File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 75

Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 19:42:35 +0100
Subject: Re: Sublime Empire - First section

There are two different questions that need to be answered prior to the
questions of virtuality and the multitude that are discussed below.

Firstly - is it accepted that the understanding and definition of the
post-modern that N&H raise is acceptable? Given their belief that the PM is
founded on a change in the economic? (This is of course in direct conflict
to Lyotard's perspective on the postmodern).

Secondly - are they correct in defining a new form of sovereignty based on
global, supranational and national organisations? I'd refer you tp Hirst and
Thompson's 'Globalisation in Question'  which whilst not such an interesting
read does contain the numbers and statistics which Empire lacks. From H&T's
perspective the present US Gov is perfectly understandable as Globalisation
is functionally a way of supporting the (G8) local organisations and not
global organisations as such.

For myself what makes Empire interesting is that it constitutes an attempt
to construct a radical philosophical statement on the globalisation question
which does not allow the neo-liberal economics to maintain their
intellectual ascendency as a result of the retreat into the terrain of the
local and the specific. The supposed 'end of history', which was the
neo-liberal equivilant of stating that the grand narrative of human
liberation was over, is over, but as a result larger questions have to be



Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

> Hugh/All:
> You have raised a number of questions regarding direct democracy versus
> global democracy; Who is the multitude?  Where and how, does it live?
> What does it produce? and the distinction between  "Virtuality" and
> "Possibility" made in "Empire"
> I don't think these questions can really be answered until the argument
> N&H are making is understood and rendered more explicit.  While I can't
> claim to have achieved that comprehension yet myself, I want to begin to
> discuss the argument more fully here. Writing, perhaps, as a way to
> understand more completely what I have already read.
> In my reading of "Empire" the book is making an elaborate argument with
> regard to what is actually a fairly straightforward thesis.  "Our basic
> hypothesis is that sovereignty has taken a new form, composed of a
> series of national and supranational organisms united under a single
> logic of rule. This new global form of sovereignty is what we call
> Empire."
> One can certainly question whether or not this new form of sovereignty
> is actually emerging and what if anything would constitute its single
> logic of rule. As the authors point out, one interpretation has been
> that the present order somehow rises spontaneously out of radically
> heterogeneous global forces.
> Although he is not mentioned directly, this appears to be a reference to
> Hayek and his conception of economics as a kind of spontaneous order.
> This is the basic argument neoliberalism is currently making.  No one
> can really control this economy. It should simply be let unfettered in
> order to work its magic and accomplish the most good for all.  The
> miracle of capitalism supercedes any local government. All attempts at
> intervention merely create unforeseen and disastrous effects.  The world
> is simply better off without them. The market is the true democracy
> because the people vote through the choices they make as consumers.
> Of course, this rhetoric tends to be contradicted by the various
> politics actually utilized by neoliberal groups in order to accomplish
> their agenda. The role of government is not eliminated, but merely
> altered to achieve elitist ends in a more global context.  Certainly, it
> can be argued that the unilateralism of George W. Bush and the
> Republican Party constitutes its own form of anti-globalism opposed to
> the emerging order as much as anything represented by the protesters at
> Genoa. The fact that only the latter have been targeted in this way is
> simply a reflection of the underlying bias of the media and its own
> implicit political ideology.
> One of great rewards "Empire" has already given me is that it thoroughly
> demolishes the premises of this kind of argument and show how its basic
> metaphysical assumptions are merely ridiculous.
> At the same time, however, the conventional positions of the Left hardly
> remain unscathed.  The doctrines of imperialism, conspiracy theory and
> the cynical attribution of power politics are shown to be at best myopic
> and at worst completely paranoid.
> The radical potential alternative "Empire" offers is this. If its thesis
> about the new form of sovereignty is true, then the current politics of
> both Left and Right become suspect. It opens the way for the emergence
> of a new politics that would reflect the new realities.
> This gives rise to another question that I will simply leave you with
> for now.  Is this new sovereignty a juridical formulation, a
> biopolitical machine or some monstrous hybrid of both? That is something
> I'd like to discuss further with you in another post
> eric


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