Anti-semitic, anti-immigrant

rc-am rcollins at
Fri Nov 19 21:55:42 PST 1999

re john's post: and those laws which exclude recent migrants from certain protections in turn degrade the conditions of those programmers who have citizenship. so, it's a particularly fruitful kind of irrationality for jacking up the conditions of exploitation.

i find zizek's analysis useful inasmuch as he doesn't make the usual claim that if you just show people how untrue such a view of the world is, it's all be okay in the morning light. ie., zizek doesn't presume that an irrationality such as this is a result of an erroneous perception of what is an essentially rational world. for zizek, an irrational world necessarily produces irrational beleifs: antisemitism might well be unthinkable without the history and dominance of christianity, but it's refound presence in places like malaysia suggests, for me at least, that it has much more to do with the ascription of antagonism, of distress, and of social incohesion -- where the underlying premise is, of course, that without x there would be no antagonism and there would be social cohesion. no wonder that antisemitism and anti-immigrant politics are an important part of nation-building at a time when the role of the nation in the world market is being redrawn. in the absence of redistributive possibilities on the current neoliberal horison, the only means available to such nation-building efforts (that in any case are always going to be a way of decomposing class identity in favour of a 'cross-class' or national ones) are racist ones. and it's not only the conservative side of politics which has drawn on this boundless reservoir: clinton's '96 legislation (as far as i can gather), the ALP here, the euro socdems and labourites adherence to fortress europa...

re alessandro's remarks: i think 'nomadic' is a useful way to look at the connections between certain kinds of anti-semitism and anti-immigrant politics. of course, anti-semitism seems to have morphed into a shared favourite of both the lunar right and sections of the left, perhaps because (unlike other kinds of racism) anti-semitism has the tinge of anti-imperialism (we can always reference israel and the palestinians to give it a leftist flavour) and the stink of money (we can always point to jewish bankers, credit and merchant capital). but even these instances suggest that what is at issue is 'jewish' as a stand in for the destruction of home, familia, and the nation, by way of the destructive effects of the world market on the traditional and familial. (i gather by the connection between 'revolution' and 'jew' you mean non-identical?)

but, that said, what still amazes me is that people will find a way to articulate their own version of 'appropriate racism', and that kind of exercise is hardly confined to the right. i think zizek is right: it is about enjoyment. there's simply no way to even begin to define what anti-semitism and anti-immigrant politics consists of, let alone racism for that matter, without ending up in empty tautologies of the kind that zizek notes: 'our way of life', 'the jew', etc are all necessarily undefinable, vague, and self-referential. else they wouldn't be able to bear the weight of projected fears and horrors. and horror in the world there's a shitload of.

Angela _________

john wrote:

> Similarly, our resentment of "immigrants stealing our jobs." I live
> in the heart of this phenomenon. My congressman, Dick Armey, has
> helped pass some of the most vicious anti-immigrant laws in the
> last two decades. Yet, these laws don't affect the number of
> immigrants, either poor Latin Americans, or Indian computer
> programmers. In fact the numbers are increasing. But what these
> laws do is deny the immigrants any rights, which makes them
> helpless, and exploitable. If an immigrant Urdu or Tamil loses
> his job, he can be jailed for some time before he is deported.
> So my cubicle mates are threatened with replacement by poorer
> paid Indians. They know it's not the Indian's fault, they know it
> is their leaders's, but they are too helpless, too frightened, too
> lacking in courage to oppose the leaders. So, they transfer their
> anger to the helpless, and exculpate the leaders.
> It does no good, but it makes them feel better for the moment. It
> also helps Armey, et al, pass even more vicious laws making immigrant
> programmers even more exploitable.

alessandro wrote:

> persecucuted already. My idea (sorry if it is a little bit "pomo") is
> the jews well represent the character of "revolution" (I'm sorry but I
> find another word) : nomadism (being it forced or not). Nomadism is
> something that applies even when somebody is still (geographically).

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