File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 103

Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 21:50:19 +0100
Subject: Cultural Differences and Operation Infinite Panopticon

 I was struck on reading the your email on the resonances with (I felt) 
the discussions earlier on ethics. One of the areas we never, my fault 
actually, got round to discuss was the anti-levinas appraoch of Badiou 
on ethics. In the midst of this global event - the following may be of 

'The objective foundation of contemporary ethics is culturalism, in 
truth a tourists fascinmation for the diversity of morals, customs and 
beliefs. And in paricular the medly of imaginary foundations (religions, 
sexual representations, incarnations of authority...) Yes the essential 
objective basis of ethis rests on a vulgar sociology, directly inherited 
from the astonishment of the colonial encounter with savages. And we 
must not forget that there are also savages amoungst us...  the whole 
journalistic paraphenalia of menacing internal alterity...." Badiou p26 
ethics... If we are nomads then we are also the savages amoungst us. 
There have been worse things to be in the human world...



Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>Steve wrote about nomads and Empire, the postmodern and the
>"determination of space for the play of libidinal intensities, affects
>and passions."
>Here is a quote from Negri and Hardt along similar lines:
>"A specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration. All the
>powers of the old world are allied in a merciless operation against it,
>but the movement is irresistible."
>One also hears stories....
>The CNN film footage which shows rejoicing in the Middle East was
>reportedly shot in the nineties and conveniently pulled from the
>archives at the right moment.
>The reason for the action which has been given as an attack upon our
>precious freedom, democracy and the American way of life was reportedly
>thought up in the fifties and conveniently pulled from the archives at
>the right moment.
>Highly placed government officials reportedly cancelled their fight
>plans scheduled for 9/11 at the right moment.
>Rumors fly fast and furious, but even if you believe as I do that no
>one, including the perpetrators, realized the scope of the outcome, the
>Administration has lost no time in making their response and
>consolidating their gains.  One hates to trivialize such a tragedy, but
>the events have merely bolstered Bush's previous demands for greater
>militarization and greater social restriction.  Now, the "country"
>stands united and President Bush has been given a blank check to do what
>he wanted to do anyway.... Play war like his daddy.
>Suppose the nomad is the real terrorism, what then?
>To take a riff on what Reg has said: "This new war is a crusade that can
>only be fought by soldiers not wearing uniforms."  An army on the march.
>Road Warriors.
>Perhaps, what the state really fears is this invisible army of
>individuals and groups who cannot be predicted, whose actions cannot be
>controlled.  It is not a question of bombs.  It is a question of free
>agents, atoms that swerve, what Lucretius termed the clinamen.  This is
>what the administration has declared war on.
>The internet is a space of nomadism where information emerged the media
>could not package and control. Already, there is talk of a government
>back door on encryption.  Who knows where this will end, but this space
>is sure to become more restricted.
>Genoa, Seattle were sites of nomadism that inspired fear in the
>capitalist heart.  Already, one can imagine greater restriction on
>counter-global groups and counter-global gatherings in the name of
>fighting terrorism.
>Labor has had a recent resurgence. Already, one can see unions curtailed
>to a much greater extent in the name of our need for national unity.
>Mexico has criticized the US recently on its double standards with
>regard to immigration from the south and our continued violation of
>NAFTA agreements for more open borders.  These arguments will now fall
>completely on deaf ears.
>There had been a gathering of progressive forces committed to the goal
>of countering Bush's reactionary social agendas, the utter foolishness
>of his tax cut and the need for safety net in a failing economy. Now,
>who cares if the poor are nickeled and dimed when a war is raging. We
>will have a guns and caviar economy instead.
>I fear a new kind of McCarthyism where the word terrorist becomes the
>new stand-in for communist and a general state of fear and panic
>The question comes in the night - what if this war on terrorism is
>secretly a war on nomadism in disguise?
>Already, there are calls for a national ID, more wiretaps, computertaps,
>invasion of civil liberties, censorship and surveillance technology to
>create a new society where nomadism will not be completely eradicated,
>but monitored, controlled and rendered politically harmless to the
>powers that be. What I call Operation Infinite Panopticon.
>To quote Negri and Hardt once more:
>"In the dark world of cyberpunk fiction, for example, the freedom of
>self-fashioning is often indistinguishable from the powers of an
>all-encompassing control."
>So, put on your mirror shades and jack into your holodecks, nomads, we
>have met the terrorists and they are us.
>The worldsky tonight is like your television when the cable fails. Just
>static everywhere. 
>My fear, Reg, is that the fundamentalists won't destroy each other. The
>winner will come after us next (if he even waits that long.)
>These colors never run. They just want to stand still.  


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