File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 12

Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001 20:29:23 +0100
Subject: Re: the event

Eric and all,

Blair doing a number of things, not the trivial routine mentioned below 
but is showing, as you must have seen after the speech at the party 
congress yesterday, the differend between the USA and the UK. On the one 
side he is engaging in the US desire for militaristic vengence 
supporting Bush ad the US desire for military responses. On the other 
side he is attempting to use the activity to change the G8 responses to 
the problems of the third world. A number of positive things were spoken 
of both implicity and explicitly. Debt eradication, Kyoto agreement and 
so on. The re-establishment of Afghanistan as a state, possibly bringing 
Iraq back into the legal state status... The question is whether the US 
govenment has accepted some of these items as the cost for G8 support of 
the USA... For Blair and the G8 countires these statements are in 
real-politic terms the beginnings of the cost that the USA will have to 
accede to for being 'allowed' in a globalised world to engage in a risky 
enterprise. Or do you imagine that the death of 6000 people would 
explain the G20 responses to the event. (I think not). My favorite 
response has been Putin's - almost the case of welcome to application 
for membership to the EC -  military co-operation with the EC!! 
 Extraordinary... Plainly the best russian leader since Kruschov.

I disagree with the analysis which suggests that the current state of 
things contradicts the Globalisation thesis. If anything it suggests 
that instead the Nation-States are the available forms through which 
Development is channelled. It seems unlikely that they will be 
superceded by super-state forms. In Hirst and Thompson's Globalisation 
in Question there is a good discussion of Development as happening 
through the formation of nation-states into loose con-federations, 
allainces which then form super-state organisations to enable the 
globalised direction to be established. The super-state organisations 
then function as nation-state controls on externel events - i.e. the 
world bank, Un etc. I should state that I disagree with the belief that 
the current multinational organisations will inevitably become 
transnational organisations - indeed I doubt this will ever be the case. 
Apart from anything else the local nation-states will never allow 
multinationals that level of control.

The anti-globalisation movement is plainly making in-roads into the 
real-politics of the G20 countries and the evidence is in Blairs 
statement yesterday,  the important part of wich is a response to public 
pressure on the state to do something about third world debt, the 
discrepencies between north and south, the environment and so on. The 
European states recognise that the problems that will develop in Europe 
if they do not counter-balance the involvement in the virtual war with 
more than a virtual gesture towards the third world and the poor will be 
astronomical. The issue is time... I expect the focus to be on debt 
relief for the 'holocaust that is Africa' and direct economic help for 
the victums of Aids etc... The question is of course how 'virtual' will 
the help be and how 'actual' either way it will be better than it was 
before.... The anti-globalisation movement needs to make the most of the 
current circumstances and push now for the eradication of 'third world 
debt' and so on... Todays statement on the changing of migrant entry 
procedures into the UK will pass largely unnoticed but I think it may 
liberalise the current harsh regime...

In other words - we do have the power to change things - actually that 
is the purpose of philosophy ' the invention of new concepts'...(Hugh 
the Deleuze mis-quote is for you).

The issue of colonialism is difficult for whilst I agree with N&H 
regarding the changes in the way Empire functions there are some 
discontinuities. This results from the changed post-modern economic 
structures that they and others are documenting. The primary difference 
is that very little of the planet is now outside of the process that 
constitutes Development. Except of course that the post-colonial 
situation does have some hangovers from the days of European colonialist 
regimes  - for example Afghanistan, Isreal and the responses to the 9/11 
events of the USA - which plainly wanted to send in the gunboast, 
somewhere, anywhere... But in these days the question of why? 
reverberates even in the Vox pops that I'm beginning to here from NYC on 
the BBC...

This has turned out to be less theoretical than I initially thought it 
was going to be.... however I believe that the moment calls for 
theoretical analysis of the moment... which relates us back to 

My general sense, as the SAS drift down into Afghanistan, is that this 
is the moment to begin to demand things from the G20 states not the 
moment to be quiescent...

regards in solidarity...

>Actually, Steve, I found it refreshing to hear you say positive things
>about the current state of the counter-globalist movement. Who knows,
>maybe we DO have more power than we realize.  Certainly, the octumvarite
>is a shaky snaky alliance and soon major rifts could occur to test its
>unity, especially in the face of war, recession and growing
>militarization. I recognize with you the truth is we just don't know
>yet. (Didn't Spartacus live somewhere around this time period?)
>One issue I want to continue explore with you is that of colonialism. 
>Certainly, you are aware of the criticisms Hardt and Negri make about
>this.  They write:  "the colonial poses a simple equation with a unique
>solution; the imperial is faced by multiple complex variables that
>change continuously and admit a variety of always incomplete but
>nonetheless effective solutions.
>In my reading of the present situation, I see it as leading more towards
>the latter than the former, but would be more than willing to discuss
>this further. My questions are these.  Do you think Negri and Hardt are
>wrong about the passing of colonialism or do you think their analysis
>simply doesn't apply to the current situation?" Also, do you think their
>overall concept of Empire still pertains?
>Hugh, I found myself agreeing with what you said about history. (to a
>certain extent you are preaching to the converted here.)  One reaction I
>had was that it seemed cynical to me.(in the best sense)  
>Thinking back to the recent thread I had with Matthew, I want to raise
>this question with you directly.  Do you see yourself as a cynic in some
>philosophical sense? (I'm not trying to pin you on a map. I really just
>want to continue to explore this space between us.)
>I have often been struck by the continuing refrain in your writings that
>history is the same old dreary song of suffering and oppression (which
>is true in many ways) yet your response to this is to continue to engage
>the world politically even as you seem to acknowledge the futility of
>this effort.
>(which if not cynical also seems a bit like Camus whose specter has also
>shown its presence here in recent weeks.)
>What I am getting at I suppose is how you would define your practical
>philosophy in a kind of nutshell way. (I apologize in advance for the
>unfairness of this question.) Also, have the recent events made you more
>pessimistic, more optimistic or is that simply too ridiculous a question
>to ask?
>I write to you both with the awareness that I seem to know less today
>than I did yesterday, yet I am more committed than ever to honoring
>justice.  I see justice not as something we know, but as something we
>create. It is not a measure, but remains measureless.  
>Justice today is a case where no rules apply and yet we still must
>judge.  That in part is what I meant when I said in my previous post
>that we are all postmodern now.
>It seems to me that Lyotard has become relevant again, if only to the
>extent that these questions of the postmodern, globalism, terror and
>justice have again become relevant. (as if they were ever out of date!)
>I, eric, tell you the story as it was told to me. I tell it to you so
>that you may tell the others.


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