Martin Shaw

A question to Jacques Derrida 

The difference between 'postmodern' and 'global' concepts is often less than might appear. Many 'global' theorists embrace the indeterminacy of postmodernity; conversely, postmodernists, when pressed to give a name to the 'new' condition, cite globality. For the full discussion see Politics and Friendship: a discussion with Jacques Derrida, Centre for Modern French Thought, University of Sussex, 1997.

Martin Shaw: 'You don't seem to be able to name the process through which [political transformations are] happening, and it seems to me that one could understand what you're talking about in terms of globalisation, the formation of a common social space, a single world-meaning within which all these old structures which try to absolutise and fix differences are changed, but this, it also seems to me, is a ground on which to found a new form of democracy, and that ground has to be found in the concept of globality and in the concept of world unification.'

Jacques Derrida: 'Everything I have said up to now was referring to what you called 'globalisation', what we call in French 'mondialisation'. That's the only thing I've said; but why didn't I use the name 'globalisation'? Because today it's a confused concept and it's the screen for a number of non-concepts and sometimes of political tricks and political strategies. Of course something like globalisation is happening - not only today of course, it started a long time ago - but today there is an acceleration of this mondialisation, but as you know, using this word, this key word, allows a number of political appropriations - in the name of the free market for instance. People try to have us swallow the idea that globalisation means the free market, or that the concentration of tele-technological communications beyond the States are what makes globalisation possible, and what should be supported or simply accepted. So I have, and I'm not the only one, many, many, reservations about the use one makes of this word: but I agree with you, this is, if not the ground (because I don't think it is a ground), but this is the space in which these problems take their shape. I agree with you, but I wouldn't simply rely upon the word 'globalisation' in order to name this phenomenon.'