Category Archives: Political Theory

Japan On The Brink of Nuclear Disaster: Is It Time to Deconstruct Nuclear Threats Yet?

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the dr...

Image via Wikipedia

The nuclear fallout from Japan has reached my state of California. Reportedly, the level of radiation is not dangerous to the people of the West Coast so they do not need to take those iodine pills.

I’m plagued with a different question. Here’s a possible nuclear threat that no country has placed as part of their national security calculus of risk.

There are general opinion pieces on how the world needs to rethink nuclear weapons after the coming Japan disaster. Some newspapers have picked up on the historical memory of the first use of nuclear weapons, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that led to massive catastrophe. Others are struggling with why Japan chose to use nuclear power after the horrifying specter of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japan’s first nuclear disaster is not just a memory. The fact that the country is once again on the brink of nuclear doom should not be lost to memory.

The United States has never apologized for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and for its hand in the widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons. Most of the discourse ignores that the United States played a vital hand in the nuclear infrastructure of Japan and blames Japan for its use of nuclear power. However, Japan is facing nuclear disaster because the United States and Russia went down the path of mutually assured destruction during the Cold War rather than condemning nuclear power. They formed an exclusive nuclear club that continues to deny membership to the more “pariah states” like North Korea and Iran in the name of international security. While Japan has never been a part of that nuclear club, the fact that it has nuclear infrastructure has never become an international or national security concern until now.

Just imagine if it was North Korea or Iran who were faced with impending doom. The international response would be radically different. The UN Security Council would be up in arms. And yet, international security is not threatened by those “pariah states” right now. Any prospective threat comes from Japan, a country that is considered benevolent and right now, under the United States nuclear umbrella. Maybe we need to redefine the nexus of our security concerns and threat construction.

I’m not saying Japan is an inherent threat to international security. I’m saying that there is something very wrong about how threats are constructed using geo-political calculations, and how this construction actually endangers our security. Maybe a tsunami and earthquake need to figure higher up on our list of threats to human security than a nuclear Iran OR nuclear North Korea. And maybe the creation of nuclear waste and nuclear power should be every bit of a threat as a nuclear explosion.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Comment

Filed under Nationalism, Political Theory

Paper: The Construction of Indian-Hindu nationalism and Implications of India’s Future as a Postcolonial State

This paper is a critique of International Relations and an approach to the question of India using an alternative nationalism model. Specifically, this is a Subaltern Studies approach to doing International Relations, which serves the purpose of discarding the notion of India as a homogeneous state unit and elaborating on the contestations involved for the existence of a post-colonial state such as India, as an ‘Other’ in a colonial order.

Quote from the paper:

We cannot speak about the need for nuclear non-proliferation without realizing the global coloniality behind it and why nation-states would go against the global norm to define a place for themselves in the global order. We cannot speak about development without realizing the colonial nature of global economic governance. A subaltern perspective, doing history and international relations from below, studying meanings and claims, allows us to explore these issues outside of the limited scope of existing IR theories.

Download

Leave a Comment

Filed under Desi, Political Theory

Immanuel Wallerstein – The Worst is Yet to Come

To quote him, ‘the worst is yet to come.’ I am not a doomsayer but Immanuel Wallerstein is a much respected economist, credited for World Systems Theory. I would usually stray away from predictions about economic matters but Wallerstein is absolutely correct that the crisis is not over–booms and bursts are inherent in the capitalist mode of production. And our political leaders are doing nothing that could prevent another financial collapse.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Political Theory

Book Review – Beyond Walls: Reinventing the Canada-United States Borderlands

http://www.ashgate.com/images/9780754672029_v_thumbnail.jpg

I just finished a book review for the Journal of Landscape Research. The book is aptly titled ‘Beyond Walls: Reinventing the Canada-United States Borderlands‘ because the entire book is a complete reinvention, devoid of much historical understanding or exploration of how the Canada-U.S. border is so ‘benign.’ Of course, I was nicer in my book review parts of which I can share:

Konrad and Nicol claim that their purpose is “not to attempt a comprehensive history in a book devoted largely to contemporary border issues…[but to] entice readers to search beyond the national narratives…” (64). While the last chapter on transnationalism provides some narratives of people living in the borderlands, it leaves out much of the complications from the new security border. For example, the border fence between Canada and the United States in Derby Line, Vermont is spreading hatred and discontent among residents as they can no longer see long-time neighbors.

Additionally, while recognizing that it is futile to talk about the border without talking about immigration issues (210), the authors shy away from delving into this homeland security imperative, which has completely transformed the cultural landscape. The fact that Canada and the United States do not dub each other as ‘foreign’ is worth further historical examination than the book provides.

Since the evolving borderlands are not cloaked by violence and anguish of power struggle and the changes are aligned in the interests if both countries, Konrad and Nicol conclude that the Canada-United States border offers a model of future borderlands.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Education, Political Theory

Mixing Marxist Economics with Creation Theory

So I was looking for economics papers I had written during college and just found this piece in an email to a professor.

Adam and Eve used to live happily in the Garden of Eden, with all resources in pristine and abundant condition. However, one day, Eve was tempted by Lucifer (just another “angel” who has nothing better to do and bored with the peace on Earth) to pick a fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and eat it.

Eve was struck with an epiphany upon eating it; she realized that since she used her labor to pick the fruit, it belonged to her and thus, became her possession and private property. The original sin by Eve established the concept of private property and the Lord could not stand such an act of defiance by a woman. Angry at the disobedience that Eve had shown to Adam, the Lord decided to punish humankind by making humans (and especially those with a darker skin tone like Eve and Adam) toil hard for their subsistence and be exploited for their labor by a ruling class. The Lord was also mad at Adam for his effeminate behavior and inability to control his woman, therefore he decided that Adam did need some punishment, and thus, Adam was re-casted as a white man, stripped of his rich African heritage.

Since Eve was the one who sinned originally, all women were thereafter meant to bear children that would be reduced to mere commodities and women would not be paid for the work they did in the households. To make women especially obedient, the Lord made sure that if women were to realize their ultimate pleasure by sleeping with other women and not (RE)producing more labor for profit, they would be barred from holding any property together and their social relations would be unrealized. Even men were disallowed from sleeping with each other; they were supposed to be competitive and aggressive, out to conquer and acquire, not love and nurture. In other words, both the oppressor and the oppressed were in fact, oppressed (and dehumanized) by the superstructure of the Lord’s creation.

But there was a way out. Redemption meant going through the different modes of production, which would seemingly create new social relations after bloody revolutions, while retaining the same old system of exploitation time and again. Redemption meant the suffering of everyone, but especially that of women and people of color the world over. Clashes would take place over time; between master and slave, lord and serf, capitalist and proletariat, and yes, between men and women (and other), straight and gay (and other), till the Lord would take pity and make the working class realize themselves as one–not gendered, sexualized or racialized–but as the oppressed fighting the oppressor who insisted on mediated relations of class, race, sex, gender etc.

In the Last Judgment, the oppressors would be given a last chance by the now politicized and ruling proletariat to repent all they had done over history. Some capitalist oppressors, who are now in a state of advanced schizophrenia, will insist falsely that Lord is on their side and tells them what to do, yet it would be futile. The seven years of trials and tribulations will take place. Human relations would once again be unmediated and everything in nature will belong to everyone, owned collectively.

And if we add Hinduism to the whole mix, the world will be destroyed in the last stage of capitalism (monopoly capitalism), so the Gods will just say “whatever” and give birth to the cosmos all over again with a specific kind of big ‘bang.’

Now who wants to take the fruit from the tree and call it their own?

Alright, I wrote this when I was 20. If I had to write this now, Eve would probably be a transsexual Steve and there would certainly be a shift from the structural meta-narrative of Marxian economics to a more post-structuralist approach to economics.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Political Theory

North Korea Is Not a Threat – Unveiling Hegemonic Discourses

That security is socially constructed does not mean that there are not to be found real, material conditions that help to create particular interpretations of threats, or that such conditions are irrelevant to either the creation or undermining of the assumptions underlying security policy. Enemies, in part, “create” each other, via the projections of their worst fears onto the other; in this respect, their relationship is intersubjective. To the extent that they act on these projections, threats to each other acquire a material character.
-Ronnie Lipschutz, UCSC

Kim Jong-Il wants attention. And now he has it. He won’t go in our ‘Morons of the Week’ column and certainly scores points for knowing how to misuse national resources to get international attention.

Our problem with MSM coverage of the North Korea ‘missile threat’ is with the purported hegemonic discourse. Hegemonic discourse does not pertain to just speech; it refers to whole narratives, with a hero and a villain, and us and them that we must defeat and overcome. The point of hegemonic discourse–in this case the discourse of the United States on demonizing North Korea and drawing attention to its nuclear activities—is to subjugate and oppress the counter-discourses of a race-war, nuclearism and anti-capitalism.

(1) Race war discourse

While this is not a clash of civilizations, it is certainly a race war in that the entire discourse revolves around preventing certain kinds of people from acquiring and using nuclear weapons.  Would the United States use the same tactics in France? Or even India? No, in fact it looked the other way on outrageous French nuclear testing in the Pacific and supports India’s nuclear program despite the fact that it is not a signatory of the NPT!

Ronnie Lipschutz has some fine lines for us in On Security:

To be sure, the United States and Russia do not launch missiles against each other because both know the result would be annihilation. But the same is true for France and Britain, or China and Israel. It was the existence of the Other that gave deterrence its power; it is the disappearance of the Other that has vanquished that power. Where Russia is now concerned, we are, paradoxically, not secure, because we see no need to be secured. In other words, as Ole Waever might put it, where there is no constructed threat, there is no security problem. France is fully capable of doing great damage to the United States, but that capability has no meaning in terms of U.S. security.

On the other hand, see the Iran nuclear ‘crisis’ as an example. The United States has demonized Ahmadinejad at every opportunity and conjured him up as an Islamic fundamentalist and nationalist who will defy non-proliferation at all costs. On the other hand, Ahmadinejad cheekily asked the United States to join the rest of civilization in worshipping God. That is the discourse of race war but it is concealed by juridical discourse—the hegemonic discourse.

To borrow from Michael Foucault, the United States is using the juridical schema of nuclear non-proliferation to conceal the war-repression schema. North Korea is the historical Other, the terrorist, the threat against whom the world must be protected in the juridical schema. Yet, under the war-repression schema, North Korea is a sovereign nation with the right to develop nuclear and communications technology. And this latest action is really nothing more than a plea for economic help.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Discourse Studies, Political Theory, Politics

Quote of the Week – 'Politics is a lot like Sex'

Jennifer Beals at the L5 Convention in UK this past weekend said as one of her parting messages that politics is a lot like sex:

“If you want something, you have to ask for it,
If they’re not doing it right you’ve got to speak up and show them and
If you still don’t get what you want, then there is nothing wrong with doing it yourself!”

I want the DREAM Act, an end to ICE raids and meaningful immigration reform. I want marriage equality for all — Actually I need the state to stop telling consenting adults what they can and cannot do with their bodies. I want an end to neo-liberalism and an overhauling of global financial institutions. I want an end to the war in Iraq and for the military to be used as a LAST resort when all else fails. Someday, I want a world without any borders. The list is quite long, but sitting with it is not going to translate those wants into realities. I need to take that list and go shopping for it myself.

Thank you to everyone for all the wonderful reports from L5. I am disappointed that there was little discussion about ‘politics’ [especially Prop. 8 ] given that it was the weekend of the Join the Impact International Action for Marriage Equality but we must remember that the core audience is not political. Hopefully, more people realize that the personal is indeed political and get more active in the fight for civil and human rights.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Political Theory, Politics