Thursday, March 30, 2006
Okay, okay, I admit it, I have been re-reading Michael Hardt and Tony Negri's texts, Empire and Multitude again. The reason being, I got ahold of a coopy of Empire's New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri, and really enjoyed the essays. There's one by Ernesto Laclau, another by Peter Fitzpatrick, one by Slavoj Zizek, and a number of others. While all must attest to the obvious and overall correctness of Empire, they nonetheless pinpoint of number of theoretical weakpoints in the duo's theories.
For example, Laclau's intervention asks in its title, "Can Immanence Explain Social Struggles?" putting into question the theoretical edifice and genealogies of Hardt and Negri that leads them to their concept of multitude, and whether or not politics is still possible under it. In Zizek's essay "The Ideology of Empire and Its Traps," he makes a similar critique, "Does the Deleuzian theory that forms the philosophical background of Empire provide the conceptual apparatus properly to conceive thi antagonism?" The antagonism Zizek is referring to is the liberal-democratic, multiculturalist one that transforms any vertical antagonism into a horizontal one. Thereby censoring any authentic political action.
I understand of course the critiques that these authors and others in the text make. But at the same time, Empire and Multitude seem to be having a similar effect as Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics had two decades ago, although for a different audience. Whereas Hegemony and Socialist Strategy tranformed Marx in the academy and formalized a new language for postmodern/ poststructuralist politics, Empire seems to be helping people involved in anti-globalization efforts and transnational activism and movements. Of course Empire didn't start these movements, but it, along with other texts, are becoming crucial ideological, theoretical and cultural tools for linking movements together, for making the multitude appear, making it happen. (hehehe, I'm using Laclau and Mouffe to talk about Hardt and Negri's theories, ooooh, lachi este siempre, lana, ai todu babarias.)
I'm obsessing about multitudes lately because of all the multitudes that are gathering and forming within nations, across borders right now.
As the world is deterritorialized and reterritorialized, imperial sovereignty, Empire, is produced, a particular form of globality is asserted as univerality. But this act cannot take place without a counter, without a reflective and refractive excess. As the globe is remade, so also is possibility. The existence of Empire brings with it the possibility of Multitude. But as Empire is able to cross all nations, so too must the Multitude. Across which borders are these protests travelling and what other borders will they transgress? In these movements we find the positions where we still must seek out universality, but not in its positive forms, but as negatives. The positions which if universalized hold the truth of the limits, the ghosts of any society. The positions which the nation struggles to contain and to formalize, to articulate as excess, because of these very critiques, these truths.
Oh, and I am very aware that "multitude(s)" goes completely against Hardt and Negri's ultimate point. But then again, Multitude is strangely antipolitical, yet being used for political purposes and projects. The immanence, the end to representation that they reformat for today's world can never be expunged or eliminated, the utopianism is always there.
I'm posting four articles for this one, partially since I'll be away from a computer for the next four days at a conference.
Published on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 by OneWorld.net
Organizers See 'New Civil Rights Movement' in Immigration Protests
by Niko Kyriakou
SAN FRANCISCO - The past three weeks' nationwide protests against proposed immigration reforms considered anti-immigrant mark the rise of a new American civil rights movement, say protest groups.
Protesters' ultimate impact on the immigration debate remains to be seen. Mass protests leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq failed to dissuade legislators from giving President George W. Bush authority to take the nation to war, after all.
Even so, protest organizers said their efforts played a large part in persuading the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve a more immigrant-friendly bill Monday than the one put forward previously by the House of Representatives.
Partha Banerjee, executive director of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network, said the ongoing protests can have a greater impact yet because, like the struggle for civil rights in the mid-1900s, they represent the interests of not just one minority but all migrant groups.
''This is so effective because this is really a new civil rights movement reborn in this country,'' Banerjee told OneWorld. ''Remember, back in the 50s, the huge civil rights movement in this country was primarily about the blacks, but also about other minorities.''
''This is not just about the immigrants,'' she added. ''It's about human and civil rights, it's about all marginalized, under-privileged people in the United States.''
Last December, the House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, legislation that critics said would slam the hopes of immigrant rights advocates and the country's 11 million-odd undocumented workers. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a much more immigrant-friendly version of the legislation Monday.
Before the Senate panel voted, more than 500,000 protesters took to the streets of Los Angeles, 300,000 rose up in Chicago, and thousands more marched, went on work-and-spending strikes, or even hunger strike across the country, according to Banerjee and other protest organizers.
While most of those involved in the larger outpourings appeared to be Latino, their views resonate with large majorities of legal immigrants, according to a nationwide survey conducted by private pollsters and released Tuesday by California-based New America Media (NAM), an association of more than 700 ethnic newspapers and broadcast outlets.
Pollsters canvassed a representative sample of 800 of the 26 million U.S. residents who have gained legal entry and found that most strongly opposed Congressional proposals to criminalize and deport undocumented immigrants and authorize walls and other barriers to be built along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Members of all immigrant communities also voiced alarm over what they termed growing anti-immigrant sentiment throughout the country, according to the survey co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund.
Banerjee said immigrants also had found strong allies among church and labor groups. Some of these, she added, worked closely with her organization to assemble some 200 clergy from various denominations, and more than one thousand community leaders, on Capitol Hill Monday to voice their support for immigrant rights.
In her view, that pressure should be credited with helping Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Panel to blunt the House of Representatives' assault on migrants.
Some Republicans have criticized the strident House proposals, saying these could prove disastrous to the party's hopes of building support among Latino voters.
The legislation that the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed on Monday would legalize undocumented immigrants if they pay their back taxes, learn English, and follow a number of other requirements.
It also would offer a guest-worker program that could allow up to 400,000 immigrants per year to enter the United States legally.
In contrast, the House proposal would make it a felony to enter the United States illegally and would erect a 700-mile fence along the border with Mexico.
The full Senate is expected to debate the measure adopted by the judiciary panel over the next couple of weeks. Even if it passes, the bill will need to be reconciled with the House legislation before being sent on for Bush to sign into law.
Activists anticipate safe passage of the Senate bill but are bracing for real battle when the House of Representatives, which they describe as home to a number of virulent anti-immigration legislators, weighs compromise.
''We are really hopeful that some comprehensive solutions will come out of the Senate and we are going to keep pressure up,'' said Marissa Graciosa, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which helped organize the Chicago protest last weekend.
Graciosa said her organization wanted to ensure the legislation ultimately adopted provides ''a path to citizenship'' for undocumented immigrants so that ''people who work hard are rewarded.''
Commenting on the size of protests so far, Graciosa said the movement benefited from a diverse base of organizers.
''There were over 100 organizations that were working on this,'' she said, referring to the Chicago demonstration. ''The Spanish language deejays were really helpful in telling people that H.R. 4437 [the House immigration measure] is a horrible bill and that unless we get in the streets and tell them about it, that kind of anti-immigration policy could become reality.''
In Los Angeles, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1877, a janitor's union, provided security for the protests and coordinated around one hundred buses that dropped off protesters from around the country.
© 2006 OneWorld.net
Published on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 by the Independent/UK
'Three Million' March Against French Law
by John Lichfield in Paris
In the biggest anti-government protests for at least a decade, more than 200,000 people marched through the streets of Paris to protest against controversial new employment contracts for the young.
French students shout slogans at a nationwide protest demanding the government to scrap a contentious youth job law in Paris March 28, 2006. (Jacky Naegelen/Reuters)Union leaders claimed that yesterday's demonstrations throughout France attracted more than three million people, which would make them the largest protests for almost half a century.
Scattered violence erupted on the edges of the Paris march. There were also running battles at the end in the Place de la République between police and multi-racial gangs of teenagers from deprived suburbs. But police and union security teams - and heavy downpours of rain - prevented the kind of widespread robberies, beatings and pitched battles seen at the end of a march last Thursday.
A nationwide day of strike action called by the five main trades union federations to protest against the contrat prèmiere embauche or "first job contract" was less successful. Many schools closed. One in three internal flights was cancelled. Only half of regional trains were running. The Eiffel Tower and the Paris Opera were forced to shut down.
But the unions failed to achieve the kind of widespread disruption that they were hoping for. On the Paris Metro, two in three trains ran normally. High-speed and international trains were hardly affected. Private industry was barely touched.
Judging by the huge and high-spirited turn-out for the march through eastern Paris, the month-old dispute has now mobilised the young and the many and varied tribes of the French left. However, the relatively poor turn-out for the strikes suggests that the battle has yet to interest the great majority of the French working and salaried classes.
Despite the huge turn-out for the street marches - police estimated the national total to be 1,500,000, and unions double that - the Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, may take some comfort from yesterday's events.
M Villepin's "first jobs contract" is meant to reduce the 23 per cent youth unemployment in France. Under the new law, companies can hire people under the age of 26 for a two-year trial period. During that time, they can be fired without explanation (but with compensation).
Yesterday, M Villepin once again offered to negotiate on some of the more controversial terms of the new law, but refused to withdraw it altogether. The number two in the government, the Interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, distanced himself from M Villepin on Monday night, calling for the law to be "placed in abeyance" during negotiations with unions and students.
Student unions say that the law treats the young as a "disposable" commodity. Unions complain that it drives a wedge in to decades of accumulated legal protections of employment. The law has also become a symbol of what many on the French left see - or like to see - as wicked, anti-social, "ultra-capitalist" influences from the US and Britain.
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited
Published on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 by Inter Press Service
World Demonstrations Strengthen Iraqis
Three years after the occupation, calls for unity in fighting it are gaining ground across Iraq
by Brian Conley and Isam Rashid
BAGHDAD - The memory of the invasion brings sadness, but Iraqis still take heart each year when they hear and see the demonstrations of solidarity with them all over the world.
Usama Asa'ad, a 34-year-old living in Baghdad told IPS that the anniversary of the invasion last week was "a very sad day for all Iraqis because it was the beginning of the destruction of Iraq by occupation forces without real reason."
Although the anniversary always brings new frustration in Iraq, there is some hope too. The continuing anti-war movement is welcomed. Those Iraqis who can receive images of anti-war marches by television are excited to do so, others read about them in the papers, or hear from their neighbours.
"Your demonstrations are a great help for Iraq and for justice, and thank you so much for this help," Zainab Rahman said, as if addressing the demonstrators.
The Muslim Scholars Association, a group representing Sunni Muslims in Iraq, issued a statement contesting Bush's claims of ongoing progress in Iraq.
"Three years ago the U.S. and UK forces came from across the world to occupy Iraq without reason and without respecting UN and the Security Council decisions," the Association said. "Now, after three years you can see how the Iraq situation is very bad, and we don't know what kind of help we can get from occupation."
With the third anniversary come and past, Iraqis are still looking for basic services such as electricity and clean water.
In January and February, Baghdadis could only count on three to five hours of electricity a day. This has improved to an average of perhaps seven hours of electricity on a given day.
Asa'ad is one of many Baghdadis increasingly frustrated by the services situation in the capital. He is heartened, however, by the understanding of demonstrators around the world.
"I can't thank them enough because they feel for Iraq and Iraqi peoples' suffering. We will do the same if anything bad happens to any of these countries, to share their feelings as they do now and because we are human and we must all feel for each other."
Many Iraqis talk at length about the future of Iraq and in particular the future for the Bush Administration and other nations involved with the Multi-National Forces-Iraq. Discussions take place all the time about war crimes and what the United Nations could do to deal with the occupation force.
"I think the international court must try the U.S. government for their crimes in Iraq, like they did with Germany's officers after the second world war," Baghdad resident Ahmed Noor told IPS.
The foreign press rarely discuss the initial drive to war now, having tired of the changing reasons the Bush Administration offers to excuse the war. Iraqis however, remember the approach to war each year.
Usama Asa'ad remembers well the beginning of the war and the various excuses for war presented by Bush. "I would like to say to him, there is no real reason for this war and he lied to all the world when he said the Iraqi government had thousands of tonnes of chemical weapons, and they were working to make nuclear weapons. After this three years the world discovered all of this was lies."
Asa'ad added: "It was not a war for justice. The U.S. government wanted only to control the Iraqi oil, and that would help them to control the world after Iraq."
Ali Fathi, a 38 year-old member of the Iraqi Islamic Party agreed with Asa'ad about the lies of the Bush Administration and the coalition. "They haven't a real reason for this war," he told IPS. "All of their reasons were fake, but their purpose was to destroy Islam and Iraq. Iraq was their first step."
Ali Fathi was thankful for the demonstrations around the world, but said only the resistance will end the occupation. "I would like to say to the resistance, keep up with your work because their work is the main force to end the occupation, and then Iraqi people can do whatever they want in their country."
Ahmed Noor said "we don't need to hope, we need to work very hard to end the occupation and then we can build a new Iraq with a real democratic government; to show all the world how we wish to live in peace without blood and without bombs and wars."
The Muslim Scholars Association also called for action. " Now we ask Iraqi people to join hands together to end the occupation, and at the same time, we ask occupation forces to withdraw their troops as soon as possible.
© 2006 Inter Press Service
Published on Monday, November 7, 2005
by Inter Press Service
Riots Spread Into Rebellion
by Julio Godoy
PARIS - Rioting by immigrant youth around Paris has begun to take the shape of a nationwide rebellion against racial and social segregation, and repressive police action.
A fireman tries to put out a fire in a car in a Paris surburb on the tenth straight night of unrest following the electrocution of two boys who believed they were being chased by the police. The French riots are a warning to Europe that racial integration requires a political solution, the head of Britain's race relations watchdog said (AFP/File/Stephane De Sakutin).
Over the weekend gangs comprising youth mostly from the Maghreb countries and sub- Saharan Africa set fire to more than a thousand vehicles, several supermarkets, and public buildings including schools and sport facilities.
Vehicles were burnt in the centre of Paris for the first time since the beginning of the unrest 11 days ago. Similar violence broke out in other cities including Marseille, Rennes, Nantes and Lille.
The police have been unable to re-establish order despite strong action. Hit-and-run youth gangs coordinating action over mobile phones have been too quick for them. It now seems less and less likely that police action alone can restore calm.
The unrest began Oct. 27 after two immigrant children died accidentally in a high-voltage electricity facility in Clichy-sous-Bois, a poor district some 30km north-east of Paris. In the face of rumours that they were being chased by the police, which the police deny, angry youths went on the rampage.
The police reacted with force, in one instance hurling tear-gas grenades into a mosque. Most residents of the Parisian outskirts where the unrest began are Muslims. Such action was seen by many residents as provocative.
Minister for the interior Nicholas Sarkozy's remarks calling violent youth 'scum' also provoked further violence, several experts say. "Sarkozy's choice of words makes me think of the rhetoric used by military police in racial dictatorships, and of regimes practising ethnic cleansing," Hugues Lagrange, social researcher at the independent Paris Observatory of Social Change told IPS.
Lagrange said conditions of extreme poverty, high unemployment and the racial segregation that hinders immigrant access to jobs lay at the heart of the rebellion. Instead of dealing with these issues, Sarkozy is stirring up unrest "to establish tighter electoral links with a populist right-wing extremist population."
Lagrange said one of Sarkozy's first measures as minister of the interior was to disband a special police unit created by the former Socialist government in 1997 to maintain close contact with youth organisations to prevent any outbreak of violence.
"The duty of police officers is to chase criminals, not to play football with them," Sarkozy said at the time.
Deep political divisions have emerged over the violence. Neo-fascist leader Jacques Bompard and the right-wing nationalist Philippe de Villiers have urged the government to call in the army to suppress the rebellion. De Villiers said the rebellion is proof that the French model of integration "has clearly failed."
On the other hand, local Muslim leaders say Sarkozy must be sacked. They said in a statement that after the attack on the mosque and Sarkozy's abuse of youth, they "do not consider Sarkozy an appropriate negotiation partner."
President Jacques Chirac indirectly condemned Sarkozy's response. "The law shall be firmly applied, but in a spirit of respect and dialogue," Chirac had said last Wednesday.
But opposition leaders and several commentators are urging Chirac to throw Sarkozy out of government. "Sarkozy is an arsonist pretending to be a fireman" ran the title of an editorial comment in the leftist newspaper L'Humanité.
Noel Mamère, leader of the Green Party, called Sarkozy "a danger for French democracy, a danger destroying rapidly the year-long integration efforts carried out by social workers and organisations in the field." He said if Sarkozy does not resign, "the government must kick him out."
Christian Pfeiffer, a German criminologist who has been researching youth unrest in Europe, said "Sarkozy's behaviour is absolutely unacceptable."
Sarkozy has refused to apologise. "I cannot understand why people make such a fuss about words, but ignore the reality of riots and crimes," he said. He said the riots had been "carefully organised...by criminal mafias and by religious extremists."
City mayors and social workers all over France are calling for a major plan to develop low- income districts to avoid future explosions of violence. Jean-Marie Bockel, mayor of Mullhouse in the north-east, has called for "a Marshall plan for our districts."
Copyright © 2005 IPS-Inter Press Service
Remember nai, language is about expression, not communication.
Tinaktak: To be well connected, especially in terms of getting employed in the Government of Guam. Origin: While saying that someone was "gof connected," Madonna misheard me and thought that I said that he was "tinaktak."
"Kao un hungok put Si Bernadette, gof tinaktak gui'."
Chahiro: Warm chocolate milk. Origin: Something my little sister Alina came up with after watching Miyazaki's Spirited Away. Not exactly sure how or why.
"You guys want some chahiro before we watch Howl's Moving Castle?"
Buntakun: A big dork, in particular someone who has either prima donna tendencies, or tends to see enemies everywhere. Origin: Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu!
"Great, is he being a buntakun again?"
Cheater Manahak: Exclaimation, often used to tease someone or toka' them. Origin: Madonna's mother.
Afuyo' Mafoyung: A love that literally knocks the reason and restraint out of you. Origin: Japanese word, "Afuyo" first found in Lone Wolf and Cub book #20, and the Chamorro word "Mafoyung." The "y" in both words should be pronounced as a "z."
"Like freaking afuyo' mafoyung, there she was."
Labialities: Unreal realities. Reality which is primarily marked by fluidity as opposed to constancy or consistency. Origin: Helping Rita type up her notes for her notes for her sessions, I first used it in Battle for Kamchatka #3.
"Two solutions to the predicament of the sovereign, are hyper visibility and labiality."
Sinekkai: To have a crush on someone. Origin: The Chamorro word "sokkai" meaning to snag or get caught on something.
"Oh lana, sinekkai yu' ni' este na bunita na chika!"
Taweez: A bracelet, armband, wristband or necklace that contains a wish. Or an object which is worn until an unrequited love has run its course, at which point it is either lost or one forgets to put it back on.
"This bracelet is a taweez for that one Japanese girl I met last year."
The Light of Nameless Unbelief: The excess that God cannot necessarily control, but which nonetheless constitutes him as God. Origin: Battle for Kamchatka #1.
"The light of nameless unbelief will pierce this world, tearing it to pieces."Macgyver: To rig something up on the spot, to use whatever's around to fix something up. Sometimes referred to as "indigenous ingenuity." Origin: I first heard it used years ago, when students were trying put a stereo and some speakers together to listen to music in class.
"This thing is pretty old, but I'm pretty sure we could Macgyver it somehow."
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I received this email from a a woman named Liane Allen, telling me that Guam actually has the power to start impeachment proceedings against President Bush. The email has gotten me very excited and actually helped push my work in a different direction.
She probably didn't know when she wrote this to me, that she had touched upon what is the repressed fantasy of nearly everyone in the colonies. As she wrote, "This is one of those rare instances when a Territory can have an actual influence on the US Congress."
Life in the Guam is all about narrating yourself a place in a world that you are basically supposed to accept. You are given limits, clear limits, and your job as a good colonial citizen is to create a beautiful tapestry of colonial life (which paints a beautiful patriotic and devotional portrait of the colonizer) that does not in anyway threaten these limits. In other words, that does not threaten the US military and national interests in Guam.
So, take Chamorro language, it can be officialized (be made Lieutenant Governor Vernacular to Governor English), it can be taught in schools, it can be discussed in frightened tones over its tragic yet inevitable demise and it can also be discussed as something which must be preserved, which must be recorded, remembered and prepared for a place in the Museum of Languages America tolerates so long as they are not Sovereign. Chamorro language is a beautiful part of this narration so long as it is not dominant, not hegemonic, does not threaten the monopoly of communication and articulation that English seems to have. Furthermore, it should not used in front of people who do not understand, since that would be inhospitable and as we should all know, the only thing that makes the Chamorro valuable to the global economy and the United States military is their pathological hospitality (mili-tourism).
(another example of this just occured to me. Although it is common in most universities in the United States, that when you are hired, you swear that you will not in anyway attempt to overthrow the Government of the United States, this hinila', esta na chi-na, this limit, takes on a fairly different meaning when it is found in employment contracts at the University of Guam.)
Chamorro language is naturally linked to Chamorros themselves, in that their survival will depend upon assertions of clear sovereignty. Do not reduce sovereignty in the previous sentence of any following to simple nationalism and independence. Both of these things can come about in Guam without disruption, without a radical cut taking place across political meaning in Guam, but then these things are precisely what sovereignty must be for it to mean anything. This shouldn't be reduced to mere violence either, such as a violent revolt, that was why my emphasis was on political meaning, which could be defined in a number of different ways, common sense, naturalness, the ideological tendencies and tendencies of material flow in a society. Sovereignty is an assertion, an expression, an articulation which can shift these movements, it make a cut across meaning, rattling things up, and reconfigure society.
If Guam was to bring about an impeachment resolution for President Cooked Fanihi, it would represent such a cut. It would not just reconfigure Guam, disrupt the patriotic naturalness and American daily devotionalism of life there, but also disrupt the relationship between it and the United States proper. It would represent an act of reversing the colonial gaze. As I will be presenting in a paper next week in San Francisco, Guam is an embodiment of a particular Emperial/Imperial fantasy, and this act of attempted impeachment would be a clear reversal of the way Guam is generally fantasized, if thought about at all, as a eager and overjoyed recepticle of military increases.
That is why, the prospect of Guam actually doing this is so incredibly exciting. It would represent an impossible moment, an occurence, which clearly could not ever happen, and therefore is always edging towards us on the horizon, threatening to transform all. It is these moments that I am interested in making happen. (I should note here that this is different then the Derridean avenir, in which the act must always pretty much be deferred, for fear that this act will revoke the possibility of that democracy, that justice which is always out there looming towards us. Those moments are out there, and they are always on their way, but the persistent deferment of them, the relegation of them to another order of being, will prevent them from ever "arriving." The key difference I guess here would be not just "impossible responsibility" in the sense of keeping conditions right for that moment's arrival, but taking on the responsibility for that responsibility.)
Here's the email from Liane, share it with anyone who you might think is interested, I'll be passing it around soon to people on Guam to see what they think. I know personally, I would love to push for this, but I'm sure that a number of activists on Guam might see it as counterproductive, that in the eyes of most Chamorros and others on Guam, it would be rocking the boat too much.
Hekkua' dei, lao ta li'e siempre:
March 21, 2006
I am writing to you because of your intriguing blog. I'm basically trying to find anyone from Guam who may be able to help me persue an impeachment project.
Back in February, a former US Attorney realized that it's possible to bring articles of impeachment to the floor of the US House by having them transmitted to the House by a state legislature, according to US House rule 603.
I'm now working with an informal group that's trying to get impeachment articles into and through the legislature here in Vermont, others are doing the same in other states. While looking up something else in Rule 603 today I noticed that a US territory's legislature can also transmit articles of impeachment.
We are not limited to state legislatures. As far as I am aware, no one is working with any of the territories on trying to get a grassroots impeachment movement going. So, I figured I'd give it a try.
Here's a Do-it-yourself impeachment guide I wrote a few weeks back:
It will only take one state or territory to bring the articles to the floor of the US House. They may go nowhere from there, but will at least be read into the Congressional Record, and are likely to have some impact on how/where troops get deployed subsequently.
This is one of those rare instances when a Territory can have an actual influence on the US Congress. I'm hoping you might be willing to help me gather folks in Guam who may be able to take on the do-it-yourself impeachment process.
In a worst-case scenario, the more people we have doing this work on the ground in their own states/territories, the more the folks who want to continue the folly of Iraq (or worse bring it to Iran) will have to pause before they act.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
But one of my most common glitches soon emerged. The day hadn't started out as a date, just a lunch together. I love hanging out with this girl, for several reasons. First, she is the first Chamorro I've met at UCSD, although I had heard several rumors about others (yet another reason to believe that we are ghosts in this country that haunt America's history, "did you hear about the Chamorro in __insert academic department___?"). Second, she is passionate about the future of our people and working towards it (she is awesome, because this commitment entails writing legislation, as well as trying to make a Chamorro language soap opera! Olaha mohon umbee, olahao taiguihi mohon!). Third and most importantly, sina fumino' Chamoru gui'! Did you catch that? If not, let me say it again, este na palao'an, bunita yan hoben, sina fumino' Chamoru lokkue! She is so AWESOME!
We've been meeting for several weeks on campus, sa' macho'cho'cho gui' para UCSD, ya bulala' iyo-na "meal points." Yesterday, we went for lunch at the Islander Gril, a great Chamorro fanochuyan in San Diego. What started as lunch soon turned into half a day. We went through photos of her trip to Europe, my photos from Guam, dinner, draft pages for Battle for Kamchatka, salsa dancing at the Marriot and Bhangra dancing in my office. At some point, amongst all these beautiful moments, a singular both exciting and terrifying thought slipped into my brain,
"Is this a date?"
This naturally led to another errant thought, which lacked excitment and involved more fear and mystification,
"I really really hate it when I ask myself, "Is this a date?"
For those familiar with my blog, I am a dating hysteric. For those unfamiliar with what that means, you should read my blog. Its nothing too special or spectacular, everyone deals with it at some level (as Zizek says, the subject is always at a minimum hysterical), but I tend to theorize about it, and sometimes it gets out of hand. Basically, for a number of reasons that I don't like to get into, I have so much trouble communicating attraction, and have no social sense or skills when it comes to attraction.
As the day went on, we ended up at the Marriot hotel, dancing salsa with my roomate and her boyfriend who's visiting from Malaysia. We danced for hours, I had so much fun, it was crazy. I suck at salsa. This girl was a graceful and supportive dance instructor despite my terrible structured dancing abilities. By the end of the night it might have appeared to some people unfamiliar with salsa dancing, that I did actually know how to dance salsa.
When we finished it was already 12:30 am. During the drive home, my mind keep racing, over what I was "supposed" to do. Obviously there were things I wanted to say, wanted to do, but what was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to kiss her good night? Walk her to her door? Hold her hand?
I so wanted to kiss her goodnight, ya na'tungo gui' na ya-hu gui'. But my hyseria got the better of me. In my mind I was screaming, do something. But I ended up not doing anything. Just saying goodnight and hoping to see her again soon.
Ah, I feel so shitty today. I can't wait to see her again, but until then the lyrics for the song below represent my apology, and the hope for the next time we meet.
Dies Pasu Guatu
Kantan Castro Boyz
ginnen i Album "Party Time in the Marianas."
(I tune-na, "Ten Feet Away")
Guiya ha' gi un lamasa
Anai mafakcha' matan-mami
Hu gof kanta put i piniti-hu
Ha na'fitme ?
Hu gof kanta put siniente-ku
Guiya duru gumimen
I kuato gof asu
Lao annok klaru na parehu prublema-mami
Dies pasu guatu
Ai mohon iya guiya hu gof toktoktok pa'go gi un banda fina'homhom
Dies pasu guatu
Humallom yu' na esta ti apmam
Buente sina yu' suette
Guiguiya ha' guini
Esta gof puengge
Pues matto un estrangheru
Ha chachagi para kombrense
Lao i palao'an ti ha attende
Ya annai sumuha
Ai sen magof yu'
Pa'go na puengge suette yu'
Dies pasu guatu
Ai mohon iya guiya hu gof toktoktok pa'go gi un banda fina'homhom
Dies pasu guatu
Monday, March 27, 2006
March 25, 2006 by the Madison Capital Times (Wisconsin)
Feingold Stands Alone Again When Standing on Principle
by Joel McNally
By now it's no surprise when Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold steps out ahead of his colleagues in Washington on the most important political issues of the day.
In the U.S. Senate, most politicians prefer to hide under their desks during any controversy until a clear majority is formed on one side. Then they crawl through the ankles of the crowd, stand upright and pose for smiling pictures at the front of the pack.
Feingold is that rare politician who actually feels comfortable taking a principled stand even if it means standing alone.
It's a leadership style that requires, well, leading. But it's definitely not for the timid. There are no potted plants to hide behind.
The only satisfaction comes from being right from the start. Right about the war in Iraq, right about the attack on American freedoms launched under the cover of fighting terrorism and right about whether the president of the United States should be required to obey the laws we pass.
Of course, if there's anything politicians are terrified to oppose it is war. What sort of politician wants to be known as someone who is opposed to blowing up innocent civilians and turning healthy young Americans into cannon fodder?
That's why Feingold was one of the few Democrats who had the courage to vote against launching a pre-emptive war in Iraq, a country that was absolutely no threat to us since its weapons of mass destruction existed only in the fevered imaginations of the Bush administration.
There were plenty of other Democrats (and maybe even a few intelligent Republicans) who knew that going to war with Iraq was a total waste of U.S. resources and a ridiculous distraction from our real priority of pursuing Osama bin Laden and the terrorist organization that had attacked America.
The trouble was the Democrats who knew better were afraid they would never be able to run for president unless they acted really tough by voting to pour American lives down a rat hole in Iraq.
Ironically, by the time Senators John Kerry and John Edwards ran against George W. Bush, the most difficult question they failed to answer was how they could have been so dumb as to vote for Bush's unnecessary war.
It's true Iraq was run by a brutal dictator. No one misses Saddam Hussein except cartoonists.
But three years ago if we had lined up 2,400 American soldiers and asked the American people if they would be willing to sacrifice the lives of those fellow citizens so Iraqis could vote for a brand-new despot of their own choosing to run their death squads, how many Americans would have accepted the deal?
Politicians are easily spooked even when they don't have to confront issues of life and death. Sometimes all it takes to terrify them is putting a really scary name on a bill.
That is why the entire U.S. Senate, except for Russ Feingold, was absolutely petrified to vote against a bill called the USA Patriot Act. They were horrified by the vision of Republican attack ads accusing them of voting against a bill with such a glorious name.
Never mind that the bill was as dishonestly named as all of those Bush administration proposals to pollute the environment and murder wildlife that carry names such as the Sunny Skies and Happy Bunny Rabbits Act.
The USA Patriot Act should have been more appropriately titled the Totalitarian Takeover of America to Suspend Our Laws and Promote Torture Act.
Which brings us to Russ Feingold's latest and most controversial solitary stand to do what's right.
President Bush now claims he didn't even need to pass that dreadful Patriot Act. Bush's attorney general, who previously wrote an opinion giving the president the right to violate international laws on torture, has drafted another opinion stating the president doesn't need to obey any laws passed by Congress either.
Recent presidents who have acted as if they were above the law have faced impeachment. That was true of Richard Nixon, who truly committed high crimes by covering up black bag burglaries run out of the White House. And it was true of Bill Clinton, who committed the lowly misdemeanor of lying about his private sex life.
Feingold has terrified his fellow politicians without even taking the totally justified step of calling for Bush's impeachment for violating the law and lying to the American people about it.
Feingold simply suggested the Senate "censure," in effect say "tut, tut," to President Bush for violating an explicit law passed by Congress requiring the government to get a warrant before wiretapping American citizens.
Democrat and Republican politicians alike have been fleeing Feingold's resolution like cockroaches suddenly caught in the bathroom light.
It doesn't take very much to stand out amid a swarm of politicians who are terrified to even stand up.
Copyright ©2006, Capital Newspapers.
Friday, March 24, 2006
I Nasion Chamoru ~ The Chamoru Nation
"State of the Nation"
By Julian Aguon
The noise of the militarism around us makes it hard to hear. But there are thoseamong us working desperately hard to quiet it down, at least long enough to callour people from the coffins of our apathy.
I Nasion Chamoru (hereafter, I Nasion) is on the move again, moving among old wounds, but at the intersections of new dangers, such as an administration whose push to privatize too much of our infrastructure is threatening the integrity of our already burdened home, an administration whose negligence is made more dangerous by an alarming alliance between a corporate-controlled media and an out-for-profit-at-who-knows-what-cost business community called the Chamber of Commerce. The nation worked with bent back all last year trying to stop the mass privatization campaign waged from this top-down privatization team.
From the sale of GTA to the problematic and not-as-successful-as-we've-been-told private management contract, or PMC, used on GPA to the manic push to privatize our more vital water resource (GWA) under an incompetent concession model of water privatization, I Nasion worked tirelessly to raise awareness in our community about the short-sightedness of privatization. But I Nasion moved against privatization aware of a larger danger looming on a partner horizon; the push for a military buildup of our island. In other words, I Nasion figured out something many of us have yet to: privatization is only the tramp of this tale, not the lady; militarization is our crowned queen.
Recognizing that the mass military buildup currently being negotiated between US federal agencies and the Japanese government will further violate the rights ofthe native Chamoru of Guam under international law, I Nasion is in communication with the United Nations on these matters. Debbie Quinata, Maga'haga of I Nasion, says that though insulted and mocked by people in positions of power, local activists understand something quite simple: that the huge influx of US military personnel to our already strained society is like bringing danger to our doorsteps, a fact that sits on top of a tragic reality: that we are in our houses, asleep.
We are being told, says Quinata, that militarization is the solution to our troubled economy. Like most lies, this one has not only misled us but has maimed us.
Our leaders are misleading our people, she says, with lies like this. What we need to decide, she says, is what we want; either we want a band-aid,which is what a military buildup in Guam will be, or we want genuine, sustainable development. The thing about trickle-down economic theory, as Quinata well understands, is that little actually trickles down.
The marines coming will require the building of more residential areas and wil lhave unfair advantages over us like the housing subsidies they get when they live overseas, which raise rental prices for everyone, she says. And who is going to build them? Outside contractors, like always, and those that will get the jobs will be imported labor, who again require more housing, she says.
The relocation of these 6,000(+) US marines, their families, and the imported workforce which may likely result, will only further dispossess a dispossessed people, says Quinata.
And the Chamoru have been dispossessed enough.
The real war on terror is the war being waged on our people, says Quinata. To be more specific, she says, "what is going on to the families in Tiyan is abuse. It is terrorism.Our people are being pushed to their limits, she says with a rage only equaled by compassion.
After Guam was declared the next home to these marines - who we know from our Okinawan neighbors polluted their previous home with rape and noise and violence- the US demanded $6B from Japan to shoulder the cost of this mass relocation. But it seems the question of how much of this money is going to be used to upgrade our local infrastructure to accommodate for this huge, instant, and volatile upset to our homeland has yet to be asked.
For I Nasion, says Quinata, it is hard to hear federal talk of $6B when we here have just been forced to borrow $200M from the bond market to pay for the upgrades needed to bring our water agency, GWA, into compliance with a federal stipulated order, which itself is vulgar in moral terms. The stipulated order, a result from a lawsuit filed against our government and GWA by the USEPA for violating federal standards, should never have been signed. If anything, holds I Nasion, there should have been a countersuit against the USEPA alongside other federal agencies whose actions include ones both dubious and colonialist.
For instance, says Quinata, I Nasion has recently returned from testifying before the United Nations about the contents of The Guam Secret Study, which proved how US federal agencies, led by the Department of Interior, purposefully and illegally killed a presidential directive handed down by President Ford in the 1970s to negotiate a political status with the people of Guam that was noless favorable than that which was being negotiated between the US and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands at that time.
The US was charged by the international community a half century ago with the responsibility of forwarding the process of self-determination among the native Chamoru of Guam, says I Nasion.
With regard to the unjust expectation of Guam to bend to accommodate the military increase and to shoulder the cost of upgrading and readying our infrastructure and resources for these troops, the over $200M needed to totally upgrade GWA is a drop in the bucket for the federal government. To date, the bucket still wants for the drop.
I Nasion holds that it is ridiculous that we were sued for violating federal USEPA standards, especially given the fact that the US has yet to clean up our water and land that it has been contaminating for the past fifty years. It holds further that that mass privatization agenda, the most important of them being the privatization of GWA which is being forwarded for the sake of the larger militaristic agenda, aims to push Chamoru self determination forever out of reach.
I Nasion is on the move again, moving among old wounds, but with a new word on the lip of its intention: solidarity.
Last month we welcomed peace and justice activists from South Korea, who came toGuam to nonviolently protest the secret meetings between Korean officials and the US federal government being held here. Coincidentally, these meetings were held within the same two-week period as the meetings between the US and the delegates from Okinawa about US military relocation.
In beautiful solidarity, our Korean neighbors stood with us, standing against the winds of apathy which blow too strong here at home. They joined I Nasion in a series of public protests against the perils of militarization, which is still being dangled in front of us like candy before children.
The candy, we realize, is not as sweet as they say. And for the sake of survival, we have abandoned our youth.
At the morn of 2006, one thing is clear: our apathy is burying us alive.
Chamoru People: Renounce your coffins. Your nation is calling you.
Copyright 2005 I Nasion Chamoru.
Monday, March 20, 2006
The oldness also relates to how I borrowed some of the phrases from old improvisational long songs that manamko' related to me.
One reason why I'm posting this is because of an oddly romantic feeling this morning, no idea why. Maybe its because of a refreshing dream I had last night that I cannot remember in waking life. There are so many disparate threads of attraction in my life right now, but nothing secure, nothing certain. A number of beautiful women, linked to me through beautiful, yet naturally ephemeral moments. A glance, a glitch, a touch. If this feeling continues, then I will end up writing about it, but not today. Para pa'go, esta na betsu, nahong ha'.
Sottera, (the tune is to Dave Matthew's Band, Satellite)
Sottera, gi me'na-hu
Un na'maya' i tano'-hu
Ni' i bininita-mu
Sottera, un foyung yu'
Fina'tinas i giniife-hu
Amot nai yu' direchas kuetdas
I manglon este na tano'
Achokka' fihu mana'kebra todu
Hagu muna'ma'lak ni' mafnas
Ekpe pat fitme, maile umbre Sottera
Hagu ha' sina suheta
An esta yu' sala'
Sottera gi hinasso-ku
Sasangani yu' na
Guahu ni' u lachai i sumottera-mu
Gi pappa' i semnak dumana' hit
Ya ti apmam bai hu lalangu
Ti sina hu sungon i maipen karinu-mu
Achokka' matai yu' sinembatgo magof
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Naturally the task was incredibly difficult for most people, especially since The Galaide is primarily for the Chamorro community in the United States. Yanggen sumasaga hao giya Guahan, siempre un hungok put este na taotao, achokka' ti un tungo' put i sinangan. Lao yanggen taotao Amerika hao, siempre taya' tiningo'-mu put este siha. Although most people were impressed with it, and learned something from it, former Congressman Robert Underwood was the only person I know of who was actually able to complete it.
Its funny, There were 18 quotes and 18 Chamorros, and I had two scales on which you could calculate i tiningo'-mu yan i minalate'-mu. The rankings went as follows,
Guam Chamorro Activist Scale
18: Was in Robert Underwood's Guam History Class
17-15: Testified before the UN
14-10: Testified before the US Congress
9-7: Protested something
6-2: Wrote a letter to the PDN editor
1-0: Talked bad about your cousin cause she didn't help with the matai
California Chamorro Po'asu Scale
18: Children Speak Chamorro
17-15: Donne' in the backyard
14-10: Nobenas in the backyard
9-7: Has wooden spoons and forks on the walls
6-2: Says "Guamanians"
1-0: Says "Chamorrans"
Yanggen dinanche i hinasso-ku, 15 i score-na Si Underwood. Pues an un atan i lista, magahet gui'! Sa' hunggan tumestigu Si Underwood gi me'nan i Kengresun I United States.
Since the last couple posts have been accused of being Chamorro free (or at least Chamorro free in any intelligable way), I thought that this might be a good transition post. Beneath you'll find a wide array of quotes some of which I used for the Activist Quiz I mentioned above. They display a wide array of Chamorro critiques of colonization, whether it be Spanish or American, and my point in collecting and publicizing them is to show how "activism" is not a recent thing in Chamorro life. Perhaps in some forms we only see it in the past few decades, but the spirit or commitment behind all activism can be found in Chamorro culture and life for centuries.
My reason for taking this stand is in response to varying discourses which create Chamorros as incapable of political action, and the act of doing so stripping them of their Chamorroness and forcing them into the universe of Americaness. The most chilling example of this can be found in the way Angel Santos' legacy has been rewritten following his death. The way his actions in life were thought to be primitively Chamorro, radically foreign to American greatness and harmony, and in fact something which stained and ruined American multiculturalism by emphasizing "indigenous rights," were reformulated into courageous American actions. How the source of the greatness of Santos was suddenly not his Chamorro fidelity, but his American core, his American commitments to activism and social justice. According to one caller I heard on the radio in Guam in 2003, the argument for this reversal was based on that fact that Chamorro culture is non-confrontational, and therefore there is no activism. What Angel Santos did therefore as a courageous activist is because he was a courageous American!
Anyways, here's the quotes:
Jesus Sablan Leon Guerrero
“Whatever our political status may be, we should insist that the U.S. consider the value to the U.S. of the military bases and the hazards inflicted upon us in the past and into the future.”
“We are condemned as extremists. Christ was an extremist, a were Martin L. King and Gandhi. Creative extremists are needed to make a change here.”
Elizabeth Perez Arriola
“Our beautiful island culture, language and traditions have to be nurtured and experienced daily and shared among ourselves and others.”
Pale’ Jesus Baza Duenas
“San Jose Patron-mami, Goggue I famagu’on-mu, Atan ya un chachalani, I uma’agang I na’an-mu”
"Pa’go nai ta nafunhayen sa’ manmacha’gua I Gilagu…Dalak yu’ ya ta fanmatuna gui’ tai hinekhok sa’ ta na’malulok I tano’-ta."
Vicente Cruz Blaz
"Why are we equal in war, but not in peace?"
Lola Sablan Santos
"The passion I have is to affect change. Our voices have not been heard and our concerns have not been addressed. We have been an underserved and an ignored community. Its up to us to educate and to advocate for the Chamorro people."
Carlos Pangelinan Taitano
"Galaide’ Galaide’ Tunas Mo’na gi hilo’ tasi. Galaide’, Galaide’, Fa’nu’I Hami I guinahan tasi."
"They dare to take away our liberty, which should be dearer to us than life itself. They try to persuade us that we will be happier, and some of us had been blinded into believing their words. But can we have such sentiments if we reflect that we have been covered with misery and illness ever since those foreigners have come to disturb our peace?"
Ricardo J. Bordallo
“Guam is not just a piece of real estate to be exploited for its money-making potential. Above all else, Guam is the homeland of the Chamorro people. That is a fundamental, undeniable truth. We are profoundly taotao tano’, people of the land. This land belongs to us, just as surely as we belong to it.”
“How can one man be the supreme executive, legislative and judicial power? What kind of government is that?"
Laura Torres Souder
“Guam’s story in the 20th century is inextricably linked with the American experiment of colonial empire-building overseas, which began with Hawaii in 1893. To understand the present struggles and circumstance of Guam…we need to take a critical look at this colonial legacy.”
Adrian Cruz Sanchez
Prior to the Japanese invasion, the US Navy evacuated all of the Naval Dependents on the island with a few exceptions. Those exceptions happened to be my wife, daughter, my uncle’s wife…It has haunted me through the years. Time and time again, I keep asking myself why my family was left on Guam?"
Francisco G. Lujan
“The [Naval] Government had 100 percent conviction…In those days you were guilty until proven innocent."
Francisco Baza Leon Guerrero
"The only "ism" on Guam, is Americanism."
Angel Leon Guerrero Santos
“Patience, faith and prayer are our only weapon in reversing the injustice and restoring hope for our people.”
Frank B. Rabon
"Susteni i Kotturan Chamoru siha para i manma'pos, pa'go yan i mamamaila.
Dr. Robert Underwood
"On Liberation Day, when the Chamorros wave the flag and thank the Marines, they are in reality celebrating themselves and their own experiences."
Pale’ Jose Torres Palomo
“This fatal epidemic perhaps might have been avoided had a strict quarantine been enforced [by the Spanish] on a sailing vessel coming from Manilla…(but instead) they were allowed to land and from them the smallpox spread until almost every inhabitant on the island had it.”
Cecelia Taitano Perez
“It is not in words that we have been taught, but in the silent teachings of our manaina. What we have learned is to open ourselves to the collective memory of our People who came before us and help us to move ahead – I Taotaomo’na. They show us how to remain in spiritual love and connectedness with each other in our homelands."
Antonio Manibusan Palomo
“I was never satisfied with what we were and what we still are. I don’t believe that there should be different levels of American – first class, second class, even third class.”
Friday, March 17, 2006
Where does my critique emerge from in relation to modernity?
Okay, so maybe in that form it doesn't sound like something alot of people would ask on an everyday basis, but nonetheless it is this kernal that is always confronting me in my work, and by work I mean academically or what I produce explicitly for academics as well as intellectual work I do for anyone else anywhere.
The phrase "relation to modernity" is the key here, because basically when I critique the United States, when I articulate what decolonization means to me, and what it should be for others, from where am I positioning myself in relation to the thing that I am decolonizing or the framework I am critiquing? Do I place myself outside of modernity, do I root my articulation in something outside of it, or before it? Or do I position myself inside of modernity, making a critique and seeking to dissolve it from within?
I am an indigenous subject/non-subject, I am put into that position and I occupy it and chose to continue to occupy it. Yet, given the obvious friendliness of my work with "non-indigenous" theories and scholarship (Zizek, Lacan, Weezer, Evangelion, Pikachu) doesn't this affinity provide an easy autocritique of what I do? To put it another way, am I just reproducing, through my critiques of the ways Chamorros are representing themselves and their culture, the very thing I am attempting to critique, namely the impossibility of the Chamorro?
Depending upon what day of the week it is, my critical relationship to modernity changes, and regularly shows up in the different ways I relate to “indigeneity.” How I articulate it, how I occupy it, and how I resist it (my paper earlier this year on Whale Rider a perfect example). Some days I refuse to give European modernity that much credit, and I insist on the existence of something else, whether in the forms of alternative modernities or alternate epistemologies. Only through attempts to embody and inhabit these forms will real critiques of modernity take place. I work hard to articulate a Chamorro in defiance of the anthropological monopoly on it, which continues to colonize through the very concepts and tendencies that have yet to be decolonized and dealt with in very real ways. (for example, the dilemmia of indigenous peoples is that we are stuck with and stuck in culture, and the predicament of culture is that it is supposed to be stuck, static, and therefore indigenous peoples when entering modernity and modern representation are basically trapped within frameworks of oppressive and colonizing authenticity. In order to be visible to be audible we have to work to retain that cultural position, but speech, representation, like the vision of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park are all predicated on movement, a change, that which culture as it is dominantly articulated, not supposed to do). Some very vibrant recent examples that I've found of this strategy are coming from indigenous epsitemologies in Latin America, the Carribean and the Pacific.
Lately however, my days have not tend to be of the above type. While the hope for something different, outside of modernity remains with me and always makes cameo appearances, my theoretical push most often follows the logic of Slavoj Zizek and his critique of modernity, which provides an interesting way of giving it too much credit to it and giving it not enough credit at the same time. For him the logic of critiquing modernity lies in a line from Richard Wagner’s Parsifal, “Die Wunde schilesst der Speer nur, der si schlug,” “The wound can only be healed by the spear which made it." Or to echo the sentiments of Indian philosopher J.L. Mehta, when confronted with European modernity, “there is not other way open” save to pass through it." This meaning that modernity in its very production, in differing ways, provides the very means for its dissolution. To seek something outside of modernity, or more importantly for issues of indigeneity, something before it, is the most obvious way of ensnaring yourself in it.
Interestingly enough, in my paper Everything you Wanted to Know About Guam, but were Afraid to Ask Zizek: Part 1, I provided a different reading of his "spear" and "wound" spiel.
"The wound can only be healed by the spear that caused it," is therefore like the advice of a doctor, who’s advice is that what the patient needs is a good doctor’s advice, this wound comes with its own logic and its own trap. Colonizing impulses dictate that once wounded, it is the colonizer that Chamorros are to turn to, and to insist bitterly or wait patiently to be given access to that which has hurt them. To me, this is the response that leaves the wound misrecognized, unattended, festering in mythology, eventually becoming something akin to the grotesque thing from Franz Kafka’s story, “A Country Doctor." It becomes a sore so huge and gaping it begins to take a life on a life of its own, precisely because of the lack of understanding as to its purpose or source.
Pre-war and immediate postwar activism in Guam was marked by an obsession with finding the weapon that caused the wound. It can be summed up perfectly by the statements of former Speaker of Guam’s Congress, Carlos Taitano. While the United States Navy was snatching up ¾ of the island and Chamorros were complaining to members of the Guam Congress about what they felt was unfair treatment by Naval officials, Taitano’s response was basically what can we expect but this, “we are outside of the family now, how can we ask for anything when we are outside of the family?" To paraphrase this assimilationist logic, “we still have yet to find the weapon which has wronged us, what can we expect other than this?”
In response however, we have the horrifying insight of Deleuze and Guattari's Capitalism and Schizophrenia, where the almost divine power of capitalism (and I would argue modernity as well) is its ability to deterritorialize and reterritorialize, so that any old division or new division can be potentially constitutive of is power. The discussions of culture and its potential for resistance (Subcommandante Marcos, Amilcar Cabral, Franz Fanon) can easily be rendered moot, as capitalism has a way of sometimes savagely sometimes politely subsuming, engulfing and momentarily neutralizing at one time potentially threatening local traditions. Take for example the difference between the East India Company in Mangal Pandey's time with McDonald's today. By making mutton burgers McDonalds, through this respect for local traditions quickly becomes a member of the family. We have a similar issue on Guam, as Kentucky Fried Chicken has very much become a member of the Chamorro family by making hineksa' aga'ga and kelaguan wraps a part of their everyday menu.
The issue in my movement between these two positions, is not to actually pick one, because such a choice can never be sustained for very long. For some reason I've been quoting Ernesto Laclau alot lately, maybe its because if my grandfather was a Argentinean political theorist, he would be just like Laclau. Very grandfatherly and very formal, but very afraid to intellectual slap someone around. But, here is yet another quote from Laclau, this time from his punk-ass article "Can Immanence Explain Social Struggles?" from Empire's New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri.
"Here we find the real theoretical watershed in contemporary discussions: either we assert the possibility of a universality that is not politically constructed and mediated or we assert that all universality is precarious and depends on historical construction out of heterogeneous elements."
Ah yes, it sounds simple, but the truth is the sentence not the choice, as the choice is false, impossible. One cannot actually occupy this distinction, because although every universal can be shown to be contingent or insufficient in some way, the universal nonetheless always appears in the form of not a universal, but the universal. Isn't this the terribly annoying glitch of "postmodern" politics? That game that Bush and other conservatives are able to play so well? Is not the assertion of respect for a multiplicity of truths and differences, one of the best ways to protect the universality of a particular hegemonic truth? Aren't free speech zones one of the most profound recent examples of this?
What we are forced to always do then is articulate our position in relationship to this continually obvious and present, yet simulteanously and paradoxicaly ghostly movement. (is this one reason why "strategic essentialism" as a basic concept has to be renounced and disavowed? Not just because it provides a more defensible way of reinventing identity politics, but more so because it forces us to confront that identity will always be an element of politics (at present), and cannot be something that can be merely dismissed as divisive or counterproductive (as so many theorists have done and continue to do).
Earlier today while running errands, I accidentally ended up watching the film Ultraviolet. It along with its obvious inspiration Equilibrium (William Fichtner in pretty much the same role, as a broken white liberal, touchy feely guy who is way over his head in a world that has gone fascist all around him, I'm also pretty sure they are written by the same guy, Kurt Wimmer) clearly represent second critical logic I discussed, where a system can only be dissolved from within.
As we saw clearly in Matrix Reloaded, there is no system that does not have some sort of remainder (Neo). Therefore no system is ever completely closed or safe, but must continually work to create means to deal with these excesses. In The Matrix Trilogy we see a very elaborate system created to deal with the excess that Neo and more importantly the production of his position represent. But ultimately even this new regime cannot contain that excess, and leads to potential new threats (take for example Ray Liotta in No Escape).
In Ultraviolet and Equilibrium we see the application of power, or violence to deal with a threat leading to the creation of something which that power cannot contain. The creation of something which can potentially outviolence its source (The Saint of Killers in Preacher).
In its quest to create more powerful soldiers, a genetic mutation is created which begins to afflict certain members of the human race. The "government" acts to contain this new threat, to destroy it, thus creating in different ways Violet or V, who naturally at the film's end, destroys those that produced her.
In Equilibrium, a world without passion or emotion is also one of everlasting "peace." This peace however is kept by schizoid state inducing drugs and brutal soldiers and clerics who diligently destroy all potentially stimulating material, such as art, books, poetry, music. John Preston is one such grammaton cleric who at the film's beginning effortlessly wipes out entire rooms of "sense offenders." Through the course of the film however, he begins Preston begins to feel and eventually fights to overthrow the government for which he blindly killed on behalf of.
In Equilibrium, the resistence, those who resist from "the outside" those who could be classified under the logic of the first critique are easily massacred and destroyed by the State. Their fight is always a losing battle, it is only when one from within, Preston joins them that their battle is successful, and a revolution lead by Preston's destruction of the State's leader takes place.
The discussion of these two films of course leads me to discuss another film in the dystopia bad ass genre, the soon to be released V for Vendetta.
V for Vendetta is slightly different from the other two because of the way that V, the agent of revolution, remains basically an enigma. His origin is not revealed as Violet's was, as a normal human woman, until she became infected with the blood virus and later lost her child to the State's experiments on her.
The camp from where we first meet V, Code Name V, the man from room Five or V, is an incredibly heterogenous space, it is full of all the not white people in Britian that survived a nuclear holocaust, as well as all the homosexuals, intellectuals, insane people and artists. Our only concrete knowledge of him is that he was wronged and he seeks retribution and vengeance (but is it for himself, for the woman he loved in the room next door, for whom?), but his face is never revealed, his identity never given to us in such a way that we could situate from where his power comes from. (the movie in a way diminshes this, by giving him amnesia and creating a clear lack of history for V).
For example, is his intelligence, his strength, his madness a result of the experiments that they conducted on him and others? Or was it something already there, prior to the camp, prior to everything? Because we never see his face, and I mean this both in literal terms (we are stopped just before Evey is about to reveal it, because of the realization that his face doesn't matter, only the position he mometarily occupies, and holds for someone else) as well as ontological terms. The source of this drive, is it something created through the exploitation and oppression of the system that is built following the nuclear holocaust? Or is it something that existed even prior to that destruction? Something that this system can't only not account for, but can't take credit for.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
After years of hording comic books, talking and debating comic history and theory, and creating comic book characters that stayed just on sketch pages, we are at last on the edge of actually making an actual comic.
Me and my brothers will be officially presenting our comic Battle for Kamchatka at this year's Alternative Press Expo (APE), on April 8 and 9. For more info on the Expo go to http://www.comic-con.org
We will have two issues, inked and lettered to show, and will be looking for someone to publish our stuff. If any of you are interesed in learning more about the comic, or know of any leads for publishing let me know. We will also be either selling or giving away a number of ashcans, or limited edition preview comics. Kamchatka is the world of our comic and part of the mystery which both the characters and the readers will struggle with, is how exactly do things end up in Kamchatka? In our ashcans we will be providing five stories, each of which follows a character along a different path that leads them to fall into Kamchatka. Here's some script from the first issue, one of our main characters, Jackson after newly falling into Kamchatka encounters the followers of Omaad the Omnipotent who claims to be The Messiah of Kamchatka:
OMAAD: You must have fallen just moments ago if you do not know of my Greatness. Amusing, and yet so troubling.
OMAAD: Sate my curiosity. Where did you come from?
JACKSON: I don't know.
OMAAD: I thought so. Well it doesn't matter anyway.
OMAAD: In this place, there is nowhere except through me. I am the Messiah all here seek. Especially those who do not know it yet such as yourself. My gospel is one of mercy, compassion, transformation, redemption and salvation! Take the faith that I offer you, hold it deep within you and follow me.
OMAAD: I walked amongst you once not knowing who I was. Thinking that this mortal corpse was the ends of me. I was an angel poacher, using this immortal blade to strike down those heavenly creatures! One fought back, smearing my arm with his blood destroying it. Before he died, his opaque eyes pleased to me in final recognition. He called me Savior, he begged for my forgiveness. It was then I understood my fall. I was the Messiah. The Lord of this world.
OMAAD: I had clouded my bision, drained my powers, so that I might walk amongst you. So that I could know you, preach to you and find those amongst you who deserved my graces, my love. Do not any of you feel used to this world as it is! For it will soon crumble. Its destruction has been prophesized by myself as well as Guild approved clerics Sahuma the Wise and Mr. Cleo. The light of nameless unbelief will pierce this world, tearing it to pieces. At the end of that lightness where no desire or thought can survive there shall be only me and those who take refuge in my shadow!
GEEKY MINION: Such is the gospel of Omaad the Omniscent, protected by copyright. Piracy is stealing!
OMAAD: Will you join my flock.
JACKSON: I, I don't know. I just need -
JACKSON: Ahhh! (Jackons' hair is yanked by a follower)
OMAAD: My glory and grace before you and yet you hesitate!!!
OMAAD: I have many enemies, doubt and recitence most mortal among them. Since it seems that doubt is your messiah, does that make you my enemy as well? A believer has no hesitation.
JACKON: Wait, give me another chance-
OMAAD: You have wasted one chance, why waste another on the you that you are?
OMAAD: You see, I cannot cast aside all who are at one point without belief. Where would my famous compassion be if I did so?
JACKSON: Ask me again, give me another chance please?
OMAAD: This chance isn't yours. Faith doesn't belong to you, something only you hold. There are many ways that faith is found. But personal acceptance is by no means my favorite. I've found that conversion is the quickest and most efficient means for instilling belief in the non-believer. You are of no use to me, but the believer that you will become is welcome in my shadow.
OMAAD: The task of converting non-believers such as yourself is one I give only to my most faithful followers. Please prepare him to be converted. (A line of menacing conversionists approach Jackson brandishing a variety of different weapons (rakes, knives, fists, etc.)
OMAAD: Make his faith worthy of my grace.
OMAAD: You will soon know beyond knowing my love. I am the Messiah, the one and only. Beyond the doubt. Past the pain. Beyond the qayamat. There is only Me.
I don't want to say much more yet, not until we've officially presented the comic to the public, but I guarantee that if you like warm, fuzzy schizophrenic comics, you will love Battle for Kamchatka. I'm doing the writing, Jack is doing the art and inking, and Yuri Kuri (Jeremy) is doing the lettering.
I'm pasting above a draft we did for one of the covers. Failed draft, and sorry that the scanner wasn't big enough to fit the entire page.
I will of course have more info soon. Nangga na'ya.
March 15, 2006 by the Guardian / UK
Latin America and Asia Are at Last Breaking Free of Washington's Grip
The US-dominated world order is being challenged by a new spirit of independence in the global south
by Noam Chomsky
The prospect that Europe and Asia might move towards greater independence has troubled US planners since the second world war. The concerns have only risen as the "tripolar order" - Europe, North America and Asia - has continued to evolve.
Every day Latin America, too, is becoming more independent. Now Asia and the Americas are strengthening their ties while the reigning superpower, the odd man out, consumes itself in misadventures in the Middle East.
Regional integration in Asia and Latin America is a crucial and increasingly important issue that, from Washington's perspective, betokens a defiant world gone out of control. Energy, of course, remains a defining factor - the object of contention - everywhere.
China, unlike Europe, refuses to be intimidated by Washington, a primary reason for the fear of China by US planners, which presents a dilemma: steps toward confrontation are inhibited by US corporate reliance on China as an export platform and growing market, as well as by China's financial reserves - reported to be approaching Japan's in scale.
In January, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah visited Beijing, which is expected to lead to a Sino-Saudi memorandum of understanding calling for "increased cooperation and investment between the two countries in oil, natural gas and investment", the Wall Street Journal reports.
Already much of Iran's oil goes to China, and China is providing Iran with weapons that both states presumably regard as deterrent to US designs. India also has options. India may choose to be a US client, or it may prefer to join the more independent Asian bloc that is taking shape, with ever more ties to Middle East oil producers. Siddharth Varadarjan, the deputy editor of the Hindu, observes that "if the 21st century is to be an 'Asian century,' Asia's passivity in the energy sector has to end."
The key is India-China cooperation. In January, an agreement signed in Beijing "cleared the way for India and China to collaborate not only in technology but also in hydrocarbon exploration and production, a partnership that could eventually alter fundamental equations in the world's oil and natural gas sector," Varadarjan points out.
An additional step, already being contemplated, is an Asian oil market trading in euros. The impact on the international financial system and the balance of global power could be significant. It should be no surprise that President Bush paid a recent visit to try to keep India in the fold, offering nuclear cooperation and other inducements as a lure.
Meanwhile, in Latin America left-center governments prevail from Venezuela to Argentina. The indigenous populations have become much more active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador, where they either want oil and gas to be domestically controlled or, in some cases, oppose production altogether.
Many indigenous people apparently do not see any reason why their lives, societies and cultures should be disrupted or destroyed so that New Yorkers can sit in their SUVs in traffic gridlock.
Venezuela, the leading oil exporter in the hemisphere, has forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country, and is planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China as part of its effort to reduce dependence on the openly hostile US government.
Venezuela has joined Mercosur, the South American customs union - a move described by Nestor Kirchner, the Argentinian president, as "a milestone" in the development of this trading bloc, and welcomed as a "new chapter in our integration" by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president.
Venezuela, apart from supplying Argentina with fuel oil, bought almost a third of Argentinian debt issued in 2005, one element of a region-wide effort to free the countries from the controls of the IMF after two decades of disastrous conformity to the rules imposed by the US-dominated international financial institutions.
Steps toward Southern Cone [the southern states of South America] integration advanced further in December with the election in Bolivia of Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous president. Morales moved quickly to reach a series of energy accords with Venezuela. The Financial Times reported that these "are expected to underpin forthcoming radical reforms to Bolivia's economy and energy sector" with its huge gas reserves, second only to Venezuela's in South America.
Cuba-Venezuela relations are becoming ever closer, each relying on its comparative advantage. Venezuela is providing low-cost oil, while in return Cuba organizes literacy and health programs, sending thousands of highly skilled professionals, teachers, and doctors, who work in the poorest and most neglected areas, as they do elsewhere in the third world.
Cuban medical assistance is also being welcomed elsewhere. One of the most horrendous tragedies of recent years was the earthquake in Pakistan last October. Besides the huge death toll, unknown numbers of survivors have to face brutal winter weather with little shelter, food, or medical assistance.
"Cuba has provided the largest contingent of doctors and paramedics to Pakistan," paying all the costs (perhaps with Venezuelan funding), writes John Cherian in India's Frontline magazine, citing Dawn, a leading Pakistan daily.
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan expressed his "deep gratitude" to Fidel Castro for the "spirit and compassion" of the Cuban medical teams - reported to comprise more than 1,000 trained personnel, 44% of them women, who remained to work in remote mountain villages, "living in tents in freezing weather and in an alien culture," after western aid teams had been withdrawn.
Growing popular movements, primarily in the south but with increasing participation in the rich industrial countries, are serving as the bases for many of these developments towards more independence and concern for the needs of the great majority of the population.
Noam Chomsky, the author, most recently, of "Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World," is a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Monday, March 13, 2006
The day I created my nation the issue I was given was an interesting one, a sort of "democracy at the crossroads." I was offered three positions on the issue of "compulsory democracy." The first boiled down to, "democracy only works if its truly representative, and that can only happen if everyone participates, therefore democracy must be compulsory." The second position was that "democracy is about freedom, you can't force people to be part of democracy, that's not what its about, therefore democracy can't be compulsory." The last choice was offered by your brother, who basically said, "this is all too confusing, wouldn't everything be simpler if you just made all the decisions?"
Being the firm believer in democracy, freedom and nepotism, I of course supported compulsory democracy. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm tired of people taking credit for being a part of "the world's greatest democracy," while their contribution to that "greatness" probably boils down to watching American Idol and having wet dreams about George W. Bush on horseback (intentional almost Freudian slip). Things would be so much more interesting if democracy was compulsory, required. Not something floating around you that you draw from to form a positive image of yourself (how can the Iraqis not want us to liberate them, aren't we just the mostest freedom lovingest democracy sharing people around?), but something which becomes a chore, something you actually have to do.
Take for example those infamous Worst Case Scenario Books. What makes them intriguing and so interesting is the exceptional yet obviously useless nature of what they offer to help you with. They provide in everyday language, everyday solutions to crocidile attacks, to airplane crashes, to plummeting elevators. The novelty of this advice however is only novel because of how alienated we are from the circumstances it describes. Imagine however as Zizek does in his foreward to the second edition of For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor, that these zany forms of advice became the norm, for example what if these little nuggets of knowledge were taught in elementary school?
"Recall the proverbial scenes of drilling young pupils, boring them to death by making them mechanically repeat formulas (like the conjugations of Latin verbs) - The Worst-Case Scenario counterpoint would have been a scene of forcing elementary school children to learn by heart he answers to the predicaments this book describes by repeating them mechanically after the teacher: "When an alligator bites your leg, you punch it on the snout! When a lion confronts you, you open your coat wide!"
I have a fantasy of democracy becoming like this in the United States. That it will stop being this beautiful, mythical, abstract thing that makes everyone in this country feel good precisely because of their distance to it and their lack of commitment to it, but instead become that concrete, very real and methodical and very painstaking thing. Democracy up close requires time and it requires energy. It loses that easily digestable edge, and becomes something more potentially beautiful in the process, but a beauty defined by its difficulty not its ease. That is one of the main reasons that people tend to split or bombs are prepared to drop the moment it threatens to surface.This is the fun of NationStates. Is that dangerous fantasies like the one I'm describing can take place with the click of a button and the choice of a position. But as a simple simulation game, how much happens or how much is means depends on how much you put into it. You receive one issue per day roughly, so in reality that point which is the basic structure of the game takes just a few moments. But then there are a number of other things one can do to give the game life. There are message boards, a United Nations and resolutions to be drawn up, voted for or voted down. You can create regions which nations can join and leave, promote or trash. Each day, your nation will be ranked in some ridiculous way with others within your region and within the world (such as who's the most corrupt, who has the best agricultural sector, etc.).
Its interesting how closely the simplicity of the game mirrors real life and its potential emptiness and the narratives that are created and knotted together to create a sense of consistency and meaning. There are basic points of structure, basic traumas, but ultimately everything elses comes in the gaps between these elusive certainties
For those interested in the game, the link is easy, I'll post it again, http://www.nationstates.net
If you want to connect with my nation that already there, you can find it at this site, http://www.nationstates.net/militarization . The names Guam and Guahan were already taken and so I picked "Militarization" instead. Me and my brother are thinking about creating a new region, so if you want to form a historic bloc with us let me know.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I posted several months ago an abstract that me and my buddy Theo had submitted to the Pacific Epistemologies conference at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji, which will take place in July 2006. The abstract was pretty decent, but I felt kinda sure that the form of our paper didn't quite match what is generally considered to be "pacific epistemology" or "indigenous epistemology."
I felt that the critique we were making could easily be construed as outside of indigeneity, and therefore we probably wouldn't fit the intent of the conference. No, no, I haven't suddenly realized that there is no such thing as "inside" or "outside" of cultures, if anything the untenability of this distinction makes it return even more forcefully. (case in point, isn't interesting how all the wonderful globalization literature out there on crossing borders, just enables new forms of nationalism and insularity? This is one of the reasons why despite the obvious limits and silliness of certain parts of Empire by Hardt and Negri, I have to admire how, rather than just trashing the nation, they formalize it within their articulation of resistance.)
[attempt here to connect to the sentence before the tangent] But what I have realized is that me and Theo's critique fits perfect within what I've been trying to articulate for the past few months, namely negative universality and the indigenous critique. It is therefore not so much the aura or insular mystique of the indigenous position, but more so what that position exists as an effect of. What it represents in relation to modernity, to the nation.
But this relationship, this critique is usually lost amongst more compelling and exciting discussions of alterity and subversive difference, which I usually enjoy, but have for the past few months been forsaking.
Most "indigenous critiques" are derived from the past, and involve critical archeologies and excavations. They are explorations of the past to see what can be brought into the present. My most recent paper that involved such a journey was presented last April at Columbia, since then I have become more involved in the present. The past is always an effect of the present and so therefore such trips into the past usually require a troublesome presupposition of what constitutes that past (such as anthropology, or in the case of Guam, Destiny's Landfall). This isn't meant to discount such moves, because they have been, can be and will always have certain effects, but what I am interested in changing, will not come about through such adventures. For me, the key to changing the past, lies in the scenes which lies in the present, but hegemonize the past.
Providing a critical history of Guam's "liberation" by the United States in 1944, in the sense of telling the story from different sides, included previously excluded voices, is important yes, and can have impacts, but will not necessarily disrupt the power that event, that scene has over Chamorro lives and the future of Guam today. So long as the intervention is intended for the past, for things that have already happened, the efficiency of your intervention on the efficiency of the scene will be limited. That shifting of history will not necessarily lead to the shifting of the present, but rather become another means through which the present is (re)produced. For example, critiques of Liberation Day that question the benevolence of the United States, that clearly call it out as a colonizer rather than a liberator, are too often easily reforumulated as possible only because of the very thing they critique. To put it succintly, you can only call the United States a colonizer, because you were liberated. The freedom for you to even say such unpatriotic things is only possible because of the freedom and democracy loving tendencies of the United States.
Even as historians, the present is always where we must make our interventions. To do otherwise is to the leave the knot that binds together the very flow of time and history will remain beyond the reach of our critique.
The paper that me and Theo are working on is definitely not focused on the past in any hermetic sense. It isn't looking for resistance or critique in the oppositional, alternative sense, as something recovered from elsewhere. It is instead something which lies within that which we are critiquing, not separate, but very much a part of it, an uncontrollable excess of sorts.
We presented a short version of our paper last week at The National and the Natural: Reckoning With Gaps and Breaks, the 4th Annual Crossing Borders Conference at University of Southern California. It was fairly well received, people were pretty excited about it, and not in the usual graduate student conference excited way (great work but I totally saw it coming), but more so, "great work, I'm not really sure yet what to say about it."
We'll have to fix it up before Fiji, especially since the crowd will be completely different. Completely different meaning a number of the top scholars in Pacific Studies/History. But this doesn't worry me at all, I'm sure I can hold my own in most any debate over my work, what does worry me is whether or not we'll be able to get the money together to fly all the way to Fiji.
Anyways, while I'm searching the net for possible funding opportunities, I'll post here the list of questions that I posed for Theo that helped write our paper. We started with a basic premise and came up with a number of questions for each other. Here's the ones I wrote for Theo:
1. Does the application of Bataille’s theory to everyday life undermine its critique, since as Lacanian theory indicates, all of life is nothing more than an excess which could not be accounted for, and our life is an attempt to narrativize a relationship to that excess? To ask this another way, how can Bataille’s general concept of sovereignty have relevance to everyday existence, without resorting to an explanation which names potentially all acts (such as showing up late for work or stealing office supplies) and excesses sovereignty producing moments?
2. What is the relationship between the indigenous subject/non-subject and the nation? To put this question in a more concrete forms, 1. what question does the indigenous person pose to the nation? 2. what excess does it represent? 3. And what function does it serve?
3. Rather than fixate on control (plenary, military, legal) how can we see sovereignty produced through the discontinuity and heterogeneity of elements and relations in Micronesia? What role do the numerous political statuses of the peoples of the American Pacific play in this production? Does the emphasis on a sea of political differences merely hide the fact that there is a sovereign homogeneity?
4. What role does violence, or rather the banal violence of militarization play in the production of American sovereignty in the Pacific?
5. How can the metaphoric scene of Bataillean sacrifice and sovereignty be developed to describe the production of American sovereignty in the Pacific? For example, how can the pieces of the metaphor be retold to account for the death of an American soldier on a distant battlefield? How does the scene or reading change if the dead soldier is one the nation could not adequately account for except perhaps in death (someone from the colonies, the reservation, a soldier serving for citizenship)?
6. How would one go about de-naturalizing the naturalness of the positions of Micronesia today in relation to the United States (isolated, empty islands, dependent, patriotic, shattered broken cultures)? What sites? What resources? What discourses? To put it another way, in the American Pacific, colonialism and militarism are not just naturalized, but celebrated, how can we explain critically this naturalness and what would a critical intervention into the de-naturalization of this look like or look at?
7. What role does the lack of knowledge amongst Americans about these islands play in producing American sovereignty?