File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 62

Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 22:45:39 -0500
Subject: Sublime Empire

I just finished reading Empire and came across an article (In These
Times) talking about Ya Basta!. Here is what it said:

"To the usual calls for direct democracy, the leitmotif of the
"anti-globalization" movement everywhere, they've made three major
additions: A principle of global citizenship, the elimination of all
controls over freedom of movement in the world (Ya Basta! especially has
targetted immigration detention facilities): a universally guaranteed
"basic income" to replace programs like welfare and unemployment
(originally derived from the French MAUSS group); and free access to new
technologies - in effect, extreme limits to the enforcement of
intellectual property  right. (Most Americans assume these ideas derive
from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's book "Empire."  They don't. They
got them from Ya Basta!)

One of the surprizes for me in reading "Empire" was how little of the
book was spent in describing this political program. Maybe twenty pages
or so at the very end. And I agree, in some ways the above statement is
better than Empire because it is more direct and concrete.  

Nonetheless I think the value of "Emmpire" lies not so much in the
politics it offers, but in laying down the conditions of possibility (or
is that virtuality?) that makes these politics real.  It is something
like a Kantian transcendental deduction, only in this case, the ground
is below and immanent. Today the voice of god rises up from the ditch.

There is great value in all this, even if there is no place on the earth
where this value can be measured.  It is beyond even the fulcrum of
Archimedes. The terminology of the sublime is not used,however, the
concept of Empire seems sublime because Empire is not a place.  Empire
is the non-localized space-time compression, a true u-topia.  Today, we
nomads are all real nowhere cyborgs. We don't go in circles. We move in
mobeus strips of libidinal flesh.

What this Marxist-Deleuzian tendency gives us is a politics of the
sublime (even though we know there is no politics of the sublime) and a
new way to understand the postmodern, not as the exhaustion of politics,
not as the mourning of lost forms of politics, not as the triumph of
neo-liberalism, but as a Protean form of being against, the Great
Refusal, a nondialectical subjectivity within the multitude which
resists and resists again. By the very fact of this resistance it causes
a response to occur which attempts to re-control and reterritorialize.
The masters experience the  perpetual belatedness of recapture. The
paralogical is furtive and agile like quicksilver.  

History is not at an end. It has merely become sublime. Long live
history.  The postmodern is the hydra which all the labors of Hercules
cannot destroy.  



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