File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 103

Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 01:43:02 -0100
Subject: Opinions on Empire

Steve, Eric, All

In addition to some of the books on globalisation previously mentioned (one
was Pilger) there are others listed below.  I've only read reviews and
except for Friedman's book which is easy to read  and enjoyable, but as one
said, he is like a cheerleader.  Friedman says there is no escaping the
"straitjacket" of globalisation, and, in effect, if a country doesn't
wear it,
that country will suffer dire consequences. He thinks and writes clearly
throughout the year to destinations round the Globe, but doesn't dig deep
and correlate a lot of facts.  Neither do the other authors.  Maybe, some

Chossudovsky attacks the international bankers who, he claims, conspire with
the transnational agencies to engineer the periodic collapse of foreign
currencies.  Once that has been accomplished, and it seems to happen over
over, wealthy corporations buy up third world resources for pennies on the
dollar.  George Soros, who made more than $1 billion manipulating the
British pound, has also written about the problems with international

Here's a short list of books:

"False Dawn - John Gray
"The New Rulers of the World" - John Pilger
"The Globalisation of Poverty" - Michel Chossodovsky
"Global Dreams" - Barnet and Cavanaugh
"Inequity in the Global Village" - Jan Knippers Black
"The Lexus and the Olive Tree" - Tom Friedman

There are also various articles by David Korten at:

Our discussions of subjectivity, immanence, the use of  "production" to mean
whatever, etc, and other terms, helped me translate difficult parts of
Empire which is   somewhat like the preacher addressing a choir of

However, a lot of history is given which seems valid, and some important
observations are made in ordinary language.

I find "subjectivity" equates to states of mind, or public consciousness,
and perhaps "brainwashing", remember "The Manchurian Candidate"?

Thinking of subjectivity, I was reminded of this quote passed on by

"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true
politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas; it
is at the stable point of reason that he secures the end of the chain; this
link is all the stronger in that we don't know of what it is made and we
believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the bonds of iron
and steel but they are harmless against the habitual  union of ideas; they
can only tighten it still more; and on the
soft fibres of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest of
empires. (Servan 35)."

I guess it is an old joke about "Das Kapital", and inversion of language,
that you have to read the second volume to find the verb. Towards the end of
"Empire", I kept trying, unsuccessfully, to to find the the verb, i.e. how
the powerful multitude would assert its power.

Since Michael Hardt said on TV he wanted to "make a revolution", and in an
Internet forum at a link I forwarded to the Lyotard List, he and Negri
offered nothing new, I shouldn't have been surprised.

With such a commotion, all the people buying the book, one wonders why?

So did the writer of a very long review in the NY Times on 7 July, 2001:

"Since Harvard University published the article last year, translation
rights have been sold to 10 countries, including Japan and Croatia; the
leading Brazilian newspaper has put it on the cover of its Sunday magazine
and Dutch television has broadcast a documentary about it.  Fredric Jameson,
America's leading Marxist literary critic, has called it the 'first great
new theoretical systhesis of the new millenium'.while the equally eminent
Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, has declared it "nothing less than a
rewriting of "The Communist Manifesto", for our time".

Further on, the review says of Hardt, "And he readily concedes that "Empire
has flaws.  Mr Zizek complained that for a book that preaches revolution, it
had an unforgivable omission, no how-to manual.  Mr.Hardt agreed. 'I wrote
him an e-mail and said, "Yes its true we don't know what the revolution
should be", and he wrote back saying, "Yeah, well I don't know either".

Meantime, all things in the world go by, leaving scarce a trace. Seattle,
Davos, Genoa.

Surely there are enough unhappy people in the world to make a revolution,
and there are
new and ever more deadly weapons of mass destruction that can be packaged in
carry-on suitcases and brought aboard some of  the thousands of planes which
are airborne 24/7.

Packages could also be floated ashore on rubber rafts with refugees.

The Times reviewer quotes others to the effect that the book's popularity
may possibly  be a result of a waning of the influence popular  "isms" of
decades have had on writers in the world of arts and humanities.  According
to that analysis, following deconstruction and postmodern, Derrida and
Deleuze, and all the rest, banality has set in - Today's literati yearn for
a new romanticism and new heroes.

No one ever mentions the possibility of returning the democracy we have on
the books to the multitude who are eligible to vote and don't.

One person, one vote, always wins if the eligibles ignore TV ads,  register
and vote against incumbents.  The poor and downtrodden can win on numbers.
Somewhere I read that the recent U.K. election had lower turnout of persons
of voting age than was the case in the U.S. last November. Usually, in the
U.S, the ratio of voters to non-voters of voting age is about 50 percent.

Internet e-mail gives individual voters the power to form coalitions and
support candidates who will win.

 Supposedly the Internet made possible legislation outlawing land mines  -
in some countries.

In the meantime we wait for the sublime, the "is it happening" of Empire.



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