24 May 2024 07:32 AM



Why Does America Hate Us? Palestinian Reflections on American Political Ideology Part 2

'Persuasion', from a pragmatic point of view, then, plays a fundamental role in the creation of the liberal society. Technically, persuasion is the means through which one gets to 'pluralism' in which there is no exclusion of ideas whatsoever. However, from this perspective, any opposing or radical points of view should work from within the bourgeois liberal system as the only existing ‘legitimate’ one.

Rejecting the system and its ideological basis by revealing and opposing its exploitative features leads to ‘illegitimacy’ and exclusion. If one, in other words, is not ‘persuaded’ by the logic of the American intervention in the Arab World and Afghanistan, one still has to accept it; otherwise, one is considered ‘undemocratic’ even if hundreds of thousands of civilians are being killed by such intervention.

Liberal 'persuasion', then, is nothing but a 'distorted communication'—as Jurgen Habermas would call it--- and implies the acceptance of the views of those who have the power to hegemonize and 'persuade' in the realm of knowledge/power. This argument is not a rejection of democracy as such, but rather a rejection of the exploitative basis of liberalism and pragmatism which insist on reducing any other radical opinion to ‘one of us’ within the realm of 'pluralism.'

What is always pushed to the back of any serious argument with mainstream American ideologues is that the foundation of contemporary liberal capitalist societies has literally been achieved through the exploitation of millions of workers, the deaths of millions of indigenous peoples, and the brutal murder of some other millions in two world wars. So why insist on the right of return of 6 million Palestinian refugees? Why lament the death of more than 1500 civilians, including 434 children, during the Gaza massacre? Obama never offered a single word of sympathy for those children.

By contrasting what he calls ‘situational consciousness’ of ‘First and Third Worlds’ in terms of Hegel’s master/slave dialectic, the American intellectual Fredric Jameson argues that "the slave knows what reality and the resistance of matter really are whereas [the] master is condemned to idealism." Drawing on this Hegelian analysis, Jameson concludes:

It strikes me that we Americans, we masters of the world, are in something of that very same position. The view from the top is epistemologically crippling, and reduces its subjects to the illusions of a host of fragmented subjectivities, to the poverty of the individual experience of isolated nomads ... This placeless individuality, this structural idealism which affords us the luxury of the Sartrean blink, offers a welcome escape from the 'nightmare of history,' but at the same time it condemns our culture to psychologism and the 'projections' of private subjectivity. All of this is denied to third world culture, which must be situational and materialist ....

This is exactly what American policy is all about – a policy of domination and interests. That is, it is a reflection of an ideology of a particular class with particular interests represented in specific perspectives, i.e. White, neo-liberal pragmatism.

American "strong political discourse," to use Bourdieu's words, coincides with neo-liberalism. Their strength is due to the fact that they have on their side all of the forces of a world of relations of power, a world that they contribute to making what it is. The Palestinians, like native Americans, are a "surplus population," like Black South Africans, "powerless and useless savages". Give them a Bantustan, surrounded by walls (The Wall), where "our allies (us)" do not have to see them; a Bantustan they will be allowed to call an independent, viable state. After all, which American citizen knows the difference between Palestine and Pakistan!

No need, then, to wonder why President Obama, and his Secretary of State, hate us. We are no match for the macho, powerful, White Ashkenazis.

During the 1967 war, Edward Said noted that Americans kept asking "how are we doing?" We, Arabs and Palestinians, are not part of that WE. We are the "THEM;" the “Other.” We occupy a part of what Fredric Jameson would call American "political unconscious." Our death is never counted; the death of half a million Iraqi children from sanctions, like the death of 220 Palestinian civilians, including 551, children during the Gaza 2014 massacre, is "collateral damage," whereas the 9/11 victims are individuals with families, names, and "powerful narratives."

(First Part)