Richard Marshall interviews McKenzie Wark in 3:AM Magazine:
3:AM: You have an interesting take on globalization – it’s not as clean or stable as it is sometimes presented and it’s something that seems to frame a deal of your thinking. It’s also an idea that is recently beginning to look less obviously definitive of what the future and the near present may look like – I was reading about how some economists are beginning to talk about nationalist economics again – so first can you give us a sketch of where your thinking is about what globalization and its media space is today and how it may have changed since you started writing about it in the 90’s. Has the nature of its chaos changed?
MW: What makes ‘globalization’ even possible in the first place? One answer would be that it requires the regularization of some kind of media and communication infrastructure. When you have that, you might get globalized economic trade within some political or imperial framework, but it is likely you’ll get transnational cultural flows as well.
This was clear when I was in China in the late eighties. Deng Xiaoping had mandated, at one and the same time, the ‘open door policy’ on trade and a campaign against ‘spiritual pollution’ on culture. It turned out that when you open the door to one you’re likely to get the other whether you want it or not.
So it might be best to think about both kinds of border-crossing vector – economic and cultural – at the same time, and as dependent on the same media and communication form. Then you find that they can interact in all sorts of interesting ways. Globalizing trade can lead to a cosmopolitan culture, but also to all sorts of nationalistic or racist or patriarchal reactions to those as breaches of imaginary communities. And the relation can be reversed. A reaction against the free flow of culture can contribute to a nationalistic turn in political-economy.