Social Philosophy Today

Volume 21, 2005

Human Rights, Religion, and Democracy

Jeffrey Paris
Pages 173-189

Rethinking the End of Modernity
Empire, Hyper-Capitalism, and Cyberpunk Dystopias

This essay is comprised of two unusual pairings—Immanuel Wallerstein with Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri; and Don DeLillo with William Gibson—and a thesis: We live, today, in a period of transition between modernity and postmodernity that is best characterized as what I call hyper-capitalism. The end of modernity, as described both by Wallerstein’s world-systems theory and by the “postmodern” political philosophy of the authors of Empire, does not lead us into postmodernity proper, but into a period of geopolitical chaos. This chaos may be best understood, not only by closing the gap between these variegated social theorists, but also via the dystopic cyberpunk fiction of DeLillo’s Cosmopolis and Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.