Thursday, April 2, 2009

Settler Colonialism

“Every crisis reveals the real nature of the phenomena or process, sweeps away the superficial, the trivial, the external, and demonstrates the more profound fundamentals of what is taking place.” -Lenin, Regret

Settler colonies are all alike in essence. While the Israel Defense Forces were killing over a thousand Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during a single week in January of 2009, the Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel said that “[t]he Israelis... are responding exactly the same way we would.”1 This was quickly echoed by Obama, fresh in the White House. When you are attacked, you obliterate what attacks you. Any threat must be crushed. This is the common sense of colonialism. For settler colonies this common sense is a fanaticism. It makes settler colonies stick together. "Those who threaten Israel threaten us," Obama said.2 There is no arguing with it, from inside or out. It is hegemony. Ubiquitous violence and consent.

On the surface the settler colony is relatively peaceful, dreamlike even. All resistance is annihilated, or already has been. Crushing every alternative to itself is deep in the internal gears of colonialism, it cannot be rooted out with a legislature or even a coup. “[T]he violence begins long before the arrival of tanks and jeeps,” writes John Berger about Palestine in his book Hold Everything Dear (p69). The serenity of the colonial dream is always plotting torture behind the scenes. Colonialism will survive by any means necessary, and it is constantly contemplating every possible means.

Under the sublime surface the settler colony smokes and boils. "The All-American Family," Shulamith Firestone had the courage to write, "is predicated on the existence of the black ghetto Whorehouse."3 The settler dream is built on misery, with ruthlessness. In a period of crisis, this misery always erupts, and reactionary colonial ruthlessness always leaves suffering, death, corruption and ruins in its wake. But “[i]t’s the opposite of rubble,” Berger reminds us: “It is bureaucratic -- carefully planned on electronic maps, prefabricated and pre-emptive.” (p21) There is no innocence in settler colonies, only a culture of death and enough decadence to be indifferent to it. If you are living the dream, it is only because crisis has not arrived yet. In crisis, demons will come out of every shadow of the dream. You will either be possessed or dispossessed by them.

A single settler colony straddles the world. It is no secret which. The dignity and very survival of the world are held hostage by it. For the world to flourish, the United States must suffer. This is the solidarity that must be swallowed, or vomited up all over ourselves. The sooner we get it over with the better. Nothing lasts forever. We will rise, or we will die with it, in body and in soul.

April 2, 2009

1. US Senate Supports Israel's Gaza Incursion, Washington, Jan 8 (Reuters) 2009

2. Speech to AIPAC Israel lobby, June 4, 2008.

3. from The Dialectics of Sex, 1970 page 116

P.S. To paraphrase Raoul Vaneigem, those who talk about solidarity without referring explicitly to colonialism, without understanding the inequality that impoverishes some for the sake of others, such people have a corpse in their mouths.