File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 85

Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 19:58:54 +0100
Subject: Globalisation alternative perspectives... Nomadic


Over the past few months we have discussed a variety of the elements
that constitute elements of globalisation, primarily through N&H's text
Empire and the work of Lyotard, amoungst others. Though we have drifted
at times...One of the reasons I backed away from the current discussion
on religion and fundamentalism is that I don't, personally, want to do
any work around the issues of postmodern theologies and the associated
postmodern evangelical movements and the relationships they are
establishing with contemporary nation states and the global. The
responses that are being marked by these groups  to the changes of the
social are not something I've done any work on, and I'll only do this if
its required...The elements that fascinate me at the momenbt are the
very real struggles for the free movement of refugees and the poor
migrants. Obviously this has been sabotaged by the recent terroist
attacks, but also by the desire of the state to own and control the
human and animal subjects within there borders.

Lots of radical approaches to this seem possible the one that interests
me today however is from Jacques Attali's text 'The Labyrinth in Culture
and society' spirtual, mind and body it says in the keywords... What
interests me is the relations that can be read between the lines between
his text and  both Empire, but also, perhaps to the early work of
Lyotard. The experimental political positions of the early 70s... A
brief and readable variety of which could be understood as:

"What I wish to convey is governed by a work that is neither linguistic
nor semiological, nor even philosophical, but political, in a sense that
is neither institutional ( parliment, elections, parties and so on) nor
even "Marxist" (class struggle, the proletariat and so on) ... It is
political in a sense that is "not yet" determined  and that perhaps will
remain,  must always remain, to be determined. This politics would not
concern the determination of institutions - that is the ruiles of
organisations- but the determination of space for the play of libidinal
intensities, affects and passions. There is nothing Utopic about it in
the current sense of the term. Rather it is what the world seeks blindly
today through practices and experiences of all kinds, whose sole common
trait is that they are held to be frivolous...." (Essay 2 from Toward
the postmodern.).

The postmodern economy is usually defined through its relations to the
state and latterly by its relations, usually defined, perhaps
problematically, as negative. If defined through the above (and I could
have started from the late work but felt that people have taken to
ignoring the early work) Attali's work reads like a heterotopian vision
of the effects of the changes on 'us'... And hear and now as I wait to
see if a new anti-virtual-war movement is required I need that

The economy, Attali argues (and what follows is a summary of his
position),  is changing... 'as industrial and commercial mutates into
new complex forms of ownership involving financial institutions and
holding companies. It is almost impossible to ascertain who actually
owns any piece of capital....' The production processes are mutating
into new forms of networks, that whilst normally rooted in the original
host countries are changing into something unrecognisable, the processes
are diversifying faster than the ownership of capital where the
distences between raw materials and finished product exists in more
complex networks than ever before. (This is more a European issue than
an American one. European countries have much higher % of Trade/GDP than
the USA). The new technologies encourage a structure which is
increasingly labyrinthian...  'The technocracy that creates these
undertakings will of necessity organise itself into labyrinthian
flowcharts where operational and functional responsibilities
intermingle'. People's lives are no longer organised in simple linear
lines, rather they tend to be full of reversals, dissapointments, leaps
of imagination, ventures, attempts, defeats and sometimes successes.
Attali goes on into discussions of work, computing, consumption and so
on but the analysis he is producing is that the economic changes are
producing a return to a nomadic economy. Which will increasingly be
chaotic,  uncertain and shocking by turns. Peoples lives, to borrow from
D&G, have become a series of deterritorialisations and
reterritorialisations. The economy, defined here is the globalised
economy, but without any analysis that believes in social change.

The evidence, slight as it is, also relates the increasing amounts of
travel, business and personal mixed to an extent never known previously.
"...first the very real migrations of marginal and underpriviliged
workers in search of ever scarcer jobs, then the virtual travels of the
middle classes in search of new distractions... and then the voyages of
the priviliged in search of profits..." He discusses the three distinct
social groups listed above, descended from Max Weber or Durkheim, in
heterotopian terms. Interestingly there are elements of neo-liberal
trickle down theory here...

What interests me here is that the model produced is contrary to most
left globalisation theory, yet also related, a form of liberal-socialism
that attempts to persuede that the lack of stability, with the personal
stress the creates, the centralisation of the economic control of the
world in the G8/14/20 countries has some  positive results. As if
globalisation was not structured on the faultlines of the divide between
rich and poor.... And yet... the increased nomadism he describes is
really not that dissimilar from the work of N&H and Papastergiadis...
just with an optimistic glow suitable perhaps for an isolated wealthy
audience... If read through the Lyotard quote then the differend fades
and there are elements which allow for an interpretation of Empires
multitude which don't keep running into the real problems of cultural
difference - which N&H never address...




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