In its broadest sense, the “global village” designates a fairly ubiquitous condition of semiotic disempowerment in the face of mass media. Yet more specifically and owing to the unique ability of electronic mass-media to operate across distances and in the absence of systems of public education, the global village names a paradigm for instating semiotic poverty as means of facilitating the conversion of agrarian land into agrarian capital (as is now transpiring apace in Africa and Latin America). A battle against the perpetual conversion of land into capital and vice-versa (a battle often waged in the name of environmental justice or indigenous rights) must therefore be conceived also as a “battle for intelligence,” to use Stiegler’s expression. Semiotic poverty—whether belonging to the nonliterate or to those whose limited rhetorical training fails to guard against what Talal Assad has called “seductive speech”—such poverty is tantamount to what being “landless” has meant in other times and places: to be without means of economic and political independence. Wherever terra-power and noopolitics collaborate, shuttling between agrarian society and the global market, is where the villagers of the global village can be found.
Such a battle for intelligence is always already being fought. Every class conflict, every anticolonial war, and every civil rights movement is to some extent a battle for intelligence, a battle for rights to education, to semiotic empowerment, to the means of rendering one’s stories public, and to the political capabilities deriving therefrom. Keeping this in mind, a battle for intelligence must not be approached as if noopolitics (or, for that matter, capital) operated homogenously across the globe. Semiotic technologies are differently leveraged and accessed in global North versus South, in differently educated classes, and in cities versus villages. We are all semiotically impoverished to varying degrees, according to accidents of birth and the educational privileges subsequently withheld or conferred. A battle for intelligence would have to acknowledge these differences (these accidents of birth and all the power differentials deriving therefrom). Colonialisms and the techno-humanitarian movements that are often heir to colonial logics have long employed techno-aesthetic magic as means of elision—as means of obfuscating the societal differences they help produce. In a direct inversion of this method, a battle for intelligence would have to constantly acknowledge those differences as the preliminary basis for overcoming them.