24 April 2014

The Brazilian

"The neoliberals have won, even against themselves. The national state has been cleared away. The social state is in ruins. But it is not a non-order which prevails. In place of the legal and power structures of national players, there are many conflicting units of rule that set themselves up as separate and fight against one another. Between them are a number of legal and normative no-man's-lands.
In the dangerous inner cities, employees wearing ties live and work in video-monitored edifices that have been closely packed together according to the old fortress principle. These are veritable castles, equipped and rules by transnational corporations.
Nearby there are parks and nature reserves occupied by militant Greens (so-called 'terrorist germs') and defended by force of arms.
In some areas, drugs are freely advertised and consumed. In others, cigarette-smoking already carries the death penalty. Armed pensioners regularly patrol the borders of their well-maintained settlements.
There are expressways for super-limousines, but in their eternal roundabout they have to satisfy each other's flashing-light requests to overtake—something that the sporty little numbers hardly notice.
Moreover, these roads border on cycling districts where not to travel by bike is severely punished—with all the conflicts that break out daily as a result. For all have to answer the conundrum in this way: How can I get off my bicycle without, at least momentarily, breaking the law that forbids being a pedestrian? In these districts the steps and staircases have been designed so that bicycles can negotiate them, and both marriage beds and writing desks have pinned beside them official advice on how to position vehicles and how to switch in a non-pedestrian manner to other of life's functions (such a sleeping and working). Not perfect, but then nor is life.
Public means of transport are under a cloud, because they recall the dinosaurs of the national state. Their insignia can in fact only be visited in well-guarded museums.
Those who enter the still-functioning underground lay themselves wide open to attack, so that to be mugged is tantamount to putting oneself in the dock. The rule is that people who are mugged are themselves guilty of being mugged.
Between these unclearly differentiated jurisdictions of companies, associations, drug cartels, salvation armies, militant naturalists and cycling societies, on the one hand, and opportunities to let oneself be voluntarily robbed, on the other (perhaps because one's therapist thinks it is necessary for one's personal development), there is no more of that proud nation-state for which people riddled one another with bullets and blew one another up by the million. States represent particular interests among those who have particular interests.
If one takes any transnational corporation—the 'Deutsche Bank', for example, which is now called the 'World Bank'—it becomes clear that the power relationship has been reversed. One has to put a little statelet under a magnifying glass to recognize it; whereas corporations have to be looked at through the wrong end of a telescope if one is to see them at all.
Similarly, in place of the United Nations, and organization has appeared which calls itself United Coca Cola—or something like that. The remnants of the state also raise taxes, or should one say: they make demands for taxes. So it goes. But tax payments have, at least de facto, long been a matter of voluntary contributions, as it were.Besides, they have to be creamed off and allocated in competition with all the other protection money and tributes that the units of personal rule demand with the help of their gun-toting security services. For the state's monopoly of violence, like all monopolies, has been abandoned."
—Ulrich Beck What is Globalization? (2000)

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