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Impacts

Nihilism

That project of liberal subject building is a nihilistic violent enterprise that destroys value to life and causes endless warfare


Evans and Reid 13 [Brad, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Bristole, and Julian, “Dangerously exposed: the life and death of the resilient subject,” Resilience, 2013, Vol. 1 (2), pp. 83-98]

Resilient subjects are subjects that have accepted the imperative not to resist or secure themselves from the difficulties they are faced with but instead adapt to their enabling conditions. This renders them fully compliant to the logics of complexity with its concomitant adaptive and emergent qualities. Resistance here is transformed from being a political capacity aimed at the achievement of freedom from that which threatens and endangers to a purely reactionary impulse aimed at increasing the capacities of the subject to adapt to its dangers and simply reduce the degree to which it suffers. This conflation of resistance with resilience is not incidental but indicative of the nihilism of the underlying ontology of vulnerability at work in contemporary policies concerned with climate change and other supposedly catastrophic processes. What is nihilism, after all, if it is not a will to nothingness drawn from a willing reactive enslavement to forces deemed to be beyond our control as one merely lives out the catastrophic moment? It also alerts us to the fundamentally liberal nature of such policies and framings of the phenomenon of climate change defined, as liberalism has been since its origins, by a fundamental mistrust in the abilities of the human subject to secure itself in the world.10 Liberalism, as we have both explored extensively elsewhere, is a security project.11 From its outset, it has been concerned with seeking answers to the problem of how to secure itself as a regime of governance through the provision of security to the life of populations subject to it.12 It will, however, always be an incomplete project because its biopolitical foundations are flawed; life is not securable. It is a multiplicity of antagonisms and for some life to be made to live, some other life has to be made to die.13 That is a fundamental law of life which is biologically understood. This is the deep paradox that undercuts the entire liberal project while inciting it to govern ever more and ever better, becoming more inclusive and more assiduous at the provision of security to life, while learning how better to take life and make die that which falls outside and threatens the boundaries of its territories. Liberal regimes, in essence and from the outset, thrive on the insecurities of life which their capacity to provide security to provides the source of their legitimacy, becoming ever more adept at the taking of life which the provision of security to life requires.14 It is no accident that the most advanced liberal democracy in the world today, the United States of America, is also the most heavily armed state in the world. And not just the most heavily armed state today, but also the most heavily armed in human history. Liberal regimes do not and cannot accept the realities of this paradox. Which is why, far from being exhausted, the liberal project remains and has to be, in order for it to be true to its mission, distinctly transformative. Not only of the world in general and hence its endless resorts to war and violence to weed out those unruly lives that are the source of insecurity to the life that is the font of its security, but also, and yet more fundamentally, of the human subject itself; for this is a paradox which plays out, not just territorially, socially or between individuals, but within the diffuse and ultimately unknowable domain of human subjectivity itself. The liberal subject is divided and has to be in order to fulfil its mission, critically astute at discerning the distinctions within its own life between that which accords with the demands made of it in order to accord with liberal ways of living and those which do not comply with its biopolitical ambitions.15 Being divided means the liberal subject will always be incomplete, needing work, critical, insecure and mistrustful of itself for the purpose of its own self-improvement. The liberal subject is a project; one that renders life itself a project, subject to an endless task of critique and self-becoming, from cradle to grave. Sadly, many still find the concept of life appealing and even utopian. We are taught to think that we ought to choose life over emptiness or negation, Renton’s law.16 In fact, it is the source of the world’s greatest nihilisms. Liberalism too is and has always been a nihilism. Perhaps it is the greatest of all nihilisms. In giving us over to life, it gives us no ends to live for but the endless work on the self that contemporarily permeate our ways of living devoid of any meaning as such.

Genocide

Surveillance relies on the logic of visibility and invisibility that seeks to make indigenous people hyper-visible as deviant and in need of western evolution—the impact is the violent erasure of difference


Smith 2015 [Andrea an intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist. Smith's work focuses on issues of violence against women of color and their communities, specifically Native American women. A co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the Boarding School Healing Project, and the Chicago chapter of Women of All Red Nations, Smith centers the experiences of women of color in both her activism and her scholarship. Formerly an assistant professor of American Culture and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Smith is currently an associate professor in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside.. "Not-Seeing." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 21-38..//KHS]

Settler colonialism fundamentally relies on a logic of not-seeing. In particular, on a not-seeing of the indigenous people’s lands in order to allow their colonial takeover. Terra nullius, the legal justification used for the expropriation of indigenous land in Australia and elsewhere—or to use the Zionist justification for Palestinian expulsion, “a land without a people for a people without a land”is premised on the not-seeing of peoples already there. Within the United States, this expropriation relied on the “doctrine of discovery.” As outlined in the case Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), “Discovery is the foundation of title, in European nations, and this overlooks all proprietary rights in the natives.” “Discovery” necessarily rests on the absence of native peoples, who would otherwise be the actual “discoverers” of their lands. And, as Robert Williams (2005) notes, U.S. jurisprudence has never renounced the doctrine of discovery on which Indian case law is based. Consequently, the colonial project is a somewhat precarious project of disappearing the peoples that it cannot see—a genocide that must disavow itself. As Sarita See argues, “If the history of the American empire is defined by forgetting, its aesthetic is structured by double disavowal. According to the New World aesthetic, it seems possible to erase the erasure of the past” (2009, 66). Thus, the strategies of surveillance are always simultaneously not just about what can be seen, but about disappearing from view that which delegitimizes the state itself. What must not be seen is not only the peoples themselves, but the forms of governance and ways of life that they represent. Gender violence is a central strategy of settler colonialism and white supremacy. Colonizers did not just kill off indigenous peoples in this land: native massacres were always accompanied by sexual mutilation and rape. The goal of colonialism is not just to kill colonized peoples, but to destroy their sense of being people (A. Smith 2005a). The generally nonpatriarchal and nonhierarchical nature of many native communities posed a threat to European patriarchal societies. Consequently, when colonists first came to this land, they saw the necessity of instilling patriarchy in native communities, for they realized that indigenous peoples would not accept colonial domination if their own indigenous societies were not structured on the basis of social hierarchies. Patriarchy rests on a genderbinary system; hence, it is no coincidence that colonizers also targeted indigenous peoples who did not fit within this binary model. Gender violence thus inscribed patriarchy onto the bodies of native peoples, naturalizing social hierarchies and colonial domination. The imposition of heteropatriarchy serves not only to secure colonial domination for indigenous peoples, but also to secure patriarchy within the colonizing society against the threats of the alternative governance structures that indigenous societies represent. It is noteworthy that the high status of women and the relatively peaceful nature of many native societies did not escape the notice of white peoples, in particular of white women (A. Smith 2005b).2 A society based on domination, hierarchy, and violence works only when it seems natural or inevitable. Given an alternative, peoples will generally choose not to live under violent conditions. The demonization of native societies, as well as their resulting destruction, was necessary to securing the “inevitability” of patriarchy within colonial societies. Again, the colonialist surveillance of native bodies served the simultaneous purposes of making them visible to the state while at the same time making invisible the threat to the settler state posed by indigenous governance. To further remove the threats that indigenous governance systems posed to settler societies, the problem resulting from this colonial disease was relocated from a patriarchal and violent settler state to the “Indian” problem. As Wolfe (1999) notes, the more gender-egalitarian nature of some indigenous societies became anthropologically marked as the sign of their unevolved, premodern status. By adopting patriarchy, colonialists speculated, native peoples might evolve toward “humanity” and “civilization.” Native peoples were to be bureaucratically managed through allotment processes, church- and government-run boarding schools, and government-run health programs, among other strategies to facilitate their ascension to humanity. While courts often held that native peoples were potential citizens with the right to vote—unlike African Americans in the antebellum period—such potential could be realized, from the colonialist perspective, only when those peoples mature out of their status as native. In addition, native peoples’ were generally assigned the legal status of children, deemed legally incompetent to handle their own affairs and thus legally marked as “nonworkers.” Native peoples’ pathway to citizenship thus depended on their maturation into adult (i.e., white) workers. Thus, native peoples’ acquisition of citizenship and voting rights was framed as a reward for proving their ability to work. In 1887 the Dawes Allotment Act divided native lands into individual allotments of 80–160 acres. The federal government then expropriated the remaining surplus lands. Native peoples were given fees in trust for twenty-five years, until deemed “competent” by the secretary of the interior. They could then obtain fee patents enabling them to sell their lands. The rationale for this policy was that the practice of communal land ownership among native peoples was discouraging them from working the land. In the 1887 Indian commissioner’s report, J. D. C. Atkins explains the need for allotment: Take the most prosperous and energetic community in the most enterprising section of our country—New England; give them their lands in common, furnish them annuities of food and clothing, send them teachers to teach their children, preachers to preach the gospel, farmers to till their lands, and physicians to heal their sick, and I predict that in a few years, a generation or two at most, their manhood would be smothered. . . . This pauperizing policy above outlined was, however, to some extent necessary at the beginning of our efforts to civilize the savage Indian. He was taken a hostile barbarian, his tomahawk red with the blood of the pioneer; he was too wild to know any of the arts of civilization. . . . Hence some such policy had to resort to settle the nomadic Indian and place him under control. This policy was a tentative one. . . . Now, as fast as any tribe becomes sufficiently civilized and can be turned loose and put upon its own footing, it should be done. Agriculture and education will gradually do this work and finally enable the Government to leave the Indian to stand alone. (Report of the Secretary of the Interior 1887, n.p.) The report warns that allotment will not work overnight: “Idleness, improvidence, ignorance, and superstition cannot by law be transformed into industry, thrift, intelligence, and Christianity speedily” (ibid., 4). Consequently, surveillance practices were essential, in order to instill normalizing discipline as a means to forcibly absorb native peoples into the colonial state. This pathway toward civilization required native peoples to adapt to a capitalist work model. The commissioner’s report further explained how work could save native peoples from barbarism. It must be apparent . . . that the system of gathering the Indians in bands or tribes on reservations[,] . . . thus relieving them of the necessity of labor, never will and never can civilize them. Labor is an essential element in producing civilization. . . . The greatest kindness the government can bestow upon the Indian is to teach him to labor for his own support, thus developing his true manhood, and, as a consequence, making him self-relying and self-supporting. (ibid., 6–7) Thus, through the careful policing and monitoring of native social structures, it would be possible to save native peoples from themselves, as well as to absorb them into colonial whiteness. Despite these civilizational strategies, native peoples never seemed to attain humanity. Homi Bhabha (1997) and Edward Said (1994) argue that the colonization process involves partially assimilating the colonized in order to establish colonial rule. If the colonized group were to remain completely different from the colonists, it would implicitly challenge the supremacy of colonial rule, by introducing questions around whether the way colonizers live is the only way to live. Hence, in order to preserve the cultural ideals of the colonizers, the colonized had to resemble the colonists—but only partially, for if the colonized were to be completely assimilated, they would be equal to the colonists, and there would be no reason to continue to colonize them. In this way, the promised assimilation was never total or complete, which created a permanent colonial anxiety with respect to the indigenous peoples who were to be absorbed. As Kevin Bruyneel contends, advocacy for bestowing full citizenship on native peoples soon gave way to notions of a more qualified citizenship, as native peoples were deemed to be civilizing too slowly. Because of native peoples’ imposed ontological status as children, they were never considered mature enough to earn full independence from their colonial fathers (Bruyneel 2004, 3).

Surveillance practices have historically been used to normalize native people—surveillance is founded state attempts to civilize the savage


Smith 2015 [Andrea an intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist. Smith's work focuses on issues of violence against women of color and their communities, specifically Native American women. A co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the Boarding School Healing Project, and the Chicago chapter of Women of All Red Nations, Smith centers the experiences of women of color in both her activism and her scholarship. Formerly an assistant professor of American Culture and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Smith is currently an associate professor in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside.. "Not-Seeing." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 21-38..//KHS]

The surveillance strategies employed to normalize native peoplesfrom the monitoring of sexual behavior in Indian boarding schools to the surveillance of land ownership through the Dawes Allotment Acthave never come to an end, even though colonial policymakers continually promise they will. The civilizing policies directed against native peoples have never seemed to succeed enough to justify dismantling them. Of course, one indicator used to determine that native peoples are continuing to be a “problem” and are not sufficiently “civilized” is the high rate of gender violence within native communities. As Dian Million (2014) brilliantly notes, the U.S. government’s funding of healing programs goes hand-in-hand with the imposition of neoliberal economic regimes on Indian communities. According to this logic, native communities do not deserve the right of self-determination because they are violent. Instead, under the guise of colonial paternalism, the state deems it necessary to carefully monitor and surveil the violence within native communities in order to once again save native peoples from themselves. Of course, in this constant “seeing” of violence within native communities, the state hides from view the fact that most such violence is a direct result of state policy. What must not get seen is the inherent violence of the state itself. In one example of this dynamic, the Australian government declared a national emergency in the Northern Territory as a result of the publication of the Little Children Are Sacred report, which detailed the “problem” of child abuse in aboriginal communities in a manner similar to the way gender violence in native communities is framed in the United States (Povinelli 2011, 59). The government seized control of indigenous lands through military police action, instituted compulsory medical exams for children, and took control of the finances for all indigenous programs. Through this intense surveillance, native peoples could be monitored in terms of school attendance, purchasing choices, and medical practices. While the report itself made an effort not to blame child abuse on aboriginal “culture,” it was used by the Australian government to identify aboriginal culture as the problem and thus to justify its surveillance practices. Through these surveillance strategies, the Australian government could “see” and hence surveil the problem of indigenous child abuse, yet it did not see that these abuses were themselves the result of gendered colonial policies, such as the government kidnapping of aboriginal children from their communities in order to place them in violent government schools (Manne 2004)—one example in which state abuse created child abuse as an epidemic problem in native communities. The only solution the state can “see” to ending gender and child abuse is the settler state. What cannot be seen is the fact that such violence is the result of state violence.

Surveillance is inherent to the genocidal practices of the settler state—this justifies sexualized violence against indigenous women while normalizing the state’s ability to do so


Smith 2015 [Andrea an intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist. Smith's work focuses on issues of violence against women of color and their communities, specifically Native American women. A co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the Boarding School Healing Project, and the Chicago chapter of Women of All Red Nations, Smith centers the experiences of women of color in both her activism and her scholarship. Formerly an assistant professor of American Culture and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Smith is currently an associate professor in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside.. "Not-Seeing." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 21-38. Print.//KHS]

The focus of surveillance studies has generally been on the modern, bureaucratic state. And yet, as David Stannard’s (1992) account of the sexual surveillance of indigenous peoples within the Spanish mission system in the Americas demonstrates, the history of patriarchal and colonialist surveillance in this continent is much longer. The traditional account of surveillance studies tends to occlude the manner in which the settler state is foundationally built on surveillance. Because surveillance studies focuses on the modern, bureaucratic state, it has failed to account for the gendered colonial history of surveillance. Consequently, the strategies for addressing surveillance do not question the state itself, but rather seek to modify the extent to which and the manner in which the state surveils. As Mark Rifkin (2011) and Scott Morgensen (2011) additionally demonstrate, the sexual surveillance of native peoples was a key strategy by which native peoples were rendered manageable populations within the colonial state. One would think that an anticolonial feminist analysis would be central to the field of surveillance studies. Yet, ironically, it is this focus on the modern state that often obfuscates the settler colonialist underpinning of technologies of surveillance. I explore how a feminist surveillance-studies focus on gendered colonial violence reshapes the field by bringing into view that which cannot be seen: the surveillance strategies that have effected indigenous disappearance in order to establish the settler state itself. In particular, a focus on gendered settler colonialism foregrounds how surveillance is not simply about “seeing” but about “not-seeing” the settler state. Surveillance and the Biopolitical Modern State David Lyon (2007) defines surveillance as follows. For the sake of argument, we may start by saying that it is the focused, systematic and routine attention to personal details for purposes of influence, management, protection or direction. Surveillance directs its attention in the end to individuals (even though aggregate data, such as those available in the public domain, may be used to build up a background picture). It is focused. By systematic, I mean that this attention to personal details is not random, occasional or spontaneous; it is deliberate and depends on certain protocols and techniques. Beyond this, surveillance is routine; it occurs as a “normal” part of everyday life in all societies. (14) The field of surveillance studies is important, Lyon argues, because of the “rapidly increasing influence of surveillance in our daily lives and in the operation of very large-scale operations” (ibid., 9). The growth in surveillance is often tied to Foucauldian notions of the rise of the disciplinary society and the ascendancy of biopolitics in which peoples become populations to be counted, measured, and regulated in order to promote the life of the normalizing state. Because certain populations are deemed threats to the normalizing state, they must be constantly monitored, and thus are subject to what Ruth Wilson Gilmore (2007) defines as “premature death” in order to preserve the body of the whole. And yet Foucault notes that, ironically, these biopolitical moves were first practiced on the bourgeoisie themselves. Through the disciplining of the bourgeois body, the “normal” body is defined as the measure by which all other bodies are marked as “deviant” (Foucault 1980, 123). Logics of normalization must have some pretense to universality even as these normalizing strategies are not evenly applied. Thus, it is no surprise that these disciplinary techniques come to be used broadly, not just on those populations deemed to be threats.
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