Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Make up post, imagined communities

“The arrival of nationalism in a distinctively modern sense was tied to the political baptism of the lower classes. Although sometimes hostile to democracy, nationalist movements have been invariably populist in outlook and sought to induct lower classes into political life.” (The Breakup of States, p.41), Anderson 47.

Today, I think about how much of this idea that Anderson highlights has changed, and how much of it still describes the core of political involvement by the lower classes in the nation-state. In the Dominican Republic, involving the lower classes in politics, at least in the mass rallies and events that take place before voting, seems to be a symbolic act from which politicians derive unquestionable mass appeal that spreads to other social classes. When citizens of the lower class claim allegiance to a political party, they are also claiming allegiance, or buying, the vision of the nation-state that is put forth by certain political parties.  It seems as though this relationship mimics the buyer-seller relationship that is characteristic of societies under neo-liberal ways of being. Maybe it is possible that the same economic models and processes that drive the monetary formation of the nation-state also drive the political relationship of people to particular visions of the nation-state, as proposed by particular political parties. The extraordinary mass ceremony of voting has, at its foundation, a buyer-seller relationship in which supposedly the buyer has leverage. The problem that I noticed during my interviews is that many people in the Dominican Republic neither buy the visions for the nation-state that are proposed every four years, nor can accept that their vote has no currency, no value. During my interview with Marleny and Anyi, both accepted the impasse that came from the question: Should the masses simply not vote since the government does not truly include them? In retrospect, I realize that the masses had found other rituals of political baptism in the political rallies that have sparked throughout the globe (the latest occurred in the Bronx, New York this past weekend). It is not a question of how the nation-state and nationalist movements can induct lower classes into appropriate political participation. The challenge arises when these forms of political baptism no longer yield the same power that they used to.

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