File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 140

Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 17:38:11 -0100
Subject: "Empire"  on TV

In the old movie, "Hope and Glory", a teacher is telling the kids at the
beginning of WWII  that 40 percent of the world is British.  A lot of
post-war philosophers were children of that world, including Negri, born in

In his TV interview, Michael Hardt had interesting comments on the
Hardt/Negri book.  It's a communist book, he says.  Expanding usual views,
Hardt spoke of  St. Francis of Assissi as an apostle of commonality,
commmunity with Nature, one's fellow-creatures  etc.

He said he and Negri are philosophical thinkers covering a broad spectrum of
the global problems and global networks of power.  The book is not a
manifesto or program for action.  The writers are heralds of a yet-to-arrive
redeemer  A program must be imagined.

The demise of the USSR gave the World these new networks of power and made
views of communism possible.

His comments were mainly theoretical - mention of  corporations,
international agencies,
poverty, debt forgiveness - the usual topics, without facts and figures.
Perhaps facts and figures are quoted in the book.

He wants globalization with a human face, and at the end of the interview,
replies to the question "What is the most important question that can be
asked of you?"  with:  "How can we make a revolution?


P.S.  Ten or fifteen years ago, I remember reading a newspaper article to
the effect that
year in, year out there are, at any given time, about 20 to 40 wars, or
violent conflicts going on somewhere in the world.

The following link gives a current (May, 2001) list:

> When George W. Bush, economists, politicians and journalists accuse the
> alternate globalization protestors of being anti-poor, they are usually
> working with an abstract  model of development which goes loosely like
> the following.
> Nations which are poor and underdeveloped need to go through a phase of
> menial cheap labor because over time a portion of the earnings will be
> invested back into the local economy. This will gradually allow a
> sustainable infrastructure to be built which in turn provides the basis
> for greater wealth accumulation as industrialization develops.  Today's
> poor working class will become tomorrow's middle class and a lucky few
> will even become rich.  For an illustration, just look at the success of
> the Asian tiger economies.  They provide the basic pattern for the
> ultimate success of global free trade.
> The problem with this model is that it assumes there is a fixed law of
> economic development that tends towards both the metaphysical and the
> ahistorical.  It seems reasonable to ask whether on not there are
> tendencies in today's economic situation making this outcome less
> likely.
> The anti-sweatshop movement has pointed to a number of such factors.
> One of these derives from the basis that multinationals tend to
> outsource their assembly operations to the lowest possible bidder.
> Typical workers live in a compound that houses them as well as providing
> their workplace.  He or she is usually young and hired on a temporary
> basis which means that no work entails no pay.  The pay that is received
> is extremely low and most of it returns back to the contractor as living
> expenses.  The hours are long, as many as 16 hours a day, as much as
> seven days per week.  The benefits are non-existent.  If someone becomes
> sick or pregnant, they are simply let go.
> Furthermore, if these workers unionize, the contracts are sent to
> another labor compound that is less expensive.  This allows
> multinationals to cherry pick the cheapest supplier and play one country
> off against another to obtain the best possible terms, while
> simultaneously absolving themselves of any responsibility because they
> are "just a buyer" themselves.
> The spectre that results from this is that these areas may never follow
> the mythic path of development to a middle class future at all.  Rather
> they would simply form a permanent underclass that parallels those
> already existing in the inner cities of industirialized nations.
> This would lead to exactly the scenario that Steve has outlined.  A vast
> army of cheap and ready labor that would keep the Northern communities
> supplied with a steady stream of brand name consumer goods while these
> citizens have the additional luxury of smugly patting themselves on the
> back and saying: "We are helping the poor to better themselves.  There
> is no other way."
> A new millenium. The same old lies.


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