Thursday, July 29, 2010

Immigration in the United States: The Nature of the "National Interest"

I was considering some of the rhetoric I have been hearing on the issue of immigration. A few things came to mind the other day....

There is currently a tendency to make the nation appear to be natural or organic through the racialization of the national interest. By this I mean that the manner by which states create a people who are governed and in whose name the state governs, and whose interests it is said to represent. The people who created the state become the people whose existence as a nation legitimizes the power of the state. The national interests are those of both this people and the state, and the naturalness of the people imparts to the state its own basis in the nature of that newly constituted people.

Now that might be a long way of saying in the Weberian sense that the state creates its own legitimacy through the legitimate and legitimizing monopoly on force. There is much that underlies this state power which has, of course, a necessary relation to a territory or place, or now in America, a homeland. If we were to examine this from another direction, we might also trace out the ways in which race is itself a category used in scientific classifications of human variety; a category that has always been associated with the disciplines that serve the state by accumulating knowledge about the nature of the people. These classifications, and not citizenship, are at the heart of the anti-immigrant rhetoric just as they were in the early 1900s.

Why do we keep returning to these questions? Because the attempt to rethink the state always begins with the state as another way of saying “the nation” or “the people”. So long as human relationships and human variety are considered from within the context of the nation-state, the nature of the people will remain racialized.

Now I would propose that struggles around immigration are presented in this this racialized and naturalized setting of national interests, for within the ideology of national interests also lies the ideology of national threats. So it is no accident that the terror of terrorism is often associated with the fear of immigrants, of threats to national identity under the weight of migrant workers and terrorists that enter the nation through the same routes and who also threaten to erase “who we are”, except by violence and not demographics. The largest attack in the United States prior to 9-11 also unleashed widespread harassment and violence against Moslems and those thought to be Moslem, at least until Timithy McVeigh was charged with the crime. Since the nation is always naturalized through race, the threats it confronts are always racialized threats by natural enemies who therefore can not simply be reasoned with. In the case of immigrants the threat can only controlled or expelled, and in the case of terrorists, it can only be met and defeated in “a war without end.” On the side of this difference is the immigrant as an instrument of production-- the most degraded and exploited of workers, and on the other side there is the terrorist who “hates us for who we are”. Both are seen as welling to do anything, though one dies in the desert while journeying toward the hope of a livelihood and the other blows him/herself up hoping to journey to a paradise. While both can not help but be disappointed by the outcome, they can not and should not be otherwise compared.

The opponents of immigration to the United States oppose it because they see the nation as natural, as having a people that are organic to it, and they see themselves as potentially having a state that can protect them and enforce a peculiar view of the nature of the people. They see both the immigrant worker and the terrorist as degenerates who either unconsciously or consciously will cause a general degeneration of the “body politic” of the nation.
So when you hear it said that the immigration debate has nothing to do with race, don’t believe it. It has to do with the scientific ideology of race because the nation-state has always been associated with at the very least “a people” if not a race.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"Darwinism Falls 2013!"... at least now we know that the world doesn't end in 2012

I use clustermaps to track visits to my blog and website. I like the service quite alot, but often when I check my map, I get an ad that reads "2013: Darwinism Falls" or "2013: The Berlin Wall of Darwinism Falls" or even "Darwin was wrong but Evolution is real".
Now these are silly messages showing a profound ignorance, but they are clever. The ad links to a site by Perry Marshall who offers to send you a series of 5 emails over a five day period that will convince you that God exists and that science has "proved" it.
It is funny how so many believe that science can not "prove" anything other than the existence of god. Apparently, whenever science "proves" something that is in opposition to the belief in god, that evidence is never accepted because "God/Religion is beyond science" or some such dodge.
A little further into the site, one finds that it is simply a so-called "Intelligent Design" site. Information theory proves that DNA is a code created by an Intelligence, we are told. Here goes:

1) "DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.
2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.
3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.
If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you've toppled my proof. All you need is one."

How quickly DNA changes! It is simultaneously a pattern, a code, a language and a storage system, as though those things are the same thing! There is really no reason to go on with the kind of nonsense found on cosmicfingerprints. It is just a mix of old stuff from Chambers' Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (perhaps a touch of atavistic criminal anthropology prompted god to have a fingerprint).

That last statement is probably sillier than the illogical argument contained in the first three. Perhaps he should consider the language he is using if he wants to find a language that is natural. Or maybe define what is a language. Yada, Yada, Yada.

One person left a message on the museum of hoaxes site that makes an additional connection:
I came across this site through a google ad on digg (I think…), and so far haven’t found anything he might be selling, though I haven’t signed up for his mail list.

I hope no one takes him too seriously. His other works seem to be all about “The secret that doubled a successful company in 4 months”, and how to “Use Google AdWords and the Power of Guerilla-Marketing to Attract New Customers 24/7/365!” ( Note that his commercial site and his Cosmic fingerprints one don’t seem to be linked in anyway.

There’s so much more I could say about this great self-made man of science and his wonderful website, but I have to go port some old JPG programs into the more universal USB code.

Another writer mentioned what is going on with the cosmic fingerprint:
“There is a phenomenon known as pareidolia, “The tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the viewer.” Pareidolia is when we see faces in clouds, or “evil” in the tragic path of a tornado.

I have to agree. I must get the ads because Darwin is a label for some of these posts. Of course, there was a Star Trek: Next Generation episode that purported to show that the DNA of the Humans, Klingons, Romulans, and Vulcans were all encoded by an ancient civilization with a message that they were all created from DNA that was deliberately seeded throughout the universe. They did this because they were lonely having found no other species during their travels. Of course, their civilization is long gone and the only trace of it is the code in the DNA of the various intelligent species.
At least the lonely pseudo-gods in that story died.
Anyway, I sing the body electric. I hear my DNA talking [but I just don't know what it is saying] ...with apologies to Walt Whitman.