Introduction Kalfou Danjere
Introduction Kalfou Danjere
State Apparatus, War Machine, and Terror in a Transnational Context
Abstract and Keywords
The introductory chapter tries to highlight the concerns brought to light in the book regarding the subject of race, diaspora, and U.S. imperialism in the Haitian literature. The chapter explores the main focus of the book, which is to demonstrate how national politics in developing countries cannot be evaluated separately from extraterritorial forces. These extraterritorial forces are meant to signify the foreign policies developed countries impose on developing countries, such as Haiti, through international financial institutions. The chapter aims to rethink the theorization of Haiti's terror within the national parameters and create a theory that details institutional pressures such as poverty, political instability, and violence. The chapter also discusses military imperialism, state violence, and global capitalism throughout the Duvalier and post-Duvalier periods.
Keywords: race, diaspora, U.S. imperialism, Haitian literature, national politics, developing countries, extraterritorial forces, foreign policies, developed countries, Haiti, global capitalism, Duvalier, post-Duvalier
- Si ou touye, ou chaje ak pwoblèm
- Nan kalfou, kalfou nèg Kongo
- Si ou vòlè ou chaje ak pwoblèm
- Nan kalfou, kalfou nèg Kongo.
Michel-Rolph Trouillot provocatively writes in Haiti: State Against Nation that “the Duvalierist Executive can be viewed as a series of reductions in which the first term swallows the second: State = Nation; Executive = State; Chief of State = Executive” (170).1 While Trouillot acknowledges that “François Duvalier invented none of these equations,” he also concedes that Duvalier mastered the equation and managed to make all of the terms in the equation equivalent, synonymous, interchangeable, and self-reflexive. After all, Duvalier pronounced himself State (État), flag (drapeau), and even people (peuple) of the Repiblik dAyiti (République d'Haïti—Republic of Haiti).
- If you kill, you've got big problems
- At the crossroads, crossroads of the Kongo people,
- If you steal, you've got big problems
- At the crossroads, crossroads of the Kongo people.
- Boukman Eksperyans, “Kalfou danjere”
The equation, however, is not totalizing. In the contemporary moment, the state apparatus proves to be immensely more complex and convoluted in its labyrinthine machinations of power, manifesting the “imperial tendrils”2 of transnational empire.3 Duvalier and post-Duvalier military regimes have not, however, stood uncontested: they have had impassioned detractors. Boukman Eksperyans' raucous and brazenly political song “Kalfou Danjere,” for example, evokes the lwa Mèt Kalfou, master of the crossroads, to indict those corrupt political leaders who abandon the suffering of the people and warns that they will be judged at the crossroads. Written in 1992 for Carnival, the song became internationally renowned as one of protest, defiance in the face of despair, and the demand for redress for violence committed against the poor and disenfranchised in Haiti. During the defakto years (1991–1994),4 the (p.2) rasin band sang “Kalfou danjere” to protest the coup d'état and the military dictatorship in place until 1994.5 After 1994, Boukman Eksperyans, increasingly disillusioned with Aristide's concessions to international financial institutions and the administration's crackdown on political dissent, sang “Kalfou danjere” as a protest, or chante pwen, against the failures of the Lavalas years.
While I do not take a decisive political stance (pro- or anti-Aristide, pro- or anti-Préval) in this book, I try to illustrate how national politics in an age of global capitalism and eroded sovereignty for small, developing states cannot be analyzed separately from extraterritorial forces (the foreign policies of larger imperial nations, as well as the structural adjustment programs and development strategies imposed on countries like Haiti by international financial institutions). We are truly at a kalfou danjere, a dangerous crossroads.
While Paul Gilroy positions dyaspora against nation, though acknowledging that nation-states may have “imperial tendrils,” his model of the “black Atlantic” inadequately addresses the disparities of power, military, capital, and international or global influence among communities, and even among the nations that make up the circum-Atlantic region or within the hemisphere of the Americas. In this opening chapter, I would like to build on and transnationally complicate Trouillot's comments about the Duvalierist equation for rethinking black Atlantic relations of power. Three key questions drive this introductory effort: (1) How might Aristide and Lavalas, and now Preval, stand within a historical continuum of Duvalierism in presumably post-Duvalier Haiti? (2) How might one element sustaining that Duvalierist continuum include global capitalism, or what Stan Goff more cynically calls “military capitalism”?6 (within Goff's military capitalism, we see, of course, the historical collision of global capitalism and military imperialism that seems to be the defining element of the contemporary moment); and, finally, (3) How did these interlocking forces structure black Atlantic exchanges, movements, and barriers to movement over the final decades of the twentieth century and the opening years of the twenty-first?
My primary objective in the introduction to this book is to rethink the theorization of terror in Haiti within national parameters—particularly the idea that Haiti is a nation-state endemically or pathologically plagued by violence, terror, and political instability from within or due to internal pressures—toward a theorization of terror in Haiti that elaborates the transnational and institutional pressures that create poverty, political instability, and thus also violence. These extraterritorial structures have had harmful consequences (p.3) for Haiti and its dyaspora, functioning as policing mechanisms in the black Atlantic and the Americas.
Insufficient scholarly attention has been paid by literary and cultural critics to how forms of state terror or repressive militaristic forms of violence within the small island nation have been influenced by external forces. They—most notably the legacies of European colonialism, U.S. imperialism and “gunboat” diplomacy, and the strictures of international financial institutions (the IMF orchestrated and World Bank–funded 1994 EERP—have often entered Haiti after first crossing the Atlantic (I discuss this at greater length in Chapter 4). Rather than seeing state violence and international finance as discrete and unrelated, we need to examine the ways in which national forms of militarism and terror are directly intertwined with the intelligence and military organizations in other countries, such as the United States. This book strives toward those ends. Throughout Duvalier's Ghosts, I discuss how military imperialism, global capitalism, and state violence in developing countries are imbricated in Haiti throughout the Duvalier and post-Duvalier periods. The chapters that follow historically document and artistically contest the premises that I propose in this introduction. I argue that, in theory, the extraterritorial structures (CIA, Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS], U.S. Coast Guard, USAID, IRI, and IFIs) that have offered material support for post-Duvalier military regimes and armed rebels in Haiti are part of a transnational state apparatus.
Global capitalism, economic “development,” and U.S. military interventions have not cured Haiti's economic or political ills; they have, on the contrary, exacerbated those ills, as I argue throughout this book in my analyses of Haiti's political context and the contestations of power articulated in diasporic forms of cultural production (literature, music, cinema). Extraterritorial or transnational forces have not merely exerted economic pressure, they have also exerted political pressure that has indirectly and sometimes directly led to state violence or terror in Haiti and in its dyaspora. To briefly enumerate the most salient extraterritorial pressures that have served to create and sustain poverty, political instability, and violence in Haiti, I reiterate the following: the well-known fact of CIA support for Duvalier's dictatorship, regarded as an Antillean “wall” against communism and Castro's regime, despite its pervasive and systematic forms of torture and state violence (which I discuss in Chapters 6, 7, and 8); USAID agro-export and assembly manufacturing development policies, which resulted in both rural-to-urban migration patterns in Haiti and increased food dependency for the country (Chapter 4); the U.S. military and governmental assistance offered to Jean-Claude (p.4) “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who absconded with $900 million from the treasury and who left Haiti on a U.S. military plane in 1986 following his ouster (Chapters 4 and 6); the CIA's support of the coup d'état led by Gen. Raoul Cédras against Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, detailed by scholars such as Henry Carey, Alex Dupuy, Tim Weiner, and Noam Chomsky (Chapter 8); the IRI's support of the military junta organization FRAPH, an acronym for the ironically named Revolutionary Front for Advancement and Progress in Haiti (Chapter 8); the “traffic” in people resulting in struggles between smugglers, U.S. Coast Guard, and Haitian refugees over the last few decades (which I address in Chapters 1, 2, and 3); and the structural adjustment plan imposed on Haiti under the 1994 EERP, which required both privatization of all state utilities and massive reductions in state spending for social welfare programs (Chapter 4).
Defining Key Concepts: State, Empire, Capital
With this brief catalogue detailing the most salient and concrete examples, I open this book with a theorization of terror (or state violence) within a transnational (or extraterritorial) frame. Each of these events exemplifies the transnational erosion of national sovereignty and forms part of the extraterritorial structures that foster state violence in Haiti. These dual movements were further exemplified in the 2004 crisis in Haiti (ostensibly beginning with the contested parliamentary elections of 2000 and culminating in the resignation and second exile of Aristide on February 29, 2004). These political shifts resulted from economic shifts within the country as early as the 1990 presidential election (in which the U.S. government funneled millions of dollars in support of candidate Marc Bazin, former World Bank affiliate, against then socialist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide).7 The international economic constraints on national sovereignty were further eroded in 1994 and again in 2000, as I discuss in Chapter 4, when international aid was punitively suspended, measures which profoundly undermined political stability in the country and ultimately led to violent, oppositional uprisings. Before turning my attention to an elaboration of the nomadic, interlocking model of the war machine and the state apparatus, I offer passing meditations or critical notes on several key terms: “State”; “Empire”; “global capitalism”; and “world bank literature.”
Duvalier's Ghosts frames Haitian diasporic literatures in the context of race, dyaspora, and U.S. imperialism. I acknowledge, as Michael T. Clark does, (p.5) the Haitian state as a discursive formation, a set of productive relations, or as “a relation of relations” (“Twenty Preliminary Propositions,” 250), and in which states “don't have international relations; they are international relations” (251). I am influenced by Clark's “subaltern” reconceptualization of the state, and my own understanding of national-international relations closely parallels his sense of the copresence of extrastate forces that affect the Haitian state “through an endless variety of modalities: repeated invasion, embargo, indemnity, denigration, nonrecognition, trade, regular interference and outright occupation, receivership, quarantine, military training, economic advice and (conditioned) support, destabilization, the cultivation of agents of influence, embargo, ‘intervasion,’ reform, and on and on” (“Twenty Preliminary Propositions,” 251).
Isolating land tenure, Vodou ritual practices, and predatory politics as “three distinctive features of the Haitian social landscape,,” Clark argues that these elements—typically regarded as “unrelated to the nature of the state”—may be reconceptualized as “not only intimately related to each other,” but, moreover, connected through the state once we understand it “as a decentered but antagonistic and differentiated discursive field of unequal relations” (“Twenty Preliminary Propositions,” 247). Refusing Haiti's predatory politics as endemic, inexorable, or intrinsically national, Clark, conversely, explains the historical phenomenon as a dialectical tension between the andeyò—the subaltern pays et pèp, or land and people—and the extérieur, or outside world beyond the borders of the nation-state. “The Haitian state, as a structuration of a field of power between the Haitian peasantry and the outside world, is inherently a relation of violence”; and “it is the state relation that shapes the possibilities and personalities of those who enter the field,” Clark explains, “not the other way around” (“Twenty Preliminary Propositions,” 250). For these reasons, Clark avers that it was not Duvalier who quintessentially and with “virtuosity” expressed “the ‘grammar’ of Haitian politics,” but rather the “broader field of relations” that are “determined but flexible” in the state which shaped Duvalier (and thus Duvalierism) and which the dictator “simply acted to preserve and exploit” (“Twenty Preliminary Propositions,” 250). So too we may presume, Clark deduces with Aristide.
And while I am expressly sympathetic with Clark's insistence on the transnational parameters of Haiti's state formation—indeed the imperial production and perpetuation of Haiti's history of predatory politics—the model is overly Althusserian or Foucaultian, that is, overly “determinate,” insufficiently “flexible.” In lieu of Foucault's question “What is an Author?” we hear, rather, Clark's reiterative “What is a predatory politician?” Also, within Clark's subaltern theorizations of the state, national formations and national leaders— (p.6) even when despots—seem only impotent nodes (or articulating joints) within a systemic, discursive field that reflects the struggles of the Haitian peasantry, internally and from below, and the extraterritorial and extrastate forces, externally imposed and seemingly from above, on the nation-state. In reality, the national is itself a territorialization of power within this discursive field of relations (not merely an expression of force exerted from elsewhere) that is simultaneously, dynamically, and often discordantly rural, local, national, regional, and transnational. State relations do indeed shape the “possibilities and personalities of those who enter the field,” but so too do state politicians (as “possibilities and personalities”) become constitutive, informative, and productive forces in the structuring, restructuring, and formation, deformation, and re-formation of the state (the chaotic relations of which are decentered, antagonistic, differentiated, and unequal).
For these reasons, the Deleuzian model of the “war machine” from Mille plateaux, I conclude, offers the most apt conceptual model for articulating the productive and restrictive territorializing and deterritorializing relations that define (and hold) the state in structural formation to other states and to extrastate forces. It has more descriptive, diagnostic value, and I believe that it proffers a better theorization of resistance, or the possibilities for resistance to systemic power. Why? Because it opens a space for greater agency, subversion, transformation of the structural relations of power. While the “state apparatus” represents the dense consolidation and scattered manifestations, or political territorializations, of power within a wide range of diffusive mechanisms extending both throughout the geopolitical boundaries of the state and beyond its geographical and institutional borders into transnational and extraterritorial locations (spatial, economic, financial, juridical, and so forth), the “war machine” arises as a nomadic and deterritorializing impulse that erodes, denatures, dismantles, and structurally disarticulates the articulated nuts and bolts, if you will, of the state apparatus, which is a “desiring machine” (machine désir). (I elaborate this model at greater length below.)
Further framing the contemporary geopolitical moment as marked by intense movements and extensive exercises of transnational power through an intensive and extensive state apparatus that is internally and subversively challenged by the nomadic war machine, I also adopt Deleuze's theorizations of “societies of control,” which he holds in contradistinction to “societies of discipline” or “disciplinary societies” (in his metatheoretical essay “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” itself a meditation and analytical elaboration of Foucault's ideas about state, power, and discourse).8 Following Foucault, and elaborating his model, Deleuze traces three historical-epistemic models for the organization and production of societies: the societies of sovereignty that (p.7) reigned in the seventeenth century and that operated through a model of taxation and administration, a modus operandi that privileged the sovereign's right “to tax rather than to organize production, to rule on death rather than to administer life”; the societies of discipline, or disciplinary societies, pervasive in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which initiated “the organization of vast spaces of enclosure” in which “[t]he individual never cease[d] passing from one closed environment to another, each having its own laws: first the family; then the school (‘you are no longer in your family’); then the barracks (‘you are no longer at school’); then the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the preeminent instance of the enclosed environment”; and societies of control, which first emerged in the post-WWII period of the twentieth century and continue to persist and hyperproliferate in the twenty-first century and which constitute a “generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure—prison, hospital, factory, school, family.” By “crisis” of institutions, Deleuze means “the progressive and dispersed installation of a new system of domination.”
Elaborating Foucault's model of reform, which is foundational in the transition from punishment to discipline (as articulated in Discipline and Punish), Deleuze explains the operational and productive phenomenon of “reform” within the societies of control: “The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It's only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door.” And within these societies, there exists the “ultrarapid forms of free-floating control replace…the old disciplines operating in the time frame of a closed system.” For example, “in the crisis of the hospital as environment of enclosure, neighborhood clinics, hospices, and day care could at first express new freedom, but they could participate as well in mechanisms of control that are equal to the harshest of confinements.”
Schematically distinguishing societies of discipline from societies of control, Deleuze illustrates the even more diffusive, open, scattered mechanisms of power in the latter in contrast to the former. Where once the factory prevailed as the centralized site for the organization and oversight of production, the corporation now centrifugally radiates power among stockholders and managers and regulates production through dividuated, self-interested and -promoting competition (as opposed to mass solidarity) and the modulation of salary, merit pay, and million-dollar financial investor bonuses (as opposed to standardized benefits commanded through unionized resistance). While (p.8) the hospital formerly administered medical service and provided health care within a centralized site, now nurse practitioners and physician's assistants dole out pharmaceuticals, offer preventive health care and even emergency medical treatment in small, scattered clinics across urban neighborhoods and in remote satellite clinics in suburban areas. Once backed by the “gold standard for currency,” then greenbacked, banks (once large, institutional, and centrally located) are now open in small branches and make financial, lending, and investing decisions based on “floating rates of exchange.” No longer driven by production capitalism and nationally located, the global economy is fueled by a commodity consumerism in which production, finance, and trade are all transnational; once-underdeveloped countries are now the producers, and former workers of first world production-based national economies are no longer productive (having switched to information, services, and consumption).
Systemically, while disciplinary societies were “closed, discrete, discontinuous,” societies of control are mapped in an “open, undulatory, continuous network.” And, as Deleuze further remarks, “[c]ontrol is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit, while discipline was of long duration, infinite and discontinuous. Man is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt.” And these mechanisms of control hyperproliferate and reinscribe subjection to control at all levels of society and through all means of surveillance and regulation—economic, financial, medical, technological, electronic, education, and even familial:
In the prison system: the attempt to find penalties of “substitution,” at least for petty crimes, and the use of electronic collars that force the convicted person to stay at home during certain hours…. For the school system: continuous forms of control, and the effect on the school of perpetual training, the corresponding abandonment of all university research, the introduction of the “corporation” at all levels of schooling…. For the hospital system: the new medicine “without doctor or patient” that singles out potential sick people and subjects at risk, which in no way attests to individuation—as they say—but substitutes for the individual or numerical body the code of a “dividual” material to be controlled…. In the corporate system: new ways of handling money, profits, and humans that no longer pass through the old factory form.
And yet, despite these pervasive regulatory mechanisms of control, and diffusive structures of interconnected webs of technological expanse, Deleuze also notes that this radical epistemic shift—from discipline to control—and all its myriad, concomitant ramifications (financial, scientific, technological, (p.9) institutional, informational, cultural, political) has done little, perhaps nothing, to eradicate world poverty, hunger, destitution, nothing to eliminate the horrid conditions of those deemed the “wretched of the earth”: “It is true that capitalism has retained as a constant the extreme poverty of three-quarters of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for confinement: control will not only have to deal with erosions of frontiers but with the explosions within shanty towns or ghettos.”
This Deleuzian spatial model of power formations and deformations within relational states is also a preferable model to one that is more temporally located, such as Hardt and Negri's “Empire.” Although their theorizations of Empire borrow heavily from the Deleuze and Guattari conceptual toolbox, their model positions Empire not only as postimperial, but also posthistorical: Empire becomes an ineluctable, transcendent, and ubiquitous model of power without cause, seemingly without agency, and even, sadly, without the potential for real subversion. As Hardt and Negri explain, the clamorous noise of the rabble stirring and rising up in revolt ultimately serves only to transform and shore up the pervasive, systemic, and inexorable power of Empire. While the deterritorializing impulses of the war machine may be reterritorialized, may be reformed within the state apparatus, it is not inexorably so determined.
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire is a vast volume, a theoretical tome that speculates about the “political constitution of the present” (part 1), the “passages of sovereignty” (part 2), and the “passages of production” (part 3). It presents a eulogy and elegy for the “declines and fall of empire” (part 4) with a symphonic, or perhaps cacophonous, “intermezzo” on the possibilities of “counter-empire” (located at the heart of the volume and in the liminal, textual spaces between parts 2 and 3). Hardt and Negri's preface defines the key terms of the moment and of the momentous study: sovereignty (xi); nation-states and imperialism (xii); Empire, or the “new global form of sovereignty,” which marks the “twilight of modern sovereignty” (xii) and “presents the paradigmatic form of biopower” (xv); capital and global transformations of capital (xiii); the multitude and a possible “counter-empire” (xv), as well as a possible “movement beyond Empire” (xvii).
In lieu of offering an extensive and detailed synopsis of the entire scope of the book's argument, I propose here a radical, perhaps contestable, idea: that the core of Hardt and Negri's theoretical argument lies in their succinct 7-page preface (xi–xvii), not in the cumbersome, dense, lyric, yet substantive and substantial, though also undeniably unwieldy 411 pages that follow. (p.10) In words that evoke in cadence and tone the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto—“A spectre is haunting Europe”—Hardt and Negri open with “Empire is materializing before our eyes” (xi). In contrast to “all that is solid melting into air,” we are now confronted with an all-too-material, palpable, and visually commanding Empire “before our eyes.” Tracing global events in 1989 and afterward (the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the consequent cartographic remapping of Eastern Europe, the end of the cold war [also preemptively pronounced the “end of history”], the presumed ideological demise of communism, and the triumphal ascent of global capitalism) that led to geopolitical restructuring and the emergence of the “new world order,” Hardt and Negri assert that these shifts are not purely historical and economic ones, but also have cultural, philosophical, psychological, and political dimensions. In contrast with those who argue that the rise of global capitalism and geopolitical transnationalization has resulted in a decline in political sovereignty, a claim predicated on the eroded, degenerated state of the nation-state, Hardt and Negri contend instead that a “new form of sovereignty” has emerged. “Empire,” they proclaim, “is the political subject that effectively regulates these global exchanges, the sovereign power that governs the world” (Empire, xi). True: the political sovereignty of nationstates,9 while not completely ineffectual or totally dismantled, has declined. False: political sovereignty, as a concept and as a reality, has declined: Empire has only radically reconfigured sovereignty. Italicizing the sentence to underscore their point, Hardt and Negri insist that “[t]he decline in sovereignty of nation-states, however, does not mean that sovereignty as such has declined” (Empire, xi; original emphasis). To presume a “decline” in sovereignty would be to assume the absence of “political controls, state functions, and regulatory mechanisms” over the domains of economy, social production, trade, and exchange—all of which is clearly not the case: the global economy remains highly regulated, governed, surveyed, and managed (Empire, xii). And this reconfiguration of political sovereignty is, by definition, the very constitution of Empire: “Our basic hypothesis is that sovereignty has taken a new form, composed of a series of national and supranational organisms united under a single logic of rule. This new global form of sovereignty is what we call Empire” (Empire, xii).
Hardt and Negri delineate and contradistinguish Empire from imperialism: whereas the modern nation-state was definitive in European imperialism, or European colonial empires, the nation-state has continually declined under Empire; whereas national sovereignty was extended extraterritorially “beyond their own borders” through colonial imperialism, national sovereignty falters and fails, gasps for air under Empire; whereas European colonial (p.11) imperialism was exclusive and excluding, even as it gobbled up the globe it marked as its territorial outside, the operative paradigm of Empire is inclusive and including, a vast expanse of globally wired networks without an outside. If the territorial, political, and symbolic “centers” of European colonial empires were the metropoles of nation-states—London for Great Britain or the United Kingdom or the British Isles or the British Colonial Empire; Paris for France or the Tiers État (Third Estate) or the French Colonial Empire—in Empire, just as there is no outside, there also is no center. As Hardt and Negri explain, “Empire establishes no territorial center of power and does not rely on fixed boundaries or barriers. It is a decentered and deterritorializing apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the entire global realm within its open, expanding frontiers” (xii; original emphasis). Yet it still exercises the regulatory and managerial powers of sovereignty; it “manages hybrid identities, flexible hierarchies, and plural exchanges through modulating networks of command” (Empire, xii–xiii). In Empire, thus, not only has the world witnessed the “twilight of modern sovereignty,” the consequent “transformation of the modern imperialist geography of the globe,” but also a radical restructuring of the “capitalist mode of production” (Empire, xiii). Coyly, Hardt and Negri write, “[T]he spatial divisions of the three Worlds (First, Second, and Third) have been scrambled so that we continually find the First World in the Third, the Third in the First, and the Second almost nowhere at all” (Empire, xiii).
The regulatory mechanisms of Empire's sovereignty, however, organize capital through a “smooth world” defined by “new and complex regimes of differentiation and homogenization, deterritorialization and reterritorialization.” It also organizes production within “smooth” spaces of “global flows” marked by communication, cooperation, and “affective labor” (xiii). Production, in Empire, becomes increasingly postmodern and biopolitical; that is, the “production of wealth” is as much about the “production of social life itself” (xiii). And while cheerleaders on the Right and detractors on the Left often see the United States as the “ultimate authority that rules over the processes of globalization,” Hardt and Negri refuse the United States that central, governing, authoritative, and übersovereign place. “If the nineteenth century was a British century, then the twentieth century has been an American century; or really, if modernity was European, then postmodernity is American,” Hardt and Negri write, parroting those on the Right and on the Left (Empire, xiii). As they adamantly declare, “The United States does not, and indeed no nation-state can today, form the center of an imperialist project. Imperialism is over. No nation will be world leader in the way modern European nations were” (Empire, xiii–xiv; original emphasis).
(p.12) Acknowledging that the United States does have a “privileged position” within Empire, but also contending that this “privileged position” derives not from old imperialist practices recycled for a new century, but rather from a constitutionalism that is both formal (i.e., “the written document along with its various amendments and legal apparatuses”) and material (i.e., “the continuous formation and re-formation of the composition of social forces”), Hardt and Negri argue that it is the United States' manipulation of “open, expanding frontiers” and the exercise of power through “effectively distributed in networks” (Empire, xiv) that makes the United States a conceptual, not metaphorical, precursor to Empire; yet Empire is not reducible to or synonymous with the United States, or vice versa.
In the closing passages of the preface, Hardt and Negri identify four defining characteristics of the concept of Empire: its totality; its ahistoricity, or posthistoricity; its rule over the entire social sphere right down to the human heart; and its dedication to peace. First, Empire is total, totalizing, a total totality: it manifests a regime that “effectively encompasses the spatial totality, or really that rules over the entire ‘civilized’ world. No territorial boundaries limit its reign” (Empire, xiv). Second, Empire “presents itself” as suspending history, ending history, transcending history. It “presents itself” thus “as a regime with no temporal boundaries and in this sense outside of history or at the end of history” (Empire, xiv–xv). Third, Empire manages the political sphere, the social sphere, the human sphere of interactions, and even “seeks directly to rule over human nature”; it is, then, as they intimate, the “paradigmatic form of biopower” (Empire, xv). Fourth, and finally, Empire is conceptually wed to the prevailing rhetoric of “perpetual and universal peace,” even if, in reality, it is “continually bathed in blood (Empire, xv). Empire not only “wields enormous powers of oppression and destruction,” Hardt and Negri write, but also offers “new possibilities to the forces of liberation” (Empire, xv). The shared “political task” of the future multitude, as the counter-Empire, is “to resist these processes…to reorganize them and redirect them toward new ends” and “to invent new democratic forms and a new constituent power that will one day take us through and beyond Empire” (Empire, xv). The shared project of the multitude also demands the construction, or production, of a new cartography: “The geography of these alternative powers, the new cartography, is still waiting to be written—or really, it is being written today through the resistances, struggles, and desires of the multitude” (xvi). Empire, the book, in its convoluted structure, dense argumentation, disparate intellectual paradigms, myriad philosophical and historical references, and distinctly Deleuzian theoretical frame, only further elaborates the details of this “basic hypothesis” sketched in brief in the book's preface.
(p.13) As I intimate elsewhere, we must begin to extensively critique and reformulate the interlocking structures of Empire in the post-9/11 landscape of the contemporary geopolitical moment.10 I thus rebut here Hardt and Negri's theorizations of Empire as scattered, postmodern, transnational, impersonal systems of global regulatory forces operative worldwide in the service of capital without necessarily also attending to the resurgent forms of nationalisms across the globe.11 We need to seriously probe the limitations of the model of Empire by intellectually reflecting on and politically brainstorming responses to these germane questions:
• How are Hardt and Negri's theorizations of the passage from modernity to postmodernity, or from imperialism to Empire, complicated by a post-9/11 resurgence of nationalist modernity (particularly in the “one indispensable nation-state”)?
• How are Hardt and Negri's theorizations complicated by 9/11, the global terror war, U.S. unilateralism, preemptive strike, and the Second Gulf War?
• Why do Hardt and Negri see the Vietnam War as the last vestige of U.S. imperialism and the Gulf War as the onset of Empire?
• What do the global terror war and current U.S. war in Iraq indicate? Of what are they symptomatic?
• And what of the U.S., French, Canadian, and Chilean second “intervasion” of Haiti in 2004?
• How also might the forces of modern imperial nation and transnational Empire operate in tandem, simultaneously, yet also in discordant friction, the former reterritorializing on the latter even as the latter deterritorializes the first?
I thus offer—admittedly but necessarily in brief—another critique grounded in late capitalist production: Hardt and Negri argue that in a period of postmodern Empire (marked by the informatization of production) the “dominant” countries have shifted almost completely toward production based on nonmaterial labor, such as service sector, information, and computer labor. Yet, these dominant economic nations also remain the dominant ones militarily, and one form of material labor that persists in these countries is that of arms production (estimated at $950 billion annually) by corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, or what Goff refers to as “military capitalism” and Klein calls “disaster capitalism.” Thus additional critical notes necessarily follow on the term “global capitalism”—its meaning, its uses, its values, its limitations—and the alternative promises of a materially informed “World Bank literature.”
By global capitalism, I am referencing the shifts away from nationally based economies with localized centers of production—however interdependent and interconnected those national economies—that began with the July 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference (known to posterity as the Bretton Woods Conference, since it brought together delegates from forty-four Allied nations in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire). The conference established the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), popularly and more commonly referred to as the World Bank; the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a precursor to the World Trade Organization (WTO); and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). One of the most salient results of the Bretton Woods Conference was the establishment of fixed rates of monetary exchange (set at thirty-five dollars per ounce of gold).12 And while the World Bank was created to oversee postwar reconstruction and development, the IMF was “charged with maintaining international economic stability” (Fulcher, Capitalism, 100). Bretton Woods and the economic system it created also forced “international institutions to conform to the dominant American model of capitalism,” since the conference was dominated by the United States and other Allied powers, or the industrialized, capitalist economies (Fulcher, Capitalism, 100). As Hardt and Negri saliently summarize in Empire, the “Bretton Woods” system rested on three major international accomplishments: it established “the comprehensive economic hegemony of the United States over all the nonsocialist countries”; it “demanded the agreement for monetary stabilization between the United States and other dominant capitalist countries (first Europe then Japan)”; and, finally, it “dictated” a “quasi-imperialist relationship of the United States over all the subordinate nonsocialist countries” (264–65). In short, Hardt and Negri conclude, “Bretton Woods might thus be understood as the monetary and financial face of the hegemony of the New Deal model over the global capitalist economy” (Empire, 265).
Two decades of cold war economic growth were followed by the onset of global economic recession; the delinking of international currency rates from the gold standard in 1971 (which ended the Bretton Woods system of set rates, transferred U.S. debt to European countries, and inaugurated floating exchange rates for monetary currencies), the same year, coincidentally, of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier's death and succession by his son, Jean-Claude; the onset of the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil embargo in 1973; and the resultant or consequent international oil crisis in 1973–1974.
(p.15) According to urban geographer Neil Smith, several factors within the United States led to the international decision to delink exchange rates from gold and allow for floating rates of exchange: the U.S. economic trade deficit; the increased U.S. budgetary deficit; the consequent decline in the U.S. dollar; and the negative fiscal impact of the Vietnam War. In Smith's estimation, 1973 was a pivotal year in which four key events occurred: first, a wide-scale economic depression in major national economies; second, the hyperproliferation in the U.S. trade deficit (which increased from $1.8 billion in the 1960s to $11 billion by the end of 1972); third, the onset of the OPEC oil embargo; and fourth, the Asian “industrial revolution” (Endgame, 130–31).
The 1970s also witnessed the ever-expansive reach of multinational manufacturing corporations, the international division of labor, and incipient modes of the transnationalized production and flows of finance capital. And globalization, while not synonymous with global capitalism, nevertheless has become a sort of intellectual “shorthand by which we describe,” sometimes inaccurately or reductively, “a dense range of economic, social, political, and cultural shifts that began in the 1970s, shifts upon which a third moment of US global ambition has been built” (N. Smith, Endgame, 124). Extrapolating the aspects denoted by global capitalism from the broader term “globalization,” Smith notes that “globalization is often assumed to be the inevitable—even natural—outcome of a capitalism that has swept away all competitors and still the regulatory instincts of national states.” He further remarks that globalization is “broadly conceived as the process by which capital erodes and minimizes the significance of national and local borders, opening the way for global markets, trade, and capital flows” (Endgame, 124). Still, Smith insists that, and I defer here to his insistence, globalization may also be deployed as a culturally broad term that sweeps up what should be more properly and narrowly defined as late neoliberal capitalism defined by its deregulatory financial practices and its austere structural adjustment plans imposed on borrowing countries, often third world and already deeply indebted, by international financial institutions often directed by neoliberals or even neocons who are affluent, influential citizens of states with wealthier, more powerful national economies. Yet none of these features is, as Smith comments, exclusive or intrinsic to post-1970s global economies (having precursors in earlier historical moments of globalized capital). What is unique is the globalized nature of production in the post-1970s global economy. “Less scintillating by far than the intrigue of finance capital,” Smith admits, “the globalization of production may account for more of the novelty of globalization,” and the globalization of production post-1970s has been intricately interconnected with economic international migration (Endgame, 140).
(p.16) Americanization = Globalization? Americanization? Globalization? What is the place of the U.S. economy within the global capitalist economy? And what role does Americanization play within the discordant, fractured, and incoherent flows of globalization? It is a hotly debated issue. Write Hardt and Negri: “Proponents praise the United States as the world leader and sole superpower, and detractors denounce it as an imperialist oppressor” (Empire, xiii). Parodying the presumed Americanness of global capital by celebrants and critics alike, they conjecture, and I reiterate a passage already quoted above: “If the nineteenth century was a British century, then the twentieth century has been an American century; or really, if modernity was European, then postmodernity is American” (Empire, xiii). Yet Hardt and Negri adamantly disagree. “Even the most dominant nation-state,” even the United States, which former secretary of state Madeleine Albright called, unapologetically, the “one indispensable nation-state,” “should no longer be thought of as supreme and sovereign authorities, either outside or even within their own borders” (Empire, xi).13
Neil Smith's assessments are more measured, more tentative. He openly admits that “[g]lobalization may be American-led, but it is manifestly not the same thing as Americanization.” “[Y]et insofar as American nationalism infuses the arteries of a globalizing capitalism like no other, it is also crucial,” he reasons, “to follow further the contradiction of an American nationalism coiled within contemporary globalism” (Endgame, 25–26). Still, Smith issues a caveat impossible or unwise to ignore: “the prospect of a US ‘superimperialism’” (Endgame, 25).
While the United States and its imperialist tactics regionally and internationally need not be a mere repetition, as Hardt and Negri reductively suggest, of “the practices of old European imperialists,” and while the twentieth century need not definitively be the “American Century,” or the twenty-first century, the “New American Century,” the United States could (and does) operate exactly as Hardt and Negri theorize about Empire, and the United States may still be the operative engine, if not the spatial center, of imperial sovereignty.
One feature of global capitalism is undeniable: cities, like nations, are also operative agents. Saskia Sassen's work on global cities is extremely instructive here. Global cities express and exhibit imperial sovereignty. Still, we ask: Are cities ever entirely distinct and indistinguishable from the countries where they are located? Not only are the rural, local, urban, metropolitan, regional, national, and transnational spheres all imbricated in contemporary geopolitics, global capitalism, international regulatory financial bodies, and international systems of law and “United Nations” treatises, but, if Sassen is correct (p.17) that transnational flows of finance and multinationalized forms of production move through “global cities” (New York, London, Bangkok, Manila, and so forth) and rarely through the rural regions of most of the world's countries, then, without a doubt, Washington, D.C., is the “global city” par excellence as the orchestration room and launch site for the Washington Consensus, as the capital of the U.S. government, the Federal Reserve, and as the international headquarters for the World Bank and the IMF, even if the headquarters for the World Trade Organization is located in Geneva and for the United Nations in New York—both also “global cities.”
Within this line of troubling the concept, James Fulcher identifies four common myths about global capitalism: (1) that it is recent; (2) that capital actually circulates globally, “when in reality most of it moves between a small group of rich countries”; (3) that capital is organized globally and not nationally, since “nation-states continue to play a key role in the activities of transnational corporations”; and (4) that it “integrates the world, since the more global capitalism has become, the more divided the world has become by international inequalities of wealth” (Capitalism, 103). Also, as Wayne Ellwood similarly notes, it is not only the city which is perhaps more operative and definitive in so-called global capitalism than individual nation-states or even a cybernetically interconnected “transnation,” but also the corporation, which is why he refers to the twenty-first century as “The Corporate Century” (No-Nonsense Guide, 53). Citing the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Ellwood records the fact that many multinational corporations “wield more economic power than nation-states,” and, in fact, “50 of the largest 100 economies in the world” (as of 1999) were run by multinational corporations (MNCs), not countries (No-Nonsense Guide, 53).
Intellectually, and as further elaborated in Chapter 4, I am also indebted to Amitava Kumar's provocative notion of “World Bank literature.” This is a materialist and symptomatic mode of reading literary and cultural texts for their bricolage, or material imbrications with global capitalist writings (or “literature”) by international financial institutions, not only the World Bank and the IMF, but also regional trade agreements like NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) or CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement), and documents published by regional lending agencies. The model (a provocateur to aesthetes and canons alike) remains limited to a materialist interpretive framework that does not explicitly offer ways of understanding all issues pertaining to states, apparent states, sovereignty, invasion, limited sovereignty, national institutions (or the categorical lack of), and extraterritorial or transnational forces that structure states in relation to one another, all of which exceed the financial or economic. Consider not only the international (p.18) financial institutions, which Kumar and other signatories to world bank literature as a cultural movement for the twenty-first century ask us to interrogate, but consider also the globally scattered secret military prisons of the CIA and U.S. military, terror as a diasporic challenge to the nation-state and its military defense, the global war on terror, the global food crisis and food riots of 2008 (decades in the making and no doubt also in the fixing), as well as the worldwide environmental blowback from carbon emissions, waste dumping, pesticide spraying, deforestation, soil erosion, und so weiter, and so on. Now, we turn our theoretical attention to the war machine.
Theorizing Transnational Regimes of Violence
I adopt Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's concepts of the “State apparatus” and the “war machine” as terms providing a descriptive model for grasping how the world now seems to operate with its emergent and persistent collisions between global capitalism and military imperialism. Deleuze and Guattari's poststructuralist philosophical models have been importantly critiqued for their seemingly apolitical and reified tropes (nomadism, deterritorialization, rhizomes, minoritarian or molecular becomings, et cetera). In fact, the critiques, though necessary, are by now so well rehearsed within literary and cultural studies that it has become more commonplace simply to dismiss their theoretical insights outright than actually to undertake the arduous task of critically engaging with what their theories may have to offer these fields of study.14
While critiques of Deleuzian theory, and arguments against key Deleuzian terms, should not be dismissed, neither should those critiques render that theory unavailable or off-limits for interrogating contemporary social, cultural, and political issues. Caren Kaplan's Questions of Travel marks one of the most sustained and persuasive critiques of Deleuze and Guattari's theoretical models, and, indeed, literary scholars would be wise to heed her caveats against the romanticization of deterritorialization and nomadism within poststructuralist thought.15 Kaplan pointedly critiques the Deleuzian model (and Euro-American deployments of the tropes of nomadism), suggesting that theoretical nomadism (often apolitically deployed) and postmodern deterritorialization link “the Euro-American modernist valuations of exile, expatriation, defamiliarization, and displacement and the colonial discourses of cultural differences to a philosophy that appears to critique the foundations of that very tradition” (Questions of Travel, 89). While not categorically dismissive of poststructuralist models of thought, Kaplan remains skeptical (p.19) of models that reiterate (even while revalorizing) the tropes of colonial discourses—tropes such as nomads, migrants, deserts, deterritorializations, and minor becomings. “I am arguing,” Kaplan writes, “for versions of poststructuralism that destabilize colonial discourses as overtly as they deconstruct logocentrism” (Questions of Travel, 24).16 Like Kaplan, I am wary of apolitical, ahistorical deployments of poststructuralist thought, yet I am invested in historicized, politicized deployments of that thought as potentially subversive.17
Two of the most useful and timely concepts to emerge from Deleuze and Guattari's Mille plateaux are the State apparatus and the war machine. While the theorists assert that the State apparatus may collide with, but can never be reduced to, state militaries, the interlocking and mutually supporting ideological, capitalistic, and militaristic regimes defining U.S. American hegemony at this particular historical moment—marked by the confluence of international financial institutions, or global capitalism, and U.S. military imperialism—may be accurately described as a “State apparatus,” and a decisively transnational one. While it may be argued that for Deleuze and Guattari the strictures of the state apparatus operate fundamentally at the most intimate levels of repressive structures—similar in this sense to Foucault's ideas about the clinic, the prison, and the bedroom—and need not be manifest in the extreme forms of state-supported violence or political terror, those forms nevertheless, for many, reveal something intrinsically rotten about repressive state regimes. “Something is rotten in the state of…,” as Shakespeare wrote centuries ago. And for most scholars, activists, and theorists—particularly those concerned with social and economic justice—State violence does manifest the highest form of repressive regimes; however, the war machine, as opposed to the State apparatus, also reveals how political forms of violence or terror are often directly related to global forms of inequality and injustice.
My point is this: as cultural critics, we may find theoretical points of convergence, or borrow from Deleuze and Guattari's mille plateaux randomly without completely assimilating our own thoughts into a systemic “Deleuzian” structure. Indeed, to feel that one needs to do so flies in the deterritorializing and antisystematic face of the entire mouvement deleuzien. Deleuze himself described his antiphilosophical writings as a theoretical “toolbox” from which ideas might be taken, used, or discarded at will.18
That is my intent. Although I find the interlinked concepts of the State apparatus and the war machine a useful descriptive model for critiquing and symptomatically analyzing the decades-long buildup of nuclear arms during the cold war and the subsequent post-1990 collisions of global capitalism and (p.20) military imperialism since the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and George H. W. Bush's proclamation of a “New World Order” in 1990, I am not, nor do I intend to be, strictly “Deleuzian,” whatever that might mean.
“Deterritorialization” is another Deleuzian term that has entered the terrain of cultural studies,19 usually denoting the postcolonial (and post–cold war) fracturing of nation-states or colonially determined boundaries of geographical territories. Political theorizations of this late-twentieth-century phenomenon ever proliferate, and Bash, Schiller, and Blanc's Nations Unbound represents one such deployment of the term “deterritorialization” in this specifically geopolitical sense. It may be argued that Haiti is a highly territorialized state with rigidly policed borders in the mountainous region that runs along the Massacre River in the north, one geographical boundary marking the country's border with its neighbor to the east, the Dominican Republic, and with policed borders beginning where sand meets Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the waters of which are routinely surveyed and monitored for refugees taking to the seas in shoddily and quickly constructed kanntès not intended for human transport, but rather for coal or coffee or sisal or some other traded cargo. Indeed, Haiti is territorialized, and yet these borders are nevertheless quite porous ones for the right organization or for the right amount of money: cocaine and arms dealers, and even armed rebels (as in early 2004), move with remarkably little effort across these borders even as refugees are systematically denied crossing. And though refugees are routinely turned away, Haiti's dyaspora remains a living testament to its own geopolitical deterritorialization: over 1.5 million Haitians live in dyaspora (Haiti's population on the island is approximately 9 million), and these diasporic individuals make up its administratively real, if also geographically virtual, “Tenth Department.” For Haiti, and perhaps for the United States as well, this massive out-migration constitutes a form of State apparatus deterritorialization, and the engaged (angajé) forms of cultural production by writers, musicians, artists, and film directors also deterritorialize and remap the meanings of Haiti, long-distance nationalism,20 political belonging, civic engagement, and Haitian diasporic citizenship.21
Deleuzian thought thus offers potentially viable models for explaining the disjunctures of the contemporary world, if not as idealized, then as actually existent. The machine de guerre, déterritorialisation, rhizome, or le devenirmineur, and other Deleuzian concepts may offer fruitful points of departure for theorizing future global capitalist trajectories. This conclusion manifests an effort to think through the theoretical implications of Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of the war machine for Haiti and for analyzing Haitian diasporic cultural forms of resistance.
(p.21) Adopting the Deleuzian concepts of the State apparatus (which has gone global, or at least transnational) and the war machine, I demonstrate how Deleuze and Guattari's terms are apt ones for descriptively hypothesizing a model of how the world is, if not a model of how we wish it to be. The concept of the war machine may have valuable currency as an explanatory or explicatory model, especially given the post-9/11, and indeed truly frightening, collision of global capitalism and U.S. military imperialism. The Deleuzian concepts of State apparatus and war machine may be useful, even presciently so, as a descriptive model—if not as apparently useful for remaking the world as we would have it, then as a model for elucidating how the world now operates and for understanding how the carceral talons of international financial institutions, largely centered in the West (particularly in the United States and the European Union) and the perilous tentacles of “superpower” state militarism transnationally penetrate and erode national sovereignty in smaller, weaker, less-developed states. The interlocking concepts of State apparatus and war machine thus offer a descriptive, if heuristic, model for theorizing the contemporary relations of militarism, global capitalism, and strategic underdevelopment in the contemporary world.22 Also, the war machine concept may also offer subversive possibilities for resisting global capitalism and military imperialism and for utopically rewriting alternative worlds, if the model is read from the outside through transnational grassroots activists in Haiti, the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.
Thus, below I offer a retheorization of terror in transnational sites through the Deleuzo-Guattarian lens of the nomadic war machine, an (ant)agonistic abstraction that deterritorializes the State apparatus as defined by Deleuze and Guattari in Plateau 12, “1227: Traité de Nomadologie: La Machine de Guerre” [Treatise on nomadism:—The war machine] (Mille plateaux [A Thousand Plateaus]). “Une machine de guerre est dirigée contre l'État” [The war machine is directed against the State], Deleuze and Guattari write, clarifying that it is “soit contre des États potentiels dont elle conjure la formation d'avance, soit, plus encore, contre les États actuels dont elle se propose la destruction” (Mille plateaux, 444) [either against potential States whose formation it wards off in advance or against actual States whose destruction it purposes (A Thousand Plateaus, 359)]. Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between the State apparatus and the nomadic war machine by defining their relation as one of interiority and exteriority, but only as defined within a perpetual field of interaction:
La loi de l'État n'est pas celle du Tout ou Rien (sociétés à l'État ou sociétés contre l'État), mais celle de l'intérieur et de l'extérieur. L'État, c'est (p.22) la souveraineté. Mais la souveraineté ne règne que sur ce qu'elle est capable d'intérioriser, de s'approprier localement. Non seulement il n'y a pas d'État universel, mais le dehors des États ne se laisse pas réduire à la “politique extérieure,” c'est-à-dire à un ensemble de rapports entre les États. Le dehors apparaît simultanément dans deux directions: de grandes machines mondiale, ramifiées sur tout l'œcoumène à un moment donné, et qui jouissent d'une large autonomie par rapport aux États (par exemple, des organisations commerciales du type “grandes compagnies,” ou bien des complexes industriels, ou même des formations religieuses comme le christianisme, l'islamisme, certains mouvements de prophétisme ou de messianisme, etc.); mais, aussi, des mécanismes locaux de bandes, marges, minorités, qui continuent d'affirmer les droits de sociétés segmentaires contre les organes de pouvoir d'État. (Mille plateaux, 445; original emphasis)
The law of the state is not the law of All or Nothing (State societies or counter-State societies) but that of interior and exterior. The state is sovereignty. But sovereignty only reigns over what it is capable of internalizing, of appropriating locally. Not only is there no universal state, but the outside of states cannot be reduced to “foreign policy,” that is, to a set of relations among states. The outside appears simultaneously in two directions: huge worldwide machines branched out over the entire ecumenon at a given moment, which enjoys a large measure of autonomy in relation to the States (for example, commercial organizations of the “multi-national” type, or industrial complexes, or even religious formations like Christianity, Islam, certain prophetic or messianic movements, etc.); but also the local mechanisms of bands, margins, minorities, which continue to affirm the rights of segmentary societies in opposition to the origins of state power. (A Thousand Plateaus, 360)
In Deleuze and Guattari's theoretical configuration, the law of the State is transnational, not national; extraterritorial, not territorially bound. The bands and the multinational corporations “impliquent une forme irréductible à l'État, et que cette forme d'extériorité se présente nécessairement comme celle d'une machine de guerre, polymorphe et diffuse” (Mille plateaux, 446) [imply a form irreducible to the State and that this form of exteriority necessarily presents itself as a diffuse and polymorphous war machine (A Thousand Plateaus, 360)]. As a form of interiority, the law of the State only reproduces itself; as a form of exteriority, but an exteriority existing only in its metamorphoses, the nomadic war machine exists in the currents, flows, and innovations (p.23) that exceed the interiority of the State. Although the State apparatus may reappropriate (or reterritorialize) the lines mapped by war machines, as forms of exteriority, they remain at least partially inassimilable. The State apparatus, according to Deleuze and Guattari, has no war machine of its own; the State apparatus can only appropriate or reterritorialize nomadic war machines as military institutions (with which the war machine should not be confused). These distinctions of interiority/exteriority, however, may only be understood in terms of “coexistence et de concurrence, dans un champ perpétuel d'interaction…les machines de guerre à métamorphoses et les appareils identitaires d'État, les bandes et les royaumes, les mégamachines et les empires” (Mille plateaux, 446; original emphasis) [coexistence and competition in a perpetual field of interaction…war machines of metamorphosis and apparatuses of identity, bands and kingdoms, megamachines and empires” (A Thousand Plateaus, 361)]. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the “même champ circonscrit son intériorité dans des États, mais décrit son extériorité dans ce qui échappe aux États ou se dresse contre les États” (Mille plateaux, 446) [same field circumscribes its interiority in State, but describes its exteriority in what escapes States or stands against States (A Thousand Plateaus, 361)]. The State apparatus operates according to a legal model that is homogeneous and is constantly reterritorializing centripetally around a center; the nomadic war machine operates ambulantly and heterogeneously, deterritorializing or extending the territory itself.
Under the dictatorial and brutal regimes of the Duvaliers, and even during the post-1986 period (referred to as “Duvalierism without Duvalier”), the State apparatus of Haiti manifested a concretization of state-military power configured, ironically, as noirisme, but with a white underbelly (a despotic state and national beast fed by the transnational, anti-Communist rhetoric of the cold war era and fattened on first world international aid even as the black masses were tortured, exiled, and killed, unless they simply starved first). Here we should recall that, although Duvalier espoused an anti-imperialist platform of “black power,” the dictator's military and political structures, ironically, mirrored those imposed by the U.S. Marines during the early-twentieth-century occupation of the country, with Duvalier's government centralized in Port-au-Prince but with military tentacles extending into the andeyò, or rural departments, and with the Tonton Macoutes, or Uncle Knapsacks, and their brutal tactics of control (rape, torture, and murder) structured like the gendarmerie created by the U.S. Marines during the military occupation from 1915 to 1934.
Repressive military structures were reinforced by the U.S.-U.N. interventions of 1994 and 2004. And although the Armée d'Haïti was disbanded in (p.24) 1995, violence did not cease. The State apparatus only became deterritorialized under Aristide, chaotically scattered among units of armed gangs, or chimères, which still ruled by gun and, many allege, by state decree. The CIA's complicity in arming, training, and paying rebels to lead coups and violent insurrections make this U.S. “intelligence agency,” as well as the U.S. Marines, part of the transnational State apparatus operative in Haiti.
Within a Deleuzian frame, Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier manifest the visagéité noiriste, the despotic face, of the dictator constructed as the very embodiment of negritude; but its head and its body were decisively white, wealthy, and first world. (Of course, the “first world” is not, in actuality, “white,” any more than Père or Fils Duvalier embodied blackness, and yet hegemonic structures of power and privilege within Western nation-states have historically been predicated on the felonious and fallacious foundations of “whiteness” according to what Charles W. Mills refers to as the “racial contract.”)23 Since the 1950s throughout the Americas (and quite strikingly in Haiti), the State apparatus has eluded the state or nation; it has gone transnational. The State apparatus, though marked by the despotic bodies of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier, cannot be reduced to these two bodies, but rather extends across this field of state power = Duvalierism without Duvalier; or, more diffusely, across a militaristic, juridical, administrative, discursive “perpetual field of interaction.” The state was undeniably a centralized power configured centripetally and interiorally = Duvalierism = post-Duvalierism (or Duvalierism without Duvalier). However, it was also, paradoxically, a decentralized power extending and distending centrifugally = cold war ideologies = U.S. and CIA complicity = influxes of international capital and global manipulation = Lavalas resistance and, ultimately, constrained concessions = (apparent) state impotency (or what Glick Schiller and Fouron define as an “apparent state”). The equation is more convoluted than Duvalier = State = Nation.
“The law of the State”—or the State apparatus as Deleuze and Guattari theorize it—though initially marked by the despotic bodies of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier, cannot be reduced to these two bodies (or even to other proliferating bodies of power: Henri Namphy; Prosper Avril; Michel François; Philippe Biamby; Bertha Pascal-Trouillot; George H. W. Bush; Alvin Adams; Lynne Garrison; Marc Bazin; Jean-Bertrand Aristide; Raoul Cédras; Emmanuel “Toto” Constant; Jean-Pierre Baptiste, “Tatoune”; René Préval; William Jefferson Clinton; Yvonne Neptune; Dany Toussaint; George W. Bush; Roger F. Noriega; Guy Philippe; Louis-Jodel Chamblain; Gérard Latorture; Boniface Alexandre. Rather, it extends and distends across multiple fields of state (and extrastate) power across a militaristic, juridical, administrative, (p.25) financial, and transnational discursive “perpetual field of interaction.” I suggest that Haitian diasporic forms of literary production, even as they reiterate or represent violence, also resist it and thus offer alternative visions of how the world could be. In this sense, Haitian and Haitian diasporic literatures are trans-American “arts of resistance.”
Haitian Post-Duvalier Literatures as Arts of Resistance
Haitian and Haitian diasporic literatures resist the division of art (or aesthetics) and politics. Haitian diasporic writers, such as Dany Laferrière, Edwidge Danticat, Myriam J. A. Chancy, and Marilene Phipps use the written word as literary pwen, points, aimed at those institutions, individuals, and nations that exploit laborers, refugees, citizens, and other marginalized groups. Similarly, as I discuss in Artists, Performers, and Black Masculinity in the Haitian Diaspora, diasporic musicians like Wyclef Jean “chante pwen,” sing points, critiquing the exploitation of the weak by the powerful both culturally and historically, and cinema director Raoul Peck also uses his filmic medium to contest the hegemony of global capitalism and its deleterious effects on small developing countries. Diasporic forms of literary production are, thus, “arts of resistance,” a term that I borrow, but also modify, from James C. Scott (Weapons of the Weak and Domination and the Arts of Resistance).
Arguing that violent revolutions are rare while subtle acts of resistance are a daily occurrence, Scott suggests that we need to pay far more attention to “everyday forms of peasant resistance—the prosaic but constant struggle between peasantry and those who seek to extract labor, food, taxes, rents, and interest from them” (Weapons, xvi; original emphasis). These forms of everyday resistance—“poaching, foot-dragging, pilfering, dissimulation, flight” (Domination, xiii)—Scott argues, are crucial to understanding how disempowered individuals contest their abuse and exploitation. He notes that “individual acts of foot-dragging and evasion, reinforced by a venerable popular culture of resistance and multiplied many thousand-fold, may, in the end, make an utter shambles of the policies dreamed up by their would-be superiors in the capital” (Weapons, xvii).
Scott further develops his concept of everyday resistance in Domination and the Arts of Resistance, where he distinguishes between “public transcripts,” or the official forms of dominant discourse that transcribe and encode power, and “hidden transcripts,” which remain embedded within dominant discourses, yet “beyond direct observation by powerholders” (4). For Scott, public transcripts are “self-portrait[s] of dominant elites as they would have themselves seen” (Domination, 18; original emphasis); they are, (p.26) then, necessarily partial, subjective, and whitewashed accounts of historical relations of power, the powerful, and the powerless. For these reasons, Scott contends, “[t]he analysis of the hidden transcripts of the powerful and of the subordinate offers us, I believe, one path to a social science that uncovers contradictions and possibilities, that looks well beneath the placid surface that the public accommodation to the existing distribution of power, wealth, and status often presents” (Domination, 15).
Jennie M. Smith, in “Melodic Machetes” (When the Hands Are Many), builds on Scott's concepts of everyday resistance and hidden transcripts and applies these utilitarian theoretical concepts to daily acts of performed resistance in Haitian peasant culture. Telling the story of a disgruntled young woman named Kami who composes pointed songs to protest her treatment by Eli, her demanding father-in-law, who is well within ear of her melody, Smith eloquently describes chan pwen, or “sung points,” in Haitian peasant culture as performed modes of cultural resistance to power and oppression.
Within Scott's analysis of power and discourse, the more openly articulated the form of resistance, the greater the degree of power and access to privileged sectors of social, historical, and cultural resources. For Scott, the disenfranchised, or powerless, resist and formulate transcripts that rewrite power relations. Certainly in the case of the Haitian peyizans andeyò or moun andeyò, rural peasants, everyday resistance or hidden transcripts offer vital means of surviving oppression and contesting it, if not openly and defiantly revolting against it (although that too occurs in Haiti as its history and as the crisis in early 2004 starkly remind us).
I want to suggest yet a third path that intervenes between public and hidden transcripts, that offers intermediary points of negotiation of power and exploitation, and that seeks to represent subaltern individuals who may not have access to written language, televisual media, video footage, or audiotape. Diasporic forms of cultural production are not quite dominant forms of social-cultural discourse, and yet they are public transcripts. Diasporic cultural production registers more audibly and visibly than hidden transcripts. As such, these art forms are public transcripts, but ones still marginalized within the larger field of social-cultural discourse: diasporic writers (like artists, musicians, film directors, and performance artists) create public transcripts, sometimes with open contestations of power and hegemony, but also with more subtly or nuanced hidden messages embedded within their cultural art forms. Diasporic literary texts (like documentary films and rap songs) are, then, trans-American arts of resistance. Dany Laferrière, like other Haitian diasporic writers, artists, musicians, and directors, produces cultural forms that contest the relations of power (p.27) between the first and the third worlds in the global economy while also challenging imperialist foreign policies and the negative impact those policies often have on his home country. (Mis)perceptions of Laferrière and his literary texts as “apolitical” rest primarily on his infamous first novel, Comment faire l'amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer, as well as the sequel, Cette grenade dans la main du jeune nègre est-elle une arme ou un fruit? Not only have Laferrière's politicized critiques of historical constructions of black heteromasculinity been little understood,24 but these misperceptions of the reading public have also obscured other political frames or framings of the author, who has openly satirized “development,” U.S. militarism, and international financial institutions and critiqued political corruption in Haiti under dictatorship, military despotism, and global capitalism.
Just as we need to probe the transnational influences fostering national forms of state violence, we also need to insist on the interrelations of literature and political economy rather than divorcing aesthetic and economic issues along rigidly policed disciplinary lines. In the chapters that follow, I work toward those ends. Cultural forms of production, more generally, and music, art, and cinema, specifically, need to be analyzed in relation to the material, economic, and political contexts in which they are produced. Haitian American writers (like artists, musicians, and directors) are deeply cognizant of audience, production, and political questions accompanying representation; in fact, they participate culturally and artistically to resist the transnational forces that have contributed to political destabilization in their home country. For example, the mizik rasin band Boukman Eksperyans has written and performed songs contesting the negative economic impact of the IMF and the World Bank on the fragile Haitian economy, and Haitian American rap artist Papa Jube wrote a song, “Anbago,” protesting the international embargo against the country during the defakto military regime from 1991 to 1994 and criticizing the measure as having deleterious effects on poor Haitians but little effect on the military regime. Similarly, writers such as Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière compose narratives that critique, for example, the damaging effects of the U.S. Coast Guard on the poorest, most desperate Haitians, who flee the country as refugees, or those Haitians remaining home who are palpably aware of being policed within their own geographical borders by U.S. Marines.
Danticat has also been visible in the United States protesting the impact of U.S. foreign policy, as well as state and local policies, on both Haitian Americans and her home country. She has marched in New York, for instance, to protest New York Police Department violence against Haitian American men (Patrick Dorismond, Abner Louima). By doing so, Danticat is participating (p.28) in transnational forms of social-justice activism, wherein Haitian Americans organize to protest U.S. action or inaction toward Haitian political problems. They use the media, community resources, and their constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly to pressure federal, state, and local governments to alter policies and effectuate change both within the diasporic context and at home in Haiti.
Glick Schiller and Fouron insightfully discuss such transnational forms of grassroots activism in Georges Woke Up Laughing. They assert that long-distance nationalists create subaltern political forms through participation in “transnational movements for global justice” (272). Trans-American arts of resistance articulate honor (onè) and respect (respè) for those too often nameless and faceless individuals who form the vast majority of the Haitian dyaspora.
In this book I also attempt to articulate resistance through the written word for those who may not be able to read or write, and thus represent their own lived experiences. Representation, of course, is not without its perils, and I proceed cautiously, ever mindful of my limitations and of the fact that I can only approximate or gesture toward abuses that I have never suffered. Writers represent, but also transmute, lived historical experiences, and their diasporic arts of resistance are important forms of political critique within the Haitianized trans-American landscape.
In this book I likewise concern myself with those defined as émigrés, or “illegal aliens,” whose lives and migrations reshape the borders of states within the Americas. Just as Aristide's speech before the United Nations in 1994 challenged the hypocrisies and inequities of the global political economy while restoring honor and respect to those on the wrong side of the economic, political, and national divides of power, so too literary texts expose violence, power differentials, and injustices while portraying, with dignity, those who suffer from these global infractions against humanity. These explorations are particularly important now, given the current historical collision of military imperialism and global capitalism that has led to the global dominance of the United States, which acts unilaterally (unapologetically so), and to the erosion of political sovereignty for small developing states such as Haiti. Diasporic literatures utilize national resources and audiences—Canadian, Haitian, and U.S., often simultaneously—to transnationally critique imperialism and suffering in Haiti and in its dyaspora, and thereby contribute to and participate in transnational grassroots movements for social justice internationally or globally. Diasporic literatures also challenge minority-dominant stratifications in the countries of adoption (Canada and the United States), not only exposing ideological presuppositions about race, class, nation, and economy, but also (p.29) contesting those relations of power. Diasporic literatures, as trans-American arts of resistance, also confront the dominance of the United States within the Americas and critique the consequent erosion of sovereignty within smaller American states.
Haitian diasporic writers, like artists, musicians, directors, and performance artists, also use their performed arts of resistance as political protest. While this study focuses primarily on literature, the concept of diasporic arts of resistance is equally true for music, film, visual arts, and performance arts. While these writers directly engage history and historical shifts within their Haitian homeland, they do not merely document or naïvely hope to realistically represent history in literary form. Influenced by materialist, new historicist, and even postmodernist narrative strategies and the idea that language is not a transparent medium that realistically transcribes historical moments, these writers recognize the ideological codings of realism and deploy literary texts as reflective but also transformative of historical circumstance.
Contested Black Atlantic Terrains: Overview of the Book
Looking at Haiti, one begins to see movement and the prohibition of movement within the Americas and across transatlantic waters quite differently. Haitian diasporic artists, writers, musicians, and film directors create cultural resistance to U.S. interference in their homeland and in the dyaspora. Such creative interventions throw out points of resistance, voye pwen, to counter the disparities of geopolitical power between the United States, the most dominant country in the Western Hemisphere, and Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest country. Haiti and Haitian diasporic forms of cultural production are the subject of this book. Duvalier's Ghosts thus forms, at least in part, a critical rejoinder to Gilroy's theorizations of the black Atlantic by focusing on Haiti and Haiti's diasporic extraterritorial Tenth Department. And honoring the intermeshed historical terrains of land and sea, I evoke the term “black Atlantic” throughout this book as coextensive with the circum-Atlantic region of the Americas, and not simply as the Atlantic ocean. In Duvalier's Ghosts I suggest the necessity, even urgency, of rethinking Gilroy's “against-race” diasporic model of the black Atlantic through a historical analysis of both Haiti-U.S. relations and Haiti's dyaspora, focusing specifically on the media and governmental racialization of Haitian refugees—pejoratively referred to as “boat people”—in the United States. For Haitian refugees the black Atlantic has often meant dehydration, drowning, detention, and deportment.
(p.30) More specifically, in Duvalier's Ghosts I examine how Haitian diasporic writers and directors critique the treatment of Haitian refugees crossing the Atlantic to seek asylum in the United States; how they criticize international financial institutions, which have historically designed “development” strategies for Haiti that further perpetuate poverty, hunger, and displacement; and how global capitalism prioritizes cheap labor and privatization of state utilities over basic human needs. Drawing on the Haitian and Haitian diasporic literary texts of Patricia Benoît, Edwidge Danticat, Dany Laferrière, Nikòl Payen, Marilene Phipps, Lyonel Trouillot, and others, I suggest the ways in which art and artists participate in transnational movements for global social justice. Duvalier's Ghosts thus addresses how post-Duvalier Haitian literatures articulate politicized critiques of U.S. imperialism and global capitalism in Haiti, and thus have much to teach us about the nature of imperialism/capitalism elsewhere. Below, I suggest a comparative probing of the interconnections between U.S. interventions in Haiti and the “War on Terror” and particularly how Guantánamo fits into that intranational configuration of U.S. imperial power. Guantánamo, of course, ties contemporary “enemy combatants” to earlier Haitian refugees who were held in detention camps there, often for long periods, before being deported back to Haiti during the violent coup years from 1991 to 1994.
One of my objectives in this book is to contextualize diasporic forms of cultural production within the historical, economic, and political moments in which these artistic forms emerged. The book and its analytical subjects are grounded historically within post-Duvalier shifts in Haiti and its dyaspora; however, I also reference the economic and political shifts of Duvalierism, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s, where appropriate and useful. Rather than incorporating one long historical overview into the Introduction, I have chosen to scatter the historical sections throughout the book: the migration patterns from Haiti to the United States—beginning under Duvalier and reaching their highest point in the mid-1990s—are discussed in Chapters 1 and 2, which analyze diasporic literary narratives representing the plights of Haitian refugees. The detention of Haitian refugees at the Guantánamo Bay naval base from 1991 to 1994 is discussed in Chapter 3. The internationally designed structural adjustment program imposed on Haiti in 1994, as well as earlier “development” strategies of the 1970s and 1980s are discussed in Chapter 4, which analyzes Dany Laferrière's novel Pays sans chapeau; the post-1994 political and economic shifts in Haiti, after Aristide was restored to power in 1994, are discussed in Chapter 5, which specifically examines the financial consequences for women in Haiti and gendered ways of understanding aborted states and arrested development. The period known as Jeanclaudisme, (p.31) roughly from the early 1970s until 1980, is discussed in Chapters 6 and 7, both of which analyze Laferrière's novel Le cri des oiseaux fous. The presidential campaign of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, marked by anti-imperialist rhetoric and messianic appeal, is included in Chapter 8, which analyzes Edwidge Danticat's novel The Dew Breaker. The violent regimes of Gen. Raoul Cédras (1991–1994), as well as those of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier (1957–1971) and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier (1971–1986) are also discussed in Chapters 6 and 7. However, and perhaps more significantly, these chapters also overview the historical support of the CIA, USAID, and the IRI for violent, militaristic regimes in Haiti. (In the Preface I briefly gloss the Bicentennial crisis of 2004, which led to Aristide's second exile on February 29, 2004, and the intervention of U.S., Canadian, Chilean, and French troops in the country, those troops replaced in June 2004 by U.N. peacekeeping forces.)
Thus, the book opens with the most recent historically traumatic moment in Haiti's long history of national suffering; but this book also aspires to intellectually rebut pervasive misconceptualizations of that history as endemic. I counter that historical violence in Haiti has transnational, trans-American parameters, roots, and causes (and has since the outbreak of the 1791 slave revolt, which led to the Haitian Revolution and the founding of the Repiblik dAyiti/République d'Haïti, although those entwined American historical trajectories lie outside of the current project's scope).
This book thus proposes a sustained conversation between discourses examining the social and political economy (in Haiti and throughout the Americas) and forms of cultural production—music, art, literature, cinema. These areas are necessarily interrelated and part of the same problematic. Aesthetic questions, as Haitian diasporic literatures attest, cannot remain divorced from the sociopolitical context and their cultural modes of production. Arts of resistance demand analysis in relation to the political context in which these artistic forms are produced. Play, even aesthetics, is suffused with politics and power.
Questions of audience are as significant as those about modes of cultural production. In Haiti, where the estimated literacy rate is between 15 percent and 45 percent (with some estimates as high as 85 percent), literature has an admittedly small audience on the island. And yet, as a country, Haiti has one of the oldest and most aesthetically rich literary and scholarly traditions in the Caribbean, and indeed throughout all of the Americas, including Brazil, Canada, and the United States—a real point of pride for Haitians both in Haiti and in the dyaspora. Haiti's diasporic literatures are also multilinguistic, being written in French, English, and Kreyòl from many countries of diasporic adoption. Laferrière's French, Frankétienne's Kreyòl, and Danticat's English (p.32) are all equally inaccessible, unfortunately, to the overwhelming majority of Haitians, who cannot read or write in any language.
Despite these real and undeniable cultural limitations, literature is vital to Haitian national survival. It launches pointed critiques (through literary pwen) and textual attacks against injustice—national and international, political and economic—that are legible to the well-read and literate Haitian elite (in the homeland and in dyaspora), as well as to transnational audiences in North America, Europe, Africa, and across the globe. Haitian diasporic literatures—like music, cinema, and art—are crucial for rethinking (and revaluing) Haiti in the Americas: the country plays a vital role in rethinking the black Atlantic as policed and regulated, not free-floating, and rethinking the Americas as an imperialist zone.
Duvalier's Ghosts entails several urgent and interrelated projects: it involves rethinking diasporic zones as formations that also reflect the push-pull of global capitalist restructuring, since diasporic communities are often formed as economic migrants relocate to support families remaining at home through financial remittances; it involves rethinking the Atlantic as a highly striated, surveyed, or militarized zone rather than simply as an amorphous, unbound, or free-floating terrain; it involves rethinking how imperial transatlantic structures (exported from the U.S. political economy of race) become superimposed and reimported back into the U.S. nation-state or national body as racist anti-immigrant sentiments toward Haitian Americans and other African Caribbean communities; it involves an analysis of how imperial transatlantic structures are imported (and often violently imposed) on small developing countries within the Americas; and it involves, finally, and perhaps most important, a sustained discussion of how transatlantic imperial structures foster and perpetuate regimes of violence in other American countries and across the globe. The book also manifests my own intellectual and political grappling with issues of race, dyaspora, and cultural production, and throughout I deliberately place literature in discursive relation to the larger political and economic fields within which these artistic forms are produced. I also take the risk (against possible aesthetically grounded detractors) of suggesting the urgency of placing literary discourses in conversation with those of political economy. Rather than being divorced from sociopolitical context, Haitian and Haitian diasporic literatures, as arts of resistance, directly engage political and economic questions.
In Part One I contest theoretical models of transatlantic movement that celebrate hybridity and creolized forms of cultural exchange and that obscure the imperial striations of race and class that regulate, impede, and often prohibit cross-Atlantic movements. While rethinking and complicating the (p.33) terrain of the black Atlantic, I also examine literary, musical, and filmic representations of migration, refugees, and immigration policies of the United States and Haiti.
Chapter 1 critiques Gilroy's black Atlantic model for its epistemological occlusion of Haiti and Haiti's dyaspora. Written in 1993, The Black Atlantic charts a transatlantic intellectual voyage that ignores the violent journeys of Haitian refugees crossing the Atlantic Ocean in massive waves during the period from 1991 to 1994. Gilroy's compass directs his intellectual sojourn elsewhere, and yet the occlusion of Haiti has profound epistemological ramifications, which I outline in this opening chapter, for transatlantic and American hemispheric studies. Combining historical and literary analysis, I demonstrate how Haiti's dyaspora complicates Gilroy's against-race model of the black Atlantic. These narratives form a powerful rejoinder to Gilroy's conceptualization of the black Atlantic.
Chapter 2 analyzes literary representations of the plight of Haitian refugees. Edwidge Danticat's “Children of the Sea,” Marilene Phipps' “Marie-Ange's Ginen,” Emile Ollivier's Passages, Patricia Benoît's “The Red Dress,” and Nikòl Payen's “Something in the Water” all document the tragedy of contemporary Haitian refugees crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Reflecting the intimate, yet imperiled, connections between dyaspora and homeland, between those who flee and those who remain behind, these literary texts represent the hardships suffered by Haitian refugees adrift on highly regulated transatlantic waters. They also complicate Gilroy's division of roots and routes, land and sea, nation and dyaspora. Instead, the intimate and interconnected portrayals create (often traumatic) geographies of love and coups, of land, sea, and body. Focusing on the historical reiterations of past slave passages, I examine the textual revisitations of the Middle Passage in these diasporic literary narratives about Haitian refugees and suggest the limits of trans-American identification based on African ancestry.
Chapter 3 reconceptualizes black Atlantic terrains as moving ones, vacillating between mythic ancestral origins and imperial military structures, or between the belief in Ginen, as African ancestral homeland, and Guantánamo, the U.S. naval base located in the Oriente region of eastern Cuba. Rethinking the black Atlantic involves examining the perils of that zone for contemporary refugees, detainees, and enemy combatants, not merely those who choose to make the voyage (but, even more revealingly, for those who have no choice). I thus examine the black Atlantic through the lens of Haiti and its dyaspora, positioning transatlantic journeys for Haitian refugees as drifting somewhere between Ginen and Guantánamo, where many Haitian refugees were detained during the early to mid-1990s. I also suggest comparative, (p.34) if disconcerting, parallels between Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo in the 1990s and enemy combatants now detained at the military base and briefly discuss how military apparatuses also travel abroad (with tactics used at Guantánamo being “exported” to the Iraq war zone and the Abu Ghraib prison).
In Part Two I address the debilitating legacy of the U.S. military occupation of Haiti, focusing on the political and economic consequences of development policies that are concomitant with or follow direct forms of intervention. Specifically, in Part Two I meditate on literary and filmic contestations of international development policies affecting Haiti, particularly as related to hunger and poverty. In Chapter 4, I analyze Laferrière's pointed critiques of “international development” and its too frequently deleterious effects on his Haitian homeland. In Pays sans chapeau, Laferrière wittily calls literary attention to hunger, poverty, and violence in Haiti, even in 1996, two years after the 1994 U.S-U.N. intervention and military occupation of the country. Humorously, yet caustically, Laferrière also exposes the involvement of the U.S. military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and even nongovernmental organizations—an entire “international development” machine with numerous bolts, cogs, and wheels—in perpetuating hunger, poverty, and violence in the country rather than eradicating (or even alleviating) these forms of suffering. I ground my literary analyses historically, politically, and economically within internationally designed “development” strategies for the country under late Duvalierism and well as in the post-Duvalier period.
In Chapter 5, I examine the gendered ramifications of post-Duvalier shifts in Haiti. Through feminist analyses of the state, literary interpretations of abortion, infanticide, and stillbirth, and through historical explorations of how mythic figures, or revenants, return during moments of national crisis, I offer a gendered understanding of the “aborted states” and “arrested development” of the Haitian republic as conceptualized in the figures of Sor Rose and Défilée-la-Folle. These figures, Défilée and Sor Rose, and the mythic, folkloric, and literary tellings and retellings of their stories also become a rich reservoir of national, often contradictory, meanings but ones that nevertheless articulate powerful counternarratives of resistance to the hegemonic historiographical accounts of Haiti and Haitian history as told within the violating registers of U.S. imperialism in the country. These indigenous and diasporic stories—never one, always plural—return to these female figures as subaltern lieu de mémoire (site of memory) and as if to the open body of history itself, always gendered, always embodied, often wounded, ever living, breathing, sentient.
Part Three articulates the necessity of understanding the extraterritorial (p.35) pressures that sustain or even foster violence within the Haitian nation-state. Chapters 6 and 7 comprise an extended analytical argument about literary representations of terror and violence under and after Duvalier. State violence is a recurrent motif in Laferrière's and Danticat's literary narratives; their stories tell of dead babies, murdered boys and men, raped women and girls, and drowned boat people. Nation-state violence or terror need to be examined, however, in transnational contexts. Dead bodies return as revenants to haunt us and to expose the transnational appendages of the State apparatus. And dead bodies do indeed haunt Danticat's and Laferrière's transnational narratives.
Danticat's and Laferrière's fiction marks contemporary, post-Duvalierist paths that remap many of the trajectories first traversed by an earlier generation of Haitian writers (notably, Jacques-Stéphen Alexis, Marie Chauvet, Gérard Étienne, René Depestre, and Émile Ollivier) during the Duvalierist regime; and Danticat's and Laferrière's works stand in the shadows cast by Duvalierism, the regimes of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and post-Duvalier militarism and dictatorship (1986–1990 and again 1991–1994) in the state. Danticat's and Laferrière's texts also reveal a profound engagement with Haiti's most recent historical shifts, those since 1990, years that have witnessed the rise, deposing, restoration, and then second fall of Lavalas and its presidential leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Danticat and Laferrière represent, in their diasporic literary texts, present-day violence through narrative returns to the past, specifically, through returns to Duvalier. But the past veils, without concealing, its recurrence in the present.
Like Chauvet's trilogy Amour colère folie, Danticat's and Laferrière's literary texts also include graphic and painful portrayals of violence—murder, rape, decapitation, mutilation, and death. Like Chauvet's trilogy, Laferrière's and Danticat's violent narratives also pull their readers into scenes of state terror as accomplices who experience brutality and vicariously witness violence as it unfolds textually. Unlike Chauvet, however, Laferrière and Danticat portray the diasporized and transnational landscapes of violent acts committed within Haiti's borders. Whereas Marie Chauvet (Vieux) escaped violence, marriage, and despotism by fleeing to New York toward the end of her life, Laferrière and Danticat, also diasporic Haitians, expose the international structural systems (particularly military, intelligence, and political institutions in the United States, such as the U.S. Marines, the School of the Americas, the CIA, and the IRI) that both structure and support violent regimes in Haiti (as true of Duvalierism as of post-Duvalierism). In other words, dyaspora does not necessarily offer reprieve or refuge from violence, nor is the place toward (p.36) which one flees always innocent or free of the taint of involvement in violent regimes. Like Chauvet's violent narratives, Danticat's and Laferrière's are textual, cultural, and even political acts of resistance.
Danticat and Laferrière return to and represent state violence under Duvalier, I argue, for three interrelated reasons: (1) in order to indirectly address the present political context and to critique current forms of state violence without direct reprisal; (2) in order to demonstrate that the present forms of state violence are, regrettably, structured in continuity with terror under Duvalierism and are thus a form of Duvalierism without Duvalier; and (3) in order to additionally critique first world and global capital, particularly U.S., complicity with contemporary violence in the country. Both Laferrière's and Danticat's texts explore the transnational forces that have contributed to and perpetuated state violence and political instability within Haiti.
To support and sustain this argument, I analyze two literary texts, Laferrière's Le cri des oiseaux fous and Danticat's The Dew Breaker. Both were written and published during the Lavalas years. Le cri des oiseaux fous and The Dew Breaker approach, through diasporic distance and temporal indirection, the continued violence of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries precisely by returning to state violence and political terror under Duvalier in order to implicitly, if not openly, indict the failures of the Lavalas years from 1995 to 2000 as well as once again to suggest the transnational underpinnings of nationalistic forms of violence and oppression. Above all, these literary texts underscore U.S. and international complicity in Haitian state violence.
Duvalierism persists post-Duvalier. Within this historical-ideological frame, Duvalierism must be defined as a transnational, ideological, and interinstitutional nexus of force (which does not mean that it is anonymous or that individuals are not part of this State apparatus). Individuals are at the core of this nexus and are directly, if also convolutedly, culpable for the acts of violence committed. It is a nexus with François and Jean-Claude Duvalier at its center (and perhaps, ironically, even its structural opposite manifested in the antimacoutisme of Aristide), but also upheld by institutions (CIA, INS, USAID, IMF, IDB, World Bank) and other individuals (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Henri Namphy, Bertha Pascal-Trouillot, Bill Clinton, Raoul Cédras, Michel François, Philippe Biamby, Marc Bazin, Emmanuel Constant, George W. Bush, Roger F. Noriega, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, Guy Philippe, René Préval, Dany Toussaint, Yvonne Neptune, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and, post-2004, Gérard Latortue and Boniface Alexandre).
The sixth chapter examines representations of state violence or terror in Laferrière's autofictional novel, which recounts his last twenty-four hours in Haiti before going into exile in Montréal in 1976, following the brutal murder (p.37) and decapitation of his friend Gasner Raymond,25 with whom Laferrière worked as a journalist at Radio Haïti Inter. Specifically, I articulate a twofold argument in this chapter. First, Laferrière depicts sexually sadistic forms of torture under Duvalierism as dictatorial manifestations of excessive masculinist posturing by Duvalier père et fils, father and son, displacing the destabilized political virility of “Papa” and “Baby” onto the victimized bodies of Haitian subjects; this phallic agon was bound up with cold war American geopolitics and implicitly supported by the United States and the CIA. Second, relying on Laferrière's narrative critiques and historical contextualization, I demonstrate that not only did the CIA bolster Duvalierism to counter Castro's Communist Cuba, but that, during late Duvalierism, the U.S. government offered increasingly material forms of support for the dictatorship, primarily through USAID. In the novel Laferrière's critiques are pointed and scathing, yet at times also witty and even humorous. Le cri des oiseaux fous thus satirically indicts the “international development machine” as equally complicit in the perpetuations of violent, torturous regimes in Haiti, and Laferrière, like Danticat, situates Duvalierist violence within the international structures of support that sustained and bolstered the dictatorship.
In Chapter 7, I examine Laferrière's transfigurations of Marie Chauvet's Amour colère folie, in which he rewrites anger as sorrow, or colère as douleur. Drawing inspiration from Félix Léroy-Morriseau, who translated Sophocles' Antigone into Kreyòl for the Haitian stage, Laferrière plays on the boundaries between l'amour (love) and la mort (death) in a culture so beloved and yet, under Duvalierist rule, so deadly: the figure of Antigone becomes symbolic of those who loved Gasner and yet lost him in death: the autobiographical protagonist, Vieux Os; Gasner's mournful but defiant sister; and even Haiti itself. Of Chauvet's three emotional, textual pulses—love, anger, madness—it is folie, or madness, that predominates in Laferrière's narrative. Vieux Os hears “the cry of mad birds”; Vieux Os becomes the mad bird that takes flight from home, from mother, from Haiti, with Papa Legba opening the gates. In Laferrière's refigurations of amour, douleur, folie, however, the author compels us to rethink terror or state violence within a transnationalist frame, and thus Laferrière diverges from Chauvet's nationalist framing of Haiti's regimes of violence.
In the eighth chapter, I analyze Danticat's representations of Macoute torture in her most recent novel, The Dew Breaker, which like Krik? Krak! is also narrated and composed in interconnected short story form. Published in March 2004, immediately following Aristide's forced resignation and second exile from Haiti on February 29, the novel's title chapter presciently evokes what might have been: the narrative assassination of a preacher, if not the (p.38) murder of the man at once priest and president. The story, recounting the final murder committed by the Dew Breaker who “came to kill the preacher,” certainly seems to foretell how the events might have happened had the armed rebels surrounded the capital and forced entry into the National Palace.
Like Laferrière, Danticat also suggests that Duvalierist (and post-Duvalierist) violence must be contextualized transnationally. We meet two torturers in The Dew Breaker—the unnamed protagonist who joined the Volunteers for National Security (VNS; Voluntaires de la Sécurité Nationale), the notorious Tonton Macoutes, under Duvalier; and the literary portrayal of an actual post-Duvalierist terrorist, Emmanuel “Toto” Constant. Both men are living in exile in New York; both are living free while their victims remain imprisoned by memories of torture. Like Laferrière, Danticat also returns to and refigures Chauvet's Amour colère folie: the characters in The Dew Breaker, like those in Le cri des oiseaux fous, are haunted by love, anger, and madness, as well as by sorrow.
In this Introduction, I suggest that literary and cultural critics may productively and politically deploy the Deleuzian concepts of the State apparatus and the war machine in order to deconstruct the idea that Haiti as a nation-state is endemically plagued by despotic regimes of violence, militarism, coup, torture, and terror. We need to shift the theorization of terror from a national frame—that is, the idea that Haiti is a nation-state internally or pathologically prone to violence, terror, and political instability, a stereotypical, commonplace, and pejorative perception of the country that is pervasive in media portrayals—toward a transnational frame that underscores extraterritorial pressures creating poverty, political instability, and violence in Haiti. More specifically, we need to attend to the ways in which transnational or extraterritorial institutions located in other (largely first world, primarily U.S.) nation-states have indirectly and even directly contributed to political instability, terror, and violence in this small island country. Foremost among these institutions are the Central Intelligence Agency, the International Republican Institute, even, regrettably, the United States Agency for International Development, and increasingly since the 1990s, international financial institutions like the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank.
To close, I would also like to suggest that post-Duvalier Haitian literature, as art of resistance, like nomadic war machines, may potentially work against and deterritorialize the State apparatus, or even more chaotically and diffusely structured transnational State apparatuses, in order to forge new ways of conceptualizing power, politics, agency, resistance, and social relations (p.39) globally. These writings form part of a transnational grassroots movement for social justice and thus “globalize” dissent.
If the territorialization of state power under and after Duvalier were violently embodied (and disembodied) through torture, rape, assassination, and other forms of state violence, if state power was and continues to be territorialized through terror, then the State apparatus of Haiti or the despotic body of post-Duvalier(ism)—and even the Lavalas political platform that offered, but ultimately failed to deliver, equality and economic justice to the Haitian people—is deterritorialized precisely through literary representations of victimized or terrorized bodies. In their trans-American arts of resistance, writers such as Edwidge Danticat, Dany Laferrière, Marilene Phipps, and Lyonel Trouillot map diasporic deformations of state militarism in the national body politic; of international forms of violence such as the United States' racist immigration policies toward Haitian and other nonwhite political refugees; of publicly sanctioned (or at least rarely officially denounced) police violence in the countries of adoption (notably, the murder of Patrick Dorismond, the brutal sodomization of Abner Louima, both Haitian, and the horrific killing of Amadou Diallo, African); and also of systemic, economic, and financial striations, such as administratively imposed third world privatization and external first world co-optation of state-owned utilities and lands that are wrought by global capitalism. If, as Ronnie Scharfman argues in “Theorizing Terror,” Chauvet's textual violence repeats, and thus resists, state violence by making herself and her readers accomplices to this violence, then Danticat's and Laferrière's reiterative and discursive representations of violence both inside and outside Haiti (within its territorial boundaries, its diasporic locations, and the liminal places in between) map the state's transnational bodily deformations.
The drowned refugees, massacred cane laborers, stillborn infants, and raped girls in Danticat's narratives and the decapitated reporters and dissident zanmi [friends] in Laferrière's (like Wyclef’s or Boukman Eksperyans’ chan pwen, or Peck's filmic critiques of global capitalism, which I discuss elsewhere),26 form lines of deformation eroding the despotic body of the state, as well as state or police violence, discriminatory immigrant policies, and neoliberal agendas of international financial institutions. Violated, mutilated, and dead bodies—as presented within these diasporic cultural forms or trans-American arts of resistance—de(face) not only the visagéité duvalieriste and post-duvalieriste, but also post-Namphy, post-Avril, post-Cédras, post-Bush, post-Clinton, post-Préval, and even post-Aristide. Arts of resistance expose the material, economic, and political constraints imposed on efforts (p.40) at achieving equality in nation-states and in diasporic locations, yet these diasporic cultural forms also envision possible alternatives to such oppressive global measures. In the words of Deleuze and Guattari in Plateau 12, trans-American arts of resistance map the lines of a nomadic war machine that is opposed to and deterritorializes the sedimentation of power in the State apparatus. Trans-American arts of resistance offer hope in the face of despair.
Within Haitian and Haitian diasporic literary narratives, the deterritorializing lines mapped in Haiti's starving masses, raped women, stillborn babies, assassinated dissidents, protesting slum dwellers, fleeing refugees, and local grassroots and diasporic activists operate in tension and entanglement with this field; they are ever vigilant about the human costs of transnational State apparatuses and confronting systemic forms of global capitalist violence. Scholars also need to expose and resist the inhumanity of transnational political forces or multinational corporations, of so-called first world nation-states (primarily the United States), and even of international financial regulatory or governing bodies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO, which rationally calculate “sustainable debt” according to a tripartite financial equation (outlined in Chapter 4), but irrationally ignore the visible and largely eradicable suffering in clear view, thus seeming indifferent to Haiti's “grinding poverty.”27 Humanities scholars need to follow the lead of diasporic cultural producers in their arts of resistance and reassert the role of the material and the human (though not without un-naïvely or uncritically recognizing how ideas about the “human,” “humanity,” and “humanism” are grounded within Western ideals of the subject, historical progress, evolution, and even “development”),28 and which resist the crude materialism of late capitalism. Humanities scholars thus might also follow the lead of theorists like Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt (in Empire), Vijay Prashad (in Fat Cats and Running Dogs and, more recently, Keeping Up with the Dow Joneses), Amitava Kumar (in World Bank Literature), and others in contesting the “economic implications of World Bank hegemony” in order to understand and resist “the multifarious and sometimes nefarious ways that abstract academic debates play themselves out concretely in social policy and cultural mores that reinforce traditional power structures” (Kumar, “World Bank Literature”).29 As Glick Schiller and Fouron maintain, “to even suggest that there are choices to be made from among different political directions puts…[one] at odds with recent academic fashions that have celebrated the complexity and cacophony of cultural history and politics” (Georges, 266–67); they further argue that, “in the face of the growing disparity of wealth and power throughout the world—a disparity played out in the grim figures of increasing infant mortality, malnutrition, shortened life spans, and mother's deaths from childbirth (p.41) in Haiti…to not search out a new political direction and advocate for it is itself a political position, and an unacceptable one” (Georges, 267). Humanities scholars, thus, need to move beyond stale foreclosures of ethical possibilities.
Haitian and Haitian diasporic writers may guide us along this critical path. They warn against the perils of aesthetic indifference and reveal the urgency of envisioning alternative ways of resisting power, however difficult such a task may seem and, in actuality, be. If these writers replay for their literary audiences Haiti's long (national, diasporic, and transnational) nightmare, they also refuse to surrender dreams. I thus end with a passage from Danticat's The Farming of Bones: “I looked to my dreams for softness, for a gentler embrace, for relief from the fear of mudslides and blood bubbling out of the riverbed, where it is said the dead add their tears to the river flow…. [I] am looking for the dawn” (310). (p.42)
(4.) Musically, these human and exilic plights were lamented and challenged during the Rara and Carnival seasons in 1992, 1993, and 1994, both in Haiti and in its diaspora. During the 1992 Carnival season, RAM, whose lead singer is Richard Morse (owner of Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince), performed a song, “Anbago,” condemning the international economic embargo and the hardships that it created for poor, already politically oppressed, Haitians. A popular racine band, Boukman Eksperyans, performed “Kalfou Danjere,” “whose coded lyrics,” according to McAlister, “decry the dishonesty of foreign diplomats and the Haitian military” (2002, 210).
(5.) Under even more repressive military conditions in 1993, Rara and mizik rasin bands still leveled critiques against the Haitian military and the international embargo. The Carnival song “Jou Malè” by Boukman Eksperyans, “sung in the voices of military lwa Ogou Badagri and Simbi Ganga, declares that Uzis and batons don't scare them” (McAlister 2002, 210). After the U.S. government urged further economic sanctions against the defakto regime, the United Nations spearheaded an oil embargo and froze the military leader's assets in international accounts. The Governor's Island Agreement, signed by Cédras and Aristide in July 1993, negotiated Aristide's return to presidential power by October 30, 1993, and an end to the international embargo by August 27, 2003; however, Macoute-led crowds blocked U.S. ships at ports in the capital, which led to an almost immediate reinstatement of the embargo by the United Nations and a delay in Aristide's return to the National Palace. See also Averill 1997, 205–6.
(6.) Goff (2000, v) laments the military colonization of soldiers' minds: “[T]he real role of the military as an institution is to enforce the will of the dominant class in the U.S. and to continue bankrolling the bloated trade in military hardware. Military Capitalism.”
(7.) Moïse and Ollivier (1992) argue that Aristide came to power “par la volonté des animateurs du secteur populaire de contrer le macoutisme par un coup d'éclat et par la même occasion de ruiner la candidature de celui que l'on donnait pour être l'homme des Américains, Marc Bazin, celui dont on redoutait qu'il finirait par l'emporter par défaut sous le parapluie de l'ANDP” [by the will of these monitors of the popular sector who wanted to counter macoutisme by means of a brilliant coup and, at the same time, to ruin the candidacy of the man who was being presented as the puppet of the Americans, Marc Bazin, the man they feared might eventually win by default under the umbrella of the ANDP] (qtd. in Fatton 2002, 96n6).
(9.) As Hardt and Negri write: “The primary factors of production and exchange—money, (p.255) technology, people, and goods—move with increasing ease across national boundaries; hence the nation-state has less and less power to regulate these flows and impose its authority over the economy. Even the most dominant nation-states should no longer be thought of as supreme and sovereign authorities, either outside or even within their own borders” (2000, xi).
(10.) I take up this problematic in greater detail and at greater length in a manuscript in progress, “The Fog of War: U.S. Literatures/Cultures of Violence, 2001–2008.”
(13.) As Robert Reich influentially and famously stated: “as almost every factor of production—money, technology, factories, and equipment—moves effortlessly across borders, the very idea of a [national] economy is becoming meaningless.” He further speculated that “there will be no national products or technologies, no national corporations, no national industries. There will no longer be national economies, at least as we have come to understand that concept” (qtd. in Hardt and Negri 2000, 151; original emphasis).
(16.) One of Kaplan's aims in Questions of Travel is to tease out the relations between modern figurations of displacement within postmodern thought and poststructuralist theory—those of exile, tourism, travel, refugees, migrants, and immigrants—to make important critical distinctions between these figures, but also to critique rigid, absolute, and binaristic demarcations between these modes of displacement.
(18.) Polan, in the “Translator's Introduction” to Kafka, says that he translates the work for the “deterritorializing critic,” who “engages in a ‘pickup’ of ideas (Deleuze and Parnet 1977), a gathering here and there of desires, of wills, of energies” (xxv). Internal reference to Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues (25); translation Dialogues (18).
(19.) Deleuze and Guattari explain, “[T]he function of deterritorialization: D is the movement by which ‘one’ leaves the territory” (1987b, 508; 1980, 634). Migration, or diasporic movement, may be interpreted as a form of State apparatus deterritorialization.
(21.) Deleuze and Guattari distinguish negative and positive deterritorializations; see 1980, 634–35; 1987b, 508–9. Resurgent forms of diasporic Haitian nationalism, attempting to re-create the “lost territory” or island in Brooklyn, Montréal, or Miami (as in Little Haiti) may, though need not, become sites for negative deterritorializations that effectively reterritorialize the state in another country (witness the outbreaks of violence among pro- and anti-Lavalas protesters that accompanied street violence in Haiti in 2004). Diasporically, transnational forms of citizenship or grassroots activism working against state strictures in the homeland and country of adoption may (p.256)
constitute positive deterritorializing forms against state regimes. In positive deterritorializations, artists and activists may actually utilize state resources to contest, erode, or co-opt State apparatuses of power.
(22.) Mills (1997), adopting social-contract theory, refers to the “racial contract” as a “naturalized” model that describes and explains the historical-political realities of white supremacy and racism rather than an as “idealized” model that prescribes how the world ought to be.
(25.) On Raymond's murder, see Case 2044-A of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization of American States (online).