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Democracy and Capitalism – Seeing Beyond the Veil: Race-ing Key Concepts in Political Theory

Democracy and Capitalism – Seeing Beyond the Veil: Race-ing Key Concepts in Political Theory


BONNIE: And it’s a
great honor to be here on this panel with these
two great academics. Michael Dawson from the
University of Chicago, whose first two books behind
the mule race and class in African-American
politics and black visions, the roots of contemporary
African-American political ideologies have won
multiple awards. His recent books include
Not In Our Lifetime, The Future of Black Politics and
Blacks In and Out of the Left. Recently with Megan
Ming Francis Dawson, he has launched a nationwide
multi-university project to study the intersection
of race and capitalism. And there is still
more in your leaflets if you want more details. There’s plenty more
to be said about both of these very
accomplished people. Our other speaker today
is Michael Hanchard, who is Professor and chair of
the Africana Studies department at the University
of Pennsylvania and director of the marginalized
populations project. His books include
Orpheus and Power, the Movement of Negro of Rio de
Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil and Party Politics, Horizons
and Black Political Thought and most recently
The Specter of Race, How Discrimination
Haunts Western Democracy. So we will hear
their two papers, and we’ll just proceed as
everyone else has the time– remind me of the time. SPEAKER: 20 minutes. BONNIE: 20 minutes each, and
then we’ll have about a half an hour for questions. MICHAEL DAWSON:
Thank you, Bonnie. Good afternoon. Weak. Thank you, Bonnie, and
like everyone else, I’m going to thank Juliette,
Melvin, and Michelle and everyone was put together
this amazing conference. It’s truly an honor
to participate. Today I would like to
sketch the title my paper is Racial Capitalism Articulated
Systems of Domination and Democratic Crisis. I apologize for those
of you who waded through the massive what’s
going to be two chapters, but after 90 pages seemed to
be a little excessive for one paper. Today I would like to sketch
a developing framework to the study of
race and capitalism and pull from a book on racial
capitalism being co-authored with Megan Francis in
a series of articles being co-written
with Emily Conscious. These work draw on our
individual and joint work on black history, politics,
and black political thought. I should emphasize this is a
radically a work in progress, and we don’t yet all agree as to
best formulation of the points I’ll try to make
during my presentation. I use this framework to
offer some reflections on the relationship
between racial capitalism and the current Democratic
crisis found within the United States and many other places. I start with an
insight by Dubois about democracy in the US. Nearly a century ago,
Dubois pinpointed the true American dilemma. Quote, “the true significance
of slavery in the United States to the whole social
development of America lay in the ultimate relation
of slaves to democracy. What were to be the limits
of democratic control in the United States? If all labor, black as well
as white, became free– thank you– were given
schools and the right to vote, what control could
or should be made set to the power of these laborers? Was the rule of the mass of
Americans to be unlimited and the right to
rule extended to all, regardless of race and color. Or if not, what power of
dictatorship and control and how would property and
privilege be protected?” unquote. Dubois argued in Black
Reconstruction and other places the eventual answer
with the co-opting of poor and working class
whites into active collaboration and James [INAUDIBLE]
would argue a generation later material
beneficiaries in a system where white supremacy,
democracy, and mass prosperity would be exchanged for a racist
dictatorship that ultimately led to first hundreds of
thousands of poor whites shedding their blood
during a Civil War on behalf of large
scale slave owners. They made the same choice
when they abandoned the progressive potential
of the populist movement once again for white supremacy
and the racist dictatorship of Jim Crow. They made the same
choice when they– they made the same choice during
the 2016 national election. We’re in the beginning stages
of a dangerous new period of economic and racial crisis
on the [INAUDIBLE] crisis engendered by the [INAUDIBLE]
of financial capitalism and a subsequent
breakdown of a deal where some of the super
profits expropriated from internal and
external colonies were transferred to
the predominately white middle class and a segment
of the white working class. Trump’s candidacy is a
symptom of the breakdown, as I have argued, of this bargain. White and male
privilege would be combined with a small share
of the economic spoils of super exploitation
and colonial expropriation for a
class peace, at least among whites, in the
US and elsewhere. Particularly in the time
of crisis, as we now see, appeals are made to
citizens of European descent that look backwards with
nostalgia to our time in the US where blacks and
others supposedly knew their place
and white supremacy seemed unchallengeable. That such a time
never existed does not take away from the power
of these political appeals. This nostalgic but
false fantasy not only erases a history
of black struggle but also a various working class
and other progressive struggles is a fantasy that’s
also shared by to many of the black neoliberal
elite who also view it as anachronistic blacks who
insist on naming and resisting the structural forces
of dominance that produced disadvantaged
black communities. Historically, this
crisis has its roots in a time when the
standard of living plummeted for many of those
who benefited from this system, as white supremacy and
colonialism became increasingly challenged domestically
and internationally. As Greta Krippner,
among others, has argued a fiscal crisis was
provoked as a state could not simultaneously meet its
obligations as those who had been excluded begin
to make politically effective demands while
also under pressure from various external shots. Yet, it’s highly debatable that
black communities are receiving the current situation same way. As black deaths and oppression
is a continuing fact of life in the face of definition– in the face of a
definition of crisis. Lauren Berland is persuasive
when she argues against, quote, “calling a crisis that
which is a fact of life and has been a
defining fact of life for a given population
that lives it as a fact in ordinary
time,” unquote. That was published over a decade
ago, and as I have argued, the language of crisis as
applied to life in the US is appropriate given
the salary deterioration of their material– of material
lives of many working class white Americans combined
with the erosion of white and male privilege. Yet despite the even more
desperate circumstances of people of color, which
it heeds [INAUDIBLE] warning as for the
disposability, exploitation, expropriation, and violence
these community suffer is all too routine. My colleagues and I argue
that the source of the crisis can be found in the articulation
of three systems of domination, the capitalist social
order, white supremacy, and patriarchy. While closely articulated, they
have their own internal logics or include the
sources of resistance to each system of domination. The potential for
cross system ruptures is a lesson that black
political history continues to press on one. Not only do blacks
and our allies continue to resist
white supremacy, victories that not only
reshape but finally undermine white supremacy are won even if
in them the price that is paid is an enormous wonder
of blood and sacrifice. Given the interlocking of
white supremacy and capitalism, victories in one domain
have the potential too often unrealized
to undermine the other system of domination. One potential
consequence, for example, of the expansion of debt and
sewing of economic inequality in the global south,
nor is– excuse me– the Gilded Age level
is accompanying the securitizing the
[INAUDIBLE] is already being filled politically. Conflicts over race
and gender privilege that led to the type of raw
nationalism that led to Trump and the right we’re
sewing in Europe are a result of these crises. Where there’s is obvious
authoritarian potential, there is also rebellion
against further reduction of state benefits,
such as health care, as we saw on Tuesday, among
the very population that are susceptible
to racist, sexist, and nationalist appeals. In this period of democratic
crisis and rapidly rising violent racialized
authoritarianism, we must ask what are the
institutional arrangements necessary to secure not
just a return to what’s been for most a
semi-democratic regime but for democracy and justice
for all, including those who have never been fully
included in either the economic or political
aspects of an already weak democracy. This question leads
to the question of whether full black
deliberation can be [? achieved ?]
within the framework of a capitalist social order. In the black radical
tradition, there’s been a long standing debate
about the extent to which a liberal capitalist
order is ever capable of accommodating
demand from black emancipatory movements. From the early 20th century
through the 1970s or the fierce debate on black radicals where
the black rebel liberation could be achieved within
a capitalist social order, those in the early 20th
centuries [INAUDIBLE] to African blood brotherhood
and the black members of the CPU USA insisted that black
liberation was unachievable under capitalism– a position that organizations
such as the Black Panther Party and the Detroit
Revolutionary Union Movement echoed a generation ago– a generation later, excuse me. James Boggs, for example,
in the 1960s and 1970s argued that the marginalization
and impoverishment of black spaces was inseparable
from a capitalist order. Quote, “we cannot look at
the development of the black community separately from
capitalism any more than we look at the development
of racism separately from capitalism,” unquote. Boggs insisted that
the elimination of economic and racial injustice
required the dismantling of capitalism, now
fuller and more equal participation within
the capitalist order. According to Boggs, the
racialized distribution and control of wealth and
the means of production could not be resolved
within a system governed by profit maximization. He foresaw a
continued exploitation of the precarious economic
situation of black communities, first and foremost,
but not exclusively in the labor market. That’s for Boggs, that’s for
many in the black radical tradition [INAUDIBLE]
the barrier to overcoming white supremacy. He, therefore, argued that black
liberation required the, quote, “social ownership and control
by the black community,” unquote, of land, property,
the means of production, distribution, and communication. He also thought about
new land as a time experimental economic forms. One need not agree
with Boggs’ conclusions and share his contention
that the capitalist order had reinforced racial hierarchies
in a racialized distribution of wealth in the
United States and is unlikely to provide the tools
to overcome the marginalization impoverishment of
black communities without fundamental changes
to the economic order. More recently,
scholars have sought to engage with this contestation
on a more granular level to explicate the ways
in which white supremacy and a capitalist social order
are mutually reinforcing. Racial hierarchies can be
mobilized of course in order to secure entry to markets,
redistribute property, both by legal means and
by extralegal violence, and maximize profitability
in capitalist markets. As Ida B. Wells and many other
late 19th, early 20th century black activists and
writers documented, a naked violence of Jim
Crow from both the state and white citizens was used to
dispossess black individuals and communities. This has occurred variously
through brutal violence, including lynchings and
pogroms, such as the 1921 attack on Tulsa, Oklahoma’s
black community or confiscation of fraud both backed
by the racial state. The racial state has often
backed the racial segmentation of markets, including housing,
labor, and credit markets. This has exacerbated
the wealth gap and has led to the
super exploitation of the, particularly,
precarious situation of black and brown labor. Mario Barrera writing
a generation ago, for example, has argued that
black and brown labor forces were particularly vulnerable,
not least because they were often excluded
from organized labor and thus constituted a
segment of the population could use every
disposable reserve army. This reserve army could
be laid off easily during a slack economy
and paid substandard wages when employed. White supremacist logic
enables super exploitation by ensuring that
white workers would be less likely to
feel class solidarity with black and brown
workers, thus allowing levels of disposability
and wage suppression that would be
unachievable otherwise. A substantial body
of the scholarship that has focused on the ways in
which radical hierarchies can be functional for
capitalist orders, as argued that
the term, racial– this is Jodi Melamed building on
the work of Cedric Robertson– has argued that, quote, “the
term racial capitalism requires its users to recognize
that capitalism is racial capitalism. Capital is only capital
when its accumulated. It can only accumulate
by producing and moving through relations of severe
inequality among human groups. Procedures of racialization
and capitalism are ultimately never separable
from each other, unquote. We value this
point-of-view and take the concept of racial
capitalism as a starting point. We seek here to elaborate
an analytical framework that focus on the various
configurations of the nexus of white supremacy,
capitalism, and patriarchy. We argue for an approach
to racial capital or we would prefer
race and capitalism, and it embraces the ideal
of a system of domination that is mutually articulated. As Anne McClintock
argued, quote, “no social category exists
in privileged isolation. Each comes into being in social
relation to other categories if and on even in
contradictory ways. Since race, gender, and
class are categories that come to existence in
and through relationship to each other,
they can be called unarticulated
categories.” unquote. Unlike McClintock,
however, we talk about usually articulated
systems of domination rather than social categories. Each such system of
domination has its own effect in producing support in
racialized communities, independency, and
in articulation. The articulation of least
resistance or domination does not, however, produce, we
argue, a totalizing system of domination. Instead there are multiple
configurations or interaction and mutual articulation,
and now since thereof is a prerequisite
for the collaboration and viable political strategies. We do so in order to
theorize a contradiction that aid and hinder progressive
political mobilization, as we the results of partly
conflicting sets of privileges and impressions, in turn, help
us explain, historically– I’m sorry–
contingent [INAUDIBLE] of conflict and cooperation
among various social groups. Even though racial hierarchies
can and often are not only compatible with but
often reinforced capitalism, there are also moments in which
white supremacy and capital develop antagonistic tendencies. For example, historian
Dustin Jenkins shows us how the
policies pursued by white Alabama [INAUDIBLE]
and their ancestral attempt to overthrow reconstruction were
detrimental to their successors functioning in the
capital markets of the early 20th century. We call the specific
articulation between the three systems
domination for a given era a regime of articulation. Historically, these
regimes became established with the twin crimes of
the global dispossession and genocide of
indigenous peoples and then slavery
and commodification of African bodies
through the slave trade. This articulation had different
consequences for men and women and different consequences
for men and women of different races
and ethnicities. For example, as Angela
Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, Saidiya Hartman, and [INAUDIBLE]
and others have demonstrated, slavery transformed
the contented gender for black women. Reproduction for black women
meant that they were not only themselves commodities
and capital, the main producer of capital. For as Walter
Johnson has showed, quote, “enslaved
people were capital. Their value in 1860 was equal
to all of the capital invested in American railroads,
manufacturing, and agricultural land combined. Financed by the racial
slave state by slave owners and by any white
person who so chose was the glue that ensured
that terror and exploitation continued uninterrupted. All three systems of
domination intersect to define the [INAUDIBLE]
gender and race during this era. This approach allows
one to understand one of the specific
mechanisms within capitalism during specific a era that
[INAUDIBLE] articulate was a patriarchy
of white supremacy to produce injustice within
disadvantaged black community. For example, the Jim
Crow era within the US was marked by the
super exploitation of black and brown. Labor and peers are
[INAUDIBLE] sometimes violent attacks on black workers
in their communities by white workers as well
as all too brief periods of interracial solidarity. By identifying Jim
Crow’s super exploitation the fundamental aspect of black
oppression during that era, you would have to theorize what
type of a rearranging of labor markets and other economic
and political institution would lead to justice for
black workers in official labor force. Yet by also asking how gender
articulated with both class and race during
Jim Crow will also lead us to ask what type
of economic and familial arrangements would
lead to justice for a large number of black
women employed in domestic work during that era, as well as on
wage work, including care work that primarily women did
and do inside of the home. In conclusion, what are some
of the political implications of applying this
regime’s articulation approach to analysis
of what many have termed racial capitalism. First, it means that
we need to analyze the current articulation of
this resistance of domination in order to identify weak points
in our mutual articulation that makes gains for emancipatory
movement possible. Second, the regimes of
a generation approach, insofar as it recognizes
that the mutual articulation of white supremacy
and capitalism been relatively
stable, historically, means that we fear more
pessimistic and I should– I’m not using an imperial we. I’m talking about me
and my co-author– about the possibility the
viability and possibility of relying on
state-based solutions to the problems of marginalized
communities of color. We argue there should be a
greater emphasis on solutions that foster economic
and political autonomy of black communities. We argue that the concept
of self-determination is the political principle
that best captures our concern about preserving the
autonomy and agency of black communities. Black communities should
have the opportunity to choose which
institutional arrangements and political strategy best
fit these communities needs and serve to democratize a not
just putatively civil society. Self-determination we
continge extend to economic as was the political realms. We argue that the
predations generated by the articulation of the
three systems of domination regards black communities to
seek innovative economic forms that allow more capital– more local control over
economic processes. It requires an open
experimental discussion about the political economy
of black liberation. In particular, we
should consider whether current economic
institutions can be made just both in the distributive
sense can they eradicate racial economic inequality as
well as economic inequality in general. And in an emancipatory
sense, can they bring about a form
of work that is both meaningful and autonomous
in a significant sense. Struggles against the
disadvantaged impression these communities after all
are not simply distributive struggles. They also challenge the
powerless independence of communities the fact that
they are not equal partners in the demos and can
therefore not participate in regulating and steering
the economy on an equal basis. This reality provides
the ground for a demand for economic
self-determination, including the potential for demanding
economic autonomy. The demands for
self-determination also has contained with it
radical democratic possibility. The demand interpolates blacks
within the US to come together to debate their
future, debate what are the sources of their
oppression, how they should organize who are their
allies and how should the economy, the state,
and civil society be organized in order to achieve
a conscientious understanding of the good life, debate
what type of will we need and one to make. Thus to call for
self-determination contains within it
a call to debate how to overthrow the social
order white supremacy, whether capitalism can
be reformed sufficiently to ensure justice for blacks and
other support native population and whether patriarchy is
necessary as some black liberal nationalist groups claims who
a healthy black communities or as we believe with another
vicious and unjust system of domination akin to
capitalism and white supremacy, as black feminists and some
black liberals nationalism leftist [INAUDIBLE]. From this perspective, the
call for self-determination is an ethical call that demands
that an oppressed people take their future into
their own hands, democratic debate what
future, and ensuing politics self-determination demands. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HANCHARD:
Good afternoon. First, I’d like to thank
Juliet Hooker and Melvin Rogers for inviting me to this event
and giving me the opportunity– the opportunity to
share my work with you. Do I move– Move in closer. Closer? OK. And also to Michelle
Rose for her logistical support in getting
all of us here. What I’m going to present is
the more pared down version what I and– all right, thank you– more pared down version of
what I submitted in order to get the main points
across in this talk and also through my new book. So today, I’m going to make
some claims about democracy that would be considered to many
ears counterintuitive, if not outright wrong. In various locales of
the contemporary world, the trampling the
rights of groups and individuals because of
religious, ethno national gender, an presumed
racial differences has become depressingly
commonplace. For many observers, ethnic
cleansing, xenophobia, and religious intolerance
are characteristics of non-democratic
countries and regimes. But when such
phenomena can be found in nominally democratic
societies and polities, how to distinguish
democratic societies from non-democratic ones? My aim here is to
briefly illuminate the ideologies of popular and
institutional practices, which that are often considered
anathema to democracies practice are actually embedded
within democratic politics. In this brief set
of comments, I will emphasize three key concepts,
which will hopefully enable the audience to
distinguish democracy as a philosophical
concept from democracy as a set of practices with
a specific set of actors, institutions, and
motivating logics. Rather than associate democracy
with a set of assumptions that are more hagiography
than actual history, I’ll focus on the
dynamic relationship between democratic
subjects, on the one hand, and those who have occupied
the space and territory if not the same juridical,
deliberative, legislative demands as its citizens. Point one, if not
all democracies– I’m sorry. Point one, most if
not all democracies beginning with the
first has operated within an ethnos, a complex
of laws, customs, and norms and often when
necessary coercive and exclusionary
practices designed to privilege certain
populations and not others. Point two, homogeneity has long
been an underlying principle assumption in the most
robust, most continuous democratic politics
in the world, namely a tendency
for governments and key political
actors to believe that the ideal society,
one prone to less political misfortune
and mishap, is one where the demographic
constitution of government is identical or
close to identical with that of the government. Rather than focusing
on either lone gunman, members of far
right organizations can be labeled at the
level of the individual as sociopaths,
evil or psychotic, I would like to suggest that
it’s important to understand the imaginary dreams, even
hopes of these rabidly racist organizations and individuals. In order to understand
the motivations of their collective
imagination, I’d like to suggest that
exploring myths of autochthony and the desire for
homogeneity as objectives in their fantasies
and in their violence. Backdrop classical actions. On the eve of the white
nationalist demonstrations on counter protests
in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 14, 2017,
right wing nationalist, fascist, and Nazi
sympathizers gathered in front of several monuments
to the Confederacy that have been targeted for demolition. The chilling well
rehearsed chant will be familiar to
those who reviewed the video footage compiled
by a reporter embedded in a crowd of mostly but
not exclusively white male nationalists who marched
through the streets with torches, shouting
in unison blood and soil, we will not be replaced. The Jews will not replace us. One of the spokespeople who
received the most attention for several days after the
events revealed to an interview his dream of an ethno
state, presumably a nation state who was to govern and the
government will racially unify. Yet the indications of such
white races in Charlottesville also contain echoes or elements
of an older ancient series of associations, which
as we have discovered can be traced back
to classical Athens in 5th century BCE
of blood and soil. In 2017, these
white nationalists became their
inheritance not only of the soil of the United
States but the polity as well, notwithstanding the fact
that Jews, blacks, Latinos, and others prohibited with
sharing the ethno state can make similar claims to be
of the same blood and soil. Their very language
of replacement suggested that the hoped for
polity of white nationalists was one in which citizens
were born, not made. No amount of religious
conversion or socialization could compensate for
the inherent limitations of the excluded roots. There are limits to drawing
parallels between 2017’s events and classical Athens,
between exhortations of fascist and
neo-fascists, with the intellectual playwrights
and citizens of Athens, regarding the most profitable
form or preferable form of political life. Yet several formal and
substantive parallels can be drawn and more
generalizable consideration of the relationship
between myth and politics. In the classical period, Athens
fought off several invasions by outsiders, most
notably the Persian arming and instituted criteria
designed to restrict and limit citizenship to true
Athenians, literally, the citizens of the soil. Apparently citizenship
law for one required dual Athenian
parenting for citizen status. Additionally,
dissent-based citizenship was also underpinned by
an origin narrative which proclaimed that the early
King of Greece, Erichthonius, actually descended
from the earth. Subsequently,
citizenship criteria became based upon the premise
that the first citizens of Athens literally
sprang from the earth, and their successors were
descended from those citizens who emerged from the soil. What made the political use
of autochthony here unique was that its definition
was based in mythology, not fact, the belief
that Athenian citizens after the Persian war were
the offspring of people who literally sprang from the soil. Human beings, as we
know, coming to existence through procreation. People become citizens
through politics, not nature and certainly not the soil. Secondly, the linkage of our
autochthony, blood and soil with citizenship, whether
in Athens, Nazi Germany, or the contemporary
United States, ultimately entails
disenfranchisement of this extant group of citizens
and the categorical exclusion of groups of people
who would otherwise be eligible for citizenship. This political mythology served
to naturalize citizenship making it inaccessible to those
who cannot prove that they are descended from Athenian soil. Additionally, since citizenship
had become patrilineal, a woman, even one descended
from autochthonous parents, could not become a citizen, nor
could slaves, nor foreigners. So in this sense,
autochthonous criteria for political
membership also served as a form of immigration
policy, excluding the majority of non-Athenians
from citizenship. Now I’m going to skip over some
of this for the sake of time. The exclusion of
slaves, women, medics who were often foreign
born and hostile among them from citizenship does
not negate the uniqueness of the Athenian
democratic experiment. It does however
complicate our reception of democracy’s relation
to political and economic equality. Rather than view democracy as
a precondition of equality, could it be that social
and political inequality is a prerequisite of democracy? Thus one key lesson
to reminds ourselves in this conversation is how
the entitlement of democracy and inequality can be
found within processes and outcomes of
democratic liberation is in the following sense,
democratic deliberation, judgment, and action
does not guarantee that democratic
outcomes await those of the object of deliberation. In that case, I’m
talking about slaves. It’s important to
remember the following about Athenian democracy as
a complex of institutions and citizens and laws. It was not designed to
incorporate all inhabitants into territory where
democracy resided but only within
the polity, right, in relation between the
citizens and government. Moments of geopolitical crisis,
such as that experienced by the Greeks during
the Greco-Persian wars, the contemporary moment
in the United States with the hysteria over
the looming presence of central and southern
American immigrants headed towards the southern border
of the United States, or the contemporary base
in the EU over migration reveal popular and
governmental anxieties about being overrun by
certain not all foreigners. Any selective, racialized,
and ethno science are citizenship regimes. Citizenship becomes associated
with particular types of people and not the actual exercise
of citizenship rights, duties, and responsibilities. So the more popular
understanding of democracy as a way of life in which all
in its facility equal members is not intrinsic to the first
instantiation of democracy but become more associated
with the rise of republicanism and nationalism that are two
distinct historical moments, roughly between 1789
to the third decade of the 19th century and between
approximately 1945 and 1970. In other words,
democracies have always maintained a sharp
distinction between members of their societies, the
people who simply live there and members of their
politics, the people who actually influence
the political process. As democratic institutions
maintain barriers to civic membership, they must
always justify that exclusion. One of my claims here
is that the race concept became the modern
equivalent of autochthony in many Western and
Western-influenced nation states. As key variables in the
development of citizenship and immigration regimes, policy
of education and socialization, the race concept and ensuing
hierarchy is premised upon became the basis for
what I’ve conceptualized as racial regimes,
which provided the means to institutionalize
and rationalize hierarchies premised upon some perceived
somatic and phenotype distinctions, which
themselves are based upon faulty ideas of
biological or geographical origins. Slaves across time
and space have rather had a say in the injustice
of their enslavement, regardless of whether the
decision to enslave them was the result of democratic
deliberation or not. Now I want to talk
about what I call the new autochthonous,
which speaks to the contemporary moment. The myths of the
new autochthonous, like early versions and much
of the EU, Argentina, Brazil, and the United States is to
make the racial imaginary coterminious with
the civic imaginary. The central problem is acted
upon desires would require is removal modernization
or eradication of those excluded from
participation in the polity. The disenfranchisement of a
portion of any citizenship would have echoes in
other times and places and would entail
significant costs, political, social,
moral, psychological to white nationalist
and opponents alike in the effort to remake
any society along these lines. The quest for homogeneity
isn’t necessarily rejection of the individual, the very
impoverished understanding of what people refer
to as an identity. The pursuit by xenophobes
and nationalists of various sorts of homogeneity
is the underlying rationale for many though not all
immigration policies based upon the belief somehow
that racial, religious, or ethno national homogeneity
will somehow begat unanimity and thus the
obsolescence of politics. I want to give you a
quote, which in some sense underscores this, and this is
taken from Woodrow Wilson’s, 20th president of
the United States, an unpublished manuscript,
which its editors describe as a precursor to
his book The State. The other version was called
The Modern Democratic State. And here Wilson detailed
what he describes as several all
important conditions for the successful operation
of democratic institutions. Number one on his list,
quote, “homogeneity of race and community of thought
and purpose among the people. There’s no amalgam of democracy,
which can harmoniously unite races of diverse
habits and instincts or unequal aquirements
in thought and action. A nation once coming to
maturity and habituated to self-government may
absorb even alien elements as our own nation has
done and is still doing.” Homogeneity is the
first requisite for a nation that
would be democratic. Thus when considered
historically, which means further back
than the last election or a generation ago, there
is an eerie resonance in the pronouncements of
many governmental leaders of contemporary and
recent political history and the language of
inherent vote racism. For example, not too
long ago a member of the US House
of Representatives made the following statement. “I believe that
possibly statistics would show that the Western
European nations have made the best citizens in America. They are, he continued, more
easily made into America.” And I would draw this
out, but for sake of time I’ll give you the
punchline already. These words were uttered by
one Doctor John Travers Wood, a Republican congressional
representative from Idaho in 1952, to lend
his voice to those in favor of amending US
immigration policy by lowering quotas for non-white
immigrants and migrants coming to United States. His argument should ring
familiar to most people paying attention to immigration
policy in the Trump era. Trump Administration’s
ban on all Muslims coming from select
countries, it’s separation of families
on the US, Mexico border, or the president’s reference
to black immigrants coming from shit-hole
countries representing some fun way of
continuity rather than a break with the past. In terms of policies and
sentiments was often revealed forms of religious, racial,
ethno national practices squirming within US
immigration legislation. The countries I’ve alluded to
above, as well as many others, face the same
problem, however, when invoking some glorified,
unified, racial and national past, and this is the, kind
of, stake in the diagonal through [? autochthonies. ?]
But there are always other peoples in their midst. People had to be
assimilated or incorporated into the nation state. And when that
proved politically, culturally, or economically
unfeasible remove, pacify, or exterminate. This is the history of
the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
and a host of other places. What I’m suggesting here is
that the ethnos of democracies may be as much a part
of the problem and not the seamless
solution to problems of political, economic,
inequality in the modern world. The lesson I’d like
to emphasize here for our contemporary
movements is that population homogeneity
like the category of foreign born citizen is
a political artifact, not something we find ready-made
made in the world, not something that ever existed. So much of the
origin tales told by various ultranationalist
and xenophobic movements in nation states rely on stories
and genealogies of themselves mythical, right. And this in some sense can be
boiled down to their responses to the following questions. By what criteria should we
allow some people and not others to settle in the society? In answering this
question, policymakers and the average
citizen may do well to consider the possibility
that democracy itself, right, as historically and
politically passive does not have the answer
that we would hope or think that it would have. I’m moving forward
for the sake of time. I’ve got a number of
examples I won’t talk about. I’m happy to talk about
it in the Q and A, right. OK. Certainly racial ethno
national hierarchy are not the only ways in which
we can track the evolution and emergence of institutional
development and variation, but racial ethno national
hierarchy in modern politics provides many opportunities
to examine the emergence and development of
institutionalized racism in the form of what I’ve
called racial regimes. The existence of racial
and ethno national regimes in democratic polities
enables scholars to consider a broader
more abstract questions about the entanglements of
citizen, society, and polity. Under what conditions
does democracy require barriers to membership? Could it be that even in the
most practical conditions for the elaboration of
democratic and republican ideals, a subordinated
laboring majority population with limited or nonexistent
political rights was necessary for the
functioning of democracy for the few. So what I’ve tried
to underscore here, in conclusion, is how the quest
for homogeneity and democracy have been intertwined in
the same political project, the project of nation state,
the conjunctive nation state and how racial and
ethno national hierarchy has operated in the nation state
system as a filter for citizens and thus access to economic as
well as political privilege. The two assumptions under this
talk, the quest for homogeneity and the utilization of
democratic practices and institutions to privileged
citizens and disadvantage non-citizens are often combined
by governments and nationalists during moments of perceived
actual crisis to further marginalize those
populations in a society who are considered either unworthy
of participation in the polity or more severely excluded
from society altogether. How successful right-wing
populist movements and ultimately
governments are not only combining these two assumptions
but transforming their ideas into institutions
provides one way to trace the contours
and limits of democracy in the contemporary world. Thank you.

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