incrementalism and difference (embrace and extend)

Posted by Rhizome | Sun Mar 2nd 1997 1 a.m.

I had to laugh at Mike's (mtulloch@palmnet.net) little intervention into Pit
Schultz's discourse on the politics of representation in the field of new
media, but I also think Pit's comments are worth taking seriously [see "<a
href="/cgi-local/query.cgi?action=grab_object&kt=kt0483">Representing
ISEA97</a>," RHIZOME CONTENTBASE, 3.2.97].

My understanding is that ISEA's efforts to address issues of
geographical, cultural and economic diversity are, at least in part, a
response to certain critical messages circulated on RHIZOME and in other
places last fall (go to http://www.rhizome.org/query and search on
"cheddie" to bring up several relevant messages).

Pit is right to question the assumptions behind ISEA's classically
liberal response. Offering economic assistance to include and
incorporate difference into a system without contemplating any
fundamental reorganziation of that system is a panacea that leads in
fact to the kind of fucked-up situation we have in the US. But in my
opinion, this move to include and incorporate (reminiscent as it is of
Microsoft's "embrace and extend" stragegy) is a lot better than doing
nothing, and I'm more interested in finding ways to embrace and extend
it myself than stalling it before we've had a chance to see what
happens. At the very least, it's likely to result in a more interesting
ISEA.

Maybe Pit's critique will have a salutory effect. But we should also
remember that the history of the term "politically correct" begins not
in the eighties, when it was used by the right to undermine
multiculturalism and affirmative action, but decades earlier (in the
30's I think), when various left-wing factions in the US began to bicker
over the correctness of their own politics and, in doing so, failed to
galvanize into a revolutionary block as Russians had.

Pit is obviously not talking revolution here, but perhaps ISEA's
incrementalist tactics are preferable to an intelligent discourse that,
in the absence of action, maintains the status quo.
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