Illuminations: Best and Kellner
We contest Kelly’s metaphysic of the new economy and new technology, arguing that he illicitly collapses technology and the economy into nature, using nature metaphors to legitimate the new forms of economy and organization. Kevin Kelly, former editor of The Whole Earth Review, cofounder of the Well, promoter of various cyberevents like the Hackers Convention, and now Executive Editor of Wired, is being presented as a prophet of the New Economy with the publication of his book New Rules for the New Economy. Kelly argues we need new paradigms, new ideas, and new practices to make sense of and deal with the tumultuous changes that we are undergoing due to the global restructuring of the economy, the proliferation of new technologies, rapid social, political, and cultural change, and the emergence of new modes of thought. Kelly’s Out of Control opens with nine chapters outlining some of the new paradigms of thinking about life and technology, followed by five chapters on the new economy and social system, and ten concluding chapters sketching parts of his own synthetic vision. Brand moved from countercultural ecological perspectives to affirm the new computer technology, helping push the New Age intelligentsia, including Kelly, into affirmation of new technologies.
In Kelly, old market ideologies thus return in a new hip pseudo-scientific clothing, recycling old concepts for the new millennium. Second, if one wants to circumnavigate the new scene, Kelly argues that we need new maps and compasses. Kelly misses how, overall, old divisions persist, as competition between major economic units intensifies, as the gap between the world’s rich and poor grows wider every year, as new conflicts between ethnic and religious groups explode, and as new fragmentations are being created in the turbulence of economic and cultural change, providing a welter of competing ideologies, identities, and social groups. Probably Kelly means that individual computers in the home or office are no longer as significant as the network, a claim no one would deny, but this above example is emblematic of Kelly’s propensity to cloak the obvious in the forms of aphoristic gnomicisms. Kelly fails to grasp the dialectic of contemporary capitalism that is both more organized and disorganized than previously, that is generating at once new forms of centralization and decentralization, and that is thus promoting both new forms of homogenization and standardization as it proliferates difference, fragmentation, and variety.
Schumpeter is becoming the new dominant ideologue of capital, revered by Kelly, Gilder and other apologists for the new capitalism. All in all, Kelly is the Dr. Pangloss of the postmodern age, never tiring of declaring network capitalism the best of all possible worlds.
Justifying Sexism in Students for a Democratic Society – bluestockings magazine
Several historians, and myself to some extent, believe that this vicious cycle was only broken when women’s groups themselves broke off from the sexist SDS. Students for a Democratic Society was indeed the largest student network of the American New Left Movement. One fact is clear, however: despite its heavy dependence on membership of women, SDS for a very long time did not explicitly state women’s liberation as one of its goals. Eventually the result of radical feminist discontent was the breaking-up of student groups like SDS and the creation of new women’s groups such as the Feminists, Radical Feminists, Bread and Roses, Redstockings, and Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell. On the other hand, the politicos-people who believed capitalism caused women’s oppression-tended to place the burden of sexism on women, rather than on flaws in how SDS was run.
Male dominance over women is not very different from a mother’s domination over her children. The solution to women’s woes, according to Salzman-Webb, was to look at the example of the Vietnamese woman, who, by militantly fighting free market forces alongside men, garnered the other sex’s respect in society. Contemporaries also couldn’t give up the fact that sexism predated capitalism, and that historically one of the first forms of women’s emancipation actually was provided by industry: women were given an avenue of earning money outside of the home. From a politico perspective, the woman boss is herself the product of an inferior system that has made her ill equipped to lead. A woman boss will only prevent skilled women from cropping up and will profit off of popular women myths and other functions of capitalism.
Women’s oppression in SDS was visible not only in distant factories or corporate offices but in everyday meetings held at local college chapters of the student organization. In the fight against capitalism, for example, women began breaking from SDS to join groups like the more radical Weathermen and Revolutionary Youth Movement II. Although the two groups inherently disdained the call for women’s liberation as much as SDS did, Barber points out that the very fact that male supremacy was verbally addressed by the groups made them attractive to women. A linguistic legitimation of women’s concerns over sexism made the two groups’ campaign against the system more appealing that that of SDS. Others joined groups that fought purely against sexism.
The politico argument claimed: 1) Women are oppressed by capitalism, as opposed to by men, and 2) Women aren’t ready to fight off capitalism just yet because of the inadequate skills capitalism has offered them.