Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Identity Politics

How one deploys an identity makes a difference.  In identifying as Quaker, I go back to when Philadelphian Friends were somewhat upbeat about a utopia to come.

In the heady 1790s, some of the avatars of industrialization actually thought they could see light at the end of the tunnel, a way out of some Dickensian hell based in class warfare or whatever.

A company town really could be idyllic, not some battle ground twixt management and emergent unions.  Or maybe it's not a "company town" just a town where companies and its universities share a lot of values and resources.  They wouldn't be munitions makers.

Fast forward, and the Quakers' AFSC, like President Hoover (a Quaker), was resisting the allied blockade against Germany, pursued by Britain in 1915-1919.

Likewise, the Quakers resisted the economic sanctions against Iraq imposed by US State Department secretaries Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice.

The Nixon-Kissinger policies versus the Vietnamese were likewise cast as morally bankrupt and illegitimate.  Those of us in the liberal wing at least, welcomed Jane Fonda's visit to Hanoi.

But then US intelligencia has long decried Manifest Destiny syndrome and its craven craving for imperial powers.  Such craving is both the weak spot and the blind spot in the American psyche, as many historians will aver.

Any modeling of the USG on ancient Rome's imperial chapters, has never sat well with many who'd supported the American Revolution in principle, George Washington included.

A core goal of the latter was to get free of monarchs and their imperial designs.

Of course calling US policies "imperialist" always sounded kinda corny, the way those Commies talked.  That's until we got to reading the more serious histories and journalism and understood better how the shoe fit.

Anyway, I don't find it surprising that I think a lot like Mark Twain and William James when it comes to the Philippine-American war.  I lived in the Philippines long enough myself to do some thinking on this relationship.

These days I look at Puerto Rico, the lawsuit by the Marshall Islands against the nuclear powers (which the World Court decided not to hear), and the Ban Treaty, working its way through the UN General Assembly, and think this sort of non-violent defiance against nuke heads is very sane.