File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 143

Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 18:17:36 +0100
Subject: differend 9/11/01


Lyotard's concept of the differend reworks the dilemmas that exist 
within the considerations that derive from modernist and pre-modern 
eras. The definition which is well known on this list is as a "conflict 
between two or more parties that cannot be equitably resolved for lack 
of a rule of judgement applicable to both arguments..." Here the 
legitimacy of one argument does not mean the illegitimacy of the other. 
(The classic argument and problem of theories of difference). If 
judgement over this object/event is applied equally then this may cause 
harm to one, as Lyotard points out, (and at this point the similarity to 
Hegalian Master/Slave dialectic remains, this is rejected by all 
theories of difference, not just Lyotard but also Irigaray). Conflicts 
are not resolved by discourses that can only accept one set of rules for 
defining the rights to the object. (As in patriarchal theories of sexual 
difference, or socio-historical understandings that mark the 'holocaust 
as a unique event', or 'the invisible hand of the market...') A 
differend develops when the rules for judging between the rival claims 
are not equally placed for understanding the genres of discourses, 
events which the points of argument and conflict derive from. Lyotard 
suggests that a "...rule of judgement between heterogeneous genres is 
lacking..." principle.

Here then as we continue to exist in the aftermath of the changes from 
post-colonial modernism into post-modern globalisation there are many 
occasions when the logic of the differend functions extraordinarily well.

This event we have just lived through for example - we have the dominant 
American response which argues that the terrorist activity is carried 
out as an act of unjustified hatred for 'America, freedom and the 
democratic imperative', that the rational response is to declare war on 
the perpetrators of the crime and that it is essential that a global 
(state) based coalition is constructed to attack the virtual enemies of 
'democracy and the free world'. This approximate consensus is 
constructed and within the softline differences between the 'state' 
allies, now known as a global coalition, the terror of pariahness, as 
the G8 countries apply extraordinary amounts of pressure on the 
waverers, is evident. Can it hold together as the differends grow? Will 
it collapse as the first peasants are murdered? Probably only probably 
since... (Minor league numbers will die anyway perhaps 200,000 perhaps a 
million. ( Late 19th C British policy in India directly helped murder 
50Million)) the oppression of the poor and the starving is normal and 
Afghanistan still exports agricultural products... The major differend 
is of course the different cultural meaning of the 9/11/01 events that 
exists between America and the perpetrators of the crime, how much is it 
a discourse of vengeance, an act of vengeance for the untold harm being 
done by the post-colonial discourses and actions of the G8. There are no 
rules for judging the rival claims which both sides can accept...

As a draft understanding:

The relations can be understood as follows: America here stands in for 
the G8 countries and the post-modern economy and Bin-Laden for the 
evangelical Islamic community. There is no common language which both 
poles of understanding of the post-modern world can be posed and 
understood. The discourses of Bin-Laden and the (Islamic) evangelical 
cannot be translated into the language of the not-so 'invisible hand of 
the market' which understands the world as enclosed within the single 
purpose of 'development' and the associated 'science-technology'. If 
Bin-Laden and the evangelical Islamic community adopts the discourse of 
'development' (which includes the arguments of anti-colonial and 
post-colonial theorists) their case vanishes for they would be faced 
with the differend of having lost the evangelical, spiritual core of 
their case for development reduces all such cases to the secular and 
rational. The G8/America can on the other hand can apply to all the 
state and extra-state institutions, to the very core of 'development' to 
justify its activities. In this process development claims the right to 
exploit all resources with equal impunity...

Remember this is not a military action, its virtual war...

Apologies for not writing this better...




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