[NetBehaviour] The Situationist Blockchain

Meredith Finkelstein mnfinkel at gmail.com
Wed Dec 29 19:19:22 UTC 2021

In light of Dawn of Everything - of which I am mixed although I Graeber's
Debt did change my life
I am reminded to this quote in the last chapter  "For most of history...
the zone of ritual play constituted both a scientific laboratory and, for
any given society, a repertory of knowledge and techniques which might or
might not be applied to pragmatic problems."

So in light of this SI and these blockchain projects are play spaces for us
to engage in a political imagining

Love the DAO piece


On Wed, Dec 29, 2021 at 5:41 AM Ruth Catlow via NetBehaviour <
netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

> Dear Eryk,
> Thanks so much for your long and super-helpful response.
> Some fragmented thoughts...
> I LOLled at my discovery of the hidden pages ; ) Sorry about that. It
> seems that my time in the "crypto tent" (as you put it) has conditioned me
> to sniff out questions of funding and governance in blockchain related art
> projects. I certainly didn't read the project as ironic - just those pages
> that I shouldn't have seen. It's frustrating how "project-based" funding
> can constrain the potentiality of our work as artists and researchers
> working in arts institutions and universities. I hope you find a way to dig
> in further to the Potlatch connection. I only recently made this connection
> myself, reading Graeber and Wengrow's wonderful *The Dawn of Everything.*
> I enjoyed and agreed with the resonances you find in cryptoland and have
> also been reflecting on the limits of the Situationist project. Not just on
> the political values of SI, but also on the limits of their tactical
> application of rhetoric in novel contexts. It feels like on Twitter
> everyone is a Situationist, resulting in an exhausting rinsing of meaning
> from the web through constant decontextualisation.
> Kei Kreutler just put out this reflection on the year in which DAOs have
> really started to find their form. I found it incredibly useful.
> https://gnosisguild.mirror.xyz/l3pGN7TOUgPkzeurDlllIaAocaVqQuZkN98-BLAhKRc
> She says "Cultural norms, even more so than technical capabilities,
> influence our sphere of action. That is, while technical capabilities play
> a role in determining the possible, cultural norms curtail it more than we
> usually think."  Which is why I am so excited by the luttecoin video - it
> puts an image of new cultural norms on a wide horizon. I just find I want
> to be able to see and feel more of the detail ;)
> Warmly
> Ruth
> On Wed, Dec 22, 2021 at 4:02 PM Eryk Salvaggio <eryk.salvaggio at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Thank you for the critique Ruth! I agree with much, and what I write here
>> is just my take. Şerife has also engaged this and may have more to say.
>> But first, a major clarification: the “invest” page isn’t meant to be
>> accessible, and I’m not sure how you found it — it was a placeholder for
>> extending some ideas that we didn’t pursue, and I removed links / the idea
>> precisely for the reasons you mentioned.
>> We have ideas on the solidarity aim, but they are fuzzy. For one, there’s
>> a tremendous overlap between the “crypto scene” of retail investors and the
>> anti-capitalist, anti-work movement (at least in the US). That is, both
>> have given up on traditional institutions and pathways to economic
>> security. Dogecoin investors — and the language of “Fomo” — are actually
>> quite sympathetic to me for this reason. They’re betting that this joke is
>> just as good as any other. The issue is that it’s a bit nihilistic, stuck
>> in the lane of throwing coins in fountains and making a wish. Right now,
>> this project is meant to say “you can’t just make a wish” but we’re at an
>> end there because of various boring things like deadlines and time
>> constraints. I think if there are revisions / expansions of the work,
>> you’ll we’re also pointed in your direction.
>> As an explanation of why it is what it is now, it’s because of the nature
>> of the research residency and the initial thesis: model situationist ideals
>> of governance into a digital system. I found very little evidence that the
>> situationists were actually very good at community organization, or if they
>> were, they articulated very few principles around it. They were idea
>> distributors, very much tapped into the idea of propaganda and counter
>> propaganda, and hoped for these twists to take a life of their own.
>> What you’re arguing for is something I’m thinking about too, but in terms
>> of what I’ve found (and I’m not an expert) it’s a very necessary evolution
>> on the situationist approach and doesn’t reflect actual situationist
>> practice as written. Situationist practice as written had elements that
>> were quite libertarian and problematic. I would like to see something
>> beyond the Situationist model, or, more accurately, go back to that model’s
>> foundations.
>> In the white paper, we discuss how Situationists had essentially
>> appropriated Potlatch from Indigenous Americans, and used it as the basis
>> for much of their systems of governance. That was reported to them through
>> the writings of Franz Boss, which were also somewhat distorted through an
>> anti-capitalist lens (rather than “seeing what is.”)
>> I’m particularly interested in starting from that as a source, rather
>> than following the path set by SI’s adoption of it. But that is dense
>> terrain requiring careful navigation, and it would be a disservice for two
>> folks with an artist’s residency to try to tackle it in a few months. As a
>> result, we stop at the hand off, so to speak. If we had another year, you
>> might see this more developed, and it continues to develop (though perhaps
>> not under this particular framework).
>> The hope of the project in the scope we could tackle was to reveal the
>> mistake of economic liberation as personal liberation, to show that the
>> discontent with the system that drives speculative retail investment can be
>> leveraged as a tool for something more radical, and make other
>> possibilities more visible.
>> (The residue of empty language you unfortunately encountered was part of
>> that: present the slogan, then unpack it. The simple headlines you see on
>> the debris pages doesn’t do the approach much justice, and it’s unfortunate
>> that they are still discoverable).
>> So yes, it’s a statement of purpose, rather than an action of purpose,
>> that said, I don’t think the intention of the work is “ironic,” though you
>> aren’t alone in telling me that it is. I actually think it’s quite sincere
>> (perhaps the pages I’ve inadvertently left up are tainting the work, I’m
>> not sure!). I also suspect that you and quite a few other folks are a few
>> steps ahead of the pivot that this project is trying to make, which is a
>> pivot of frame and intent in how we approach technology. I think that pivot
>> is obvious to you and others in the furtherfield crypto tent, especially,
>> but that the message bears some repeating and clarification.
>> On 22 Dec 2021, at 9:56 am, Ruth Catlow <ruthcatlow at gmail.com> wrote:
>> The Excavations project looks delicious!
>> And the Luttecoin video is sooo good! Evocative, stirring and beautifully
>> produced.
>> The project does give me a powerful pang though as I would love to see a
>> Situationist critique of the crypto scene that actually detourned the scene
>> and I'm not sure this is there yet.
>> Situationism rejected all art that separated itself from politics. I feel
>> this is still somewhat distant from the political machinery of crypto.
>> I wish it were more actionable. By which I mean I wish it was showing me
>> how an engagement, hack or critique of the crypto-scene can build
>> solidarity to bring on the actual "bricking". I want to be able to see the
>> mechanism by which we will gather around the provocation and bring it
>> about. Otherwise, it's somehow safe, in a separate domain.
>> The moment when I felt this strongest was on the governance page
>> https://www.luttecoin.com/governance which led me to the "invest" page
>> both of which used the same hollowed-out language found in generic crypto
>> and NGO messaging. "Freedom to Dream" and "Make a Difference". I was so
>> curious to see how you were going to dig into the economic or governance
>> propositions being developed across the political spectrum in the
>> crypto-scene.  But it doesn't really go beyond irony.
>> Situationism was about praxis, about actually changing culture.
>> I can't wait for this to happen with the Situationist Blockchain
>> Foundation - is this what you hope for Eryk? Can you share any more about
>> how it will be funded and governed?
>> So, to shill my own coin (as they say;)... I'd love it if you and other
>> NBers wanted to join us for this conference I'm co-curating with Penny
>> Rafferty at HDK in Munich in January. It's called *Radical Friends- the
>> DAO Summit for Decentralisation of Power and Resources in the Artworld*
>> https://hausderkunst.de/en/events/radical-friends-dao-summit There IS a
>> lot more interesting and critical work and play developing now and it would
>> be great to build more connections and solidarity.
>> Thanks for sharing Eryk!
>> Warmly
>> Ruth
>> On Wed, 22 Dec 2021, 01:02 Mez Breeze via NetBehaviour, <
>> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>>> ...*head nods in approval*...
>>> On Thu, Dec 16, 2021 at 4:09 PM Eryk Salvaggio via NetBehaviour <
>>> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>>>> Hi all,
>>>> Wanted to share a new piece of work created for an art & research
>>>> residency, “Excavations: Governance Archeology for the Future of the
>>>> Internet,” created by UCBoulder and King’s College, London:
>>>> https://excavations.digital/
>>>> The goal was to research pre-digital forms of governance and imagine
>>>> adapting them to contemporary online governance structures.
>>>> Our proposal was to study the Situationist International and attempt to
>>>> reconcile the anarchic stance with protocols and ideologies around
>>>> cryptocurrencies. The result is The Situationist Blockchain, or LutteCoin:
>>>> http://LutteCoin.com
>>>> ++++
>>>> From the exhibition website:
>>>> ++++
>>>> We propose a decentralized peer-to-peer Situationist blockchain. The
>>>> Situationist International was a French anarchist movement inspired by
>>>> surrealism, Dada, and libertarian Marxism. They proposed that we navigate
>>>> the world through a "mystifying illusion" of spectacles present in
>>>> advertising, films -- even vacations and leisure -- that consolidates
>>>> control in the name of economic productivity. This is true on its face: we
>>>> spend hours of "free" time on social networks, for example, turning that
>>>> leisure into data which is collected and sold by those providing us with
>>>> "leisure." This is, fundamentally, an employee relationship being given
>>>> freely to corporations. UX interfaces and digital interactions extend the
>>>> spectacle, rewarding users with illusions in exchange for distracting them
>>>> from the ways they wish to actually live.
>>>> Abandoning the spectacle of economic productivity, our “Proof of
>>>> Non-Work Consensus Protocol” turns devices into an otherwise useless
>>>> object, or “brick.” Users, liberated from the spectacle of electronic
>>>> interfaces, pursue other dreams. Meanwhile, the devices mine and create
>>>> cryptocurrencies only to be immediately burned. The devices are essentially
>>>> frozen and interfaces made inaccessible. The CPU power processes at full
>>>> capacity, and cannot be turned off. Eventually, they burn out, and with it,
>>>> so does any currency it has produced. This perfects the process of
>>>> automating human leisure, mining and destroying wealth in an endless parody
>>>> of economics.
>>>> ++++
>>>> There is also a write up of the research, included as a white paper for
>>>> the “cryptocurrency” we’re pitching, which explores the relationship we’ve
>>>> identified between financialization, the seductive allure of “liberatory”
>>>> cryptocurrencies, and the spectacle of user interfaces under surveillance
>>>> capitalism:
>>>> https://static1.squarespace.com/static/615ba1842a6b1371238ebc60/t/6196a151193b52305fabe677/1637261649657/LutteCoin.pdf
>>>> I welcome any feedback from the NetBehavior community on this project!
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> NetBehaviour mailing list
>>>> NetBehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
>>>> https://lists.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour
>>> --
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> --
> Ruth Catlow
> she/her
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