Monday, December 25, 2006

Why I Oppose the Term "Settler"

I have opposed the term "settler" from the beginning, preferring my own term -"revenant" as well as the term "settlement", preferring "Jewish community".

Here is a long extract from a book, Transforming Settler States, that illustrates my abhorrence to the terms as they are used, and have become a part of the political science vocabulary:-

Settler rule is one form of political domination that is in decline around the world…The settlers' characteristic intransigence makes the transformation of these states considerably more difficult and complicated than the decolonization of conventional colonies, where imperial powers disengaged with the broad support of local social forces.

Settler societies are founded by migrant groups who assume a superordinate position vis-à-vis native inhabitants and build self-sustaining states that are de jure or de facto independent from the mother country and organized around the settlers' political domination over the indigenous population. (Throughout, the terms native, indigenous, and indigene are used interchangeably to identify the inhabitants of the territory prior to the arrival of the settlers: blacks in Rhodesia, Catholics in Ireland.) In some cases (Rhodesia, South Africa, Liberia), economic interests (exploitation of natives and prosperity of settlers) provide a key rationale for political domination; in others (Northern Ireland, Israel, Taiwan), economic considerations have been secondary to other imperatives: maintaining a specific religious or cultural order (Northern Ireland, Israel), a refuge or homeland (Taiwan, Israel).

To constitute a settler state, the descendants of settlers must remain politically dominant over natives, who present at least a latent threat to the settlers' supremacy…Settler states should also be distinguished from conventional colonial states, which were organized around imperial economic and geopolitical objectives...Independent control over state coercion empowers settler regimes to resist domestic threats and foreign machinations; thus attempts to transform them have been more problematic than those to decolonize conventional colonies.

The first imperative of stable settler rule, therefore, is to achieve autonomy from the metropole in the exercise of political authority and coercive power . The greater the degree of autonomy, the greater the settlers' room for maneuver in molding economic, social, and political structures. Under de jure independence (e.g., in Liberia, South Africa, Israel), the metropole relinquishes its juridical authority to interfere in issues such as native political rights, land expropriation and labor exploitation, and the fundamental constitutional status of the territory. This freedom from imperial intervention does little, however, to shield a settler society from internal conflicts and international pressures, as the recent history of Israel, Liberia, and South Africa attests...

The second condition of stable settler rule is to consolidate control over the indigenous population . Effective control is necessary to prevent or contain natives' political mobilization, unrest, and threats to the system's stability and also to discourage metropolitan interference on their behalf. Of course, the scope, intensity, and substance of control vary over time and place. Controls may be extensive and intensive in political, economic, and social spheres—as in South Africa—or less comprehensive—as in Israel and Northern Ireland. Variation is also evident in the relative importance of ideological, coercive, administrative, and cooptative mechanisms.

The system of control may be so successful in disorganizing political mobilization, restricting physical mobility, and ensuring economic dependence of the subordinate group that overt physical repression is rarely necessary to maintain stability...In Israel proper (excluding the West Bank and Gaza), an elaborate system of segmentation, dependence, and cooptation has maintained control over Israeli Arabs; until recently, writes Lustick, this system was effective "at very low cost to the regime in terms of resources expended, overt violent repression, and unfavorable international publicity"[5]...

The third pillar of settler supremacy is to maintain the settlers' caste solidarity and the state's cohesion . Although the great divide is that between settlers and the indigenous population, settler unity is never a foregone conclusion. Internal conflicts within the state and dominant community—along class, ethnic, political, or cultural lines—can be dangerous insofar as they compromise the state's capacity to deliver repression or if cracks in the settler monolith present an opportunity for natives to mobilize...

Never monolithic politically or socially, settler populations nevertheless must maintain some threshold level of cohesion in the face of the common enemy—the subordinate population and, in some cases, the metropole. In Israel and South Africa, moderate and hard-line factions have repeatedly tested this threshold...

Settler Societies as Caste Societies

Settler rule is a particularly resilient form of authoritarian domination. Viewing the country as their permanent abode, settlers typically regard the political system as their private preserve, and the socioeconomic order as the vehicle for their exclusive prosperity. They often expropriate the richest land, lay claim to prime natural resources, introduce social segregation, and exploit native labor (under minority rule) or marginalize it (under majority rule).

...The concept of a communally divided society should not suggest that communal groups live in worlds apart, that social relations are filled with tension and hostility, or that political polarization between them is necessarily intense. Common institutions and shared interests are not altogether absent, and divisions may not pervade the entire social order. Some cooperation and interdependence (e.g., in economic relations) are evident even in the most rigidly stratified and segregated societies. Yet these bonds are insufficient to neutralize social divisions. On the most vital issues facing the society, the norm is a basic intracommunal consensus and intercommunal estrangement, with intracommunal discord and intercommunal harmony the exceptions to the rule.[9] ...

• Intercommunal interaction in everyday life may be superficially cordial, as members of each caste keep their prescribed places. Caste etiquette requires deferential conduct toward superiors, expressed in speech, body movement, and general demeanor—behavior that reaffirms dominant or subordinate status, reduces friction, and defuses dominant members' fears of the subordinate group.
• Such patterned interpersonal relations are reinforced by economic and political inequality and by the dominant value system. In Rhodesia, South Africa, Israel, Liberia, and (to a lesser extent) Northern Ireland, dominant stereotypes portray the subordinate population as backward, primitive, subhuman, childlike, irrational, lazy, and immoral;[12] these attributions help to justify the privileges of the dominant caste and work against social assimilation and political incorporation of the "uncivilized" caste.


Type of State Percentage of Settlers in Populationa
Settler state: de jure independent
Israel (1948-present) 86b
Liberia (1847–1980) 3
South Africa (1910-present) 15
Settler state: de facto independent
Northern Ireland (1921–1972) 63
Rhodesia (1923–1980) 5
Taiwan (1949-present) 14
Colonial state: dependent
Algeria (until 1962) 12
Kenya (until 1963) 1
Namibia (until 1990) 7
New Caledonia 37
Zambia (until 1964) 3
Zanzibar (until 1964) 17
a Population figures are for 1987, except for Algeria (1954), Kenya (1960), Rhodesia (1979), and Zanzibar (1948).
b The figure for Israel excludes the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

...Whether a minority or a majority, the settler caste monopolizes state power and excludes the native caste from meaningful political participation. Yet the respective mechanisms of political domination differ. Dominant majorities can afford to extend formal political rights to subordinate populations—as in Northern Ireland and Israel.[14] By contrast, dominant minorities universalize the franchise only at their peril, driven by the "overriding fear ... that they stand to be overwhelmed by a vastly larger majority"[15] The settlers must protect their island of privilege by de jure political exclusion of natives, limitations on natives' civil rights, and reliance on draconian measures of control (e.g., in Rhodesia, South Africa, and Liberia). Minority settler rule is normally associated with a "Herrenvolk" or master-caste democracy, in which the settlers practice internal democracy while the indigenes experience authoritarian rule.[16]...

...A dominant majority—however politically secure because of its numerical advantage—may attempt to manipulate the democratic rules of the game through elaborate voting qualifications, gerrymandering, and other devices. These mechanisms serve two purposes. First, they help to exclude the minority from the political arena and seem particularly desirable where the majority considers the minority to be innately inferior (in the American South) or politically subversive (in Northern Ireland) or both (in Israel)...

...Where the natives had undeniably evolved, elites marshaled other arguments to maintain the sectarian order—such as "majority rule" or the defense of a unique religious or cultural tradition in Northern Ireland and Israel.

Some of the preconditions for a flourishing democracy (discussed in Chapter 1) are typically lacking in settler political systems. Absent is a unitary political culture—based on accommodation, agreement on constitutional principles, or a shared national identity. Rather, settler systems commonly counterpose a supremacist political culture to the native subculture and assert their ideological hegemony over it...In Ulster and Israel, Catholics and Arabs have their own media, churches, schools, political parties, and voluntary associations. Yet Arab institutions have little leverage over the Israeli state; Jewish civic organizations have registered much more success in containing state power....

...Nevertheless, the imperial government and the settlers often became partners in conflict; their interests and visions regarding critical issues (the pace and scope of territorial expansion, the treatment of natives, the territory's constitutional status) in many cases led the two parties into protracted struggles.[22]...

In some cases the ascendancy of the settler community came only after protracted or violent struggles with the imperial government had escalated into full-scale wars of independence. The British Mandate in Palestine, for example, was fraught with tensions between Jewish settlers and the colonial government. After World War II, guerrilla forces (Irgun, Stern Gang) fought British troops until they won independence for the new state of Israel in 1948...

And check out the use of "settler" here.

Now do you understand what they really mean when they use the words "settler" and "settlements"?

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