November 03, 2013

Weak links (technology and targets) We also like to think that the Internet is still widely distributed as Baran envisioned, when in fact it’s perhaps the most centralized communications network ever built. In the beginning, ARPANET did indeed hew closely to that distributed ideal. A 1977 map of the growing network shows at least four redundant transcontinental routes, run over phone lines leased from AT&T, linking up the major computing clusters in Boston, Washington, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles. Metropolitan loops created redundancy within those regions as well. [19] If the link to your neighbor went down, you could still reach them by sending packets around in the other direction. This approach is still commonly used today. By 1987, the Pentagon was ready to pull the plug on what it had always considered an experiment. But the research community was hooked, so plans were made to hand over control to the National Science Foundation, which merged the civilian portion of the ARPANET with its own research network, NSFNET, launched a year earlier. In July 1988, NSFNET turned on a new national backbone network that dropped the redundant and distributed grid of ARPANET in favor of a more efficient and economical hub-and-spoke arrangement. [20] Much like the air-transportation network today, consortia of universities pooled their resources to deploy their own regional feeder networks (often with significant NSF funding), which linked up into the backbone at several hubs scattered strategically around the country. Just seven years later, in April 1995, the National Science Foundation handed over management...
White Feminist Fatigue Syndrome In her recent piece in Com­ment is Free, “How fem­in­ism became capitalism’s hand­maiden — and how to reclaim it” Nancy Fraser draws on her own work in polit­ical the­ory to argue that fem­in­ism at best has been co-​opted by neo­lib­er­al­ism and at worst has been a cap­it­al­ist ven­ture of the neo-​liberal pro­ject. What appears at first glance to be a reasoned self-​reflection, one that takes stock and respons­ib­il­ity for past alli­ances and cel­eb­ra­tions of stra­tegic moves for the bet­ter­ment of women’s lives, at second glance reveals the innate and repet­it­ive myopia of White fem­in­ism to take account, to con­verse and think along with Black and Third World Feminists. Writ­ing from the early 1970s onwards, these schol­ars and act­iv­ists have sys­tem­at­ic­ally engaged a fem­in­ist cri­tique of not only state cap­it­al­ism, but of a glob­al­ised cap­it­al­ism rooted in colo­nial legacies. These fem­in­isms have not pri­or­it­ised “cul­tural sex­ism” over eco­nomic redis­tri­bu­tion. The lit­er­at­ure is vast, the examples myriad, and thus, it’s all the more tir­ing when White fem­in­ists speak of second-​wave fem­in­ism as if it were the only “fem­in­ism” and use the pro­noun “we” when lament­ing the fail­ures of their struggles. Let us just say there is no such thing as a “fem­in­ism” as the sub­ject of any sen­tence that des­ig­nates the sole pos­i­tion for the critic of pat­ri­archy. For such pos­i­tion has been frac­tured ever since Sojourner Truth said “Ain’t I a woman too?” There is though a fem­in­ist subject-​position, the one Fraser is lament­ing, which has sat very com­fort­ably in the seat of...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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