What it means to be modern

September 11, 2008

September 11th seems an appropriate day to open a new blog on globalisation, as it was the day that we all developed an interdependence complex.  Globalisation, which until then seemed to bring mostly good things to those of us in the developed world (who were insulated from negative side-effects of globalisation like financial crises), dragged something nasty through the door.   Terrorism on a globalised scale.

A book by John Gray, a political philosopher here at the London School of Economics, reflected on the relationship between September 11th and globalisation: “The suicide warriors who attacked Washington and New York on September 11th 2001, did more than kill thousands of civilians and demolish the World Trade Center.  They destroyed the West’s ruling myth.  Western societies are governed by the belief that modernity is a single condition, everywhere the same and always benign.  As societies become more modern, so they become more alike.  At the same time, they become better.  Being modern means realising our values – the values of the Enlightenment, as we like to think of them. No cliche is more stupefying than that which describes Al Qaeda as a throwback to medieval times.  It is a byproduct of globalisation.”

This, my new blog, which comes after a more than six month hiatus from the blogosphere, intends to explore globalisation in my life and the life of those around me.  I like globalisation because it is contradictory and imperfect: I write and teach on globalisation at the London School of Economics, the most globalised university in the world’s most globalised city, yet I had to queue and pay several hundred pounds to obtain a visa to work here because I hold an American passport.  My infant son needed a visa too, even though he’s only 9 months old, and an Italian citizen.  He was given 6 months to stay and put on a “watch list” when we came back to London from the US in April, when he was four months old.  At the time of course, he couldn’t even roll over much less crawl or walk, so there was really no chance that he was going to flee the country, but never mind.  He was on a watch list none the less.

So The Interdependence Complex is born, to reflect on and poke fun at the world of globalisation, today, September 11th 2008, 7 years after Al Qaeda, in John Gray’s words, taught us what it means to be modern.   I remember watching the events unfold that morning on the Bloomberg screen, and later live on the streets of downtown Manhattan as I walked against the tide of dusty humanity walking away from the ruins to get back home.  Who wouldn’t have developed an interdependence complex?


2 Responses to “What it means to be modern”

  1. […] were beaten and tortured by the Genoa police at a G8 summit.  That was July.  Two months later an even more violent protest against globalisation took place in New York and Washington (overshadowing Genoa and as a result […]

  2. Cristine said

    I do not drop a great deal of remarks, however i did a few searching
    and wound up here What it means to be modern | The Interdependence
    Complex. And I do have a couple of questions for you if you usually do not mind.
    Could it be only me or does it seem like a few of the remarks appear as if they are written by brain dead visitors?
    :-P And, if you are posting at other social sites, I’d like to follow anything fresh you have to post.
    Could you list of all of all your communal sites like
    your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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