File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 56

Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2001 23:28:02 -0500
Subject: Re: What is Empire about?


You are absolutely right about the egg. Empire is not about models or
mimesis, the old "map of the territory" routine. It is about production,
emergence, tranformation, creation.  You can't make an omelet without
breaking eggs. The book wants to fly even without wings.

I also agree with you that reading the book is beguiling. You feel like
you're already there on the barricades, hoisting the black flag. 

Put the book down and you're back in the world again with nothing but
lame commercials on the tv, the subway, the radio, the buildings,
everywhere.(even the internet, for Pan's sake!)   

I walk to work humming a soft drink jingle. 

Your comment on wanting to fly before we can swim is appropriate.  It
reminds me of Lucia Joyce, slightly mad, madly in love with Samuel

Carl Jung was brought in to examine her as her medical condition
worsened.  He supposedly made the following comment. James Joyce was
swimming. Lucia was drowning.

That seems to be the question today.  Globalism - do we sink or swim?

I was reflecting today how much our lives are pervaded by choice and how
much we are told this is the very hallmark of freedom. However, we lack
the ability to make the simple meta-choice to refuse the system itself.
Whatever we choose, it is always capitalism.  (Free to choose, but the
game is rigged.) If I simply decide to refuse to work, life would become
very difficult, very soon. 

Capitalism is not something we engage on a take it or leave it basis. It
pervades us like a polluted ocean. 

So while I agree with you that Empire is simply a moment, and not the
revolution, I can't agree with you about the politics of the local. For
one thing, it is already too late. Globalism is a Jackson Pollack
painting. It has an allover canvas. It is like an intimate spouse in an
arranged marriage. It is the primordial ocean, the new atmosphere. It
surrounds us. To live without it is to attempt to live without air.

Given this omnipresence, doesn't the politics of the local simply become
another form of privatization?  Isn't the attempt to protect your own
local area just a way to make it another gated community, one in which
an elite prospers while the outsiders remain subject to harsher fates.
In my town we have a local farmer's market with organic produce, while
down the street the poor are living on dog food.

I'm sure you are familiar with the slogan - NIMB (not in my backyard). 
This strategy has been used by local groups to distance themselves from
wastedumps, halfway houses, low-cost housing, etc. in a reactionary
attempt to keep their communities safe and pure. 

If globalism is the new reality, doesn't the politics of the local
ultimately become another form of NIMB?  That is the question I want to
ask you before I go to sleep and dream of shiny consumer products?

I want the whole world and I want it no matter how hopeless the task may



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