militat

Chamorro Brand American Viagra

In general, our political interventions are built upon the strategy of rectification or the possibility of fixing an error or solving a hypocrisy. When I would give presentations on the state of affairs when I lived in the states I would often resort to the stance of, “although I don’t believe in the promises of American democracy and freedom, if you do, know that your country isn’t living up to it, here, in Guam or anywhere else.” This is a seductive approach, because it allows you to engage, to possibly entice people with secret, critical knowledge, while also allowing them to have faith in the systems they are a part of. To dodge the potential social schizophrenia that the fehman minagahet (profound truth) can sometimes result in. To keep intact their interpolation and the matrix of identities that sustain a daily sense of balance, being, autonomy and complicity.

The problem with this approach is that is often closes off the ability to see that the hypocrisy, the inconsistency, the contradiction is inherent in the system, in fact it may even be constitutive or essential to it. Ayu na dinagi, sina i mina’fa’cho’cho’cho’ i sistema. If you look at all the Enlightenment philosophers whose ideas the modern forms of political rights and governance are supposed to be built upon, they are all based on some basic “foreclosures” or exclusions, things or people which have to be considered as “pathological” or beyond intervention. In Kant, his ideas about the rational, modern Enlightened subject were all built upon the idea that out there somewhere in places like Tierra del Fuego or New Holland, there were people who could never be modern or civilized. Locke, Hegel, even Marx, they all rooted their ideas on fundamental foreclosures, peoples or ideas which could never be equal or included in the world of modernity.

Bringing this to the United States and its colony of Guam, we see the United States itself as something built upon similar foundational exclusions and displacements. Native American scholars such as Andrea Smith point out that although there may be a massive discursive industry that is fed by notions of America being built on democracy and freedom, slavery and genocide were just as essential in building this “great” nation. As we move into a more contemporary context we can see the overseas territories, the colonies of today, the empire of America has operating in a similar way.

This dynamic has been given many names. One that I find enlightening, especially when talking to my undergraduate students is what Partha Chaterjee calls “the colonial difference.” I have called it the national difference at one point and in grad school for a time I referred to it as the “indigenous sacrifice.” The production of the nation, politically and at the level of daily discourse requires that exclusion, that Homo Sacer, that chattaotao,or someone whose existence is always exceptional, who is always explicitly included and excluded. For those who don’t know, Homo Sacer as used by Giorgio Agamben comes from Ancient Rome, where there was a class of people who could be killed, but not murdered because of their standing as something inbetween the life that matters and the life that is just life. They existed and were included within the polity, however, only in as far as they were excluded. They were the impossible subjects who stood like denizens at the always blurring and forming borders of the polity.

But in this indistinct, this sen ga’tot existence you find the potency of political structure, the stuff that makes the nation hum with life, i mina’la’la’ i anten i nasion. You find here what I once referred to as the nation’s Viagra. The shades, who in their darkened forms, their mix of light and shadow, they reflect the nation’s dawn and twilight. The trace of light that marks both birth and oblivion. From Navajo Windtalkers, undocumented workers, black Republicans, French colonial soldiers, Chamorros in World War II being referred to as “more American than Americans,” these half-subjects emerge with ma’lak na gaiguafe na discourses trailing behind them, sparking the nation’s fire from the margins, stamped with this truth that they are not supposed to be. That because of the way they are excluded, today or yesterday, they are outside of the nation, they are outside of what makes it great or what makes it what it is, it makes it so much more powerful that they nonetheless fight, they sacrifice, and eagerly wave flags as they carry the contradiction of the nation upon them. Already mildly present on some patriotic websites, and in a few articles I’ve scanned from Newsweek and other mainstream American magazines are representations of Micronesians serving and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. These soldiers, as well as other non-U.S. resident or citizens soldiers help maintain these discourses on American greatness and wonderfulness. (the logic always similar to, why would someone without even the full benefits and privileges of American citizenship or lifestyle risk their lives for this country? Thus, in a very interesting way, the base ideological presuppositions of a nation (we’re #1!) are proven).

It is intriguing to look back at the path that has brought us here. Taimanu na manggaigaige hit pa’go gi este na matahlek na chalan. Where we have become one of those sites through which the patriotic fix, the Viagra of national political erections are sustained. It is difficult for people on Guam to perceive this because we are told from a very young age, over and over, ta’lo yan ta’lo, all the time, in a multitude of ways to feel that we are lucky to have the United States as our colonizer, to have this connection to them, to take care of us and keep us safe. But from their perspective, we may not be seen as real Americans, as a true part of the United States, but just distant flashes of light, giving a red and brown hue to the sky. To them, it is so encouraging to see faraway brown people, serve and believe in the United States, despite their geographic and political distance. To serve even in the face of the fact that this country may not give a crap about them and their sacrifices may be disjointed and completely worthless. This is the indigenous sacrifice on the edge of the nation, that fill the center with life, that breathe positive meaning into what may ultimately be a violent, husk of domestic and imperial exploitation.

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2 thoughts on “Chamorro Brand American Viagra

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