Sunday, 3 December 2000

From "The Shape of the Signifier"

By Walter Benn Michaels.

It is in this sense that the cold war may be (and often was) described as universalizing, as involving every part of the world and potentially every part of the universe. The point is not merely the geopolitical one that the two countries involved were so powerful that their spheres of influence more or less blanketed the world. The point is rather the logical one that the question as to which of two social systems is better is intrinsically universal: the belief that private ownership of property is unjust has no particular geographical application; to prefer communism (or capitalism) is to prefer it everywhere for everyone. A notion like sphere of influence, by contrast, can only be local (even if the locale is very large) and hence strategic [...]

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