Re: [-empyre-] liberty is not justice

Without wanting to disagree with your analysis Simon, I wonder how helpful
it is to position the State with such coherence? The main reason I ask is
that very few countries consider themselves undergoverned, and public
commentators use international comparisons to support their claim that their
particular nation-state is the most troublesome of all, and if it would just
leave us alone things will be a lot better.

The other concern is - as you've previously pointed out on this list - the
rapid economic transformation of NZ from a highly protected social democracy
(I'm told that in the 1980s stamp collectors and others in international
communities of practice had to apply to the government in writing for even
small amounts foreign currency!) to radical experiment in economic
liberalisation. I think some of the results of this are visible in Auckland,
which post America's cup has probably hoisted itself onto the bottom shelf
of the "global city" supermarket. With this flow of international capital
the role of the state in the cultural imaginary of Auckland has changed a
heck of a lot, or it seems to have in the 12 years I've been around NZ. So
I'm wary of fixing the state as analytically central to cultural analysis as
I think the role of, say, US radio operator ClearChannel might quite a bit
to do with the cultural formations emerging there. [I do think that outside
of Auckland it's quite different. had a hilarious conversation last week
with a well known new media arts figure who suggested that they'd really
like to move to Auckland if they were going to bring up children - great
schools, environment, etc. I asked whether they'd considered Wellington as
it has always seemed to me to be the bourgeois dream / get a house with a
view of the harbour / good schools / culture and lifestyle city par
excellence, and for a while it seemed like many people I knew were going to
Wellington to have kids.  The person replied that they thought Wellington
was too full of "faux cosmopolitans", probably the most accurate two-word
critique of that city I've encountered :). Sort of confirms my idea that
there are Auckland/Sydney/LA people and Wellington/Melbourne/SF people.
Sorry for that digression and no disrepsect intended Helen! Some of my best
friends are in Wellington :7]

The last thing re: the state - the incredible protests by Tuuhoe over the
last week (see the story and video at [])
are important in that Tuuhoe never signed the Treaty of Waitangi (thus never
ceding to the Crown their sovereignty) and this position seems to be a great
source of cultural and political renewal for them at the present time.
However, this is very different than other forms of anti-state activity that
might be seen from, say, transnational capital, or the attempt by someone
like myself to try and get some critical distance from it.

So Simon I'd appreciate some more clarification on your ideas about the NZ
state here!


#place: location, cultural politics, and social technologies:

[ Lilith] laughed bitterly. "I suppose I could think of this as fieldwork -
but how the hell do I get out of the field ?" (Octavia E. Butler, _Dawn_)

On 1/22/05 12:10 AM, "Simon Taylor" <> wrote:

> I would like to go back to two comments that have stuck out to me in this
> discussion. Helen, early on, suggested that an understanding of the
> involvement of the political institutions in the arts in New Zealand - to
> parse somewhat (and Helen, forgive me the liberty) - was important in order
> to gain an insight into what is at stake here for the new media; Danny
> (likewise, your indulgence) questioned the focus of a discussion such as
> this, in <<empyre>>, being a nation-state, a sociopolitically constituted
> topos, not one more easily ventured into as a problematic or field of
> exploration 'natural' to the net and its associated media.
> The common point is clearly the identification of the 'state' - for the
> former as key and for the latter as obstructive to discussion. But - the
> question of frameworks has already been raised here - what strikes me is the
> identification at all, in either negative or positive terms: the presence of
> a legitimating context for those who work in the field of new media arts or
> a presence that delegitimates what one can possibly communicate to others
> for its being there. The State.
> New Zealand is out there. It is virtual in many respects. There are
> historical and transhistorical reasons for this. I personally have
> experience of New Zealand as a political-corporate testing ground and
> corporate-political (David Mitchell has a good word for this - corpocratic)
> test market - a socially mobile middle-class readily adopts new technologies
> and will compromise its own cultural assumptions for the sake of experiment,
> given the state's (rhetoric) say-so. These cases are simply foremost in my
> mind: there are other for example racial questions that remain unassimilable
> and therefore virtual. The integrity of the 'state' persists as some kind of
> inchoate symbolic - an ultimate vouchsafing or (Dubbya-like) accountability
> moment, a ratification, an historically invested capital that regardless of
> ethical bankruptcy can never run out as the justification for our being
> here. If that's what it's about.
> It is an inexhaustable cultural moment, New Zealanders' relationship to
> their phallic mother ('naughty' but 'nice') and their/our virtually
> constituted sense of place, reflected in divers ways in cultural discourse -
> over I am hazarding the entire continuum of intellectual, academic or
> critical debate, from anti-intellectualism and infantilism, where the local
> stress is laid, through to sinecures at academic institutions (reliant on
> pleasing punishing mom - who sends us back to infant status).
> Both views, Helen's and Danny's are naturally correct (maybe not as I have
> imagined them). A sublimely irreducible relationship exists between the
> state and the New Zealand individual.
> simon
> PS: I had intended to talk about Version Festival - cited in the case for a
> resurgence of interest in new media in New Zealand: my review runs as
> follows: a valiant attempt by the handful of people in attendance to attest
> to the general cultural significance of a niche market: all power the hype.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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