File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 126

Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 12:43:07 +0100
Subject: Re: gas


I have a great deal of sympathy for your personal responses to the 
events of 911 - and understand how you are feeling given the magnitude 
of the event and the sheer closeness of the horror to you. Just don't 
forget how close we all were to the levels of death and destruction - a 
great many people had acquaintences, business friends who narrowly 
missed death in the WTC buildings.

I agree that we don't really differ in our politics on this - simply on 
the level of abstraction owing to our divergent socio/cultural relations 
to the issues.

I'll try and respond adequately to the issues that most directly concern 

On the G1-G19 issue - it is obviously true that the USA is the dominant 
single economic force on the planet. However its economy is smaller than 
the sum total of a subset of the remaining G19 countries. It is 
interesting to note that whilst 25% of the worlds energy/pollution is 
generated in the USA this is not a good way of interpreting the 
comparative situation because of the profligate and inefficient nature 
of the US society. It is the sheer size and internalised economy, 
identified by the smaller percentage of trade against National GDP 
within single US state which makes it dominant. Militarily the USA is 
pre-dominant and I agree that Americans regard themselves as 
 ideologically dominant, however the days when Americans talked 
confidentally, with there French running dogs (New philosophers, to 
misuse Mao), of the end of history are over. The pax americana  ended 
twenty years ago and i suggest that the right wing ideological elements 
have not recognised this and have allowed the re-thinking of the space 
by the left.

The evidence is quite extensive but let us focus on the 911 and Afghan 
situation. In the 1960s the USA felt capable of  invading Vietnam and 
foolishly believed in its military superiority over the French (who had 
been defeated) and the North Vietnamese. In 2001 it is necessary to ask 
the question - would the USA have been capable of  responding if the G19 
countries had refused to participate? If they had said 'no' would the US 
response been the same?. I suggest that the reason for the current war 
is that the G20 countries are generally in accord that something had to 
be done - the WTC were not simply 'American' but symbols of 
globalisation, and were presented as such in the G19 countries to ensure 
'our' support of the responses. (The US govenments response was founded 
on its relationship to the lower importance of international trade 
(percentage of) over National GDP and the obvious belief that the US 
subjects would not take kindly to 'permission' being negotiated...)

Where Gowan is simply wrong is the idea that we are constructing a US 
empire - what is emerging is a growing globalised G20+  industrialised 
countries in a mutual allaince for the ongoing construction of 
capital/development. (I completely agree with Lyotard on this point). 
Should we interpret 911 and Afghan in terms of  the immediate 
specularisation of the event?  (Proving once again Guy Debord's 
significance but with the recognition of the necessity of the additional 
thought that long term the globalised society is the society of the 
spectacle with the resulting collapse of community )or should we assume 
that this is an event in the long development towards the development of 
the G20+ exploitation of the world and near space?

Let me attempt to answer the final questions in your  mail.

The centre of the world is not Washington - the economic centre of the 
world lies along the G20 axis - as the economic wealth of this group 
expands and additional states enter into this group - the economic 
center of the planet will become diffuse and increasingly challenged by 
the 'mulititude', by the savages within and without. When the old 
Eastern block countries start joining the EC scheduled to start within 
the next 5 years, including Russia the diffusion of economic resource 
from the USA will become more obvious.

It is worth noting that the US economy because of its energy use is less 
efficient than the smaller and more efficient trade centric members of 
the G20 grouping (figures are available from OECD and Hirst and Thompson).

'Terroism" is being used to extend the oppression of groups struggling 
against the injustices of the present socio-economic systems all over 
the world from the UK to Mexico and beyond. It is also being used to 
draw together the G20 states into the loose coalition which superfically 
is being used to maintain USA dominance, the behavior of the USA in 
Kosovo relating to NATo involvement, which was carried out to maintain 
USA domination of the military sapces. However this has not stopped 
European movements towards military independence. Under the banner of 
supporting the USA closer moves towards European 'defence' forces are 
speeding up!

Globalisation is not the nation states dream, it is what is happening, 
whether they like it or not! This is one of the lessons of Negri and 
Hardt's 'Empire'.

Go nomadic Eric! think the unthinkable, remember 'they' always get it 


Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>Over the past two months I have read Negri and Hardt's Empire twice,
>feverishly underlining the text with yellow highlighter until my fingers
>looked liked they had nicotine stains.  I realize this doesn't make me
>an expert on globalization, but it does make me sympathetic.  
>I think we were differ is not so much on the politics of this, but in
>our analysis of what exactly is occurring.  My hope is that my
>discussing this further we can clarify the issues a bit more.  For
>myself, I am not exactly sure what constitutes the distinction you are
>making between a Pax America and Globalism.
>You say the 'G1 country in alliance with the other G19 countries is
>engaging in a globalization adventure...' but certainly you recognize
>that the G8 or G20 are not all equal powers.  Far from it. Some are more
>equal than others - the US in particular.
>The US has the greatest military might of all these countries, it
>dominates the international economy, it oversees the IMF and third world
>debt, it has greater control of the oil fields, it sees itself
>ideologically as the winner of the Cold War and as the heir apparent to
>world domination.
>The basic question remains.  Are we witnessing the emergence today of a
>supranational global empire or are we witnessing the attempt of the US
>to utilize supranational organizations such as NATO and the UN in order
>to further it own hegemonic interests by dividing the other powers,
>pressuring them in various ways and, when all else fails, using its
>military might as a show of force to establish its own stategic
>Here is what Peter Gowan says on this topic.  
>"With resources like these, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc opened up
>the possibility of a new global Empire of a new type.  An empire made up
>of the patchwork of the states of the entire planet.  The legal
>sovereignty of all these would be preserved, but the political
>significance of that legal sovereignty would be turned on its head.  It
>would mean that the state concerned would bear entire juridical and
>political responsibility for all the problems on its territory but would
>lose effective control over the central actual economic and political
>processes flowing in and out of its territories.  The empire would be
>centered in Washington with Western Europe and Japan as brigaded client
>powers and the extend across the rest of the world, beating against the
>borders of an enfeebled Russia and a potentially beleaguered China."
>"And it would be an Empire in which the capitalist classes of every
>state within it would be guaranteed security against social challenge,
>through the protection of the new Behemoth, provided only that they
>respected the will and authority of the Behemoth on all questions which
>it considered important.  If the US played its new strategy for empire
>building effectively, it could thus earn the support and even adulation
>of all the capitalist classes of the world."
>This describes effectively what I think the US is attempting to
>accomplish right now.  If you want to call this Pax America, so be it. 
>However, the 911 attack was not on Globalism.  It was on America.  The
>war is not being waged by Global powers. (Whatever lip service they
>provide.) It is being waged by America.  The question remains who is
>using who.  I believe the Bush Administration clearly believe it has the
>divine right of kings to rule the world and God help whoever gets in its
>I agree with you, however, that this war is not merely about narrow
>economic interests, but about extending the scope of capitalism "into
>the last corners of the world where a pre-capitalist regime and
>associated resistors threatened it" as well as attempting to control the
>so-called anti-globalist forces.  Terrorism is being used to extend the
>Cold War by other means with the US as the sole hegemonic force acting
>through various supranational global agencies.  The US will not
>willingly submit to globalism unless it actively detained.
>I do not personally think the US will be successful at this effort
>ultimately, but I do think this is what they are attempting.  What I am
>arguing for is not merely Pax America, but Globalism with an American
>twang and a Colt 45 backing it up.
>Actually, I would like to be wrong about this, but when I look around at
>the world right now, this seems to be what is clearly happening.  Why do
>you see it differently?  Do you really think the US is weaker or more
>innocent that I do?  Do you really think Europe or Russia or China or
>Japan can tell Uncle Sam what to do and He will listen?  


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