rivals,
Prudhon and Bakunin, could not be accused of rejecting class antagonisms
nor appealing to the ruling class.

You simply have not understood the quote my article uses as a point of

But more importantly, you seem to have defensively understood my article
as saying that Marx, specifically, disapproves of Oekonux, specifically.
I am not a scholar of Marx, and certainly not something so fishy as

Rather my article is a reflection about how cyclical periods of privilege
cause these sorts of delusional ideologies to come about, later
nineteenth century Britian produced the Utopian Socialists, and late
twentieth century America produced the "California Ideology," I am not
saying these are the same, but rather that they are both products of
delusion born of a temporary wealth bubble among the working classes
during a period of international dominance of their nation.

You may have noticed that Marx's opinions about Oekonux are not
mentioned in the article.

I understand that you have a very radical rhetoric about class struggle,
but that doesn't make anything happen per se.

It is the only thing that ever has.

My own approach, which I propose to those monitoring our work at the P2P Foundation, is to closely observe actual social movements and practices,
to idenfity those projects with the highest emancipatory potential,
including your venture proposals and experiences, and to internetwork
them so that they can learn from their successes and failures.

Yes, as you know I appreciate and encourage the work that the P2P
Foundation does.

We do not deny 'class struggle' (that is for me simply a reality),

Pick a number.

Whatever number you pick, you can find that many quotations of the primary
Oekonux contributors denying class struggle.

i.e. this quote from the smarter Stefan, Stefan Meretz:

  "I am not interested in solutions for some partial groups on costs of

Oekonux imagines that we can help the robbed without costing the robbers!

Or this idiotic recent exchange:

Stefan responds to the following simple points:

  2) question the role and complicity of the commons within the
  global economy and put the common stock out of the exploitation
  of large companies;
More generally the whole finance world is based on rent. Financialisation
  is precisely the name of rent that parasites domestic savings.

With this crap:

  "I'm really sorry to say this but once more your anti-Semitic
   attitude shows through: Single workers may but large companies
   may not? [...] That argument has an anti-Semitic structure If I had
   looked for a proof of the anti-Semitic structure of your
   arguments I had finally found it here"
   -- Stefan Merten, responding to the points above.

You see? Talking about Class Struggle not only "has nothing to do" with
Oekonux, but the very concept is antisemitic! Is this the "close
observation and analysis" you are referring to?

but a harsh rhetoric of resistance is not necessarily the best way of
obtaining results,

Yes it is.

Thanks for explaining why your approach should not be considered Utopian?

Because in the context clearly defined in my article "Utopian" refers
to a socialism that denies class struggle and appeals to the ruling
class to implement it's proposals.

My approach does neither. It seems you are responding to an argument
you have inferred on your own from the title of my article than
to the arguments made in the article itself.

This response is preferably my last discussing Oekonux per se,
I wish you all goodbye and good luck, however if anything I
actually mention in my article outside the title is interesting
to you, I would rather discuss that.


Dmytri Kleiner
editing text files since 1981

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