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Internet pirate utopias

September 12, 2010

Ludlow, P. (Ed.), 2001. Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates and Pirate Utopias. MIT Press.

p. xvii are we heading for genuine utopias via the net? maybe, but if they ever come ‘more likely to be small, community-based and fleeting’

p. 21 Chapter 25 by Hakim Bey: this chapter taken from fringe culture classic, talks about Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZs) on the internet and compares them to ‘pirate utopias’ of C18

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    September 12, 2010 1:25 pm

    Hi John,

    By coincidence, as your post came up on my RSS feed I was (avoiding) editing an old essay containing a quote from the second edition of TAZ, where Bey recants his former enthusiasm for technological embodiments of the TAZ:

    “The Web has become a perfect mirror of Global Capital: borderless, triumphalist, evanescent, aesthetically bankrupt, monocultural, violent — a force for atomization and isolation”

    I don’t have the book here, unfortunately, so I can’t tell you what comes after that… but I’m sure it’s unequivocal. 😉


  2. September 12, 2010 5:12 pm

    very useful, thanks Michael. A google search brings up the following about the second edition (2003):

    “[…] I think perhaps the least useful part of the book is its section on the Internet. I envisioned the Net as an adjunct to the TAZ, a technology in service to the TAZ, a means of potentiating its emergence. I proposed the term “Web” for this function of the Net. What a joke. Time magazine identified me as a cyber-guru and “explained” that the TAZ exists in cyberspace”

  3. September 12, 2010 5:15 pm

    see also Wikipedia entry on TAZ, where this second edition is not mentioned:

    “The book describes the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control.[1] The essay uses various examples from history and philosophy, all of which suggest that the best way to create a non-hierarchical system of social relationships is to concentrate on the present and on releasing one’s own mind from the controlling mechanisms that have been imposed on it.

    In the formation of a TAZ, Bey argues, information becomes a key tool that sneaks into the cracks of formal procedures. A new territory of the moment is created that is on the boundary line of established regions. Any attempt at permanence that goes beyond the moment deteriorates to a structured system that inevitably stifles individual creativity. It is this chance at creativity that is real empowerment.

    Bey later expanded the concept beyond the “temporary,” saying “we’ve had to consider the fact that not all existing autonomous zones are ‘temporary.’ Some are … more-or-less ‘permanent.'”[2] Hence, the concept of the Permanent Autonomous Zone.”

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