Michael Hardt / Antonio Negri



Download 1.4 Mb.
Page13/39
Date17.05.2016
Size1.4 Mb.
1   ...   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   ...   39
This marriage between postmodernism and fundamentalism is certainly an odd coupling considering that postmodernist and fundamentalist discourses stand in most respects in polar opposition: hybridity versus purity, difference versus identity, mobility versus stasis. It seems to us that postmodernists and the current wave of fundamentalists have arisen not only at the same time but also in response to the same situation, only at opposite poles of the global hierarchy, according to a striking geographical distribution. Simplifying a great deal, one could argue that postmodernist discourses appeal primarily to the winners in the processes of globalization and fundamentalist discourses to the losers. In other words, the current global tendencies toward increased mobility, indeterminacy, and hybridity are experienced by some as a kind of liberation but by others as an exacerbation of their suffering. Certainly, bands of popular support for fundamentalist projects-from the Front National in France and Christian fundamentalism in the United States to the Islamic Brothers-have spread most widely among those who have been further subordinated and excluded by the recent transformations of the global economy and who are most threatened by the increased mobility of capital. The losers in the processes of globalization might indeed be the ones who give us the strongest indication of the transformation in progress.
The Ideology of the World Market
Many of the concepts dear to postmodernists and postcolonialists find a perfect correspondence in the current ideology of corporate capital and the world market. The ideology of the world market has always been the anti-foundational and anti-essentialist discourse par excellence. Circulation, mobility, diversity, and mixture are its very conditions of possibility. Trade brings differences together and the more the merrier! Differences (of commodities, populations, cultures, and so forth) seem to multiply infinitely in the world market, which attacks nothing more violently than fixed boundaries: it overwhelms any binary division with its infinite multiplicities. As the world market today is realized ever more completely, it tends to deconstruct the boundaries of the nation-state. In a previous period, nation-states were the primary actors in the modern imperialist organization of global production and exchange, but to the world market they appear increasingly as mere obstacles. Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, is in an excellent position to recognize and celebrate the overcoming of national boundaries in the world market. He contends that "as almost every factor of production-money, technology, factories, and equipment- moves effortlessly across borders, the very idea of a [national] economy is becoming meaningless." In the future "there will be no national products or technologies, no national corporations, no national industries. There will no longer be national economies, as least as we have come to understand that concept."[18] With the decline of national boundaries, the world market is liberated from the kind of binary divisions that nation-states had imposed, and in this new free space a myriad of differences appears. These differences of course do not play freely across a smooth global space, but rather are regimented in global networks of power consisting of highly differentiated and mobile structures. Arjun Appadurai captures the new quality of these structures with the analogy of landscapes, or better, seascapes: in the contemporary world he sees finanscapes, technoscapes, ethnoscapes, and so forth.[19] The suffix "-scape" allows us on the one hand to point to the fluidity and irregularity of these various fields and on the other to indicate formal commonalities among such diverse domains as finance, culture, commodities, and demography. The world market establishes a real politics of difference. The various -scapes of the world market provide capital with potentials on a scale previously unimaginable. It should be no surprise, then, that postmodernist thinking and its central concepts have flourished in the various fields of practice and theory proper to capital, such as marketing, management organization, and the organization of production. Postmodernism is indeed the logic by which global capital operates. Marketing has perhaps the clearest relation to postmodernist theories, and one could even say that the capitalist marketing strategies have long been postmodernist, avant la lettre. On the one hand, marketing practices and consumer consumption are prime terrain for developing postmodernist thinking: certain postmodernist theorists, for example, see perpetual shopping and the consumption of commodities and commodified images as the paradigmatic and defining activities of postmodern experience, our collective journeys through hyperreality.[20] On the other hand, postmodernist thinking-with its emphasis on concepts such as difference and multiplicity, its celebration of fetishism and simulacra, its continual fascination with the new and with fashion-is an excellent description of the ideal capitalist schemes of commodity consumption and thus provides an opportunity to perfect marketing strategies. As a marketing theorist says, there are clear "parallels between contemporary market practices and the precepts of postmodernism."[21]
Marketing itself is a practice based on differences, and the more differences that are given, the more marketing strategies can develop. Ever more hybrid and differentiated populations present a proliferating number of "target markets" that can each be addressed by specific marketing strategies-one for gay Latino males between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, another for Chinese-American teenage girls, and so forth. Postmodern marketing recognizes the difference of each commodity and each segment of the population, fashioning its strategies accordingly.[22] Every difference is an opportunity. Postmodern marketing practices represent the consumption cycle of contemporary capital, its external face, but we are even more interested in the postmodernist tendencies within the cycle of capitalist production. In the productive sphere, postmodernist thinking has perhaps had the largest direct impact in the field of management and organization theory. Authors in this field argue that large and complex modern organizations, with their rigid boundaries and homogeneous units, are not adequate for doing business in the postmodern world. "The postmodern organization," one theorist writes, "has certain distinctive features-notably, an emphasis on small-to-moderate size and complexity and adoption of flexible structures and modes of interinstitutional cooperation to meet turbulent organizational and environmental conditions."[23] Postmodern organizations are thus imagined either as located on the boundaries between different systems and cultures or as internally hybrid. What is essential for postmodern management is that organizations be mobile, flexible, and able to deal with difference. Here postmodernist theories pave the way for the transformation of the internal structures of capitalist organizations. The "culture" within these organizations has also adopted the precepts of postmodernist thinking. The great transnational corporations that straddle national boundaries and link the global system are themselves internally much more diverse and fluid culturally than the parochial modern corporations of previous years. The contemporary gurus of corporate culture who are employed by management as consultants and strategy planners preach the efficiency and profitability of diversity and multiculturalism within corporations.[24] When one looks closely at U.S. corporate ideology (and, to a lesser but still significant extent, at U.S. corporate practice), it is clear that corporations do not operate simply by excluding the gendered and/or racialized Other. In fact, the old modernist forms of racist and sexist theory are the explicit enemies of this new corporate culture. The corporations seek to include difference within their realm and thus aim to maximize creativity, free play, and diversity in the corporate workplace. People of all different races, sexes, and sexual orientations should potentially be included in the corporation; the daily routine of the workplace should be rejuvenated with unexpected changes and an atmosphere of fun. Break down the old boundaries and let one hundred flowers bloom![25] The task of the boss, subsequently, is to organize these energies and differences in the interests of profit. This project is aptly called "diversity management." In this light, the corporations appear not only "progressive" but also "postmodernist," as leaders in a very real politics of difference.
The production processes of capital have also taken forms that echo postmodernist projects. We will have ample opportunity to analyze (particularly in Section 3.4) how production has come to be organized in flexible and hybrid networks. This is, in our view, the most important respect in which the contemporary transformations of capital and the world market constitute a real process of postmodernization.
We certainly agree with those contemporary theorists, such as David Harvey and Fredric Jameson, who see postmodernity as a new phase of capitalist accumulation and commodification that accompanies the contemporary realization of the world market.[26] The global politics of difference established by the world market is defined not by free play and equality, but by the imposition of new hierarchies, or really by a constant process of hierarchization. Postmodernist and postcolonialist theories (and fundamentalisms in a very different way) are really sentinels that signal this passage in course, and in this regard are indispensable.
Truth Commissions
It is salutary to remind ourselves that postmodernist and postcolonial discourses are effective only in very specific geographical locations and among a certain class of the population. As a political discourse, postmodernism has a certain currency in Europe, Japan, and Latin America, but its primary site of application is within an elite segment of the U.S. intelligentsia. Similarly, the postcolonial theory that shares certain postmodernist tendencies has been developed primarily among a cosmopolitan set that moves among the metropolises and major universities of Europe and the United States. This specificity does not invalidate the theoretical perspectives, but it should make us pause for a moment to reflect on their political implications and practical effects. Numerous genuinely progressive and liberatory discourses have emerged throughout history among elite groups, and we have no intention here ofquestioning the vocation of such theorizing tout court. More important than the specificity of these theorists are the resonances their concepts stimulate in different geographical and class locations.
Certainly from the standpoint of many around the world, hybridity, mobility, and difference do not immediately appear as liberatory in themselves. Huge populations see mobility as an aspect of their suffering because they are displaced at an increasing speed in dire circumstances. For several decades, as part of the modernization process there have been massive migrations from rural areas to metropolitan centers within each country and across the globe. The international flow of labor has only increased in recent years, not only from south to north, in the form of legal and illegal guest workers or immigrants, but also from south to south, that is, the temporary or semipermanent worker migrations among southern regions, such as that of south Asian workers in the Persian Gulf. Even these massive worker migrations, however, are dwarfed in terms of numbers and misery by those forced from their homes and land by famine and war. Just a cursory glance around the world, from Central America to Central Africa and from the Balkans to Southeast Asia, will reveal the desperate plight of those on whom such mobility has been imposed. For them, mobility across boundaries often amounts to forced migration in poverty and is hardly liberatory. In fact, a stable and defined place in which to live, a certain immobility, can on the contrary appear as the most urgent need.
The postmodernist epistemological challenge to "the Enlightenment"-its attack on master narratives and its critique of truth- also loses its liberatory aura when transposed outside the elite intellectual strata of Europe and North America. Consider, for example, the mandate of the Truth Commission formed at the end of the civil war in El Salvador, or the similar institutions that have been established in the post-dictatorial and post-authoritarian regimes of Latin America and South Africa. In the context of state terror and mystification, clinging to the primacy of the concept oftruth can be a powerful and necessary form of resistance. Establishing and making public the truth of the recent past-attributing responsibility to state officials for specific acts and in some cases exacting retribution-appears here as the ineluctable precondition for any democratic future. The master narratives of the Enlightenment do not seem particularly repressive here, and the concept oftruth is not fluid or unstable-on the contrary! The truth is that this general ordered the torture and assassination of that union leader, and this colonel led the massacre of that village. Making public such truths is an exemplary Enlightenment project of modernist politics, and the critique of it in these contexts could serve only to aid the mystificatory and repressive powers of the regime under attack. In our present imperial world, the liberatory potential of the postmodernist and postcolonial discourses that we have described only resonates with the situation of an elite population that enjoys certain rights, a certain level of wealth, and a certain position in the global hierarchy. One should not take this recognition, however, as a complete refutation. It is not really a matter of either/or. Difference, hybridity, and mobility are not liberatory in themselves, but neither are truth, purity, and stasis. The real revolutionary practice refers to the level of production. Truth will not make us free, but taking control of the production oftruth will. Mobility and hybridity are not liberatory, but taking control of the production of mobility and stasis, purities and mixtures is. The real truth commissions of Empire will be constituent assemblies of the multitude, social factories for the production of truth.
THE POOR
In each and every historical period a social subject that is ever-present and everywhere the same is identified, often negatively but nonetheless urgently, around a common living form. This form is not that of the powerful and the rich: they are merely partial and localized figures, quantitate signatae. The only non-localizable "common name" of pure difference in all eras is that of the poor. The poor is destitute, excluded, repressed, exploited-and yet living! It is the common denominator of life, the foundation of the multitude. It is strange, but also illuminating, that postmodernist authors seldom adopt this figure in their theorizing. It is strange because the poor is in a certain respect an eternal postmodern figure: the figure of a transversal, omnipresent, different, mobile subject; the testament to the irrepressible aleatory character of existence.
This common name, the poor, is also the foundation of every possibility of humanity. As Niccol• Machiavelli pointed out, in the "return to beginnings" that characterizes the revolutionary phase of the religions and ideologies of modernity, the poor is almost always seen to have a prophetic capacity: not only is the poor in the world, but the poor itself is the very possibility of the world. Only the poor lives radically the actual and present being, in destitution and suffering, and thus only the poor has the ability to renew being. The divinity of the multitude of the poor does not point to any transcendence. On the contrary, here and only here in this world, in the existence of the poor, is the field of immanence presented, confirmed, consolidated, and opened. The poor is god on earth.
Today there is not even the illusion of a transcendent God. The poor has dissolved that image and recuperated its power. Long ago modernity was inaugurated with Rabelais's laugh, with the realistic supremacy of the belly of the poor, with a poetics that expresses all that there is in destitute humanity "from the belt on down." Later, through the processes of primitive accumulation, the proletariat emerged as a collective subject that could express itself in materiality and immanence, a multitude of poor that not only prophesied but produced, and that thus opened possibilities that were not virtual but concrete. Finally today, in the biopolitical regimes of production and in the processes of postmodernization, the poor is a subjugated, exploited figure, but nonetheless a figure of production. This is where the novelty lies. Everywhere today, at the basis of the concept and the common name of the poor, there is a relationship of production. Why are the postmodernists unable to read this passage? They tell us that a regime of transversal linguistic relations of production has entered into the unified and abstract universe of value. But who is the subject that produces "transversally," who gives a creative meaning to language-who if not the poor, who are subjugated and desiring, impoverished and powerful, always more powerful? Here, within this reign of global production, the poor is distinguished no longer only by its prophetic capacity but also by its indispensable presence in the production of a common wealth, always more exploited and always more closely indexed to the wages of rule. The poor itself is power. There is World Poverty, but there is above all World Possibility, and only the poor is capable of this.
Vogelfrei, "bird free," is the term Marx used to describe the proletariat, which at the beginning of modernity in the processes of primitive accumulation was freed twice over: in the first place, it was freed from being the property of the master (that is, freed from servitude); and in the second place, it was "freed" from the means of production, separated from the soil, with nothing to sell but its own labor power. In this sense, the proletariat was forced to become the pure possibility of wealth. The dominant stream of the Marxist tradition, however, has always hated the poor, precisely for their being "free as birds," for being immune to the discipline of the factory and the discipline necessary for the construction of socialism. Consider how, when in the early 1950s Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini set the poor to fly away on broomsticks at the end of their beautiful film Miracle in Milan, they were so violently denounced for utopianism by the spokesmen of socialist realism.
The Vogelfrei is an angel or an intractable demon. And here, after so many attempts to transform the poor into proletarians and proletarians into a liberation army (the idea of army weighed heavily on that of liberation), once again in postmodernity emerges in the blinding light of clear day the multitude, the common name of the poor. It comes out fully in the open because in postmodernity the subjugated has absorbed the exploited. In other words, the poor, every poor person, the multitude of poor people, have eaten up and digested the multitude of proletarians. By that fact itself the poor have become productive. Even the prostituted body, the destitute person, the hunger of the multitude-all forms of the poor have become productive. And the poor have therefore become ever more important: the life of the poor invests the planet and envelops it with its desire for creativity and freedom. The poor is the condition of every production.
The story goes that at the root of the postmodernist sensibility and the construction of the concept of postmodernism are those French socialist philosophers who in their youth celebrated factory discipline and the shining horizons of real socialism, but who became repentant after the crisis of 1968 and gave up, proclaiming the futility of the pretense of communism to reappropriate social wealth. Today these same philosophers cynically deconstruct, banalize, and laugh at every social struggle that contests the universal triumph of exchange value. The media and the culture of the media tell us that those philosophers are the ones who recognized this new era of the world, but that is not true. The discovery of postmodernity consisted in the reproposition of the poor at the center of the political and productive terrain. What was really prophetic was the poor, bird-free laugh of Charlie Chaplin when, free from any utopian illusions and above all from any discipline of liberation, he interpreted the "modern times" of poverty, but at the same time linked the name of the poor to that of life, a liberated life and a liberated productivity.
2.5 - NETWORK POWER: U.S. SOVEREIGNTY AND THE NEW EMPIRE
I am persuaded no constitution was ever before so well calculated as ours for extensive empire and self government.
Thomas Jefferson
Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
In order to articulate the nature of imperial sovereignty, we must first take a step back in time and consider the political forms that prepared its terrain and constitute its prehistory. The American Revolution represents a moment of great innovation and rupture in the genealogy of modern sovereignty. The U.S. constitutional project, emerging from the struggles for independence and formed through a rich history of alternative possibilities, bloomed like a rare flower in the tradition of modern sovereignty. Tracing the original developments of the notion of sovereignty in the United States will allow us to recognize its significant differences from the modern sovereignty we have described thus far and discern the bases on which a new imperial sovereignty has been formed.
The American Revolution and the Model of Two Romes
The American Revolution and the "new political science" proclaimed by the authors of the Federalist broke from the tradition of modern sovereignty, "returning to origins" and at the same time developing new languages and new social forms that mediate between the one and the multiple. Against the tired transcendentalism of modern sovereignty, presented either in Hobbesian or in Rousseauian form, the American constituents thought that only the republic can give order to democracy, or really that the order of the multitude must be born not from a transfer of the title of power and right, but from an arrangement internal to the multitude, from a democratic interaction of powers linked together in networks. The new sovereignty can arise, in other words, only from the constitutional formation of limits and equilibria, checks and balances, which both constitutes a central power and maintains power in the hands of the multitude. There is no longer any necessity or any room here for the transcendence of power. "The science of politics," the authors of the Federalist write, like most other sciences, has received great improvement. The efficacy of various principles is now well understood, which were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients. The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges, holding their offices during good behaviour; the representation of the people in the legislature, by deputies of their own election; these are either wholly new discoveries, or have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times. They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellencies of republican government may be retained, and its imperfections lessened or avoided.[1]
What takes shape here is an extraordinarily secular and immanentist idea, despite the profound religiousness that runs throughout the texts of the Founding Fathers. It is an idea that rediscovers the revolutionary humanism of the Renaissance and perfects it as a political and constitutional science. Power can be constituted by a whole series of powers that regulate themselves and arrange themselves in networks. Sovereignty can be exercised within a vast horizon of activities that subdivide it without negating its unity and that subordinate it continually to the creative movement of the multitude.

Directory: news -> attachments
news -> National Park Service U. S. Department of the Interior Hamilton Grange National Memorial a brief history alexander hamilton
news -> Final Issue 2015 gwsc newsletter principal’s report
news -> Corporate culture and organizational effectiveness: is there a similar pattern around the world?
news -> Review of the earth open source (eos) report " roundup and birth defects: is the public being kept in the dark?"
news -> Frequently Asked Questions Abraham Lincoln Birthplace nhs maintains that Abraham Lincoln was born on the Sinking Spring Farm in Kentucky, February 12, 1809. What documentation does the park offer for this claim?
news -> Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder and the Burial Place of Anglo-Saxon Kings
news -> Statement from Professor Joy Carter, Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester
news -> Bookreview title of book: Gender Terrains in African Cinema Author: Sr. Dominic Dipio Publisher: unisa press Pages: 242 Available at: Literature Department, Makerere University Orders can be made through Aristoc Booklex
attachments -> **Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts


Share with your friends:
1   ...   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   ...   39


The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2019
send message

    Main page