File spoon-archives/baudrillard.archive/baudrillard_2001/baudrillard.0109, message 69


Subject: "Violence, old and new"
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 12:18:05 +0100



Hi all, I came across the text below by Zygmunt Bauman, written in 2000. It may be
useful for some in thinking about war, technology and where it looks like we
are currently headed. Full reference below. John.]
===================================================================[Extract from Zygmunt Bauman, "Violence, old and new"]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The aim of the new type of global war is not territorial aggrandizement,
but throwing any remaining closed doors wide open for the free flow of
global capital. To paraphrase Clausewitz, we may say that this war is
primarily the 'promotion of free global trade by other means'. For this
reason, the aims of such a war could hardly be served by such old-fashioned
measures as confrontation, engagement and combat, which inevitably imply
entering commitments and bearing the consequences. Ideally, one would leave
the selection of targets entirely to computers and smart, self-guiding
missiles. Short of that ideal, the war planners tried to reduce the tasks of
the army professionals to running the software programs and monitoring the
computer screens. The new, global era wars are wars at a distance,
hit-and-run wars: the bombers leave the scene before the enemy can manage
any response and before the carnage can be seen.
          Richard Falk has compared this new war with torture: like the
torturer, the attacker is fully in charge and free to select any violent
methods of pain infliction which he deemed effective and so 'rational'. Such
a comparison is not fully correct: torture, unlike the new war of the
globalization era, made and encounter and, indeed, interaction between the
torturer and the victim both unavoidable and 'productive'. The new global
wars, unthinkable without the electronic technology which renders time
instantaneous and annihilates the resistance of space, are won by the
avoidance of encounter and by denying the adversary any chance of
responding. This difference, to be sure, only magnifies the privileges which
the attackers in a hit-and-run global war share with the torturer. Their
freedom of manoeuvre is nearly absolute and so is their impunity. Casualties
are counted only 'down there' on the ground - but the attackers never touch
the ground if they are lucky; and all the odds are that luck will be on
their side.
          In this, I suggest, lies the most sinister potential of wars which
the military arm of the globalizing forces is able and willing to launch.
The prospect of utter impunity, coupled with the redundancy of
time-consuming, costly and risk-fraught ideological mobilization and the
irrelevance of 'patriotic capital', as well as with freedom from the need to
clean up the mess and devastation caused by the assault, combine into a
temptation which may be not just difficult to resist but all too easy
(indeed, 'rational') to surrender to. All those who pursue the politics of
global free trade and global capital flow find that this particular 'other
means' has a lot to recommend it, and there is very little to advise them
against taking this option, let alone to prevent them from taking it once
that is what they have resolved to do.
          A century likely to go down in history as one of violence
perpetrated by nation-states on its subjects has come to a close. Another
violent century - this time a century of violence prompted by the
progressive disablement of the nation-states by free-flowing global powers -
is likely to succeed it.

Zygmunt Bauman, "Violence, old and new" in his _The Individualized Society_
(2001), Polity Press.:Cambridge. Pages 218-219.

   

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