internet as hyper-liberalism
January 10, 2006 4:50 PM   Subscribe

INTERNET AS HYPER-LIBERALISM: By the limitations of common sense and consensus. Sometime wacky ideas can help us look at things much clearer than a technical manual description of them by rational and well argued people. Paul Treanor is a one-of-a-kind writer. don't try to argue with him about being wrong. he does not believe in communication and therefore there is no CONTACT link anywhere on his site. He writes and lives in Amsterdam, Holland.
posted by sundaymag (52 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
self-link?

Shitty formatting to boot.
posted by tweak at 5:03 PM on January 10, 2006


Yes, self-link, crappy formatting. Argument: rubbish.
posted by wilful at 5:08 PM on January 10, 2006


Not a self-link, sundaymag didn't write the article.
posted by mathowie at 5:09 PM on January 10, 2006


I don't know about self-link, but crazy link for sure.

OK, if you want to not use the internet, fine. If you even think no-one should use the internet, fine. But homeslice needs to get out a little more:

What is fundamentally wrong with communication and dialogue? Why is it wrong to exchange ideas? Because the basic assumptions are false. [...] Engaging in dialogue, as a general moral precept, is unethical. Not all communication is good, and probably, most is bad.

So, uh, why the long article? Isn't that communication?
posted by freebird at 5:10 PM on January 10, 2006


So, uh, why the long article?

To display his brilliance, duh!
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on January 10, 2006


read the piece. its not about whether he is right or wrong. He has valid new ways of looking at things. NOTE: this piece was written in 1996. and He definitely is coming from a revolutionary position. you just got yourself an amazing link to a crazy person's writings. explore paul treanor. he is interesting and unusual, and he makes sense. is he accurately right? No. but these days that is not the question. merit of ideas and arguments today is their power to make you stop and wonder. if he does not make you stop and wonder, then i think we have a big problem in the society.
posted by sundaymag at 5:21 PM on January 10, 2006


Hey! We just got ourselves an amazing link!
posted by OhPuhLeez at 5:28 PM on January 10, 2006


sundaymag, contextual links about Treanor would help more than your assertive defense.
posted by dhartung at 5:28 PM on January 10, 2006


That made me miss Timecube.
posted by Decani at 5:34 PM on January 10, 2006


Utter garbage, verging on solipsism. Curmudgeonly contrarianism is not a revolutionary position.
posted by milquetoast at 5:50 PM on January 10, 2006


He is a loner and he argues for loner-ness if one wants to talk about something new, a break with past. He already defies his points because he uses internet. why not just meet people for presenting your ideas? Why does he want to have an audience on the internet for his anti internet arguments?

STEREOLAB for example never made a music video their point was, if you want to see us, come to a show. we are not a band on your flat screen period. ((they licensed a song to Volkswagen in 1999 for a TV commercial. They have one video made for an Aids benefit album Red Hot & Rio album think it was).

if you Google him, you find a lot of people who are pissed off at him, or people who are fascinated by him. I still haven't made up my mind.
posted by sundaymag at 5:56 PM on January 10, 2006


This kind of thing is always funny: Lyndon L.
posted by longsleeves at 5:58 PM on January 10, 2006


STEREOLAB for example never made a music video

You would have been way better off using Fugazi as an example.
posted by furtive at 6:36 PM on January 10, 2006


I wonder if he ever tried the non-AOL internet?
Maybe that's his whole problem?
posted by isopraxis at 6:39 PM on January 10, 2006


i told you they may have made one (probably 2 :) i never knew they did a video for ping pong.-to the spirit of mary hansen. i was more thinking about the situationist international when i wrote stereolab. plus i like the lab's music a little bit more than fugazi
posted by sundaymag at 6:44 PM on January 10, 2006


I bet this guy has worked his way through all the Manic Street Preachers reading lists. FIGHT THE POWER!!!!
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:46 PM on January 10, 2006


me? or paul treanor? does the guy from manic street preachers read paul treanor?

i read the situationist text in 1984. manic street preachers is a mid 1990s band from UK with situationist influences right? i don't know about paul treanor.
posted by sundaymag at 6:52 PM on January 10, 2006


Do you bring this to the blue to establish that the blue is just another monolithic mechanism of alienation and an oppressive diode / triode effector (with associated Rawls effects?)

To make the basic assumption (non sequitur leap) that the internet was ever supposed to be the perfectly democratic marketplace of ideas is utter crap: It is to deny that its roots are military communication with the ultimate goal of developing an efficient and redundant mode of info transfer, not some great big Gutenberg press to free the masses from the tyranny of the bourgeousie.

Kaczynski argued more eloquently for the luddite way, I'm afraid.

I've been looking for the perfect example of a sophistry, and thanks to this link that denies its own right to exist, I've found it.

(Is this dude in one of the 'seeing goatse for the first time' pictures? If so, then I don't blame him a bit.)
posted by isopraxis at 7:10 PM on January 10, 2006


Ludicrous start to finish. One example: Net ideology assumes universal communication. No it doesn't. There are at least as many Internets as there are users. Way too many unfounded assertions here to take this seriously.
posted by muckster at 7:53 PM on January 10, 2006


wow. this pile-on is embarrassing. paul treanor is a serious and controversial political philosopher and urbanist. his stance is decidely radical and revolutionary. a lot of his work is purposefully apparently self-contradictory, such as his constant calling of anglo-logocentrism in globalist efforts (often u.s. administration of the internet) to task while still writing about it in english. somehow, there always seems to be an embedded point to these apparent contradictions, as along the arc of baudrillard. he's not actually anti-internet for whatever he sounds like superficially. a deep reading of his many essays and interviews shows he's simply against the internet as a carrier of neoliberal cultural hegemony. but he uses knee jerk responses to defend *or deny the existence of* libertarian tendencies of the internet to expose contradictions of the underlying assumumptions of those tendencies.

in the bataillean line of disappearance, there is purposefully little information available about him as well, although he seems pretty well known in academic circles. just like some people here don't care about trashing his contrarianism, he doesn't want to join your party, either. it's often ironic that reaction to treanor illustrates many of his points about interconnected channels of communication.

i'm like sundaymag. i haven't made up my mind about treanor, either. but he is definitely has innovative approaches to provoking thought among the thoughtful in the vein of paul virilio.

on preview:
To make the basic assumption (non sequitur leap) that the internet was ever supposed to be the perfectly democratic marketplace of ideas is utter crap: It is to deny that its roots are military communication with the ultimate goal of developing an efficient and redundant mode of info transfer, not some great big Gutenberg press to free the masses from the tyranny of the bourgeousie.

i think he was arguing pretty clearly against those who make the assumption "net ideology assumes universal communication." that is, he is arguing against net ideologies which fight against "as many internets as there are users" in a real, as opposed to a virtual, sense.

again, this pile-on is embarrassing.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:14 PM on January 10, 2006


All he provoked in me is boredom.
I can't take seriously an individual who doesn't believe in communication but has a website, or a poster who links to a ten year old screed and says it's a new way of looking at things.
::Suspenders snap, trousers drop::
I'm sorry to have embarrassed you.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:29 PM on January 10, 2006


He's really a prize. In September of 2002 he declared war on the US on behalf of Europe.

When I wrote about him at the time on my own site, after reading quite a lot of his articles, "fascistic anarchist" was the closest I could come to a reasonable description of his political position, paradoxical as that might seem. Some of my readers then informed me that it wasn' t as contradictory as it appeared.

Anyway, he's an unreconstructed Marxist, among other things.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:01 PM on January 10, 2006


He is definately worth the controversy he causes every time his name is brought up.
posted by sundaymag at 9:22 PM on January 10, 2006


What the fuck is this dude talking about.

basic assumptions are false. The liberal model of dialogue and communication assumes first that ideas are unitary..

Does he claim to speak for all? And what of the Net's utility, it's core characteristic? Why not focus on algorithms as an extension of hyper-liberalism,

It is only necessary to divide ideas into two simple categories to see the error: the two categories of plans and arguments. 'Plans' are proposals for change: 'arguments' are ideas proposed to stop plans.

This simply reeks of a false dichotomy, created as an exposition of intellectual crapulence. Does he imply this of human society as well? Or are we to assume that the net is *so* liberally homogenized that this is simply true?
posted by kuatto at 9:56 PM on January 10, 2006


3.2.3 wrote,
i think he was arguing pretty clearly against those who make the assumption "net ideology assumes universal communication."


Yes, let us stop talking in absolute truths..
posted by kuatto at 10:00 PM on January 10, 2006


Somebody who condones political murder is to me in the excommunicado category together with the white power people and other unsavoury types.
posted by jouke at 10:38 PM on January 10, 2006


fascistic anarchist

if i had to label him, that's what i'd pick. it was my first thought, anyway. i suspect that's selling him far short. i agree more he is something resembling unreconstructed in his "marxism," though, if that's what we can call it. productivity sabotage is very much in that lineage. "not as contradictory as he appears," might be the best yet. it's more our conventional judgments and categories that are off.

i found your writing on him.

i respect that you gave him a reading. and then wrote about it, even more. i feel that you take his headlines a bit too literally. there are tones other than literal and satire. there's hyperbole, which is justifiable or even required in these neolib/neocon convergent, hyper-interventionist times with collaborationist media. who can sound sober or less than hysterical when accurately reporting on the absurdity of recent events (or the previous sentence)? a treanor-like response might be, "you probably can't so it's wrong or unethical to try." to be honest today, one *has* to 'fess up to what would ordinarily be audacious claims like, "dear leader has all the earmarks of a war criminal."

to drag up plenty relevant ten year old screeds, if we say, "the gulf war did not take place" or "the kosovo war took place in orbital space," thoughtful people should be expected to understand the point is a bit more nuanced. visceral reactions to these deliberately provocative statements underscore both the incomprehension and the oppositional nature the statements are meant to convey.

this extends right through statements which are often lifted from his texts and declared "false" outright as more of a matter of disagreement than argument. it's as instructive to watch people disagree with treanor, to the point of calling him a nutjob, as it is to read treanor himself. "dutchman declares war on u.s." is the kind of headline i might expect to see echoed on something like cnn.com and msnbc.com followed by a hectoring "news of the weird" styled article. do you think he seriously believes the EU will follow or is he making a some statement about the myths of "eurabia" or something even more complicated? i think he responded entirely appropriately when you asked him if he was serious. "keep reading" and "think harder" was the message.

at the same time, the weakness in treanor's approach is that he sometimes gets appropriated by genuine anti-semites, as does anyone who criticizes zionism. he's no more liable for that than people who heckle him. but it is a fault when your deliberately thought provoking approach fails to provoke thought. whose fault is open to debate. a nutjob wailing in the wilderness or people who still pay taxes and go to work everyday in a nation waging the kind of wars we are?

as far as his involvement in indymedia, "natch," he's also argued against things no reasonable person should have any trouble with on an entirely literal level when there are things very literally happening, likely about to happen, or have some chance of happening: military impressment, denial of unemployment benefits to dutch women who refuse jobs as prostitutes. when he's outrageous on indymedia, he's more posing questions of ethics in a socratic mode: if a western government attempts to assassinate a non-western head of state, is it ethical for the non-western head of state to retaliate?, would it be morally wrong to hijack an airliner to bring starving people to safety? he poses these outlandish conundrums as questions and even submits them to legal authorities for opinions. that's what good political philosophers do. political philosophers the west considers foundational have posed far more offensive questions and only for metaphysical effect.

sometimes, like in his declare war rant (hardly a fatwah), he poses his questions as petitions, where you would have to pose a question to yourself: if you are an unreconstructed marxist, would you put your pen where your mouth is and sign a petition advocating the death penalty for being ultra-rich? that's kind of brilliant, considering the EU opposes a death penalty of any kind. that is, a reasonable person can only conclude, it's a symbolic petition.

a writer like treanor would never be so crass as to cop to symbolism, however. if you asked him if he's serious about a death penalty for the ultra-rich, he'd likely point you at another of his essays. the ultra-rich kill more people just a a byproduct of their very existence in warring societies than any petition of treanor's will ever imagine to. the overwhelming body of treanor's writing suggests an extremely passivist non-interventionist. his declaration of war piece of paper was offered up as an alternative to what he called "useless protests." such things lead me to really question how much of a marxist he even is if at all.

so i agree with you all this might make treanor "hyperfringe." but it does not make him a nutjob or clueless. at worst it makes him inaccessible to the complicit, whether they have a clue themselves or not.
posted by 3.2.3 at 11:50 PM on January 10, 2006


Before I could argue with the guy about being wrong, I'd have to figure out what it was he was saying.
posted by catachresoid at 1:46 AM on January 11, 2006


So...he basically sets up some straw men that nobody is arguing and then proceeds to knock them down with the most unclear language possible. Wow, how impressive. If I make the assumption that the Internet wants to eat your children, then show you why it has failed at that goal and that we shouldn't want it to eat our children in the first place, then do I get a FPP about me, too? This guy sounds like a nutjob arguing with himself in the mirror.
posted by Sethamin at 2:39 AM on January 11, 2006


oppressive diode / triode effector

Okay, I guess I do have to read that article after all...
posted by Chuckles at 2:53 AM on January 11, 2006


I'm so happy that Paul Treanor exists.

And thanks for the link.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:07 AM on January 11, 2006


He writes and lives in Amsterdam, Holland.

He should put the spliff down and stay the fuck out of those coffee shops.

But perhaps he's just seeking to further his productivity sabotage agenda? He certainly just sabotaged a good half hour of *my* productivity...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:30 AM on January 11, 2006


does it seem weird to anyone else that the site has a temporary note to metafilter users? especially since it's not exactly... correct?

Temporary note for Metafilter users: this was written in 1996. At that time, many people saw the internet as nothing less than the most fundamental innovation in human history. Read for instance Sasha Chislenko on liquid intelligence of the coming Mind Age for a sample of those times. By now, no separate theory of 'cyberspace' is needed, ordinary business economics usually suffice.

yes, that's why ip law is in the process of turning itself inside out and upside down over the economics of file-sharing and other internet-specific economic issues that have been and continue to be inadequately handled by "ordinary business economics."

and am I reading the following statement correctly? I'm sincerely asking.

In historical terms the coming of the Net is therefore not a turning point. It is a continuation of age-old principles: that people should live in communities or societies, stuck to each other with the glue of identity, and tied to each other by nets of interaction, trade, communication, and competition.

Is he saying that the internet has reinforced national, racial, social and economic boundaries? Sure, he said this in 1996, but since it's wrong, can't we just say "Well, he's wrong, whether he's wrong in 1996 or wrong today." I would, at the very least, be far more interested in reading something as eccentric as this article if it referenced sources other than other articles by its own author.

this article reminds me of that scene in Cryptonomicon where one of the protagonists tries to discuss the internet with a masturbatory academic whose idea of a cogent argument is to say "Well, who pays the tolls on the internet superhighway, hmmmmm?" or something like that.
posted by shmegegge at 4:57 AM on January 11, 2006


This article didn't make me stop and wonder; it's complete nonsense.
posted by JKevinKing at 10:17 AM on January 11, 2006


"you just got yourself an amazing link to a crazy person's writings."

Look, one can be open to reading any sort of crazily provocative piece, but how do you think one is inclined to read on when an essay published on the internet ends the first paragraph by saying: "It is the Net itself which is wrong: freedom from censorship, or equality of access, cannot make it good. The conclusion is simple: the Net must be cut, and Europe is the place to start."

Me, I'm cutting my European internet off right after that very paragraph. DIY censorship.
posted by funambulist at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2006


shmegegge said:
yes, that's why ip law is in the process of turning itself inside out and upside down over the economics of file-sharing and other internet-specific economic issues that have been and continue to be inadequately handled by "ordinary business economics."

OK, I didn't really RTFA very closely, but I'd guess that he's saying that the ideas about risk, supply, demand, rational actors and all that stuff that economists use to describe/explain market behavior can also be used to model information exchange on the nets, not that business as in megacorps and treasuries have a "handle" on what's going on online.
posted by thedaniel at 11:26 AM on January 11, 2006


"Why is it wrong to exchange ideas? ... it assumes that ideas benefit from exchange."

little farther down:

"Engaging in dialogue, as a general moral precept, is unethical. Not all communication is good, and probably, most is bad. Certainly, bad for change."

Whelp I guess that answers why he doesn't like communicating on teh internets, someone might challenge his silly notions.
posted by squeak at 11:48 AM on January 11, 2006


>if he does not make you stop and wonder, then i think we have a big problem in the society.

Which society exactly? Being a tad dramatic aren't we?

>"Well, who pays the tolls on the internet superhighway, hmmmmm?"

Good analogy.

Treanor: You are either for the Net, or you are its enemy.

Now he sounds like a certain unpopular president.
posted by skallas at 11:59 AM on January 11, 2006


north american consumer society of USA and CANADA to be more precise, and to a lesser degree Europe, Starting to but not ending with England.

is this more clear?
posted by sundaymag at 12:02 PM on January 11, 2006


This is quite incoherent. Very sane, very academically acceptable -- but quite, quite incoherent.

He also has some rather odd teleological biases. (Or maybe I just don't hang out with marxists enough...)
posted by lodurr at 12:26 PM on January 11, 2006


Somehow, this resonates with me.

I had quite a few eureka moments grappling with all of the contradictions in this article [the first being that i was reading an anti-internet article on the internet]... but a little more than two paragraphs into it, and I started to recognize quality outside of his self-contrarian statements, which seem to be what the bulk of the comments here are responding to.

It seems there is some validity in his proposal that communication slows down societal change on the whole, as the presumption that "every idea is valid" seems to be what cripples both machine-based logic engines and those that somehow lost the basic knowledge that there are in fact significant traits in anything that can be used to draw outlines for utility. I say that yes, natural hierarchies do exist... there is a simple test for this.

Take any two broad holarchic* concepts and place them next to each other, now take one away, for example:
Life and Mind. When you take away one, does the other still exist? This test can be used to categorize any true, natural hierarchy. Life exists without mind, but mind includes life but is not a prerequisite, which places it under it, as a foundation.

If somehow you can apply this to all of the ethical dilemmas posed in this article you do come up with the possibility that mr. Treanor is probably an anarchist, or at the very least an anti-social person with very odd, but bright, writing technique. I came into this article expecting something religious and monolithic in nature, but i came out with questions, and that is where the value is.

I remain skeptical to the assumption that the internet is allowing us to level the barriers of human advancement, and am continually suspicious that it's homogenizing characteristics of thought and communication will end up biting us all in the ass... not as a nation or tax bracket, but as an entire species.

*holarchic: of relating to holons, or the idea that the universe consists of parts that are also wholes, or 'whole/parts'. See "A Brief History of Everything" by Ken Wilbur.
posted by phylum sinter at 12:41 PM on January 11, 2006


It is all bathwater and no baby. There is no teleology, just an academic (failed) attempt to summon a paradoxical dichotomy.

I've read throught the text a few times, along with other links. I love a good think, but try as I might I keep coming to the conclusion that this is simply a thinly disguised exercise in nihilistic cacocalia.
posted by isopraxis at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2006


*ahem (forgot an L)
cacocallia – the state of being ugly but sexy
posted by isopraxis at 1:10 PM on January 11, 2006


>is this more clear?

Not really. The net is fairly global. Why is Canada in caps, does it now stand for something?
posted by skallas at 1:59 PM on January 11, 2006


well i am in canada and as an ex-government employee i am used to type a few things all cap. sorry about that (alo very Canadian)

web is global but our preceptions and our buying habits, so as our currencies are still national. when was the last time you were in Germany or France?
posted by sundaymag at 2:29 PM on January 11, 2006


STEREOLAB for example never made a music video

You should get this box set - the dvd is excellent (and has 8 different videos on it).
posted by ZippityBuddha at 2:47 PM on January 11, 2006


I'd guess that he's saying that the ideas about risk, supply, demand, rational actors and all that stuff that economists use to describe/explain market behavior can also be used to model information exchange on the nets

yeah, and I said that that's wrong. see the internet has created an economic model where it can be demonstrated that giving data away for free generates revenue for said data. I'm not talking about corporations. I'm saying that current business economics doesn't explain anything he thinks it explains.
posted by shmegegge at 4:01 PM on January 11, 2006


why did you have to shatter the STEREOLAB myth for me? thanks though. i only collect vinyl and no DVD in my life. i fall asleep in front of the TV after 5 minutes. unless it's the morning of September 11 2001, and airplans are flyting through skyscrapers.
posted by sundaymag at 4:01 PM on January 11, 2006


wow
*blinks*
*scratches head*
posted by isopraxis at 5:46 PM on January 11, 2006


Where would the marxist part be exactly?
posted by funambulist at 1:35 AM on January 12, 2006


with associated Rawls effects

"Yoooooooooooooooou'll never find..."
posted by fixedgear at 12:32 PM on January 12, 2006


am i so crazy that i can no longer relate ideas clearly? i wonder...
posted by phylum sinter at 7:24 AM on January 13, 2006


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