File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 8

Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2001 21:32:51 +0100
Subject: Re: the event

Eric and All (especially Hugh)

Firstly reading this and Hugh's note today I realised suddenly that the 
distance between us both geographical and psychic is further that I 
thought. I beleive this is mostly because the pressure to interpret the 
event in specific ways is greator in the USA than here. Even in the 
paper media there is a growing diversity of opnion here and increasing 
dissension from the central govenment line. Which is basically that the 
G8 dominated alliance is broadly a good thing pushing forward towards 
greater and greater globalisation. (The war becoming actual and the 
State terroistic activity about to be engaged in by the G8 countries is 
the starting point for greater  moves forward towards increased 

The distance between us is founded on I believe on the difference in 
founding analyses - in core - this G8 adventure is a colonial adventure, 
an act of empire, these events haunt english (i deliberately say english 
rather than british at this point) and european history - Europe is 
haunted by its colonial excesses from slavery through  industrialisation 
to the Holocaust and beyond... For a European, a person living in 
England it is difficult to not see the similarities between this event 
and the countless acts of barbarism caused by colonial and empire based 
activity. The Clinton govenments bombing of a medicine producing factory 
in the Sudan in 1998 as an attack on Bin-Laden is being discussed in the 
media here at the moment....

The people I co-exist with on an everyday working level are watching 
aghast as the G8 countries especially the USA and UK move inexorably 
into a 'colonial war'. The prejudicial belief they hold is that without 
the European involvement the USA would have bombed Afghanistan 
already... (not a belief I hold but one that seems common)... The key 
belief is that once it starts it will continue for years - that the 
notion of a short sharp war will be an illusion and that in 5 or 10 
years it will still be happening in some form or other... The truly 
paranoid also believe that if it continues on that basis then London, 
Paris and so on will ecome prime targets for reprisal...
One of the things I was most concerned about in the post was to state 
that the differend was not simply between USA and Bin-Laden, but the 
rhizomic, the network of differends that are identifiable in this case, 
but which create something so complex we need to reduce on a case by 
case basis. Perhaps initially as I was thinking at the time the 
differend between the G1 (USA) and G7 (Europe and Japan). Either way the 
primary issue remains between USA and Bin Laden.  The difficulty in a 
real-politic sense is the G1 and G7 and other coalition partners - the 
cost of constructing the coalition is not yet known but one sense may be 
derived from the huge emphasis on Aid still going into Afghanistan and 
the USA sudden support for a Palestinian state (discussed tonight)...

(On a theoretical basis is such a complex differend theoretically 

I agree that National State policy in the USA may have changed - however 
the remaining G7 countries wanted the USA's international policy to look 
more like it has become. To the extent that they are openly discussing 
the USA re-joining the Kyoto agreement... The general thrust towards 
greater globalisation remains in place and is stronger than before - 
hence my statement that 'globally' things have not changed that much. 
Locally in the USA there may have been changes in policy, but elsewhere 
not so - the G7 countries had to face and incorporate the reduction of 
civil liberties due to terroism long ago. The UK state for example will 
try and introduce further restrictions on civil liberties but that is a 
European struggle that we will have to address internally. The everyday 
consensus here is that the USA has less civil liberties than Europe 
anyway... (remember this depends on the local analytical starting point).

The anti-globalisation movement situation is simply unknown at present. 
The consensus will have changed, but not necessarily for the worse as 
the necessity to change from empire forms of colonial activity will help 
the cause. The struggle to reduce the levels of third world debt for 
example seems to be gaining ground in Europe as a result. How will the 
anti-globalisation militants fare? Not sure ask me in a months time - I 
suspect they may gain ground.

To end this for the moment - the nicely encapsulated statement regarding 
'America' and its dream of itself - the point is that only America and a 
few Tories actually believe this - everyone else regards America as the 
failed revolution that we have spoken of before. Even the French 
intellectuals who wrote in (barbed) terms of the wonders of American 
culture also pointed out the failings in the myth, essentially for them 
it was and is a playground...

In relation to your end questions - i need to think 'seperately' on 
this. (like you i felt terrible and slept badly for ages, however I read 
Mike Davis's great book on Victorian Holocausts and put some perspective 
in place...)

regards in solidarity

Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

>My first prejudice, as you probably know, is against responding thread
>to thread.  It gets too convoluted for me.  I'd much rather write an
>essay and hope somehow its responds adequately to the points the other
>has raised.
>I'm going to deal with this post point by point, however, as an
>$$I hesitated to respond to this as a European voice, a driftwork
>in from the east...
>I certainly want to hear other voices right now, European as well as
>American. This site is very quiet right now.  That is understandable
>with everything that is going on, but I would like to find out more how
>others are reacting.  The media seems to have covered everything with
>such a thick brush, I'd like to hear what people think and feel about
>this more directly, outside my friends in the local neighborhood.  
>$$The differend between Bush and Bin-Laden remains drawn out
>in the public realm. However there is still no public evidence that Bin 
>Laden's terroist gang(s) did the appalling act, perhaps a trial will be 
>required to publish the evidence. I await this with interest... 
>One of the things this event has taught me is that, perhaps
>unconsciously, I've always tended to think of the differend implicitly
>in binary terms.  Perhaps, right now, to do justice to the differend, we
>need to regard it as a multiple, a rhizomic differend - the US and Bin
>Laden, but also the US and counterglobalists, the Bid Laden and the
>domestic population in the Mideast, the counterglobalists and the
>domestic population in the Mideast etc etc.  the differend is now
>becoming a ever widening vortex.
>$$ Media hysteria of course - what changes of G8 policy are being 
>negotiated at present - none. 
>I simply disagree.  The ends perhaps remain the same, perhaps, but the
>means differ greatly.  Since George W. Bush became president, as a
>right-wing Republican, he has pushed for the doctrine of American
>unilateralism.  Although this is now conveniently ignored by the media,
>the intellectual foundations of this policy have clearly become
>Already the UN debt has been repaid, new alliances in the Mideast are
>being sought out and the US is looking for greater solidarity in its
>cause from other G8 nations.  Reading this in the terms laid down by
>Hardt and Negri, I would argue that this event has forced the US out of
>its neo-isolationist mode and much closer towards the paradigm of
>Empire.  What may emerge out of this is the attempt of a multi-nation
>alliance to establish a tighter global hegemony in the name of fighting
>One consequence this has, I would argue, is a negative impact on the
>counter-globalist movement.  After gaining momentum, counter-globalists
>have now, through no fault of their own, instantly become more suspect.
>Conservatives will waste no opportunity in linking them with terrorists
>and there needs to be a major effort made simply to recover lost ground.
>Steve, do you really believe nothing has changed in the aftermath of
>9/11? And that as a result, our position remains the same and is not
>more precarious?  (although, not hopeless either!) 
>$$ Except that you are reading this as an American event - it is not. 
>The days of the Pax-Americana have been over for some time. In these 
>days of post-modern globalisation no country can stand alone - the 
>attack on america was an attack on globalisation - confusedly 
>'Bin-Laden' theorises that the G8 globalisation process is irrelevant 
>this is possibly because he hates America on a personal basis. But his 
>attack was on globalisation - hence the near global response.
>I am trying hard not to read this merely  as an American event, although
>here again this event has taught me how difficult it is to think and
>feel from a global, postmodern perspective.  
>But I think we are talking from different points of view.  As a
>American, I know first-hand the mythic innocence of the American people
>as this has been childishly spoon-fed to them by a cynical media.  We
>are constantly told we are simply the most generous people in the world
>and everyone else envies our open society with its freedom and
>democracy.  America stands for civilization itself.
>My point has been all along that this was simply one of those moments in
>the land of Oz when the curtain accidentally falls and the tricks of the
>wizard are revealed.  Of course, little time was lost in recuperation
>from this hideous revelation.  
>Steve, you have no idea how much Susan Sontag has been pilloried over
>here for daring to express the truth that things may actually be more
>complex than what the media has said. There are military people
>appearing on shows like the O'Reilly Factor saying that any disagreement
>with the government right now is an act of treason.  
>I think that some of us here like Sontag, myself and others are
>attempting to discuss this from a global perspective, but we are being
>drowned out by the voices of a resurgent nationalism in the media.  What
>is ironic about this is that it seems to be occurring at a time when
>Washington seems to have abandoned this very policy on pragmatic grounds
>and is currently seeking to form new global alliances, as I said above.
>(I do not make any claims to have special insights into the mind of Bin
>$$ It is also the fear of memory - the dark history of colonialisation 
>remains hidden, the memories and histories remain suppressed and are 
>scarcely discussed, in the context of this event it seems to have been 
>more spoken of in Europe than in the USA which is regrettable.
>Yes, I agree with you here and this is partly what I am saying.  There
>is this huge disconnect between what America actually does and the
>stories it tells itself.  If China is a sleeping giant, that America is
>the giant who walks in its sleep.
>I guess some of the questions I want to raise right now would be as
>1. How do we move away from retaliation and towards a policy of greater
>justice globally?
>2. How does the counter-globalist movement re-assert itself?
>3. Is there a way for progressive people in the so-called first world to
>make a greater alliance with progressive people in the so-called third
>world to make a movement capable of answering the first two questions in
>a positive manner?
>4.   Are you having strange dreams at night?  (I know I have been.)
>the globe is flying at half-mast from my window,


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