The War

“I—like all of us—am practicing my politics during a protracted time of war. … There is no foreseeable end to the war on terror, the war on drugs, the many wars of occupation funded by the United States. We live in a time of unrelenting war. … creating lasting peace with justice requires a fundamental commitment to multi-issue organizing” (Clare xxiv).

Clare discusses “war” in his preface for the 2009 edition of exile & pride. I believe that war can be a framework for understanding the argument Clare makes, as well as the connection to the class.

War, for Clare, is not just about the unrelenting unjust war on terror fought abroad but also the wars fought against people at home—the war on terror/drugs. (I have purposefully included the war on terror within domestic wars because of how the United States treats its own citizens). War is about the daily lived experience of everyone that war touches and the war touches everyone—albeit in different ways (Clare xxiv).

To “practice politics” is a decision one makes, and those of us who live outside ‘normalcy’ are forced to live a political life—our bodies are political (Clare xxiii) For Clare, a queer and disabled theorist–his decision to practice multi-issue politics is in opposition to the current construction of the state and its definitions of disability and ‘normalcy’ (Clare xxiv). Thus, “practicing politics during a time of protracted war” (emphasis mine) illuminates that war is not just fighting ‘an enemy’ but conceptualizing the larger framework that war operates in (Clare xxv).

In other words, by living in a state of constant protracted war, war becomes a fundamental part of living in the United States—as well as being affected by the interlocking systems of war, “white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, and ableism [that] work in concert” (Clare xxv). For Clare, the just and political life is to be anti-war. And since being anti-war also entails being against all the interlocking power structures a broader construction of who we are fighting by being political is formed. To fight, Clare states, is to “[create] lasting peace with justice,” with “a fundamental commitment to multi-issue organizing” (Clare xxiv). To do this, we must understand these power structures and how they affect each part of our lived experience—gender, race, religion, sexuality, and disability. War and its power structures create a politics of us and them and the only way to unite and fight is to have multi-issue organizing.

To state plainly the connection to the larger issues at play, in order to stop the war on our bodies—we must identify and dismantle the “interlocking power structures” that we have been talking about in class and realize how war, capitalism, ableism, and homophobia build off of each other to create a hostile world. Clare’s works offer a roadmap to understanding how to address and dismantle each structure.

2 thoughts on “The War”

  1. I agree with you here, and I really like your last point in particular. Not only do we have to dismantle the “interlocking power structures”, but we have to take an intersectional approach to do that. One oppressed group or minority cannot single-handedly take down an institutional force that consists of so many forces working together to hurt people. I think Clare’s work raises really good questions of intersectionality and is as convincing an argument as ever as to why different communities need to work together.

  2. I completely agree with what you are saying here but I think it is a very difficult thing to accomplish. We have to dismantle the power structures while still allowing different cultures to thrive. One thing I have noticed with a lot of queer theorists that we have read is that they don’t take into account communities of color and their cultures. Breaking down these power structures will help many communities to thrive, but we have to be cautious and make sure to listen to every marginalized person.

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