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<nettime> Reflections on Globalisation from Below
McKenzie Wark on Fri, 18 Jan 2002 17:18:51 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Reflections on Globalisation from Below

Thanks to Molly and others for thoughtful reflections and comments.
A quick response:

1. It is not enough to point to the diversity and plurality of the anti-
globalisation movement. That is merely pointing to the fact that
it joins people together who, if they were to reflect on it, do not
share the same interests at all. It means that, among all that
diversity, there are people who are misguided, whose thinking is
incomplete, and people who are just dead wrong. The process
of critique is a process of drawing distinctions. Distinctions, in
this case, among what appear to be allies, but may in fact turn
out to opposing forces.

2. One obvious difference is the difference between being opposed
to 'globalisation', and being in favour of a different kind of 
These positions are not reconcilable. And yet a great deal of confusion
results in not drawing clear distinctions. If one is to think globally, one
must also think abstractly, for 'globalisation' is nothing more than
the historical tendency of the world to become abstract. That process
of abstraction has different aspects, only one of which is capitalism.

3. Vectoral power is also a form of abstraction in the world. It is the
projection of a smooth space, within which movement is possible in
any direction equally. This concept includes *both* communication
and military power, which are after all only aspects of the same
development, a process of abstraction made concrete in the world.

4. Disciplinary power works in quite a different way, as the *enclosure*
of space, and marking and gradation. Foucault's Discipline and Punish
is the classic work on it. However, it seems clear to me that vectoral
power is of much more significance is shaping the contemporary
world. Disciplinary power now works in a reactive way, being assigned
to deal with the residue, the remainder, whatever vectoral power
leaves behind. Hence its massive deployment to deal with the 'boat
people' question.

5. When i presented this paper in Adelaide, it sparked a good discussion
on naming. What's the difference between an asylum seeker, a refugee
and an illegal immigrant? Its a difference disciplinary power is set to
work to discover. Which is why i think we need another way of describing
people who are the *global homeless*, who confront states with their
movement in defiance of categories.

6. Molly asks "has the penchant for security started to eat its own tail?"
Yes exactly! This is the point made by Anthony Burke in his excellent
book In Fear of Security (Pluto Press Australia). It is security that is the
problem. Each state seeks to secure itself *against* what is outside,
including other states, but that just contributes to insecurity. The case
of the United States is only too clear.

7. Security is the problem, not the actions of the Howard government.
Critique has to go beyond appearances. What Howard is doing is wrong,
*I make no apologies for the government*, but Howard is merely
making explicit the logic of sovereignty, by which the state secures
itself against its others. The sovereignty of the state, the policy of
security and the stress put on both by vectoral power is the underlying
issue to which analysis must work.

8. Yes, race is a factor, but it *doesn't explain everything*. And it lets
the discourse slip into a merely liberal one. Everything is fine if we could
just be nice to Arabs and other others. Race is a symptom, not a cause.
The accelerated effect of vectoral power on the world, making space
smooth, calls into being a disciplinary reaction, an attempt to more
ruthlessly police the categories. One of the categories disciplinary
power invented and polices is race.


                   ... we no longer have roots, we have aerials ...

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