Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Every act of boycott is a statement against the status quo.

ُExcellent article by Maya Mikdashi in Sawt al Niswa, a feminist blog. (Thanks Samah)

"The questions that the debate whether we, in Lebanon, should join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel engenders have nothing to do with liking music, being fanatical, or censorship. The issue is not a band that played a concert in Tel Aviv, had a stopover in Cyprus, and continued on to Beirut. It is not that this same band performed the week the Israeli state attacked a flotilla of peace activists trying to break the criminal blockade of Gaza, an area of land that is home to over 1.3 million Palestinians and has been placed under siege for over three years. The question is not whether or not we can, or should, empathize with Palestinians living within a settler colony. The question is not if we have to be political. The question is: Can we afford not to be political? Can we absolve ourselves of responsibility towards each other as citizens and residents of Lebanon, as Arabs, or as human beings in the name of music and a good time? And if and when we do absolve ourselves of responsibility, what kind of politics are we engaging in? When we surrender politics to the politicians, what are we doing?

The political permeates every aspect of our lives. From the moment we wake up in particular neighborhoods in, for example, Beirut to the moment that our maid brings us our evening snack and puts our children to sleep, we are engaged in politics. This engagement continues as each of us drives in his or her car to locations that are close by, when we pass by the myriad unkempt children and disabled adults standing in highways selling their sadness, maneuver through a security checkpoint in a politician’s neighborhood, and as we sweat in long pants during the hot summer in a failed attempt to avert the unwanted verbal and physical advances of men on the Manara who know they are not accountable to anyone. Politics is about the struggle over life, how we live it, where we live it, who gets to live a livable life, and who gets to live. We are political because we are alive. Depoliticization is a political process, it is a tactic of a power that aims to separate the messiness of shared life into compartments such as “culture,” “government,” “economy,” “personal life,” “government,” and, my personal favorite, “civil society.” Once segregated into neat, independent packages, we are told that our “political” involvement begins, and ends, at the level of government. Depoliticization comes with neoliberalism, an ideology that masks its praxis being claims to be a “way of life.” The idea that Liberalism is a way of life or that it is simply “good values” has historically fuelled capitalist expansion, colonialism, and the imperial notion that western history is at once the telos and the unfolding of world history. More recently, neoliberalism has been the ideology driving the perversion of human rights discourse to justify the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the banning of the headscarf in France, and the reinvigoration of authoritarian regimes in the Arab world."

No comments: