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Re: <nettime> The Messy, Dirty, Silly Interplay of Art and Activis Artiv
Benjamin Geer on Thu, 15 Nov 2007 14:03:53 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Messy, Dirty, Silly Interplay of Art and Activis Artivistic 2007

On 15/11/2007, tobias c. van Veen <tobias {AT} techno.ca> wrote:
> > I disagree.  I think the whole discourse of "rights" is useless
> > nonsense.
> Because you have them.

No, because so many of the ones I have are useless. For example, I
lived for most of my life in the US, which is a signatory to the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says that every human
being has a right to health care. A lot of good it did me in a country
with no public health care system, where you have to be rich to afford
good health care. What was I supposed to do? Go to a human rights
tribunal and argue that my rights have been violated because the US
has no public health care system? Even if the tribunal ruled in my
favour, would that solve the problem? Of course it wouldn't. Public
health care systems get created not because people have rights, but
because they have political power, the power to legislate and create
the institutions they need. And in the US, again, you don't have that
power unless you're rich. So Americans don't need more rights, they
need a new political system, one that gives power to the poor.

> As for the rest -- B., you mix up nation & territory. Political
> power for First Nations in Canada remains with the land for the
> single reason that is nondeconstructible: justice.

You're the one who's mixing up nation and territory here. Can a
territory have power? I think not.

> With land comes economic subsistence

So what makes you think people need to belong to "nations" in order to
have land? They had land for millions of years before the thoroughly
modern idea of "nation" was invented (in the 18th and 19th centuries).

> You want to deconstruct the land of the indigenuous?

No, I want human beings who need land to have land. I see no reason to
call them "indigenous" for that purpose.

> 'rights' speak the language, at least for now, of justice

I disagree completely. I think the whole discourse of rights was
invented in order to frustrate the efforts of the powerless to gain
power. This discourse says: You're poor and your vote doesn't count?
You shouldn't complain: you have lots of rights. Enjoy them!

> Canada is an unfinished colonial project. With what violence would
> you close its making?

"Canada" is just another nation-state, just another myth. It doesn't
matter what happens to it. What matters is how the people living
in that part of the world can create a political system that will
give the poor and powerless enough political power to ensure their
own well-being, whether they're "indigenous" or just homeless in
the streets of Toronto. Calling one group of people "indigenous"
and thinking that this makes their suffering somehow special,
to be treated differently, is actually to participate in the
divide-and-conquer strategies of the rich and powerful.

In Palestine, there are two groups of people fighting over ancestral
rights to the same small patch of land. Whose interests does that
conflict serve? Not those of the Palestinian poor, of course, nor
those of the Israeli poor. I think it just serves the interests of the
elites in both groups. If the poor and powerless in both groups got
together and made common cause, what might happen? The conflict might
be resolved, at the expense of both the nationalisms in question.

> Reserves are aporetic: the reserve is both prison and autonomous
> patch of territory consigned without care by colonial powers.
> Does a deconstructive politics mean to negate the Reserve
> and thus potential autonomy of -- is this too essential? --
> 'self-determination'? Heck no! In Canada a deconstructive politic
> means to engage the potential of the Reserve to de_nationalize
> Canada -- beginning with its colonial myth of English-French
> foundation. And here, well, maybe this is a special case: we *can*
> redistribute territory as, well, we've got a freakin' LOT of it.
> Imagine that.

Why not deconstruct both? As long as the end result is that everyone
who needs land gets land, why do you need a reserve? Why do you need
"indigenous" people? Why not just think in terms of human beings who
need land?

> > Rights don't matter.
> Which is why the privileged continue to dismiss them.

The privileged were the ones who invented the concept of rights, in
order to keep the poor from demanding power.


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