[eDebate] sanchez: circular xenophobia

Old Strega oldstrega
Sun Nov 2 18:48:23 CST 2008

you are drifting into vague 19th century anti-statism.

your argument is not that article 2 requiring natural-born citizenship is particularly xenophobic.   rather, the thrust of your position is that the founding of a nation through a constitution is xenophobic because it distinguishes one nation from another, citizens from non-citizens.   your argument against article could just as easily be applied to the entirety of the constitution which distinguishes one nation's laws from another including citizens from non-citizens.

according to this backsliding retreat, barack obama's presidential campaign is xenophobic because its seeks the leadership of only one nation.     even if obama's subversion of article 2 could be viewed as a protest against xenophobia, the end result of his election giving him the right of selective application of the constitution according to the plans of his policy elite bosses would be xenophobic according to your own circular definition.  

i find foucault's 20th century critiques of generic, totalizing anti-statism more compelling.    the magna carta and later documents like the US constitution are world-historical because they hold leaders accountable to laws.     these constitutional documents are easy to distinguish from the communist manifesto and the march 23, 1933 enabling act of the third reich which clearly disregard the accountability of leaders.   foucault's comprehension of the magna carta and constitutional governments was the basis of his rejection of communism and fascism.

law is inherently arbitrary but unarbitrary standards are tools for enabling dissent and disabling executive power abuse both through constitutional safeguards.   in this light, political philosophy is sundered from a theoretical vacuum of "verbal logic" and allowed into the domain of technical innovation which foucault called "the art of governing".    the results of political systems which blatantly hold the leaders above the law are evident in the mass imprisonment of the opposition as hitler and stalin did and china still does.     the logic of anti-statism has historically been coopted by political parties to immunize themselves from constitutional standards of unarbitrary law.    the case in point, today, would be to see a line of continuity between obama's subversion of article 2, his vote for and "legal defense" of warrantless wiretapping, his unquestioned support of the criminal justice system, and his violation of campaign funding laws.   a picture of the obama presidency begins to come into focus through "foucauldian" analysis where the critiques of cheney's power abuses of the OVP become galvanized to empower a friendlier version of the executive branch above the law with a new face.   national security concerns surrounding the war in afghanistan will allow obama to conduct routine surveillance of any citizen even if for the purpose of intimidating and derailing their opposition to the afghan quagmire.    the line of continuity between article 2 and FISA and undoing of standards that hold leaders accountable is what makes the US constitution the most relevant critical question of today.

what also distinguishes the magna carta tradition from other modern political philosophies is the right of revolution according to the standards which subject leaders to the same laws as subjects.   foucault used this clause of the magna carta to further distinguish the magna carta tradition of constitutional goverment from commumism and fascism, political forms known for their imprisonment and liquidation of dissent.    the magna carta is the founding document of constitutional government and the right to overthrow violators of that framework.  

In Europe, the right of revolution may be traced back to the Magna Carta, an English charter issued in 1215, that required the King to renounce certain rights and accept that his will could be bound by the law. It included a "security clause" that gave the right to a committee of barons to overrule the will of the King through force if needed. The Magna Carta directly influenced the development of parliamentary democracy and many constitutional documents, such as the United States Constitution.  end quote

the application of foucault in the direction of a statism critique through spanos under shanahan's tutelage spread many dated misconceptions in the policy debate community about foucault's relation to constitutionality.  the panopticon quickly became the buzzword for coopting foucault into the old anarchy counterplan under the pretense that law is bad.   actually, the foucault argument is the legal conception of power as possessed is bad.   don't think the judge is the site of power in punishment since the social conservatives have now created a massive machine for punishing individuals behind closed doors and outside the law.   the purpose of the law is no longer justice to decide innocence or guilt but to reform the criminal.  power is not possessed.   it is diffused through various social agents that subvert the basis of constitutional law through extra-legal means. 

in conclusion:

your question has become: is the constitution inherently xenophobic and thereby problematic?   you try to sever your question from anti-statism and the critique of governance but generic 19th century analysis lurks in your approach.  

the better question is the one put forward by foucault which asks us to trace back the origins of english constitutional liberalism to the question: how can we use the least amount of government possible?    this question leads back to roman questions on the individual as the one who becomes free through an art of living that needs little governance.

?Rather than a relatively coherent doctrine, rather than a politics pursuing a certain number of more or less clearly defined goals, I would be tempted to see in liberalism a form of critical reflection on governmental practice.  That criticism can come from within or without, it can rely on this or that economic theory, or refer to this or that juridical system without any necessary and one-to-one connection.   The question of liberalism, understood as the question of ?too much government,? was one of the constant  dimensions of that recent European phenomenon, having appeared first in England, it seems, namely, ?political life.?  Indeed, it is one of the constituent elements of it, if it is the case that political life exists when governmental practice is limited in its possible excess by the fact that it is the object of public debate as to its ?good or bad,? its ?too much or too little.? (Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, volume 1, p. 77)

yes, the constitution including article 2 requiring natural born citizenship is important because it is potentially the greatest political tool for limiting the scope of government ever founded through public debate.   this applies to all modern constitutions which have evolved from the magna carta as much our constitution.  

finally, if article 2 is xenophobic because it excludes naturalized citizens like obama, then the only way to preserve the constitutional process that foucault finds so important is to amend the constitution through normal means and not de facto impose that standard through forgery and subversion which effectively places the president above the constitution and opens the door to a panoply of constitutional infringements.   there is no good argument for correcting the "xenophobia" of the constitution through a process other than a constitutional amendment.

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