In the bay area there has been a growing anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, persons of color tendency gaining steam. The presence of this tendency has expressed itself in many ways ranging from a table at the local anarchist book fair, to the whirl wind of destruction released on the buildings and sites of colonial domination in the city of Oakland during the anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, to more clandestine attacks on institutions of gentrification. Much of the political rhetoric surrounding this formation revolves around decolonization. In an attempt to push the discourse into uncharted territory (where novel ideas and actions are born) I will offer more nuanced theoretical tendencies to compliment the already existing push for decolonization: notions of hybrid identities in contrast to racial binaries such as People of Color vs. white people, the notion of the diasporas as it relates the struggle for decolonization. Here the reader will find not a straightforward proposal for the trajectory of any fictitious “movement” but questions and thoughts that will discomfort and dislodge the common sense consensus that constructs hegemony within this milieu as well as outside of it.
Decolonization and the hybridized Diaspora
There have been major developments since the colonial era that require us to reorient (no pun intended) decolonizing strategies for the post modern Empire. One such development is the severity and scope of the environmental crises, this marks the end of the crises of modernity between nature and society, nature has become completely subsumed by society. The hazards of the environmental crises (exposure to toxic chemicals, pollution, drought, famine) are still distributed hierarchically along the same lines established during the colonial era, yet the complete synthesization of the environment into society also globalizes the struggle for decolonization in an unprecedented way. The scope of the environmental crises leaves no new frontier, no outside to the systems of domination; indigenous communities are finding it physically impossible to go about their lives untouched by the tentacles of the empire. Along with this development the flows of capital are ever more fluid making national borders less relevant and thus the migration of peoples to seek better lives to escape the ravages of capitalism are increasing dramatically from the global south to the global north. From 1990-2010 there has been an 85% increase for those migrants born in the global South but currently reside in the global North. These two developments present those concerned with decolonization a few interesting questions: What is the role of the Diaspora and their hybridized identities in the struggle for decolonization? In exploring this question we must briefly understand the mechanisms that held the colonialism of the past together. Frantz Fannon—who is no stranger to the discourse on decolonization—succinctly sums up the colonial order when he says:
The colonial world is a world cut in two. The dividing line, the frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations. In the colonies it is the policeman and the soldier who are the official, instituted go-betweens, the spokesmen of the settler and his rule of oppression. … It is obvious here that the agents of government speak the language of pure force.
This “world cut in two” is an order that is maintained by “pure force” on the one hand, the prison industrial complex, war, the FBI, police and border patrols, who dedicate themselves to the violent maintenance between the citizen and the alien, the criminal and the public, the colonized and the colonizer. Yet on the other hand at the dawn of the post modern era we have the biopolitcal construction of identity itself. By this I’m referring to Foucault’s observation that during the Classical Age the two separated poles between the scientific understandings of species and populations regeneration becoming the object of political attention, and the project of not only controlling the production of the species but also to manipulate them for the production of “docile bodies.” These two poles, as Foucault observes merged into one totalizing force known as biopower. It is here that I’m interested in, not the violent force that maintains the imperial order, but the ways in which this order is produced and reproduced bio politically through identity itself. The role of the production of identities is analyzed by Negri and Hardt when they say:
Reality always presents proliferating multiplicities. ..it is not that reality presents this facile binary structure but that colonialism, as an abstract machine that produces identities and alterties, imposes binary divisions on the colonial world. Colonialism homogenizes real social difference.
The authors point out that the colonists attempt to naturalize and essentialize the racial binary imposed on reality by polarizing two opposing identities, ex. White vs. people of color, men vs. women, heterosexual vs. homo sexual, old vs. young, etc. and subsuming both identities through representation, participation, or annihilation. This polarization also constructs the grounds and terms in which the war for liberation is fought, and more importantly who is allowed to fight. By erasing “real social difference” the potential weapons and warriors who could swarm our enemies are reduced to a one on one linear battlefield where we are out gunned and out flanked most of the time. At the juncture where hegemony must produce states of exception for bodies that do not fit the racial binary like Mullatos (one black and one white parent) and Mestizos (used in Spanish colonies to indicate one Eurpoean born parent and either African or Native, or all three), the fragile fictitious logic of the colonial order is exposed.
Homi Bhabha points out the unique position of hybridized identities in the Diaspora in The Location of Culture when commenting on the existential state of migrants, he states: “we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion.” For Bhabha the state of transit that Diasporas’ find themselves in are the sites where the “shuttling between seemingly opposed states” presents the opportunity to disrupt and deny binary patterning. Although the assertion that the binaries of the colonial order are ungrounded does not burn police stations to the ground, or open prison doors, Fannon is actually correct in posing that only violence will bring about decolonization, yet a reversal of the colonial logic must take place in order to permanently disrupt the binaries in race, class and gender relations; so as to stop the biopolitical reproduction of these hierarchal categories.
Much like the struggle of the proletariat toward the abolition of capital, which requires the abolition of the conditions that produce the proletariat itself; for those who are seeking decolonization we must articulate the abolition of the conditions that produce racial binaries and race as a category itself. The failure to do so, as we have seen in other Nationalist struggles for decolonization or liberation which maintain strict racial binaries, results in the reproduction of white hegemonic institutionality with which former colonizers use as a representation of the universality of the colonial order, and extend their reach of power by now being able to broker with the representatives of the “liberated” nation, ex. ANC (African National Congress) in South Africa, INC(Indian National Congress) in India, NRA (National Revolutionary Army) in China, etc. This dynamic of organizing under the banner of the “nation” or “people” exists as living evidence of the inability of struggles for decolonization to shed the colonial construct of the “nation” and continue to adhere to the colonizers notions of fixed borders and the sovereignty of the state.
We must reach beyond the fictitious “nation” and “race” in the political objectives of decolonization. This new era presents itself with unique opportunities to deterritorialize (Deluze and Guattari) the struggle for decolonization, in other words, the struggle for liberation no longer needs a fixed geography or fixed identities, just as capitalist relations are everywhere, so too is the Diaspora. Imagine the total internationalization of local issues and the localization of international issues ex. Police repression and murders, right wing and fascist political movements, widespread austerity, environmental destruction, etc. The moment for Anarchist politics particularly for the Diaspora is of the utmost relevance in its deceleration of a borderless anti-nationalist abolition of the sovereign state as well as capital, and the end to all hierarchical relations.
For the Diaspora these anarchist political objectives mean a total decolonization of political, economic, socio-cultural, and psychological arenas. Yet if we risk reproducing racial binaries by using race as an organizing tool or as Spivak calls it a “strategic essentialism” the question then becomes how, if, or when do we organize under the banner of people of color? When is it strategically useful? When is it not? How do we express the paradox of using race toward the abolition of race? Do we do that at all? These are just a few questions that ought to be addressed as the struggle for decolonization continues in the Bay Area as well as in other places, in doing so hopefully new territories and sites of struggle can form and new lines and methods of attack can become realized.