Looking for Ideas on Networks in Encuentro Documents

by Stefan Wray

July 29, 1997
Austin, Texas

Despite the fact that one of the central purposes of the Second Intercontinental Encuentro For Humanity and Against Neoliberalism is to focus on expanding and developing intercontinental networks of alternative communication and intercontinental networks of resistance and struggle against neoliberalism, the word 'network' only appears in about %15 of the documents available so far in English and an extensive treatment of 'networking' and 'the Net' appear in even fewer documents.

I searched available English documents with the keyword 'network' and found the following.

How can we make a network of local struggle? is a bit disappointing if you are expecting an extensive discussion of networks, networking, or the Net. The word 'network' appears in the title, and that same question is reiterated again, but throughout this relatively long piece there is only one, rather vague, sentence that attempts to answer that question:

In UK Flexploitation and Resistance Beyond Waged Labour, another long document, there was one paragraph with reference to networks: In And with the Indians, what now? , again there is passing reference to networks, but only in one location:
  Reference to networks appear several times in Notes From The Melbourne Gathering For Humanity And Against Neoliberalism, where networks are described as solidarity networks or participatory-democratic networks: In discussing networks, Neoliberalism in Europe is more concrete about networks of resistance that these other examples and it discusses networks specifically in relation to the Internet, although in a critical way: In Resistance to Neoliberalism: A View From South Africa treatment of networks is more sophisticated than some of the documents posted so far. It is worth reading the entire concluding section called Towards New Networks of Struggle, but here is quote from that part: From 'S.O.S.-tainability' To Self-Managementmentions networks, in a different way than any of the above, in terms natural "network structures" and ecosystems as "living networks of beings and their environment." As has been stated, reference to networks, networking, and the Net, in the above documents is sparsely scattered throughout the texts. There are only several Encuentro documents that deal exclusively or extensively with this subject.

Net, Which Net? provides several pages of insight into these areas. It is a cautionary piece though. It warns us not to be too eager to use the Internet uncritically. It is divided into four parts: (1) Zapatistas and the 'Net'; (2) The current theoretical and political debate over networking; (3) The meaning of networks for the international left; and (4) Possibilities and Problems in further networking. It concludes with the following admonition:

A more detailed discussion of Net, Which Net? should take place. This is definitely a must read.

As I've already made reference to in another post to this Web Foro, Monty Neill's Toward The New Commons:Working Class Strategies and the Zapatistas has a section called Localism, Homogeneity, and Networks which is also an important contribution to this debate.

Finally, there is a document only summarized on the main Encuentro site in Spain for English documents that looks like it would be good to have translated from the Italian. It is called Constructing Encounters by Means of Networks - Constructing Networks by Means of Encounters. Here is the summary:

I hope that within the debates in the flesh on the ground in Spain there is more emphasis placed on elaborating understandings and critiques of networks, networking, and the Net. After all, creating, and enhancing already existing, intercontintental networks is one of the main purposes of the Second Intercontinental Encuentro.