Thursday, August 02, 2007

Truth and Confrontation

Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been a rush to confront and offer apologies for brutalities carried out on behalf of the state and its clients.

This era is often called the The Age of Apologies.

My standing issue with state sponsored apologies is that it is aimed to secure the interests of the state and its elite. This often means that the state may enter a formal apology but that does not mean that the state accepts responsibility.

Formal apologies, are more often than not, just a means of framing the past for purposes of present political interests. In other words, it allows the political elite to frame the past in terms that do not question the present sensibilities and interests of the state.

South Africa is a prime example of how a state, if even a transitioning one, worked to keep elite political interests secure while motioning a process of reviewing the past and its abuses.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not seek to apologize for the apartheid past. But it did create a forum in which the state could create the impression that the review entailed a formal apology by way of recognizing some of the abuses that occured. Wilson has called this legitimizing the state.

What evolved was a highly contentious interaction of state, private, and individual players. The process of review was positioned to be open. But openess did not seek to call the role of the state into question. At least not in terms that equate with litigative justice.

The offer of a blanket amnesty to all players in effect kept the state secure from prosecution. How could the state prosecute, or at the very least condemn, itself anyway?

I am raising these thoughts because it is important for us to recognize and appreciate the manner in which the state is an agent of elite political interests and its inevitable abuses. This is particularly important when we think about deconstructing whiteness. Or rather, how to sabotage whiteness at the sytems level.

We must, for this purpose, focus on the state.

The state system, with its origins in the nationalism and industrialization of the Enlightenment, is a tool of whiteness and its associated political interests. In this context, the proper place for review, in a systems sense, is not the individual acts of brutality in the first place, but the role of the state in creating and fostering the abuses.

In the case of the US and Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, it is the entire state system that is responsible for the abuses that are occuring there. You cannot divorce the American state, all of it including its active and inactive supporters, from the horrific acts that are being carried out in the name of freedom.

In South Africa the same applies. The postapartheid state is not a discontinuation of the previous apartheid state. It is in fact a mere revisement in which the interests of whiteness have been somewhat relocated but still distributed along the same lines of elitist preoccupation with whiteness and its cementing values.

So, the responsibility for the failure to properly address the past is a shared one. The line that was drawn in 1994 is a structural mirage at best.

Mostly, the brutality that was apartheid, the impovershment that was apartheid, and the racism that it enshrines, is very much a structural part of this era of so called freedom and equality.

Whose state is it anyway? Not the impoverished masses for sure.

What is most apparent is that the same conditions that existed then exist now except for the new buffer class of Black comprodores, the much heralded Black middle class.

Despite the advertized prominence of the buffer Black middle class, the postapartheid state has not been able to obstruct the values and trajectory of whiteness. And this includes the usual racist abuses that follow whiteness.

This is somewhat of a bold assertion to make, though it is not that unheard in South Africa.

What is less heard is the argument that Blacks can run a state that has as its underlying purpose the propogation and continuation of whiteness.

Some will be quick to point out that this assertion is unfair and even hyperbole. Not so.

What needs to be appreciated is not the individual context of South Africa but rather the collective context of South Africa in a world system dominated by whiteness. See for example how South Africa was quick to create legislation that restricted the rights of its citizens in the name of the US Patriot Act.

Well not the name as such, but the influence of a marauding American state that brought South Africa to induce anti=terrorist legislation on its supposedly sovereign citizenry.

These pieces of legislation in effect reinforced the stereotypes that Muslims were a target population in the era of Bush and his murderous violence. And South Africa has been actively monitoring groups it considers Islamist threats, and there are instances where Muslims have been detained.

One particular case even included the arrest and deportation of a Pakistani man. After a long drawn out litigation it emerged that South Africa turned the man, Khalid Rashid, over to British authorities and the CIA.

This they did in absolute contravention of his rights to be charged with a crime. No charge, no trial, nada. He ended up in Guantanamo according to media reports.

But where are the noble notions of justice, freedom, equality, due process, and the postapartheid state? Ummmm ... huh?

This case reminds me of how Black folk were treated by the apartheid police and security forces. Blacks in those days were the terrorists in the apartheid mindset. And so much for change and all those liberal rights enshrined in the constitution. See the Khaled Masri case for similar racist abuse outside of South Africa.

The manner in which South Africa was made a complicit American pawn has everything to do with the political, and economic, values of the global state system. These values are endorsed and paid for by the value enterprise that found its initial expression in the construction of race.

So even where South Africa likes to posture itself as a non=racial state, the very idea of race is implicit to the entire nation=state and the state=system within which it interacts.

Inside of this inhumanity, the state is the first piece of institutional machinery that must be dismantled. Confronting the state, therefore, cannot be a mere gesture through commissions, or public events, monuments, popular culture, etc.

Confrontation must be revolutionary at its core. The abusive state cannot just be reformed because its institutional appendages will, and do, recreate the very abuses that we face.

Voting, therefore, is not an option. Because Obama, in the case of the US, and Mbeki in South Africa, amount to no more than stooges of a world system bent on keeping whiteness central.

I think yesterday was a telling day for Obama. It was like the day when President Mbeki labelled himself a Thatcherite. Yesterday, Obama asserted that he would invade Pakistan to fight terrorists even without the consent of Pakistan.

So much for the sovereignty of the state. It is a fiction. And Obama is no more than an agent, like Mbeki, of the controlling interests of whiteness to dominate all spheres.

In this sense, truth and confrontation is a waste of time if it leaves the state intact.

Still in Tijuana,


Professor Zero said...

I read the Obama speech on a liberal site, I think the Daily Kos. It had one of those gizmos where you vote: did you love it a lot, a little, sort of, etc. Only after voting could you see the results of the poll so far. So I voted the worst grade, "disapprove strongly" or something like that, and then found out that these liberals had mostly voted very enthusiastically. With comments, like "Now he's really making sense, now I am really sure I will vote for Obama." @#*$? I am assuming they did understand he was talking about invading a whole country. So I am assuming they do not disagree all that much with what is going on now. And still I was surprised, which goes to show that I am still somewhat naive.

Ridwan said...

Hey there brother. I hear you man. Obama steps up and acts like a Bush fool and the liberals love it!

Well they mostly supported the invasion.

And Obama voted for the Patriot Act, and its renewal, so why should he look any different than Bush.

In fact he was getting his GOP on with those comments. Trying to front like he is really different and tough too.

I am just so amazed that anyone takes him serious ... but then again we are talking about liberals and American politics.

I keep wondering ... where is the substance to this man?

Now we know for sure ... there is really nothing more than pretense ... if it were not for some controversy over his blackness then hell there would be nothing.

Steve Biko used to say: "Never trust a liberal."