Articles

Light – Al-Bidun revisited.

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2012 by Star-Light

Don’t ask me to take sides. This is not a football match. We’re not cheering two teams in a stadium who play by general guidelines. And we are not independent spectators. This is a serious, complex issue, and it should be debated as such.

Anyone who talks about the Bidun as a particularly Kuwaiti problem, who demonizes Kuwait’s government and its people in one instance, and who suggests that the only way to fix the problem of the stateless people in the country is to nationalize them, and thus, to offer them the same privileges as Kuwaitis by nationality, is missing the big picture.

And anyone who says that the Biduns deserve the mistreatments, that they are brigands and spies from axis nations who aim to penetrate the national security of the country, who have burned their passports in the hopes of living the luxurious life of the Kuwaiti middle class is an ignorant racist.

First, the concept of national borders, rather than facilitating movement between modern states, restricts and controls people’s movements. The aim of any national identity is to differentiate a particular group of people from another. In other words, all national identities limit humanity and movement. Hegemonic orders embraced the passport / national identification system to secure the status quo (if the government was Sunni, it could withhold nationalities from non-Sunnis, for example, and thus prevent them from being seen, heard, or even acknowledged). All nations do this because the structure of the creation of the modern state is meant to do this. In addition, the world is arranged in such a way as to create and maintain class difference. In global capitalism, there will always be rich nations and poor nations. There will always be dominant orders whose aim is to expand and globalize their influence, and there will always be nations in which leaders enforce poverty. These poor nations will have abhorrent lifestyles and governments, yet it is by the good grace of these richer nations that poor nations are kept poor. Thus, richer nations will bestow some “charitable endorsements.” Even if some of it was exchanged as food, clothing, or housing, the bulk of the money will not go to the people of the poor nations, but to the leaders as stipend to keep the leaders happy with the poverty level of the nation.

To speak of “Human Rights” in this repugnant system is like talking about religious tolerance under Nazi rule. It just does not make any sense. It will never be acknowledged. It will only be used as a political discourse to perpetuate different exclusions and dehumanizations.

Now let’s go back to the Bidun, or the stateless people of Kuwait. They say there are more than one hundred thousand of them experiencing inhumane conditions. By that they mean that they are not issued a passport so they don’t travel, they are not given free education, or free healthcare. The biggest argument is that they have lived more than 20 years in the country, begetting one generation after the other, and thus by default, they should be issued a national identity. But the question is: have you asked America how it deals with Illegal Immigrants? In 2008, the Center for Immigration Studies estimated America’s illegal aliens as 11 million! Can America nationalize all these people? Does America even want to do so? Provided you bring up the discourse of Human Rights, will America budge? Will America cry “Because we are pressuring Kuwait to deal with their stateless problem, it is unethical of us to maintain our illegal alien issue unresolved?” They won’t. Even Democrats who appreciate civil liberties won’t say that. Why? Because Human Rights is one thing, and maintaining the structure of the (inhumane) Modern Nation state is another.

I always think about the Palestinians: driven out of their homes by the same people who are the biggest supporters and sponsors of human rights and civil liberties. But in today’s world politics transcends idealism. Politics is set in stone. Humanity is disposable. The Palestinians, like the illegal aliens of America, and the Bidun of Kuwait will not attain their rights through the advocacy of their humanity—unless it politically benefits the sponsors of Human Rights organizations. If governments of nation states believed in the people’s humanity they would not spend most of their income on warfare.

Now what is remarkably frustrating, is hearing that the Bidun have a right to peaceful protests. OK. You protested peacefully for months. Did it help your cause? No. In fact, with the politically charged environment all over the Middle East, these peaceful protests only helped to tap into the hegemonic order’s insecurity. We know the system is corrupt. We know that governments put no value on human lives. Yet we are intellectuals. We know this to be wrong. We know this to be repulsive. We know that innocent lives have been and will be lost if this subjugation continues. And we want to help. How in the world are you helping the Bidun if you rationalize their case in the following:

There are more than one hundred thousand Biduns in the country. If the government nationalized 35-40 thousand of them, it will radically reduce the treasury of Kuwait. They know their case is complicated, but all they want is to protest peacefully. Is that so bad?”

God damn it. You guys are intellectuals and that’s the best you could do?

Every protest, if it intended to get some effective results, needs to have specific goals. Nationalizing 100 thousand individuals who represent an inherent fear in the hegemonic order will never pass; unless this entails a creation of a new citizenship with the most minimalist privileges a government can poop out of its constitutional mumbo-jumbo, telling the world we fixed the problem and maybe even getting a Nobel Peace Prize, while in realty revoking even more freedoms from the bidun to remind them to sit in their place.

Their slogan is the worst: Better Death than this Humiliation.

…..

Yes.

Yes this is quite a potent message.

Merge “Better Death than this Humiliation” with “All We Ask For are Peaceful Protests,” and you will get the most progressive and most future-wielding slogan that has come across the country. Not even the Decenters “Irhal” or “Abdicate” has a clearer and more productive message.

Eschew idealism!

Embrace strategic politics.

Number one: name specific changes (e.g., an introduction of a merit system in which all Biduns who prove themselves in one field or another get a citizenship—for instance, Fahad Al-Enizi who plays in Kuwait’s national team—and mix that with affirmative action programs, sponsorships, and Pro-Bidun organizations). In a separate goal, push for the nationalization of all bidun husbands of Kuwaiti women, and all their kids in the spirit of national unity. Then establish an economic quota for nationalization: i.e., any bidun who has above so-and-so in the bank has to be nationalized because he’s contributing to the economic growth of the country. Then establish an age quota for nationalization: i.e. any bidun who lived in Kuwait over so-and-so years deserves the citizenship. And so on and so forth. Clear set goals that are individually small and doable, and together, will resolve the issue over time.

Number two: suggest a specific quota of nationalization per year—so as to not conflict with the country’s so-called battered economy. Eg. To nationalize only five to ten thousand Biduns a year in relation to the merit system mentioned above.

Number three: change your entire campaign look from “we are poor and helpless individuals who can only appeal to the idealistic vision of equality” because it won’t do well in politics. I suggest rephrasing the campaign slogan to:

وحدة وطنية

Kuwait Unity

Now wage the campaign on all fronts:

a)      Let some of you continue with exploitation politics (to emphasize the hardship, the subjugation, etc) but don’t let that override the message of the campaign.

b)      Let others fetishize your pain (Black is power kind of thing, or hybridity is powerful, or girl-power), E.g. use nationally Kuwaiti writers, actors, teachers, philosophers, etc, to talk about the issue in an idealistic light. Not to emphasize the exploitation, but to focus and project the admirable qualities of the Bidun.

c)      Employ a third faction to produce a plethora of possibilities and solutions. Let each member of this faction associate himself with a political party and narrate the problem and the solutions in different languages: eg. go to the ikhwan and discuss it in religious terms, go to the liberals and discuss it in terms of civil liberties and democracy, go to the business men and highlight what the creation of a new nationalized class would mean to business, go to women and treat it as a women’s right thing, and so on and so forth.

d)      Associate with the governmental bureau that actually deals with the nationalization processes and track your progress.

e)      Most important of all, is disengaging from minority politics (e.g. associating oneself with the hardships in Syria or Bahrain). Why? Because nationalization is exclusion. And in order to get on the good graces of the government, one needs to display a heightened level of national loyalty.

Again, I say all these things need to occur strategically and not essentially. And for the love of Nutella, stop it with the binary language!

Light’s out!

Ps: I should add that if the government has clear proof that some of the bidun are not stateless and that they do have passports from Syria or Iraq, they should present this proof to these nations and discharge the people.

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