Sunday, December 04, 2005
41] Hegemony and Spaces of Knowledge/Power
Hegemony and Spaces of Knowledge/Power in the Conceptualization of Malaysia’s new ‘intelligent cities”: a Focoultian analysis of Malaysia’ s Multimedia Super Corridor Introduction This essay concerns how what is connotated by the phrase “digital or cybernetic revolution” is “inscribed” onto the landscape of humanity, particularly that of Malaysia, a state governed by what de Certeau (1984) might term as, the “scriptural economy.” It starts with the premise that a concept can become ideology, and then architectural landscape, and then a paradigm of control over political, cultural, and economic spaces. It hopes to suggest how human beings are conditioned and opiated by signs and symbols produced and reproduced by those who own the means of technological and intellectual productions (Marx & Engels, 1967). The central feature of this brief study is an exploration of the nature of hegemony as consciousness-production and the creation of what Varenne (2003) might term as “constraints of culture” rather than the creation of its “possibilities” for human liberation. I am exploring how ideas flow transculturally, become inscription, get installed as systems of control, and evolve into ideology that becomes yet another indigenized systems of thought and material- formation. In my exploration of the concept of hegemony, I am concerned with its nature and the subdivisions it produces, as well as with how the system of consciousness-formation is layered in all its complexities and become what Marx would now perhaps call “prozac” of a higher potency and dosage. To this end, this study looks at the conceptualization and the building of the “intelligent” and “digital” city of Cyberjaya in hyper-modernizing Malaysia, a business capital and the economic nerve of a grand-scale real estate project called “Multimedia Super Corridor” (henceforth, “MSC”) of the regime of Mahathir Mohamad, her fourth Prime Minister. I propose that the introduction of new technologies into social spheres will facilitate the maintenance of ideology, which will then help direct policies, establish new institutions that will then create newer forms of hegemonic conditions that will continue to benefit the ruling class. I argue, hegemonic conditions, processes, and consequences will further advance the development of higher forms of technologies that will then, through the idea of human-machine interaction, establish better systems of control. Such a cyclical and structurally systematic operation, as I have suggested in the cycle of hegemony in Figure 1 below, determines the nature of the sophistication of hegemony. Hence, the owners of the means of production of technologies will also be executive directors of the processes. Spaces of knowledge/power are created. Rather than addressing hegemony merely from a “Gramscian” perspective, I choose to analyze this concept using a mixed-method approach. I call this formulation “towards a theory of hegemonic formations” and use multidimensional perspectives to look at how the concept of “cybernetics” transforms the development of this state in Southeast Asia. I hope to generate a “thick description” of the hegemonic process. This study looks at the “high and low stakes” of nations undergoing development in the age of high-speed globalization and ideological rapidization. The idea of Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), a grand project of social transformation, is a major feature of its political leadership’s agenda for national development. University lecturers like me were considered part of the class of “knowledge workers” mandated to explain to the people what these changes are about and how these benefit the rakyat (“the people”). I was a lecturer in Malaysia’s sixth public university, Universiti Utara Malaysia in Sintok, Kedah (which specializes in Management studies) teaching courses such as English as a Second Language, Foreign Policy, Management Ethics, and Thinking Skills. The mid-1990s saw the intensification of the development of Malaysia’s management sciences based upon advanced principles of Taylorism (Schmidt & Finnigan, 1993; Vavrek, 1992) which then permeated into virtually all spheres of management, including perhaps “Islamic Management System.” The idea of the MSC was part of the ethos of Information Systems Management, which would then be a formula to “cybernate” the nation towards progress and to “quantum leap” Malaysia into the Information Age (Mohamad, 1998). It was felt that the nation needed a newer set of installation as “commanding heights” of the scriptural economy. Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth prime minister oversaw the major national transformation. The ideology of technological progress and the notion of riding the waves of globalization along with the steering of the nation to a “Vision 2020” (a metaphorical date of the end of the benchmark of national development) —all these became the raison d’etre and the leitmotif of the Mahathir regime. My research question/Inquiry theme My interest in this brief study is to find out how variant the concept of hegemony might be, and how might Focoult’s idea of space/knowledge (Focoult, XXXX) be applicable in looking at the issue of control in the spaces of power human beings create. Rationale for the Study Why study Malaysia? It is an interesting state which can be looked at as a “laboratory of social and global experimentation” after having undergone historical periodizations such as pre-colonial kingdomship and “overlordships,” colonialism, independence, development of statehood, and finally, participation in the globalized economy. The rationale of this study lies in investigating the role technology plays in the deep-structuring of hegemony and how it interplays with the political and the productive forces of the state. Another rationale lies in studying the way capitalism is characterized into what many scholars have termed as “informational” capitalism (Castells, 2000). I also hope to uncover the political psychology of control (see Marcuse, 1985) as the system has evolved culturally; a blend of traditional systems of control aided by an emergent system technologically-inspired (see Beniger, 1986). In studying the idea of “inscriptions,” a key feature of this exploration, the study will attempt to contribute to our understanding of how “concepts get inscribed” onto the landscape and then become ideology which then become consciousness which ultimately continue to change the relations of production and brings about the creation of a technological culture. I now present a background of the country. Malaysia: Geography, Demographics, History, and Politics In the following sections, I discuss the background information, namely the geography, demography, history, and politics of Malaysia that will help situate this study of Malaysian transformation. Geography Malaysia consists of East and West Malaysia of which the former is an island that also includes the Indonesian territory of Kalimantan and the latter, a peninsula. The South China Sea separates the two land mass (see the map in Figure 13). The country is located on the Southeastern part of Asia, consisting of a peninsula and the island of Borneo that borders Indonesia and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam. Malaysia has a total size of 329, 750 square kilometers. It has a tropical monsoon climate. Its strategic resources are tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, and bauxite. Demographics The 2002 population of Malaysia is estimated to be about 23 million people, with almost 2 per cent rate of population growth. About 34 percent of its population is between the age of zero to fourteen, almost 62 percent between the ages fifteen to 64, and about 5 percent falls in the category of sixty-five and over. Malays and indigenous peoples collectively termed as “Bumiputras” (literally “Sons of the Soil”) consist of 58 per cent of the population, Chinese 24%, and Indians and others 10%. Malay or Bahasa Malaysia is the official language while English, Chinese (of various dialects such as Cantonese, Mandarin, Hakka, Hainan, and Foochow) and Indian (of the dialects Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, and Panjabi) and Thai are spoken. In East Malaysia, the languages of the tribes of Iban and Kadazan are spoken. The literacy rate is 83.5 per cent of the total population. The current emphasis in this country’s literacy education is on “computer literacy” or the ability to be technologically literate so that the people can fully participate in the “Information Age” and be intellectually resilient enough to participate in the globalization process (Mohamad, 2002). History I will now sketch a brief history of Malaysia, particularly of it as a former British colony, to situate the development of The MSC that houses Cyberjaya. Ancient history of the Malay peninsula chronicle the region as a vibrant crossroad of trade called “The Maritime Silk Trade Route” in which the crosswinds help facilitate the maritime trade in Asia (Braddell, 1980; Jacq-Hergoualc’h, 2002). The earliest most powerful kingdom that is linked to the Malays is Sriwijaya (Coedès & Damais, 1992). Arguably, the history of modern Malaysia began with the founding of the kingdom of Melaka (Malacca) in the early 1400. Islam, brought to the Malay Islands by Arab and Indian Muslim traders in the 1300s, was the religion of the traditional rulers of the Melakan kingdom and the feudal system was the feature of statecraft. Melaka was said to be established by a Javanese prince Parameswara in exile from a power struggle in Palembang, Sumatra (Osman, 1997). The prince, before reaching Melaka, transited in the island of Temasik, (in what is now the city-state of Singapore,) and murdered the Siamese overlord that was governing the island under a Siamese tutelage system. Escaping to the neighboring peninsula, Parameswara rested under a Melaka tree in a spot he came to immediately like after he witnessed a kancil (a small reindeer-like animal) overcame a dog. Upon seeing that incident, Parameswara decided to name the declared area of his kingdom, Melaka after the name of the tree he was resting under. Hence generations of the Javanese assassin-prince came to be known as Sultans, ruled the enlarged territory of strategic waterway significant to the growth of the early Malay kingdom (Bastin & Winks, 1979). The kingdom of Melaka was short-lived; the navigational and gun power of the Portugese was more superior to those of the Melakkans. The kingdom fell to Portugese rule in 1511. The Portugese possessed superior navigational and military technology, facilitating the conquest of Melaka. The date became the earliest of a series of European colonialism. Melaka, after the Portugese, was taken over by the Dutch who saw Southeast Asia as an economic region rich in spices (Andaya & Andaya, 1982). Next came the period of British colonialism. The superior sea power of the British Empire as well as its sophistication in navigational and gunnery technology, fuelled by the Christian military-millinearistic ideology of "Guns, Guts, and Glory," facilitated Malaya to be handed over from the Dutch. British rule was the longest of the colonial rules; it left an indelible impact on the historical-materialistic and ideological landscape of the once considered glorious Malay kingdom (Funston,1980; Gullick, 2000; Milner, 1982). The British colonization of Malaya, much like that of the Dutch in Indonesia, the French in Indochina, the Spaniards in the Philippines (Tarling, 2001), was the feature of nineteenth century imperialism. On August 31st, 1957 Malaya was officially and peacefully granted independence. It was in September of 1963 that the Federated and non-Federated states of Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and initially Singapore united to form what is now known as Malaysia (Funston, 2001; Khoo, 1991; Ongkili, 1985). In 1965 however, the busy port of Singapore, one of the earliest British Straits settlement, ceased to be a member of the Malaysian federation and became an independent city-state. The newly formed Malaysia had to “expel” Singapore for political, geographic, electoral, and demographic reasons—Singapore had too many Chinese that would threaten the new Malay-dominated federation (see for example, Milne & Mauzy, 1999). There were several reasons why the British gave Malaysia its independence. One is that it is costly for the Britain to maintain the states because of the growth of Malaysia's population, and the ailing British Empire saw that it was no longer profitable to maintain colonies. Furthermore, the attractive idea of self-determinism was gaining momentum especially in the form of nationalist struggles, armed or un-armed, all over the world, with the Beijing-based Marxist-Leninist inspired Malaysian Communist Party as an example of anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist armed struggle (Chin, 1994). In Malaysia, education in various forms was beginning to produce people within each of the ethnic communities not content to leaving their future entirely in British hands. Anti-colonialist attitudes were stirring in the 1930's, heralding strong Malay political organization later (Khoo, 1991; Milne & Mauzy, 1986). Independence was granted also when the natives were perceived as already been given enough skills and training to govern the country albeit in the style of British colonial administration known as the Civil Service. Many from the aristocratic class went through the process of education for social and political enculturalization through the British education system. Sons of the Malay sultans were sent to Britain to pursue studies in law and administration. In Malaya itself, English-medium (known as “English-type”) schools proliferated in all the states paving way for a systematic form of education for social reproduction and for the continuation of British Imperialist ideology. In other words, the structuring of hegemony or the inscribing of the ideology of colonialism at the level of education of the nations was a feature of the strategy of British imperialism (Heussler, 1981; Stockwell, 1995). An important consequence of colonialism was thus the creation of a class of administrative elite among the "Sons of the Soil": or the Bumiputras out of the sons of the traditional Malay Sultans. Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj, son of the Sultan of Kedah, was educated in Britain. Trained in the British Administrative tradition, he governed like a British official inspired by Malay nationalism couched in British idealism inscribing British tradition of civil service onto the minds of the traditional people. Malaysia's second Prime Minister Abdul Razak, and the third Prime Minister, Hussein Onn, was also British-educated. Malaysia's fourth and recently retired (on October 31st 2003) Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, is the only Malaysian Prime Minister that was not British-educated (see Cheah, 1999). The education of Mahathir Mohamad and the system he evolved through, has contributed much to the manner the state's development policies were engineered, illustrated in his early writings on society, politics, and education (Mohamad, 1995). His fondness of "Looking East," i.e. his deep admiration of the Japanese and "Buying British Last" and his suggestions of creating an "East Asia Economic Caucus" (EAEC) are among the slogans and proposals used to create a sense of identity in the few decades after Independence (Milne & Mauzy, 1999). It is against this backdrop of this Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, and his administration's coming back to "Asian values" whilst at the same time, seeing the power of Information Technology that the MSC was created (Moggie, 2002). Politics As mentioned earlier, Malaysia was granted independence on the 31st of August 1957 and was established as a Federation on July 9, 1963. Its political system is one of Constitutional Monarch, fashioned after the British monarchy and Parliamentary systems, understandably because of the influence of British colonialism. It has nine hereditary rulers in charge of religious and ceremonial affairs to safeguard the interests and rights of the Malays. The hereditary rulers elect their Supreme Ruler or the Yang Di Pertuan Agong every five years (CIA, 2003). The head of state functions as a rubber stamp monarch to facilitate the operations of the State. The parliamentary system is bicameral, consisting of a non-elected Upper/Senate/Dewan Negara and an elected Lower House/House of Representatives/Dewan Rakyat. There are thirteen states and two federal territories (of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan). The newest federal territory is the city of Putrajaya, an ancillary subject of this study (CIA). At present, the National Front (Barisan Nasional) which consists of a coalition of communal/ethnic-based political parties has ruled Malaysia since Independence. The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) dominates the coalition that consists of The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and other ethic-based parties from East Malaysia (Mauzy, 1983). The leader of the coalition has traditionally become the Prime Minister. At the time of the writing of this dissertation, an alternative coalition, called Barisan Alternatif, was formed out of three parties namely Malaysian Islamic Party (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia), National Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Malaysia), and the Malaysia People’s Party (Partai Rakyat Malaysia). It is expected that the coming general election of December 2003 will see the communal-based ruling coalition party being seriously challenged by the new opposition-coalition that aspires to create a new politics organized not along communalism but on social justice, human rights, and inter-racial understanding. The unresolved multivariate issues concerning economic development, democracy, human rights, communalism and class politics will be the areas of contestation of the politics of this nation (Said & Emby, 1996). Conclusion In the preceding sections, I have briefly outlined the geographic, demographic, historical, and political aspects of Malaysia. These provide a background to this study of a nation with almost eighty percent of its economy engaged in service and manufacturing, a transition from the agricultural-based economy. The history of the nation is characterized by periods of transformation from one political entity to another: overlordship, kingdomship, colony, to self-government and sovereign state integrated into the closely-knit global production system. In the following chapter, I shall detail the development of the MSC. The medical doctor turned politician became the Prime Minister of Malaysia on July 16, 1981 (i.e. for more than 22 years) in a Malaysia that has been independent for only 46 years. He finally retired on October 31, 2003. I now proceed with a review of select literature. Review of Selected Literature The Mantra of Information Technology and its Sources In Sanskrit, the word “mantra” (mentera in Malay ) means formula. In the context of this study, the mantra is correlated to the idea of a grand strategy or a belief system in the form of political ideology that permeates the consciousness of the leader and the led or the author and the authored. Inscribed onto the consciousness of the people, via print, broadcast, and electronic media is the mantra of economic success rapidized by information technologies. The formula for success many developing nations, such as Malaysia, is undertaking is one characterized by the dependency on Informational Communications Technologies (ICT) particularly on the technology of the Internet/broadband to fuel the engine of capitalist development, relegating the state as a haven for cheap pool of labor in the microchips industry (McMichael, 1996). The mantra of success is one driven by the belief in the formula of “cybernetics.” I will discuss how the cybernetic chant, one orchestrated and broadcast by the government, permeates through the social environment. In this section, I shall relate the idea and genealogy of cybernetics to the idea of what is currently known as “Information Age” or its varying and more fanciful terms such as “The Age of Cybernetics,” or “The Networked Economy,” or “The Digital Age.” I will then relate the idea of this “formula” of cybernetics to the notion of “inscription” of the ideology onto the landscape of human consciousness since the beginning of the second half of the twenty-first century. On Cybernetics The idea of “Information Society” or “The Network Society” stems out of the revolution in computing and has transformed our psychological, ideological, and material landscape of humanity. Social relations of production are altered and transformed as a result of new patterns of division of labor in what Gleick (1988) would call patterns that arise out of randomness and chaos. There are different levels of meaning of cultural change as it is impacted historically by “technologies of the body,” such as the Internet. In the case of cybernetics as technologies of the mind, this seems to be a “natural progression of late stage of capital formation” and in fact, as Marcuse (1941) and many a Frankfurt School analysts (e.g. Horkheimer, 1973) would call an age wherein technologies are at its final stage of development which will actually liberate humanity out of mundanity as a consequence of automation. Hence cybernetics, as a foundation of artificial intelligence and a philosophy close to the Cartesian philosophy of the mind and appealing to the "philosophy of human liberation via technological feats," is at the present, the highest stage in the development of techno-capitalism. This proposition is reminiscent of Lenin’s conclusion on the analysis of capitalism made almost a century ago (Lenin, 1916). Writings on social structures and political theory have primarily centered on the relationship between Capital, Humanity, and Nature. Many have written on how capitalism appropriates natural resources through the creation of labor and surplus value, which will then establish classes (See Frank, 1966; Wallerstein 1981, 1990; Wignaraja, 1993;) and habitus (Bourdieu, 1994). The debates that rage between the proponents of free market enterprise and command or controlled economies revolve around the issue of human nature, and who gets to control the production and dissemination and the monopoly of capital. At times, on a different plane there is also the reflection on the need for capital to be interpreted not only as physical or material, but also as cultural, and metaphysical. The central issue of these writings and debate and reflections is of equality and equity; an issue that continues to plague humanity in this age of rapidized technological developments, as echoed by many a contemporary social theorist (Bell, 1976; Ellul, 1964). In the age of cybernetics, Rousseau’s (1755/1992) notion of the discourse on the inequality amongst men can be used to explain the evolution of contemporary social problematique such as digital divide, architecture of power, and the erosion of the Self into fragmented and miniscule selves (Turkle, 1997). Other themes also include the furtherance of protectionist democracy via the use of tools of cybernetics, the control over the coding, encoding, and decoding of information by those who monopolize information, and a range of other tools of imperialism and domination and hegemony deployed and employed to the fullest advantage of those who owns the means of social reproduction. And those who own the means to control these processes can also own the means to engineer cultural reconfigurations (see Adorno, 1991; Chomsky, 1989; Horkheimer, 1973; Said, 1993). The nature of thought formation and consciousness production in the world of broadcast media (Bagdikian, 1983) can be exemplified in the media capitalism of Rupert Murdoch whose empire span Britain and the United States (Fallows, 2003) made possible by the modern oligopolic system of capital accumulation (see for examples, Barnet & Muller, 1974; California Newsreels, 1978 for an early analysis of oligopoly). The scientific paradigm of cybernetics, by virtue of its origin in the mathematical and exact sciences, out of the Copernican Revolution, of Newtonian physics and of Principia Mathematica, onwards to its march of Classical Physics, and next, Quantum Physics and Informational and Decisional Sciences and so on— is a science which has appropriated the "Natural-ness" of the art of being human. Being a paradigm subjected to the development of propositions, verification by the testing of hypotheses, falsification by the rejecting and accepting of the null, and replicating these processes and so on and so forth (Rosenblueth, Wiener, & Bigelow, 1968), cybernetics creates a "space" between what is Natural and what is Artificial. In-between these spaces, Technology as the motivator of civilizations to progress and to dominate, to extent the limits of what otherwise is impossible (for example the navigational technology of Christopher Columbus which made it possible to open up European colonization of the Native Indians of Amerigo Vespucci's America) is also psychologically, a way to create the Technocratic and Authoritarian self. In between these spaces of Nature versus the Artificial lie Media as technology of the mediated self. Technology, as it is developed not by the hands of the "Author" has thence become a powerful tool of the surreal—of inequality amongst men (Rousseau, 1755/1992). Popular culture presents technology as a colonizer of humanity, as exemplified by the theme of the movie, The Matrix (Mason & Silver (Producers), & Wachowski & Wachowski (Directors), 1999). Cybernetics as a paradigm of thinking about the technology of action and feedback and the loops they produce (see Bertalanffy, 1968; Simon, 1996; Wiener, 1954) is an interesting synthesis of three theoretical orientations: logical positivism, critical theory, and phenomenology (see Bredo & Feinberg, 1982). The paradox is that on the one hand, it is derived from the Classical and Quantum Physics, on the one hand, it is a good foundational philosophy of technologism which combines many fields to form a unified theory of living things (like Critical Theory's attempt to universalize and integrate the disciplines, albeit in a dialectical fashion), and on the other hand, Cybernetics too is phenomenological. Precisely because we can derive three clusters of theories out of the paradigms above makes Cybernetics appealing and hegemonizing. The Internet as a manifestation of the ideology of cybernetics is a good example of how it is both a technology of advanced logical-positivism, and at the same time, one that is employed to make the concept of democracy more “accessible” when one goes into the study of free speech on the Internet. Cybernetics and the Idea of Cyberjaya. What is the link between the mantra of Cybernetics and the creation of Malaysia’s Cyberjaya? In Figure 2, I propose a visual representation of a possible link between Cybernetics and Cyberjaya; on how the idea of cybernetics, as Systems Theory (employed to explain the nature of how living systems operate in a loop-feedback fashion, as Bertalanffy (1968) suggested undergoes transcultural evolution. The idea is now interpreted and transmutated by the government of Malaysia to mean the base and superstructure of hypermodern digital cities such as Cyberjaya, a city that embodies a new spirit of national development. Hence, the term evolved from the description of the physics of living things to the politics of domination and control in what I argue, is commonly known in the world of militarism, as the science of Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3 I). Malaysia’ s economic development follows the path of Western-styled developmentalism and can be characterized as Wallerstein (1981) would propose, attempting to liberate itself from the shackle of dependency of the post-colonial system. The creation of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) (see Multimedia Development Corporation [MDC], 2003) is a testimony of the political leadership’s subscription to the Rostowian and many a laissez-faire theorists’ model (see for e.g. Rostow, 1960) of economic growth. Castells and Hall (1994) also wrote about the developmental feature of states undergoing economic transformations as a result of the informational revolution, in what the authors term as the development of “technopoles” or new economic growth centers as a consequence of the computer revolution. The MSC is in fact, inspired by the success of the California’s Silicon Valley and Boston’s Highway 128 (Castells & Hall). In the preceding paragraphs, I illustrate the notion of “inscriptions;” how the idea of “cybernetics” drawn from Quantum Physics, gets enculturalized onto the landscape of the Malaysian advanced developmentalist project called “Cyberjaya”—all these under the logical-positivist notion of human and national development. The paragraphs above, by way of a review of a sensitizing concept, thus represent the nature of cybernetics. Because my exploration in this esay concerns the concept of hegemony that is derived from cybernetics, a review of this nature is necessary; that genealogy is an essential tool of analysis. The thrust of the transformation in Malaysia is in the idea of technological, mainly technological literacy, as a vehicle of change and as a new definition of literacy. A key element of the production and reproduction of the ideology of cybernetics as it made possible the creation of the real estate of Malaysia’s MSC is education. Whilst Stanford University propelled the growth of California’s Silicon Valley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology helped to re-stimulate the growth of The Greater Boston Area (Highway 128), in the case of Malaysia, the establishment of Malaysia’s Multimedia University is designed to help the country achieve a similar impact, in an era the economist, Thurow (1997) would call “brain power industries.” On Hegemony Writings on the idea of hegemony, with its Greek root word “hegemon” meaning “to lead,” have mainly been popularly attributed to the work of Antonio Gramsci. For the Italian writer, “hegemony” represents a moment in history, or a “historical bloc” in which the leader (in this case Mussolini,) gains acceptance based on his ability to lead, morally and intellectually (Gramsci, 1971). The status of civil society is achieved when the “masses” or the people led accepted the idea of the ruling class (the regime and its doctrine) as “common sense.” The circumstance of the acceptance of this condition, according to Gramsci, is made possible with the dominance of “Fordism” as a common-sensical ideology; of which man’s creative instincts are controlled, through a rationalization process ideologized by Fordism and Americanism (Gramsci). Historically nonetheless, the idea of “hegemony” is certainly not new. Religion, myth, and the supernatural have played its “hegemonic role” in maintaining a “common sensical” view of how human beings should be cast and ordered in the ladder of existence and how to behave or be controlled socially and politically. The idea of the “divine rights of kings” in the Middle Ages, is illustrated in the classic case of France’s Louis XIV, “The Sun King” who ruled for 72 years from the age of 4 (Spielvogel, 2003), or universally, as in the case of feudal monarchs in China, Japan, and India. In Marx’s later writings (Marx & Engels, 1888/1967), the analyses centered around the relationship between the development of classes to the maintenance of the ideology produced by the ruling class through hegemonic formations that correspond to the mode of economic production. In a similar vein, Rousseau wrote about hegemony in his idea of “social contract” in which the ruler and the ruled is bound by a covenant that would facilitate the maintenance of an orderly society (1987). World systems theorists write about hegemony and hegemonic transitions in the rise and fall of civilizations and in the historical process of capital accumulation (Frank & Gills, 1993). In modern times, besides the Internet, television continues to play its role in maintaining the hegemony of promoting consumer culture and the ideology of the advanced capitalism. In the case of the Malay society, the idea of “hegemony” or “political common sense” can be traced to the myth of the covenant between Sang Sapurba (the mystic/philosopher-king) and Demang Daun Lebar (the ruler/representative of the people) in which the myth states that as long as the leader is just, the people will not depose him (Syed-Omar, 1993). Hegemony is also achieved through the installation, imposition, and inscription of the British colonial mode of production (Buckley, 1984; Tarling, 2001) that put the class of colonial serfs or indentured slaves (padi farmers, tin miners, and rubber tappers) in an orderly and appealing master-serf relationship (Alatas, 1977; Syed-Omar, 1993). Memmi (1957/1965) would term this a classic colonizer-colonized relationship in which colonialism became not only a phenomena of economic exploitation but a complex psychological and cultural construct. Syed-Omar especially analyzed the concept of “daulat,” which connotes “the divine rights of the Kings” as a hegemonic state of political being-ness wrought upon the Malays, especially during the Malacca sultanate spanning to the present day of the reign of the Constitutional Monarch and the nine hereditary rulers. If in the days of the Sultanate of Melaka, “daulat” plays its role as a hegemonizing strategy similar to that of the concept of the “divine rights of kings,” in modern Malaysian political context, the modern state or the “kerajaan” (a synthesis of the concept of kingdom and statehood) operates to maintain that hegemony. The idea of “daulat” is cleverly inscribed onto the consciousness of the Malays. A good citizen is defined as one who is law abiding, God-fearing, and one who pays total allegiance to the Malay sultans or rajas and the Constitutional Monarch such that to question the supremacy of the rule of the Ceremonial King would constitute treason. Khoo (1991) who analyzed the transformation of the Malay society from the times of the Melaka Sultanate to the emergence of the Malay nationalism wrote on the idea of a good Malay subject as one who surrenders total obedience to his/her Ruler (the Sultan or the Raja). The king is said to be “[Allah’s] representative on this earth” (Syed-Omar, 1993, p. 45) and thus bestowed upon him is the Divine Rights. Social status is calibrated based on the sophistication of the signs and symbols of the Malay sultanate. For example, royal awards are presented yearly to those who have demonstrated good service and relationship to and in accordance with the specifications and alignments of the Constitutional Monarchical system. Upon receiving these awards, some recipients would even be given honorific title that would elevate their social status; an endowment of symbolic power as a result of the process of accumulation of “cultural capital” (see Bourdieu, 1994). The notion of the “daulat” or the divine sanction still continues to this day. One cannot question the legitimacy of the Malay sultans and rajas and the special rights of the Malays and a legal consequence of this would be among others, one can be detained without trial for a maximum of two years under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (ISA). The rights that came about from the myth now become juridical; as enshrined in the constitution to protect the Malaysia protecting the institution of the Malay Sultanate. Ahmad (1966) and Maaruf (1984) analyzed the concept of a hero in Malay society in which Hang Tuah, the most celebrated and cultural iconic warrior in Malay history is characterized as one who pledges blind loyalty to the Sultan. The image of the warrior-blind loyalist is well inscribed into the literature and consciousness of the Malays (Salleh, 1999), as powerful as the hegemony of the Hindu epic Ramayana (Buck, 1978) in shaping the development of the Hindu-Buddhist tradition in Southeast Asia (Teeuw, 1979). Today, enshrined is the modern-day doctrine of allegiance to the ruler in the form of the “Rukunegara” or the “Principles of the Nationhood.” The ideological state apparatuses are employed to advance the economic development of the nation as well as to maintain social order so that the state can continue to pursue its development projects along the lines of State-sponsored capitalism that is increasingly taking the character of the corporation nation-state colored by politics of race; a system that continues to prosper via a tight nexus between politics and business (Gomez & Sundram, 1999). Cyberjaya and Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Project Under Mahathir, Malaysia created what is called a “cyber-society” run from an administrative capital called Putrajaya located in its grand scale project, The MSC. The latter is built on several hundred square kilometers of area in which “seven flagship applications” is its feature. It mimics California’s Silicon Valley and models after what Castells and Hall (1994) call the concept of a “technopole” by which Malaysia (see Figure 18) will be moved to a new paradigm of living based upon the “humane application of high technology” manifested in the sub concepts of Electronic Government, Electronic Banking, Electronic Commerce, Manufacturing, Research and Development, Smart Cards, and National Smart Schools. Interestingly, the word “application” as commonly used to describe a computer program is used in the Malaysian MSC project as a major sector of the economy to be transformed on a grand scale. The biggest airport in Asia, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was built to facilitate the development of Cyberjaya. From the “wired-up” capital city as the initial program of mega-structural change, the Malaysian government planned to create cyber-principalities out of the thirteen states constituting the federation. Mahathir envisioned that by the metaphorical year of 2020, the country will have achieved in its own mould the status of an advanced fully-industrialized nation able to compete with other advanced industrialized economies namely the United States of America, Europe, Japan, and Singapore. Accordingly, the notion of such an advancement would however be based upon a strong foundation of religious and moral values. The Prime Minister eulogizes in “Cyberjaya: The model intelligent city in the making”: Cyberjaya is envisaged to be the model multimedia haven for leading, innovative multimedia companies from all over the world to spin a ‘web’ that will mutually enrich all those involved with it. Especially created as the first MSC designated cybercity, it enables world-class companies to take full advantage of the unique package Malaysia offers to create an environment that is fully conducive towards exacerbating the growth of information technology and multimedia industries. It offers a high capacity global and logistics infrastructure, backed by a ‘soft’ infrastructure, which includes financial incentives and competitive telecoms tariffs, as well as a set of new cyberlaws that will form a legal framework to facilitate the growth of electronic commerce. (Mohamad, MDC, n.d., p. 2) Malaysia—Co-authored by International Inscribers In realizing this dream, Malaysia invited a panel of advisors from the United States, Europe, and Japan, among these Chief Executive Officers/Presidents of corporations such as Acer Incorporated, Alcatel Alsthom, Microsoft Corporation, Bechtel Group Incorporated, British Telecom, Cisco Systems, Compaq Computers Corporation, DHL, Ericsson, Fujitsu Limited, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Motorola Corporation, Netscape Communications, Reuters, Motion Picture Association of America, Twentieth Century Fox, Bloomberg and tens of others of global giants in the telematics and media-related industries . Mahathir chairs the panel whereas the respective companies set up shop in the technological growth area. Professors of Business and Public Policy from Silicon Valley’s Stanford University are among those guiding the development of Malaysia’s cyber initiatives. Malaysian subsidiaries of these giants in the world of multi-billion dollar club transnational corporations have been set up for such a project. There are also active “world-class” companies in operation in the MSC. Table 1 below summarizes information on some of the world-class companies/international inscribers of Malaysia’s project. The experience of the technological industry in California became an impetus and hence a text to be translated in the case of the creation of Malaysia’s MSC. The role of the International Advisory Panel as corporate authors can be a good illustration of how under the regime of Mahathir, the state continues to be authored by foreign writers in the guise of an International Advisory Panel to the Multimedia Super Corridor. As of September 2003, there is a total of 149 members of the advisory panel. The advisory panel meets every year to primarily give advice on strategic matters of the nation’s transformation as well as to give the image that Malaysia’s development is in harmony with the well-being of the world’s giant transnational corporations. COMPANY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN NTT Japan Intel USA Siemens Multimedia Germany Fujitsu Japan DHL U.S.A Motorola Multimedia U.S.A Fujitsu Telecoms Japan Sun Microsystems U.S.A BT Multimedia Netherlands Lucent Technologies U.S.A. S.I.T.A. (Societe Internationale De Telecommunications Aeronautiques) Belgium Nokia Finland EDS U.S.A Unisys U.S.A Reuters U.K Bloomberg U.S.A Ericsson Sweden Microsoft U.S.A. Rockwell Automation Singapore/Malaysia Shell Information Technology Holland British American Tobacco Britain, U.S.A Castlewood System U.S.A Alcatel Networks France Reach Internet Services Hong Kong/Australia IBM U.S.A. Comptel Communications Finland Lotus Engineering United Kingdom Technomen Finland Biodata Systems Germany Scope International United Kingdom CISCO U.S.A Huawei Technologies Hong Kong Fortum Sendi United Kingdom IT-365 Malaysia United Kingdom Satyam Computer Services India Smart Trust Finland AVEVA United Kingdom SAP Learning Technologies Singapore Shell Global Solutions Netherlands Schlumberger Technologies France HSBC Electronic Data Processing United Kingdom NEC Systems Integration Japan WIPRO Limited India BMW Technology Germany Computer Associates U.S.A. Figure 19 below suggests the genealogy of the MSC. The experience of California’s Silicon Valley, in which the growth area of the Orange County is aided by the scientific and technological innovative activities of Stanford University, is appropriated in the case of the creation of the MSC. The idea of transforming the nation perhaps existed before the creation of Malaysia’s National Informational Technology Council. Next, came the creation of the Multimedia Development Corporation that oversees the development of The Malaysian Multimedia Super Corridor. Conclusion The economic growth experience of an advanced nation such as The United States of America and especially in the case of the growth of the Silicon Valley became an inspiration for Malaysia’s program of national development. While in the case of Stanford University and Orange County California the growth seem natural, arising out of the technological couture that was nurtured through decades of research and development, Malaysia took the initiative of copying the model and downloading the concept to engineer a program of immediate inscription and installation of the ideology of information-based economic growth. The mentorship for this program of hypermodernized transformation comes from the conglomerate of corporate capitalist of the advanced developing world, most obviously form global-reaching and imperialistic companies such as Microsoft, Netscape, Sony, British Telecom, and even Bloomberg and The Motion Picture Association of America. The mantra of informational technology that has its origin in the research labs at Palo Alto California hence is chanted in Malaysia and the chants inscribed onto the landscape through the authoritarianism of its leader. In the next chapter, I discuss in detail how the mantra that became policies and ideology become texts in corporate brochures, ready to be broadcast and disseminated to the international and local corporate investor and to the rakyat (people) of Malaysia. On Utopianism Malaysia’s grand design in the form of economic transformation aided by the communications revolution is a form of utopianism. Anderson (1991) might describe the project as the creation of an “imagined community,” and Postman (1993) might call it a deliberate attempt to create a “technopoly.” The idea of utopianism is explored alongside the concept of “hegemony” has its roots perhaps as early as when human beings began to organize themselves into “civilized social groups.” But perhaps it is best to begin with the notion of utopia in the writings of Plato especially in his description of a republic ruled by a “philosopher ruler” or a talented aristocracy who has seen the supreme vision after being educated in the best form of democratic ideals (Plato, 1993). The notion of utopia is also written by More (1516/1999), who expounded on a perfect society governed by those who have evolved into ethical beings and achieved the level of nobility. Much of the writing on utopianism centered on the idea of ideological migration from a world no longer suited to advance civilization of that particular time and place (Claeys & Sargent, 1999; Manuel & Manuel, 1979). In each society at any historical period, the idea of a “perfect society” played its role as a benchmark of civilization. Perfect societies are imagined, so are those that portray utopias gone wrong — controlled by those who control the technologies of controlling others. Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-four (1948) is one such fictional example that describes a “dystopia” of a totalitarian regime nonetheless; one in which advanced technology played the role of surveillance in a state run on totalitarian principles in which the individual submits to the all-encompassing power of the “big brother” or the State, in a nation wherein the ideology of “doublespeak” or “contradictions” reign supreme. In this brief study on Malaysia as a developing nation in which Islam is the official state religion, it is necessary to analyze utopianism within the milieu of the Islamic idea of the “ummah” (which connotes a society of people subscribing to the Islamic faith) in which the state’s economic, political, and social development also means the creation of an ideal society based on memory of the glories of the Islamic civilization, particularly the utopianism of Madinah (Medina) as an often-cited model of governance of the Islamic polis. The nature of utopianism in Malaysia hence is religious, making the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) a hybrid of Internet-driven technopoly and Islamic-inspired showcase of glory. Through the findings, I will attempt to show the fundamental character of Malaysian utopianism as conceived by its author, Mahathir Mohamad; a utopia run on high-speed Internet access. The character of Malaysian utopianism (which has religious undertones) is also then, the ancilliaric subject of inquiry of this dissertation. On Technological Determinism A minor, yet fundamentally related concept that I explore in this study is “technological determinism.” It is, the belief that technology is a life force in itself, drives social, economic, and political changes, and becomes a culture (Knorr-Cetina, 1983) that even many social forecaster believe drives global transformations (Naisbitt, 1984; Toffler, 1970). It is a philosophical question with the nature of technology at the center of the inquiry. A survey of writings on this issue can be traced perhaps from Plato’s idea of techne’ (1992/2003) as a fundamental early concept of technics, to those that propose that we are all “being digital” (Negroponte, 1995; Papert, 1999). Ellul (1980/2003) and Mumford (1966) were amongst the pioneers in the debate on the fate of humanity in the face of the advancement of technology; the former writing mainly in the genre of philosophy and ethics of technological progress, the latter, on the architecture of control and power inherent and embedded in it. Writings in the genre of technology as deterministic can also be found in the realm of early literature particularly in the Romantic period, with the idea of “Frankenstein” as the embodiment of human creation called technology, ran amok (Bennett & Robinson, 1990). Heidegger (1993/2003) particularly paid close attention to the issue, cautioning us of the specter called “technology” that is haunting humanity. In addition, writings in the genre of technology and social change particularly with computing technologies, evolved from the early writings on science and technics. These writings propose how we surrender our lives to technology (Reinecke, 1984) in city-states called “technopolies” (Postman, 1993). In this study of Cyberjaya, a “technopole” by definition (see Castells & Hall, 1994), I will explore the nature of “technological determinism.” On Globalization In this study, I also look at the nature of “globalization,” as a phenomena of the movement of goods, people, services, and ideas as a feature of hypermodernity (Appadurai, 1996,) that creates a “McDonaldized” world system (Ritzer, 1998) and how this concept is perceived in the creation of Malaysia’s Cyberjaya as an economic nucleus of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). A plethora of writings has emerged addressing the phenomena of globalization. Foucault (1978) writes about the idea of “Panopticon” as a human condition of being watched like prisoners in a well-designed and well-surveillanced environment in which those in power controls the means of closely observing those that are powerless. The role of surveillance is replaced by systems of control, or the emergence of “biopower” (Hardt & Negri, 2000). In a similar vein, Bauman (1998) also writes about the human consequences of globalization when technology rapidizes the development of social relations, giving rise to a culture of global surveillance in what he called the “opticon-synopticon” dialectic of globalization’s consequences. The nature of globalization is thus, if we take Foucault’s metaphor, synthesize it with Bauman’s (1998) analysis of globalization, we get the notion that we live in an environment controlled by those who owns the means of media production. In short, we live in a world mediated and hegemonized by the “culture industry” (Marcuse, 1964). In many a writing on “globalization,” the issue of “structural violence” (characterized by deep divisions between the economic classes of the peoples of the world) is the central theme (see for e.g. Friedmann, 1992). This view is reminiscence of Harrington’s (1977) 1970s analysis of American capitalism and its consequences. Moreover, decades of capitalist expansion since the end of World War II and particularly, since the breakup of the Soviet Union have seen the deep-structuring of the cultural, economic, and political contradictions of globalization. Keen observers of the phenomena have written on the cultural consequences of “late capitalism” (Bell, 1976; Jameson, 1991; Wallerstein, 1981) inspired perhaps by Lenin’s (1916) thesis on imperialism as a logical consequence of capitalism. And some have coined the age of globalization as one characteristic of American hegemony that helped regulate the structural functioning of the American “empire” (Hardt & Negri, 2000). Methodology In this section, I discuss the methodology used as well as considerations I made when designing the study. I begin with the choice of paradigm, the description of the nature of fieldwork I was engaged in, the sets of I data collected, and next, the process of data gathering and interpretation. Essentially, this is a semiotic study in which I interpret words and visuals and situate them within the framework of analysis of sign, symbols and signifiers. Methodological Rationale: On Semiotics To study the Malaysian MSC with specific focus on the intelligent city of Cyberjaya is a complex task. It warrants a complex mode of analysis that focuses on the role of authoritarianism in relation to the installation of ideological-industrial complexes. In the paragraphs that follow, I outline the development of the study of semiotics. Much of the writings on the origin, development, and refinement of semiotics lie in the field of linguistics and the study of the way language structures, restructures, or alters reality. Plato’s collection of dialogues on Socrates brings awareness to the idea of reality versus appearance in how we conceive and perceive existence. There is imperfection in existence since human beings are thought to live a mediated life. Plato in his work on this subject, especially in Phaedo (Plato, 1954/1961) and The Republic (Plato, 1993) believed that there is a perfect and an imperfect world known respectively as, Essence and Forms. This theory of knowledge, known popularly as “The Doctrine of Reminiscence” derived from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave proposes that humanity is thought to be conditioned by a mediated world of signs and symbols that cloud true consciousness (Plato). The Christian notion of “word becomes flesh” (Rahner, 1985), the Islamic idea that the Koran is a book of signs (Armstrong, 1993; Cleary, 1993; Nasr, 1964; Schimmel, 1985), and that it is believed that the human struggle in this world is a “jihad” or a constant and theologically-demanded struggle against falsehood in accordance with what is decreed by the book of signs, and the Hindu belief that the whole world is a manifestation of the syllable “Om” (Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1957)—all these are the notions of the centrality of signs and symbols in analyzing the phenomena of existence itself, when looked at from the point of view of theology. Hence, the Platonic and religious perspectives of the individual in his/her environment were meant to explain, in genres such as prose and poetry, the forces that define the subjective experience of existence (Abdulla, 2000; Buber, 1958; Kegan, 1982). Writings on the idea of humanity and signs and symbols continue to be produced in subsequent periods having their parallel development in the historical march of literature and philosophy. Writers in the Romantic tradition, particularly Byron, Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth write about the superiority of the human intellect, sense awareness, and the Platonic God (Abrams, 1971) poetizing and narrating the predicament and fate of humanity at the advent of the Industrial Revolution. One might argue that the Romantic period in Western literature precursored the age of Western existential thought of which France and French Algeria for examples, became fertile grounds of powerful analyses concerning the subjectivity of humanity in the face of the structures it lives in (Camus, 1975; Fanon, 1967; Memmi, 1957/1965; Sartre, 1975). In the twentieth century, Humanity as it exists in history and materiality, continues to be a theme of philosophical inquiry. The question of the influence of signs and symbols on consciousness and how they are situated within the material environment the individual is in, is further explored either directly or indirectly especially by existentialist philosophers and writers such as Camus, Kafka, Kiekergaard, and Sartre, (Kaufmann, 1975) and in plays written in the genre of Absurd Theatre by playwrights such as Beckett and Ionesco (Esslin, 2001; Matthews, 1974). The idea of existentialism and the human condition, particularly concerning the meaningfulness of existence in the face of human conditions such as hunger, poverty, discrimination, war, and oppression as written by French philosophers (e.g. Sartre, 1975) became a common theme of inquiry in the arts and humanities. In much earlier writing on this subject, one can find inspiration from the radically existentialist philosophies that grew from a critique of Marxism (see for example, Bakunin, 1953). In Southeast Asia, works of literature especially in the decades characterized by the struggle against colonialism, reflect existentialist themes that attempt to put the human self as victims of systems of signs and symbols created by those who owns the means of intellectual, cultural, and material production (see for example Rendra,1979; Toer, 1993). Contemporary Marxist scholars continue to link the necessity for the existence of signs and symbols to formation, development, proliferation, and sustenance of ideology (Eagleton, 1991). As the twentieth century comes to a close, the field of semiotics began to emerge as an analytical discipline in the study of how language liberates or oppresses. One can now be introduced to terms such as “social semiotics,” “discourse analysis,” “critical discourse analysis,” and others that attempt to suggest that researchers look at signs and symbols from a more sophisticated structuralist perspective in order to further understand the human condition particularly in the age of cybernetics wherein raging philosophical debates is taking place on how the self is a product of a mediated process; one that is not only conditioned by the media (Chomsky, 1989, 2001; Gitlin, 1983; Parenti, 1993) but also by the Internet (Turkle, 1997). In the emerging field of Cultural Studies media theorists writing in the tradition of the Frankfurt School of Social Research (Geuss, 1981; Jay, 1973; Kellner, 1989), and those schooled in French Structuralism see the study of humanity in the ideological and built environment as imperative (see for examples Ang, 1985; de Certeau, 1984; Hall, 1993; Jameson, 1988, 1991; Lefebvre, 1996; Williams, 1977). And theorists trained in the Soviet school of “social semiotics” see the field as valuable and inseparable to the study of human beings and cybernetics (Ivanov, 1977). Citing names such as Barzini, de Saussure, Durkheim, Godel, and Pierce as pioneering contributors, Lekomcev (1977) for example, writes about the multivariate fields the study of semiotics has evolved from. It is also believed that the field of semiotics has its origin in the work of the Russian philosopher Volosinov (Eagleton, 1991). Others have written about the study of “texts” as socially discursive formations (see for example Fairclough, 1992); drawing inspiration from literary themes that conceive the human experience as narrative pieces that tells stories with a major plot and countless subplots, or in terminologies popularly known as Grand and Subaltern narratives. In a similar vein, Said (1978) though not necessarily a semiotician wrote on the idea that perceptions can be shaped by one’s cultural and ideological backgrounds that consequently shape the production of knowledge, as in the case of the Western perception and conception of the “Orient.” Semiotics, nonetheless might arguably begin with the work of Saussure (1916/1983) and is developed further by, amongst major semioticians, Eco (1976) and Kristeva (1980). My methodology is informed by such development of semiotics described in the preceding paragraphs. In this study, I take the perspective of methodological design from such a notion of “texts” and its inter-textuality as Kristeva (1980) would analyze, and how concepts such as power, language, and action inter-relates. Hence, the methodology employed (see Figure 3) includes the analyses of the political actor, corporate brochures, policy speech texts, and photographs of the physical landscape and inscriptions in the area of the MSC. These are the sources of triangulation I used in this study on the reading of the multi-textual signs and symbols and how they in turn, can and ought to be analyzed for example, as many a Critical Theorist might propose, through the methodological lens of ideologikritik (see Habermas, 1971). [FIGURE 3 here] I therefore weave in this study with analyses of these “texts”—from the political actor to the physical landscape and inscriptions”—so that we will not only “read” them, but in the process deconstruct and reconstruct them to answer the fundamental questions raised at the onset of the inquiry on the nature of hegemony and utopianism. In this essay, I will report in the paragraphs below, my analysis of photographs taken while I was studying the concept of spaces of knowledge/power. Photographs. While in Malaysia (in August 2001), I took more than a hundred photographs and even managed to get an aerial view of the Malaysian Multimedia University as I was arriving from the Southern part of Malaysia, en route to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I used a digital and a 35 mm camera interchangeably to take select pictures of the landscape of the MSC. At the onset of the study, I already have an early perspective on what data to choose based on the inquiry theme of hegemony and utopianism. I wanted to look at the signs and symbols in the landscape of the site, how they create spaces of power/knowledge, and consequently discern the signifiers that can be derived. I focused on the signs and symbols that show me the pervasiveness of signs and symbols that are foreign to the culture of the peoples and how these have become architectural landscape and hence a “common sensical” manifestation of the transformation that the nation is undergoing. So, among the sets of photographs that I took were: icons/symbols of American business such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Hard Rock café, the area of the MSC Technology Park, the Petronas Twin Towers and its surrounding, business billboard on highways, and the campus of the Multimedia Super Corridor. The criteria used for taking the photographs are the ones I call “Stanfordization and McDonaldization of Malaysia” or “Cultural-Industrial Complexes” and “Cybernetics Trickle Down.” Apart from taking photographs of signs and symbols that originate from American corporate interests in the nation, of the English language, and the language of corporate advertising that dominates the country, I also took photographs of the language of change that is being transformed in an educational setting such as the naming of streets on the campus of Malaysia’s Multimedia University. I wrote notes to “read” the photographs as texts (see Figure 4 for an example). Photographs taken with a 35 mm camera were scanned onto diskettes or retaken using a digital camera, and then notes (Observer’s Comments—OC) were written beside the picture. The notes also include the date and place the photographs were taken. The camera I used has a built-in date tracker function. So, the dates the photographs are taken were gleaned from the printed copy of the photographs. I took notes of where the photographs were taken after each site visit. And when the photographs were printed, (usually within 48 hours after they were taken,) I labeled the place the photographs were taken. In addition, identifying the place the photographs were taken was also aided by my familiarity with the places I visited. Notes and Fieldnotes. There are two categories of notes I took: notes and fieldnotes. Notes constitute all those taken before and after my field trip. These might not be related directly to the data but made useful to sensitize me to all the aspects of the study. The memoing process in these mini notebooks began even before the proposal of this study was finalized. These were drawn from my own musings on the topic of changes happening in Malaysia, as well as from the many hours of dissertation seminar I sat in Professor Herve Varenne’s classes in Anthropology. [Figure 4] I also wrote notes and memos in an online discussion board I was actively participating in between May to August of 2001 (see Appendix A for a sample note that was written on September 11, 2001 after I have just returned from my data collection trip from Malaysia). The forum was started by a company, now defunct, called iSMETA, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in which middle-class Malay professionals that used to be my high school friends use the forum to stay in touch with each other as well as to exchange ideas. The communication channel is called “famili.tv” and anyone can create a free account to communicate with friends or family members. For me, the forum was a perfect opportunity to gather information on the Malaysian thinking of the day concerning the issue of technology and social change, especially on the topic of Malaysian MSC. Since then, I created a special account called “Thesis on Cyberjaya” of which I keyed in my daily thoughts into the electronic discussion board. In general, I took notes on the areas I designated as relevant to my study, namely the area of the MSC such as— Cyberjaya, Putrajaya, the Malaysian Multimedia University (henceforth, “MMU”), The Kuala Lumpur City Center (henceforth, KLCC), and the Petronas Twin Towers. Fieldnotes are created specifically during fieldwork itself. They can be in the form of “Observers Comments” (OC) or notes to accompany the photographs taken (like the one in Figure 4 above). I took notes daily (see Figure 5 for an example). I would begin with mind maps designed on small notebooks then, within 24 hours expand them into scratch notes and next type them into full length notes to be used in the analysis or constant comparison stages. Figure 5 is an example of a mind map of a fieldwork on Kuala Lumpur’s “Bintang Walk” and its elaborated version. The title of the mind map is “KL (Kuala Lumpur) Nightlife.” This is a popular and busy nightlife street that has a bilingual name. It literally means “Star Walk.” It is a place with a wealth of signs that is beginning to signify the “cosmopolitan-ness” of Malaysia’s urban life on the one level, and on a deeper level, one that is signifying the varied spaces that are colonized by media power. Data Analysis Procedures Photographs. I used the semiotic approach to analyze selected photographs that I took. My aim is to draw a composite picture of Malaysia’s transformation, bearing in mind the theme of inquiry on hegemony and utopianism and the signs, symbols, and signifiers as analytical tools. Notes and Fieldnotes. True to the “constant comparative” method of Grounded Theory, note-taking is an ongoing process. For example, I would look at the mind maps created a year before and reflect upon it in light of new notes created during or even after fieldwork. The point of this exercise is to find consistencies or contradictions in the analysis and to find recurring themes that would then be used to triangulate data gathered from various sources. Mixed Methodology Approach In general, I utilized a mixed method approach as reflected in the different chapters I called “analytical.” For example, as already mentioned, in looking at the study of authoritarianism in the person of Mahathir Mohamad, I used Gruber’s Evolving System’s Approach (Gruber, 1989; Gruber & Wallace, 1978) to study ‘creativity’ that inspired the political will to create the MSC and Cyberjaya. In studying the nation as a whole, I used the lens of political economy, namely Dependency Theory applied to the study of Malaysia’s political-economic structure. The theory, popular in the beginning of the 1970s, looks at the unequal relationship between and amongst nations. In looking at the documents and visual data, I used the method inspired by semioticians and Grounded Theorists (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). As Figure 11 below summarizes, data is analyzed in a constant comparison method to generate propositions. Primarily though, the bulk of the analysis utilizes Grounded Theory Method, in which the three levels of findings and analysis are used inductively from data to propositions, from specifics to generalizations, from the categorizing of emerging themes to the drawing of relationships —all these in the spirit of Strauss and Corbin’s (1998) “constant comparison” method. Inscription #1: Analysis of select brochures In this first analytical chapter, I begin by analyzing the first set of inscriptions i.e., brochures of the institutions installed onto the MSC. Select visuals from the brochure, “Malaysia in the new millennium” (MDC Corporate Affairs Department, n.d.) are analyzed. Another major analysis are a two-page visuals from a brochure on the new administrative capital of Putrajaya. To further strengthen this first exercise in the series of analysis of inscriptions, I also write about the sign, signifier, and signified from three supporting visuals. They are select pages of brochures relating to Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor entitled: “Unlocking the potentials of the information age” (MDC, 1997), “Cyberjaya: The model intelligent city in the making” (MDC, n.d.), and “Putrajaya: The federal government administrative center” (Putrajaya Holdings, 1997). Framework of Analysis Rose (2001) described the method of semiotics in analyzing claims produced in advertisements. Rose discussed two forms of discourse analyses (I and II) which looks at texts (verbal and visual) and attempt to uncover the dimensions of power and ideology behind the production of these texts. In analyzing images from the brochures, I utilize the guiding questions provided by Rose to analyze the images of The Multimedia Super Corridor, Cyberjaya, and Putrajaya. I look at the general display of images, the placement of the texts, the signs and symbols, and the overt and covert displays, and the perceived message intended to be communicated. Visual #1, Figure #20 In the first visual, I entitled “Machines in the Garden” (Figure 20 below), the logo of the MSC is placed on the upper left-hand side, lower left-hand side, and lower right-hand side of the brochure. The biggest of the logo is the first one mentioned above. The first paragraph of the text on the left reads “Our logo is based on the concept of a rising sun, signifying the dawning of a new era in Malaysia to be ushered in with the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)” (MDC Corporate Affairs Department, n.d., p.1) The idea of a rising sun is reminiscent of the days of Japanese imperialism in Southeast Asia and in the time of the regime of Mahathir, the “Look East Policy,” promotes the spirit of borrowing from the East rather than bowing to the West. The Multimedia Super Corridor becomes the vehicle of structural changes. I call the composite picture “Machines in the garden,” a title inspired by a piece of work eulogizing the transformation of pastoral America (Marx, 1964/2000). I find the positioning of the collection of composite images interesting. From the image of a Malay executive staring at a computer screen to a satellite disc in the foreground of a lush tropical landscape, one can interpret the signs, symbols, and signifiers from the levels of the grammar of design to the level of analysis of power and ideology. By grammar of design, I mean the layout of the picture to render the images effective to the reader. A right-handed person would begin by focusing on the right hand side and be introduced to the image of hypermodernity. One’s gaze might even stop at the symbol of Apple Computer propped between the image of the thinking executive and the satellite disc. In the background is a lush tropical landscape. Among other images is the image of students working at a computer lab. By the analysis of power and ideology, I mean the idea that in general, the images signify the power inherent in telecommunications and computer technology in particular, signify a promoter of radical and intensified social change as well as an agent of change in the relations of production. By ideology, I mean the idea of a vision of that social change carved and crafted out of cybernetics technology. At the level of the grammar of design, I see the motive of the producer of the text influencing the reader to believe in the changes that are happening as advertised. By power and ideology, I mean the inevitable march of progress via the philosophy of technological determinism. In Table 2 below, I draw the semiotic elements of the MSC logo. The Rising Sun signified the dawning of a new era. The three rays for example, signify high capacity global telecommunications and logistic infrastructure whereas the heart of the logo signifies environmental considerations. The arch, on the other hand, represents unity of forces shaping the new era of change. SIGN SIGNIFIER SIGNIFIED Logo Rising sun Dawning of a new era Three rays 1. High capacity global telecommunications and logistics infrastructure 2. New Policies and cyberlaws 3. Attractive environment to live in Heart of the logo Environmental consideration Arch Unification of diverse strengths; pre-requisite for success In Table 3, I draw semiotic elements of the composite images. Among them are: the landscape/rolling hills in the picture signifies harmony and suggests that Nature is to be transformed and conquered by hyper-miniaturized or nano technology as a consequence of the demands of globalization and the dictates of corporate capitalism. The Malaysian economic landscape is also transformed by the movement of money or the globalization of finance, in addition to the globalization of ideas, people, and technology (see Appadurai, 1996). The Satellite dish is a signifier for communication which signifies globalization. The computer is the tool par excellence that facilitates progress. It is an advertisement that signifies corporate capitalism. The image of students in a computer lab, is one that signifies the computerization of human beings through the process of schooling as social reproduction; a process tied to the international economic system (see Ashton & Greene, 1996). Table 3: Semiotic Analysis of Machines in the Garden SIGN SIGNIFIER SIGNIFIED Landscape/Rolling hills Harmonizing Nature Huge Satellite dish Communicating Globalization APPLE computer Advertising Corporate capitalism Students at computer lab One-dimensionalizing Computerization of humans Laptop computer minimizing/transporting Nano-technology ATM screen Storing and retrieving Finance Computer headphones Individualizing One-dimensionalization The essence of the idea of transformation lies in the notion of the implantation of ideology and the inscribing of real estate onto the landscape of Malaysia; that institutions were set up to give expression to changes that are based on a well-directed strategy of national development. As read from the visual, the impact of the social and cultural changes lies in the education as a vehicle of change; to create the “one-dimensionalization” of individuals through a process commonly called human engineering and manpower planning. Malaysia, in the new millennium signifies not only the idea of progress based on the supremacy of the philosophy of cybernetics as a deterministic force but also the molding of the polity and the populace into computer-literate beings that will act, think, feel, and speak using the jargons of “computerese.” Malaysia in the new millennium is a transformed Malaysia; from agricultural to manufacturing, to more sophisticated manufacturing. The stages of growth nonetheless is frameworked after Rostowian and Friedmannian economics or, ideology of capitalism with a tinge of nationalism. Visual #5, Figure 24 In Figure 24, Visual #5 below, is a semiotic reading on the theme of national development. The page contains images of hypermodernism and religious foundation. The city of Putrajaya is installed with architectural landscape that signifies Islamizing, connecting, and colonizing. The three signs _ the mosque, the map of the territory and the bridge _ respectively signifies the connectedness of religion, (Islam in this case,) with the new territory mapped for a new style of developmentalism. The new area is represented to be one that synthesizes the elements of creativity and ethics; of the creation of a newer form of installation and a reminder of the supremacy of Islam as Malaysia’s official religion. The utopia represented is Islamic-based, although in Malaysia there are adherents to Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism and religions of the natives. There is another interesting linguistic or semiotic aspect to this picture; that the areas segmented for the new territory is called “precincts” There are “Civic and Cultural Precinct”, “Commercial Precincts,” and “Sports and Recreational Precinct”. The word “precinct” is reminiscent of the one used to designate “police stations” such as those in New York City, New York, United States of America. Exactly what the author of Malaysian Putrajaya has in mind when naming these areas is not exactly clear. The idea of “policing” however, might make sense -- that this major city of the MSC is to be policed or with be controlled and surveillenced by Informational Communications Technologies; ones better than those used in the past. Whilst the informational communicational infrastructure will help in police the physical aspects of the state, religion will help “police the souls” of the people in the new city. One can apply the idea of “disciplining” (Focault, 1978) and “punishing” to the analysis of the politics and psychology of the inhabitants of the new technopole. Indeed a Focaultian reading of the city might highlight the idea of how technology and systems of control hegemonizes over human consciousness. The “panopticonism” of Putrajaya lies in the notion that the consciousness of the people is already structured to accept the idea that a hyper-modernized developmentalist project that is systemized by a synthesis of controlling tehnologies and ethics historically accepted ethics is as natural as the progression of capitalism. In Table 6, I provide a semiotic analysis of the signs, symbols, and signifier of the image of synthesis. The Malaysian utopia is presented as one that blends religious foundation and hypermodernity. In fact the philosophy pf development in Malaysia has always been the designing of systems that will put economic and religious development in balance. SIGN SIGNIFIER SIGNIFIED Aerial view of coastal area Mapping Utopia Mosque (Masjid) Islamizing Religious-based Bridge Connecting Synthesis Inscription #3: Analysis of landscape In this section, I look at how the idea of “cybernetics” trickle down” to the masses. I will discuss how popular images of the so-called “Cybernetic Age” gets inscribed onto the landscape. The idea of technological fantasy and “linguistic hybridity” particularly will be illustrate here as a further illustration of the concept of hegemony and technological determinism. Images of production and reproduction/Cyberneticism Trickles Down I assembled a composite select images of the character of Malaysia’s transformation; a collage of, in the broadest sense of the word, social production and reproduction through education. Beginning our analysis of signs and symbols of the picture on the left and on to the last one on the bottom right, I see a continuity of images that can be related in a complex manner. The banner reads “Persidangan dan Expo Internet Tamil Terbesar di Dunia.” Translated as “The World’s Biggest Tamil Internet Conference and Exposition”. Tamil is a vernacular language spoken by a majority of Malaysian Indians that are, up to the writing of this dissertation, politically represented by the Malaysian Indian Congress. On the right-hand side of the picture we see an aerial view of the higher institution Malaysian Multimedia University, a private institution that focuses on granting undergraduate and graduate degrees in “multimedia sciences.” The name Multimedia University is unique in the sense that it does not immortalize or memorialize persons or place or event in history but rather a “product,” an “artifact,” or “an approach of looking at things.” “Multimedia”, consistent with the need to align with a center of production called the Multimedia Super Corridor, means more than one medium and the emphasis here is to highlight a university specialization that produces “multimedia products.” The product or artifact includes CD-ROMS, Websites, or any other products that integrates text, hypertext, audio, and video. Graduates of The Multimedia University pride themselves as the first to be awarded diplomas in the form of “digital diplomas.” The Chancellor of the university is the Prime Minister’s wife, Siti Hasmah Ali. The picture on the middle left is that of the (formerly) tallest building in the world: The Petronas Twin Tower. “Petronas” means “Petroliam Nasional” or “National Petrolium” which means the national oil company. It is a said to be a symbol of Malaysian nationalism and economic power. On the right I present a picture of people looking at the twin towers. The towers seem to be a spectacle of a spectre that haunts the world of informational capitalism, and that attract spectators. I took this picture when I was doing my observation at the foot of the twin towers. I do not know the significance of “twin towers” but there seems to be an obsession to imitate the style of architecture of the Western World; particularly of postmodernism as pioneered perhaps by those working in the International Style (Le Corboursier) . The naming of names in Malaysia is plagued with the desire to compete with world’s establishes signs and symbols and the desire to project the image of economic success through architectural feats. The Petronas Twin Towers is in fact used as a scene of a movie called The Entrapment (Connery, Hertzberg, & Tollefson, producers, 2000); one about conspiracy and robbery of a sophisticated nature, involving international robber barons. This is a form of Hollywood styled advertising for a nation such as Malaysia that wishes to attract foreign investment. The picture in Figure 21, shows respectively images of children coming back/going home from school and an Internet café, or what is also known as “cybercafe.” Both are images of production and reproduction. One goes to school to learn about the world, the disciplines or the subject matter including “Computer Science” or in Malay “Sains Komputer” and one goes to Internet cafes to hone the skills of “surfing the Net” and “playing online games” as what the cafes are famous for. The cafes are also extremely popular with users who love to “chat.” If in France during the Renaissance period cafes intellectuals gather in cafes and salons to exchange revolutionary ideas, in Malaysian cafes, they are popular with people chatting without speaking. Images of Digital Proletarianism Figure 28 below shows an inscription in the form of a typical modern-day Malaysian school building. During my fieldwork in August, I stayed at my sister’s house in front of this school. This is a typical look of a new school building in Malaysia. The discourse on “Smart Schools”, or schools that uses technology-rich environment of learning, pervades the educational system, reminiscence of the development of American education in the 1980s with the emphasis on the production of computer literate workers (see Gross & Gross, Eds., 1985.) The inscription on the wall says “(Bangunan) Multimedia Utama” or “Main Multimedia (Building).” The secondary (or high) school is a natural passage for social reproduction for Malaysia’s “quantum leap” into the Information Age. Across the street is a highway and a popular strip for ‘drag racers’ consisting of youths who perhaps worked menial jobs/contract laborers. In this case I saw predominantly Malaysia of Indian origin (Malaysian Indians). Themes from Findings In the images above, I discover the idea of how cybernetics is systematically trickled down. In the section of literature review, I discuss the genealogy of the concept of cybernetics as an idea of feedback loop and the innerworkings of living systems. In the case of Malaysia’s transformation, the idea that cybernetic technology primarily the Internet will bring progress and liberation through the process of education is promoted by the government through policies and practice. In the following and last chapter on inscriptions, I illustrate the changing landscape of Malaysia as a consequence of the adoption of the capitalist mode of development. The nature of capitalism is one to the complexity of the world economy; a globalized world of the movement of people, trade, goods, services, and ideas that has characterized the world economy since perhaps, the collapse of the Soviet Empire. ……………………………………… In the proceeding paragraphs on the “signs and symbols” in the campus of the Multimedia University, I present a more detailed discussion on the mechanism of hegemonic formation by way of the marriage of words derived from Western idea of “cybernetics” with those derived from the host/recipient culture of the Malays. Signs and Symbols at the Malaysian Multimedia University Campus Inscribed onto the concrete block are names of streets buildings in the campus of Multimedia University. The first two pictures show a hybrid of Malays and Latin words. They are “Lorong Germanium” and “Persiaran Neuron” which respectively means “Germanium Avenue” and “Neuron Walk/Street”. In the next two pictures in the middle of the page is an inscription of the names of facilities that are available; from living quarters to sports fields. From top to bottom, we can see a hybrid of words namely, “Pangsapuri Zeta, Eta, Upsilon, and Iota” meaning Zeta, Eta, Upsilon, and Iota Apartments, Bangunan Theta meaning “Theta Building”, Kolej Sigma and Omega meaning Sigma and Omega Colleges (Faculties), Kompleks Sukan Omicron meaning Omicron Sports Complex, and The MSC Incubator. In the last two pictures the inscriptions on the huge concrete block reads “Bangunan Beta” or “Beta Building”, “Perpustakaan Delta” or “Delta Library” and finally “Cybercafe Tau” or “Tau Cybercafe”. The last picture is a religious installation on the campus of the university: a “masjid” or a mosque. The composite picture of the inscriptions and installations reveal the nature of ideological formulation that is operating at the level of education as social and cultural reproduction. The institution called The Malaysian Multimedia University was created as a response to the needs of the ideology of technological determinism and as a reproductive environment to create individuals who will continue to institutionalize capitalism and to continue onwards to the march of cybernetics capitalism. But there is also the idea of Islam as an institution that mediates the excess of capitalist developmentalism. My reading of these images inform me that the institutions were created first to disseminate the ideology of cybernetic capitalism under the shibboleth of corporate capitalism that is hegemonizing the world systems. Data from Select Photos: From Stanfordization to McDonaldization In the above section, I discuss the hybridity of language in that are inscribed onto the landscape of the Malaysian Multimedia University. Synthesis of words are formed and inscribed onto the signs and symbols that are shows the direction of facilities in the building. These hybrids signify the localization of the idea that is dominant: technological determinism. They honor and celebrate the philosophy of cybernetics as a driving force of the developmentalist philosophy of this nation under transformation. In the composite picture below (Figure 31), I gather another set of signs and symbols that are installed in the city of the old capital of Kuala Lumpur, in an area that is popular with tourists: The Bintang Walk at Jalan Bukit Bintang. The signs and symbols are, from left to right and top to bottom are that of McDonalds, Tower Records, Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Starbucks, and Marriott Hotel. They are distinctively American in symbolism and dominance. These are the icons of American capitalism. I call these American cultural-industrial complexes to give the idea that from these institutions, the values of consumerism are permeated to the consciousness of the people of the host and that the nations and through the process too the notion of “American democracy” is projected as an image of “freedom and the ethos of the free world of the West”. I call them “cultural-industrial complexes” because through these institutions, they give expression to the nature of consumerist values that are to be sold to the hoist nations. The values then create the culture of consumerism and in the long run, culture in the form of food, music, leisure, tourism, and ways of “doing things in one’s culture” becomes an industry. Hence, from institutions to expressions, to the production of values, the nation gets to feel what an American consumerist culture is like. The feeling becomes manufactured as an industry and in the long run, when culture of this nature hegemonizes, it becomes part of the one-dimensionalization of society that will help facilitate the erosion of traditional values that have its roots in local traditions primarily expressed generation after generation through language. From the section on Inscription #1, I discover the themes of hypermodernity in Malaysia’s development projects. Using semiotic analysis, I discover that the images represented and significant to the analysis point explained the idea of progress as a political, social, cultural, and economic migration. The technological fantasy embedded in the images are characteristic of the a fantasy of a nation wanting to be like the nation of hypermodern colonists such as United States and Japan and believing that informational communication technologies will be bring peace, plenty, and prosperity to the nation. From the section on Inscription #2, I discover the importance of the ideology of “technological progress and technological determinism” as a twin concept that fuel the engine of Malaysia’s economic growth. Technological determinism is the belief that technology is a life force in itself and national development policies must be authored based on this belief system. Through the detailed analyses of prime ministerial speech texts, I discerned other major themes such as hegemony and counter-hegemony, as well as globalization and nationalism that define the character of the study. From the chapter on Inscription #3, I discover how ideas get inscribed onto the physical landscape and then becomes institutions of control the will then continue to hegemonize in newer forms. Through the analysis of picture I took of strategic areas in The MSC, I discover the pervasiveness of the signs and symbols of Western capitalist interests that continue to colonize the spaces. I discover the role of language as a powerful restructuring tool in the case of Malaysia’s Multimedia University. The street names reflect the interest in hegemonizing the philosophy of cyberneticism and to future celebrate the march of informational capitalism. From the chapter on Inscription #4, I discover the idea of cultural and industrial complexes that have become installations in the area of the Super Corridor. American business interests populate the area. The idea of Stanford University as an inspiration for the MSC point to the idea of Stanfordization of Malaysia; that the base and superstructure of the nation is, albeit claims to economic nationalism, fundamentally an appropriation of Western corporate capitalism. Figure 34 below summarizes the hegemonic relationship in that from the philosophy of cybernetics, the influence of technological determinism as ideology, and the tensions created in the global economy, hegemony is maintained by the advanced nations over developing nation such as Malaysia. In response to the hegemony that is prevailing, a nation such as Malaysia creates a utopia called The Multimedia Super Corridor based on the philosophy of cybernetics, taking into consideration the challenges of the global economy. The counter-hegemonic act creates a blend of utopian nationalism, at least at the time of its creation. It is not however clear what the outcome of the battle between the nation and the unseen forces of globalization that runs on a high-speed version of capitalism. Spaces of knowledge/power: Hegemony and social change In the section, I concluded with the idea that hegemony is structured into the consciousness of the nation through a strategy of disciplining and controlling that arise out of the establishing of institutions of control that are now inscribed onto the landscape using informational communicational technologies. The regime of the fourth prime minister Mahathir Mohamad established institutions that uses advanced technologies to enrich national strategies on the one hand, and to maintain control beyond better than the imposition of raw power. Hegemony permeates at various levels: philosophical to psychological; structured by the institutions built and the ideological state apparatuses employed. In my analysis of the genealogy of cybernetics I discover the transcultural flow of idea of technological determinism that has branched out into various levels of structurations and appropriated by the author to be embedded, as suggested by a philosopher of technology, into an inert form of nationalistic developmental policy (McClintock, 2001) that is wired up to the most advanced capitalist centers of the world. In the following sections I will discuss the implications of my findings and how they generate propositions and tools of analysis. I will first discuss some general statements concerning language particularly on the notion of the “intertextualized nation”, and next discuss propositions concerning “cybernating nations” such as Malaysia, and finally discuss a set of tools I propose for the analysis of concepts that have genealogy and manifestations. The “intertextualized” nation The findings on Malaysia’s grand project of social transformation can be looked at not only from the point of view of the flow of idea from one realm to another i. e. from the realm of cybernetics to the physical-material realm of Cyberjaya but from a linguistic perspective as well. The digital text is inscribed onto a landscape; a process that fragments the soul of the nation and creates a hypermodern state that is authored and signatured by what is defined as “world-class companies”. The ”inter-textualized nation” is a consequence of Malaysia’s developmentalist project of hypermodernity. The state becomes a neatly written subtext to a larger and more established matrix of Grand Narrative called corporate capitalist developmentalism whose ideology and sophisticated tools of empire-ing is the forte of advanced industrial nations. Malaysia becomes a periphery wanting to be part of the Center, a subtext continually being written to tell the story of the text. Kristeva (1980) writes about intertextuality as a linguistic situation in which one idea in a text is linked to another. The Self, in Kristeva’s analysis is influenced by “subtexts” outside of itself that defines its textuality and as a consequence, loses its authenticity. A similar argument about the loss of authenticity is made by many a philosopher who writes about the consequence of modernity (Taylor, 1991) In this dissertation, the Malaysian MSC is an example of a nation that is ideologically linked to other ideas outside of the nation itself. In this case Malaysia’s development is intertextualized with the idea of Western corporate interest by way of the advisory panelship, transfer of technology, and most importantly the colonization of corporate English Language onto the material and psychological development of the nation. The textuality of the nation is then characterized by the weaving of corporate and foreign discourses onto the developmentalist agenda of the nation, facilitating the withering of the nation-state and enhancing the role of the nation as a hypermodern Periphery of the Central capitalist nation of an equally hyper-modernized international capitalist system. The “nation as text” becomes one that is continuously being co-authored by international inscribers interested in capitalizing on the cheap labor offered. The international inscribers were given the best of privileges such as generous ten-year tax-breaks, freedom from being harassed by worker unions since only “in-house unions” are allowed to exist, and state-of-the-art facilities to attract them to invest in the new Malaysian economy. The will to be “nationalistic” exists only in the form of signs and symbols that are touristic in nature, such as in the images and symbols of culture that are at the consumptive level and are merely showcases of tradition. The evidence gathered on the textuality of this nation lies in the signs and symbols in the cultural and industrial complexes; signs and symbols of predominantly American corporate business interests. Hence, not only the nation is inter-textualized by its linkages to other forces of influence, such as of the iconoclasms of Stanford University Area, United States of America, but also these signs and symbols are transmutating and hybridizing with the local hosts, as evident in the practice of street-naming on the campus of Malaysia’s Multimedia University. In this sense, the development of the state parallels the development of the United States with regard to the influence of industries and corporations and the installations of technologies to march capitalism to its triumph (Noble, 1977; Noble 1984; Nye, 1990). In the area of social reproduction, the schooling system, from the primary to tertiary levels, is turning towards the re-using if English Language as the language of Science and Technology and inscribed into the policy-making documents of languages of instruction. The emphasis of on the use of computer technology in schools, embalmed in the policy of creating Smart Schools to produce computer-literate workforce (“wired schools”) parallels also the influence of computer giants in determining the nature of policy inscriptions on American public schools (National Commission on Excellence in Education, NCEEE, 1985) Such is an analysis of the intertextuality of Cyberjaya. In the section below, I discuss propositions concerning the development of nations undergoing transformation such as Malaysia’s. Thirteen Propositions Concerning "Cybernating" Nations From the findings of this study, I was able to generate propositions concerning nations undergoing transformations as a result of the utilization of newest informational communications technologies. Malaysia is an example of such as nation. The MSC is specifically its test-bed and Cyberjaya is an embodiment of a city built out of the regime’s interpretation of the concept of cybernetics. ON CENTER-PERIPHERY THESIS 1. In a globalized post-industrialist world, the development of a cybernating nation will continue to follow, to a degree or another the Center-Periphery pattern of development. ON COMPLEXITY SYSTEMS 2. Pure historical materialist conception of change cannot fully explain why nations cybernate; the more a nation gets "wired" the more complex the interplay between nationalism and internationalism will be. ON SEMANTIC/ STRUCTURALISM 3. The more a nation transforms itself cybernetically, the more extensive the enculturalization and transformation of the word "cybernetics" will be. ON THE POLITICAL-ECONOMY OF LINGUISTIC TRANSFORMATION 4. The extent of the enculturalization of the concept of "cybernetics" will determine the speed by which a nation will be fully integrated into the global production-house of the telematics industry ON AUTHORITARIANISM 5. The stronger the authority of the regime the greater the control and magnitude of the cybernating process. In a cybernating nation, authority can reside in the political will of a single individual or in a strong political entity, consequently producing the author’s “regime of truth”. ON THE WITHERING OF THE NATION-STATE 6. The advent of the Internet in a developing nation signifies the genesis of the erosion of the power of government-controlled print media. Universal access to the Internet will determine the total erosion of government-produced print media. Subaltern voices will replace Grand Narratives. ON CENTER-PERIPHERY AND GLOBALIZATION THEORY 7. Creative consciousness of the peoples of the cybernating nation will be centralized in the area of business and the arts, modeled after successful global corporations. ON RESISTENCE 8. Critical consciousness of the people of the cybernating nation will be centralized in the area of political mobilization and personal freedom of expression, modeled after successful Internet-based political mobilization groups. ON HEGEMONY/CENTER-PERIPHERYTHESIS 9. At the macro-level of the development of a nation-state, the contestation of power is between the nation cybernating versus the nations fully cybernated, whereas at the micro level, power is contested between the contending political parties/groups. ON RESISTENCE 10. The more the government suppresses voices of political dissent, the more the Internet is used to affect political transformations ON MODERN IMPERIALISM 11.The fundamental character of a nation will be significantly altered with the institutionalization of the Internet as a tool of cybernating change. The source of change will however be ideologically governed by external influences, which will ultimately threaten the sovereignty of the nation-state ON DEEP-STRUCTURING 12. Discourse of change, as evident in the phenomena of cybernation, is embedded in language. The more a foreign concept is introduced, adopted, assimilated, and enculturalized, the more the nation will lose its indigenous character built via schooling and other means of citizenship enculturalization process ON PARADIGM OF RESEARCH 13. Postmodernist perspectives of social change (discourse theory, semiotics, Chaos/Complexity theory) rather than those of Structural-Functionalists, Marxist, or neo-Marxist, can best explain the structure and consequences of cybernetic changes. These thirteen propositions most obviously need to be refined in order for us to look at the phenomena of transcultural consequence of computer-mediated communications from perspectives beyond ones that may be characterized by pure Structural -Functionalists or neo-Marxists. Formulations concerning “Tool of Transcultural Analysis” From data analyses on the various nature of “inscriptions” and from the propositions generated, we move on to our findings concerning the idea of “transcultural flow of ideas” I suggest we use as a method to analyze concepts that are enculturalized. There are 13 components to the idea and the discussions will be part of looking at the possibility of going beyond theory generating but to develop a set of tools for cultural analysis especially as it pertains to the problematique of cultural imperialism and hegemony of concepts. Drawing from some of the findings in this analysis and in thinking of the term hegemony in the analysis of the transcultural and transmutational flow of the concept “cybernetics”, I'd like to propose how we look at ideas and conjure a paradigm of looking at how they become hegemonizing. I use the word “culture” in transcultural flow to refer to the idea of “a culture of cybernetic capitalism” that has come to color the developmentalist agenda of many a developing nation. I use to the word “transmutate” to refer to the process of synthesis an hybridization of, at the most macro of all levels, the cultures that come into contact with each other and, at the most micro of levels, the words that come into existence by an arranged marriage in the hypermodern developmentalist scheme of things. The words in Figure 39 below represent my own understanding of how we may arrive at a systematic analysis of foreign words by looking at the dimensions of the case: Identifying spaces of power/knowledge: Transcultural Tools of Analysis as Process of Subjectivizing The findings of this study has allowed me to present a table of explanation on how hegemonic formulations can be analyzed and how the Focoultian concept of spaces of power/knowledge can be applied . The idea of cybernetics as it progresses from its philological roots in the idea of the explanation into the behavior of living systems onward to its evolution as a systems theory to its appropriated and hybridized version in the case of Malaysia’ Cyberjaya and the MSC, is an example of an idea that can be analyzed as a transcultural process. I analyzed Cyberjaya and the MSC as a genealogy. In the table below (Table 30) I present the parts of the tool for analyzing hegemonic ideas that have history and consequences. I call the strategy “tool of analysis for trans-cultural flow of ideas ” to highlight the idea of ideological migration from one cultural system to another and to analyze it as a phenomena of social change that has its roots and consequences in the social relations of production. 1. CONCEPTUAL FORMATION How did the idea begin? (i.e. history, philology, genealogy). What is its genesis? What are its historical materialistic dimensions? 2. CONTEXT OF TRANSFER Was the concept imposed upon the people? How did it get transplanted—through colonization? Neo-colonization? Did it evolved naturally out of the cultural tradition of the people? (One may look at the impact of the Iranian Revolution on the Islamic world.) 3. COLONIZING PROPERTIES How hegemonic is it?, due to it foreignness, Do we need the people to possess a high level of technical knowledge to understand and apply the concept. 4. COMPLEXITY OF THE CONCEPT Is the idea still difficult to be understood? Does the society need a restructuring in the architecture of knowledge in order to understand the concept as its subdivisions? 5. CONDITION OF TRANSFER What is the nature of the social history of the recipient nation/people? How has the people tried itself to understand the new concept? How has the ideological state apparatus played a historical role in developing the base-superstructural foundation of hegemony? 6. CIRCULARITY OF TRANSFER How has the concept evolved from a point of origin and gets enculturalized). One may look at examples from the media and visual arts. 7. CRITICAL DIMENSION OF THE CONCEPT What are the contradictions inherent in the concept? 8. CREATIVE DIMENSION What is so appealing and novel about the concept. What are the liberal and illiberal democratic dimensions of the concept? 9. CONSEQUENCE OF ADOPTION What are the changes that happened when the concept was adopted and becomes a network of enterprise of policies? How were people, geography, places, and technology affected? 10. CULTURAL DIMENSION AND IMPLICATION What is the nature of the relationship of the new concept to the social relations of production? 11.CULTURAL/COM UNITARIANISTIC ASPECT Is the concept democratic? If so, is it of the nature liberal or illiberal? Is it of the nature is protectionist, participatory, or pastoral democracy? 12. CUI BONO or ‘WHO BENEFITS’? Who/what institutions benefit from the institutionalization of the concept? What form of class structure did it create? What contradiction did it bring? 13. CONTROL of IDEOLOGICAL AND SUPER-STRUCTURAL ADVANCEMENT How is the concept advanced/ideology of it pushed or marketed? What institutional and political support is given to the idea (see for example the Islamization of management in Malaysia) The above represent my ideas and analyses on what might be developed as tools of cultural analysis in looking at transcultural flow of ideas. These tools are indeed a series of questions to inquire into the kaleidoscopic nature of a concept, such as the inquiry into the transformation of “cybernetics” to “Cyberjaya” which illustrated a range of issues the tools of analysis as above can be utilized. In other words, tools here means to deconstruct and to get to the genealogy and the maturity of the concept itself. Because these series of questions attempt to provide foundations to the ‘dialecticness” of the concept in question an further inquire into the ‘materialistic’ foundation of the concept, these tools can be looked at as ‘counter-foundational’ it is a philosophical and dialogical enterprise. Hegemony does not exist in a vacuum, nor transplanted onto the landscape of peoples. Concepts become hegemonic after a series of transformations aided by fertile ground of such growth. The fertility might be in the form of political stability, authoritarianism in the way the national leadership advances such formations, or simply via clever marketing of the concept itself. Herein lies the need to perform a surgical-cultural analysis of the genealogy of the conceptual transformations. Implications for further inquiry To elaborate, below are some of the illustrations of the applicability of this concept of transcultural flow of ideas as it further relates to the study of Malaysia: ∑ Constitutional monarchy ∑ Nationalism ∑ Parliamentary democracy ∑ Liberal Education ∑ Islamic Education ∑ Islamization ∑ Islamic Reformation In answering the question of the process of "cybernation" and how cultures change and new social conditions emerge, and how we are to look at phenomena from a kaleidoscopic perspective, I propose thenceforth, any concept be analyzed from the above thirteen lenses of conceptual formulation. I hope that through this study, we may then design more studies on states undergoing a conscious counter-hegemonizing process. Furthermore we can discern the creative dimensions of the strategies used by different nations and finally formulate models to further inquire into the structure of “cybernetic” revolutions (see Kuhn, 1996). In other words, we can embark upon in-depth and longitudinal studies of the ways in which nations control or are being controlled specifically by “digital communication technologies,” how social relations are reorganized, and how these states are integrated into the continuing complexities of the global capitalist system. Final thoughts on spaces of knowledge/power The production of this essay began with a conceptualization of an explanation of the process of how hegemony operates at the subtlest of all levels: language and the practice of everyday lives. It describes the creation of new spaces of power (Foucoult) constructed from the ideological archives of the old and those that domesticate the dominated, to borrow Bourdieu’s term (1984). Using semiotics as one of the triangulated tool of analyses, the process of hegemonic formation is explained. In other words, the means and methods of inscribing the ideology of cyberneticism is described. The newly created cities of Cyberjaya and Putrajaya in the hypermodernized developmentalism of Malaysia are examples of how the global telematics conglomerate of the advanced capitalist world, particularly of the United States of America and Japan are invited exclusively to inscribe their brand of practices and signature economies onto a willing state such as Malaysia. Such an inscriptural enterprise is made possible by the “coalition of the willing” of the political and economic decision-makers of this state. The English language in general and that of American corporatism in particular becomes the instrument by which the inscriptions onto the landscape of ideology and infrastructure are made. On Hegemony, Technology and Authority In the previous section I conclude my finding on the nature of hegemony and utopianism in the case of Malaysia’s MSC as further exemplified in the case of the creation of the city of Cyberjaya. The idea of installations creating ideology and expression is central to my early proposition. I began with the premise that signs and symbols determine the nature and character of hegemony. How hegemony is structured is a complex, yet recognizable process. Hegemony alone does not merely sustain ideology. This notion is perhaps applicable to the case of hegemonic formations in societies that is controlled by corporate-controlled media but not in authoritarian states in transitional societies elsewhere such as Malaysia. Authority defines the character and furtherance of hegemony as well as the facilitation of hegemonic transitions. Cybernetic technology is such a technology, in this study, employed as a structuring tool by state authority that lies in one person who ruled for a considerable period of time. The authoritarianism in the Malay culture itself, appropriated by the authoritarianism of the modern Malay political leadership, aided by the authoritarianism inert in technology perceived as deterministic creates newer social systems, better systems of control, and more efficient systems of irrigation for global capitalism. The development of consciousness is dependent upon the development of literacy; in the case of Cyberjaya and the MSC, the language of cybernetics hegemonizes over the language of the agrarian society that is tied in to the peoples of the land and to to that of natives. In the 22 year- reign of Mahathir Mohamad , the state saw a transformation of such a language, of cybernetics, appropriated and translated into social action and transforming the social relations of production to create “non-reproductive” forces of society such as national institutions and communication systems, besides the creation of “productive” forces such the means of “multimedia” production whose ends justify their links to the global capitalist economy. Hence, hegemony works in harmony with authority to create a hegemonic condition to further advance, in this case the cause of the transnational capitalistic struggle to dominate the world economy. Whilst many a philosopher and historian of technology such as McClintock (1992) see the potentials of the technology of the Internet in for example, in democratizing society and intellectualizing the individual through education, in many a society such as Malaysia the technologizing of the polity itself becomes a natural process of creating a culture that not only is forced to be structured into the mould of a consumerist and international capitalistic economy but one that will be disabled (McDermott & Varenne, 1995) by the very technology perceived to be democratizing. I end this essay and a brief study on hegemony and utopianism in a Southeast Asian state; with a renewed affirmation of Marx’s thesis on technology, culture, and the development of consciousness, and an invitationfor social scientists to look at social change from the point of view of the analysis of spaces of power/knowledge. REFERENCES Abdulla, R. (2000). Words of paradise: Selected poems of Rumi. 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Posted by Dr. AZLY RAHMAN at 12/04/2005 09:33:00 PM
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- Dr. AZLY RAHMAN
- AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of nine books on Malaysia and Global Affairs. He grew up in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and holds a Columbia University doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. Twitter @azlyrahman.