Radical media, politics and culture.

Bogan Intifada*

Following on from the recent riots on Palm Island and Redfern, rioting at Macquarie Fields enters its fourth night (as of March 1st).

Some additional links >> [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ]

In each case (Mac Fields, Redfern, Palm Island), the riots were triggered by people dying in custody or while being chased by cops. What's different about this occasion is that it wasn't mainly indigenous kids, but generally lumpenised ones. There is talk of "bulldozing" the area (most of which is public housing), just like after Redfern. And the NSW police are frothy and indignant that "there was talk among the locals of 'doing a Redfern'." But, that said, something else worth noting about this are the ways in which the media, cops, various do-gooders have resorted to racialisation. All the usual talk of "uncivilised behaviour", but a very particular recourse to motifs of biological degeneracy: inter-generational dysfunction, etc. Which is to say, that 'race' -- racialisation -- was never (and still isn't) about any inherent given, like skin colour, etc. The idea of 'race' might have come from the Aristocracy (who wanted to shore up their authority by calling themselves 'bluebloods' and talking about 'breeding'), but its modern incarnation is about making the conditions of life (or indeed the denial of life) appear to be the outcome of one's bodily characteristics or genetics or 'upbringing'.

There are lots of examples of this kind of racialisation. The head of the Labor Party, Kim 'Bomber' Beazley is quoted as saying that he "supported police 100 per cent in their efforts to contain the riots and called for compulsory citizenship programs in schools."

No justice, just us. Or rather: justice is about exchange -- lives get weighed on the money scale and are valued accordingly. And when lives are no longer valued in such a way, what then?. BR sent me this, given my recent preoccupations with the question of the 'value of life' and precariousness:

"PS. This is a funny statement for a Nazi: "Those who posit a value always also posit, eo ipso, a non-value. The sense of this positing of non-value is the annihilation of non-value ... [As a result] the danger lies in the inescapability of a moral obligation. Those men ... feel compelled to destroy these other men, i.e., their victims, even morally. They must brand their opponents as criminal and inhuman, as an absolute non-value, otherwise, they themselves would become criminals and monsters. The logic of value and non-value unfolds all of its destructive consequence, and forces the creation of ever newer and deeper discriminations, criminalizations, and devaluations, up to the point of the annihilation of every life unworthy of existing."

Yes, the quote is from Carl Schmitt, who indeed was a Nazi, but he was a Nazi because he was, above all, a liberal-democrat and was a realist about what it would take to decide the law and secure the order of said liberal-democracy.

* The phrase "Bogan Intifada", coined I think by Peter Jovanovic, probably doesn't travel very well, so from the Slang Dictionary: Bogan = "person of questionable upbringing" Angry Bogan = "A discontented and disillusioned individual, angry at the world, with a penchant for wearing flannel." It actually means 'lumpen', and I'm surprised that the Slang Dictionary doesn't make that explicit, but talks about 'upbringing' instead. And "bulldoze", of course, should be more familiar to yanks: "bulldoze 1876, originally bulldose 'a severe beating or lashing,' lit. 'a dose fit for a bull,' a slang word referring to the beating of black voters (by either blacks or whites) in the 1876 U.S. presidential election. A bulldozer was a person who intimidates by violence until the meaning was extended to ground-clearing caterpillar tractor in 1930." Intifada needs no translation.

[Appended from a posting elsewhere] While I think it's important to say that the exception has become the norm, norms are not the same as universalities. Some workers, those who identify with sovereignty and are enabled to do so (the citizen-commodity), are deemed to be capable of managing their own exploitation (sovereign in another fashion) and therefore capable of entering into the labour contract freely and autonomously (in the Kantian sense of that word). It is an effort to get them to identify outside this box, and to do so in such a way that they doesn't reproduce their training, habituation in and for sovereignty. (Campaigns around migration are full of missionaries, well-meaning colonists.)

For everyone else, the formally free aspect of labour (all those warm cosy aspects of liberal-democracy, the social contract, the rule of law, etc) is suspended in a forceful, unmediated fashion, and this suspension is in turn *explained* (and legitimated) as an inherent attribute of those bodies (eg and esp., racialisation). It's therefore perfectly legitimate to bomb some people to democracy; forced labour is justified because those people 'lack' self-control (ie, the internalisation of sovereignty, in its particular Kantian sense, again); the indefinite, extrajudicial internment of 'suspected non-citizens' ...

That doesn't mean citizen-commodities are not perpetually threatened with this suspension (this is what 'precarity' means). But the hypothetical interchangeability of abstract labour is only that. It's actual functioning is segmented and hierarchised, as in wage levels, differential labour markets, ie., the enclosures, etc. And, for liberal-democracies, it's racialisation (or attribution to body, biology, the apparently pre-social) that forms the necessary ingredient for legitimating the difference between the threat of violence and the use of it.

And, I'll add something from the Patriotic Youth League (local nazis) about the recent riots that PJ sent over: "The constant glorification of african-american gang/street life and the whole hip-hop scene. (witness the rap-style graffiti desecration of the war memorial). The failure of multi-culturalism & left-wing teachers who have made a whole generation of white kids be ashamed of thier heritage,culture &values. Did anyone notice on the news the way the brother of one of the scumbag car thieves spoke-if you closed your eyes you would of thought this obviously Australian kid ,with an Anglo-celtic name was in fact Lebanese! I also noticed amongt several of the more brazen ring-leaders about 3 pacific islanders ,at least 1 asian and of course everyone's favourite troublemakers the middle-easterners ,although the media of course downplayed this ,mainly interviewing the anglo kids. The dress of this rabble was also note-worthy -the same predictable brands & american sporting garb seemed to adorn nearly all of them- all the usual 'homeboy' gear! I mean how many times do you watch the news and see young offenders ,either caught on CCTV or being arrested wearing the same hip-hop inspired clothing!"