Identifying MacroStructual Trends in Asian Economies

This post recognizes the error in assuming that all Asian countries are undergoing similar socio-cultural-economic processes and placing diverse Asian countries on the same trajectory of development.

That said, when identifying and ranking important macro-structural trends in Asia, one must keep in mind the larger context of modernity within which these trends exist. The Asian nation-states are facing the structural, economic and socio-cultural trends so particular to modernity, namely globalization, contradictions of nationalism, and security problems that originate from the wrestling with conceptions of identity.

Asian nation-states are wrestling with neo-liberal globalization in this era of deterritorialized production and virtual capital, and trying to gain more economic security through inter-economic cooperation and alliances such as ASEAN and APEC. One example of inter-economic cooperation is the call for a Euro-style common currency. Yet, a trend particular to capitalist modernity is the creation of hierarchies of race, class and gender, and uneven development that tends to alienate and marginalize internal populations. Coupled with this is the fact that the core powers of the U.S., Western Europe and Russia have a vested interest in keeping Asia as semi-peripheral and prevent it from initiating a common currency, which would pose a definite threat to the current economic order of things. Therefore, they encourage foreign direct investment and neo-liberal development, and the U.S. specifically depends on China and Japan to finance its trade deficit. However, with Asian states slowly coming out of their financial crisis and looking for security in this era of increasing globalization, the trend is definitely towards more economic cooperation and integration.

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Morons of the Week: Those Britons Who Voted for the BNP

In elections held 2 days ago, Nick Griffin and the far-right British National Party won seats for the FIRST time! All was celebratory in the BNP camp till he got pelted with eggs for his reactionary point of views.

The British National Party opposes what Nick Griffin calls the ”creeping Islamification” of Britain, supports voluntary repatriation of immigrants and wants to take Britain out of the European Union and NATO. It’s nativism 101 and it’s ugly.

Immigrant scapegoating is a sad answer to recession. It’s sadder when the spineless left and Labour Party serve to appease xenophobia rather than confront it.

As The Herald puts:

The way to tackle racism is to confront it, not appease it; to show consistently the benefits that immigrants bring to society; to point out that British history has also been a history of emigration; to work harder to achieve integration; and to recognise our own immigrant backgrounds.

Britain and all other countries face a fundamental choice right now. They can either accept that the movement of peoples between countries is and always has been part of the natural order, and is especially encouraged by neo-liberal policies purported by the G-8. Or they can join the BNP and the Nazi parties in embracing right-wing xenophobia and nativism as an answer to societal ills brought about by a system that benefits a few over many. Most would elect to walk the middle-line out of cowardice.

On a related note, here is the latest map of exploding hate groups in the United States.

This comment on the CNN blog wins quote of the week on blog:

There should be a “cute” little symbol centered on Washington. Until our country’s government recognizes all American citizens as equal, it will continue to serve as a paradigm for hate groups everywhere.


Mumbai Attacks – They Wanted Foreigners

Follow on Twitter – #Mumbai and DesiPundit has done a great job with the round-ups.

My concern is with this statement from Reuters.

A witness told Indian television that gunmen in Mumbai looked for British and U.S. passport holders.

They wanted anyone with British or American passports,” a witness at the Taj Hotel, who said he was from London and was in India on business, told the NDTV news channel. He had smoke stains all over his face. “They wanted foreigners.”

Has this been confirmed? Dave states that “as nationality is the principal trait governments use to select targets, it should come as no surprise that the attackers searched for targets by nationality as well.”

This tactic of targeting ‘foreigners’ — representatives of Western civilization — challenges the concept of building higher walls, smarter borders, restricting immigration to protect Americans and keep out the terrorists, freedom fighters, whatever PC or non-PC term attached to these advocates of violence. In this era of globalization, with more people not living in their countries of origin, if attackers can target Americans outside of America, outside our guarded physical borders, can the nation-state really provide the necessary ‘security?’ It certainly raises new questions about the responsibility of the nation-state and mentally redrawing our conception on physical barriers.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says:

“It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country,” he said. “We will take the strongest possible measures to ensure that there is no repetition of such terrorist acts. We are determined to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the safety and security of our citizens.

Who is behind this? For now, we know through a recovered phone from a slain terrorist that calls were made to Karachi. Lets not pin this on a country and step away from jingoistic calls to attack Pakistan. The Deccan Mujahideen have claimed responsibility for this while Pakistan has strongly condemned the attacks. There is also no need to scapegoat Muslims in India. None of this worked for the United States when it declared war on Afghanistan and started profiling Arab Americans — Al Qaeda is stronger than ever before and Bin Laden is at large, so declaring war on Pakistan, given MAD, would be even more stupid.

Journal of Peasant Studies – Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India

This book review should appear in the upcoming edition of the Journal of Peasant Studies. I cannot publish the whole bit here even though it is my work, since I signed over licensing rights but it should be available through your college databases.

I don’t know whether I will have time for more book reviews in the future or if it is an endeavor that I am any good at, but it was worth experimenting and I am not too displeased with the results. (The Publisher ain’t complaining; why should I)?

Review: Vinayak Chaturvedi, Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India, University of California Press, 2007.

by Prerna Lal

Small excerpt:

The untold narrative of peasant classes marginalized from the promise of the postcolonial nation-state is a popular subject of research and criticism among subaltern scholars seeking to pose ruptures and discontinuities in the hegemonic history of Indian nationalism.

In Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India, Chaturvedi embarks on this project after a chance discovery while pouring through archives on the agrarian economy of Gujarat: he discovers notes by the district magistrate about the historically-celebrated Patidars forcibly extracting labor from the Dhalara peasants in Kheda. Upon further investigation, Chaturvedi discovers that the Dharalas were considered a ‘criminal class’ by both the colonialists and Indian nationalists through the passage of the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 and given their treatment, it came as no surprise that the Dharalas opposed Patidar-led nationalist politics along with colonialism.

Enamored by the prospects of an untold history of peasant pasts, the central thesis of this scholarship revolves around the actions, practices and discourses of the Dharala peasants before the emergence of an Indian nation-state. Chaturvedi claims that the Dharalas were political in their own right and their opposition to Patidar nationalism allied with Gandhi did not denote that these peasants lacked an understanding of politics or an inability to imagine political community. On the contrary, through rigorous fieldwork and archival study, Chaturvedi lays out a fragmentary and episodic history of the Dharala peasants that establishes their broad political discourses, complex understandings of political community, and subsequent resistance to both colonialism and nationalism.

Documentary 'Border' – Masquerading as Neither 'Left' nor 'Right'

From the Press Release (propaganda) of this new pro-restrictionist, pro-Minutemen ‘Documentary’ called ‘Border’:

The shocking documentary ‘Border’ shows how a porous border and limited enforcement enables human smugglers and drug traffickers to extort, rape, murder and humiliate those seeking a better life in the United States.

Destroying the notion that those who want to secure the border are racist xenophobic bigots, filmmaker Chris Burgard shows how the predominantly Hispanic property owners and law enforcement personnel on US side of the border are fighting a war against drug cartels that move people and drugs across the unforgiving and desolate desert terrain.

Contrary to the talking points of the so-called ‘immigrants rights’ groups, Burgard shows how illegal immigrants are sometimes locked into indentured servitude to the smugglers who’ve delivered them to safe houses in cities like Tucson and Phoenix. The smugglers, commonly known as ‘Coyotes,’ threaten to kill the families of the newly arrived immigrants if they don’t pay extortion money. Sometimes, this servitude can go on for years.

The claims made in this press release are ludicrous. Pro-immigrant rights group online such as The Sanctuary have never supported the smuggling of ‘illegal immigrants’ and indentured servitude. We even have huge reservations about guest-worker programs that could potentially create a separate class of laborers more prone to exploitation.

Furthermore, the documentary deceptively tries to claim that since immigrants trying to come into the United States through porous borders have to undergo extraordinary dangers, border enforcement works in favor of these immigrants?! What? First, try telling that to the families of migrant workers that are shot by the U.S. border patrol. Second, if the borders were indeed so ‘porous,’ wouldn’t coming over be child’s play? And third, do you seriously expect us to believe that the Minutemen are patrolling the border to protect ‘illegal immigrants’ and stop drug cartels? The fact that the documentary symphatizes with the Minutemen should be enough to stray clear of it.

The biggest fallacy of the documentary is the assumption that border enforcement is somehow the solution to ‘illegal immigration’ and all the dangers surrounding it. However, if immigration from Mexico and Latin American countries was easier, if people did not need to wait in line for 20 years to reunite with family, if the category for unskilled work visas was not riddled with bureaucracy, if migrant workers could migrate easily across borders, they would not be desperate enough to hire coyotes, risk exploitation and harm crossing over the desert terrain or Rio Grande.

If, in Latin America, the United States did not support the disproportionate elite & multinational corporation ownership of lands primarily used for agriculture that consequently prevented people from sustaining themselves, if it did not ruin economies and livelihoods by waging a war against narcotics while simultaneously selling those narcotics to arm reactionary movements, if this country worked to make labor as free and mobile as capital, a large number of migrants would have no reason to flee ‘North’ in order to survive and make a living.

The border, and enforcement of walls erected to keep out the unknown–whether it is done in protection of or from the unknown–still constructs and reifies differences, still otherizes. The documentary is simply more nativist propaganda masquerading as impartial ‘truth.’