State of Exception?

The ‘war on terror’ is essentially a security and policing operation on a global sphere. While there has been much debate about the significance of 9/11 as an event, if it is approached through the lens of the shifts in race politics in the US, one begins to see how the nexus of capital and state power is articulated in the control of racial groups over the longer historical period, especially after the end of the 1960s with the political attack on civil rights and anti-racism. The connection between race in the US, especially in terms of white racism towards African-Americans, and Muslims and Islam has not been strongly articulated. In fact, there is a tendency to see the war on Islamic militancy and the new legal and security measures as exceptional to the workings of western liberal democracy. What needs to been examined in more critical detail, is the connection between colonialism and postcolonial state racism, and the control and policing of racial and cultural alterity.

This article by Daniel Lazare in Alternet outlines in some detail how the American criminal justice system, built around jailing and incarcerating, a significantly higher proportion of people than in any other western nation, maybe tells us something about the how race, class and capital are now configured. It also interestingly makes the point that the ideological co-ordinates of the ‘war on terror’ were already in place on America’s ‘war of drugs’. The relationship between race, American democracy and postcolonialism has a longer historical formation. The new global Empire is less of a break from the old colonialism and more of a displacement of colonial practices into the west itself. In this sense 9/11 is just the incorporation of the west into the postcolonial wars of the third world. More to follow..

Jailing Nation: How Did Our Prison System Become Such a Nightmare?
By Daniel Lazare, Alternet (20 August 2007)

With five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners. How did the American criminal justice system go so wrong? How can you tell when a democracy is dead? When concentration camps spring up and everyone shivers in fear? Or is it when concentration camps spring up and no one shivers in fear because everyone knows they’re not for “people like us” (in Woody Allen’s marvelous phrase) but for the others, the troublemakers, the ones you can tell are guilty merely by the color of their skin, the shape of their nose or their social class? Read on >>

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One Response to State of Exception?

  1. It is interesting how the US government support for the Contras had a backdraft in terms of turning a blind eye to the trade of cocaine back from Nicaragua to the streets of US, which had a direct impact on the poor black communities.

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