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Posts from 2019

Clearly Recognizable Lines

This past week in Slate (2019-08-19):

Shared Article from Slate Magazine

The Grim Worldview That Explains Trump's Anti-Immigrant P…

The world is not as orderly as these governments would like it to be.


The Grim Worldview Behind Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Push, the Hong Kong Protests, and the Kashmir Crisis

The upheavals in all of these nations are all connected.


Also — according to Keating — so are the the revocation of birthright citizenship and ethnic cleansing of ethnic Haitians in the Dominican Republic, the assaults on Rohingya populations in Myanmar and Bengali Muslims in Assam, the One China policy, fears of renewed troubles on the Irish-Northern Irish border in case of a hard Brexit, and separatist conflicts in Kurdistan and Catalonia.

The grim idea that connects them all turns out to be. . . state projects of legibility:

These stories are all signs that national governments are waging a war against ambiguity—of citizenship, of territorial status—to enforce a rigid and uniform vision of statehood. Those who carry out and defend these policies believe they are enforcing order and protecting their societies from lawlessness, but they're likely to result in a more chaotic and disordered world.

It's been 100 years since U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, in the wake of World War I, called for the world's empires to be broken up into states "along clearly recognizable lines of nationality." . . . But the world is not as orderly a place as the 193 different-colored blobs on a world map would suggest. There are patches of land or groups of people that don't quite fit neatly into the country they've been assigned, creating ambiguity—a condition where political sovereignty and citizenship status are ill-defined or even contradictory. These pockets of ambiguity consist of cultural minorities who find themselves on the wrong side of colonial-era borders, or places like Hong Kong that, for historical reasons, have a significantly different political culture from the country they're now a part of.

Governments don't like ambiguity when it comes to their territory or citizenry. In his book Seeing Like a State, the anthropologist James Scott describes how modern states strive to make society "legible": to "arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion." . . . This desire for "legibility and simplification" is something all modern bureaucracies share. But in this era, governments have found they can use this desire to fuel an ethnic nationalist political project. By enforcing strict legibility and outlawing ambiguity, governments have a ready pretext to keep undesirable foreigners out, demote the status of minority groups, or end special protections for populations who enjoy a certain level of autonomy. This strategy may not be new. But it's been widely embraced in our era by governments of very different political persuasions.

–Joshua Keating, The Grim Worldview Behind Trump's Anti-Immigrant Push, the Hong Kong Protests, and the Kashmir Crisis
Slate (2019-08-19).

See also.

Rad Geek, to-day:

Things Like This Happen Every Day

But forget the particularities of my case. Here's the larger point: things like this happen every day, dozens of times a day, in every municipal court in the land. And they happen more often than that in a large number of vehicle stops made on every roadway (and some driveways and parking lots) in the land. Huge numbers of traffic cases, along with misdemeanor and petty disorderly persons cases, give the appearance of serving some legitimate "law and order" purpose but are really just legalized and legalistic mumbo-jumbo tied to revenue-generating schemes. Such schemes are themselves driven not only by law enforcement agencies but by the kind of upstanding citizen who demands "government services" without wanting to pay for them.

–Irfan Khawaja, Cashing the Check of Justice
Policy of Truth (19-Sextilis-2019)

Shared Article from Policy of Truth

Cashing the Check of Justice

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportuni…

Irfan Khawaja @ irfankhawajaphilosopher.com

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