Corporations and Communication
In asking ourselves how the political and sovereign elements of the imperial machine come to be constituted, we find that there is no need to limit our analysis to or even focus it on the established supranational regulatory institutions. The U.N. organizations, along with the great multi- and transnational finance and trade agencies (the IMF, the World Bank, the GATT, and so forth), all become relevant in the perspective of the supranational juridical constitution only when they are considered within the dynamic of the biopolitical production of world order. The function they had in the old international order, we should emphasize, is not what now gives legitimacy to these organizations. What legitimates them now is rather their newly possible function in the symbology of the imperial order. Outside of the new framework, these institutions are ineffectual. At best, the old institutional framework contributes to the formation and education of the administrative personnel of the imperial machine, the "dressage" of a new imperial elite. The huge transnational corporations construct the fundamental connective fabric of the biopolitical world in certain important respects. Capital has indeed always been organized with a view toward the entire global sphere, but only in the second halfof the twentieth century did multinational and transnational industrial and financial corporations really begin to structure global territories biopolitically. Some claim that these corporations have merely come to occupy the place that was held by the various national colonialist and imperialist systems in earlier phases of capitalist development, from nineteenth-century European imperialism to the Fordist phase of development in the twentieth century. This is in part true, but that place itself has been substantially transformed by the new reality of capitalism. The activities of corporations are no longer defined by the imposition of abstract command and the organization of simple theft and unequal exchange. Rather, they directly structure and articulate territories and populations. They tend to make nationstates merely instruments to record the flows of the commodities, monies, and populations that they set in motion. The transnational corporations directly distribute labor power over various markets, functionally allocate resources, and organize hierarchically the various sectors of world production. The complex apparatus that selects investments and directs financial and monetary maneuvers determines the new geography of the world market, or really the new biopolitical structuring of the world.
The most complete figure of this world is presented from the monetary perspective. From here we can see a horizon of values and a machine of distribution, a mechanism of accumulation and a means of circulation, a power and a language. There is nothing, no "naked life," no external standpoint, that can be posed outside this field permeated by money; nothing escapes money. Production and reproduction are dressed in monetary clothing. In fact, on the global stage, every biopolitical figure appears dressed in monetary garb. "Accumulate, accumulate! This is Moses and the Prophets!" The great industrial and financial powers thus produce not only commodities but also subjectivities. They produce agentic subjectivities within the biopolitical context: they produce needs, social relations, bodies, and minds-which is to say, they produce producers. In the biopolitical sphere, life is made to work for production and production is made to work for life. It is a great hive in which the queen bee continuously oversees production and reproduction. The deeper the analysis goes, the more it finds at increasing levels of intensity the interlinking assemblages of interactive relationships.
One site where we should locate the biopolitical production of order is in the immaterial nexuses of the production of language, communication, and the symbolic that are developed by the communications industries. The development of communications networks has an organic relationship to the emergence of the new world order-it is, in other words, effect and cause, product and producer. Communication not only expresses but also organizes the movement of globalization. It organizes the movement by multiplying and structuring interconnections through networks. It expresses the movement and controls the sense and direction of the imaginary that runs throughout these communicative connections; in other words, the imaginary is guided and channeled within the communicative machine. What the theories of power of modernity were forced to consider transcendent, that is, external to productive and social relations, is here formed inside, immanent to the productive and social relations. Mediation is absorbed within the productive machine. The political synthesis of social space is fixed in the space of communication. This is why communications industries have assumed such a central position. They not only organize production on a new scale and impose a new structure adequate to global space, but also make its justification immanent. Power, as it produces, organizes; as it organizes, it speaks and expresses itself as authority. Language, as it communicates, produces commodities but moreover creates subjectivities, puts them in relation, and orders them. The communications industries integrate the imaginary and the symbolic within the biopolitical fabric, not merely putting them at the service of power but actually integrating them into its very functioning. At this point we can begin to address the question of the legitimation of the new world order. Its legitimation is not born of the previously existing international accords nor of the functioning of the first, embryonic supranational organizations, which were themselves created through treaties based on international law. The legitimation of the imperial machine is born at least in part of the communications industries, that is, of the transformation of the new mode of production into a machine. It is a subject that produces its own image of authority. This is a form of legitimation that rests on nothing outside itself and is reproposed ceaselessly by developing its own languages of self-validation.
One further consequence should be treated on the basis of these premises. Ifcommunication is one of the hegemonic sectors of production and acts over the entire biopolitical field, then we must consider communication and the biopolitical context coexistent. This takes us well beyond the old terrain as Jrgen Habermas described it, for example. In fact, when Habermas developed the concept of communicative action, demonstrating so powerfully its productive form and the ontological consequences deriving from that, he still relied on a standpoint outside these effects of globalization, a standpoint of life and truth that could oppose the informational colonization of being. The imperial machine, however, demonstrates that this external standpoint no longer exists. On the contrary, communicative production and the construction of imperial legitimation march hand in hand and can no longer be separated. The machine is self-validating, autopoietic-that is, systemic. It constructs social fabrics that evacuate or render ineffective any contradiction; it creates situations in which, before coercively neutralizing difference, seem to absorb it in an insignificant play of self-generating and self-regulating equilibria. As we have argued elsewhere, any juridical theory that addresses the conditions of postmodernity has to take into account this specifically communicative definition of social production. The imperial machine lives by producing a context of equilibria and/or reducing complexities, pretending to put forward a project of universal citizenship and toward this end intensifying the effectiveness of its intervention over every element of the communicative relationship, all the while dissolving identity and history in a completely postmodernist fashion. Contrary to the way many postmodernist accounts would have it, however, the imperial machine, far from eliminating master narratives, actually produces and reproduces them (ideological master narratives in particular) in order to validate and celebrate its own power. In this coincidence of production through language, the linguistic production of reality, and the language of self-validation resides a fundamental key to understanding the effectiveness, validity, and legitimation of imperial right.
This new framework of legitimacy includes new forms and new articulations of the exercise of legitimate force. During its formation, the new power must demonstrate the effectiveness of its force at the same time that the bases of its legitimation are being constructed. In fact, the legitimacy of the new power is in part based directly on the effectiveness of its use of force.
The way the effectiveness of the new power is demonstrated has nothing to do with the old international order that is slowly dying away; nor has it much use for the instruments the old order left behind. The deployments of the imperial machine are defined by a whole series of new characteristics, such as the unbounded terrain of its activities, the singularization and symbolic localization of its actions, and the connection of repressive action to all the aspects of the biopolitical structure of society. For lack of a better term we continue to call these "interventions." This is merely a terminological and not a conceptual deficiency, for these are not really interventions into independent juridical territories but rather actions within a unified world by the ruling structure of production and communication. In effect, intervention has been internalized and universalized. In the previous section we referred to both the structural means of intervention that involve the deployments of monetary mechanisms and financial maneuvers over the transnational field of interdependent productive regimes and interventions in the field of communication and their effects on the legitimation of the system. Here we want to investigate the new forms of intervention that involve the exercise of physical force on the part of the imperial machine over its global territories. The enemies that Empire opposes today may present more of an ideological threat than a military challenge, but nonetheless the power of Empire exercised through force and all the deployments that guarantee its effectiveness are already very advanced technologically and solidly consolidated politically.
The arsenal of legitimate force for imperial intervention is indeed already vast, and should include not only military intervention but also other forms such as moral intervention and juridical intervention. In fact, the Empire's powers of intervention might be best understood as beginning not directly with its weapons of lethal force but rather with its moral instruments. What we are calling moral intervention is practiced today by a variety of bodies, including the news media and religious organizations, but the most important may be some of the so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which, precisely because they are not run directly by governments, are assumed to act on the basis of ethical or moral imperatives. The term refers to a wide variety of groups, but we are referring here principally to the global, regional, and local organizations that are dedicated to reliefwork and the protection of human rights, such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, and M‚decins sans FrontiŠres. Such humanitarian NGOs are in effect (even if this runs counter to the intentions of the participants) some of the most powerful pacific weapons of the new world order-the charitable campaigns and the mendicant orders of Empire. These NGOs conduct "just wars" without arms, without violence, without borders. Like the Dominicans in the late medieval period and the Jesuits at the dawn of modernity, these groups strive to identify universal needs and defend human rights. Through their language and their action they first define the enemy as privation (in the hope of preventing serious damage) and then recognize the enemy as sin. It is hard not to be reminded here of how in Christian moral theology evil is first posed as privation of the good and then sin is defined as culpable negation of the good. Within this logical framework it is not strange but rather all too natural that in their attempts to respond to privation, these NGOs are led to denounce publicly the sinners (or rather the Enemy in properly inquisitional terms); nor is it strange that they leave to the "secular wing" the task of actually addressing the problems. In this way, moral intervention has become a frontline force of imperial intervention. In effect, this intervention prefigures the state of exception from below, and does so without borders, armed with some of the most effective means of communication and oriented toward the symbolic production of the Enemy. These NGOs are completely immersed in the biopolitical context of the constitution of Empire; they anticipate the power of its pacifying and productive intervention of justice. It should thus come as no surprise that honest juridical theorists of the old international school (such as Richard Falk) should be drawn in by the fascination of these NGOs. The NGOs' demonstration of the new order as a peaceful biopolitical context seems to have blinded these theorists to the brutal effects that moral intervention produces as a prefiguration of world order.
Moral intervention often serves as the first act that prepares the stage for military intervention. In such cases, military deployment is presented as an internationally sanctioned police action. Today military intervention is progressively less a product of decisions that arise out of the old international order or even U.N. structures. More often it is dictated unilaterally by the United States, which charges itself with the primary task and then subsequently asks its allies to set in motion a process of armed containment and/or repression of the current enemy of Empire. These enemies are most often called terrorist, a crude conceptual and terminological reduction that is rooted in a police mentality.
The relationship between prevention and repression is particularly clear in the case of intervention in ethnic conflicts. The conflicts among ethnic groups and the consequent reenforcement of new and/or resurrected ethnic identities effectively disrupt the old aggregations based on national political lines. These conflicts make the fabric of global relations more fluid and, by affirming new identities and new localities, present a more malleable material for control. In such cases repression can be articulated through preventive action that constructs new relationships (which will eventually be consolidated in peace but only after new wars) and new territorial and political formations that are functional (or rather more functional, better adaptable) to the constitution of Empire. A second example of repression prepared through preventive action is the campaigns against corporative business groups or "mafias," particularly those involved in the drug trade. The actual repression of these groups may not be as important as criminalizing their activities and managing social alarm at their very existence in order to facilitate their control. Even though controlling "ethnic terrorists" and "drug mafias" may represent the center of the wide spectrum of police control on the part of the imperial power, this activity is nonetheless normal, that is, systemic. The "just war" is effectively supported by the "moral police," just as the validity of imperial right and its legitimate functioning is supported by the necessary and continuous exercise of police power.
It is clear that international or supranational courts are constrained to follow this lead. Armies and police anticipate the courts and preconstitute the rules of justice that the courts must then apply. The intensity of the moral principles to which the construction of the new world order is entrusted cannot change the fact that this is really an inversion of the conventional order of constitutional logic. The active parties supporting the imperial constitution are confident that when the construction of Empire is sufficiently advanced, the courts will be able to assume their leading role in the definition of justice. For now, however, although international courts do not have much power, public displays of their activities are still very important. Eventually a new judicial function must be formed that is adequate to the constitution of Empire. Courts will have to be transformed gradually from an organ that simply decrees sentences against the vanquished to a judicial body or system of bodies that dictate and sanction the interrelation among the moral order, the exercise of police action, and the mechanism legitimating imperial sovereignty.
This kind of continual intervention, then, which is both moral and military, is really the logical form of the exercise of force that follows from a paradigm of legitimation based on a state of permanent exception and police action. Interventions are always exceptional even though they arise continually; they take the form of police actions because they are aimed at maintaining an internal order. In this way intervention is an effective mechanism that through police deployments contributes directly to the construction of the moral, normative, and institutional order of Empire.
What were traditionally called the royal prerogatives of sovereignty seem in effect to be repeated and even substantially renewed in the construction of Empire. Ifwe were to remain within the conceptual framework of classic domestic and international law, we might be tempted to say that a supranational quasi-state is being formed. That does not seem to us, however, an accurate characterization of the situation. When the royal prerogatives of modern sovereignty reappear in Empire, they take on a completely different form. For example, the sovereign function of deploying military forces was carried out by the modern nation-states and is now conducted by Empire, but, as we have seen, the justification for such deployments now rests on a state of permanent exception, and the deployments themselves take the form of police actions. Other royal prerogatives such as carrying out justice and imposing taxes also have the same kind of liminal existence. We have already discussed the marginal position of judicial authority in the constitutive process of Empire, and one could also argue that imposing taxes occupies a marginal position in that it is increasingly linked to specific and local urgencies. In effect, one might say that the sovereignty of Empire itself is realized at the margins, where borders are flexible and identities are hybrid and fluid. It would be difficult to say which is more important to Empire, the center or the margins. In fact, center and margin seem continually to be shifting positions, fleeing any determinate locations. We could even say that the process itself is virtual and that its power resides in the power of the virtual. One could nonetheless object at this point that even while being virtual and acting at the margins, the process of constructing imperial sovereignty is in many respects very real! We certainly do not mean to deny that fact. Our claim, rather, is that we are dealing here with a special kind of sovereignty-a discontinuous form of sovereignty that should be considered liminal or marginal insofar as it acts "in the final instance," a sovereignty that locates its only point of reference in the definitive absoluteness of the power that it can exercise. Empire thus appears in the form of a very high tech machine: it is virtual, built to control the marginal event, and organized to dominate and when necessary intervene in the breakdowns of the system (in line with the most advanced technologies of robotic production). The virtuality and discontinuity of imperial sovereignty, however, do not minimize the effectiveness of its force; on the contrary, those very characteristics serve to reinforce its apparatus, demonstrating its effectiveness in the contemporary historical context and its legitimate force to resolve world problems in the final instance.
We are now in the position to address the question whether, on the basis of these new biopolitical premises, the figure and the life of Empire can today be grasped in terms of a juridical model. We have already seen that this juridical model cannot be constituted by the existing structures of international law, even when understood in terms of the most advanced developments of the United Nations and the other great international organizations. Their elaborations of an international order could at the most be recognized as a process of transition toward the new imperial power. The constitution of Empire is being formed neither on the basis of any contractual or treaty-based mechanism nor through any federative source. The source of imperial normativity is born of a new machine, a new economic-industrial-communicative machine-in short, a globalized biopolitical machine. It thus seems clear that we must look at something other than what has up until now constituted the bases of international order, something that does not rely on the form of right that, in the most diverse traditions, was grounded in the modern system of sovereign nation-states. The impossibility, however, of grasping the genesis of Empire and its virtual figure with any of the old instruments of juridical theory, which were deployed in the realist, institutionalist, positivist, or natural right frameworks, should not force us to accept a cynical framework of pure force or some such Machiavellian position. In the genesis of Empire there is indeed a rationality at work that can be recognized not so much in terms of the juridical tradition but more clearly in the often hidden history of industrial management and the political uses of technology. (We should not forget here too that proceeding along these lines will reveal the fabric of class struggle and its institutional effects, but we will treat that issue in the next section.) This is a rationality that situates us at the heart of biopolitics and biopolitical technologies.
If we wanted to take up again Max Weber's famous threepart formula of the forms of legitimation of power, the qualitative leap that Empire introduces into the definition would consist in the unforeseeable mixture of (1) elements typical of traditional power, (2) an extension of bureaucratic power that is adapted physiologically to the biopolitical context, and (3) a rationality defined by the "event" and by "charisma" that rises up as a power of the singularization of the whole and of the effectiveness of imperial interventions. The logic that characterizes this neo-Weberian perspective would be functional rather than mathematical, and rhizomatic and undulatory rather than inductive or deductive. It would deal with the management of linguistic sequences as sets of machinic sequences of denotation and at the same time of creative, colloquial, and irreducible innovation.
The fundamental object that the imperial relations of power interpret is the productive force of the system, the new biopolitical economic and institutional system. The imperial order is formed not only on the basis of its powers of accumulation and global extension, but also on the basis of its capacity to develop itself more deeply, to be reborn, and to extend itself throughout the biopolitical latticework of world society. The absoluteness of imperial power is the complementary term to its complete immanence to the ontological machine of production and reproduction, and thus to the biopolitical context. Perhaps, finally, this cannot be represented by a juridical order, but it nonetheless is an order, an order defined by its virtuality, its dynamism, and its functional inconclusiveness. The fundamental norm of legitimation will thus be established in the depths of the machine, at the heart of social production. Social production and juridical legitimation should not be conceived as primary and secondary forces nor as elements of the base and superstructure, but should be understood rather in a state of absolute parallelism and intermixture, coextensive throughout biopolitical society. In Empire and its regime of biopower, economic production and political constitution tend increasingly to coincide.