Home > Book Summary > Carlo Galli Political Spaces and Global War

Carlo Galli Political Spaces and Global War

Carlo Galli argues that the spatial representations that define politics are no longer adequate to describe our “globalization” epoch and that therefore efforts by political theorists should be expended to creatively come up with new ways of thinking about space.

The Global epoch we are in has yet to develop spatial relations for it. It has no outside and inside but it is fractal as such war in the global age (we’ll get to global war later) is not a disruption of peace but the state of things, iti s the essential property of global space.

The premise of the book is that every political idea and institution has a spatial reference which varied by epoch. The institutions and concepts of the global epoch are outdated or incoherent and therefore they are not durable.

The spatial concepts we have are throwbacks from the modern period. For Galli the modern period includes Machiavelli all the way p to World War two. That is one hell of a long modern period.

For globalizations (mondialization) juridical and moral 1900, end of fascism, and today.

(15)”Spatial representations reflect the concrete experience by society (Society here is “powers and powers on the world stage”) responding to historical challenges.” “Spatiality relates to real forms and deformations of political space born  out of the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion”

The spatiality of politics is the politicity of space. The struggle for control and definition of space is key in grappling with the new epoch.

The spaces of modernity were rigid and divided state, subject, and society. There is a division between inside/outside, public/private, and universal/particular. They are unstable in the global epoch where the world has moved on. Galli believes there is novelty in the global epoch. I’m not sure if I agree.

“globalization changes real organization of political spaces and its social and cultural perceptions, as well as implicit representation of space in political thought”

Thesis: “Because modern political spaces emerged as a response to a challenge, they have configured themselves in very precarious and contingent terms.” “but because those same spaces are also capable of housing withim themselves the mobilizing forces of subjective and social liberty it is necessary to confront the great crisis of globalization – the fullfilment of the mdoern contradiction – with a new spatializing intent”

Liberty  today is the search for new borders not opening of the state but as an orienting guideline to moving to new challenges.

Note: old people always think there is novelty in the world that needs to be grappled with. But so far we grew up in this novelty. Yes it is novel but we can grapple with it automatically. no need for carlo galli to give us directions.

This global epoch would have com about even without US hegemony, the US just accelerated the process.

Premodern political spaces:

Premodern space is divided by geography, different human groups are different by political geography. (what about nomadism?)

He focuses solely in Europe as the saviour of the workd.

Move from tribes to families to cities. The city was the enclosed safe political space of antiquity. (for whom? this section is really crtappys, use of anthropology to justify choices)

There is an internal division between regal combat and productive, even among gods.

Qualitative difference between Greece (seed of europe) and Barbarians.

The polis was not a physical space, it was made of a group of citizens. It had hierarchies especially in combat and round democratuc structures. It divided naval and land spaces as well (fleet and hoplite). There were two ideas of space, neutral homogeneous inside the city with hierarchies. And then civilization versus barbarians. The Greek city system is incapable of making universals. It was Rome which had porous borders which was universal in its more flexible juridical basis for citizenship. Rome brought new ideas of political space, universal versus particular. Rome was a universal space which beckonedto barbarians but  it had a center of gravity.

Christian political space:

Paternal center is heaven. Different between heaven and secular. Difference between ecclesia and non ecclesia. Christ introduced a public dimension to politics that of public affairs. Christianity is compatible with hierarchical empies.

Note: (but wasn’t christianity shaped by the roman empire for its political needs?)

Christianity had both vertically organized space which gave legitimacy to lords and a horizontal distribution. Qualitative distribution between christian and non-christian but they can be evangelized. so all space is open. Tolerance for organic nature of the world in which difference can exist. (remember he is only talking about Europe)

Spatial politics leading to modern period:

Modern politics originated from a number of conflicts and crises. Transition from traditional universality to modern universality. Copernican revolution. Discovery of america. capitalism. Urbanization.

Leads to the liberation of the individual, disappearance of organic plurality. Protestants are not tied to space like catholics. Politics comes to define space not vice versa. The new world had an umber of influences, It forced europeans to reorient his own thought, redefine Europe, redefine savage and spatiality.

Reactions to the crisis were dealt with differently by different authors. Goes through machiaveli, more,  hobbes, montesqieu. On utopia, realism ,and idealized spaces in reaction to nature.

Modern Space:

The subject is a particular who exists in a universal state. But the subject is a universal particular and the state is a particular universal. (37). Modernity is therefore unstable for the subject produces universality within the confines of the state but these universalities will undermine the space the state provides to protect him. Inter-state interaction in the modern period is between isolate artificial islands. (apparently all states are spatially equal in Europe)

The state divides space internally and externally. Outside of the state are enemies, army, and foreigners. Inside are citizens, criminals and police. Sovereignty belongs to the state entity (43) but it also belongs to civil society.

The subject who is particular has the duty of willing the universal state. The subject also has to will the space of the citizen. This is unstable. There are only two players here state and individual where society is an aggregate of individuals, The inside of the state is supposed to be homogeneous. This leads to expulsion and xenophobia. The inside of the state has to be transformed into a smooth space in the modern epoch.

Role of cities is lost in modern period at best they can be capitals.

Modern Universals

Modern universals as opposed to the state have open space. These are empires, which remained till the hapsburg  empire, they are decentralized.

(57) Modern universals tend to come from the modern subject. A sense of moral duty or the individuals unites all subject universally. That is these are particular universals. The state neutralizes religion but it doesn’t fill the space it took. Therefore there is a vacuum of political space which is filled by the individual using critical thought. This is the freedom of the individual in the space of the state. Within this the space of Europe always excludes the rest of the world.

Revolutions against the state over time force the modern state towards universal suffrage further homegenizing  the interior.

Economic universals in which labour and technology in the 20th century become universalized. Economic space in the modern age is founded on property which goes beyond the state.

Juridical and moral universality: humanism Kantian universalism, freedom and liberty. These are presented as objective.

Chapter 5

Note: Was the development of the modern state inevitable? It seems like he is implying that allthese processes were inevitable.

Chapter 6 20th century crisis and restoration

The modern state came to a crisis with fascism and communism leading to world war two then after 1945 some consolidation of the social state with the individual. After 1990 we entered the global epoch and the spatial politics are incapable of understanding our situation.

WwI and II: mobile artificial borders between state/indiviudal/society no loger capable of describing, containing, and organizing political order. There is a loss of distinction between inside and outside. There emerge totalitarianisms that believed in utopia and universality of this utopia. Aims to take over the whole world to homogenize it since htis universal is not plural. (86) (100) After ww2 social democracies maintained autonomous stability of individual and state.

(103) Three causes led to globalization. Economic, technological and political. (fall of USSR, deregulation of capital flows, and electronic boom. This was the fullfillment of modernity. Globalization was the explosion of an ensemble of processes.

Economy: Limitless pursuit of profit. No longer contained by limited state. Cross political boundaries. Economics is no longer coupled to politics, it determines politics now.

Politics: Sovereign confinement of conflict. Etching lines of global class conflict. 3rd and 1st world enter one another. Challeneg to state no longer capable of distinguishing enemy from criminal, citizen from foreigner. Ex: Guantanamo prisoner enemies treated like criminals. Duties of govt delegated to market. States react irrationally try to reassert little power.

(107) These new modalities of citizenship are unwritten. The old criteria of citizenship are fragile and weak.

International Relations: Politics is more global and international.

(112) old modern institutions no longer capture a global existence.

(113) positive spatiality of globalization is mobility. If anything it should be called global mobilization. Local in tocuh with global constantly. World becomes divided betweenm those who are at home everywhere and those who are seeing their homes disappear beneath them.

(115) All these modern spatial tensions are being undermined:

  1. Land vs sea
  2. Europe vs rest of world
  3. Empire vs state
  4. market vs patria
  5. Rights vs sovereignty
  6. particular versys universal

There is no alternative “space” or spatialization with enough authenticity to resist globalization.

(117: Summary and questions

(121): “Those who speak of the world state as particular universalism are fools. You can’t have universality of law democracy ethics civil society while keeping a “reformed State”. These emerged as a result of the withdrawal of the modern state and maintaining tat state is against the very process they desire The human rational project is not for this epoch.

(127) On new empire, interesting to read.

Global War

Globalization undermined the space of the state, local in in touch with global. So the internal and external get jumbled up. The US can’t go to war against an enemy it goes to perpetual war for freedom. That is why the war is neverending. The enemy becomes from within and without for both parties.

America risks going into global war which is a modality of globalization.

There is faith in technology as a remedy against evil.

New analysis is requried becaose of changing notions of political space.

(140)  on 9/11 “behind this supposed conflict of two (civilization and barbarian) stands a one – globality – which involves us all because it upsets our interpretive paradigms of politics and its darker side : War.”

War in the modern period was destructive renewal, creating a new epoch (global war), not in this case where war is the epoch.

9/11 plays on the narrative of west’s fear that all its artificial progress is prone to quick decay and collapse. (150) today the war is a clash of identities not classes.

(157) “Power in the global age moves from states to trans-statal flows” States can no longer say “protection in exchange for obedience” terrorism disrupts that.

(raises the question today, what do you owe to your country of citizenship? If you’re lebanese or if you’re american)

(162) globalization itself is a world of wars, global war is a mode of being (BS)

(164) (not that new dude) chronic crises in global war between war and politics. No more distinct spaces of peace and war. Chronicity of war collapses political space. Global war has no end in sight, it is permanent low intensity conflict. (thus securitization)

Novelty of this war is it doesn’t end. Continuous struggle for peace.  Some modern conflicts over territory do exist but they are decontextualized by their global setting. All war becomes global. No distinction between military and civilian, public/private in this war. Privatization of military. Economics and politics are mixed. Casualties in war before world war one were 1:8 civilian to military. 1:1 in World War Two. and 8:1 now.

(171) (he has a very sophomoric understanding of terrorism)

*(176) “Having left the cold war victorious the US is paradoxically the bearer of the sort of revisionist politics that is more often adopted by defeated powers…” (read this)

(182) For both Qa3ida and USA the enemy is everywhere, for one it is the pervasive universal of the US for the other it is the invisible borderless terrorist.

Global war is not an event but a situation of existence in which we still sue them odern ideas of space but we do not live in them. The question is what do we do for the future.

Class Discussion:

Galli is theorizing the concepts of:

Territory, authority and right.

Law and rule

Internal/External and Universal/Particular

These concepts are the foundation of our field and the understanding of International space today, it is good that he is theorizing them so that we see that these concepts change/d with time/s and how they do so.

Foreign intervention was inherent in the  U.N. organization of the modern state.

Globalization is the effect of particular classes taking control of the state.

Theology can be humanitarian because it has no outside, it can claim that all humans are God’s children, the state is spatially built on an inside/outside tension and is therefore ill suited for global action. Galli Like e Las Casas and others is arguing for the removal of the inside/outside.

Note: given what we know of human history is it possible even to construct an identity or political space which is not predicated on the division between inside/outside, even in universal empires. When you look for novelty you may end up creating it (fernando). Also sidenote, UK put LandsBank, biggest bank in Iceland, on the terror list to extract its money in 2008.

Do we need new political spaces? Has there been change? Is globalization really new or are there trends which existed before in the past. Additionally the US doesn’t behave the same, its policy to Europe is different from ME, latin america, china etc… perhaps then it is not globalization. The US has created implicit division of global political space by regions. The institutions are implicit. As a sidenote “the number and type of ethnic restaurants in Washington DC reflects where the US is waging war.

Galli’s reading of history is very narrow, it ignores the political arrangements of space for nonEuropeans, for many people in Europe who did not live in states, or cities, or empires. What I’m saying is that he is historically sweeping and imprecise.

Prof Response (on polemic and novelty):

Novelty: National economies did not come into being till1920s. Territories were not limited , UK included India in budget, France other colonies. No “national” economics and this led to more interesting imagination of multiple spaces because of economics and politics. We take for granted that our spaces are fixed but there was great imagination around the period of the World Wars which we seem to have lost.

In 1941 When degaulle was hiding the only French territory not under Vichie was in East Africa. There was a very interesting debate in Africa with the only black colonial governor as to what course of action should be taken. So French Republic and french/African needed new conceptions of Political Space. (french screwed them over). France’s colonialism and capitalism was rejected but not its republicanism.

Those debates have happened and they were rich and today they are forgotten. American theory is parochial they need to go beyond space and time to make better theory.

As for novelty and historicity of Galli. Yes there is no real novelty, but it is novel for the US thinkers. Galli aims to expand ideas in Europe and the US, not the rest of the world. The book is aiming and calling for an attitude of broadening the ideas of politics. The Novelty that Galli refers to is polemical as is his account of history. It is a narrative weaved for a certain purpose.

If we still think that we can settle things violently we are in a lot of trouble. The political space as it is now seen is violent and holds no potential for an improved future. There is a tendency to look back in romanticism but this is wrong there is no going back, we need to think of ways to go forward. We are in a fix, global space and political division of world makes it difficult to live in peace together, The US “here” includes the “there” of Afghanistan. Instead the Afghans should be thought of as people too, broaden the monkey sphere. Weapons are so powerful as to be able to wipe us off the earth.

Olivier Ruschbau challenged Raegan Gorbvachev secrecy saying it wasn’t national interest but world interest and he won. He has an org. Droit contre etat and that is the example of opening new spaces. The state as it currently is is leading us to a bad end. What used to be state matters are changing. The state boundaries ideas and goals are shifting in way which state borders can no longer express. Some Cosmopolitanist arguments are good some are neo-colonial but some have potential. Because War, Human Rights,, people no longer staying in one state. Why are laws restricted in states and why does rule trump law? Traditions trumop conventions. It should be that nothing is sacrosanct if it is traditional. A lot of our IR thinking is bound in tradition. (alright fine but not novelty, new ways of living in a constant world).

Law of war is for 19th century, yes they need to be updated but not by donald rumsfield. Question is how do we imagine new conventions and who gets to decide.

Tradition vs convention vs rule(we do what we do because we say so)

Even if UN security council can rule over issues of war and peace it still has to have legitimacy. likewise the US. Allergy in US to legal strictures on its power. Nostalgia needs to be replaced by political action again.

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