File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 26

Date: Sun, 08 Jul 2001 16:56:13 +0100
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Roundtable on the state and globalisation: 

I agree that rationality as such is in itself important and it is true that I
would also have greator allegiance to some social/political groups and issues
than I have to others. The issue for me, is not whether we should support all
movements and groups without question but rather how these movements and groups
have come into existence and are impacting and are affected by the pressures of
the post-modern economic system. I realise that Resistance to social change is
not in itself a 'good thing', but rationality and ones own social and political
positions should enable one to recognise which positions are part of a positive
and progressive change and those that are reactionary responses to the same

Initially let's discard the facist and neo-fascist groups who object to social
and political change on the basis of supporting current institutions whether
they are political, social or religious institutions. The racist (anti-zionist)
or anti-reptile groups and other such conspiricy theorists, who the media in all
its current forms find so interesting are deeply fascist in tendency. But rather
than re-analyse  the reactionary lunatics of the american far-right (sorry
guys). I'd rather focus on the notion of the 'local', the 'community', following
Negri and Hardt I'd suggest that todays celebrations of the local and the
community can easily fall into the reactionary and the fascistic, for example
when they oppose circulations of populations (not just human) and mixtures and
as a consequence reinforce the nation, ethnicity, race, people, sexism, religion
and so on. But the local and community does not necessarily have to be defined
by isolation and notions of false purity. If we break down the barriers that
surround the concepts we can seperate it from these reactionary concepts and
direct it towards the universal. It is this which opens the local out towards
the global and allows the "multitude to pass from place to place". It is this
nomadic and migratory drift which is represented by the increasing movement of
human populations towards the west... (The situationist cry "act local think
global..." which has echoed down through left politics since the 60s is another
case in point.). The current responses of the British Govenment to the refugees
and migrants are part of a continuing attempt to maintain and reproduce the
British Nation state - the dream of a common species causes nothing but terror
and sleepless nights for such people...

The heros of the post-colonial third world are the emigrants and migrants who
are part of the movement of population that are destroying all the old
boundaries and negating all previous understandings of the state. The leaving
behind of the local communities, the rejection of local customs and boundaries
are important and positive forces. The reactionary need to belong to the local,
the inoperative communities which feed on death, the deliberate construction of
poverty are elements that are  part of the ongoing processes of the post-modern
economic system, globalisation requires the construction of isolated national
and regional territories, whithin which populations are subordinated in regimes
of great poverty, from Rwanda to Kosova, Montenegro  and Oldham the story
remains the same. As an individual you can stay and suffer or leave by rail...
when the Kosovans kicked out the 100,000 Gypsies along with all the Serbs, what
else could they do? They joined 'the wretched of the earth', who are probably
the most powerful creative (telelogically and ontologically) group on the
planet. They left - bringing the nomadic and migratory changes with them an apt
representation of the possibility for change and liberation. Is the act of
migrating, going nomadic, some willingly, some forced, considerable as an act of
resistance - it is related because it is a response to the post-modern political
and economic system.

It is not necessary to support, for example, the anti-gm movements, to recognise
that there are some significant issues relating to the use of such
technologies/crops in africa and india thatb are different from there use in
Europe and the USA. The primary economic issue remains that they are part of the
ongoing globalisation process, the social issue is related to whether it
improves the human standard of living and at what cost? If the peasent farmer
ends up further in debt to Monsanto, the local state and other social, economic
and scientific institutions then the cost may well have been to high. The
african scientist who was  interviewed in the New Scientist recently wanted to
use GM crops in the interests of improving the standard of living of the peasent
farmer but did not explain how the short term gains were going to be turned into
long term improvements.

Finally I would emphasise that each and every militant within each and every
group must decide for themselves what constitutes an 'indiscriminate resistance'
and whether they should carry out a given political action or not. It is not for
me to judge whether the asian youth in oldham, in taking the fight against the
neo-fascists of the bnp and its white followers onto the streets is playing into
the hands of the media and the racist fellow travellers or not, they have to do
that themselves.



John Croft wrote:

> Steve,
> I appreciate your point that resistance *per se* is perhaps more important
> than differences between various protesting groups. However, as one who has
> some residual allegiance to "rational thought", I feel, personally, a very
> strong objection to certain groups while supporting many others. We seem to
> differ on "specism", but you seem to acknowledge that important differences
> do exist so I won't deal specifically with that just now. My question is, do
> you regard resistance *as such* as more important than the drawing of
> distinctions between, for example, views such as extreme anti-GM stances
> which, if successful, could cause net harm to some populations and to the
> environment, and other more pressing issues such as climate change. (You may
> well disagree with me on these issues, but my point is about resistance as
> such versus reasoned/discriminate resistance.) For example, should those of
> us engaged in the resistance of global capitalism *not* raise an objection
> if others object to the same thing on the grounds that the world is run by a
> shadowy Zionist elite? Or lizards? Do you think that the connection "with a
> larger public" that you speak of is expedited or jeopardised by the image of
> an indiscriminate resistance?
> john


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