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The Empire of Knowledge: Culture and Plurality in the Global Economy

The Empire of Knowledge: Culture and Plurality in the Global Economy

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During the media frenzy over the Millennium celebrations, there was little mention of the fact that, for the majority of the world, there was no Millennium at all. This linear understanding of time is a specifically Western - and Christian - concept. This is just one example of the homogenization of knowledge that Vinay Lal uses to demonstrate that nearly every idea which we take for granted in the west is part of a politics of ideas. Oppression is usually associated with class struggle, military power, and other forms of economic monopoly. Lal looks beyond this, deconstructing the cultural assumptions that have emerged alongside capitalism, to offer a devastating critique of the politics of knowledge at the heart of all powerbroking.

Other topics examined are the concept of "development", which has created a generally accepted hierarchy of "developed" and "developing" countries, providing a mandate for surreptitious colonization; and the idea of the 'nation state', something we have lived with for no more than two centuries, yet is accepted without question. Linking this to the emergence of 'international governance' through the United Nations, the US, and imperial economic bodies (such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization), Lal explains how such universalisms came to dominate the trajectory of Western thought. "No More Requiems" is an impassioned account of the need to move towards an emancipatory politics of plurality and democracy that reveals which competing categories of knowledge can claim our allegiance for the future.