File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 131

Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 12:20:49 -0500
Subject: Re: gas

hbone wrote:

Steve's post (paragraphs excerpted below) put the nation-state vs.
global "empire" argument in focus. If we collect evidence and highlight
the differends that distinguish our personal points of view we can,
hopefully, increase our areas of agreement.

Hugh, Steve, anyone else?

The problem I have with Steve's observation is that he makes it sound as
if Globalism were a fait accompli! He says:

- 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.

To me, this sounds like saying that since workers outnumber management,
they will soon unite and create the glorious socialist revolution. One
of the reasons this never happened was because the powers that be have
always found ways to keep various workers divided. Politics has been
used time and time again to defer the class war.

My question to Steve is this.  If what you are saying is true, why
didn't Europe unite ten years ago, with the fall of the Communist bloc?
One answer I would give is that the US has not merely been passively
sitting on the sidelines watching events unfold.  Instead it has been
playing a very activist role in Europe and will continue to do so. In
the nineties, it did not hold back from even waging war within European
borders against the will of many leading European states. 

Even though the other countries have potential power if they unite, this
will never occur if the US can use its military might and financial,
economic and political influence to keep them divided and establish its
own hegemony first. 

Just as class struggle can be redirected, so can global struggle. It is
all a matter of politics.

Such a American led hegemony would wear a global face, of course. I have
not been arguing against Globalism in that sense at all.  Nor have I
been arguing that the current conditions are much like those of the
pre-Vietnam American glory days and the old nationalist cultural
imperialism of guns and Coca Cola.

What I am trying to suggest is that the ultimate form that globalism
takes will be shaped by a struggle over how this is defined. The US has
not and will not simply practice lassez faire with regard to politics.
It will not give up its current power (and it is considerable in many
ways) without a fight.  

To believe that some form of participatory and democratic globalism will
simply emerge out of some dialectical version of historical materialism
because the potential power exists for it to do so seems as naive as the
view in the early twentieth century that nothing could stop the eventual
triumph of socialism.

My thinking may not be as nomadic as yours, but it is much more Kynical.
I am a global as you are, but I don't think it will merely happen. I am
simply arguing here that we need to pay attention right now as events
occur to the US political role in attempting to determine the vectors
globalism will take.

The Faustian bargain of military and political protection to wealthy
elites in exchange for open economic and financial flows will be a
tempting one to many. Even if these elites are not the multitudes, it is
not the multitudes alone who have power. 

The dream of the corporations is that they alone are the true nomads and
everyone else must stay put, preferably with a cyber-chip identity card.

Can we agree on this?



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