[OPE-L] How grandma got legal

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed May 17 2006 - 13:24:53 EDT

Since Mae Ngai is a brilliant historian, she thinks we
need a history lesson. But let's get serious about the political
context of this immigration scare, though Ngai
shows how with the requirements of visas and passports
(especially following the national-statism consolidated by the Great War)
and the ending of the statute of limitations, the "illegal alien" was
invented just as homosexuality and childhood have been invented kinds.
Ngai has rightly won many accolades for this most important study of
kind making.
Jonathan Xavier Inda draws from her work in his Targeting Immigrants.

Yet the present 'crisis' is not the result of historical

How is the state to legitimize itself if its tax structure
is regressive, its public spending a defacto private subsidy and
its military strategy failed and catastrophic?
The state seeks legitimacy through its assertion of the sovereignty
of its borders--
it can thereby claim to protect national citizens from welfare
cheats, job stealers and terrorists. Not the domestic ones--not the
subsidized and downsizing
corporations and the wiretappers and the intolerant thugs who
join the Militias and the Minutemen.  But the foreign ones
Or at least the state must appear to protect us from the non
national threats as Joseph Nevins lays out in his important Operation

So as poll ratings plummet Bush has declared himself
the chief commander of the minutemen. Given that our essentially
juridical social relations are instrumental, highly conflictual
and alienated, the only community we can share is as equal citizens
of the sovereign nation state (see Marx On the Jewish Question).
Popular sovereignty is thereby alienated in  sovereign control over
the borders. The border
war is a hallucination of popular sovereignty. The deployment of
troops and the building of walls are in large part images--part and
parcel of the society of spectacle.

As social life tears us apart and the state loses the veneer of
universality--indeed Nevins' findings suggest that the obsession with
border security coincides roughly with the collapse of Keynesianism
into stagflation in the mid 1970s--nationalism can still bring us
together as abstract citizen subjects; and nationalism is stoked by
anti illegal immigrant  sentiment (which redounds on even those who
are legal residents or citizens by naturalization or birth).

Of course the call for the border patrol is grand-standing though the
resulting deaths will be real.  But once the mainstream parties hail
the right wing thugs
such as the minutemen to ride out the wave of popular discontent,
they will have given the state's legitimacy to violent forces
that they will not be able to control.

To secure rule Bush has called on the evangelists and racist thugs.
We will thus have to contend with them for some to come.
Our political life has been poisoned.

The new border war is not in capital's direct interest but it is in
the interest of
stabilizing alienated commodity relations through the creation of
national unity.
James O Connor may say that accumulation is sacrificed for legitimacy.


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