[-empyre-] introduction

Hi everyone,

Many thanks to the organizers for the opportunity to
join this list - I've already learned a great deal!

It does appear that these new elaborations of
"sedition," like the new security states out of which
they emerge, may be best understood through the lens
of capitalist globalization as well as through more
localized frames. I find helpful Claire's analysis of
how as capital becomes more flexible, the state
administers a compensating rigidity in order to govern

Hardt and Negri's _Empire_ theorizes the former - how
the new social relations of global pancapitalism
produce a situation in which capital's hold over
production is more and more immanent (the society of
control) but also totally arbitrary. But *that*
"Empire" doesn't explain so much the latter, the
corresponding ferociousness of the state's response.
Hence perhaps the now apparent over-optimism of their

Another way in which the question of civil rights
(including the right to sedition) can be seen through
the frame of the global is in relation to the
horrendous contradiction exacerbated by globalization
in regard to human rights and civil rights. 'Human
rights' have only ever actually been granted as 'civil
rights' within the context of the nation state, but
with globalization there are growing numbers of people
who as 'non-citizens' aren't protected by any civil
rights and thus any human rights. In this respect,
globalization can only be vicious. 

I understand that Australia has quite a history of
grassroots movement around immigrant rights, and I'd
be interested to hear more about this, as well as
about the relationship between this work and the work
around the anti-sedition laws. Are the two (the
struggle against sedition laws and the struggle for
immigrant rights) seen as linked? 

Another related issue that CAE has been particularly
interested in is the relationship of the security
state to the production of knowledge with potential
economic and military application. The life sciences
and  medicine in the U.S. are being increasingly
militarized, with disastrous results for public
health, not to mention the university's stated mission
to contribute to the 'cultural commons' by producing
public, not private, knowledge. (A cornerstone of the
police state: privatize and lock down knowledge.) Now
billions of dollars and finite medical  resources that
should go to fight emerging infectious disease and the
diseases that kill millions of people every year
globally are being channeled into multi-billion dollar
"biodefense" (read offensive germ warfare programs),
and this despite the fact that germ warfare is
completely useless from a military perspective. But of
course, so are all the nuclear missiles that sit in
their silos until the next useless war technology
comes along to replace them - their only function is
to eat up surplus capital.

Anti-sedition laws, in this case in the form of the
hyperreality of the "terrorist threat," are then used
to persecute critics of these policies like Steve
Kurtz and his co-defendant Robert Ferrell - a man
whose life has been devoted to the cause of public
health. (What enabled the initial persecution was more
the climate of fear and anti-terrorism hysteria than
the Patriot Act itself, which merely modified an
already existing law passed under Clinton - although
the vagueness of the Act's language undoubtedly
contributes to the tendency of law enforcement to act
without considering the pedagogical or otherwise 
"non-terrorist" value of an artist or academic's

Looking forward to hearing more about the Australian


Lucia Sommer
CAE Defense Fund 
Ph.D. Student
Program in Visual & Cultural Studies
424 Morey Hall | University of Rochester 
Rochester, NY 14627

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.