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The myth of globalization

| 16 April 1996
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Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the
absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent
speed .. we must prepare for the immanent, inevitable
identification of man with the motor …
— Tommaso Filippo Marinetti

If we wish to reinvent politics, we must find a way to
politicise speed.
— Paul Virilio

Opening the first issue of the Review of International Political Economy in Spring of 1994, Stephen Krasner began with the following words. “Change, globalization, transnationalism, the erosion of the state, the transformation of political life. New, new, change, change. Academic reflections about international political economy are beginning to sound more and more like American political campaigns.”1 Krasner was ready for a ‘moment’s reflection’.

Given the past history of reactions to such desires there seemed to be a double importance to this particular admonition.2 Rather surprising from one of the regular drivers of the ‘big American car of IR’. Who knows .. perhaps Krasner was disheartened not only with the tone of the debate, but the players in the game itself. But no. Disappointment lay ahead for anyone who might have expected an inclusive, heterodox dialogue to have followed. Krasner’s thesis of the enduring nature of our analytical approaches to the understanding of the ‘fundamental problems’ of international politics and international political economy seemed anything but reflective. The standard big three were reproduced, along with a fourth, labelled ‘systemic’. But certainly no reference to Foucault, Deleuze, Virilio, or any of the other enfant terribles of continental social theory. Yet despite Krasner’s oversight, it is the argument of this paper that there remains much to be drawn from continental thought for the current round in the spatial, temporal, and paradigmatic struggle. And where better to introduce this work than on a panel devoted to the issue of governance? I focus on ‘globalization’. But first, a moment’s reflection.

From cultural, urban, and media studies, through IPE and IR, to business and management analysis – and an increasing number of subfields of the human sciences – two common assertions are made in regard to globalization. First, that globalization is a function of new communication technologies. Second, that its significance lies in the interlinkage of states, firms, societies, and individuals.3 A combination of eight tendencies are conventionally analysed: the salience of the ‘stateless corporation’; changing corporate strategies; the relocation of production to non-industrial sites; the emergence of the trillion dollar ‘24–hour, integrated global financial market–place’; the proliferation of foreign direct investment; declining governmental efficacy in the context of rapid change; the institutionalisation of ‘global consciousness’ via media and borderless capital; the sharpening of ‘competition’ under the ‘law of one price’ and capital mobility.

As I hope to make clear in what follows my discomfort lies not with the identification of these tendencies themselves (though the list remains incomplete), nor for the most part with the specific observations introduced by analysts who have studied them (distorting though they may be, given their limited range). Rather, it is the failure of these studies to politicise these tendencies that has driven this response. This failure has helped engender three broad ‘reality claims’. The first is spatial, that ‘globalization’ is total (or in other words ‘global’). The second is temporal, that ‘globalization’ is the culmination of a logical process. The third is historical, that ‘globalization’ is inexorable. As the ‘global babble’ accelerates, these claims are echoed in a myriad of contexts for a myriad of motives.4 Debates are reborn, issues reframed, new orthodoxies emerge.5 Globalization, we are told, renders the state ‘defective’, affords new opportunities of efficiency and growth, and ensures the ‘harmonisation of preference’ through interdependent exchange.6 It touches everything. As Levitt describes: “Nothing is exempt.”7

Dissonant voices exist of course. But even these, on the whole, engage with the discourse on its own terms, advocating ‘difference’ instead of universality, the rise of trade blocs instead of the erosion of borders, the permanence of regulatory government in the face of multinationals and capital markets.8 The terminology, the logic of oppositions, the hidden assumptions about the nature of the state, or the public/private division, none of these are analysed in themselves, but pass for the most part unnoticed into the forum of accepted debate. The ‘language-games’ are sustained. We still hear of the ‘global web’, the ‘global lab’, the ‘global ecumene’, the ‘global-human condition’, and of an ‘emergent global culture’. While few have been as fervent as Levitt, even by the ‘glocalists’, we are deemed to exist under the ‘consequences of the globalizing process’.9

I have discussed elsewhere how many of these claims are misleading and ideologically distorting.10 I will not concentrate on that argument here. Rather in this paper I seek to go beyond such claims, to add a new voice to what is, despite appearances, a closed debate. This paper therefore is less a critique of theories of globalization than it is an attempt to reframe the whole question. I take this to be essential if we are to begin to understand the multiple ways in which the concept of globalization is being translated, (re)structuring so many lifeworlds. This complex of translations (which I refer to in this paper as the ‘geology of globali[z]ation’11ation’ for three reasons. First, in highlighting the ‘z’, we are reminded that the concept of ‘globalization’ finds its origin in the American academy during the late 1960s/early 1970s. Second, by working with two different terms I aim to make clear the distinctions between my own analysis (globali[z]ation), and that of others (globalization). ‘Globalization’ in this paper is therefore taken to represent the discourse, whereas ‘globali[z]ation’ represents my assessment of the condition (or what I call the ‘geology’). Of course globali[z]ation is not singular (indeed, it may be more appropriate to talk of ‘globali[z]ations’). I rely on the good-will of the reader. Third, in bracketing the ‘z’, we are also able to view the term by means of its constitutive parts. As argued elsewhere (Douglas, 1994b, 1994c), this allows us to identify two of the assumptions hidden in conventional analysis: the assumption of an endpoint (‘globali’), and the assertion of an inexorable process towards its realisation (‘zation’). My interest, however, is in interrogating these assumptions, rather than providing a better ontological vehicle for their dissemination.] … ) is of defining significance. But it operates within spheres that common analysis ignores, and moreover is ill-equipped to address.

Genealogy, dromology, mythology

To address these translations I employ an approach consisting of three components: the governmentality and power-knowledge theory of Michel Foucault; the speed-philosophy of Paul Virilio; and the philosophical concerns of Ernst Cassirer with the role of myth across human societies. Through Foucault we gain an understanding of the normalisation of knowledge and discourse, and the contingency of power and subjectivity. Through Virilio we discover, in the concept of ‘speed’, a key reading of all political, strategic, and social situations. In Cassirer’s philosophy of myth we find not only a caution against historical relativism, but a corrective to the focus on production and technology at the heart of Western accounts of human development.12 Drawing the three approaches together, we begin to see the outline of a reflective reading of contemporary political economy, one that emphasises both conjuncture and continuity, agency and inertia, production and signs. By extension we can open new channels for the analysis of globali[z]ation. Such channels would chart the role of discourses as signifiers, and images and symbols as mobilisers.

In focussing on globali[z]ation, I analyse the rise of a particular conception of social life. This conception, having evolved in an historically specific and spatially defined ‘world-scape’ – what I term the ‘central world political economy’ – is not merely an historical phenomenon, as others have suggested.13 The particular way in which the concept of globalization has arisen, has been appropriated, and deployed, lends itself to a genealogical reading, emphasising precisely the issues of power, knowledge, and subjectivity, that popular analyses ignore. The implicit critique of research devoted to the mapping of trade flows, lines of interdependency and communication, and the infrastructure of an emergent ‘business culture’, is not, however, to deny its value. Yet data in itself can say little about the ways in which globali[z]ation restructures the individual, or indeed the social, and still less about the normative implications of these changes. So keen have been some to keep pace with the corporate ‘globaloney’ that politics has perspired in the effort. We need to pause for breath. We need to ask the difficult questions, of why this knowledge emerged at this historical moment, of how it makes the world intelligible, of what source is its persuasive power, and what cost the ascendance of this new intellectual tradition.14 One means by which we can do this is to reinterpret globali[z]ation within the framework of modernity, and in particular the genealogy of the modern subject, not as a footnote, but as a sustained, decelerated reading.

My contribution will be argued in four sections. Section one outlines, in brief, what an archaeology of the concept of globalization might look like, what value such an archaeology would have, and what initial assessment I draw from my own archaeology. This assessment – namely, that the historical function of the concept and reality of ‘globalization’ has been the rationalisation of what I term ‘central accumulation’ – takes us beyond archaeology, and makes necessary a focus on power. Insection two I do precisely that, mapping out in detail the key elements of my poststructural reading. Following Foucault’s notion of governmentality, I begin the task of interpreting the motives and implications behind the appropriation of the concept of globalization. I argue that the ‘geology of globali[z]ation’ signals a profound spatial annihilation in late modernity. Central to this annihilation has been development of what I term ‘reflex-politics’. Section three extends and adapts a second element of Foucault’s analysis of governmentality by focussing on the nexus of power, time and disciplinarity. From here ‘dromology’ is offered as a key reading of globali[z]ation, and the ascendance of what I term ‘speed-politics’. In section four I describe the form that these spheres take when they collide. Globali[z]ation has become a powerful mythical complex through which whole societies are reassigned. The Deleuzian metaphor of ‘control’ is invoked to describe the structures of governance ever more apparent in the context of ‘accelerated subjectification’.


Three phases are identifiable in the work of philosopher Michel Foucault. The first, what he called the history of systems of thought, characterised his work in Madness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic, The Order of Things, and The Archaeology of Knowledge. The second, what we may call the archaeology of power, characterised his work in Discipline and Punish, and The History of Sexuality, Volume 1. The third, what we may call the genealogy of ethics, characterised The Uses of Pleasure, and The Care of the Self. The key to archaeology as I seek to employ in this section stems from Foucault’s middle to late phase, in which the excavation of continuities is politicised, and put to the service of genealogy. Central to this accommodation is a focus on discourse. By discourse Foucault understood the: “ .. delimitation of a field of objects, the definition of a legitimate perspective for the agent of knowledge.”15 Discourse then, was a distorting, potentially dangerous locale. “We must conceive discourse .. ” writes Foucault, “ .. as a violence which we do to things, or in any case as a practice which we impose on them .. ” It is in the context of discursive practice that: “ .. the events of discourse find the principle of their regularity.”16 The focus of our attention should be the ‘enmeshing’ of discourse in the historical process. The human sciences were for Foucault an exemplary site in the ‘order of discourse’. For Foucault this order was to be seen within the context of specific and conjunctural ‘rationalities of government’ serving functions of ‘normalisation’. Foucault’s substantive thesis is that our own societies are regulated by the exact same techniques of dressage developed in the prison, extended in the hospital, the school, the barracks, and the factory.

It is in this spirit that I approach ‘globalization’. To identify its transformations we must trace its lineage, recover its deviations, follow its tracks. Archaeology then, is necessarily an exercise in disturbance, awakening our senses to the mobile ground beneath our feet.17 That this lineage in the broadest sense is nothing less than the making of the modern states system, and the cumulation of ontologies through which to categorise and contain knowledge thereof, should not deter the archaeologist. For sure we are reflecting upon embedded meanings that have developed over several millennia, from the earliest practices of diplomacy in the Near East to the digital signals of late modernity. Moreover, any attempt to excavate the terms ‘globe’, ‘global’, and ‘globalism’, will inevitably face the challenge of contextual slippage, in particular as the ontologies of ‘world’, ‘international’ and ‘transnational’ blur the chronology.18 But the task is necessary. And despite the confusion, one can observe an intensification in the use of the terms ‘globe’ and ‘global’ during the early to mid-1960s. It is at this time also that the term ‘globalization’ emerges.19 The event horizon, therefore, of the discourse of ‘globalization’, while linked to deeper historical/mythical processes, is both identifiable and specific. All the more surprising to note that ‘globalization’, a concept that has been so fundamental to contemporary discourse, has never been systematically traced. While it is not the aim to begin a detailed archaeology here, it is important to describe – as a preface to the genealogy that follows – the key elements of this horizon. This may give us an indication as to why the discourse emerged, and what function it has fulfilled.

The following remarks should be viewed only as reference points in the politicisation of the text of ‘globalization’.

Command shifts in late modern transworld relations


Central to the development of the concept of ‘globalization’ over the past thirty five years has been a number of shifts in the locus of command within the central world political economy. These include: the rise of neoliberal transnational technocracy21; the transfiguration of the military-industrial complex into the military-communications complex22; the rationalisation of the postwar ‘global governance institutions’ (IMF, IBRD, GATT, NATO, UN, EC/U), and the rise of others (NAFTA, WTO, APEC, ASEAN, PECC); transition within the ‘multi-core complex’ (in particular the incorporation of the developmental states of East Asia)23; decolonisation, dependent development and the reconstruction of hierarchical commodity chains against calls for a ‘New International Economic Order’24; the disintegration of the corporate-liberal synthesis followed by the deeper embeddedness of state-capital relations25; a broad transition of command between the manufacturing and service spheres of Western economies26; and the demobilisation of labour unions.27 From a systemic viewpoint, each shift can be seen as a ‘managed transition’, painful though some were to all involved. These transitions have operated on the one hand between social formations within the central world political economy (interstate, trans-state, transworld), and on the other within these social formations themselves (sub-state, sub-social, individual). Each transition entails a ‘centre shift’ in the configuration of social, economic and political hegemony vis-à-vis the dominant mode of accumulation.28 This in itself provides the critical background against which to judge the configuration of new ‘objects of knowledge’, norms, procedures, and patterns of behaviour. I will focus on but two here: the historical reversal of the monetary principles of the Bretton Woods Agreement; and the ascendance of post-Fordism.

From production to finance

To understand the significance of the shift in command from production to finance in the central world political economy, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the key elements of the pax americana. At the macro scale we can identify four. First, the reconstruction of the defeated axis powers and their reintegration into the ‘Lockean heartland’ of advanced capitalism. Second, the regeneration of Western Europe through the export of U.S. capital (the Marshall Plan). Third, the logistical dismantling and remilitarisation undertaken through NATO. Fourth, the institutionalisation of the strategic and ideological rationale of the Cold War. These elements were transcended by the project of transnationalising capitalist economies, and (thereby) transnationalising capitalist societies. At the micro scale, the ‘internationalisation of the New Deal’ gave rise to three specific objectives. First, the institutionalisation of liberal democracy. Second, the development of a social class accommodation (the so-called corporate-liberal-synthesis). Third, the use of Keynesian aggregate demand management to ensure growth. These elements were transcended by the Fordist mode of production. The logic of the economic system was domesticist consumerism.

This basis was set out at Bretton Woods in 1944. Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes were clear that a restrictive financial order was a necessity for two reasons. First, speculation was to be prevented from damaging the interventionist welfare state. Second, capital controls were deemed central to the maintenance of a stable international exchange rate system and liberal trading order. Additional aspects of concern were the prospects for U.S. business. As expressed by the U.S. Department of Commerce: “Unless brought under control in the future, capital movements of this .. [speculative] .. nature might readily nullify other efforts to attain greater stability in international transactions and would decrease the amount of dollars available to foreigners for purchases of American goods and services.”29 Open trade, controlled finance became the logic of the pax americana. Finance was to be the ‘servant, not the master, of human desires’.30

Strange indeed, therefore, that from the mid to late 1960s transnational movements of private capital have exploded to a volume far outstripping production and trade.31 This historical reversal is vital to understanding the context in which the concept of globalization emerges. It has driven many to study the emerging pattern of ‘global cities’, new global actors, and no-sleep markets as the instantaneous vectors in the rise of the ‘global economy’. For simplicity, two viewpoints can be identified in the discourse.32 First, that transnational finance has developed autonomously through the market-led deployment of new communications technologies. Second, that transnationalisation has been supported and facilitated by the state.

Techno-rational/market-led development

In techno-rational/market-led discourse the effects of the breakdown of the Bretton Woods Agreement are clear. First, capital flight has rendered fiscal and macroeconomic policy independence impossible. Second, domestic financial regulation mechanisms have themselves been eroded. Third, flows of short-term capital have come to act as mechanisms of discipline on ‘left of centre’ governments. Quicksilver capital carries certain demands (the logic of ‘sound money’ and all-round austerity). These developments are seen to be the product of unstoppable technological forces.33 Alan Bryant, for example, argues, ‘technological nonpolicy factors’: “ .. would have caused a progressive internationalisation of financial activity even without changes in government separation fences.”34 Alternatively, in the words of Walter Wriston: “ .. we are witnessing a galloping new system of international finance – one that differs radically from its precursors .. [it] .. was not built by politicians, economists, central bankers or finance ministers .. it was built by technology .. by men and women who interconnected the planet with telecommunications and computers.”35 The restoration of confidence in international financial transactions during the 1950s, the growth of MNEs through the late 1960s, and the response of the market to the oil price rise and the floating of exchange rates following the breakdown of the Bretton Woods Agreement (BWA) are also seen as dependent upon the diffusion of communication networks. It has been a cumulative market-led development.

Typical is the notion of ‘autonomous structural dynamic’ developed in the writings of Phil Cerny. Cerny traces the emergence of what he calls the ‘competition state’ to the effects of a series of particular events: the collapse of the BWA; the subsequent explosion of transnational financial flows; the decompartmentalisation of financial services; the deregulation of markets; and the proliferation of forms of disintermediation. Cerny holds that states found their capacity to make policy increasingly constrained. “Deregulation was the reaction of the American state of the problems it was experiencing in maintaining its financial – and therefore its political – hegemony, but deregulation, by its very nature, entailed the next turn of the screw.”36 This autonomous dynamic merely grew in function, limiting further the parameters of governmental decision–making. A growth in financial innovation and ‘arbitrage’ enabled the transnational financial structure to act largely beyond the regulatory constraints of the state-system. For Cerny, an ‘embedded financial orthodoxy’ has emerged via which the state is rationalised and subordinated. Though the state still has a role (it is the agent of its own transformation), it clearly follows rather than leads the market.

Bringing the state back in

An alternative, and in my view more convincing, account is provided by Andrew Sobel, Ron Martin, and Eric Helleiner. For each, the state has played a crucial role in the transnationalisation of finance. For Sobel, the drive to ‘globalize’ has come not from an ideational or structural shift, but rather from the play of organised interests in the domestic context. While the view that the state cajoled market players into action is rejected, for Sobel, internationalisation was ‘motivate domestically’.37 Martin is even more explicit, arguing that political engineering was at work, entailing a: “ .. reassertion by the state of an underlying disposition toward financial interests.”38

The single best treatment of the emergence of fast capital is to be found, however, in the work of Eric Helleiner. For Helleiner, the state has been crucial precisely in providing the forum for an ideational transition. It has done so in three ways. First, in granting freedom to market actors through processes of liberalisation. This is particularly evident in the U.K. and the U.S., with the former keen to promote London as the world’s financial centre, and the latter keen to use dollar-holding markets to underwrite the deficit. Second, in choosing not to implement more effective controls on financial movement (either in the non-use of total capital controls, or in the absence of cooperative measures of control). The recycling of petrodollars through private banks rather than the IMF is indicative of the mood at this time, as was the market-orientated response to the U.K. ‘speculative crisis’ of 1976, and the run against the Franc in 1983. “[T]he disciplining effect of the international financial markets was applauded .. ”39 Third, in preventing cumulative financial crises. Three instances are important: the collapse of the Herstatt and Franklin National banks in 1974; the Polish, Mexican, Argentinean and Brazilian debt crises through the early 1980s; and the world stock market crash in 1987. In each case the U.S. Federal Reserve acted quickly in cooperation with the G-10 and the Bank of International Settlements to calm the markets. In the last case, state reaction took the form of further deregulation!40 For Helleiner, these factors are indicative of a growing enthusiasm among states for financial markets as instruments of competitive advantage. In contrast to the representation of states as marginal to the process (left to the whim of the 24-hr market and undermined by the outcome), Helleiner argues that the transnationalisation of finance has actively underwritten state interests (particularly those of the U.S. and the U.K.).

Three contingent factors are held by Helleiner to be important. First, the rebuilding of the alliance between the New York and the London bankers (crucial to the emergence of the euromarkets, and encouraging liberalisation). Second, the ideological shift away from ‘embedded liberalism’ to neo-liberal orthodoxy (leading to the abolition of capital controls, and the vigorous promotion of domestic and international efficiency). Third, the absence of political will to engage in ‘cooperative control’ following the collapse of the Bretton Woods Agreement. To be sure difficulties were apparent in controlling flight capital. Exchange controls became increasingly ineffective in the face of advances of technology and economic interdependence. But for Helleiner the lack of policy instruments for the control of finance was matched by a absence of support for regulation in any case. Open finance became a political objective. The dissolution of the principles of the pax americana was a controlled transition. As Helleiner argues, proposed multilateral controls were repeatedly: “ .. scuttled by states who wished to preserve a regulation-free environment in order to attract international financial business to their territory. In this sense, collective action problems prevented the preservation of a closed financial system rather than an open one, as in the case of the trade sector.”41 Whether by decision or non-decision, the state was fundamentally involved.

The non-crisis of Fordism

Further support for the ‘transition’ thesis can be found within debates concerning the nature of post-Fordism. Bob Jessop, for example, in analysing the emergence of what he terms the ‘Schumpeterian Workfare State’ (SWS), argues firmly that this need not entail the wholesale rejection of the ‘Keynesian Welfare State’ (KWS)42 We are witness, rather, to the emergence of an ‘adapted’ KWS, ‘suitably flexibilized’. The critical question, writes Jessop: “ .. is how the welfare state will be restructured .. without seriously undermining structural competitiveness or restraining the transition to post-Fordism.”43 Central to the project has been a deep rationalisation of central accumulation. A new set of ‘organising principles’ comparable to Fordism or Taylorism have emerged, but in a systemic sense the accumulation logic has remained unchanged.44 Of particular importance has been the reconfiguration of the mechanisms deployed by the KWS to balance labour and capital. The outcome has not been to the favour of the former. “There is no doubt .. ” write Hoogvelt and Yuasa, “ .. that for all the upbeat razzmatazz in the business pages of The Economist, the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, not to mention the outpourings of business gurus like Peter Drucker, Kenichi Ohmae, Alvin Toffler and many others about democracy in the workplace, about the humanisation of the factory floor, about the autonomy and empowerment of the individual, and other such noble sentiments, the whole system of lean production amounts to a horrendous tightening of the screws in the capital labour relation.”45

In this ‘reorganisation of capitalism’ it is the state – as much, if not perhaps more so than the atomised market – that has played a critical role. Legislating for privatisation, intervening in the money supply, paring down the public sector, deregulating private capital, cutting taxes, abolishing price and dividend controls, all involve a role for government. This represents not a collapse, but a reversal of a set of historical mechanisms developed to mediate crises (Keynesian aggregate demand management; social welfarism, the corporate-liberal synthesis; and the productionist orientation of the pax americana). The new mechanisms were to be the reinvention of the self-regulating market and society, underpinned by populist/authoritarianism. On a techno-rational reading this ‘crisis of crisis management’ signifies the inability of states to mediate social conflicts. The alternative is that it signifies the unwillingness of states to even keep up the pretence. In the context of the transition of command from production to finance, and the so-called ‘crisis of Fordism’, it is the second reading that I find most persuasive. This increasing unwillingness has been both a symptom and a catalyst of globali[z]ation.

Discourses of crisis 46

Underpinning the withdrawal of the state in this sense has been a broad consensus that mediation is no longer possible. During the mid to late 1970s, this in itself became a ‘discourse of crisis’, galvanising popular and intellectual allegiance to the icon of the market, and laying the foundations upon which the project of globali[z]ation could be built. Of central importance to this discourse has been its fluidity. Most analyses have taken the term ‘crisis’ as given, being more concerned with the identification of forms of dislocation.47 During the early stages of the discourse the assumption was that the emergence of internal tensions (‘slumpflation’, the collapse of the Bretton Woods Agreement, Trade Union disputes, ‘underconsumption’, labour market disorganisation) signified the beginning of a deeper structural crisis, rather than say, ‘adaptation’, or transition.48 This assumption was identified and reshaped by the emerging neoliberal transnational hegemony. Mobilising the structural language of the Marxian left, Keynesian demand management – as the structural logic of the postwar period – could then be demonized as the root cause of such dislocations. The confusion therefore of structure and conjuncture legitimated a wave of anti-welfarism, marketisation, and globalization.

My central claim is that there have been two ‘discourses of crisis’. The first, centred on ‘capital’, developed through the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s, predominantly (though not exclusively) in the Marxian/Left tradition. Here, the inherent teleological leanings within Marxian political economy contributed to an overestimation of the ‘crisis of Fordism’, and an underestimation of the recuperative abilities of the emerging state-capital alliance.49 More important however was the way in which this initial discourse of crisis created the environment in which a second discourse of crisis could emerge. This discourse focussed not on capital, but on the limits to capital.50 This discourse emerged as a political force in the mid to late 1970s and ran throughout the 1980s, accelerating after the stock market crash of 1987, and the slowdown within central accumulation in the early 1990s.51 This second discourse has underwritten neoliberal claims to the redundancy (indeed, counter-productivity) of governmental management of the economy.52 This has in turn preempted and sterilised opposition in the face of a deep and rapid rationalisation of economies (labour markets in particular).53 Taken together, the macro analyses of the Marxian discourse and the micro/behavioural analyses of the neoliberal discourse fed the perception that the 1970s signified a qualitative break in capitalist development.54 The willingness of the academy to appropriate new process-descriptive concepts, and the intellectual environment of ‘policy-relevant’ theory, focussed attention on conjunctural events to the cost of analyses of structural continuity. All reinforced the neoliberal claim to be at the forefront of a new tide of public opinion and expert analysis. As the discourse was wont through the 1980s to argue: ‘There is no alternative’. We see at this exact time a new range of concepts emerge: ‘global governance’, ‘global responsibility’, ‘globalism’, ‘global risk’, ‘global crisis’, ‘global opportunity’, the ‘global imperative’. We also see the (re)emergence of certain implicit and unstated organising principles: competition, innovation, scientific wealth, informatisation, the ‘mastery of chance’, and the ‘elimination of uncertainty’.

For Jessop the tumult represents merely a transition in the ‘mode of societalization’ (the political bargains, social alliances, and cohesive mechanisms that ‘stabilise’ a given pattern of development).55 The genius lies in the fact that the transition was seen to be structural. It was given the legitimacy of self-autonomy. The pressures to ‘reorganise’ were deemed to come from ‘somewhere else’. This illusion has masked the political nature of the selective industrial restructuring effected within the central world political economy, and the extensive industrial de(con)struction across the greater world political economy. From this time on, economic success is defined less as mass employment than productivity efficiency. Accelerated competition becomes the focus for the (re)organisation of state-capital relations. ‘Hot money’ eradicates the principle of social protection.56 One might wonder whether we have been witness not to the triumph of neoliberalism, but a highly organised military Keynesianism, bound to a false discourse of the debilitation of the state.57 Perhaps it is more accurate to invert the Habermasian thesis: rather than a crisis of legitimation, we have witnessed a legitimation of a series of rationalisations through the discourse of crisis. This, of course, is precisely what happened in the 19th century with the ascendance of the first principle of the Polanyian ‘double movement’, the self regulating market.58 During the Baroque period the discourse of crisis centred on the imperative of organising, codifying, and channelling mobile, immiserated populations.59 Civil power felt the need for a new security apparatus in the face of the semi-autonomy that society had developed during the French Revolution. The new arrangements centred on the ‘myth of the machine’. In my view we are witness to a similar mobilization played out at the heart of Occidental culture. The difference is in the mode of civil power itself. Rather than be based on ubiquity contemporary civil power is based on absence. In the attempt to reformulate security given the overexposure of the state itself under mediatization, the myth of the machine has given way to the myth of globali[z]ation.

In summary, an archaeology of the concept of ‘globalization’ leads us to focus on the context in which the concept of globalization emerged. I have focussed here on the transition of command from production to finance, and the transition within modes of production from Fordism to post-Fordism. These transitions were mediated by the state in conjunction with finance capital. Giving legitimacy to these transitions has been a wide ranging ‘discourse of crisis’ (from democracy, governance and population, to rationality, ecology, and motivation). Within this context ‘globalization’ could be framed as the universal panacea to social ills. This appropriation has not been a neutral phenomena. New forms of discipline and subjectivity have arisen in the face of the challenge. Globali[z]ation constructs the conditions under which human beings will behave in a calculable manner.Against a crisis that was no crisis at all, the rise of globali[z]ation as a new governmental rationality represents a crunching of power.

From this basis I want to focus on the translation of concept into action. To do this we must go beyond archaeology to focus on non-discursive practices. A key reading for this can be found in Foucault’s concept of ‘governmentality’.


In the early work of Foucault the denaturalisation of embedded discourse took centre stage. However, in developing a theory of discursive regularity, and decentering the autonomous subject, Foucault was presented with a political and strategic impasse. His approach precluded a critical analysis of his social concerns.60 The death of the subject and the zero degree of writing while important in opening the iron cage of logocentrism, were insufficient in themselves to highlight the regimes of truth and material coercions that in his view were at the heart of modernity. The publication of Discipline and Punish marks a turning point in Foucault’s methodology and political and ethical approach. From here, in what may be regarded as the second phase in his development, Foucault turned his attention to understanding the ‘transformation of individuals’. While the critique of the autonomous subject remained, this critique was itself put to service. Foucault would actively pursue critical autonomy through genealogy, to: “ .. expose a body totally imprinted by history .. [and], reestablish the various systems of subjection: not the anticipatory power of meaning, but the hazardous play of dominations.”61

Many have interpreted this shift as indicative of a concern with power in itself. Yet this is at best partial. Power, for sure, was placed at the centre of analysis, but it did not delimit this analysis. Indeed toward the end of his life (and what may be regarded as the third phase in his development) Foucault seemed keen to move beyond power itself. Something much more important was coming to light in his histories. This was the question of subjectivity.62 From this point, Foucault’s central hypothesis that the aim of the production of discourse is to mobilize, optimize, monitor, and order society, to ‘master the unpredictable event’, held a deeper resonance than merely the identification of ‘coercive institutions’. Foucault’s attention turned increasingly from anatomo-politics, the control of function, movement, and training, to bio-power, the control of rationale, conviction, humour and persuasion (itself an automata of the finest detail). Bio-power was to be seen as the power of subjectification: “ .. where power reaches into the very grain of individuals, touches their bodies, and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives.”63

The aim was to understand the means by which: “ .. everything would be controlled to the point of self-sustenance, without the need for intervention.”64 Here we find in Foucault a ‘positive’ conception of power: of how power generates discourse and ‘rational order’. Most important, power was to be seen as a ‘chain’, a circulation, in which: “ .. individuals are the vehicles .. not its points of application.”65 Through the concept of ‘governmentality’ Foucault sought to uncover the highly complex interaction of truth, power, and ethics, in an ‘historical knowledge of struggles’.66 Understanding the relationship of subjectivity to governance – and in particular the ‘government of individualization’ – became for Foucault the central strategic concern outlined in his final uncompleted projects on the ‘genealogy of ethics’, and ‘technologies of the self’. Foucault was still fascinated by the question of command, but the task was to understand the point at which the articulation of power migrated from the sovereign to the individual. A key element of this migration was, for Foucault, the distribution of space, both physical and symbolic.

This focus on space, as the first element of governmentality, is central to my assessment of how the concept of globalization has been transformed into action-orientated behaviour. Elsewhere I develop this argument in reference to the spatial organisation of the ‘global city’, cyberspace, the ‘global corporation’, flexible specialisation, and the ‘global commons’. In the current discussion I will develop, albeit briefly, my thinking on the spatiality of contemporary historical consciousness. In particular I will focus upon how this historical consciousness (defined here as ‘reflexivity’) has been refigured under globali[z]ation. The imperative of reflexive thinking has sharpened, demanding simultaneously the expansion of spatial consciousness, and an annihilation of spatial separation. These demands correspond respectively to a new bio-politics of population control, and micro-politics of individual subjectivity. In globali[z]ation we are witness to the choreography of the mass and the self in what I term ‘reflex-politics’.

Spatiality, reflexivity, globality

The term ‘reflexivity’ has emerged in recent debate as a key reading of the nature of the relationship between the social and the individual in the context of modernity.67 Yet many of the insights to emerge have former lives elsewhere. In the seminal essays ‘What is Enlightenment?’ and ‘Technologies of the Self’, and the interviews ‘Prison Talk’, and ‘Questions on Geography’, Foucault analyses the interiorisation of power, and the constitution of historical consciousness through what we might call the ‘imperative of the self’. In doing so he prefigures both Beck and Giddens in ways that would seem to have escaped both them, and many review commentators.68 In reference to Baudelaire’s aesthetic assessment of the ‘heroism of modern life’, as Foucault describes, ‘modern man’: “ .. is not the man who goes off to discover himself, his secrets and his hidden truth; he is the man who tries to invent himself.”69 This invention is but one way in which modern man ensures his own subjectivity. Hence any transformation of the environment in which such invention takes place is an important social development affecting directly the range of possible subjectivities that may arise. The argument that I introduce is that historical consciousness, in the context of globali[z]ation, has passed into a mode of deep intensification, entailing what we might call an ‘annihilation of the self’.

A number of developments are both indicative of, and follow from, this intensification. Foremost has been the historical reversal of motivational crises. This has been achieved through an intensification of anxiety allied perfectly with the discourse of the ‘defective state’. A prime example is the spectre of ‘global competition’.70 Fables of the ‘global agenda’, the ‘global enterprize’, and the ‘global harvest’ have institutionalised a ‘politics of paranoia’, reinforced in the daily transmission of utopian futures. Business World CNN focus on the developmental success of the East Asian ‘tigers’. The millennium, we are told, will mark the genesis of the ‘pacific century’. Flick the channel and Singapore’s IT 2000 programme aims to create a ‘digital city’, fully ‘plugged in’ to the ‘global system’ (its national symbol is already its airline). Flick again, and the ‘golden coast’, we are told, is the engine room of the global economy. The migration of these narratives is not without purpose. Perceptions of efficiency have been disseminated to legitimatise deep and painful rationalisations.71 .. what they are doing .. [is] .. competitive .. ” (O’Brien, in interview, BBC ‘Horizon’, April 1995).] And not only narratives of success. Dystopia is well represented. The East Asian ‘tigers’ become ‘dragons’. Liberia implodes on CBS. Drug running in Rio, atrocities in Rwanda, Somalia, and Sierra Leone, tragic narratives foretell the penalties of immobility, of non self-transformation, of territorial sedentarization.72 Fatal or ecstatic, the net effect is the same: to demand simultaneously, on the part of the individual and the social, a sense of expanse (of ‘global outlook’), and annihilation (of ‘global engagement’). Both are reflected in the words of U.S. Labour Secretary Robert Reich. “[W]e are witnessing .. ” he argues, “ .. the creation of a purer form of capitalism, practised globally by managers who are more distant – in essence more coldly rational in their decisions, having shed the old affiliations with people and place.”73

“We will aim to create and cover global events .. ”, boasts Rupert Murdoch, reinforcing the imperative of reflexive (as opposed to reflective) living.74 The only possible response is more knowledge of the competitive environment (hence the ascendance of industrial espionage and public surveillance). The importance of not only predicting the future, but attempting to shape it, necessitates a mode of spatial telescopy, an accelerated panopticism. Firms ‘go global’ precisely to eradicate dimension. Hence the infamous ‘think global, act local’. “We believe .. ” runs a promotion for Kawasaki, “ .. that to fulfil our potential as a global corporation, we have to continually push back frontiers of space .. “75 The globe becomes a powerful aesthetic of organisation in direct ratio to the longing for the obliteration of horizons, of manifestations of distance.76 “Companies that do not adapt to the new global realities will become victims of those that do.” This: “ .. is not a matter of opinion but of necessity.”77 Utopia and dystopia, fear and faith, are played out less on a geographical than a geoconceptual scale. Fear is borne in the enormity of the task of globality, and the loss of perspective entailed in expanse. Faith, in the wholesale transcendence of the body, the community, and other manifestations of the limitations of place. Both are captured in a headline of the International Herald Tribune in the Fall of 1994: “For U.S. Corporations, the Modern-Day Byword Is ‘Globalize or Die’”78 And not only corporations. New social movements, governments, universities, scientific communities, all subscribe to the discourse of expanse and annihilation.79

A critical element of the imperative to expanse, and the imperative to annihilation, is the appropriation of communication technology. From the seemlessness of cyberspace to miniaturisation and remote control, in the current techno-rational discourse the strongest motivation is faith.80 As Appleyard describes: “Companies, even small ones, now know they must surf the global technological wave .. ”81 Yet anxiety is also apparent. Technology is both liberator (increasing mobility and speed, and hence our advantage in the face of the challenge), and dominator (in threatening to replace the human in a bid for greater efficiency and reduction of error). The space we observe is increasingly man made, not born in nature. As man becomes ‘creator’ as well as ‘created’, a powerful range of fearful reactions emerge.82 Technologies become the nightmare represented in the cyberculture of ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Robocop’, ‘The Terminator’, ‘Predator’, and ‘Tetsuo’.Over a century ago, Nietzsche made clear that while man transforms nature through technology, man is transformed by the technology he employs. Each epoch: “ .. gives rise to a (physical) ideal of Man, a special characterology which is also and simultaneously a new body.”83 In altering the nature of man, technology also transforms conceptions and realities of space.84 In the 1960s we had McLuhan’s ‘global embrace’, in the 1970s we had Toffler’s ‘Future Shock’, and Brzezinski’s ‘technetronic society’, in the 1990s we have Mitchell’s ‘city of bits’, and the ‘infobahn’. The new ‘physical ideal of Man’ is set in a new environment, the ‘no-place’ of ‘teletopology’.85

This absolute compression leads also to a new transparency of industrial society. This gives rise, as Beck has argued, to the ‘risk culture’, in which angst and doubt are central organising concepts. Here we find the formation of a particular form of reflexive behaviour. People become the centre for their own lifeworlds. As Beck describes: “Individualization in this sense means that each person’s biography is removed from given determination and placed in his or her own hands .. ”86 In a process of differentiation and temporalisation, the individual is at once orientated (vis-à-vis the labour market, and globality), and differentiated (removed from social experience, a forced distanciation). Reflexive thinking, demanded by the logic of capital, emerges both as bio-political, and micro-political. A simultaneous mass and individual self-governance. The rise of communitarianism only confirms the dissolution of the social, negated by implosion (the zero degree of space).87ith the organisation .. ” writes Habermas, “ .. by the state of scientfic-technical progress and a systematically pursued policy of expansion in the system of higher education .. the production of information, technology, organisations, and qualifications that increase productivity .. [has become] .. an integral part of the production process .. Mental labour is applied to itself.” (Habermas, 1976: 81).] Giddens argues a similar point in his focus on the construction of self vis-à-vis tradition. Of particular importance here is the way that reflexivity entails a monitoring of the self, a process which is driven to: “ .. chronic revision in the light of new information or knowledge.”88 People look to their environments as a means of situating themselves, of looking into themselves. The analogies with Foucault’s emphasis on the ‘interiorisation’ of power are striking. “These are humble modalities, minor procedures .. ”, but a ‘permanent economy’.89 Disciplinary power, rather than moulding all to a single mass: “ .. separates, analyses, differentiates, carries its procedures of decomposition to the point of necessary and sufficient single units.”90

Yet perhaps ‘reflexivity’ is more interior even than this. One is reminded of the unfinished project begun in The Uses of Pleasure, and The Care of the Self, on what Foucault termed ‘technologies of the self’. Here the focus is not upon how the self has been objectified, but upon how, in a process of self-transformation the individual turns him or herself into a subject. This was to be understood within a broader framework of technologies (Foucault identifies three: production, signification, and domination), all of which related (and interrelated) to a certain type of government (a modification of individuals, the acquisition of certain attitudes). Foucault sought to trace the development of the ‘hermeneutics of the self’ through the study of Greco-Roman philosophy in the first two centuries A.D., and Christian spirituality developed in the fourth and fifth centuries of the late Roman Empire. The point was not just to understand these in themselves, but rather to reflect the ‘history of the present’ through an examination of the means by which the practice ‘take care of the city’ evolved into the practice ‘take care of oneself’, from which it was itself obscured by the Delphic principle ‘know oneself’.91 For Foucault this shift reflected a broader transition within Greek ethics from the problem of choosing a techne of ‘living’, to the imperative of developing a techne of the self.92 It is this shift that set the environment for the ascendance of Christian sex morality, with all its implications for codes of life in general. Are contemporary conditions sufficient to draw an historical analogy? As Giddens, for example, writes: “The reflexivity of modernity extends to the core of the self .. the altered self has to be explored and constructed as part of a reflexive process of connecting personal and social change.”93 For Beck, while individualisation in itself is not new, in the context of flexible production systems, decentralisation of the workplace, changing family structures, new forms of leisure and neighbourhood relations produce ‘an essential peculiarity of individualisation’. “[N]o longer compensated by any conscience collective or by a social reference unit in the sphere of cultural life .. The individual himself or herself becomes the reproduction unit for the social in the lifeworld.”94

It is my argument that globali[z]ation is central to this intensification of the ‘imperative of the self’. The nexus of reflexivity and globali[z]ation is not difficult to find. “Globalization .. ” we are told, “ .. has placed new demands on business executives .. ”95 Developing: “ .. a global strategy requires managers to think in new ways.”96 As Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute has argued, in the face of global competition: “ .. people are going round with guillotines over their heads.”97 What we find here is both an intensification of the urgency of self, and a new spatial logic in which Baudelaire’s ‘invention’ is constrained to take place. So the current imperative – of looking to oneself, and finding answers in globality – is not only about space. Annihilation is crucial. For what is significant about contemporary transformations is their pace. The velocity is meteoric. These transformations are instantaneous, they seek immanence.


From space we must turn to the question of time. A useful place to begin is with Foucault’s analysis of the birth of the prison. Here, three techniques are identified via which time is mobilised. First – operating at the scale of control – was a new emphasis on the individual, both of the bodily mechanism and mental faculties, in a taxonomy of ‘movements, gestures, attitudes, and rapidity’, aimed to enshrine a new and infinitesimal power. Second, the object of control was no longer the ‘signifying elements of behaviour’ but their political anatomy: “ .. the economy, the efficiency of movements, their internal organisation.” Finally, modality, wherein behaviour is regulated not by result but rather constant coercion: “ .. a codification that partitions as closely as possible time, space, and movement.”98 In the context of the prison, Foucault termed these methods of meticulous subjection, ‘disciplines’. But again, as Foucault’s thought developed into the third phase of his work, he became increasingly aware of the means by which individuals, beyond the walls of complete and austere institutions, subject themselves to these exact same economies. In this section I argue that these forms of control are mirrored respectively in globali[z]ation. First, through reflexivity and the centrality of information in late modernity. Second, in the importance of flexibility and efficiency in the context of global competition. Third, in the velocity with which the late modern individual is bombarded by images, messages, and imperatives. Having organised space and distribution – in the great confinement, the birth of the clinic, the school, the factory, and the asylum – the means by which Baroque civil power regulated these environments was in the ordering of time. Rather less surprising therefore to find that one of the first and sustained attempts to politicise the latter is to be found in the work of a Professor of Architecture. I refer to the speed-philosophy of Paul Virilio.

Tempo(rality), intensity, globality

In a series of books from Bunker Archeology, Speed and Politics, The Lost Dimension, and L’Horizon négatif, to The Vision Machine, The Art of the Motor, L’Inertie polaire, and most recently La Vitesse de libération, the most original analysis of the centrality of time to human organisation has been provided by Paul Virilio. Indeed Virilio has single-handedly created a whole science of speed and visuality (what he terms ‘dromoscopy’).99 In Speed and Politics – Virilio’s best known philosophical statement – the point of departure is the 19th and 20th century ‘invention’ of mechanical propulsion. As Virilio describes in Pure War: “Up until the nineteenth century, society was founded on the brake. Means of furthering speed were very scant .. [t]hen suddenly there’s the great revolution that others have called the Industrial Revolution or the Transportation Revolution. I call it a dromocratic revolution because what was invented was not only, as has been said, the possibility of multiplying similar objects .. but especially the means of fabricating speed with the steam engine, then the combustion engine. And so they can pass from the age of the brakes to the age of the accelerator. In other words, power will be invested in acceleration itself.”100

From here Virilio charts the links between militarism and vision in the pursuit of acceleration. Tracing what he calls the ‘logistics of perception’, Virilio’s wide-angle lens takes in a dazzling variety of issues, from political power and message transportation, urban architecture and military strategy, population control and nuclear deterrence, the aesthetics of twentieth century subjectivity and the psychology of the accident, to the logic of the ‘universal dromos’, neuroscience, bioethics, sport, democracy, mediatization, and virtuality. A focus on speed, for Virilio, has opened up a whole new perspective on technologies and their relationship to the drives inherent to human desire itself.101 The image is in the ascendant as the expression and vector of acceleration. We live in the context of a coup d’etat of real time history, a death drive to the final barrier, the speed of light. Speed decentres production as the motor of history.102 Central to Virilio’s understanding of this development is the theorisation of visuality and the migration of ‘vision machines’ from the battlefield to societies more generally.103 This, for Virilio, is one element of the rise of what he terms ‘the transpolitical’, entailing the disappearance of bodies and the social under the impact of mediatisation and acceleration. The Art of the Motor is perhaps Virilio’s most accessible statement of his assessment of the driving force behind this obliteration of perception. For Virilio a ‘military-communications complex’ has accustomed us to a: “ .. series of discreet disappearances and multiple absences.”104 The effect of ‘kinematic’ energy (motion combined with velocity) has decentred not only the human senses, but our whole relationship to time and reality.105 Little surprise then that for one reviewer at least: “It would be difficult to imagine a more disturbing contemporary philosopher than Paul Virilio.”106

What then does Virilio mean by ‘speed’? In a technical sense: “ .. speed is a transfer of energy. We can summarise this in two words: ‘stability-movement’ and ‘movement-of-movement’.”107 Virilio’s specific interest is in understanding the rise of the ‘movement-of-movement’ as the locus of power. Virilio then, is interested in the regulation of time in the face of the contraction of distance. For Virilio we are in a transition of monumental proportions. This transition is one of pure acceleration, and entails a wholesale transcendence of everything material in the world. So by ‘speed’ Virilio means not only relative speed of perception to events, but, more importantly, societal acceleration itself: the deeper perceptual effect of motion in itself, of travel in itself, or thrust in itself. For Virilio governmentality exists no longer in real space, but in ‘real time’. This development has: “ .. the gravest consequences for our relation to the world, and for our vision of it.”108 We see this in particular in the idea of ‘one world’, described by Virilio as an ‘illusory ideology’. “[W]hen the world is reduced to nothing and we have everything at hand, we’ll be happy.”109 But as Virilio laments, in shrinking the earth through speed: “ .. we have lost the very place of freedom, which is expanse.”110

The rise of ‘chronopolitics’ (and what Virilio terms ‘dromocratic society’) signals for Virilio the end of ‘freedom of reason’, the end of philosophy, the end of history, and the end of politics under ‘intensive time’. “The rapidity of images and signs in the mirror of the journey, windshield, television or computer screen – after having excessively simplified and deformed the dromoscopic vision of the world at the turn of the century, today makes it subliminal.”111 Authentic life goes underground. In the context of late modernity the body (both individual and social) becomes a vector of acceleration. In short the body is imprinted by phenomena, by technics, by forces, through which it gains momentum and energy, and from hence it migrates it own reference (becoming ‘soulless’, ‘metabolic’). Under the ‘empire of speed’, only the ‘will to nothingness’ remains: “ .. in a form of war that causes the ‘present’ to disappear in the instantaneousness of decision.”112 For Virilio this reflects the logic of ‘dromomania’ (the hegemony of military-speed terror at the level of world society). The ‘absolute power of the instant’ has delivered a ‘the state of emergency’.113 Virilio, of course, is not entirely alone in his sense of alarm. One is reminded of Lewis Mumford’s condemnation of the technocratic drive. “Like a drunken locomotive engineer .. ” he wrote, “ .. on a streamlined train plunging through the darkness at one hundred miles an hour, we have been going past the danger signals without realising our speed, which springs from our mechanical facility, only increases our danger and will make more fatal the crash.”114 Yet Virilio is quite alone in taking acceleration to what he foresees as its logical resolution: the disappearance of ‘the political’ into speed, to be replaced with an accelerated media and military machine (the speed-body of the modern totalitarian state). We have become, in Virilio’s terms, a ‘population of time’ governed by the absolute assault: the saturation of the time and space of daily life with speed. The resulting paralysis is what Virilio calls ‘pure war’.115

Dromo-discourse and globali[z]ation

Despite Virilio’s focus on the media and the military, dromology can be used to read both capital relations and globali[z]ation. Indeed, it is mirrored in few places better than the logic of accumulation in late modernity. And one doesn’t have to dig too deep to find it. It is doubtful that the top 100 managers of alleged ‘global corporations’ have read Speed and Politics, but you’d be forgiven for allowing the thought to cross the mind if you listened to their discourse.116 Of course, metaphors of pace are not entirely new to the economic lexicon. From the ‘multiplier’, and the ‘escalator clause’, to the ‘accelerator principle’ and the ‘velocity of circulation’, not only it would seem is temporality important, but also tempo itself. But again, as with the terms ‘globe’ and ‘global’, it is the intensification of their use that is significant. In 1973 First National City Bank run an advertisement for their ‘global transfer system’ with the headline: “Citibank – the bank to look to for speed in moving money.”117 From this point onward the archetype is less the productionist image of an economy of waves than it is a futurology of superconductivity and obliterated space. In 1978 Chase Bank run an advertisement with the pun, ‘Today’s Chase’, followed by the subtitle: “Everyone talks global network. Our bank has it.”118 It is clear to the business civilization that a ‘new era of competition’ has emerged. The pressures of the law of one price and the transmission of information take command, and pace replaces quality as the key orientating conception of survival. The business world is already at this time super-lubricated by ‘footloose’ and ‘quicksilver’ capital (flexible, mobile, instant).119

In 1983 business guru Theodore Levitt argues that two ‘vectors’ shape the contemporary world – technology and globalization.120 In the late 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev promoted accelerated collective learning (uskorenie), as the central plank of perestroika. In 1989 Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric talks of ‘lightening speed’, ‘fast action’, and ‘acting with speed’.121 Being: “ .. number one or number two globally .. ” Welch suggests, “ .. is more important than ever. But scale is not enough. You have to combine financial strength, market position, and technology leadership with an organisational focus on speed, agility, and simplicity. The world moves much faster today.”122 In 1990 Helmut Kohl sought to ‘intensify the pace’ of German reunification. In 1991, President and CEO of Asea Brown Boveri, asks: “Why emphasise speed over precision? Because the costs of delay exceed the costs of mistakes.”123 In 1994, Susan Strange talks of the ‘accelerating pace of technological change’, and of ‘rapid change’.124 In 1995, Kenichi Ohmae talks of the ‘speed and volume of transactions’, the ‘accelerating convergence of tastes’.125 For Nicholas Negroponte and Danny Goodman, ‘being digital’ and ‘living at light speed’ is the only means to avoid being roadkill on the information superhighway.126 Rapid change is both positive, ‘global’, ‘inexorable’, and ‘unstoppable’. Reginald Dale talks of ‘accelerating world trade’, the ‘speed of change’, the ‘split-second flows of international funds’, and the ‘dynamic world of the 21st century’.127 U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Lawrence Summers suggests: “ .. it is only a slight exaggeration to say that this is the era when 3 billion people got on a rapid escalator to modernity.”128 A special issue of TIME, International on technology and the ‘global agenda’ begins the cover story article with one word, followed by a full stop. The word is ‘acceleration’.

Within the geology of globali[z]ation, the ‘logic of the race’ is mirrored foremost in the emphasis on the ‘Information Revolution’ and the centrality of ‘knowledge’. “Work smarter, not just harder”, is indeed a touch of genius, underwriting both the imperative of reflexivity, and the ubiquity of speed.129 Information is ‘vectorised’ in a datastream of ‘technoscapes’, of integrated domestic workplaces, of television shopping, and ‘global entertainment’. Information collation and its speed of deployment becomes the critical index of success.130 The drive to accelerate speed through knowledge in the era of globali[z]ation is evident in multiple contexts. The deployment of micro-electronic technologies in the office, in the library, in the supermarket, in the home, foretell a particular relationship to speed, and to the world. The growth of subcontracting, small-batch production, and outsourcing is indicative of the pursuit of rapidity. ‘Just-in-time’, total quality management’, and ‘lean production’ concern the drive for total efficiency, and the objectification of time.131 The emergence of global media corporations act as transmission vehicles in the ascendance of the instant image. The consumer industry in the age of television has the perfect vector to pursue the quick sale (closing dates, special offers, credit-card hotlines). Contrary to Levitt’s vision of the globally standardised product, we find in production a particular form of acceleration, based on diversity and rapid obsolescence. The full use of simulation in design (allowing buildings to be built in a fraction of their former time), in art (facilitating a ‘special effects inflation’ and time-efficiency), and the preparation for warfare (accelerating the DEF CON, allowing cybertroops to annihilate each other, as well as space and time): all are indicative of information acceleration.

A second expression of speed is a focus on flexibility, efficiency and mobility. “Feel the burn” was the catchphrase of the 1980s. As Welch forewarned: “ .. if you’re not flexible enough to handle rapid change and make quick decisions, you won’t win.”132 A concern with flexibility is manifested on a number of levels from the familiar (the popularisation of body and health consciousness, the exact synchronisation of the workforce and technology, the speed layout of the city), to the profound (nanotechnology, artificial intelligence in military planning, cryonics). All forms of flexibilisation seek to regulate the individual in relation to the ‘world of time’. In contemporary form, the ‘imperative of flexibility’ (mobilisation) and the ‘necessity of limitation’ (normalisation) translate into radical shifts in social organisation. For example, in relation to production, flexibility and the ‘new politics of time’ radically alter the composition of labour markets, ensuring both optimum performance (the time hegemony of ‘lean production’), and the coercive legitimation of rationalisation (‘fear of unemployment’, the growth in part-time, unsecure wage labour, the erosion of the influence of trades unions).133 As Drache describes: “ .. employers are using the rhetoric of flexibility to increase their control over their workforces.”134 In this sense, mobility is being ‘tracked’.135

A useful example of the focus on ‘flexibility’ lies in the discourse of British regeneration. In the late 1980s Samuel Huntington located the decline of nations not in ‘imperial overstretch’ but in inflexibility, the failure to change and adapt (to ‘keep up to speed’). In the early 1980s Mancur Olson made the same point. Inefficient producers, inflexible class systems, immobile governmental bureaucracies impeding the ‘creative destruction’ of capitalism. Hence we must find the panacea in movement, in a form of lateral speed. The prescription was simple. Enterprise must be encouraged. Technicians needed to ‘think strategically’, to target key sectors (high technology consumer goods, civilian aircraft production, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors). The exact same logic is held for politics as for economics. Social systems must adapt, must constantly reinvent themselves. In the celebratory essay ‘The Secret of Our Success’, published – not entirely surprisingly – in TIME, International’s ‘Bush Presidency Inaugural Issue’, Charles Krauthammer describes: “Of course the true basket case is the Soviet Union .. After 70 years of submission the Soviet people have lost the habit of innovation and renewal .. In the U.S., on the other hand, the continuing fluidity of society is its greatest asset .. ”136 How useful it is therefore to have a political system that allows the ‘structures to be remade’. As Krauthammer concludes: “ .. the American blessing is to have invented a system that .. [allows] .. us to reimagine in the world – every four years.”137

It is in the drive to reinvention that we find a third expression of speed. This lies in the constant image, message, and imperative bombardment of the individual in the context of accelerated ‘global engagement’. Time-shifting, techno-efficiency, techno-diplomacy, chronopolitics, chronoaesthetics, informatisation, competition, doubt, risk, annihilation: the very messages of globality are transmitted at a greater pace. And of course there is no shortage of vectors (radio, cinema, TV, video, satellites, libraries, private corporations). The messages themselves take on a certain velocity, a certain steady drive.138 CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC, ITV survive (or die) on this image and message acceleration, entailing not only the desolation of space, but the annihilation of time.139 And of course this applies not only to the media. “Speed guarantees the secret and thus the value of all information.”, writes Virilio.140 Increasingly societies pursue the collision as the only means to retain the element of surprize. It is here that we find the meaning of Virilio’s metaphor of the museum of accidents. Future shock is increasingly central to capital relations. Corporation America has its own TV channel, collapsing space and time in a single box. And it is in this context that dromo-discourse becomes embedded.

As the individual is increasingly silenced by the bombardment of images and messages, a new level of reflexivity is both produced and demanded. The social moves in what Virilio has called ‘technological time’, to the pulse of the particle accelerator. Forced to take account of oneself, through globality is invented a new ideal man: adaptive, rapid, flexible, mobile, technical, prosthetic. The individual can transcend his or her own identity.141 Through globality it becomes possible both to lose oneself and find oneself in a new absolute space and time (the web page, the mobile phone, the pager). The ‘global’ therefore is a magical place, the site of the realisation of desire, which, by its very nature (zero-space, instant-time) heralds a process of deep synchronisation. The state, far from hollowing out, is reaching the terminal velocity of its power capabilities. We become objects of speed, under what I call ‘accelerated subjectification’: a mode of governmentality profoundly different from prior political economies of power. Other modes persist and coexist (e.g., the visible mode, the panoptic mode), but something significant is lost. Contemporary civil power has itself deterritorialized. The desire to be nowhere replaces the desire for omnipresence. The removal of the individual by the digital is indicative of the flight from the body into the pure circuit.142 Electromagnetic perception replaces biology in the race for speed-efficiency. “All the qualities of the body are transferred to the machine.”143 The project envisioned by Marinetti, Boccioni, Carrà, and Bacon before them, is realised as man is identified with the motor.144 At its most ‘advanced’ (derived primarily from military application), the boundary between accelerated subjectification and what we may call ‘accelerated disappearance’ (the absolute flight from reference, the hegemony of speed-space, escape velocity into the hyperreal) begins to fall. Disappearance becomes the locus of power, and its index. Whole societies mirror the logic of nuclear deterrence in a process of ‘absolute colonization’. Perhaps beyond speed, we may say that modes of disappearance have emerged as the motors of (post)history.145 To update Giedion, it is not mechanization that takes command, but rather command that is mechanized to the point of the absence of reference. Real time governmentality takes over, both at the level of the social and the individual.

Pedestrian man passes into the realm of passivity, becoming, in Virilio’s words, no more than a ‘digital transfer machine’.146 “[W]ith real time technologies, real presence bites the dust.”147 We are witness to the simultaneous despatialization and chronopoliticisation of subjectivity, an anaesthesia of consciousness and reduction of will to power to the will to zero.148 As Lewis Mumford warned, ‘not merely space but man shrinks’. Intensive time displaces extensive dimension. For Virilio it is clear that the basis of this radical negation has been the fascination of Occidental culture with vision, and the modern ‘synergy of eye and motor’. For Virilio we must add the ‘third dimension’ (light) to our analysis of subjectivity, and interrogate the relationship between perception and intensity (speed). Only in politicising the reality principle in this way may we gain any purchase on the disappearance of man behind the motor and lens of the vision machine. “[T]he mystery of speed remains a secret of light .. perpetually hijacking the subject from any spatial-temporal context.”149 In a complementary statement, as Jean Baudrillard has written: “Ours is rather like the situation of the man who has lost his shadow: either he has become transparent, and the light passes right through him or, alternatively, he is lit from all angles, overexposed and defenceless against all sources of light. We are similarly exposed on all sides to the glare of technology, images and information, without any way of refracting their rays; and we are doomed in consequence to a whitewashing of all activity .. ”150 Mediatization entails not only the attack on the objectivity of the individual but more generally an attack on all sites of reference and permanence. The ‘motor revolution’ that has cleared the path for the arrival of a new form of blindness that is simultaneously a precondition for the legitimation of acceleration. As Virilio describes, we can no longer perceive the movement of history, and its relative speed.151 Our disappearance of perception becomes the ultimate offence, the ultimate coup d’etat.

In summary, Foucauldian ‘governmentality’, in focussing on space and time as techniques of governance, provides a key reading of the geology of globali[z]ation. I have attempted to chart a ‘microphysics of power’ focussing on the imperatives of global orientation and rapid adaptation in the context of late-modern reflexivity. Implicit to the analysis is that genealogy as a mode of investigation provides for the study of globali[z]ation an ‘immanent critique’ of how power intervenes in the translation of discourse into action, and action into subjectification. Yet we need to travel further. We are already some way from Foucault’s initial concern with the normalisation and codification of discourse. In maintaining the momentum we are able to move deeper into the analysis of how globali[z]ation mobilises, as much as it immobilises. One means by which to understand mobilisation, both at the level of the individual and the bio-politics of whole societies, is to focus on the notion of myth.

In doing so we are asking directly questions that are too frequently misplaced, concerning for example, the links between individual appropriation and societal processes of transformation, and how these interact historically with the state, interstate, world, and transworld, in the context of subjectivity, praxis, and inertia.


In accelerated subjectification we find a new manifestation of governmentality. The question then becomes, What are its modes of legitimation? Allow me to return briefly to dromology.

As outlined in the previous section, the key to understanding the geology of globali[z]ation is to understand the nexus of acceleration and reflexivity. Yet within this nexus we do not find two equal forces. It is the pursuit of absolute speed that is in command. It is acceleration that has changed the nature of reflexivity, and of self-organisation. It is acceleration that has altered our perceptions of space and the location of history, politics and subjectivity. It is acceleration that has driven late modernity to its ‘escape velocity’.152 To understand acceleration is to understand globali[z]ation, and the means by which the concept itself has become self-fulfilling. It is speed that is central to the archetypical Baudrillardian movement: the passage into hyperreality and simulation. Societies orientate themselves to the imaginary referent rather than to a manifest condition. Indeed, the concept replaces the ‘reality’ in endless reproduction and message intensification. I argue that the concept of myth is useful in capturing the complexity of the links between discourse, power, and speed. Myth is the ‘vehicle’ to specific translation.

Genealogy, myth, history

I employ, therefore, a specific conception of the nature and role of myth. First, myth is not ‘irrational’. Per contra, ‘myth’, as I use it, is a form of hyper-rationality. Second, myth does not mean ‘untruth’.153 True myth: “ .. presents its images and its imaginary actors, not with the playfulness of fantasy, but with a compelling authority.”154 Third, myth does not oppose modernity. Modernity has its own exclusionary, powerful, and quasi-religious myths.155 Indeed, as Blumenberg has argued: “That the course of things proceeded ‘from mythos to logos’ is a dangerous misconstruction .. ”156 Myth is not merely something borne only in pre-modern theology. Emancipation from divinity (the Death of God), has not reduced the pervasion of myth. In the picture that I seek to uncover, myth is basic to the human condition, pervading all societies, so that: “Historically we find no great culture that is not dominated by and pervaded with mythical elements.”157 Yet this need not imply a crude form of structuralism. Nietzsche shows the way.

For Nietzsche, myth was an overt aestheticising and ordering of the world. The ‘prison house of language’ prevents the direct experience of reality, structuring as it does cognitive activity and conceptualisation. Language appears grounded in the world, in nature while myth does not. Myth is clearly a cultural product (hence we can conceive of genealogies of myth). Here lies the point. Myths for Nietzsche are culturally specific rationalities (hence in this instance, I argue that ‘globali[z]ation’ is conceptually particular to the way in which the subjectification of globality has been accelerated in the central world political economy). This does not necessarily contradict the view that myth itself is a ubiquitous feature of human organisation. One might argue therefore that certain continuities exist between the specifics of the invention and mutation of myth, and previous forms of language, logic and discourse, which if nothing else provide the framework against which particular myths emerge or erupt.

With these qualifications in mind, I want to introduce the political philosophy of Ernst Cassirer. In Cassirer we find the first systematic interrogation of the links between language, symbolism, culture and technology, and the centrality of mythical thought in the contemporary world. ‘Symbolic forms’, he argues, function as techniques of ordering, setting the parameters of knowledge and identification.158 For Cassirer, myth in particular was to be seen as ‘permanent’. There is no danger, he argues: “ .. that man will ever forget or renounce the language of myth. For this language is not restricted to a special field; it pervades the whole of man’s life and existence.”159 Cassirer, therefore, shared the insights of Schelling and Goethe, amongst others. Here, it was argued that: “ .. language, poetry, art, religion, even metaphysics and science are in their origin bound up with mythical elements and interpenetrated with mythical imagination.”160 This was contrasted with the philosophers of the Enlightenment for whom myth was of the lowest rank. In the modern episteme the triumph of reason was taken to entail the defeat of myth. Man was deemed to have passed from the ‘age of magic’ (homo magus) to ‘the age of technics’ (homo faber). Cassirer questions this simplistic notion. “Myth”, he writes: “ .. is always there, lurking in the dark and waiting for its hour and opportunity.”161

In Cassirer’s later, overtly political writings, his focus shifted from symbolic forms to ‘modern political myth’ (in particular the ‘myth of the state’). In doing so Cassirer added to the Romanticist notion of ‘myth’ a role for political action. For Cassirer, myth itself had transformed. No longer operative exclusively in the realm of the ‘unconscious’, Cassirer saw in modern political myth a form of thought that could be regulated and organised: “ .. adjusted to political needs and used for concrete political ends.”162 ‘Magic’ had been fused with ‘technic’ in a heady mix of ‘deep human emotions’ and ‘social passions.163 In another sense however, myth was something more. As Cassirer describes: “Myth cannot be described as a bare emotion because it is the expression of emotion. The expression of a feeling is not the feeling itself – it is the emotion turned into an image. This very fact implies a radical change. What hitherto was dimly and vaguely felt assumes a definite shape; what was a passive state becomes an active process.”164 Defined by Cassirer as the ‘technique of myth’, this mode of mobilization is similar to the meaning I put to ‘appropriation’. The modern political myth was for Cassirer awakened residual energy (‘myth according to plan’). In this sense, even though the myth itself may be ‘irrational’, the technique of myth is “completely ‘rationalised’.”165 The production of myth is controlled through the setting of what constitutes knowledge. The modern political myth, therefore, unlike systems of despotism, or religious struggles of consciousness, works beyond ubiquity. As Cassirer argues, the ‘myth of the twentieth century’: “ .. did not begin with demanding or prohibiting certain actions .. [but] .. undertook to change the men, in order to be able to regulate and control their deeds. The political myths acted in the same way as a serpent that tries to paralyse its victims before attacking them. Men fell victims to them without any serious resistance. They were vanquished and subdued before they had realised what actually happened.”166

In a similar way to Foucault’s conception of governmentality, myth is a dialogue, a circular. Myth does not dominate the ‘subject’, because myth is part of the subject. This is not to say that forms of subjectivity do not operate. Per contra, the forms of subjectivity inherent to myth are more precise for their being from ‘within the object’. As technologies of the self, myths, in this sense, pervade a multiplicity of social practices and experience. Myth sets the ‘limits of the possible’. In a Gramscian sense, myth becomes an ‘historical necessity’ to which social formations react. These limits are not ‘fixed and immutable’, but rather in constant movement, existing temporarily within the context of a given social structure of accumulation, truth, power, and ethics. The modern political myth is a labyrinth of metaphysical meanings, contradistinctions, truisms and meta-beliefs. A knowledge, therefore, of: “ .. what the myths contain in the way of details which will actually form part of the history of the future is .. of small importance; they are not astrological almanacs; it is even possible that nothing they contain will ever come to pass .. ”167 What is important to the study of myth is effect. Social myth mobilises popular consciousness, engineering emotion, fever, and the will to power. For Sorel: “ .. myth must be judged as a means of acting on the present .. It is the myth in its entirety which is alone important .. ”168

I argue that several elements of this analysis are mirrored in what I understand to be a third configurational sphere in the context of late modernity: ‘mytho-politics’. Three elements are central to my analysis. First, the proliferation of techno-economism. Second, the use of the image of the globe as icon. Third, the centrality of historicism to contemporary discourse.


As Hoogvelt and Yuasa have argued, the creation of the ‘global’ is dependent upon the institutionalisation of new forms of social identification: “ .. a common world of understandings; a shared universe of meanings. Common myths have to be made, common stories have to be told.”169 What better common story than than the techno-rational myth of globali[z]ation? “A powerful force .. ” writes Theodore Levitt, “ .. drives the world toward a converging commonality, and that force is technology.”170 Held as the root logic of world development, the discourse of technology creates the preconditions of globali[z]ation, and establishes its relation to speed. Bill Gates tells us that 21st century technologies will be about making the world easier. “From Antiquity .. ” describes Virilio, “ .. a progressive simplification of written characters can be discerned, followed by a simplification of typographical composition which corresponded to an acceleration in the transmission of messages and led logically to the radical abbreviation of the contents of information.”171 Whether its Bill Gates or Jack Welch the message is the same: in technologies of simplification we speed up the medium, and speed up the message.172

“Today .. ” write Hoogvelt and Yuasa, “ .. and world wide, there is an all-out drive ‘to go lean’. This is not just a fanciful commercial gimmick but a struggle for survival .. ”173 Firms ‘digitise’, individuals informatise, the whole city is ‘wired’ to the Internet,but there are deeper implications to ‘will to speed’. We witness the creation of a simulated world, faster than the analogue, the chemical. This world we imagine to be one of ‘information flows’, circular not linear, global not transnational. Indeed it is a world to which we may escape the bumps, corners, and zigzags of our material life. We surf the waves of the Net. We never see car wreck in cybercity (because perhaps, as Virilio has argued, everything there is an accident in any case). As we log-on to the virtual new world it is easy to forget that the ‘opportunities’ for personal freedom, instant leisure, sexual and aesthetic independence, are commodified (the economism of techno-economism). Not only is the power industrial as opposed to ethereal, but you need to buy the ‘hardware’, and rent the ‘line’. Thousands of new users jack-in every hour (or at least we are told). When they get there there is a virtual mall waiting for them. Ecash, virtual accounts, the aim is hardly to inform, but to convert signs into dumb idols. Spectacle has long replaced meaning. As Webster and Robins describe: “The information revolution is largely about promoting the image of capitalist enterprises and stimulating the consumption of its products.”174peed has as its corollary price.” (Internet & Comms Today, 1995: 53).]

The more important observations concern what this may tell us about our interface with technology. The machine described by Spengler at the turn of the century was already becoming ‘less and ever less human’.175 Institutionalised by a series of ‘world fairs’, and ‘world exhibitions’, the mystique of technical rationality, productivity, efficiency, paralleled an intensive rationalisation during the first quarter of this century, foretelling the extension of the motor to all social relations. “They weave the earth over with an infinite web of subtle forces, currents, and tensions. Their bodies become ever more and more immaterial, ever less noisy.” For Spengler the art of the motor became a means for man to recentre himself in the Universe. “It signifies in the eyes of the believer the deposition of God. It delivers sacred causality over to man and by him, with a sort of foreseeing omniscience is set in motion, silent and irresistible.”176 This is precisely what we find in the discourse of globality. Limitations on knowledge (inside/outside, forward/behind, everywhere/nowhere) collapse as the world becomes a single no-place. We can all play God in a way indicative of the disappearance of the state and the replacement of civil panopticism with civilian ubiquity. It is in this context that we can chart the importance of the aesthetics of globality. The photographic image of the globe itself is testament to the final removal: the flight from the very earth itself. This alters irrevocably man’s relationship to technology, and to power.177 Once man and machine are able to escape safely from gravity, everything can be ‘viewed’, and mapped. Where Francis Bacon marks the ascendance of modern scientific human ‘self-assertion’, NASA is the vector for a second, perhaps final resolution.

The age of the world picture

For Paul Virilio, the progressive negation of distance under the impact of the ‘last vehicle’ (optical informatics), is matched by the ascendance of new forms of visual illusion, aimed to recreate the loss. In this sense I argue that the use of the earth as an icon is of profound significance. Of course this has a history. Indeed the sphere as a symbol is linked to religion, science, sovereign authority, and myth as far as can be traced.178 One the one hand we witness merely a realisation of the cartographic imagination that has fascinated travellers, geographers, and astrologers from Dicaerchus179.], Hecataeus180.], Zhang Heng181.], and Schöner182.] to Copernicus, Galileo, Bacon, Kepler, and Newton. To be sure, this imagination has enjoyed prior intensifications (in particular when the sphere was enveloped with the map of the New World in 1515). On the other, we are witness to something profoundly different, perhaps the clearest indication of spatial annihilation. Distance and dimension are obliterated as the earth is viewed from the moon.183 “Everything I see .. ” wrote Merleau-Ponty, “ .. is in principle within my reach, at least within reach of my sight, marked on the map of the ‘I can’.”184

More important perhaps, this mode of annihilation is based not on centralisation, but de-centralisation.185 Heidegger once said that pictures of the earth beamed live from the moon were more frightening to him than the atom bomb.186 If he were still alive we might guess that from sheer terror he would not be watching cable television, nor looking at billboards, nor browsing in bookshops, nor departing from airports, nor walking in shopping malls, nor reading The Economist, Business Week, TIME, International, or Fortune 500. Rather than being held only by those of authority and influence (militarist, dromocrats, merchants, clergy, diplomats, monarchs, scientists, mathematicians), the world picture has disseminated through society to the point that everyone is impacted. The image of the world passes down the bandwidth at the speed of light. One wonders whether this data transmission is not indicative of a broader osmosis whereby not only the globe but our very ‘world’ has become an archive open for instant retrieval. “We are exposed .. ” writes Baudrillard, “ .. to the instantaneous retransmission of all our facts and gestures on whatever channel.”187 Perhaps the image of the world is the icon not of annihilation (and hence control), but of disappearance (and hence alarm).

And indeed we find this played out as the modern drama. Observation satellites, complex geographical centres, the placing of a man on the moon, and the global-imagery of the global corporation, all create the illusion of mastery.188 On the other hand, the image of ‘(mother)earth’, or the globe as the corporate challenge, foretells the deep sense of anxiety of late modernity.189 The conceptual shift from ‘international’, ‘multinational’, and ‘worldwide’ fundamentally depended upon the emergence of this tension as a nexus of orientation. In the July-August, 1969 issue of the Harvard Business Review, U.S. based Ashland Oil and Refining Company run an advertisement entitled ‘The View from Outer Space’, complete with an image (courtesy of NASA) of the earth from 23,300 miles.190 The words beneath the image ask: “Who can fail to be moved by the photograph of our earth – this great globe upon whose surface we dwell – taken from outer space? We gaze downward through the lens and from the vehicles of technology, seeing our planet from the perspectives provided by science.”191 The image has nothing to do with the functions of the corporation, but that is no matter. Up until this point, despite the popularity of figures like McLuhan, the terminology of ‘the global’ had not yet caught on.192 This visual event scene marks a point of departure in transworld relations, en route to the inevitable collision of annihilation and disappearance.

Globality and late modern historiography

A third mythic element to globali[z]ation concerns its teleology and historicism. Polanyi’s assertion that the creation of the ‘market economy’ required the creation of a ‘market society’ is as relevant to globali[z]ation as it was to the 19th century. His vision of the ‘satanic mill’ is mirrored in contemporary accelerated subjectification. The preconditions of ‘market society’, Polanyi argued, were the creation and institutionalisation of ‘economic man’ (the negation of the social status of the human being), and massive state intervention (continuous and centrally organised). Social space existed in the market, the future of order in the self-regulating political economy. We might say that these preconditions have already been radicalised under globali[z]ation. Rather than the hegemony of productionist ‘homo economicus’, we have now the hegemony of circulationist ‘homo-globus’. As for the state, in one sense the reconstruction of the market infrastructure has driven intervention.193 In a deeper sense, however, this has itself been radicalised, as state power has diffused in a series of icons, messages, imperatives, and disappearances. Social space is replaced by zero space (globality). The self-regulating political economy is radicalised in the ascendance of the chronopolitical. Legitimation is afforded through teleology.194

And few arguments are more teleological (or mythical) than Fukuyama’s version of the ‘end of History’. Described by Beck as ‘the mad joke’, for Fukuyama: “The enormously productive and dynamic economic world created by advanced technology and the rational organization of labor has a tremendously homogenising power. It is capable of linking societies around the world to one another physically through the creation of global markets, and of creating parallel economic aspirations and practices through a whole host of diverse societies.”195 The teleology is both galvanising and indicative. As was demonstrated in the 1960s with the ‘end of ideology’, and McLuhan’s ‘global village’, or in the 1920s with Spengler’s ‘decline of the West’, teleology always holds a deep fascination. People love to think that something has begun or ended in their lifetimes, that they have been witness to a defining moment in history.196 And of course, teleology is in itself founded upon a relationship to acceleration. As Popper describes: “Every version of historicism expresses the feeling of being swept into the future by irresistible forces .. Contrasting their ‘dynamic’ thinking with the static thinking of all previous generations .. [the modern historicists] .. believe that their own advance has been made possible by the fact that we are now ‘living in a revolution’ which has so much accelerated the speed of our development that social change can now be directly experienced within a single lifetime. This story is, of course, sheer mythology.”197 Not that this is unique to contemporary theoreticians. Tommaso Campanella during the 16th century embraced physics, astronomy, and technology in the belief that the: “ .. coming age would have more history within a hundred years ‘than all the world had had in the four thousand years before’.”198 He was more or less correct, though it was not inevitable.

Yet beneath the seduction, does not the longing for the historical event belie a deep sense of anxiety? Reading Fukuyama and Spengler in conjunction, one is inevitably reminded of Nietzsche’s assessment of Occidental reason. “The fanaticism .. ” he writes, “ .. with which the whole of Greek thought throws itself at rationality betrays a state of emergency: one was at peril, one had only one choice: either to perish – or be absurdly rational .. ”199 Absurd rationality, the fall of a civilisation, the desire to live ‘after the orgy’, all are understood in precision by contemporary political technicians. The millennium, writes Cassirer: “ .. is predicted over and over again.”200 The faith in globality is in one sense no more than the contemporary playing out of what Eric Voegelin described as the basis of ideological consciousness (civilizational crisis). This disorder, Voegelin argued was a reaction to the decentering of man in Greek philosophy and the Old Testament. A tension was created between philosophical consciousness (the ‘turning around of the soul’ toward ‘transcendent reality’), and ideological consciousness (the turning away from transcendent reality toward the contingency of human existence, e.g., productive relations, historical progress, scientific rationality, the will to power).201 Two sets of reactions are discernible. On the one hand, celebration of the ‘Kingdom of God’ and the promise of salvation (metastatic faith and parousiasm). On the other, rejection of the Gods, or (modern) attempts to perfect the ‘estate of man’ (Promethean revolt and ideological consciousness).202 Common to both reactions is teleology: the fundamental symbolic continuity that Voegelin argued existed between disordered consciousness across time, whether the Christian telos of ‘approaching Kingdom’, Hegelian ‘end of History’, or Marxian ‘realm of freedom’. Teleology was the platform for the rise of scientism to the exclusion of metaphysics (the alleged triumph of rationality over myth).

The dream of the ‘information society’ is part of the same telos. Described by Hermano as: ” .. the most total revolution that the human race has witnessed since the Industrial Revolution.”, one is reminded of Blumenberg’s notion of the ‘breathing space’, where reason is employed in the struggle against biology and uncertainty.203 Myth creates the ‘distance’ that allows self-assertion to develop. For Blumenberg then, the dichotomy between rationality and myth found both in modern foundationalism and Romanticist critique is overstated.204 To the extent therefore, that Blumenberg describes the nature of the modern foundationalism in light of this new understanding of the nexus of reason and myth, we can also question techno-rational teleology, and understand more fully the ways in which science, technology, and reason have established their dominance through the appropriation of myth. In a sense Blumenberg’s attempt to establish ‘the legitimacy of the modern age’ is a description par excellence of the means by which the modern age legitimates itself.205 In technology we have simply found new ways to ‘work on myth’. As Virilio has argued: “People agree to say that it is rationality and science which have eliminated what is called magic and religion. But ultimately, the ironic outcome of this techno-scientific development is a renewed need for the idea of God .. All technologies converge toward the same spot, they all lead to a Deus ex Machina, a machine-God.”206 We will have realised the ‘multiplied man’, constructed for an ‘omnipresent velocity’, described with adulation by Marinetti at the turn of the century. “Speed finally gives to human life one of the characteristics of divinity: the straight line.207


The final metaphor that I want to develop to capture the collision of reflexivity, speed, and myth, is drawn from Gilles Deleuze: the ‘society of control’. Here Deleuze’s vision can be contrasted to that of Foucault. For Foucault, the basis of ‘disciplinary society’ is rhythm, routine, practice and repetition. For Deleuze something deeper has been enacted. In a sense, for Deleuze, the whole of society becomes the asylum, where identities are lost and reassigned, where electrotherapy domesticates the unruly, and where the aesthetics of individuality are blinded by the ‘code’ of compliance.208 For Deleuze this is based not upon routine, but immanence. In what we might call ‘programmed society’, the time lapse between power and subjectification disappears. We are ourselves the means to our own acceleration. The new forms of control are for Deleuze (borrowing from Virilio) ‘ultrarapid’. From the dromological corporation to the informatisation of the school, the prison, and the hospital: “ .. it is the permanence of speed that creates the total peace, the peace of exhaustion.209

No less for the academy, and those all too willing to adopt techno-rational dromo-discourse. The speed at which the concept of globalization is integrated in debate is both telling and foreboding. As a concept, it is teleological (which ensures simplicity). It is totalising (which ensures clarity). It is visual (which ensures transmission). It is rapid (which ensures satisfaction). It is authoritative (which ensures exclusion). It is inclusive (which ensures misappropriation). It is a last resort (which ensures its currency). It is misunderstood by many (which ensures its constant repetition). It is meaningless (which ensures its future). It is banal (which ensures its immortality). The problem of course, is that it is also real. Our conceptions of the world become ‘material’ both by naming the object of desire and driving the discourses through which production, social life, and the individual are ordered.210 The very act of identification calls forth the subject, as well as affecting its dynamics.211 Prophesies of ‘sweeping transformation’ set light to the imagination. Constant repetition is the convincing mechanism, and a ladder to fast and loose analysis. Such is now and always the importance of conceptual precision. We must resist the ‘language-game’, and remember our constant and unending moral responsibility. As Bryan Appleyard, profiling Kenichi Ohmae, has written: “What he says undoubtedly changes the minds of powerful people and, thereby, conditions us all, like it or not .. ”212

Before concluding with some remarks about the task of critical thinking in the current conjuncture, allow me to restate my thesis, this time in reverse. I argue that the current conjuncture is one of the immediacy of time. Having passed the threshold from disciplinary societies to programmed societies, the ‘transpolitical’ is no longer an overstatement but a discernible form. Central to this form is the geology of globali[z]ation. This geology draws authority from a powerful configuration of mythical thought. Underpinning this complex are two social imperatives: speed and reflexivity. These imperatives have developed in the context of the translation from concept to action of the discourse of globalization. This discourse itself draws authority from deeper historical shifts in the assignation of identity and the development of ‘technologies of self’. Specific fractions of capital have sought in the face of a discourse of crisis to appropriate these longer historical processes and channel them into a hegemonic project (the ascendance of neoliberalism). In this context, the historical withdrawal of the state could be presented as a logic of ‘global capital’. This discourse has served to mask the reconstruction of the nineteenth century project of the self-regulating society governed by the self-regulating market. The mode of state governance has shifted from the ubiquity of austere institutions to the disappearance inherent in the acceleration of technologies of the self. In accepting the discourse of ‘the global’, the academy becomes a ‘vector’ ensuring the transmission of the ‘new normalcy’.

Popular defense/strategic reversal

We have reached the end of our argument, but the question remains: what would a ‘counter-conduct’ look like? And in what terms should popular defence be framed? In many areas globali[z]ation has become so embedded in the norms, behaviour, values, and popular culture of central accumulation as to be almost overwhelming. But the deeper questions concerns our very orientation to the philosophical/metatheoretical task. What value, we must ask, in mobilising a counter discourse? As Derrida would argue, it is in following the logic of binaries that we have found ourselves in the context of Western rationalism. The question then spirals to the inevitable, and misplaced, standard criticism of poststructuralism: that it removes the means to action by removing the seduction of rationality. As Blumenberg describes: “With the coup de main of negation – which is thoroughly contingent element in logic, since a kind of thinking that would lack negation is at least conceivable – all that reason has left open to itself, in each case where something is given, is to think of it as nonexistent, as totally different.”213 Perhaps, however, we can think of a third, fourth, or nth way.

We might take solace in Foucauldian genealogy. Defined as an ‘attitude’ or ethos’: “ .. the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them.”214 Per contra, Baudrillard would no doubt advise us to misread the world, to make mistakes, to adopt a ‘delusional standpoint to the world’ in the pursuit of ‘fatal theory’. This might entail, in Derridean terms, reinstating the impossible in order to retain creativity in philosophy and politics. On the other hand it may mean the constant invention of radical horizontalism, becoming, in Deleuzian terms, ‘desiring machines’.215 Alternatively we might invent our own dance as a mix of all three. Then of course comes the question of praxis. For we should be in no doubt that these are real strategic issues that one way or another demand a form of reasoning constrained by the tyrannies of reflexivity and acceleration that surround us. So we go back to genealogy, we go back to schizoanalysis, we go back to dromology, we go back to fatal theory in the attempt by all means possible to politicise our situation. The problem lies in the attempt to turn ‘technologies of the self’, in the way foreseen by Foucault, on their own heads as means of resistance. Above all perhaps we should reclaim utopia, and resist the movement that condemns theory to conform to the limits of practice. Where better to witness this logic in motion than the teleology, fatalism, conservatism, techno-rationalism, and defeatism of the discourse of globali[z]ation?

As Lewis Mumford encouraged: “ .. the next move is ours .. Each one of us, as long as life stirs in him, may play a part in extricating himself .. from the domination of the pentagon of power.”216 It is in reference to these struggles, to these responsibilities, to these unresolved tensions, that my first call is to ‘forget globali[z]ation’. My second call is to politicise all such ontologies, and place the historical micro-development of the modern subject at the centre of our attempts to comprehend transworld relations. Perhaps genealogy, dromology, and mythology in combination can offer new opportunities to recognise the profound de-territorialization and absolute chronopoliticisation of contemporary governmentality. This is the underside to globali[z]ation that continues to operate unrecognised. A challenge to techno-rational accounts is both warranted and urgent.

In the negative space of late modern politics we find neither the art of the possible, nor the dream of the impossible. A dictatorship of movement delivers the ‘art of the immediate’ – an instant power, and instant violence. We must politicise acceleration and the disappearance of duration. We must politicise subjectivity and the disappearance of the state. We must politicise space and the disappearance of expanse. Only then perhaps will we recognise the suicide drive of the ‘will to speed’, and head-off the next immanent accident.


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This paper was presented to the 37th annual meeting of the International Studies Association, San Diego, 16-20 April 1996. It extends and revises research first presented in 1994 in partial fulfillment of a Masters in international political economy at Newcastle University.
  1. Krasner (1994: 13).
  2. Keohane (1988: 393, 1989: 249).
  3. e.g., McGrew and Lewis (1992), O’Brien (1992), Harding et.al. (1994), Strange (1990, 1994a, 1994b).
  4. e.g., Stone (1989), Ohmae (1986, 1989a, 1989c, 1995a), Salacuse (1991), Taylor (1991), Ferrante (1992), Reilly and Rahtz (1992), Suter (1992), Wendt (1993), Lull (1994), Gagné (1995), Gray (1995), Lefèvre (1995), Ouellet (1995), Riddell (1995), Thellier (1995).
  5. the rebirth of Paradigms: The Kent Journal of International Relations as Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations (from October 1995) is representative of what Mendes (1992) has termed ‘the quest for globality’.
  6. on sovereignty/autonomy see, Camilleri and Falk (1992), Horsman and Marshall (1994), Cable (1995), Cerny (1995), Strange (1995), Schmidt (1995), and Ohmae (1995b). Refutations of the economic basis of the ‘globalization thesis’ can be found in Gordon (1988), Patel and Pavitt (1991), Jones (1995), and Hirst and Thompson (1996). On the harmonisation of preference see, Ohmae (1995a).
  7. Levitt (1983: 93).
  8. a) Appadurai (1990), b) Johnson (1991), c) Mulgan (1995). Deeper assessments can be found in Gill (1995), and Lewis (1995). Bienefeld (1994, 1996) provides what is perhaps the most forceful rejection of the globalization thesis on its own terms.
  9. Roudometof and Robertson (1995: 284), see also Robertson (1994, 1995), and Featherstone, Lash and Robertson (1995).
  10. Douglas (1994a), and more fully in my doctoral thesis, On the Genealogy of Globalism.
  11. I introduce the term ‘globali[z
  12. Mumford (1967: 6-7).
  13. e.g., Modelski (1972), Robertson (1992), and Roudometof and Robertson (1995).
  14. questions set out by Der Derian (1988) as central to ‘post-rationalist’ thought.
  15. Foucault (1977b: 199).
  16. Foucault (1981: 67).
  17. Foucault (1970: xxiv).
  18. the OED dates the word ‘globe’ to 1551, and ‘global’ to 1676 (OED, 2nd edition, 1989: 582).
  19. the OED dates the term ‘globalization’ to 1961 (OED, 2nd edition, 1989: 582).
  20. I introduce the term ‘transworld’ in preference to ‘international’ for three reasons. First, the term ‘international’ conceptually delimits our field of reference to the interaction of nations, or that occurring within the context of the ‘international system’. This delimitation was always a function of power. Second, the term ‘international’ naturalises a socially, economically, politically, and militarily contingent historical form (the nation state). It is, then, an exemplary ‘discourse’ in the Foucauldian sense. Third, the term ‘international’ has an ontological genealogy related firmly to actual historical struggles that should always be foregrounded in our analysis of the contemporary. For a discussion of the advantages of rethinking ‘IPE’ along these lines, see Douglas (1994b).
  21. Pijl (1984), Overbeek (1993).
  22. Noble (1984), De Landa (1991), Virilio (1995a).
  23. Gills (1993b, 1994).
  24. what Frank has called ‘accelerated superexploitation’ (Frank, 1981a: 157) See also Frank (1980, 1981a).
  25. Pijl (1984), Overbeek (1993).
  26. Lewis (1973), Gershuny (1978).
  27. Krieger (1986), King (1987), Western (1995).
  28. I borrow the concept of ‘centre shifts’ from Gills (1993a: 119).
  29. US Department of Commerce, quoted in Helleiner (1993: 28).
  30. Helleiner (1993, 1994a).
  31. in the early 1990s to an approximate factor of forty. Helleiner (1996: 193).
  32. it should be noted that the reduction of the debate to two viewpoints is intended only to highlight the relative significance assigned to each explanation, and should not be taken to infer an absolute position to the theorists identified. As Cerny has written: “ .. it is impossible to rely on any one form of explanation – market, institutional/technological or political .. ” (Cerny, 1993a: 79).
  33. Wriston (1988), Cerny (1993a), Kurtzer (1993), Strange (1990, 1994b).
  34. Bryant (1987: 67).
  35. Wriston, quoted in Helleiner (1995).
  36. Cerny (1993b: 239).
  37. Sobel (1994: 155).
  38. Martin (1994: 271).
  39. Helleiner (1995).
  40. e.g., in proposals agreed between the BIS and the International Organisation of Securities Commission (IOSCO), in 1992.
  41. Helleiner (1993: 39).
  42. Jessop (1994: 241).
  43. Jessop (1994: 275 emphasis added).
  44. these include: the promotion of product, process, and organisational innovation; the strengthening of ‘structural competitiveness; and the subordination of social policy to the imperative of labour market flexibility in a ‘competitive’ world economy.
  45. Hoogvelt and Yuasa (1994: 299).
  46. the textual research upon which this section is based paid particular attention to the tone and debate in: Capital and Class, Monthly Review, New Left Review, Harvard Business Review, Newsweek, and The Economist. Douglas (1994c).
  47. Johnston and Taylor (1986). As Cox argues, most theorists were: “ .. less concerned with the synchronic conditions reinforcing stability than with the diachronic developments explaining structural transformations.” (Cox, 1987: 396). Useful overviews of the dysfunctions of the 1970s can be found in, Habermas (1976), Lash and Urry (1987), and Harvey (1990).
  48. Marx was first to develop a social-scientific concept of system crisis and system logic change. Prior to Marx the concept of crisis, derived from Aristotle, referred to a ‘decision point’, or turning point, in the being of the participants in the polity, or social structure.
  49. e.g., Sweezy (1972, 1978, 1980), Yaffe (1973), Coffey (1974), Gamble and Walton (1976), Holloway and Picciotto (1977), Itoh (1978), and Frank (1980, 1981a, 1981b). Althusserian marxism differs. For Althuser, crises need not signal the coming collapse of capitalism.
  50. e.g., Owen and Schultze (1976), Friedman (1973).
  51. this discourse has had a wider base than the first, taking in issues of democracy and governance (e.g., Duchêne, Mushakoji and Owen, 1973, Crozier, Huntingdon and Watanuki, 1975, Bundy, 1975), military security (e.g., Gray, 1990, Suter, 1992), fiscal policy (e.g., O’Connor 1973), the welfare state (e.g., IEA, 1975, Judge, 1981, De Kok, 1984, Johnson, 1986, Pfaller, Gough and Therborn, 1991), immigration and population (e.g., 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, Gallin, 1994), the environment (e.g., Orr and Sorros, 1979, World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, OECD, 1991), and the moral foundations of American capitalism (e.g., Kolko, 1974, Union for Radical Political Economics, 1975, Wuthnow, 1982).
  52. e.g., Friedman (1962, 1968), Hayek (1944, 1972), Buchanan, Burton and Wagner (1978), Marsland (1995).
  53. Habermas (1986).
  54. this view is held by Lipietz (1987), Noyelle and Dutka (1988), Palan (1993), Cerny (1993a), Allen (1994), Mittleman (1994).
  55. Jessop (1995: 9).
  56. e.g., Marsland (1995).
  57. a consolidation of Keynesianism through the firm rather than the state. Perhaps it is less paradoxical than it might at first seem that Richard Nixon suspended dollar convertibility, effectively accelerating the discourse both of crisis and globalization, the same year he also declared, ‘Now we are all Keynesians’. It is interesting that the liberalisation of finance coincided with an increased deployment of measures of trade protection (neo-mercantilism, non tariff barriers, subsidies, research and technology development).
  58. Polanyi (1944: 135).
  59. Foucault (1978: 135-59).
  60. Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982).
  61. Foucault (1984a: 83).
  62. Foucault (1982).
  63. Foucault (1980a: 39).
  64. Foucault (1984c: 241).
  65. Foucault (1980c: 98).
  66. Foucault (1981: 52-54), Foucault (1980c: 83-4).
  67. Beck (1992), Giddens (1991), Beck, Giddens and Lash (1994).
  68. e.g., Stehr (1986), Turner, Swanson, Robertson and Beck (1992), none of which draw reference to Foucault. Nor has anyone drawn reference to the similarity between the concept of ‘reflexivity’ and Elias’s notion of the ‘pressure for foresight’ (Elias, c1994: 457-460)
  69. Foucault (1984b: 42).
  70. “ .. the continuation of war by other means.” (Philips, 1984: 13). See Drucker (1986), Porter (1986), Best (1990) and Krugman (1994).
  71. e.g., Richard O’Brien (Chief Economist, American Express), has argued: “It isn’t necessarily going to be good news .. everybody in a way has to be more worried .. [whether
  72. Rosenau (1990), Creveld (1991), Suter (1992), Toffler and Toffler (1992), and Kaplan (1994).
  73. Reich (1991a: 77).
  74. ‘reflex’ is used here in the sense of an an immediate, intuitive reaction. To ‘reflect’ denotes deceleration, to ‘pause for thought’.
  75. The Economist (1994b).
  76. IBM: “Solutions for a small planet.”™, “Just plug in and the world is yours.”; Planet Online Ltd.: “Establish a Global Presence – Now.”; Reebok: “Planet Reebok”, “This is my planet.”; Sky TV: “You wanted to travel? No need to bother.”™; The London Times: “Global Times, Changing Times.”.
  77. Levitt (1983: 93-112).
  78. International Herald Tribune (1994: 15). I am grateful to Barry Gills for bringing this reference to my attention.
  79. the green movement icon of ‘one world’; Reagan’s foreign policy pseudonym ‘neoglobalism’; the use of the ‘g-word’ to embrace difference via generality; science, in the attempt to better understand matter , energy, and the constitution of the universe, obliterates space by harnessing the atom, and simultaneously introduces one of the most powerful images of globality: the path of the satellite.
  80. “I believe that technology is absolutely, undiluted and pure redemption. It is the most positive force working in the world today.” (Kevin Kelly, in interview, BBC ‘Horizon’, April 1995).
  81. Appleyard (1995).
  82. Brod (1984), Simons (1985).
  83. Turner, in Featherstone et al (1991: 13).
  84. Soja (1989).
  85. Virilio (1994b: 31). What Virilio has also termed ‘speed-space’ (Virilio, 1986c).
  86. Beck (1992: 135).
  87. Beck’s thesis on the nexus of reflexivity and capital is echoed in the early work of Habermas “[W
  88. Giddens (1991: 20).
  89. Foucault (1977: 170).
  90. Foucault (1977: 170).
  91. Foucault (1984d: 348), see also, Foucault, (1993, 1988a: 19). Foucault shares with Cassirer and Blumenberg the concern to trace the Promethean myth: the philosophical outlook privileging the individual as creator of the world.
  92. including Christian morality, the respect for external law, and ‘science’ (Foucault, 1988a: 22). This is at the heart of Foucault’s explanation of the self-perpetuating nature of ‘bio-power’. See Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982: 194-7).
  93. Giddens (1991: 33).
  94. Beck (1992: 130).
  95. Salacuse (1991: 1).
  96. Hout, Porter, Rudden (1982: 108).
  97. Ornstein, quoted in Dale (1995: 45-6).
  98. all Foucault (1977a: 137).
  99. “Dromology comes from dromos, race. Thus it’s the logic of the race.” (Virilio, in Virilio and Lotringer, 1983: 42).
  100. Virilio, in Virilio and Lotringer (1983: 44-5). While one could point to the domestification of the horse from the second millennium onward (as indeed Virilio does, 1977), the recreational ‘sail wagon’ in the 16th century (Mumford, 1934, 1971), or the development of the cannon from the 14th century (McNeill, 1982: 83-6), as means to furthering and harnessing speed, Virilio’s thesis of the ascendance of the imperative of acceleration is substantiated in the work of Lewis Mumford. “From the eighteenth century on .. ” Mumford describes, “ .. power and speed become the chief criteria of technological progress .. While motor cars are still built with brakes, reverse gears, and steering wheels, as well as accelerators, the power complex today is preoccupied only with acceleration .. ” (Mumford, 1971: 180-4).
  101. the ‘will to speed’, the search for ‘limit situations’, ‘hyperactivity’. In this sense, Virilio, like Foucault, is concerned not only with power (or for Virilio, ‘speed’) as a mode of political and social domination, though it is certain that Virilio’s earlier work (in particular Popular Defense and Ecological Struggles), is closer to Foucault’s typography of the ‘war-repression’ schema of power than the ‘techne of self’ approach pioneered by Foucault from the mid-1970s). In Virilio’s later work (in particular The Vision Machine, and The Art of the Motor), it is increasingly clear that speed is also to be seen as a means to self-governance.
  102. for Virilio: “Wealth is the hidden side of speed and speed is the hidden side of wealth.” (Virilio, in Virilio and Lotringer, 1983: 30).
  103. Virilio (1994b, 1994c).
  104.  Virilio (1995a: 58).
  105. Virilio (1989b: 118).
  106. Armitage (1996).
  107. Virilio, in Virilio and Lotringer (1983: 32-3).
  108. Virilio (1995a).
  109. Virilio, in Virilio and Lotringer (1983: 69).
  110. Virilio, in Virilio and Lotringer (1983: 69).
  111. Virilio (1990a: 86).
  112. Virilio (1986a: 141).
  113. Virilio and Lotringer (1983: 45-6), and Virilio (1986a: 133-51).
  114. Mumford (1952: 11-12).
  115. Virilio and Lotringer (1983). Jean Baudrillard also displays a fascination with the dual themes of acceleration and disappearance. For Baudrillard, the rise of ‘transpolitics’, in destroying meaning (the basis of coercive participation), and liberating us from history (and alienation) , is, in some senses at least, a positive phenomena (Baudrillard, 1994a, 1994b). For Virilio per contra, the rise of ‘transpolitics’ (the function of acceleration leading to disappearance), is totally negative.
  116. in addition to what follows see, Business Week (1985), Bussey and Douglas (1988), Dorney (1988), Stalk, (1988), Burt (1989), Delbridge, Turnbull and Wilkinson (1992), and Lemonick (1995).
  117. Foreign Affairs (1973).
  118. Foreign Affairs (1978).
  119. McKenzie and Lee (1991).
  120. Levitt (1983: 102).
  121. “We know exactly what makes sense; we don’t need staff to do endless analysis. That means we should be able to act with speed. Probably the most important thing we promise our business leaders is fast action.” (Welch, in Tichy and Charan, 1989: 115).
  122.  Welch, in Tichy and Charan (1989: 114).
  123. Barnevik, in Taylor (1991: 104).
  124. Strange (1994b: 209-12).
  125. Ohmae (1995a: 119-22).
  126. Negroponte (1995: 4-12), Goodman (1995: 151-2).
  127. Dale (1995: 45).
  128.  Summers, quoted in Dale (1995: 45).
  129. British Telecom marketing campaign, 1995-6.
  130. Burt (1989), Stalk (1988).
  131. Delbridge, Turnbull and Wilkinson (1992).
  132. Welch, in Tichy and Charan (1989: 114).
  133. see Kickert (1985), Baglioni and Crouch (1990), Jessop, Nielsen, Kastendiek, and Pedersen (1991), and Elger and Smith (1994).
  134. Drache (1991: 259). See also chapters by Mahon and Kirk, and Laux in the same volume.
  135. a fascinating proposal for the use of technology to control both time and space has arisen in the debate concerning the future form of European road tolls. It has been proposed by one corporation to use ‘Global Positioning Systems’ to track cars passing through invisible markers on selected routes, thereby upholding the speed of traffic by preventing the need to stop and pay. Using three satellites in conjunction allows a user to track location to within three feet, virtually anywhere on the planet. ‘GPS’ can now be bought wholesale.
  136. Krauthammer (1989: 40).
  137. Ibid.
  138. “ .. pure circulation, which is that of the pure network .. ” (Baudrillard, 1995c: 93).
  139. “ .. duration is the media’s natural enemy .. ” (Virilio, 1995a: 53).
  140. Virilio (1995a: 53, 73).
  141. e.g., OK! Magazine (1995) profiled Pamela Anderson with the cover story headline, ‘Exclusive: How Pamela Anderson Invented Herself .. and made a million’.
  142. as Kevin Kelly (Chief Executive, Wired magazine) has argued: “I think that what we are going to see is the diffusion of technology in nature .. the distinction between the technological world and the biological world will drop. If we could have that with our technology, I think that we’d be very happy.” (Kelly, in interview, BBC ‘Horizon’, April 1995).
  143. Virilio (1994c: 3). Video, the data glove, the data suit, sensors, perceptors, receivers, image recorders and decoders, all disqualify the sensorial organs of the body. Nanotechnology is merely the latest extension of a deeper historical process. See Virilio (1990b, 1993).
  144. Marinetti (c1972), Bacon (c1924).
  145. an excellent example is the emergence of the so-called ‘virtual corporation’ – the firm that appears, fulfills its objectives (usually a joint research projects), and dissolves. See Davidow and Malone (1993).
  146. “ .. train, car, jet, telephone, television .. our whole life passes by in the prosthesis of accelerated voyages, of which we are no longer conscious .. ” (Virilio, 1991: 61). “Plainly, the effect .. ” wrote Mumford, “ . of speeding transportation is to diminish the possibilities of direct human experience .. “ (Mumford, 1971: 204).
  147. Virilio (1995a: 57).
  148. Virilio (1991a: 75, 104).
  149. Virilio (1991a: 101).
  150. Baudrillard (1993: 44).
  151. Virilio (1995: 68).
  152. Baudrillard (1994b: 1). “What I foresee is a transposition of all forms and the impossibility of any politics.” (Baudrillard, 1987: 98).
  153. my analysis of what may be called the ‘myth of globalization’ is very different, therefore, from that forwarded by others (e.g., Johnson, 1991, Hirst, 1993, and Hirst and Thompson, 1996).
  154. Frankfort et al. (1946: 15).
  155. principally in ‘scientism’ and the ‘de-centring’, or ‘displacement’, of human beings See Voegelin (1948, 1968), Aron (1968).
  156. Blumenberg (1985: 27). Vernant (1990: 204) has argued that the supposed opposition between mythos and logos is itself an historical construction whose origins lie in a ‘multiplicity of differentiations, breaks, and internal tensions within the mental universe of the Greeks’ between the eighth and fourth centuries B.C.
  157. Cassirer (1946: 5).
  158. ‘symbolic forms’ include: language, art, myth, religion, history, and science.
  159. Cassirer (1979: 245).
  160. Cassirer (1979: 235).
  161. Cassirer (1946: 280).
  162. Cassirer (1979: 235).
  163. Voegelin (1948), Cassirer (1979: 253).
  164. Cassirer (1946: 43).
  165. Cassirer (1979: 236).
  166. Cassirer (1979: 286).
  167. Sorel (1950: 126).
  168. Ibid.
  169. Hoogvelt and Yuasa (1994: 286).
  170. Levitt (1983: 92).
  171. Virilio (1994b: 5).
  172. Tichy and Charan (1989).
  173. Hoogvelt and Yuasa (1994: 287).
  174. Webster and Robins (1986: 334). “ [S
  175. reminiscent of Mumford’s vision of the ‘mega-technics’, whereby the: “dominant minority will create a uniform, all-enveloping, super-planetary structure, designed for automatic operation.” (Mumford, 1967: 3).
  176. Spengler (1928: 504-5).
  177. as did the telescope in the ‘contemplation of the heavens’. From this caesura: “ .. a continuous increase in the accessible reality could be anticipated.” (Blumenberg, 1983: 373). For Kepler, the discovery of the telescope signified the final domination: “ .. granted to man over the earth.” (ibid).
  178. extensive research on the use of the globe as icon over the past two millennia has been compiled by Dr. Kristen Lippincott of The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. I am grateful to Dr. Lippincott for our lively discussions.
  179. Dicaerchus of Messina (Sicily), a student of Aristotle, was the first to place the map of the world on a sphere [circa. BC 335
  180. Hecataeus of Miletus (Turkey), a traveller and historian, developed one of the first maps of the world, showing Europe and Asia surrounded by water [circa. BC 500
  181. Zhang Heng was first to develop the method of using a grid to locate points on a map [circa. AD 110
  182. Johannes Schöner, a German geographer and mathematician, was the first to construct, on a globe, a map of the world that includes America [AD 1515
  183. this phenomenon was first practised in reverse. Roger Bacon, for example, using a variety of optical devices, sought to: “ .. fetch the sun, the moon, and the stars down to earth.” (Blumenberg, 1983: 371-2). Bacon coined the maxim, ‘with my own eyes’.
  184. Merleau-Ponty, quoted in Virilio (1994b: 7).
  185. the portraits of Elizabeth I with her hand on the globe, even standing on a world-map, are representative images of centralisation.
  186. Heidegger (c1993: 107).
  187. Baudrillard (1995c: 97).
  188. prominent examples include: British Airways; British Gas; British Telecom; the BBC, Cellnet; the Excess Baggage Company; Unilever; Planet Online Ltd.; Kestral International Security; Vodafone; Hoya; Bemaco; ICI; NBC; Reebok; IBM; and Digital Processing Systems Ltd.
  189. e.g., James Lovelock’s vision of ‘Gaia’; the image of the globe foregrounded in early issues of ‘The Ecologist’, and the ‘Whole Earth Catalogue’; the globe as used in the image of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992, ‘Earth in our hands’.
  190. the land mass clearly visible is the continent of America.
  191. Harvard Business Review (1969: 17 emphasis added).
  192. em>Harvard Business Review (1968).
  193. Gamble (1988) and Jessop (1988).
  194. “ .. financial globalization has become irreversible.” (Cerny, 1993b: 226).
  195. Fukuyama (1992: 108).
  196. a truism well understood by those at the forefront of the global discourse. As Reese Schonfeld, First President CNN, describes: “We want to lock everyone in the world to the belief that the next minute the world’s greatest catastrophe, the world’s greatest joy may occur, and if they leave CNN, they will have lost that one great moment in their lives that people will talk about forever: ‘Do you remember where you were when .. ?’” (Schonfeld, in interview, 1994).
  197. Popper (c1986: 160). The Commission on Global Governance declares: “ .. we are at the threshold of a new era. That newness is self-evident; people everywhere know it, as do governments .. ” (Commission on Global Governance, 1995: xix).
  198. Mumford (1971: 4).
  199. Nietzsche (1968a: 33).
  200. Cassirer (1946: 289).
  201. Voegelin (1974: 1-13), and Frankfort et al (1946: 11-36).
  202. what Voegelin called the ‘decapitation of being’, or the ‘murder of God’. See Voegelin (1968: 54).
  203. Hermano (1985: 16).
  204. This has been taken by some commentators to represent a key point of difference between Cassirer and Blumenberg (see in particular Robert Wallace’s introduction to Blumenberg’s Work on Myth). Wallace argues that Blumenberg’s analysis is a corrective to Cassirer’s in that for Blumenberg there can be no linear progression from mythos to logos. For Blumenberg therefore the pervasion of myth in contemporary societies is less absurd than Wallace argues it was for Cassirer. Yet this conclusion is based upon Cassirer’s assessment of modern political myth, rather than myth itself. Modern political myth – and in particular the ‘myth of the state’ – is for Cassirer politically dangerous because of the emergence of a range of techniques by which myth can be mobilised. However, Cassirer’s philosophy – if taken as a whole – is based less upon the specific form that myth has taken in the contemporary, than the role that myth has played in conjunction to language, science, and culture, in all human contexts. Cassirer’s philosophy of symbolic forms is far closer to Blumenberg than a study of his later writings would indicate. The distinction, then, between myth, and modern political myth is crucial to an assessment of Cassirer’s work, and is curiously overlooked in Wallace’s introduction, and indeed in Blumenberg’s study (see in particular Wallace in Blumenberg, 1985: xxiv-xxvii, and Blumenberg, 1985: 50-1). My analysis of ‘mytho-politics’ draws on Cassirer’s notion of modern political myth to a greater degree than it does on his notion of the symbolic form (though of course the two are linked).
  205. Blumenberg’s analysis of the historicism of modernity is fascinating, but easily misunderstood. For Blumenberg, the ‘legitimacy of the modern age’ lies not in the desirability of modern attitudes, but rather in the necessity of modern foundationalism in the face of a deep theological crisis concerning man’s place in the cosmos.
  206. Virilio (1994c: 4).
  207. Marinetti (c1972: 95).
  208. as Deleuze describes: “The numerical language of control is made of codes that mark access to information, or reject it. We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become ‘dividuals’, and masses, samples, data, markets, or ‘banks’.” (Deleuze, 1992: 5).
  209. Virilio (1986a: 46).
  210. in addition to educational/vocational institutions, prime sites of knowledge include: the IBRD; the EBRD; the G-7 and G-10; the OECD; the BIS; the WTO; the EU; the UN Economic and Social Council; the UN Industrial Development Organisation; the IMF; the IEA; the Commission on Global Governance; the Brookings Institution; the Adam Smith Institute; the Trilateral Commission; the Roundtable of European Industrialists, the Rand Corporation, the Bilderberg Group; the Mont Pelerin Society; the United Nations Association of the USA, the Council on Foreign Relations., and the Global Business Network (GBN). GBN (founded by Stewart Brand and Peter Schwartz, and whose members include Richard O’Brien and Kevin Kelly) is a think-tank who advise, among others, the American President. GBN argue that globalization, computerisation, and informatisation are inexorable.
  211. for example, Bell’s (1973) original use of the term ‘post-industrial’ referred explicitly to an ‘ideal type’. Subsequent commentary has increasingly de-emphasised this qualification, taking post-industrial as given, e.g., Featherstone, Lash and Robertson (1995: 2).
  212. Appleyard (1995).
  213. Blumenberg (1985: 160).
  214. Foucault (1984b: 50).
  215. Deleuze and Guattari (1983, 1988).
  216. Mumford (1971, 433-35).
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