Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You are rubber and I am glue

In our reading this week I was reminded of Jameson’s delineation of the most pressing issue confronting Marxism ‘today’ (in his here and now of 1988): ‘It is, as well, supremely social and cultural, involving the task of trying to imagine how a society without hierarchy, a society of free people, a society that has at once repudiated the economic mechanisms of the market, can possible cohere’(355). This necessity of cohesion and solidified groupings to maintain societal stability grounds Anderson’s narrative of the shifting of this demarcating force. The imaginative communities produced within nationalism fills the place holder left absent by divine and monarchical authority with the possibility for horizontal allegiance. Marxism not only has to operate within this new world order of nationalism (there is no outside) but also needs its imaginary faculty to enmesh its comrades.

I wonder how the fundamental role of pilgrimage in the production of imagined communities (from religious to educational) has shifted with the proliferation of networks that collapse distance. Even Anderson’s description of the colonial school-system, though implemented for the self-preservation of imperialism, enables a splintering of allegiance and cohesion not produced previously. ‘The expansion of the colonial state which, so to speak, invited ‘natives’ into schools and offices, and of colonial capitalism which, as it were, excluded them from boardrooms, meant that to an unprecedented extent the key early spokesmen for colonial nationalism were lonely, bilingual intelligentsias unattached to study local bourgeoisies’ (140). It was access to labor, rather than educational institutions which perpetuated productions of nationalism. Is this access to labor related to our access to networks in our contemporary technological pilgrimages? Is the term pilgrimages even productive here?  Can the Birthers as threatened by the multiplicity of allegiances and loyalties demonstrated by President Obama’s 'suspicious origin', be likened to Jameson’s scizophrenic subject – does the muddling of our own national identities through network proliferation detract from our potential for cohesion? When are allegiances at odds?

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