What's Love Got to Do with It?

The Race of Freedom and the Drag of Descent

in Social Analysis

As long as there was race, there was the savage. Tribes would come later as those who invented their descending lines and segmentable surfaces projected them into the classical past of gens and phatries. And as long as there were savages, there were infidels. Christianity, defeated in the old Jerusalem, established a New Jerusalem through conquest and settlement, conversion and genocide, enslavement and rectitude in the Americas and Pacific. Some savages would be bestowed with cultures and some religions with the power of enlightenment. And yet, in the shadow of the enlightenment project, all of these social figures and social histories seem to collapse into a unilinear process of historical descent—the Crusades begat voyages of discovery, which begat the problem of the twentieth century, namely, the color line and the international division of colonizer and colonizer, the North and the South, the East and the West, the politics of recognition and the refusals of secularism— and a univocal problem of race, racialization, and racism. Race seems to have begat race: what makes discourse of tribalism, racism, and the savage slot seem ‘the same’ and seem different than the national citizen/subject is that they are all the effect of the same razza (lineage). Their actual social divergences and specificities are bled out. “But he who listens to history finds that things have no pre-existing essence, or an essence fabricated piecemeal from alien forms” (Foucualt 1984: 78).