Re: fascists, toys and censorship

From Steven Green <>
Date Sun, 26 Mar 2000 19:21:47 -0500 ()

[: hacktivism :]

Paul, et al,

My replies are short, but go straight to the root of the
ethics over "hacktivism". My position is mainly of a post-structuralist,
and of someone who believes there is no real "truth", (or that truth and
reason are relative to the context they're in -- and that's why there's so
much debate over things like hactivism/hacktivism.)

On Sun, 26 Mar 2000, Paul Kneisel wrote:

> I agree with Steve Green that all people on the hactivism list aren't my
> enemy. I never wrote that they were. In general terms, none of them aremy
> enemy. (I am, however, a bit bewildered at why Steve thought I might have
> considered them to be. I hope he can inform us of this.)

I never wrote that "Paul believes all people on the hactivism list are
his enemy" either. My sentence makes no sense out of the context of
my email, and therefore neither would trying to explain it. Look:

For starters, the words "general terms" (which Paul stands on) are by
definition, meaningless. I cannot refute your statement, nor can you
continue to prove it, in "general terms".  I might as well say "I disagree
with you... in a vague and broad sort of way."  The only way this works
for us is if we write with SPECIFIC terms, and with specific definitions,
in as clear a way as possible, right?  This is email we're dealing with,
and not a "fleshspace" debate.  And if we use terms we believe should be
defined, then we must define them! And properly! Take nothing for granted,
and then nothing will be assumed, because *nothing* is universal.

As i read through Paul's words, I find difficulty in the many defintions
and clarifications he has given them -- in a broad way.  I, however,
will not continue questioning his words as it is the *spirit* of his
argument I am interested in.  I will not be critical of his sentences,
but of his logic; not of his paragraphs, but of his ideas.  In fact, I'm
not even going to respond to his last email because I believe he already
succinctly stated his 'polemic' problem two postings back, and it is here
I believe I have "found" the problem. Paul asked in his Mar 23rd email,
(and i quote), 

     Where's the censorship, Chuck O? And where's your principles for
     determining what is "boutique" activism and what is real; what is an
     authoritarian campaign and what is anarchist; what is an important
     group worthy of sustained attack and what is trivial?

This is a trick question. In these questions, Paul is not seeking answers,
but in fact already knows them.  He has an understanding already of what
it means to have principles, and what it is to be an activist. He knows
what is real, what is anarchy, and what is trivial. Do you see how?  In
this question to Chuck0, Paul is really stating his own answers, but in
the form of questions.  Don't see it?  Well let me get under Paul's words
and into his ideas. Here is what he is really *asking* Chuck0:

What is the right form of censorship?
Where do principles come from?
What does activism mean?
At what point do we declare something "authoritarian"?
How do we decide what is trivial?

Paul *already has* his answers lined up -- except he hasn't told us yet.
His answers are probably informed by his own set of morals, which are just
as valid as anybody else's. Paul is just as much a product of his society
as the rest of us are, and we're all slaves to dominant ideologies which
are normalized in the status quo.  It all comes down to our
own personal definitions.

Since Paul cannot adequately explain why his definitions are the only
right ones, then he MUST concede (by definition, or lack thereof)
that all positions are relative. Mine, Flint's, Chuck0's, Paul
Watson's, Mattel's, Etoys and Peacefire's positions are all just as
reasonable positions as his own, even though he may disagree to them in
varying degrees. The point is they are no less "valid", just different.

Ultimately, all definitions, thoughts, principles, ideologies and "truths"
are relative.  This is the single-most important decisive factor fueling
arguments over activism, human rights, free speech, social responsibly and
any number of the other "moral" issues we face today.  (Including "what is

There are NO answers, only positions; there is no truth, only opinion. 

Paul may ask others of their opinions, but he wastes only his own time
when deciding their "worth".

I, for one, am interested in debating the questions, but I will not argue
with someone who has all the answers.


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