#cccamp, Stammtisch and Barefoot in to Cyberspace.

I’m almost done reading Becky Hogge’s Barefoot in to Cyberspace. One of the
few books that I’ve read cover to cover within 48 hours of starting it. One reason, naturally, is that it’s a well written book with good flow,
another reason is that is somewhat eirie in that she describes scenes in and
around the CCC’s anual congress that I was quite likely in the room for.
Not surprising, as I met her at the camp this year as we have several
mutual friends.

Her book documents her own experiences over the last two congresses and
the period in between. The book looks at the origins of hacker culture in
60s hippie counter culture and even though it wasn’t her intention, the
timing of her book just happens to have occurred during the year of
WikiLeaks, so this story features prominently.

What makes Hogge’s work interesting is that she employs a healthy amount
of skepticism and retains a critical view of the utopian and heroic aspects
of hacker activism, clearing seeing it’s failings. Regrettably though, well
researched and clever as she is, she never seems to encounter any genuine
political analysis of these failings, but rather reacts only with a
self-conscious melancholy.

It’s unfortunate that her journey into cyberspace, where she has met and
talked with many seminal figures from Stewart Brand to Julian Assange, she
hasn’t come across real politics. Richard Barbrook, Matteo Pasquinelli,
Geert Lovink and many others thinking politically about network culture do
not apear.

Thus, she lacks the apparatus to understand why, in the words of Rop
Gonggrijp, that she cites in the text, “We Lost The War.” Obviously, she
knows the WELL, but not nettime.

She gets tantalizingly close at times, quoting Ethan Zuckermann saying
“The Problem with Internet Freedom is that it’s not Profitable,” only to
call for a strategy of holding industry giants to account, never
questioning the meaning of an economy based on profit. Also, quoting
Gonggrijp espousing on why we lost the war, explaining that too many hackers
had gone to the other side, creating the tools they should be guarding
against. But not pointing out how shockingly naive this is, as hackers, like all
workers, must sell their labour for a living. The logic of financing
is more to be looked at than hacker choice.

If anybody enabled the opposiiton, it’s hackers like Gongrijpp who build the
for-profit ISP XS4ALL, employing wage labour, and sold it to a major
telecommunications conglomerate, thus arming “the other side” with surplus
value and infrastructure directly in a much more significant way than any
particular contribution to surveillance technology ever could. If hacker-entrepreneurs like him chose instead to not create surplus value
for capitalism, perhaps we’d be in a little bit better position to fight
the war today.

As the CCCamp ended on sunday, I expect at least a few of the campers will
wash up on the shores of Stammtisch tonight. If the skepticism and feelings
of defeat, so well expressed in Becky’s book, are beginning to spread and
disrupt the california ideology that has hung on so tightly thus far,
perhaps the community will be ready to start to wrestle with Venture
Communism and understand that the struggle we face is a proletarian
struggle, and begin to embrace ideas that are beyond mere utopia and
heroism, and talk revolution.

I’ll be there around 9pm tonight. Please come to Cafe Buchhandlung. This
should be a good one. Pass it on.

Map: http://j.mp/buchhandlung

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