Küng's Normative Globalism in a Changing World
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."
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
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
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
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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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)
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.
and Business Class
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.
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.
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.
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.
Küng, moving through the aisles and pontificating, be able
to reach any of these frequent flyers with Global Ethic Airlines?
Ground Below: Modernism and Postmodernism
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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
About Postmodernity's Historical Materialism?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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'.
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".
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.
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
from the Tower: Governments, Foundations and Conspiracies
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)
Dawn of National Governments (Maybe Except for One)
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)
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'.
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.
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'!
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.
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.
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)
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.
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?
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
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?
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
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)
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
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
Totality of Conspiracy
mass media and mass culture have become a vast sounding board
for the more elusive political meanings of globalism.
'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)
'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.
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.
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?
'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.
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.
Report: A Paradigm Shift in the Making?
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?
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.
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)
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
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.
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'?
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'?
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'.
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
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
Benjamin. "Government is Out, Greed is In." International Herald
Tribune, 20 April 1998
Reginald. "Clearly No Cabal, the Trilateral Commission Holds a
Forum of Ideas." International Herald Tribune, 16 March
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
"Culture and Finance Capital." Critical Inquiry 24 (Autumn
Arthur and Michael A. Weinstein. Data Trash: The Theory of
the Virtual Class. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994
Hans. A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics.
London: SCM Press, 1997
Peter. "Das Drehbuch eines Krieges auf dem Balkan",
Frankfurter Rundschau, 26 April 1999, p. 10
Robert B. "A New Elite Is Busily Changing The Way America
Works." International Herald Tribune, 7 April 1998
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
Immanuel. After Liberalism. New York, N.Y.: The New Press,
Daniel. "The Wizard of the Baca Grande." West Magazine,
Alberta, Canada, May 1990
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,
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
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