File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 17

Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001 20:38:35 -0500
Subject: Re: marxist grand narrative - the return?

One of the things about "Empire" that reminds me a little of "The
Postmodern Condition" is the way it crosses genres.  What is "Empire?" 
Philosophy, Political Theory, Sociology, History or all of the above?

Its version of the Postmodern seems more like Jameson than Lyotard,
definitely epochal.  I find the thesis that "Empire" puts forward
linking the politics of difference, post-colonialism and fundamentalism
as related, various forms that attack modernism and the Enlightenment
merely to usher in the new form of sovereignty known as Empire,
interesting and intuitively true.

In "No Logo" Naomi Klein registers a similar perception. She points our
that during her college years the identity politics of culture wars
seemed very important. In retrospect, they now appear to be merely an
advance marketing campaign for the new global structure.  There is an
eerie resonance between what Klein says about this and what Negri and
Hardt offer from a more theoretical perspective.  Here is Klein:

"It was in this minefield that "diversity" marketing appeared,
presenting itself as a cure-all for the pitfalls of global expansion. 
Rather than creating different advertising campaigns for different
markets, campaigns could sell diversity itself, to all markets at once. 
The formula maintained the one-size-fits-all cost benefits of old-style
cowboy cultural imperialism, but ran far fewer risks of offending local
sensibilities.  Instead of urging the world to taste America, it calls
out, like the Skittles slogan, to "Taste the Rainbow."

Today the buzzword in global marketing isn't selling America to the
world, but bringing a kind of market marsala to everyone in the world. 
In the late nineties, the pitch is less Marlboro Man, more Ricky Martin:
a bilingual mix of North and South, some Latin, some R&B, all couched in
global party lyrics.  This ethnic-food-court approach creates a One
World placelessness, a global mall in which corporation are able to sell
a single product in numerous countries without triggering the old cries
of 'Coca-Colonization.'"


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