Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Google Social Networking Site Orkut Blocked by UAE

For over a year, the UAE has blocked regular access to a google social networking site Orkut. You can read about it a few places, but start here, at a July 26, 2007 posting on a UAE community blog that has a few useful links to help you send a protest to Etisalat, which has the UAE internet monopoly, at least it did until February, 2007, according to Wikipedia.

Such gross censorship is a reminder that sometimes tolerance and good old-fashioned liberal values are important.

Anyone who says this is a "Western" value needs to read about the history of the Ottoman empire in contrast with the Christian powers of Europe, a point I mention since the ostensible reason the site was shut down had to do with offenses against Islam.

Start with John Locke, discussing the advantage Christians in Istanbul had over those in London, since the Ottoman emperor did not take sides in their religious disputes there:
[P]eace, equity, and friendship are always mutually to be observed by particular churches, in the same manner as by private persons, without any pretence of superiority or jurisdiction over one another.

That the thing may be made clearer by an example, let us suppose two churches — the one of Arminians, the other of Calvinists — residing in the city of Constantinople. Will anyone say that either of these churches has right to deprive the members of the other of their estates and liberty (as we see practised elsewhere) because of their differing from it in some doctrines and ceremonies, whilst the Turks, in the meanwhile, silently stand by and laugh to see with what inhuman cruelty Christians thus rage against Christians?

In the event, the history of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic practices defies the East-West label, imposed out of deep ignorance much later than the zero-points of the respective traditions. How else to explain that the birthplace of Christianity, Nicea or modern Iznik, is in Asia? In fact all the religions had their start at least there, if not further East in the Vedic traditions of modern India.

The UAE government says the site is blocked because of its sexual content but as readers point out, the UAE is not all that restrictive about such matters. Perhaps what happened is no more than meets the eye: the UAE blocked another social networking site because repressive governments do not condone unregulated and especially cross-national social networking, although they may be at least as worried about liberals as they are of Islamicists. Image above of still Church where Constantine signed "Nicean Creed," in modern Iznik, Turkey

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Review of "Methods of Adoption: Eliminating Genetic Privilege"

The good thing about feminist and queer theory in the academy is that there is overwhelming consensus on most issues: legal equality and respect for differences of sex, gender, sexual orientation, genitalia, marital status, parental status, and a variety of combinations of the above are rightly beyond the pale of debate.

The bad thing about feminist and queer theory in the academy is that the university thrives on originality and controversy. This may lead scholars to raise concerns that have already been addressed, or create pseudo-lacunae that they can fill.

In a recent review, Debra Satz challenges claims I make in an essay "Methods of Adoption: Eliminating Genetic Privilege," published in Adoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays (2005) edited by Sally Haslanger and Charlotte Witt.

Sat asks questions of positions I develop based on work by Martha Fineman's Neutered Mother (1995): contemplating a reproductive species whose offspring have a long period of dependence, what is the best decision rule for deciding on their custody? My argument is that the pregnant mother is the only figure with the prerogative to make this initial decision at birth, and that she can choose either to put the child up for adoption, raise her by herself, or contract with others, including other parent(s) to raise the child until the child reaches the age of 21. Paternal sperm-donors (via penises or other methods) are eligible for the mother to choose as kinship partners, but do not have independent claim to custody rights, on account of the silliness of awarding custody based on intercourse, as well as their failure to create their DNA. (Awarding custody rights based on ejaculating semen alone would be like giving a Pulitzer prize to the person delivering the newspaper.)

My essay repeatedly states that such people would not be excluded from being a parent, but that ejaculating sperm itself is neither necessary nor sufficient to give one the right to make initial custody determinations, and that the unique sacrifices of a nine month pregnancy do earn this right for gestational mothers.

The review by Satz is frustrating because I thought I anticipated the objections she voices, and responded to them. Below are Satz's comments and the portions of the original essay she overlooks, minus references and notes, which copying and pasting could not accommodate. My essay in its entirety is here. You decide!

Satz writes:
Does biology matter at all to family bonds? To the rights of parents or children? Many of the contributors to Adoption Matters argue that the family should be conceived of as a voluntary association, entirely based on choice and liberal contract. Drucilla Cornell (2005) and Jacqueline Stevens (2005), for example, argue that parents should enter into relationships with one another by contract and that the state should not privilege one form of family over another. Stevens further argues that all parents should contract (or adopt) children independently of their biological relationship. This would put families formed through biological ties on equal terms with families formed through nonbiological ties; all families would be based on norms of contract and consent.

Adoption raises important questions about the applicability of a choice model when applied to the family, about the role of genetic ties in making individuals into parents, and about the nature of our obligations to children. Consider that in a typical contract two or more parties consent to undertake some transaction or activity. When we turn to evaluate a contract, the idea of "between consenting parties" is crucial in guiding our intuitions. Moreover, in our evaluation of the contract we will often need to look further than the contracting parties to see if there are significant consequences for parties that are not prima facie involved in the agreement at all.

As I argue above, no infant or small child can be party to any parenting agreement. Further, we must keep in mind that the child is the most vulnerable party affected by the parenting contract: small children are utterly dependent on their caretakers and could not survive without them. There is also reason to suppose (although I will not argue this here) that children require some amount of continuity of caretaking. These considerations suggest that we should limit freedom of the contracting parties. Of course, if we press on these considerations too much we might wind up with very little freedom for parents—back in the Orwellian world of parental licensing, with invasive scrutiny of parents' capabilities and motives. Cornell (2005) importantly constrains her contract model: she argues that although parents should contract for custody, once they have consented they must assume custodial responsibility for the rest of the child's life. Cornell's argument implicitly accepts the idea that we have obligations for others that do not depend on our ongoing consent. At the very least, our freedom to exit the contract is constrained by the interests of the child. If we accept Cornell's model of families in which parenting responsibilities flow from the interests of the child, the question still remains as to whether or not the initial obligation to parent arises only from an act of will.
I had written:
The objectives guiding the following proposals arc as follows:
1. To provide children with resources and caretakers who can attend to
their physical, emotional, and intellectual needs.
2. To make viable long-term relations between a child and a child's caregivers.
3. To allocate the privileges and responsibilities of child care equitably,
and, as a corollary to this, to recognize the special relation of pregnant mothers to the children they bear.
4. To ensure that laws designed for the micro level resonate positively
in broader social discourses.

The policies offered below in pursuit of these objectives are of course not immune to violation, just as current family laws may be disobeyed. However, because these alternatives are much more flexible than rules giving rise to our current child-rearing roles, they are far less likely to be broken. They are also conducive to inviting people to participate in forming families through a range of encounters, not just sexual ones, and therefore may enrich other relations by allowing for this potential to develop, while at the same time lessening the pressure on sexual ones.

No single item below should be considered in isolation from the others .
1. The government should provide health services to everyone, including
reproductive health services.
2. The government should make child-care services available to all parents.
3. Every child has one mother, the person who gave birth to him or her.
4. Every child shall have one or more parents. For purposes of legal custody, a parent is someone, including a mother, who adopts a child alone or in a group of two or more.
5. The adoption is valid until the child is twenty-one years of age.
6. The mother is responsible for finding one or more parents to raise
her child within three months of birth. She fulfills this responsibility either by (a) signing an enforceable contract with the state acknowledging that she is adopting the child by herself; or (b) by forming a larger group to legally adopt the child; or (c) by finding another adult or group that will sign this contract; or (d) by requesting that an officially sanctioned adoption agency perform these activities. No
money other than incidental fees can be exchanged for the purpose
of executing adoption contracts.
7. All adoption contracts will require minimum adult commitments to
child care.
8. Marriage is a purely private activity, receiving no recognition as a legal status by any government agency.

Taken together, the above proposals would directly accomplish the rather mundane objectives mentioned, the goals of which differ not much if at all from those offered by mainstream and even conservative commentators on the family. One would be hard pressed to find the critic advocating family policy designed to increase children's chances of being malnourished, unsafe, and stupid. The major difference between the present framework for family policies and the one used to develop the above recommendations is that the latter does not attempt to meet its objectives
through mediated, confusing, and unfounded religious aims or genetic fantasies.
Cornell says parenting contracts should be for life. While such ties over life are definitely something to aim for, it seems very important to make sure the rules governing child rearing are narrowly tailored to the task. People can survive and flourish even if their parental units break up after they are twenty-one; this may not true for children who are younger. I selected twenty-one as a possible threshold, because that is is the age when most people in developed countries finish their formal education. The number is based on the belief that parents should commit to making education a financial possibility for their children. I am not sure that this is really right. Perhaps the state should guarantee funding for her education, or perhaps the interest of the child in an education beyond high school does not outweigh the parents' desire to cease what may well be uncomfortable relations among each other or with the child by that time. That is, as a social value as well as a utilitarian one, we can imagine a calculus that gives heavy weight to family stability, whatever form that family takes, but does not ignore tensions that arise inn any social setting, especially such a demanding one as the family, tensions that themselves make for an unhappy home.

From a child's point of view, the need for the family to be stable and nurturing decreases over time. While of course one prefers those caring for children to be always on good terms, a child's survival depends less on this over time. Conceptually, then, there is a point at which considerations of parental discord trump the interest of the child . That point will depend on the particularities of the situation. None of this requires that families dissolve their emotional and other ties; it merely ends their legal responsibilities, and even here the agreements may be revisited with a new contract.
Satz writes:
Arguments such as those by Stevens and others in Adoption Matters certainly provide a needed corrective to the tendency of our society to engage in gene fetishism. But how compelling are they on their own? What of the mother who is lackadaisical about her pregnancy while the father concerns himself with the health of the growing fetus and makes preparations for its birth?
What of a woman who is a gestational surrogate for another woman? Suppose that a woman who objects to abortion on religious grounds carries a child to term. Why does her gestation establish a claim to motherhood in the absence of any desire to have a child? Against the view that fathers have no parental rights, it might be argued that men may engage in procreation explicitly with the intent of assuming a caretaking role with their child. Having and raising children is central to the life that many men as well as women want. Even if genes alone do not give rise to rights, why can't a preconception commitment to shoulder the responsibilities associated with parenting give rise to some parental claims?14 A man can be involved in and take responsibility for even a newborn infant. He may have had long-standing relations with the mother, shared in her life over decades, and actively planned for the arrival of the child. Or he may have simply coerced her into sex. Perhaps biology and a demonstrated commitment to nurture can establish a father's claim to have the opportunity to maintain a tie with his genetic offspring. The problem with proposals like Stevens's is that they run the risk of locking women and men into traditional gender roles, wherein women by default must assume primary parenting responsibility for the newborn child. These observations show, I think, that we cannot define parental rights without taking into account the needs of children for secure ties with their caregivers (which probably means giving biology some weight) and evaluating the extent of the reciprocity, care, and responsibility intended and shown by adult caregivers.

I had written:
Birth mothers contribute intensive,constant, long-term labor to reproduction that fathers do not. However, Locke believes that fathers can make up for this by making sure to provide for their children economically and, equally importantly, taking a strong role in ensuring their education. Importantly, Locke offers no language at
all to suggest he thinks women are incapable of providing these themselves--
e .g., canards about only men being strong enough to earn money or smart enough to teach. Rather, he presents these masculine stereotypes of breadwinner and teacher as those compensatory to men's inability to give birth and their desire to reciprocate for the life they have been given. While Locke himself makes these arguments to say that at minimum women have equal rights to parental authority to those of men, he
seems to hint at more far-reaching implications, and surely we can extend those today. If Locke is right—-that sperm itself does not give men any rights to the fetus—and if custody decisions must be made at birth, then the only person who has earned the prerogative to initiate these is the pregnant mother, a subject position inadequately represented in present law.

Cornell and other feminists who want to challenge the potentially restrictive
sex-role implications that might follow from such an emphasis on the specificity of pregnancy would probably respond that although only birth mothers are pregnant, nothing about this act precludes establishing pregnancy's equivalences with other activities, say, contributing money or time in child-raising. Indeed Cornell makes just this point, turning around the Lockean position outlined above by using the fact of such compensations as evidence there is nothing so special about pregnancy.
But are these apt comparisons? Is it sensible to consider pregnancy as just one more form of nurturance, one that is equivalent to, for instance, driving a child to soccer practice or saving money for her college education?

The felicity of such analogies depends on whether we agree that the risks, excruciating pain, and uninterrupted dedication to the physical task of pregnancy can be equated with the cumulative labors invested in other life-sustaining enterprises, such as contributing food, shelter, and other goods and emotional attentions to an infant and child.

Pregnancy as Sui Generis
A further objection to equating pregnancy with financial support alone
is that the equivalence seems to call forth the idea of blood money that offends common sensibilities in other contexts. lf we take offense at flesh as collateral for money (Shakespeare 1965), then perhaps we should also take offense at the Lockean offer of fathers paving for education and providing inheritances as a way of paying off the debt that sons owe their mothers, for in that situation a woman 's flesh is literally being taken from her, in exchange for financial consideration given her child (as payment of debt for one's own birth) (Locke 1988, I . 55 and passim). Pregnancy involves one's entire body being at the beck and call of another human organism twenty-four hours a day for several months. And pregnancy entails a non-negligible risk of death. Some commentators have pointed out the relative safety of the abortion procedure in contrast to giving birth as a basis for invoking Good Samaritan laws as the grounds kw abortion rights. But analogies to hypothetical Good Samaritan laws for organ donors—suggesting that criminalizing abortion would b e
like requiring kidney transplants of unwilling donors—do not hold, for reasons that are somewhat revealing. Not only do current medical ethics not require such sacrifices, the norm is that they would not allow them, as pregnancies threaten the donor's life, require huge amounts of forbearance and hardship, and are physically intrusive. Our medical ethics guidelines seek to shelter individuals from such sacrifices and are especially cautious in the area of financial remuneration.
The point is not that a sexualized body should never be regarded in terms of labor power, one feminist critique of prostitution, but rather, that the very particular harms and risks expected of pregnant women are so enormous that no liberal society would allow this, that pregnancy itself would be rejected altogether by the same principle that liberals forbid slavery, even as a so-called choice-—a practice with which women 's reproductive choice activists have sometimes, quite aptly, analogized unwanted pregnancies. The very arguments distinguishing the condition of pregnancy for purposes of abortion rights arguments resonate in calls for acknowledging the condition of pregnancy as one that entails special legal recognition. While it is unconstitutional for states to allow even mutually consensual slavery, and it is on against all norms of medical ethics to expect one individual to put her life at risk to preserve another, there is no discussion of legislation to protect women from the potential harms of pregnancy.

The dangers of pregnancy notwithstanding, the U .S. Department of Health and Human Services has not invoked the Hippocratic Oath's maxim of "First Do No Harm" as grounds for prohibiting pregnancy, which suggests that this is an act that really is sui generis. Unlike Cornell, my own objection to Fineman's "Mother/Child" dyad is not based on its wrongly excluding people from the category, but on it wrongly including those as "mothers " who do not labor to bear children. Current laws wrongly instill a dichotomy between genetic and adoptive parents and also fail to distinguish the contributions of' a woman's pregnancy to the life of her child, raising the question of new laws that would remedy these fables and lacunae.

No doubt Satz and others can find flaws in the arguments that privilege the pregnant mother as the default person who makes an initial custody decision but these should be stated, as opposed to Satz ignoring these points altogether. The lackadaisical pregnant mother every bit as much as the fastidious one risks her life through pregnancy. If Satz dislikes the principle of risk, pain and labor behind the decision rule I argue for, or if she thinks it is possible to for a "lackadaisical mother" to avoid these during pregnancy, then it would be great to hear why this is the case.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

U.S. Taxpayers Paying $30.4 Billion for Bigoted Gated Community: Israel

According to the New York Times (7/28/07 A1), the U.S. will be ratcheting up its aid to Israel to $30.4 billion for military aid alone over the next ten years. Israel already tops the world in its per capita military spending. In fact, Israel's military spending is virtually off the chart, at $1,429.03 per person over 40% higher than the second country on the list, Singapore, which spends $1,009.94. Third on the list is the United States, at $935.64/person annually, a number that is stunning when one considers that, like Iceland, which spends nothing on its military, the U.S. has secure borders. Its only enemies are there as a result of the U.S. military occupation in the Middle East. If the U.S. had not put military bases in Saudi Arabia and supported Israel, Al Qaeda would not be targeting the U.S.

In other words, the high military budgets are creating conflicts for Israel and the U.S., not solving them. Think about the negotiated settlements Israel would have to contemplate without a virtually infinite military budget allowing them to assassinate and imprison Palestinians, and about the absence of a terrorist haven in Iraq if the U.S. had not overthrown the guy maintaining, if not law, at least order in that country, which posed no threat to the U.S. until the U.S. army invaded.

Challenging the idea of checkbook security is that despite (because!) of hundreds of billions spent in Iraq, the area is a disaster zone on numerous dimensions, from the hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed and maimed to the absence of running water. Even in Afghanistan, where the U.S. had a more legitimate claim to invade, military spending is not leading to anyone's safety. One reporter writes for the Boston Globe:
one thing that money can't buy these days in Afghanistan is security. Although the United States, which now has about 35,000 trained troops, members of the Taliban walk the streets openly in four provinces. Resurgent Taliban fighters recently executed a female prison warden and three men accused of being foreign spies.

Instead of giving $30.4 billion to the Israeli military, why not reduce their budget to zero until it becomes a civilized country? Israel shocks the rest of the world's conscience because they have done to Palestinians what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe under the Nuremberg laws: deny previously legal residents citizenship based strictly on criteria of heredity. I, who have spent very little time there (when I was visiting through a program designed to turn teenage Jews into Zionists--the result was my allergy to nationalism), am eligible for citizenship that has been denied to people who were born and raised there. It is appalling that the U.S. government, which claims to support civil rights and equality, would tolerate much less gild the military regime attached to this illiberal, repressive, and decidedly undemocratic country. The image is from last summer, July 28, 2006, when Israel launched a missile landing on an apartment building in Lebanon.

Friday, July 20, 2007

States without Citizens

A while back Jeremy Tamanini, a Fulbright Scholar in Dubai with his own blog, wrote asking for some references to help him think about the strange citizenship arrangements in the United Arab Emirates:
In the UAE, Emirati citizens are less than 20% of the total population, and this number continues to shrink. My article is about how a government "services" a population of primarily non-citizens, how the "public" and "private" interact in the realms of health care and education, and the balancing act for an unelected government in addressing citizen and expatriate constituencies. I hope to contextualize the UAE situation a bit in comparing it to other similar demographic situations, but as you point out, these are difficult to come by.

Any references or articles you could point me too would be much appreciated.

While the situation in the UAE is more extreme than other countries, and also has some unique characteristics--since being deprived of citizenship there means losing out on the massive amounts of oil wealth its "native" population receives--it is by no means unique, as Jeremy recognizes. Indeed all countries make the same distinction in the UAE: even poor countries prevent those without birthright nationality from becoming citizens under many circumstances, and may even expatriate women who marry foreigners. As a research question, the problem of the "guest worker" has extensive bibliographies and I'm not going to provide one here-- but I will talk about a few relevant books that I've found interesting. (If you want a start on the bibliography, you might consult this thoughtfully assembled list of suggestions from the American Association of University Professors, though it seems to be a bit U.S.-centric.)

The book that deals with this question most provocatively, and I believe incorrectly, is Yasmin Soysal, The Limits of Citizenship (1994), where she suggests that to the extent the European Union was providing equal benefits for citizens and non-citizen workers, citizenship per se was not crucial to welfare rights. She misreads T.H. Marshall's classic book Citizenship and Social Class (1950) and claims that he overlooked the possibility that populations could obtain social benefits without political rights. In fact Marshall begins by discussing patronizing protectionist Poor Laws designed to assist women, paupers, and children, and suggests citizenship developed as a struggle against these very policies that are now in place in the EU, that also are distinguishing between those who can run the government and those whom the government will administer.

A really excellent book as a model for how to integrate theoretical with ethnographic approaches to this question is Ayhan Kaya, Sicher in Kreuzberg. Constructing Diasporas: Turkish Hip-Hop Youth in Berlin (2001). (Ayhan chaired my department when I taught in Istanbul at Bilgi University.) I like this book because it gives really detailed statistics on changes in German demography and laws AND shows how these have consequences for emerging subcultures, in this case, Turkish Hip-Hop. It's at least two books in one (it also has a great discussion of methodology), and you might want to take a look to see if the approach might by helpful for the UAE.

In the U.S. context, the best book on Mexican labor laws crafted to suit the needs of industry and not Mexicans residing and working in the U.S. is Joseph Nevins, Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the 'Illegal Alien' and the Making of the U.S.-Mexican Boundary (2001).

I haven't read any scholarly works but based on what I read in the newspaper it seems that the situation in the U.A.E. is a form of aristocracy and monarchy, where those mythologized as closest to the hereditary leaders by descent form a closed group that controls the wealth. The redistribution of wealth to a small number of people buys their loyalty, a bribe so they won't agitate for such craziness as a Parliament that would make laws and not just advise the royalty. (Come to think of it, it seems that the United States has moved far closer to the UAE than they have to us.)

The other books I would suggest would be anything about the history of the Ottoman Empire and the reconfiguration of borders following WWI, as this makes clear the utter arbitrariness of the distinctions being treated as long-standing national affinities. In fact the name itself "United Arab Emirates" performs this arbitrariness.

Finally, at the risk of seemingly shameless self-promotion, you might want to look at chapters 3 and 4 in my book Reproducing the State (1999), as these provide numerous examples of how citizenship laws based on beliefs of hereditary descent come to be established. Good luck and keep me posted! Image is from recent article in Gulfnews.com about foreign labor.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Best Reporting on Pedro Guzman Deportation

Daniel Hernandez of the LA Weekly has been to Tijuana with Pedro Guzman's mother and spent time with his family in Lancaster. Here's an excerpt:
“They say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen him, I’ve seen him, I’ll come back.’ And they never come back,” says Maria Carbajal, 49, in Spanish. It’s a Wednesday in June, one of several times I am with Carbajal on her search. “Look, here are some alleys. There are two guys there lying down. Let’s go look.”....In the news, Guzman’s case sounded like a real-life version of the 1987 Cheech Marin movie Born in East L.A., in which Marin’s character is accidentally deported and spends most of the film comically searching for a return home from Tijuana. But it wasn’t the first time such a real and not-so-funny case had made the papers. In September 1977, a U.S. citizen named Daniel Cardona was wrongfully deported from Clovis, near Fresno. The L.A. Times reported in 1981: “The mentally-disturbed young man, who is unable to care for himself, wandered the streets of Tijuana for almost five months before his frantic family found him. He had to be hospitalized for two weeks before he was allowed back into the country.”

Hernadez's story points out the anguish the deportation is causing for Guzman's family, and also the persisting mystery of how this happened; it's a fascinating read. Hernandez writes that even the ACLU attorney given access to overseeing the Memorandum of Understanding allowing ICE to deport from the LA jails does not know the process for how this happens and, in the excerpt above, points out that a wrongful deportation occurred at least once, in 1977. Perhaps if more were known of the interview and statement signing process ICE oversees then Guzman's particular case would be less confusing. Image from "Born in East L.A." movie poster.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

If the ACLU is Right, Chertoff is Running a Kidnapping Ring

The legal briefs filed by both sides in the case of Guzman v. Chertoff et al., decided by Judge Dean Pregerson on June 14, 2007 present numerous disputes of fact and law. The initial brief authored on behalf of Pedro Guzman "by and through his next friend, Juan Carlos Chabes," a legal device to use his step-brother to sue because Guzman is missing, states three causes of action:

1) Violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments--"DHS's deportation of Pedro Guzman and its refusal to find him and return him to the United States violates Mr. Guzman's...rights to procedural and substantive due process and equal protection."
2) Violation of the Eighth Amendment--the DHS deportation "constitutes banishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel or unusual punishment" (because punishment of citizens must take the form of fines or imprisonment, not exile).
3) Mandamus, when the courts order the Executive Branch to perform certain actions consistent with the intent of the law: "Respondents have a nondiscretionary duty not to deport United States citizens and to ensure their return if they are wrongfully deported."

The judge noted in his decision that because the DHS was recognizing Guzman as a citizen and because the circumstances of the deportation were not clear, he would not issue any findings against the DHS, including granting emergency relief, on the grounds that executive agencies' "decisions about how to allocate its on-the-ground human resources is quintessentially within such discretion." This is a judgment call, and while Pregerson cites cases making this point, other courts have made opposite determinations. I'll discuss the cases for both sides in another posting, but want to make a more basic observation about what seems to be really at stake in this case, whether Guzman was kidnapped.

As has been noted before here, the situation seems surreal, with the judge clearly disturbed by what happened and yet not buying the legal arguments advanced on Guzman's behalf. Perhaps this is because they are coming from specialists in immigration law and Guzman is not an immigrant. If Guzman was, as the brief claims, taken against his will and removed to another country, then this is first and foremost a kidnapping case. Treating it as a case involving violation of the immigration laws tacitly if not overtly accedes to the Government's prerogative to treat him as a wrongfully self-identified immigrant, as opposed to a citizen the government kidnapped and brought to Tijuana against his will. The ACLU is right to say that the government cannot deport citizens, but at least as importantly, the government cannot kidnap its citizens.

None of the immigration cases cited by the plaintiff are closely related to the facts the Guzman brief alleges, that of an individual whom the June 10, 2007 statement says is "developmentally disabled and has mental health problems" and who "did not knowingly and voluntarily authorize federal officials to deport him to Mexico." Perhaps the reason that the immigration decision seems "surreal" is that this is not an immigration case, but a potential kidnapping case and the Guzman family and their advocates might want to enlist a local prosecutor on Pedro Guzman's behalf.

California Penal Code section 207 defines kidnapping as follows:
a) Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.

(b) Every person, who for the purpose of committing any act defined in Section 288, hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces by false promises, misrepresentations, or the like, any child under the age of 14 years to go out of this country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.

(c) Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, takes or holds, detains, or arrests any person, with a design to take the person out of this state, without having established a claim, according to the laws of the United States, or of this state, or who hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces by false promises, misrepresentations, or the like, any person to go out of this state, or to be taken or removed therefrom, for the purpose and with the intent to sell that person into slavery or involuntary servitude, or otherwise to employ that person for his or her own use, or to the use of another, without the free will and consent of that persuaded person, is guilty of kidnapping.

(d) Every person who, being out of this state, abducts or takes by force or fraud any person contrary to the law of the place where that act is committed, and brings, sends, or conveys that person within the limits of this state, and is afterwards found within the limits thereof, is guilty of kidnapping.

Because the Plaintiff's brief treated the DHS wrongdoing as a violation of Guzman's rights, and not as a violation of the criminal code, Judge Pregerson was able to confine his analysis to the bureaucratic question of whether the DHS was following its policies and could ignore the bigger picture, which is that even if the DHS were following its policies, if these policies resulted in the deception of someone with the end of taking him to another country, then this would be a violation of the criminal law against kidnapping and a judge would have to weigh the Congressional authorization of DHS latitude in deportation against the federal and state laws against the desire to limit kidnapping.

If as a result of kidnapping the victim is missing, this does not preclude a trial on the facts of the abduction, with discovery and deposition of government witnesses in order to build a case. The definition of kidnapping does not require the use of overt force but occurs if the accused "instill[s] fear," which is plausible for a jail situation involving someone with limited mental capacities. It would be the responsibility of the jail and DHS to ensure that the deportation was a result of a freely given admission of Mexican citizenship untainted by fear, taking into account that this will vary among those incarcerated. If through discovery the prosecution unearthed evidence that Guzman agreed to deportation out of fear, then using his consent obtained on this basis to remove him to Mexico would constitute kidnapping.

Naming what the DHS and the LA County Jail did to Guzman as a crime, if the facts are as the ACLU states, raises the bar for all sides to delve into the evidence and make a determination. The government should not violate our Constitutional rights, no doubt, but if they do so in the course of kidnapping citizens, then this certainly should provoke immediate investigation and possibly criminal charges.

The image is from the cover of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped(1886), which is about an uncle tricking his nephew into going on a ship Covenant, the beginning of his treacherous meanderings resulting from the uncle's efforts to deny the boy his inheritance.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Forget about the Gym, Join the Army!

I was just working on some ideas for the global politics game I'm designing for my teaching, a spin-off from the agoraXchange project, and was thinking about incorporating features from the NBA lottery so I did a google search and ended up on InsideHoop.com. When I clicked on the link I wanted the image on top popped up.

The text stating "The benefits of being in the Army last a lifetime" sounds like a recruiting pitch from Gold's Gym. The rest of the ad stresses "Allowances and Bonuses" and "Vacation Time," leaving out the bits about being targeted for a violent death and having to kill people. Nor is there any mention of the substantive purpose of the military presence there, even the pretextual one of stopping terrorism.

It used to be mercenary armies were made up of foreigners, but now the government is running a private war and can only recruit citizens by the same incentives Halliburton might use. It's common knowledge that the army cannot meet its recruiting goals, but alas Cheney-Bush have only a very partial affinity for the free market. If the army cannot recruit because this war is so unpopular that it cannot overcome knee-jerk nationalism, then perhaps this is a sign that it's not worth fighting.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Waiting for Pedro Guzman

On May 12, 2007 U.S.-citizen Pedro Guzman was oxymoronically if not illegally deported from Los Angeles to Tijuana. (You can find earlier posts on the details of the deportation by clicking on the Guzman tag to the right.) He's still gone and we're still waiting for him to be found.

The title here recalls Samuel Beckett's absurdist play "Waiting for Godot" (1939), about... well, we don't quite know and neither do the characters, whose relation to Godot is unclear. We're led to believe Godot's arrival is imminent and important, as well as impossible and irrelevant.

I talked by phone yesterday with Michael Soller, spokesperson for the ACLU in Southern California, which is representing Guzman's family in an effort to pressure the U.S. government to locate him. Guzman is still missing, despite the services of a private investigative firm now searching for him. "The family gets tips that haven't panned out," Soller said. The latest is "from a truck driver who thinks he may have hired Pedro Guzman in Tijuana and taken him to Juarez. It's one theory that we're looking into right now."

Soller conveyed that the family's position is that Pedro Guzman is not fully functional and that any document he signed consenting to his deportation after he served his jail sentence in the L.A. county jail was a result of confusion and illiteracy, not a premeditated statement of an incorrect nationality. This raises questions about how to evaluate mental competence, a tricky matter in general and especially fraught when the person in question is absent.

Is Guzman in Mexico because he wants to be, for his own personal reasons, and we are waiting for someone who would prefer us to forget about him so he can quietly return on his own terms, or is Guzman a lost soul who requires the resources of the U.S. government if he is to be reunited with his family? This controversy about Guzman is not of his doing--he did not set out to make a point about the idiocy of U.S. deportation policies--and may not even be his preference.

The ACLU is advancing a claim of Guzman's incompetence, in its public statements as well as legal briefs. Soller mentioned in our phone call that Guzman's family says he can drive only by following other people and that he doesn't have his brother's cellphone number memorized, but can call only after consulting a piece of paper where he has it in writing. Pedro Guzman's brother told the ACLU that Pedro held a job requiring few skills (laying cement) and was able to pass a driver's license test by memorizing the answers. Moreover, as I wrote earlier, the manager of the Lancaster airport where Guzman was initially arrested, who knew nothing of the deportation controversy, told me that his behavior on March 31, 2007 fell under the "category of mental illness." (Guzman tried boarding a charter airplane preparing to leave and persisted until the police arrived.)

Of course without my cellphone I too would require a scrap of paper to call people; and I have a few friends with PhDs who have not been able to perform the memorization feats mastered by Guzman and can only go wherever their friends or a bus driver take them. I asked Soller why he thought Guzman was able to call his brother on May 12, but did not call again. Soller said he did not know why that was but that he had heard Guzman was "aloof" and therefore unlikely to impose on strangers--though of course at one point he did use someone else's cell phone.
Guzman's actual mental state notwithstanding, one pattern does seem apparent.

Lying behind Guzman's unrequested notoriety are the acts of someone who was doing his best to leave Lancaster: he was arrested for barging onto a charter airplane and refusing to leave; and then for whatever reason, when he was released after serving jail time he ends up leaving town by becoming--willingly or not--an alien. This does not mean that Guzman is doing this in a calculated, logical fashion, but at some level his behavior perhaps suggests a desire to be elsewhere.

This speculation interests me but I also believe that, right or wrong, it is deeply problematic. Instead of focusing on Guzman's motivations, attention should be directed to the mindset behind our immigration laws and the second-class legal status afforded those who are not born here. At several points Soller used the word "surreal" to describe the legal landscape of Guzman's case, including the contradiction between the Judge's verbal statements of concern and his written opinion letting the DHS do what it please.

Soller's right. It is surreal that a country of immigrants should be quizzing anyone, including jail inmates, on their place of birth and then using this information to move them outside the borders of where they live. The irrationality and dysfunctionality requiring serious investigation is not that of Pedro Guzman, but the population management policies of the U.S. government. As I mentioned in a previous post, U.S.-Americans have been known to use nationality strategically--by falsely representing their citizenship. If it turns out that Guzman did so, that would not inoculate the U.S. government from charges of wrong-doing, but be evidence of a more hilarious culpability, that the paranoia around citizenship would turn into an early release from jail and a free one-way ticket to Mexico.

To be very clear, there is no evidence that this is what happened with Guzman, but there is nothing in our law or the record of how Guzman was handled that would contravene this possibility. To expect a legal system that is insanely xenophobic to responsibly determine anyone's mental competence is like asking Hannibal Lecter to give out Eagle Scout badges, and anyone who deports a resident is not entirely sane but someone with a widely shared mental incapacity. As thousands of academic studies--from history to economics--indicate, it is lunatic policy to make people live here or there because of place of birth; people who insist on this are not of sound mind.

In the event, I now have what I believe is a complete set of all the court filings associated Guzman v. Chertoff, the government's case history, so to speak, and I will be reviewing the legal arguments both sides are making tomorrow. The motives of the government's actions toward all residents, aliens and citizens alike, are far more important than the unknown and possibly unknowable circumstances of Guzman's deportation.

As for the facts on the ground, stay tuned as LA Weekly reporter Daniel Hernandez soon will be writing in that publication on his travels to Tijuana with Guzman's mother. We spoke a couple of days ago and he has an interesting story to tell.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

World Hoop Day

On 07/07/07 I was with a few hundred people hula-hooping in Central Park, celebrating the first annual World Hoop Day in concert with similar events everywhere from Alabama to Croatia to South Africa. I was there because my girlfriend just locked picture on her documentary about the hooper subculture, "The Hoop Life," though she was happily filming professionals twirling hoops from nose to toes as well as families taking their first spin on the hoop, thinking it might find its way into the credit reel. (For the record, my friend Dalton says I hoop like someone who has to hoop because her girlfriend is making a film about hooping.)

Taking in the scene I overheard a guy who looked like he starched his t-shirt; he was talking to his wife, his eyes lit up with delight as his 3 year-old son was shooting the hoop around his waist for the first time, mostly watching it fall immediately, sometimes after a spin or two: "Who is in charge of this? Who's sponsoring this?" Dad wondered, unable to comprehend that people might actually create a public event without a corporate logo or a 503(c) cause. It's a sad sign that Bloomberg has gone to such great lengths to sell every spec of "public" space that the question seemed so relevant.

The group that did the most for the NYC event is called Groove Hoops, an artistic, Burner-friendly dance performance hoop troupe based in Brooklyn. They spent June making dazzling hoops of all colors and sizes from polyurethane tubing, invited passersby on Sheep's Meadow to use them during the day, and then around 6:30 gave the remaining hoops away for a thank-you. (Kids were not allowed to just pick them up and walk away, but encouraged to come up and thank the people who made them, a short introduction into the gift economy.)

The spirit of that event is why Amy wanted to make this documentary, about possibilities of sharing culture, community, ritual in ways that are inclusive and creative. She tells people that in the aftermath of 9-11 and the fear on all sides that it inspired, she set about to find a group that could do community better, and she found hoopers. Anyone who says that without birthright heritage, e.g., ethnicity, nationality, or race, culture vanishes hasn't been following what's going on with hoopers and Burning Man, not to mention bridge clubs or Oakland Raider fans.

Mr. Cardboard T-shirt who, without solicitation, sought out a stranger so he could give away his money on 7-7-7 joined this hoop community. At least for a few moments. The challenge is to keep the hoop revolution moving.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Why Not Indict Rumsfeld for Lying to Congress?

Seymour Hersch's latest expose of the Bush Administration's thuggery is another juicy collection of insider information. He's had a long talk with Army Major General Antonio Taguba, who tells Hersch that under Rumsfeld the U.S. violated the Geneva Convention--ammunition for a war crime charge that the Center for Constitutional Rights has been trying to make stick for the last couple of years. And while this is certainly a noble cause, in the meantime why not take the low fruit, a simple open and shut case of lying to Congress (USC Title 18, section 1001) about his knowledge of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib?

As Hersch's article and other articles make clear, most of the evidence against Rumsfeld is in the public record. Hersch writes:

In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman, acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January [2004, when the abuses first were reported] information about the photographs had been given “to me and the Secretary up through the chain of command. . . . And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described.”

(Uncharacteristically, Hersch omits the details of this testimony and I have not been able to find the date or committee to which it was given. The dates and committees for other statements by officials are well-documented in the article.)

In the next paragraph Hersch writes: "Nevertheless, Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th [2004], claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. "It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn't say, 'Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,'' Rumsfeld told the congressmen. 'I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn't."

Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba report appeared, 'it was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge.'"

So leaving aside all the inferences from Rumsfeld's control-freak personality, knowledge of how the chain-of-command works, and the statements about the specific instructions for interrogation transported via General Miller from Guantanamo, if Hersch is right about the public record, this means that:

1) The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that information about the "abuse" at Abu Grahib had been given "to me and the Secretary..." in January, 2004, or three months before Rumsfeld told Congress he first knew of it.


2) In a newspaper article published on July 15, 2005, Stephen Hedges writes in the Baltimore Sun that General George Miller, the guy who brought Gitmo to Abu Ghraib, said he briefed Rumsfeld aides Paul Wolfowitz and Stephen Cambone in Fall, 2004, after returning from Iraq: ""Following our return in the fall, I gave an outbrief to both Dr. Wolfowitz and Secretary Cambone." Hedges says that Congress never asked Wolfowitz about what he knew and when he knew it.

(For more highly persuasive circumstantial evidence on what Rumsfeld knew, see Lila Rajiva's post "The Don in Denial" on her blog The Mind-Body Politic.)

Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld were in frequent, daily contact. Documentation of these conversations in some form must exist and now that the Democrats are running Congress this might be a good time to subpoena them. Likewise, the old guard is crumbling and it might be easier now to find remorseful ex-officials happy to relieve their consciences.

The Congressional testimony and documents can be obtained immediately but the trial needs to wait until Bush leaves office, which still leaves Rumsfeld's crime within the statute of limitations. One sad lesson the Republicans have taught is that it's not enough to convict government officials for them to go to jail; the Bush criminal gang needs to be thrown out so that they might be actually punished. The statute of limitations on lying to Congress is five years. And the penalty is five years, too. If there's one brave U.S. Attorney General still standing, perhaps she will take this to heart, but she needs to wait until late January, 2008 or the only accomplishment will be another Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card issued by what Taguba aptly calls the Mafia. Images from People's Daily article on Rumsfeld's Congressional testimony for May 7, 2004.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Pink Pistol Whipping Lesbians

Heard about this one from my friend Lisa Duggan, Director of the American Studies Program at NYU and primo observer of all things pink and lesbian, who sent a few queer theory professors a link to a Bill O'Reilly segment on "Lesbian Gangs."

After viewing it, someone on the list wrote: "At last! My long cherished hope that the moral panics around race, gender, and sexuality would just get it over with and converge
one stable scapegoat has at long last been realized!!"

As I was watching it, my girlfriend said it looked like a "Daily Show" spoof, and indeed it does, all these earnest middle aged guys talking about the lesbian threat in tones usually reserved for Al Qaeda. Turns out that among other inventions, revealed and linked on a well-documented posting about this by Jeff Hoard here, O'Reilly used a montage of footage from a youtube video of a "chick fight" over a man and a few other lies and exaggerations to make it seem that, just as he'd feared all along, lesbians have finally resorted to guns to win converts.

One sentiment popping up all over the blogosphere is a "wishful thinking" sentiment: if ONLY there were lesbian avengers, so to speak. For instance, Chris Dykstra writes: "I am ready to be a foot-soldier in a lesbian gang! Choose me! Me! Me! Me!" Fear of violence focuses attention. Following 9-11 sales of the Koran immediately quintupled and Penguin had to airlift copies into the U.S. to keep up with demand. A reporter for the Boston Globe wrote on October 5, 2001, "Interest in Islam - a religion that was largely unknown to many Americans before Sept. 11 - is suddenly pervasive. Today, Oprah Winfrey is dedicating her television talk show to the topic 'Islam 101.'"

Alas, the lesbian gangs and Al Qaeda are far less violent and becoming more legitimate than the ones being run under the flag of the United States. Maybe Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush are right about one thing: when the U.S. is militarily defeated in the Middle East it will lose its ideological stature there as well. And not a second too soon. This is by no means to say that the other gangs waiting in the wings are an improvement, but that a world without U.S. hegemony is better than one with it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Common Sense from Helen, Abe, and Joseph

A commemorative quotation, from Thomas Paine's "Common Sense": "Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." Published February 14, 1776.

I had dinner last night with some friends of friends, Helen and Abe, and their friend Joseph (not their real names). Someone asked how Abe and Helen met and married, over sixty years ago, which brought up their stories of escaping Nazi Europe (Helen from Germany and Abe from Switzerland). My girlfriend asked Joseph if he also had come here because he was Jewish, too. He said, "No, my family wasn't Jewish, but I was beat up a lot in school so they decided I should leave and come here."
"But why were you being beat up?" she asked.
"Because the Nazi rules said my family was Jewish." (His father was sent to Dachau, but released after six months when he "sold" the family business to an SS guard at the camp.)

Joseph's problem was not unusual. Many Jews in Germany were assimilating before the Nazis took power, in part as a result of laws that prohibited Jews from becoming professors or holding public office at the turn of the century, and in part because of alienation from the Jewish community and an attraction to Christianity. For instance, the father of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, had converted from Judaism to Lutheranism in 1886; and his student, Edith Stein, converted to Catholicism in 1921 and became a Carmelite nun, before being killed at Auschwitz.

For some the conversions were shams but many others, including Husserl, became devout, practicing Christians. Being attacked for belonging to a national religion that they themselves had abandoned, with no doubt some feelings of betrayal and loss, might be experienced with a special bitterness. At least that's how Joseph sounded.

I'd just finished reading Norman Finkelstein's insightful, brave book The Holocaust Industry and while I agree with most of what he writes, the book is only half the story, overlooking folks such as Helen, Abe, and Joseph, that is, survivors of Nazi Germany who quickly and clearly see the outlines of Nazi policies in the apparently workaday happenings of everyday life in so-called liberal societies, especially this one. They have no desire to participate in the Holocaust Industry Finkelstein describes, but rather use their familiarity with fascism and discrimination in Germany to orient themselves to its presence here. After John Aschcroft was nominated to be the Attorney General, Abe sent a letter to 100 Senators urging them to vote against his appointment. (And of course Abe is now disgusted by the fact that Gonzalez makes Ashcroft seem like a good person.)

They are all strong supporters of Barack Obama and Helen told me how she arrived two hours before he was scheduled to speak two years ago, was told there was no more room, but eventually was allowed in. The thing that impressed Abe from what Helen had told his was that whereas the African-American professors from Harvard and Yale were saying that Brown versus the Board of Education didn't help Blacks one bit, Obama went up to the microphone and said that if it weren't for that decision, those academics wouldn't even be there to complain about it. And that is how we returned to the question that Joseph had posed at the beginning of the meal: what did the recent Supreme Court decision on handling segregated schools really mean. He had read the entire 160 page document. Abe confided in me that he thought using a racial designation for a legal policy, as the school district had been doing to force integration, was not the right way to do things and shrugged his shoulders, acknowledging he was endorsing a Republican position. I appreciated his honesty and ability to see the situation as a complicated one.

Eventually the conversation turned to the immigration debates. The minute I mentioned the predawn ICE raid at UC Santa Barbara and the arrest and 13 day detention of a Korean student, Helen said, "That's just what the Nazis did!" Abe and Joseph, who had read the New York Times article about the woman who died in detention, deprived for days of her medication while her paperwork was being evaluated, were equally disturbed.

But why aren't more people? Why is the only person I have met in the last few years who has read a Supreme Court decision and is not an academic an octogenerian metal manufacturer? Why don't more people send letters to Senators to insist their views be heard? Perhaps it is the Holocaust's role in defining evil as a onetime only unique event in Europe, and therefore absolving citizens of responsibility for finding horrors elsewhere, so that U.S. abuses are normal government. Or maybe because the history of this country is not well understood by its inhabitants, who may know the vague story of the Indians' annihilation but be unfamiliar with the land grab from Mexico. Or maybe Max Weber was right when he wrote in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism of the shift from a society where people worked to be saved to one where they save to work:

The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which to-day determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. In Baxter's view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the "saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment". But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage.

When the imagination, moral and in all other ways, is stunted by the vacuity of obtaining private wealth, it becomes difficult to see anything other than a dollar sign.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Real Comprehensive Immigration Reform Package: I

The authors of S. 1639 thought that to push through enhancing legal protections for 12 million undocumented residents they had to take on other problems. It is true that the status of immigrants in this or any other country is not one that can be addressed in isolation of other political and economic circumstances. But the effort to "balance" security against immigrant rights undermined both causes.

Now that S. 1639 has been defeated, it is time to contemplate a truly comprehensive, sustainable immigration policy, one that addresses the roots of the legal quagmire facing immigrants and that also goes to the heart of deeper and broader economic inequities.

Here's the basic idea: there are a few laws that are really irrational and that result in nativism (and therefore war) and wealth concentrated in families (and therefore extreme inequality), as well as the abuse of the environment. If we could eliminate just these laws, four to be precise, then we would have the sort of society where immigration among countries would be no more problematic than immigration among the states in the United States.

Here are the laws that should be eliminated:
1) Birthright citizenship
2) Inheritance (wealth to be collected at death by a global agency that would redistribute it to pay for education, health, housing, clean water and sanitation, and so forth).
3) Marriage
4) Private ownership of land

This sounds like a lot, admittedly, and not clearly connected to the present debate about immigration reform. But since a key concern in immigration is the borders defining who "we" and "they" are, it is as important to think about how nationality is made before fixing immigration as it is to understand how a house is made before fixing a foundation. The laws regulating kinship, or laws about birth in a territory, give us the main rules for how most people become citizens. If we want to think about immigration, then we want to know more about why these are the main rules for membership, even in supposedly liberal societies that abhor birthright.

The laws above, in addition to contributing to violence and inequality, have two other qualities in common. First, they are rooted in anxieties about death and the alleviation of this through institutions that call for intergenerational remembrances. Hence they reflect psychotic efforts to shape the world in ways inconsistent with the experience of mortality. Humans have a finite lifespan, a fact with which the nation, inherited wealth, marriage and being able to damage the land past one's individual lifetime are incongruous.

Second, the laws reflecting psychic wounds of mortals also follow from the specific dynamics of, to put it bluntly, pregnancy envy and compensatory masculinities, whereby men play out infant fantasies of controlling reproduction, via law and not biology. That's all that kinship rules do: put men, regardless of genetic paternity, into relations with children. (For more on this, and all the anthropological references, read this: "Pregnancy Envy and Compensatory Masculinities," Gender and Politics(2005).

To be continued!

The proposals here are based on research in my first book, Reproducing the State (Princeton, 1999) and also a soon to be complete book manuscript "States without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals."

(Image is of Shulamith Firestone's cover of Airless Spaces. Firestone wrote the Dialectics of Sex (1970), a book arguing for a feminist revolution based on the technical change of incubators for babies. It's not obvious this is necessary for a revolution in the sex/gender system, but we do need a more rational understanding and recreation of pregnancy's meanings so that it is not both overvalued and undervalued, processes that result in our present kinship rules and therefore marriage policies.)
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