neosocialism spam locker server lag discussion problem

I just want to point out to readers that there has been all kinds of discussion around Dominic Boyer’s post on Neosocialism which has been disrupted by a slow server and an overly aggressive spam filter. I apologize to everyone whose messages have been disappeared by our totalitarian spam control Stasi. Curious that this post should cause this problem so acutely…

In any case, take a second look at the discussion, if you have a chance.


Christopher M. Kelty is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has a joint appointment in the Institute for Society and Genetics, the department of Information Studies and the Department of Anthropology. His research focuses on the cultural significance of information technology, especially in science and engineering. He is the author most recently of Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, and issues of peer review and research process in the sciences and in the humanities.

12 thoughts on “neosocialism spam locker server lag discussion problem

  1. Hi! I’m not sure if you meant to indicate whether the problem is ongoing… I’m still having posts disappear from that thread, my latest one is lost in the aether somewhere.


  2. Here’s a copy of my last post to the main thread in case it’s easier to carry on, as Rick has suggested, here:


    It’s hilarious to me that this is the only post facing this spam blocker problem — how not to take that as a mystical/conspiratorial sign? One of the slightly surreal things about this problem is that every time Chris or Kerim clear out the spam queue, new early posts appear and later posts begin to take on new meanings. Sort of the like the old Eastern European joke that no one has to fear the future under communism because it’s only the past that keeps changing.

    Anyway, just wanted to thank a few folks for hitherto buried posts and points. Bryan, thanks for taking my post in the spirit it was intended and my apologies for underestimating where you were heading with your analysis of ‘neo-socialism.’ I think your read of Obama’s position is pretty spot on.

    John, very sorry to have missed the first half of your post. I probably don’t need to reiterate this so late in the game but I’m less interested in creating some kind of a ‘neosocialism’ analytical bandwagon then in suggesting that we take a fresh look at all the forms we are labeling ‘neoliberal’ today. We could do away with both as far as I’m concerned. But if we want to keep writing/talking about ‘neoliberalism’ I’m going to insist we talk about ‘neosocialism’ as well because at least it will give the former some more accuracy and nuance.

    Fred, couldn’t agree more that the ‘neo’ in neo-con should be taken more seriously (and plurally) as well.

    Kevin, I definitely see the kindred move in the theories you mention. But what I sense in Rose and Latour is a strange and largely unspoken animus against mid twentieth century social welfarism which I don’t share. That they want to reveal that ‘the social’ is itself a political-historical-epistemic construct is fine as far as it goes as is their criticism of various ontologizations of ‘the social’ (e.g., Latour’s constant bashing of French sociology from Durkheim to Bourdieu). But, particularly with Latour, I always sense some deeper distate for/skepticism of the political trench warfare of social democracy motivating the theory too. ANT is definitely a liberal method of social analysis (even things get to be autonomous subjects!) even if it plays around with some interesting models of cybernetic relatedness. The Latourians recent fascination with American pragmatism is a good tell in that respect. So, long story short, I’m more skeptical about Latour as a social theorist than you are. He’s a liberal philosopher at heart. But maybe these days, who isn’t.


  3. Ok, my last post on the other thread made it out of the spam filter.

    The only thing I would add to that would be that the same could be said about neo-conservatism. In many ways it was a reaction against many of the themes introduced by neo-socialists.

    As I said before, it would be good to tease out the creation of these cultural narratives in a manner similar to the way Escobar traced the historical origins of the development narrative.

  4. I think someone out there doesn’t like me. My message appeared in the other thread. This thread swallowed up my last one.


  5. In case someone doesn’t understand WHY there’s a problem: buried in the string “neosoc*ialism” is the string “c*alis”, (i’s intentionally omitted). Spammers frequently try to sell c*alis, so the spam filter reads any post re soc*alism or neosoc*alism as spam.

    At Crooked Timber, they’ve resorted to using “sozialism” or “sozialismus”.

  6. Andrew: “it’s pretty hard to take anyone seriously who claims with a straight face that “radical socialists” have ever been in charge of the US government.

    I’m gonna be civil here and keep this on the level, since I don’t make things up and write here to amuse myself. I’ll take the two questions in turn.

    First, it is only from a lack of either experience or political education, that one would ever think that any particular homogeneous group was in charge of anything in the government. The government is really a noisy collection of interests in competition. Radical leftists, and radical right(ists?), both have agendas and both compete, and are themselves not distinct groups. They compete with each other internally. At different moments in our history, some voices have more sway than others, out of an alignment with then current sociocultural narratives in popular culture, media, etc… This was something better understood in the past actually, before there’s narratives became so internalized. See Lippmann’s, “Public Opinion” (1925) for example.

    Right now Obama is president, and progressives have a lot of power in congress, yet I wouldn’t say they “control” the government, anymore than neo-cons controlled the government under Bush. I would say that the right was much better at manipulating public opinion currently. In the 60’s and 70’s it was the left that mobilized people in the streets and manipulated public opinion.
    To use the word “control,” isn’t realistic. It is really the degree of influence that competing interests muster.
    Currently, I’m working with a major US city, and the people I’m working with are incredibly progressive. They want the city to be #1 in green development, they are building the world’s largest urban park, asking me to help them pioneer a new kind of development for low-income residents, etc… but I wouldn’t say that progressives control city hall. We negotiate daily. I’m in a “Red” state, in a very pro-business city. It’s also a matter of political economy. They wouldn’t be doing these things without federal stimulus monies.

    Personally, I sometimes wish for a benevolent dictator.

    “Do you have a list? A list of /names/? ”

    Sure, I don’t write here to just amuse myself. I’d start with the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), a very politically powerful org., which in conjunction with the various leftist student congresses at the time, outlined a national campaign of government lobbying and protest for welfare rights, including the key variable that produced so many single mother households in the black community. (You could get AFDC even if you had a man in the home who worked, but not if you were married and he worked). You’ll have to look into the newspaper archives of your city to see what local chapters were active there.

    For actual people names, I’d start with the most famous: Richard Cloward and Frances Piven, two sociology professors at Columbia, and two still prominent academics in the field of urban poverty. They wrote a position paper which helped to motivate the movement, which was eventually published in The Nation, titled, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.”

    In it, they outlined a strategy to end poverty by enrolling as many people on welfare as possible, and bankrupting the financial system, forcing a set minimum living wage guaranteed to all citizens whether they worked or not. I would not call that sozialist, I’d call that communist actually.

    That should be enough for any researcher to start and pull the strings to get the rest of the names, and history, which will require a visit to local archives and newspaper cites. The important thing to understand here, I think, is that this narrative and movement didn’t penetrate poor urban communities uniformly, just like global capital flows don’t. In my particular field site, for example, when the Brown Berets, and the Black Panthers, came to the area, they were not uniformly welcomed. They were seen as outsiders that were just causing trouble to many, and more embraced by others.

    The actual processes involved in all the changes in the 1960’s and 70’s, were very complex and involved formal and informal structures in this area. The concept of self-identity being primarily racial in nature, that is, “its us against them for a piece of the pie,” was something that was most introduced by outsiders, than native in nature. For example, during the Watts riots, which inspired Cloward and Piven to write their paper, a group of teenagers were reported to be handing out pamphlets asking for calm and reminding people that, “we are Americans first.” This discourse was basically erased in the national imagination during that time. I’m not saying that it was completely erased in poor, minority communities though. Graduate students don’t spend a lot of actual time actually asking poor people their opinions. Mostly they just assume. The last anthro. that did fieldwork in my area was there in 1972, and only is a small peaceful, Hispanic area. No one have ever done any fieldwork on what became the “black” area.
    For example Cloward and Piven stated that the 1996 welfare reform only happened because the poor didn’t have a political voice, but a representative poll showed that 65% of Americans making less than %15,000 a year supported the legislation, and 61% still supported it a year later (Roger Center for Public Opinion 1998). They, like most sociologists, homogenized the poor into an us and them, and rendered invisible all of the variation in the communities.

    The roles of people on AFDC gained more people between 1967-1970, than all of the decades before that. Originally, it was supposed to be for white women, actually. The idea that it was something for poor blacks came much later. Also, if it was just a matter of racism, then we’d have to say that the U.S. was less racist in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when black American communities were not nearly as violent, had majority dual-parent households, and there wasn’t a drug house on every block. This didn’t begin to happen until the early 1970’s.
    I think that the standard sociological explanations given are rather racist in nature. Newly freed slaves were able to gain massive gains in literacy in a generation, and later under legalized segregation there were moves over hundreds of miles in what many call a diaspora; yet, in the 1970’s people weren’t able to deal with a factory moving 10 miles away, or relocate 5 miles away? Was there racism? Of course, but was am I to believe that racism was more of a factor in 1973, than in 1932?

    Understand this. This isn’t something I understood before my fieldwork. I did not expect to find this, and most of it went against previous beliefs. It’s easy to prove something if you want to.

    The sociological narrative produced in the late 1960’s, and which still predominates today, has produced a paternalistic narrative (at least in my field site) that is as subtle and dominant as global concepts of development. I’ve been able to document the genesis of this discourse in newspaper series articles, one labeled “The Poor,” and other writings, for just this city.

    What’s very important about all of this is the fact that it is almost completely unknown by anthropologists, and very well known by the far right in the US. All of this is very well documented and used to completely discredit progressive politicians and legislation. We have to see this as the other side of the same coin.

    That’s because, most of the themes and narratives of neo-sozialists, have their origins in a continuing discourse introduced by the Soviets through the KGB and GRU beginning in the 1930’s. Here again, we have to separate the narrative from realities. One of the ways I think we can do this is to see the reaction of someone to information.
    For example two prominent socialist thinkers, Chomsky and Zinn, don’t take simple bait. Their views are nuanced, and they rarely fall into us/other paradigms. While they operate within many of the themes of Soviet propaganda, I don’t think they are what were called “useful idiots,” by Soviet intelligence services. A “useful idiot” was, and still is, someone that is easily triggered by various buzzwords. You’ll see this in places like Zero Anthropology. You only need to say a certain number of words in combination, and you’ll get a zealous reaction. For example say the words “military” and, “anthropology,” in the same sentence and you’ll get a predictable response, every time. You wouldn’t get this from people like Chomsky or Zinn. The response won’t just be predictable, you can actually go down a list of Soviet propaganda themes and buzzwords, and follow along like a shopping cart.

    However, many on the far right have used this history to paint any sozialist, (I consider myself a sozialist), or progressive as a “usefull idiot.” We need to understand this history if we are to understand the current narrative and discourse within the right/left divide in the US. Too often we simply write the right off as “useless idiots,” which again is within a certain discourse. We cannot separate the current neo-con and neo-soc, from a continuation of Cold War discourse.

    This is cut and pasted from Wikipedia. This is accurate, so I don’t feel the need to type it myself. I’m also sorry if anyone was a member of these organizations:

    Much of the activity of the Soviet-run peace movements was supervised by the World Peace Council. Other important front organizations included the World Federation of Trade Unions, the World Federation of Democratic Youth, and the International Union of Students. Somewhat less important front organizations included: Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization, Christian Peace Conference, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, International Federation of Resistance Movements, International Institute for Peace, International Organization of Journalists, Women’s International Democratic Federation and World Federation of Scientific Workers. There were also numerous smaller organizations, affiliated with the above fronts.

  7. Zora, thank you, you’ve made my day! To be able to defeat soc*ialism and erectile functionality in one fell swoop is a pretty amazing achievement. Neo-sovi*agram anyone?

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