bittorrent of protest (was Re: [NetBehaviour] [spectre] looks like Slovenia might be next)

Armin Medosch armin at
Sat Jun 18 10:18:14 CEST 2011


this is the best that has been said sofar on this subject on this list,
I can only agree. 

While I will sign any petition I sometimes feel the new media scene is
suffering a persecution complex. Those cuts, as disagreeable as they
are, need to be seen in a wider context of an era where arts and
humanities programmes are cut (100% funding cut of university funding
for humanities and social sciences in UK, lots of cuts in the US),
independent research is being cut (NL, AT), generally 'discourse' is not
being liked much by current political powers and administrations (cuts
of funding to small magazines and publishers) and that in parallel to
wide and deep social spending cuts that hit the poor, deprave people in
need of public services, steal pensions (in England biggest strikes of
public service unions since 100 years), reduce workplace democracy,
decrease civil rights ... 

Indeed, neoliberalism is an awkward term to describe such a period in
time, "dictatorship of finance" coupled with a neo-conservative cultural
bias might be more approriate. The current time does, despite many
differences, resemble Lenin's analysis in "Imperialism". As we know, the
financialism of around 1910 led to "the age of catastrophes" as Hobsbawm
called it, with two world wars, fascism, etc. I am not a scaremongerer
and I don't predict anything, rather, I hope similar catastrophes can be
avoided, yet it should be obvious that if they happen they will be much
worse this time round for climate and resource reasons. 

Yet the positive outcome is that people start to fight for a different
kind of society. Mainstream media don't report it much but in Athens on
Syntagma square remarkable scenes are happening I have been told from
recent visitors. Permanent protest camps offering a combination of
protest, discussion and carnevalesque atmosphere with cultural programs
are on every night. Resistance is forming in England with the UK Uncut
campaign and now the unions waking up, not to forget the students of

Thus, rather than seeing this as a narrow case where one defends one's
interests as a cultural producer in a narrow field, a broader
solidarisation and political activisation is called for. Since WWI in
which NL had the luck not to participate it has been a place where
progressive artistic movements and political expressions were often
closely aligned. This link between the arts and political movements has
been considerably weakened since the 1980s - the de-politicization of
arts is a relatively recent occurance and so maybe this trend needs to
be reversed. Maybe NL is the place where with all the tradition of N5M
and all that, the new media scene can find its political voice in
solidarity with others and add unique image making and communication
skills in a bittorrent of protest


On Sat, 2011-06-18 at 11:17 +1200, simon wrote:
> respectrespectrespectre...
> reading with interest the causes and claims, from Nederlands, to Brasil, 
> Slovenia, England, cutting funding for the arts and culture, I would 
> like humbly to submit another explanation, other, that is, than economic 
> expediency, or ignorance and gross (and net) stupidity on the part of 
> policy-makers. The state is scared.
> I would suggest that it is the institutional throat that is being cut, 
> having seen a similar culling of institutions in NZ: cutting funding 
> goes together with removing the autonomy of arts and cultural 
> institutions, same as universities - any erstwhile politically 
> autonomous institution, and therefore locus of critique. But when I say 
> critique, I mean at the level of a power, which is that of institutions, 
> of the power.
> Where is the undermining of the power actually occurring that 
> governments might be frightened? At a wholly other level. Yet the muting 
> of institutional critique can be seen as a reaction to certain events, 
> the recent financial crisis among them, the ongoing crisis around energy 
> consumption/production - and its economics - included. I suggest this 
> muting to be in reaction and to entail two actions on the part of states 
> and nations: cutting funding to and removing autonomy from educational, 
> arts and cultural institutions.
> Best,
> Simon Taylor
> ______________________________________________
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