rc-am rcollins at
Tue Apr 6 22:41:03 PDT 1999

hi Kelly,

I pretty much agree with what you've said on the treanor article.

I think this leads him to pass over some important things. what I would have liked from an analysis of this kind was attention to the contradictions of liberalism, and therein an analysis of nation-states, genocide conventions, the historical relation between regicide and genocide as privileged codes of criminality whose historical premises are often forgotten in discussions.

I think the issue of genocide conventions as self-constraining laws in the case of, say colonial nation states such as the Australian one in relation to indigenous peoples, is an important one. there is currently a landmark case before the courts to compensate people who as children were taken away from their homes to be trained as domestics or pastoral workers. most of those who were taken away were deemed as 'half-caste aborigines', hence the state saw them as 'capable of being assimilated'. now, do we apply the genocide conventions here, or do we see this as a state prepared to assimilate people on condition of them being disciplined workers, or do we see it as a combination of both since the state regarded the 'problem' of indigenous people to be, specifically, their genetic predisposition against disciplined work, one which could be ameliorated via the removal of 'half castes' to be trained as good little workers.

I prefer the last. the problem I have with the first is that it lets liberalism off the hook. the policy of removal was a policy worked out in the heat of progressive liberalism, not nazism. what is being denied is not the power of the (neo) liberal state, but rather the need for a (neo) liberal state *today* is being affirmed through the application of the genocide convention. the real conditions of the policy of removal are being effaced in applause for the possibilities of liberal state policy. hence, which is why I would at least have preferred a discussion by treanor of the contradictions of liberalism (capitalism). the problem I have with the second is it does not even try to comprehend why racialisation of capitalist discipline is such an important feature of state policy.

I guess I found treanor's essay interesting for the reason that he prompts us, well me perhaps, to think about what we might forget when we apply the conventions and reasoning of the genocide conventions. moreover, it reminded me that simply because a word is invested with privileged horror in a certain period does not mean that this process of investment should not be scrutinized or used by the left without doing so.

the essay is quite complex, and I still need to re-read it. but I thought that it was important that he made the link between genocide conventions and nationalism. and, given that, it doesn't exclude an analysis of the aforementioned kind.


>I read through this article & looked at a couple of the linked articles by
>Treanor, too, and have a couple of quick thoughts offhand. His look at
>genocide by "analogy to the historic crime of regicide" is an interesting
>take, I thought. He is right that at least those aspects of the law of
>genocide which prohibit the elimination of nation-states are conservative.
>isn't specific on where his non-nationalist autonomous or sovereign spaces
>could be without coercing current residents, although he specifies that no
>one would be forced to live in such a place. He also doesn't really deal
>with the inequalities of power between nations and the possibility that
>only the Genocide Convention but also the International Covenant of the
>Rights of Indeigeous Nations, to which he also objects, are self-denying
>ordinances insofar as stronger states actually bind themselves not to
>overpower smaller states or nations and abide by such rules. And his list
>possible policies of a "future European state" such as compulsory
>multilingualism, etc., reads almost like it might have come from the civil
>service regulations of the "k.u.k." (Habsburg, Austro-Hungarian) state
>institutions of the early part of this century. But his larger point,
>the restriction of legitimate state formation to nations should be
>questioned, is valid.
>K. Mickey

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