H. J. Krysmanski

Global Ethic Airlines

Hans Küng's Normative Globalism in a Changing World

 

"I have dedicated this book to Count and Countess von der Groeben. The Global Ethic Foundation which they have made possible was a gift from heaven, since it enables me to continue my scholarly tasks without a break after my retirement."
(Hans Küng)

It is a strange milieu Hans Küng operates in, where, as Flora Lewis (herself running with the pack) reports, small groups would meet in Vienna over the weekend "to consider how it might be possible to work out a global ethic, basic standards for human relations". In this particular convocation it was German ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt on behalf of the Inter-Action Council, a club of former heads of government, who did the honneurs. "On the thesis that religion is a basic source of moral and ethical concepts, there were representatives of all the major religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism as well as Christianity, Judaism, Islam. Not surprisingly, the people who turned up shared a wish for tolerance and a rejection of violence...They picked at each other's words now and then, as committees are bound to do. But they had no trouble concluding that the essence of the diverse religious teachings they espouse is much the same."1) They like to travel. From a comfortable airplane seat the world really becomes 'our small planet', undulating in the currents of the cosmos. So it was no surprise when this author, inquiring on 23 April 1999 at the offices of the 'Stiftung Weltethos', Tübingen, whether there were any recent pronouncements by Hans Küng available on the NATO-Yugoslavia-Kosovo-Complex, was informed, with regret, that 'no, Mr. Küng was off on a filming expedition in China'.

 

Landing Approach

Are we really all sitting in the same boat - or rather, in the same airplane? In any case, flying high with a venture like Hans Küng's Global Ethic Project makes one wonder about the prospects of a touch-down, ever.

We live under a sky brimming with high-strung messages (many of them financial) that pass, as Fredric Jameson puts it, "instantaneously from one nodal point to another across the former globe, the former material world".2) All that white noise might make a happy landing very difficult for any lofty ethic mission. Indeed, the traditional forms of navigation are becoming obsolete. The transactions of finance capital that rule the world and usurp culture are signaling that the globe as we knew it has disappeared and that economy is dealing with the immaterial: where and how then are we to land at all?

Küng tells us that traditional Realpolitik and traditional Idealpolitik will have to give way to a new concept of politics, a metareligious and global revival of common godly sense. But traditional Idealpolitik and Realpolitik already have merged in a new, rather terrible brand of Real-Ideal-Politik, which stands, in the last analysis, for nothing but the commodification of global culture and religion on top of the commodification of power. Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and apprentice Gerhard Schröder come to mind. Where could Hans Küng and Helmut Schmidt possibly fit in? Wouldn't it make sense to prolong the landing approach in order to re-orient and do some cognitive mapping first?

First Class

Holding on to the metaphor I look around and realize that, while being, of course, the pilot of this unfolding essay, there is no visible crew in the cockpit of Global Ethic Airlines' flight No. 1 and that I'm also a passenger in a cabin loaded with great ideas, very Germanic luggage and travelers neatly sorted into First, Business and Economy class.

And I start to think of Robert B. Reich's little article 'A New Elite is Busily Changing the Way America Works', where he describes how US Airways recently removed rows of coach seats in its planes "to make room for a new luxurious business class service. The distance between rows in the new section is 55 inches, compared with 31 inches in coach."3)

Reich uses this image to explain how the ranks of America's affluent are growing - and I wonder how this new elite might respond to Küng's approach. If, according to Reich, "this new class of the wealthy has habits unlike those of the rich in earlier times", they might not be susceptible to the same ethic as Küng's benefactor Count Karl Josef von der Groeben of Baden-Baden. If today's "business and professional elite - investment bankers, corporation lawyers, jackpot entrepreneurs, real estate developers, entertainment moguls - is in constant motion", they might not have time to spend on a philosophy of the tomorrow.

Instead it seems that these nouveaux riches are spending more and more resources on their immediate personal needs - firing workers, hiring servants -, thereby pushing the traditional middle classes into an ever wider array of personal-attention jobs, some of which Reich enumerates: personal trainers, masseurs, physical therapists, guides, counselors, decorators, planners, advisers - and, one might add, Presidents.

What vexes me is not only that an once fairly independent and educated middle class (the creation of which was, as Reich asserts, "the great achievement of modern capitalism") is being transformed into some sort of postmodern service class. I'm also disturbed by the fact that ideas and concepts pertaining to the public and global good ('public' and 'global' being supreme values of bourgeois/capitalist society) are being 'sold' and even peddled by certain intellectuals to the very rich of this world.

On account of this exaggerated attentiveness there now is a truly global elite - shareholders of the globe - that is able to develop a specific new type of very private and very local interests. In a way, these new interest structures, enhanced by mass culture, are proving to be attractive and disturbing at the same time and probably are behind some of the phenomena of postmodern disorientation. In any case it is important to note that 'privacy' and 'locality', these two other supreme values of bourgeois/civil society, are on the verge of becoming functions of the global financial markets; that they are leaving the realms of the 'former material world' and that they are growing into abstractions of the global power structure.

Private Politics?

It is billionaires who by now finance the best think tanks in and out of universities - and no one should be foolish enough to assume that they don't expect a return, a very private and local profit. To illustrate this point, consider the legendary 'Frankfurter Institut für Sozialforschung' (FIS) of the Twenties and early Thirties and compare its role and approach to its present-day imitation, the 'Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung' (HIS).

The FIS was a private research institute financed by members of the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie of the Weimar Republic. Its scientific staff, among them Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Karl Mannheim, Herbert Marcuse etc.etc., had seized the well funded opportunity to adopt and develop Marxist theory - a broad and even dominant theoretical movement rooted well outside their own class: namely within the real, the material world of social problems and social conflicts. What this group of intellectuals eventually produced or at least influenced - as the 'Frankfurt School' of social thought - was some sort of Marxist 'ideal politics' which has persisted in academia.

The philanthropic foundation behind the HIS, on the other hand, is financed solely by Jan Philipp Reemtsma, heir to a vast tobacco fortune originating in the Third Reich. Reemtsma, in his early Forties, is pumping much more money into the HIS (and related activities) than the FIS ever had - about 40 Million Marks annually altogether. The central theme of research: the vastness and complexity of violence in the Twentieth Century - and, one suspects, a search for civility under postmodern conditions. By now, the HIS commands a scientific staff of almost 70. But it is safe to say that so far no intellectual giants - even remotely comparable to those of the FIS - have emerged at Hamburg. And no real theoretical tradition or movement rooted in the material world has taken hold. In fact, it is all very private.

Speakers for the HIS reclaim - not without some plausibility - the postmodern position that these are no times for coherent theoretical webbing anyway. But surprisingly, the writings and actions of the HIS do possess a coherence of their own - and this coherence is exclusively rooted in the tastes, idiosyncrasies and vanities of Jan Philipp Reemtsma himself, an aspiring intellectual of moderate talents who has succeeded in creating through the HIS a very local, a very private cocoon for himself - that exudes a growing, magic spell over the Hamburg and even German intellectual scene.4)

This really is what I mean by the 'privatization' and, for that matter, 'localization' of the public and global good. Politics is no longer a matter of broad social, economic, political or intellectual movements - it seems to have slipped into the hands of the money-rich, depending on their willingness to 'do good'. And, as we ponder on whether and how to land, these occupants of First class are being attended by people like Hans Küng, the Dalai Lama, Prof. Schwab of the World Economic Forum, Helmut Schmidt or even a young Silicon Valley Tycoon named Joseph P. Firmage (see below) - who offer their brew of moral globality to the owners of the world, trying to teach them how to rule it. A tragic comedy, as we shall see.

Economy and Business Class

But what about the occupants of Economy class in this wide-body plane of Global Ethic Airlines? There are, for example, these nice, idealistic students from, let's say, Bosnia, who are flying to Boston to reap the harvests of an one-year scholarship at Harvard. When I began my first year in college, way back in 1954 at the then quite ‚multicultural‘ Sir George Williams College in Montreal, my friends and myself, Greeks, Germans, Russians, Americans, Lithuanians, Finns, black, yellow, white, all agreed that World Government was imminent – or that, at least, we would bring it about. If I remember correctly, even some cabinet posts had been assigned already, although there was some dispute on who should be president.

Those Bosnian students, coming from a region subjected to the power politics of divide et impera, would be very prone to the same kind of dreams, I suppose. Global rule, global responsibility, a global ethic are very ancient ideas indeed, which have popped into the minds of juvenile particulars in search of universality for milleniums. The idea of controlling the ‚world‘ – for better or worse – is at the core of the social sciences, when they succumb to megalomania, such as in systems theory, and in any case 'global' thinking is a highly charged notion: psychologically, economically and politically. Seeing it propagated by fairly experienced individuals like Küng who come out of a long European tradition of catholic counseling to the mighty is another reason to proceed with caution.

Things have changed tremendously during the past few years. The promise of a World Order based on justice and associated with the concept of a United Nations has been bombed out of existence by NATO. But before I start to vacillate around Küng's perception of the crisis of modernity and of postmodern global turmoil, I want to take a quick look at the remaining group of my fellow passengers, those in Business class.

The last chapter - 'Ethic, Business and Managers' - of Küng's book apparently is devoted to this group, although even here he cannot refrain from aiming at the very top, describing, for example, what it takes to be a 'great business personality' today. Generally speaking, though, we find in Business class a breed that is rising out of the traditional middle classes of industrialized Western societies. They are 'internationalized' and 'cosmopolitized', they see their lifetime opportunities within the adventurous process of globalization, they wheel and deal in conformity with the patterns of US business and mass culture, they might, like NATO's Javier Solana and Germany's Joschka Fischer, once have had a leftist, idealistic grasp of the globe - but now, to stay where they are, they just grab at the world.

Will Küng, moving through the aisles and pontificating, be able to reach any of these frequent flyers with Global Ethic Airlines?

 

The Ground Below: Modernism and Postmodernism

In the Balkans, the US and Western Europe, for different reasons, have tried to bomb a geopolitically interesting and politically essential region into modernity by postmodern military means.5) In the name of human rights international law was destroyed. The need to position the remaining superpower on the global chess grid and possibly against the European upstart and the need of the Europeans to muster their own 'modernization' process in view of an already 'postmodern' US-strategy, led to a strange, uneasy alliance under the roof of NATO.

The ground is shifting. The American president can exhort the student population of his own country, steeped in a culture of violence, to resolve conflicts by peaceful means, while at the same time sending wave after wave of B 52s to destroy Yugoslav bridges, car and cigarette factories and TV stations in an undeclared war. This conjunction of the disjuncted is postmodernism in its purest form. The political 'left' of Europe, meanwhile, ascending - quite unprepared for all of this - to power under the banner of modernization, was galvanized into a kind of 'moral bellicism' that is rather frightening - whether in the shape of Tony Blair or in the form of German defense minister Rudolf Scharping.

European conservatives, on the other hand, quite aware of what the United States are up to, had a hard time to regroup. There were, for example, "splendidly loony conspiracy theories" (Reginald Dale) about the war in Yugoslavia that appeared in serious French newspapers like Le Monde and Le Figaro: a) "The U.S. aim is to promote ultrafree-market policies and 'savage' international deregulation by destroying the sovereignty of states, such as Yugoslavia and Russia, that resist 'modernization'." b) "The military campaign is fostered by sinister European integrationists, who hope it will increase pressure for a 'political Europe', crushing the independence of countries such as France." c) "Washington is fomenting the Balkan crisis as the only way of preventing the emergence of a powerful Europe that would rival the United States."6) All these theories contain whiffs of plausibility pointing to an evolving structure of interests behind the moral rhetoric, an interest structure that certainly will hold the attention of social scientists during the next decades.

One thing is certain: The process of direct investment amongst the G7 countries and between the developed and the developing world in general is creating a vast new transnational elite. This group not only includes those working for transnational corporations, international agencies and non-governmental organizations or in science and culture, but also a new brand of politicians (outside the US) whose concepts are increasingly shaped by those who shape the globalization process. This new elite, Frank Unger writes, represents one of the most remarkable social inventions of the past 20 years.7)

While this group as a whole might abhor nationalism, provincialism and loserism, some of them also have lost faith in the promises of modernity - so closely linked with the nation state. Their view of the world and how to rule it is based on notions of a complex, chaotic and muddled universe, more in the tradition of Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner', William Gibson's 'Newromancer' and Neal Stephenson's 'Diamond Age'. Thus, the 'hard', modernistic forms of world control - centered around the United States as an 'international security state' - are gradually being implemented by 'soft', 'postmodernist' forms of world control, again under the auspices of the United States, this time as the mass producer of global dreams and nightmares and as the propagator of the Internet.

Once the world appears as a no-man's land, as a space "in which neither private property nor public law exists"8), 'ideal politics' very rapidly tend to lose all the connotations even of cheap morality, turning into a particularly vicious brand of activity. As Kroker and Weinstein put it, 'pan-capitalism' begets 'retro-fascism': "This is the material condition: Over-indebtedness ("debt-liquidation cycle" common in depressions), resultant trade wars, and something new: pan-capitalism without any alternative but its homicidal double - fascism. Capitalism must fend off fascism without the help of socialism, which is dead economically, politically, socially (the proletariat?), and as a signifier. That is the political-economic conflict of our time, intersected at every point by the processes of virtualization. Virtual fascism? Pan-capitalism, the mechanism of virtualization, encounters its homicidal double."9)

Realpolitik and Idealpolitik

In early versions of his global ethic writings Küng himself alludes to the possibility that modernity might give way to 'postmodernism'. This was common lingo in intellectual circles around 1990. Consequently postmodernist hype did cause some thinkers to examine this complex more closely - and, in one of the major developments in recent social thinking, it was discovered and convincingly proven that the phenomena of postmodernism are identical with the cultural logic of late capitalism.10) This gave meaning to what was being observed in terms of an evolving 'global mass culture', it also permitted a deeper understanding of the present stage of global capitalism. Postmodernism could be seen as a practice with a mission, producing obfuscation as a means of commodifying the world. But it could also be seen as a means of revolutionizing our command of time and space, requiring a new kind of 'cognitive mapping' that might begin to satisfy "the need for a class consciousness of a new and hitherto undreamed of kind".11)

In contrast, the conceptual horizons Küng operates in are simple: they are mirrored in the caption of the first part of his book 'Global Politics between Real Politics and Ideal Politics'. The translator rightly remarks that, while 'Realpolitik' may be an established term among English-speaking intellectuals, 'Idealpolitik' is not - and he doubts that it ever will be. But exactly that - introducing a new concept of 'Idealpolitik' into the lingua franca of global politics - is one of Küng's intentions.

It is strange enough to observe his convolutions in discussing Henry Kissinger and Kissinger's spiritual predecessor Hans J. Morgenthau as the major proponents of 'Realpolitik'. American 'Weltinnenpolitik' may have been influenced by these men and even by their student Madeleine Albright. But on the other hand, especially at the present White House, Wilsonianism - the epitome of traditional 'Idealpolitik' - has always been around the corner, too. And the present situation could best be described as the eclectic intermingling of these different traditions for the sake of one goal only: to keep America at the top of the world.

So reading the passages on Morgenthau and Kissinger - and on Wilson - one senses an almost mythical Judeo-Christian struggle within the soul of Küng himself. Of course, 'old', 'moralizing' ideal politics have been 'hypocritical', 'illusory' and 'ineffective'.12) And the real politics of the Kissinger variety - separated from ethics in principle - might even be deplorable. We tend to agree. So what about - in Küng's words - real politics married to a 'realistic ethics'? Much better. And wouldn't this be topped - again in his words - by a new, realistic, ethical kind of ideal politics? Excellent. But coming out of that very instructive movie Air Force One I realize that a moralizing Ideal-Real-Politik already has materialized - and it isn't pretty and not at all what Küng envisions.

It is the conceptual paucity of Küng's argument while reading page after page of it that keeps me moving in circles. No doubt, below these surfaces there is a seething historical flux encompassing Küng and his readers. By drawing a line from Richelieu, Metternich, Bismarck and Stalin to - let's say - Madeleine Albright, Küng really is talking about modernity. And by drawing a line from Wilson to - let's say - Madeleine Albright and Joschka Fischer, he again would be talking about modernity. But with a vengeance.

Küng's writing and struggling in the end leads him to a threshold that he - as a man of religion - might be trained to transgress. But his theoretical and analytical instruments - and, maybe most important, the people he consorts with - keep him from effectively addressing the real issue at hand: the decline of 'modernism' and 'liberalism' as such. His struggle to conceive of another type of politics constitutes a rather desperate attempt to integrate the ethical core of world religions into a concept for action addressed at a global elite that by now, as we Germans say, has entirely different sorrows. By posing the problem of postmodernism merely in a very general way, Küng has little idea of what he is getting into.

His concept of 'global politics between real politics and ideal politics' would then appear to be an inadequate reaction to the fact that real politics itself has become ideal politics. He doesn't realize that the reason for this is that real economics have become 'ideal economics'. Or to put it another way: "...the moment at which cultural production is fully integrated into economic production opens out the possibility of a cultural politics which would fundamentally intervene in the economic."13) Politics, being the continuation of economics (and war) by other means, are more and more dependent on the fact that economic value production has moved into the immaterial. Hasn't the Clinton-Lewinsky affair contributed more - namely $290 million - to the GNP of the U.S. than the total value of Albania's GNP?14)

What then is 'realistic ideal politics'? The last rally of high modernism? The first inkling of low postmodernism? Or the inner core of morality buried deep inside those who rule the world, only waiting to be mined by someone like Küng? In a way, I think, the argument here becomes hopelessly mired in the unresolved question of where in history we stand, whether this still is Capitalism, or Late Capitalism, or the beginning of a New Age or of the end. The argument is not helped by the fact that Küng, basically, tries to recapture the essence of Liberalism and the values of bourgeois civil society.

So while our plane is circling through the clouds there is some time to muse over the end of liberalism and national governments, over the totality of conspiracy, over finance capital and mass culture. We might even get a feeling for the enormousness of the problems to which no ever so qualified group of emeriti will find quick answers...

What About Postmodernity's Historical Materialism?

"The true meaning of the collapse of the Communisms", proclaims the indomitable Immanuel Wallerstein, "is the final collapse of liberalism as a hegemonic ideology. Without some belief in its promise, there can be no durable legitimacy to the capitalist world-system. The last serious believers in the promise of liberalism were the old-style Communist parties in the former Communist bloc. Without them to continue to argue this promise, the world's dominant strata have lost any possibility of controlling the world's working classes other than by force. Consent is gone, and consent has gone because bribery had gone. But force alone, we have known since at least Macchiavelli, cannot permit political structures to survive very long."15)

A sure sign that there is a grain of truth in these remarks is the fact that the traditional, 'cosmopolitan' liberal bourgeoisie - in many ways tied to the idea of a United Nations and of a world order based on justice - has become out of touch and out of command in global politics. The other 'new elites busily changing the way the world works' that Robert Reich is talking about might still be in their infancy, being represented, for now, by transitory figures like "president Bill Gates (Microsoft) and president Bill Clinton (USA)".16) But the path of cognitive mapping they are taking is based on a strange marriage between a rampaging mass media-driven 'morality' and sheer cyberspace military force.

Searching this ethical void for values or just grounds on which to search for values, one is stopped by strange signs proclaiming 'contaminated area' if one tries to discuss the relationship between economics and morality (or ethics, for that matter). Küng himself might concede, with Habermas, "that reason is subject to interests"17), but he, in the same breath, again with Habermas, warns "that democracy also must not be understood too reductively in economic terms".18) No word that interests and democracy and 'economy' for the past centuries already have achieved a complex system of interaction that might be called capitalist culture; no word that Christians and Marxists have discussed this phenomenon for decades.

So in order to establish some firm footing at all, I want, with the help of Immanuel Wallerstein, to introduce four tenets that might enliven a debate that, with Hans Küng, is in danger of ending in exclusive private clubs: 1) Class Struggle remains an absolutely viable concept and it will be useful to understand any collective actions and movements, not only 'workers' movements', in the future. 2) The phenomenon of polarization in the sense of economic polarization (the poor are getting poorer and the rich, richer) and in the sense of social polarization (everyone is becoming either bourgeois or proletarian, and all intermediate and hard-to-categorize groups are disappearing) obviously keeps immiserization constant at the level of the world economy. 3) The concept of ideology reminds us that our ideas, our sciences reflect the social reality of our lives and that in this sense all our ideas derive from some specific ideological climate. 4) Finally, the phenomenon of alienation, as incarnating the evils of capitalist civilization, is the malady that, in its principal incarnation - property - destroys the integrity of the human person. "To struggle against alienation is to struggle to restore to people their dignity", Wallerstein continues. "The only way to contest this thesis is to argue that alienation is an inevitable evil (a sort of original sin), and that there is nothing that can be done about it, except to diminish over time its most pernicious expressions."19) Küng, the rebellious theologian, would probably like this last remark.

But on the whole, there is no reference to the problems of class struggle, polarization, ideology and alienation in the writings of Küng. The language he chooses is not the slave language of yesteryear, but the language of liberal-bourgeois discourse that has been cultivated by modernist authors like Habermas and that, in the Global Ethic Project, is obviously to be traduced into board of trustees lingo.

Again, the conflict in the Balkans becomes a defining moment in the puzzle - even for someone like Jürgen Habermas, who recently succeeded within the intellectual world in something that previously, within their own realm, only two Swiss adventurers had achieved: the first circling of the globe in a hot air balloon.

Habermas, in a front-page article in 'Die Zeit'20), argues that the NATO war against Yugoslavia marks a moment in history where inter-national law ('Völkerrecht') is striving to be transformed into world civil law ('Weltbürgerrecht'). Reason still unfolding, the bourgeois still being checked and balanced by the citoyen: civil society on its final leap to global dominance. Therefore, Habermas continues, the opposing camps assessing the 'value' of the NATO strikes must both be called 'pacifists' - those against the military solution would be 'conviction pacifists' ('Gesinnungspazifisten'), those for it 'pacifists of the law' ('Rechtspazifisten'), aiming at a cosmopolitic order of law that would do away with the lingering danger of inter-national violence once and for all. Who could argue against this lofty perspective of reconciliation?

It is the fine print then that is disturbing, because it points to an entirely different state of the real world down below. If the sovereign nation state has to give way to a higher world order (as the Serbs have been made to feel), how about the actions of the U.S. in this conflict? Isn't it obvious to all concerned that the whole military-diplomatic process of world politics we have been observing since, say, the Gulf War, has been dictated by the U.S. as a nation state? Rhetoric that might give another impression has regularly been brought down to the nitty-gritty by internal American politics. So Habermas, in the final analysis, shows that today the frame of reference of High Modernism just barely manages to provide a feeling for the immensity and interrelatedness of global problems, but fails to make it from 'hot air strikes' to 'cold ground war'.

And then: it is surprising that Habermas, in this pivotal article, tries to get his sense of reality from - of all persons - Carl Schmitt, quoting, for example, Schmitt's sentence "he who says mankind wants to deceive" and his terrible dictum "humanity=bestiality" in order to imply that Critical Theory might not have all the answers.21) It is depressing that Habermas doesn't get his sense of reality from the facts of class struggle, polarization, ideological strife and alienation. So Habermas' own contribution to the debate remains his "nagging doubt whether, in the end, 'pacifism of the law' [meaning military action for a still distant world order, HJK] might not be, in itself, the wrong project".

The practice of addressing and counseling the elites and the mighty, even if it is not clear who they might be and what their interests are, is, of course, an entirely acceptable way to get involved. On the other hand, the struggle 'from below' and through social, political and cultural 'movements' cannot be counted out. This is where postmodernity poses the greatest challenges. There are no answers, there is, even more irritating, little serious research and thought going on in this direction. Fredric Jameson's concept of cognitive mapping, as I mentioned, is one promising path. There might be others.

One very practical Wallersteinian concept even provides some interconnection with Küng's massaging of the old elites: "What antisystemic forces should be concentrating on is the expansion of real social groups at community levels of every kind and variety, and their grouping (and constant regrouping) at higher levels in a nonunified form. The fundamental error of antisystemic forces in the previous era was the belief that the more unified the structure, the more efficacious it was. To be sure, given a strategy of the priority of conquering state power, this policy was logical and seemingly fruitful. It is also what transformed socialist ideology into liberal-socialist ideology. Democratic centralism is the exact opposite of what is needed. The basis of solidarity of the multiple real groups at higher levels (state, religion, world) has to be subtler, more flexible, and more organic. The family of antisystemic forces must move at many speeds in constant reformulation of the tactical priorities."22)

 

Messages from the Tower: Governments, Foundations and Conspiracies

A few years ago Council of the World Economic Forum co-chairman Maurice Strong told an interviewer the outlines of a novel "he would love to compose if only he could write". Each year, Strong explained as background to the novel's plot, the World Economic Forum convenes in Davos, Switzerland. Over 1,000 CEO's, prime ministers, finance ministers, and leading academics gather in February to attend meetings and set economic agendas for the year ahead. With this as a setting, he went on: "What if a small group of these world leaders were to conclude that the principle risk to the earth comes from the actions of the rich countries? ...In order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring this about?" - "This group of world leaders", he continued, "forms a secret society to bring about an economic collapse. It's February. They're all at Davos. These aren't terrorists. They're world leaders. They have positioned themselves in the world's commodities and stock markets. They've engineered, using their access to stock markets and computers and gold supplies, a panic. Then, they prevent the world's stock markets from closing. They jam the gears. They hire mercenaries who hold the rest of the world leaders at Davos as hostage. The markets can't close..." The reporter airs his surprise, for Maurice Strong, co-chairman of the Council of the World Economic Forum, knows these world leaders. He sits at the fulcrum of power. He is in a position to do it. He finishes: "I probably shouldn't be saying things like this."23)

The Dawn of National Governments (Maybe Except for One)

Küng, obviously, is addressing 'world leaders', but he is not adhering to what German bureaucrats would call the 'Dienstweg', the proper lines of communication through governmental hierarchies. It is a jungle world Küng sets out to missionize: "Government is out, but big business and big banking are in... A democratic state’s legitimacy depends on its monopoly over law and force. And monopoly has been the very essence of bad business: Capitalism’s legitimacy depends on pluralism and competition, the absence of monopolies and cartels. In recent years this recipe has been conveniently rewritten... In this striking reversal can be found all of the ideological hypocrisies of the myth of privatization, of which the celebration of big business is but an instance... Privatization is not about limiting government; it is about terminating democracy... There is an asymmetry between government and business. Liberty demands that the first be democratic and thus powerful, and the second be entrepreneurial and competitive and thus free of gargantuism. Anything else is hypocrisy: private greed parading as public philosophy."24)

The new political leadership of the Western world, the left-leaning baby boomers especially, have instinctively conformed to the dwindling importance of formal government. Supported by the way the mass media operate, they try to personally embody 'general solutions' and strategies that provide links between the 'private' (mostly in the sense of privatization) and the 'public', between the 'local' and the 'global'.

Tony Blair, for example, seems to be the first European head of government consciously exploring the balance between what remains possible on the nation state level and what needs to be done on the global level. 'Globalization plus', as Ralf Dahrendorf calls it. New Labor shies away from the old issues of how to organize government and concentrates on the cultural and ethical preconditions of a stable market order. By testing the moving ground left to the government of a medium sized nation state, Tony Blair has found that 'moral leadership' - i.e. 'social interventionism' - can carry much further than the traditional economic interventionism of the left. His 'new social contract' aims at 'brokering' and 'enabling', not at governing.25) And in times of crisis, as during the NATO strikes against Yugoslavia, a very limited commitment in terms of actual weaponry (far less than France, for example) did not preclude a position of moral 'world leadership' for the Briton, heavily coached by Margret Thatcher.

The transformation of other personages with formerly well defined individual political profiles - like the leading members of Germany's 'red-green' government - into robot-like executors of some very abstract 'will of the West' is an enigma waiting for sound sociological and psychological explanations. The participation in the NATO-strikes against Yugoslavia clearly violated provisions of the German constitution and wouldn't have been possible if national governments still were functioning like they used to.26) But what can be done in a surrealist situation that is very much characterized by unaccountability? 'Government Denies Knowledge'!

So on several levels the choice between 'ideal' and 'real' politics, between 'conviction pacifism' and 'moral bellicism' etc. is being unhinged by the contingencies of the real world. In a world rife with chaotic and ambivalent aspects but still grounded in the problems of power and domination, a new type of politics seems to be emerging that has little to do with the traditions of modernity or High Modernism (speaking of Habermas) and very much with the transnational logic of late capitalism.

Postmodern Politics?

I would like to call this new type of action postmodern politics. Postmodern politics, too, represent a historical synthesis of 'ideal' and 'real' politics under the conditions of the globalization process. But the concept takes into account that it has become very difficult to identify who is in charge in politics, especially in world politics. It is quite implausible that those people at the recent NATO-summit, crowding the platform to have their pictures taken, really are the decision makers.

There were, no doubt, hidden agendas behind the undeclared war in the Balkans. "It is a war against Europe", writes French sociologist Denis Duclos. Disguised as a fight for a certain morality, it is in reality a struggle "to stamp out definitely any hope for a multipolar planet."27) But the ongoing standardization and uniformization of global society is - where it succeeds - not 'Americanization' in the more trivial sense. It is a vast process of commodification by the purveyors of material and immaterial commodities. On the other hand it is on account of the cultural dominance of the remaining superpower that, "by the merest ideological flick of the thumbnail, the most imperceptible of displacements", those drab realities of monopolized global markets "reemerge as the rich oil-smear sheen of absolute diversity and of the most unimaginable and unclassifiable forms of human freedom."28)

All this - uniformization draped in endless variety - poses an epistemological problem for everyone and not the least for practical politicians. How do we draw our cognitive maps of the world system today? There remains a basic knowledge about class struggle(s), polarization(s), ideologies and alienation. But just like the social sciences, politics, too, has begun to deal in subtleties like 'lifestyles' and 'moods'. Gerhard Schröder, with his consent, has been proclaimed, for example, the first German 'lifestyle-chancellor'. The global economy is associated not with the production of useful goods, but with the psychology of financial markets, with the chivalry and crookery of corporate mergers, with the cathedrals of consumer culture. In fact, the global economy has disappeared behind a screen of trivialities.

So this is a time to re-activate the sociological imagination, to acknowledge the superficial in order to go back to the structural, to map the abstract wastelands of global markets in order to rediscover the concrete workings of economy. But how to go about it?

Fredric Jameson is one of the few thinkers who is making headway in these cultural-economic waters of the globalization process - with this surprising proposition, for example: "In the widespread paralysis of the collective or social imaginary, to which 'nothing occurs' (Karl Kraus) when confronted with the ambitious program of fantasizing an economic system on the scale of the globe itself, the older motif of conspiracy knows a fresh lease on life, as a narrative structure capable of reuniting the minimal basic components: a potentially infinite network, along with a plausible explanation of its invisibility; or, in other words: the collective and the epistemological."29)

Küng's concept of normative globalism also possesses all of this ambiguity. There is a conspiratorial and obscurantist tinge to it. And doesn't it even invite the notion of starting one's own conspiracy?

On the other hand, normative globalism needs a solid metaphorical frame of reference. There is a need to relate to historical traditions and real interest structures. Globalists like Küng seem to prefer the idea of a 'nationalism of one global nation'. Nothing is wrong in applying the accumulated experience of 'nation state building' to the idea of a working global ethic. It beats, at least, the silly notion of a global village. But everyone knows that European (and American) nation building also heavily involved the churches, the Jesuits, the Free Masons and other secretive forces...

Normative globalists on the Net abound: 'Earth United', proposing global constitutions; 'The United Planetary Federation', building on a common interest in lasting world peace and proposing a 'Federal Democratic Republic'; 'Rainbow over the UN', a project featuring globalist art; 'Wereldfederalistenbeweging Nederland', a federalist movement advocating a continuation of the existing order of nation states, but adding cosmopolitan claims for a global political unit and a global culture; 'Towards a World Social Contract', Kenneth Boulding's project, still going strong, together with his very early (1965) metaphor 'Compare Earth with a Space Ship'. Other organizations include 'Community Building as a Metaphor for a Worldwide Paradigm Shift' and the Baha'i International Community. And then the novel cosmopolitanism of the Küng variety: 'Globalization Brings a Need for Global Ethics'.30)

None of these groups are real political players. All of them 'conspire' in a mostly benevolent way in terms of declarations, appeals, exhortations and influence peddling. Very few of them, while supplying phrases and speakers, have any significant clout, either within the UN system or in the world of NGOs. If at all, they are placed at the servant's table of First class conferences and fund rising dinners.

It would be enlightening, though, to find out whether any of these or similar groups are grasping the opportunities that the new forms of postmodern politics offer. Wallerstein too emphasizes the organizational flexibility and the opportunities of interactivity the logic of late capitalism holds for opponents of the system. Additional opportunities probably lie in a global field of activity created by the confluence of electronic networking (the Internet) and novel attempts at narrating and representing history and its multiple meanings.

The Totality of Conspiracy

The mass media and mass culture have become a vast sounding board for the more elusive political meanings of globalism.

The 'suspicion of conspiracy' has been a cause for terrible ideological aberrations, but it also is a motif for serious power structure research and it can be turned into a powerful dramaturgic tool! Under the 'intransparent' conditions of postmodernity the epistemological potential of the conspiracy motif might even be an echo of Hegel's 'List der Vernunft' (ruse of reason) - a notion that Jameson returns to in his 'Seeds of Time'.31)

Hollywood's 'Independence Day', by a German filmmaker, tells the story of mankind uniting against a cosmic enemy who not only regards planet Earth as a spaceship but also wants to use it as scrap metal. In a convenient twist of the plot the whole world unites behind a young, energetic American president (and fighter pilot to boot). It didn't occur to many of the film's critics, though, that the alien platforms positioning themselves in orbit above the resource-rich regions of the globe had more in common with the geopolitical wrangling of transnational corporations over ore and oil exploitation than with extraterrestrials; and that 'Independence Day' really was a story about building a 'global nation', under U.S. leadership, that would be able to deal with the ugly conspiratorial underbelly of postmodern civilization.

The grid of the 'private' and the 'public', of the 'local' and the 'global' - implying, of course, a complex interest structure - is gaining a multidimensional quality far beyond what had been known during the process of nation building. Quite logically, governmental experience will play second or third fiddle in such a process. In contrast, the capacity to view 'geopolitical' dynamics on this planet from ever shifting observation platforms will have high priority. Government is being denied knowledge.

On the systemic level the competence to develop new, effective forms of cognitive political mapping, of politics under postmodern conditions, is being elaborated and exercised within a vast network of groupings and organizations, all basically tied to transnational and multinational corporations. This network - while certainly being an Eldorado for conspiracy buffs - also is a very real global power structure. As Reginald Dale puts it: "To be accused by both the right and the left of plotting world domination is a rare, if in a way gratifying distinction..."32) If the narrative on the economic and political process of globalization is to begin in earnest, why not start with some of the following groupings?

The 'World Economic Forum' or 'Davos Group', meeting annually, gives major companies a chance to meet with many of the world's political and media leaders and directors of organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the OECD. The 'Bilderberg Club', founded in 1954, quite secretive, is considered by many to be one of the most powerful groupings of industry and politics. The 'Trilateral Commission' grew out of the Bilderberg Club, with the intention of including the Far East. Thousands of companies in over 130 countries belong to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Other organizations of this type include 'The Business Industry Advisory Committee' to the OECD; the 'World Business Council on Sustainable Development'; the 'Climate Coalition' of oil and car manufacturers; the 'International Federation of Employers'; the 'US Council on International Business'; the 'Business Roundtable' of CEOs of the largest US corporations; the 'European Roundtable of Industrialists' etc. Finally, the 'Council on Foreign Relations', founded in 1921, remains a particularly interesting think tank developing expertise and influencing world politics. The activities of all of these organizations have stepped up dramatically in recent years.

We have seen Küng appear at some of their meetings, notably at the Davos Group. But he certainly - like other religious and moral leaders, by the way - has remained on the fringes of this complex web. In fact, this structure as a whole is still very much of an enigma. Social science, too, commands scant knowledge about these matters; and impartial research would not be supported by mainstream grants.

 

Weather Report: A Paradigm Shift in the Making?

The weather report predicts some extremely unpredictable conditions. The sky is filled with commodified cultural messages passing back and forth with lightning speed across the former real world. The breathing air in the cradles of civilization, Iraq and the Balkans, is contaminated by uranium traces from clean cyberwar strikes. How will Küng hold up on the final test: does he have any idea of where we are?

'Globalization calls for a global ethic': clearly, Küng pleads for a paradigm shift. But contrary to what religious leaders may think: there never was a paradigm shift in world history that came down from the heavens. Every revolution in thought, and notably Christianity, is rooted in the expanding knowledge about the world we live in and the ability to change the material conditions of our lives. In this sense, looking for a paradigm shift in world politics certainly implies more than mining the gold from existing religions.

The postmodern condition already is a result of secular - or rather: millennial - shifts in economy, science and technology. Information technology, in particular, has revolutionized ideology and politics. But one has to go one step further: globalization cannot be understood, apart from its technological and economic underpinnings, if it is not tied to that level of human endeavor on which, for example, the 'Copernican Revolution' occurred. There can be no globalization of sensible behavior without some sort of generalized scientific view of the world.33)

Wasn't it the Copernican revolution - and the popular culture then surrounding it - that eventually provided the epistemological horizon for modernity? The image of an insular solar system in the oceans of the universe set the stage for our modern understanding of the 'real world' and of ourselves. To put it in a nutshell: the paradigm of modernity developed in order to enable us to cope with the vastness of the universe. The paradigm of modernity thrived on the idea of 'limits'. Only by realizing that 'we' are prisoners of the solar system - unable to ever 'physically' breach the abyss between 'us' and even the closest star - all those energies could be unleashed that have so completely transformed our planet.

Of course, that island mentality, put into the form of a private property economy, also seems to have led to the destruction of what we had in order for some to have it. This probably is the deepest meaning of modern, industrial, capitalist 'productivity'. The pre-modernistic paradigm never called for such desperate efforts to 'control' this planet.

And now the very process of globalization - involving, for context, radiotelescopes and the exploration of the solar system - is putting the loneliness and limitedness of the human species within the universe to a new test. Much of the cognitive mapping in mass culture and in science revolves around this question. Is it condensing into a virtual certainty (virtual in both of its meanings) that 'we are not alone'?

This is why the ecumenical quest of world religions is coming into play in such energetic ways. This is why the trivial motif of conspiracy begins to include reflections on alien interference. This is why the idea that we are alone in the universe - and without contact - is becoming unbearable. And this exactly is the starting point - whether we intellectuals, steeped in modern thought, like it or not - for a rally of the global consciousness and its subconscious. In what sense then does 'globalization require a global ethic'?

The rallying cry is: science plus religion, transported by the 'technologies' of postmodernism and carried by mass culture. The meaning of this paradigm shift centers around the notion that the physical limits confining mankind on the island of the solar system are breaking down, that 'informational technology', 'virtual reality', 'cyberspace' themselves are providing the first glimpses of a paradigm restating the problem of our 'cosmic existence'.

How does Küng's project hold up on this level - which certainly must be considered, if such concepts as 'globalization' and 'global ethic' are being addressed? What is the language, what are the images, what is the paradigmatic energy emerging from Küng's pronouncements? Küng: "Global ethic is not a new ideology or superstructure; it will not make the specific ethics of the different religions and philosophies superfluous; it is therefore no substitute for the Torah, Sermon on the Mount, the Qur'an, the Bhagavadgita, the Discourses of the Buddha or the Sayings of Confucius. Global ethic is nothing less than the necessary minimum of common values, standards and basic attitudes. In other words: a minimal basis consensus relating to binding values, irrevocable standards and moral attitudes, which can be affirmed by all religions despite their 'dogmatic' differences and can also be supported by non-believers."34)

This is not the language a mass culture, saturated with the debate between science and religion, is likely to digest. This is not the language our kids - 'who shall inherit the earth' - will, on the basis of their own life's experience, understand. This language is not going to set them into motion. It is, at best, the benevolent language of moral indoctrination, and at worst the ideological language of moral repression.

I might be misunderstood by these remarks. But I feel that I must point out a 'postmodern' alternative to the very limited, elite-directed project of Küng. For I think that during a time in history when traditional 'modern' politics have met their Armageddon, when fields of postmodern politics are opening up that still, to a large extent, appear as white patches on the maps of established social science, we have to turn to what is there around us, we have to open our eyes to what 'is' and caters to the sociological imagination. And so, while in the process of stressing the epistemological importance of mass culture, I chanced to come across another, a postmodern 'Global Ethic Project' - sponsored by a billionaire.

The protagonist I'm talking about is under 30 years of age. He is at the center of the communications industry, having made billions of dollars as a Silicon Valley Tycoon. He is in the process of launching his own system of organizations and foundations - the 'International Space Science Organization' - endowed with hundreds of millions of dollars. He is set to act on a narrative of global improvement that is based on the imagery (and the possible insights) of the reservoirs of mass culture (including Star Trek, the X-Files, 'Contact' and science fiction in general). He has begun to rewrite, for himself, the history of science and religion. His writings, at present, are remarkable mainly because they are one of the first complex bodies of text that has been written and layed out for the Internet only. Re-writing history is, of course, an essential element of any paradigm shift. His religious topoi of 'revelation', 'holiness', 'charisma', 'teaching' etc. are well developed and, at the same time, suffused in the mass cultural imagery of 'extraterrestrialism'. His scientific topoi are bound to the doubtlessly dramatic advances in cosmology. He is, as founder of the 'International Space Sciences Organization', on the exclusive 'Global Leaders for Tomorrow'-list of the World Economic Forum.

So here we have a very private and very local (and slightly wacky) billionaire going very public and very global (via the only medium suited for this, the Internet) with a rather interesting (I think) ethical agenda. His name is Joseph P. Firmage. As far as his sense for a paradigm shift is concerned, he stands far above Hans Küng. And on all other counts - money, mass appeal (especially to the young computer generation), technical communicative competence, organizational talent etc. - Firmage also takes first place.35)

What does he have to say? I quote not from his rambling, though visually well organized 600-page book on the Internet, but from a recent pronouncement on current issues. I'm not sure whether it conveys the gist of the thinking of this 28-year old savior-billionaire, but it will have to do as a stake in the ongoing competition not only for the attention of the elites, but also for the applause of the 'half-educated' masses in the developed western regions of postmodernity.

Firmage, after a guided tour of a number of military installations, on invitation of the U.S. Department of Defense, states: "We have been embroiled in conflict in Europe because our international systems of government do not presently possess the vision to implement a stable global society of people passionate about the concept of peace within diversity...Humanity as a system refuses to invest its wealth back into its youth and its Earth. We are willing to spend a quarter trillion dollars a year on Armed Forces prepared to tackle symptomatic crises while not seeing that a force of such scale and sophisticated operational prowess could be chartered anew as an organization for world education and peaceful assistance, striking at the heart of root causes of human pain. And it could be done with the greatest pride, as an organizational first step towards total social experience of Space and Earth. - Does this mean that I argue in behalf of a "pacifist" society? Of course, and as a goal, not simply a vision. Please, tell me what other kind of world you would prefer to live in? Tell me of a weapon system we have made which will not ultimately fall into the hands of a terrorist? How many millions of death warrants have already been thus sealed? For all the powers of our Armed Forces, I learned one fact for certain on my trip across the branches of our military: they will never be able to eliminate the increasingly potent threat of a single fearful individual (let alone nation) equipped with any technology of mass destruction, obtained for the right price...Humanity continues to institutionalize conflict and unbridled competition. Graduating beyond the days of using chains and ropes to bind limbs, we now have made invisible and electronic the evidence of enslavement and waste from our competitive activity, cutting ever lower into the tree of the biosphere. We are governed by an increasingly conscious system of economics whose genetic priorities are unbounded by Nature. While brilliantly organizing human activity with a certain degree of freedom, it is not a self-sufficient cyclical system. What investors take from the Earth through our corporations is not being returned to the Earth."36)

Firmage believes that extraterrestrial 'teachers' have visited earth throughout history, he claims to have proof. He senses a paradigm shift in physics, cosmology and consequently all other sciences, he considers the images from the Hubble Space Telescope to be the most important revelations of our times. He has been socialized through mass culture. He targets the kids born after 1980. "For all its weaknesses, this new generation is the most innately conscious of all before it. It has been barraged with the loudest, most, biggest, brightest, strongest, tastiest, foulest, best and worst that western marketing can offer...Despite all this noise, or perhaps because of it, this generation is more resonant with the soft, natural, true qualities of life than any before it...Their imaginations are stunningly creative, for they have been nourished on a diet of extraordinary 'edutainment' whose substance is now clearly beyond the comprehension of their distant ancestors. Their tolerance for diversity is high, and within a growing number of them, diversity of experience is what is sought, not fought."37) To these kids Hans Küng will remain invisible.

Neither, I'm sure, will billionaires listen to counselors like him. The upper classes of late capitalism, finally, are able to generate cultural and moral global leaders out of their own midst. Billionaires are turning their private troubles into global issues (or is it: private issues into global trouble?). And any private ethic can be disseminated as global ethic with the assurance - such is the state of alienation - that in the end there will be no other consensus than that of mass culture.

Is it conceivable then, that billionaires, tired of talking to other billionaires, might start and sustain grass roots movements? Or could global mass culture act as the fertile ground for a paradigm shift in how we, whoever we are, see the world? Aren't the Pope's belief in angels and saints and Bill Clinton's and Tony Blair's belief in 'God' and Hans Küng's belief in the wisdom of Count von der Groeben already just as wacky as Joe Firmage's belief in extraterrestrials?

But somehow this is not the point. The point is that the concept of 'unity in diversity extended to the cosmological scale' - which is behind all attempts of flying high with Global Ethic Airlines - expresses the 'wackiness' of the postmodern condition itself - with which we have to deal in order to transcend it. This present condition humaine has a catastrophic and a tragicomic and a promising side - and it is worthwhile to pursue the latter, maybe even the latter two.

 

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Obviously, the author of this essay, during the last passages, somehow evacuated Global Ethic Airlines' wide-body plane. Maybe he was abducted by an UFO. And Küng's airline, come to think of it: wasn't it Swissair, after all?

About 80 percent of the world's population have never seen an airplane from the inside. But the technology of flying has reached the stage of space travel. How then to fly or not to fly? Will it suffice to attempt a landing by the seat of your pants, Mr. Küng? God save our souls.

 

 

 

References

Barber, Benjamin. "Government is Out, Greed is In." International Herald Tribune, 20 April 1998

Dale, Reginald. "Clearly No Cabal, the Trilateral Commission Holds a Forum of Ideas." International Herald Tribune, 16 March 1999

Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991

-----, The Geopolitical Aesthetic. Cinema and Space in the World System. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1992

-----, The Seeds of Time. New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, 1994

-----, "Culture and Finance Capital." Critical Inquiry 24 (Autumn 1997), 246-265

Kroker, Arthur and Michael A. Weinstein. Data Trash: The Theory of the Virtual Class. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994

Küng, Hans. A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics. London: SCM Press, 1997

Lock, Peter. "Das Drehbuch eines Krieges auf dem Balkan", Frankfurter Rundschau, 26 April 1999, p. 10

Reich, Robert B. "A New Elite Is Busily Changing The Way America Works." International Herald Tribune, 7 April 1998

Unger, Frank. "Mit Desert Fox zum Dritten Weg des Imperialismus? Die modernisierte westliche Linke und die 'Neue Weltordnung'." Forum Wissenschaft 16. Jg., Heft 1 1999, 31-34

Wallerstein, Immanuel. After Liberalism. New York, N.Y.: The New Press, 1995

Wood, Daniel. "The Wizard of the Baca Grande." West Magazine, Alberta, Canada, May 1990

 

Footnotes

1) Flora Lewis, http://kvc.minbuza.nl/lewis2.html
2) Jameson, "Culture," p. 260
3) Reich, "A New Elite," p.9
4) Reemtsma's articles appear regularly, strategically placed, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung etc.; he was recently appointed to the prestigious Mercator-professorship at the University of Duisburg; he has been involved, as a side-line, in a vast array of alternative projects mainly in Hamburg and was a financial supporter and contributor to leftwing publications like konkret; the famous traveling exhibition on the crimes of the German Wehrmacht during WWII has been and continues to be a focus of the debate on German 'self-finding'; I cannot, at present, discern a more effective agenda-setting source in German intellectual life than the HIS.
5) The term 'postmodern military means' refers to the fact that US military planners are pushing a high-technology based new strategy called 'revolution of military affairs'(RMA) that aims at 'automatized' battlefields electronically controlled from great distances through satellites etc. This is to provide the political side with precisely adjustable military means that can be deployed anytime anywhere without own losses as necessity dictates. This is clearly an unclear, relativistic, ambiguous use of military power far beyond the established practices of 'modern' warfare. Cf. Lock, "Das Drehbuch," p. 10
6) International Herald Tribune, 16 April 1999, p. 7
7) Unger, "Mit Desert Fox," p. 34
8) Jameson, Seeds of Time, p. 154
9) Kroker and Weinstein, Data Trash, p. 69
10) Jameson's Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, constituted a decisive advance, because postmodernism could be analyzed, for the first time, as the ideological practice of the global commodification process itself. In Germany, a poor translation of Jameson's seminal article (in the mid 80s) and, in general, the dominance of 'modernists' like Habermas or Ulrich Beck have slowed down the recognition of Jameson's contribution.
11) Jameson, Postmodernism, p. 418
12) Küng, A Global Ethic, p. 35f
13) Colin MacCabe, preface in: Jameson, Geopolitical Aesthetic, p. xii
14) A detailed breakdown of the 'Monica Economy' was provided at the time by CNNfn (cnnfn.com)
15) Wallerstein, After Liberalism, p. 242
16) Kroker and Weinstein, Data Trash, p. 21
17) Küng, A Global Ethic, p. 243
18) Ibid., p. 211
19) Wallerstein, After Liberalism, p. 226-231
20) Die Zeit, 29 April 1999
21) Carl Schmitt, without doubt the leading mid-century thinker of the German Right, has impressed the Left with his sophisticated Social Darwinism time and again.
22) Wallerstein, After Liberalism, p. 249
23) Wood, "The Wizard of the Baca Grande," p. 11
24) Barber, "Government Is Out," p. 8
25) Die Zeit, 16 April 1998, p. 5
26) The consensus that the German constitution, which forbids any warlike actions that are not defensive, was broken is almost unanimous in the law community; the disturbing fact is, that this same group is formulating political justifications.
27) Le Monde, quoted in International Herald Tribune, 29 April 1999, p. 5
28) Jameson, Seeds of Time, p. 32
29) Jameson, Geopolitical Aesthetic, p. 9
30) Paul Treanor devotes an extensive Website to nationalism, globalism and related matters: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/
31) But here, in Jameson's perhaps most subtly powerful work, the conspiracy metaphor is superseeded by a metaphor from the 'ruses of nature'.
32) Dale, "Clearly No Cabal,", p. 6
33) see Thomas S. Kuhn's classics The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and The Copernican Revolution. Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought.
34) this text was taken, for a change, from the Net: http://kvc.minbuza.nl/kvcframe.html?/kung.html 35) Firmage first appeared on the public stage in late 1998. Since then there has been a stream of publicity that is bound to increase with the launch of his 'International Space Sciences Organization' in the summer of 1999. Cf. for example: Michael Krantz. "From IPOs to UFOs.", Time Magazine, 1 February 1999; Joel Achenbach. "The CEO from Cyberspace.", Washington Post, 31 March 1999; more articles: http://www.paradigmclock.com/firmage/Firmage_Links_Page.htm
36) http://www.thewordistruth.org/new_writing.htm
37) Ibid.

 

 

This article appeared as 'Elite Ethics: Hans Küng's Normative Globalism in a Changing World' in:
International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1999

Site Map / Classes / Publications / Projects