File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 25

Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 23:03:15 -0500
Subject: Re: the event


Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the wefare state and support its
implemenation, especially here in America where even getting something
as basic as single-payer health insurance would be on the order of Moses
parting the red sea or Jesus walking on the water.

What I meant was a kind of thought experiment. Just as we can speak of
cynicism as a kind of enlightened false consciousness, so there may be a
kind of enlightened neo-liberalism (with a strong libertarian flair)
emerging as a response to the growing development of empire and its
attendent state of permanent crisis.

Here is the kind of contract I see developing.  Capitalism would
continue as the global economic form, but it would concede a positive
bill of rights in such forms as universal citizenship, universal health
care, a guaranteed annual income and access to information in exchange
for ending the bureaucratic modes of local government. This would be a
streamlined welfare state with less regulation and, as Hardt and Negri
say, less government.  

This could be funded either through conventional VATs and income taxes
or, more unconventionally, by treating the multitude as a
quasi-shareholder who participates in a certain share of the profits 
which are then pooled and distributed. 

Various scenarios such as this have been proposed in the past and
described as either market socialism or anarcho-capitalism. Such a
society would not yet be perfect, but it would represent a huge advance
over the present situation.

What is more, I could even envisage such a state of affairs actually
emerging as a response to the growing global crisis. Not this year
perhaps, but sooner than one might think.  

This scenario seems far more likely than the socialist or Marxist
fantasy of the proletariat seizing the means of productions through
revolution.  Hardt and Negri are right.  Those nineteenth century
factory worker images have now become quite passe, like a Currier & Ives
print of history.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, thinking about the crisis. Call it
another postmodern fable, if you will.


p.s. - I have also been thinking about Lyotard's comments on terror
lately as well. Maybe I'll have the chance to write more about this
soon, but not tonight.


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