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tnstaec wrote

Well-thought out analysis. Worth the time to read it, if only to find the holes in it's logic.

Before the Enlightenment, citizenship was a privilege, an elevated status limited by descent, class, race, creed, gender, political participation, morals, profession, patronage, and administrative fiat, not to speak of age and education. Active membership in the political community was a station to yearn for, civis Romanus sum the enunciation of a certain nobility. Policies extending citizenship may have been generous or stingy, but the rule was that the rank of citizen was conferred by the lawfully constituted authority, according to expediency. Christianity, like some Stoics, sought to transcend this kind of limited citizenship by considering it second-rate or inessential when compared to a virtual community of the saved. [...]

Once citizenship was equated with human dignity, its extension to all classes, professions, both sexes, all races, creeds, and locations was only a matter of time. Universal franchise, the national service, and state education for all had to follow. Moreover, once all human beings were supposed to be able to accede to the high rank of a citizen, national solidarity within the newly egalitarian political community demanded the relief of the estate of Man, a dignified material existence for all, and the eradication of the remnants of personal servitude. The state, putatively representing everybody, was prevailed upon to grant not only a modicum of wealth for most people, but also a minimum of leisure, once the exclusive temporal fief of gentlemen only, in order to enable us all to play and enjoy the benefits of culture.

For the liberal, social-democratic, and other assorted progressive heirs of the Enlightenment, then, progress meant universal citizenship—that is, a virtual equality of political condition,

Here's where anarchists fundamentally disagree with socialists and liberals, and agree with fascists, but for diametrically opposed reasons. In rejecting the state we necessarily reject citizenship.

This hostility to universal citizenship is, I submit, the main characteristic of fascism.

If that were true, anarchists would be fascists. Fuck citizenship in any form. "Denial of inherent humanity of the non-citizen" might be a better definition.

There is logic in the Nazi declaration that communists, Jews, homosexuals, and the mentally ill are non-citizens and, therefore, non-human.

Quite the leap, there. The author doesn't bother to elaborate this point.

A feeling of fellowship toward kith and kin has always been one of the most potent motives for altruism. Altruism of this kind, when bereft of a civic, egalitarian focus, will find intuitive criteria offered by the dominant discourse to establish what and whom it will desire to serve. If civic politics cannot do it, racial feeling or feelings of cultural proximity certainly will. Identity is usually outlined by affection and received threats. He who will define those successfully wins.

First, the welfare state is a perversion of altrusim. It channel people's people's desires to help each other, but co-opts them. Second, the assumption that people will naturally tend toward racially-based solidarity over other forms is fucked. But the point is valid. The fascists of today are defining the terms of identity engagement, and this is one of the major cultural grounds.

After the 1989 collapse of the Soviet bloc, contemporary society underwent fundamental change. Bourgeois society, liberal democracy, democratic capitalism—name it what you will—has always been a controversial affair; unlike previous regimes, it developed an adversary culture, and was permanently confronted by strong competitors on the right (the alliance of the throne and the altar) and the left (revolutionary socialism). Both have become obsolete, and this has created a serious crisis within the culture of late modernism.11 The mere idea of radical change (utopia and critique) has been dropped from the rhetorical vocabulary, and the political horizon is now filled by what is there, by what is given, which is capitalism.

A lot of young leftists fail to grasp this fundamental shift.

As one of the greatest and most level-headed masters of twentieth-century political sociology, Seymour Martin Lipset, has noted, fascism is the extremism of the center. Fascism had very little to do with passéiste feudal, aristocratic, monarchist ideas, was on the whole anti-clerical, opposed communism and socialist revolution, and—like the liberals whose electorate it had inherited—hated big business, trade unions, and the social welfare state.

In other words, under fascism all institutions are subservient to the state. Leftists often miss the point that fascism takes from the left as well as the right.

The end of colonial empires in the 1960s and the end of Stalinist ("state socialist," "state capitalist," "bureaucratic collectivist") systems in the 1990s has triggered a process never encountered since the Mongolian invasions in the thirteenth century: a comprehensive and apparently irreversible collapse of established statehood as such.

If only!

The old, creaking, and unpopular nation-state—the only institution to date that had been able to grant civil rights, a modicum of social assistance, and some protection from the exactions of privateer gangs and rapacious, irresponsible business elites—ceased to exist or never even emerged in the majority of the poorest areas of the world. In most parts of sub-Saharan Africa and of the former Soviet Union not only the refugees, but the whole population could be considered stateless. [...]

where banditry seems to have become the only efficient method of social organization, leads exactly nowhere. People in Africa and ex-Soviet Eurasia are dying not by a surfeit of the state, but by the absence of it.

What are you even talking about?

Citizenship in a functional nation-state is the one safe meal ticket in the contemporary world.


The Enlightenment assimilation of citizenship to the necessary and "natural" political condition of all human beings has been reversed. Citizenship was once upon a time a privilege within nations. It is now a privilege to most persons in some nations. Citizenship is today the very exceptional privilege of the inhabitants of flourishing capitalist nation-states, while the majority of the world’s population cannot even begin to aspire to the civic condition, [...]

Either you're bending the term "citizenship" to the breaking point or just spouting nonsense at this point. The Rohingya crisis demonstrates that citizenship is still a tool of repression for the poorest of states.

The denial of citizenship based not on exploitation, oppression, and straightforward discrimination among the denizens of "homogeneous society," but on mere exclusion and distance, is difficult to grasp, because the mental habits of liberation struggle for a more just redistribution of goods and power are not applicable. The problem is not that the Normative State is becoming more authoritarian. The problem is that it belongs only to a few.

No, the problem is the state and citizenship itself. The state is repressive no matter what form it takes.