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Monday, November 14, 2016

Hannah Arendt, Donald Trump and the Stateless

Nativists Versus the Stateless

Around the world nativism is raising it's ugly head again. Some People in nations all over the world are rising in rejection of immigrants, refugees and minorities among their own people. This phenomena is not new. It is not trivial or benign either. It was a feature of totalitarianism in the 30s and since. It is also a feature of totalitarian groups.

Demagoguing Immigrants

Unfortunately, we just elected a Nativist President in the United States. His premier appointments are the open nativist Bannon and the racist Reince Prebius. The "alt right" is just an updated fascism. They are folks who openly admire Hitler as a hero and want to continue his work. People who proudly wear KKK robes and talk about race war and their own identity. They are openly fascist. And their target are people who are minorities, "mixed races" and the stateless. Nativism is as ugly now as it has ever been. And nativists are set to direct the country from the White House. Trump himself talks openly about his racialist beliefs, but mainly he is demagogueing the subject.

Trump is a Racist

Trumps belief in long discredited racial theories of a superior "Aryan Race" should not be surprising. Hannah Arendt in her Origins book notes that "racism is the main ideological weapon of imperialism." But she also traces the origins of the concept of racial superiority to the self justifications of aristocrats; "a race of aristocrats versus a race of citizens.

At the root of nativism are conflicts over land and resources associated with differences in religion, ethnicity, class, status or birth place. Aggravating that issue is the problem of statelessness. At the root of statelessness is that the notion of "citizen" is not always extended to everyone in a country. Nativism denies that people can be citizens in a land of diversity.

What is Statelessness?

The problem of statelessness produced by nativism. It is a product of internal conflict. Its generation is with nation states that refuse a right of birth citizenship to people of the wrong religion, ethnicity or origin. During the dark ages and middle ages people scattered themselves all about the world. However, they fought in tribal, familial and ethnic wars as well as dynastic ones between the nobility.

Who are the Stateless?

Along with enlightened ideas, the "enlightenment" of modernity spread the idea that people should be able to form ethnic states based on common identity. Unfortunately, since in reality people of all sorts are interpolated, this led to conflicts as former neighbors worked out old grudges and fights; Greeks and Turks, Christians and Muslims, Armenians and Turks. People who had lived side by side for centuries began fighting. And a new kind of fighting appeared. Sometimes the majority in a location would try to kill or force out entire populations that had lived side by side with them for many years. The result was refugees migrating to places they'd never lived before. Armenians and Jews, and now Turks and Syrians, found themselves seeking new homes. And sometimes the people who ought to have greeted them and provided them refuge have decided to reject them. The result is people who are citizens of neither the lands they left nor the place they arrived to.

Apatrides -- the stateless

Hannah Arendt used the Spanish/French/latin term "apatrides" -- the stateless -- to describe the displaced from World War I and it's thoughtless efforts to carve up Europe into Nation States based on odd combinations of language, race, religion and fratricidal history. She wrote:

“Much more stubborn in fact and much more far-reaching in consequence has been statelessness, the newest mass phenomenon in contemporary history, and the existence of an ever-growing new people comprised of stateless persons, the most symptomatic group in contemporary politics.” [Origins]

Defined as Non-Citizens

Hannah Arendt describes how the League of Nations had engendered the origin of statelessness by the

“transformation of the state from an instrument of the law into an instrument of the nation”



“national interest had priority over law”

long before Hitler could pronounce

“right is what is good for the German people”

Legitimizing and Stripping humanity from Humans

...she comments:

“Here again the language of the mob was only the language of public opinion cleansed of hypocrisy and restraint.” [Origins]

Civitas and Comity

When nations are based on concepts of "civitas" and "comity" race, creed or language become Personal matters and tribal issues become something to work out in courts or by buying different things in the market.

Defining People as Outlaws using arbitrary lines for Borders

When people are nativists, these things become an excuse for violence, oppression, dispossession. Thoughtless expressions of nationalism post World War I (and again periodically since) led to people who were faced with awful choices, from assimilating into places they never wanted to move to in the first place, to existing as definitional outlaws in places that ought to have been a home. Essentially Europe Gerrymandered Nations to try to remove people who were "minorities" from the politics of what had been their homes too.

Taking Refuge in Statelessness

Sometimes people;

“took refuge in statelessness after the first World War in order to remain where they were and avoid being deported to a "homeland" where they would be strangers (as in the case of many Polish and Rumanian Jews in France and Germany, mercifully helped by the antisemitic attitude of their respective consulates).” [Origins]

Outlaws in What Should be their Own Homes

Being stateless makes people outlaws within the place where they reside. The USA was once a refuge for the Stateless because our Government protected immigrants on the knowledge that they would eventually assimilate. The rise of nativism in the United States means that for many people in the world there is no longer any place of asylum for them. The Stateless become refugees. And refugees are forced to remain Stateless for generations. Even efforts to end statelessness produce new forms. Letting Jews move to Israel made the former residents of large parts of Israel stateless, as their neighbors (and relatives) refused them asylum or the right to citizenship. We are seeing something similar in Syria, Iraq and other countries with people forced out of their own homes.

The Loss of Asylum

Hannah writes:

“The first great damage done to the nation-states as a result of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of stateless people was that the right of asylum, the only right that had ever figured as a symbol of the Rights of Man in the sphere of international relationships, was being abolished."

History of the Principle of Asylum

"Its long and sacred history dates back to the very beginnings of regulated political life. Since ancient times it has protected both the refugee and the land of refuge from situations in which people were forced to become outlaws through circumstances beyond their control. It was the only modern remnant of the medieval principle that quid quid est in territorio est de terriloriu, for in all other cases the modern state tended to protect its citizens beyond its own borders and to make sure, by means of reciprocal treaties, that they remained subject to the laws of their country."

Subverting the Right of Asylum

"But though the right of asylum continued to function in a world organized into nationstates and. in individual instances, even survived both World Wars, it was felt to be an anachronism and in conflict with the international rights of the slate. Therefore it cannot be found in written law, in no constitution or international agreement, and the Covenant of the League of Nations never even so much as mentioned it."

Subverting Human Rights by Denying Asylum

"It shares, in this respect, the fate of the Rights of Man, which also never became law but led a somewhat shadowy existence as an appeal in individual exceptional cases for which normal legal institutions did not suffice.” [Origins page 281]

What is happening to the Stateless

Ironically the stateless have become the targets of nation state terrorism. They make convenient scapegoats. All it took was for the USA to elect a fearless leader and now we see the stateless once again labeled as potential terrorists and enemies of the State. What was once principally directed at Jews and Gypsies now has new targets. The anti-semetic Anti-Dreyfusards were a prototype for groups like those following Hitler, Stalin but also modern folks like Marie le Pen, Putin and now it loos like for Trump.

They found Scapegoats

The parallels aren't precise, but they are there. Once again there are people who think they can blend in while the mob gets excited and attacks their relatives and kin. Once again there are people determined to limit the concept of citizenship to those who look and believe alike.

Hannah and Niemoller

The target may be Muslims today, or Latin Americans yesterday, but the stateless make a convenient target, and it is almost trivial to expand the targets to minorities. A lawless state can easily rescind citizenship on arbitrary grounds. it has happened before. And once the right of asylum is denied, other rights are on the chopping block with it. Worse those denied the right of asylum are extra-legally oppressed, their lives made miserable, their right to life, liberty and happiness denied.

This follows on my previous post Hannah Arendt on Donald Trump's Mob
Origins of Totalitarianism:
PDF Version:
Buy a Copy:
Hannah Arendt & totalitarianism
Trump's GOP Totalitarian Movement and Totalitarian Propaganda
Hannah Arendt Trump and the Stateless
The Dictator in Front of the Mob
Hannah Arendt on Donald Trump's Mob
Our Democratic Movement is not Totalitarian
The Power of Doublespeak
Being a Little Less Naive about Politics
Authoritarians and Totalitarians, Altemeyer & Arendt
EMAD Trump
Subsidiarity and Fascism

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