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<nettime> Re: Reflections on Globalisation from Below
Molly Hankwitz on Mon, 21 Jan 2002 00:47:30 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Re: Reflections on Globalisation from Below

[originally to ::fibreculture::]

on 18/1/02 5:14 AM, McKenzie Wark at mckenziewark {AT} hotmail.com wrote:
> 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.

What kind of perfect union of consciousness are u looking for?
How do you know that people in these movements don't share the same
interests? Why do they have to "share the same interests" in order
to critique the domination of peoples through profit
and economic and environmental destruction? Perhaps they share
a morality towards human rights issues and you share this with them.

Also, I might add, that one of the very interesting aspects of the
anti-globalisation movement is the clearly different perspectives
which lie within it - unionists, anarchists, mothers for a better
environment, people of color and their position in the movement -
which has been a post-Seattle trope of movement discussions among
organizers in the States -

 It means that, among all that
> diversity, there are people who are misguided, whose thinking is
> incomplete, and people who are just dead wrong.

And among cultural theorists and philosophers and writers and
journalists there are people who are dead wrong and misguided and
whose thinking is incomplete as well. It is often a mainstream
and liberal vectoral tactic to denounce demonstrators as a bunch
of misguided people - who aren't REALLY informed. This has been
one of the significant responses from WTO members when interviewed
on their way into their meetings when confronted by a videographer
or interviewer, "I've been a financial analyst all my life -
you people don't know what you are talking about."

The process
> of critique is a process of drawing distinctions.

True, which is why I asked you to clarify some of your definitions -

 Distinctions, in
> this case, among what appear to be allies, but may in fact turn
> out to opposing forces.

don't know.
> 2. One obvious difference is the difference between being opposed
> to 'globalisation', and being in favour of a different kind of
> globalisation.

Please be careful not to reduce the entire anti-globalisation movement
as one which simplistically opposes globalisation. The movement is
very complex and comprised of many delicately well-hewn and distinctive

> 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.

"the world" in what sense? for whom, and to what degree? whose world?

That process
> of abstraction has different aspects, only one of which is capitalism.

this is very true.

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.

Yes, I'm confused. I would like 'vectoral power' to be described
as connected to the social relations which construct it.  Are all vectors
about power and if so, whose power, power for what - for the people, for
military surveillance, for corporate expansion?
> 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.

Sure, but hasn't Foucault's notion of disciplinary power been changed
by new techonologies which allow for more polyvalent forms of "enclosure"
or of marking and gradation - some of which are more difficult to map
than older panopticon types of discipline?

And is what you call 'vectoral power' a development of disciplinary power?
could you clarify?

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.

I'm confused. Doesn't the boat people event have vectoral power as well?
> 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?

Good question.

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.

We have a history of names, possibly, nomadic culture, hobos, underclass,
diasporas of cultures, gypsie culture?
Global homeless is pretty good. Then of course there are physically homeless
people and intellectually homeless people - or the regularly alienated.
> 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.

Security AND defense. They are kin, but not the same. In the US
it started 10 or 15 years ago, in architectural terms, with gated
communities, vandal proof buildings, and an architecture of fear -
documented pretty well in a Princeton publication by the same title
and in numerous documentaries and articles from artists and architects.
This has fed into the growing penitentiary sytem and its counter-cultural
response - conferences such as the one which took place at Berkely in
1998 - Critical Resistence - which brought together organizations and
persons and intellectuals working on the culture of force and discipline
and its flipside the rights and quality of life of prisoners in US prisons -
I might add - heavily attended by radicalized young people - and heavily
focused on people of color who are taking the worst end of the stick
of prison culture and the judiciary system in the US.

> 7. Security is the problem, not the actions of the Howard government.
> Critique has to go beyond appearances.

I disagree. The Howard government feeds the fears of its electorate
instead of showing by example that leaders can project anything other
than the most base response to this "problem." The Howard goverment
is now patting itself on the back because it has managed to deflect
by its actions - people-smuggling to Papua New Guinea and a few other
islands. This is their final solution to the problem. And - you know -
more power to the refugees to get to live elsewhere than a nation
which would pen them up at gunpoint for weeks on end or better yet
leave them sick and homeless on boats in the middle of the sea while
accusing them of lacking moral fibre. Perhaps the refugees will
actually find a home in PNG instead of having to fight for one from
beleagured migrant communities in Sydney or whereever.

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.

So what? Who gives a damn about his logic? You cannot take the term
soveriegnty and clip it out of the social (and economic) relations
which make it what it is - it is not "objective"!!!! The idea of
the state is and never has been abstract - in Australia and many other
places, the idea of the state has been used to justify all kinds
of atrocities. 

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.

No way. Why can't we work from the standpoint of the abuse of human rights!
and forget abstract - dare i say "globalized"? - analysis?

> 8. Yes, race is a factor, but it *doesn't explain everything*.

there is a shitload of historic evidence to let it explain an awful lot.

 And it lets
> the discourse slip into a merely liberal one.

Not at all. it gets right smack to the heart of the domination of one
class, race or gender over another - hence states over states and nations
over nations. 

 Everything is fine if we could
> just be nice to Arabs and other others.

I don't think the point is that everything would be fine.
No one is suggesting that. Human rights need to be protected - this
is a kind of sovereignty as well, is it not? Who cares about focusing
on Howard's brand of ethnic-cleansing "sovereignty" when we could
discuss the sanctity of civil and human rights -even of boat people!
Ha, you surprise me.

Race is a symptom, not a cause.

I don't agree - historically it has often functioned as a cause, for
genocide for example, bolstered perhaps by the distribution of vectoral

> 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.

Fortunately the only vectors which operate are not those attached
to the organs of disciplinary power such as police and military.

One of the categories disciplinary
> power invented and polices is race.

One of the categories which the fact of their being different races
helped into existence is that of white supremacy by force.
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