[spectre] TRACING UNDERCURRENTS: Sonic Routes Between
simon at littlepig.org.uk
Tue Oct 11 19:14:34 CEST 2005
There is a major difference between the USA and Israel. The USA does not
constitutionally disallow its citizens from full social inclusion on the
grounds of ethnicity or religion. Nor does the UK or the other countries
mentioned. Whilst these countries are often deeply problematic they are not
premised on the notion of a certain "people" having a divine right over
others to inhabit and own the land and all its resources.
True, in the US Europeans exacted virtual genocide on the indigenous
population. The same thing happened in my home country of Australia, where
the genocide was somewhat more effective (in Tasmania they managed to make
an entire race, distinct from those on the mainland, extinct - so far as I
know this is unique in recorded human history).
Which country does Israel resemble? Perhaps Iran in that it is defined
according to religion...except that Iran defines itself in terms or religion
alone and then continues to tolerate other belief systems within that.
Ethnicity is not an issue there.
I have been to the USA a number of times - I have even worked there for a
time. Prior to September 11 I always felt a little uncomfortable when away
from the more enlightened areas such as NYC. Since then I have felt
uncomfortable everywhere in the States. However it is a pluralist society
where, as yet, few people are denied their freedom, even their identity, due
to their religious or ethnic character (although I am aware of course of the
inequities that exist in the USA in regard of non-European peoples and also
of specific cases of government denying people their rights).
I think there is an argument that can be made that many post-imperialist
societies are grounded on false premises and that their right to exist as
they do should be questioned. In Australia I would argue that all land
should be returned to native title. The indigenous peoples could then decide
how they wish to deal with the others that live there. They could choose to
expell them, they could choose to levy a rent, they could choose to let
bygones be bygones. The thing is it should be their choice...whereas the
current situation awards tracts of useless desert and jungle, of little
value, to them and expects them to accept that. I find that intolerable and
that is one of the reasons I chose to repatriate myself to the UK.
I recognise that any attempt to mass repatriate peoples from occupied lands
would only cause more problems than it would solve. I would argue though
that Israel, due to its policies, its actions and its very constitution, is
a special case and needs to be dealt with as such.
Also, in response to Alan's post, I made no attempt to censor the list. It
was somebody else who suggested that. If you read my last post I argue
explicitly against censorship. Also I would argue that this debate is not
noise...it is signal and addressing some of the core themes of this list.
I agree that all the countries Alan mentions are in deeply problematic
territory with their current policies. Morrocan sequestration of Western
Sahara is a very good case in point. The Russian occupation of Chechnya
another. The UK's presence in Iraq, along with the USA and its other allies,
is one of the greatest war crimes of recent years and I hope that those that
instigated it are tried under international law and brought to justice (just
as Saddam should have been, rather than being illegally invaded). However,
whilst this is a terrible crime it is not quite the same as the situation in
Israel. Any attempt to suggest so appears to represent an apologia for
You talk of other countries oppressing their peoples. Yes, it happens and
should be condemned. In Israel, however, we are seeing in our own lifetimes
an entire people (more than one people, actually) robbed of their land and
identity on the grounds of a demented religious belief and active support
(especially by the USA) of what is effectively a Western colonisation of the
middle-east. I would suggest, again, that this is qualitively different to
what is going on elsewhere.
> Dear Simon,
> I understand your points of view and don't want to ridicule the
> complexity of your considerations, but I just want to contribute to the
> discussion with a single question: have you ever visited the United
> States? What you are writing implicates that the USA has no right to
> exist as well.
> I think your principles make a visit to considerable parts of the world
> Besides, the occupation/dispossesion theme is very much part of the
> works by many participating artists in the Tracing Undercurrents
> program. For instance these projects:
> Intifada Offspring - http://www.intifada-offspring.org/html/info.html
> Yannun Yannun - http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=16247
> Dear all
> I've been following this discussion with some worry. Simon, I really
> respect your motivations, but I'm afraid of and would fight any attempt
> to censor this list. I've only been on it a short time but have been
> generally pleased at the content/noise ratio- something I wish other lists
> would match. I also feel that picking on one particular country in the
> world starts begging some very big questions.
> Richard has pointed out that we might as well include the US in this list.
> I'd have to say, as an Amnesty International member, why stop there? The
> UK is at the moment part of what I would argue as an illegal occupation of
> Iraq, so we might include it? What about Syria and its treatment of those
> who oppose the regime? Morrocco and their occupation of Western Sahara?
> China, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Nepal? Russia
> anyone (think of the bombed hell that is currently Chechnya). I could go
> on for hours. One of the dubious benefits of being a member of AA is that
> one sees the sordid underbelly of many countries, many of which are the
> sort of places people like us might want to work or travel to. Where do we
> stop? The news from Israel often angers and upsets me. However the
> depressing thing is that there are so many other countries committing such
> systmeatised and unsyustematised crimes abainst parts of their populations
> that it seems odd to single one out. Where do we stop? All we can do is
> hope that this forum offers a place for all to collaborate hopefully to
> some public good, and this can only happen through unfettered information
> exchage. Information wants to be free.
simon at littlepig.org.uk
Professor, Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, UK
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