This is the fifth “full” entry in our ongoing “X-Men Foreign Policy” series, a dynamic look at the nuanced politics in the recent X titles. You can find part one here, part two here, part three here, part four here, or if you haven’t already, the handy introduction guide.
Krakoa is a state like few others, even in the fantastical Marvel Universe. While not the first attempt at a homeland for mutants in the MCU, it may be the state with the most likelihood for realization as discussed in previous entries in this series. This week, we will examine how the history of mutant oppression may impact its governing decisions based on recent states created by marginalized populations in the last century. This is a hefty question that requires more than one article to answer. In this piece, we will discuss how past trauma by a group of people impacts their state’s politics.
This is a complicated topic to discuss as most states have populations of people present in their populaces that are oppressed in one form of another. Individuals are discriminated against based on race, gender, religious identity and class to varying degrees across the globe. As some societies become less intolerant and pluralistic, ostracized communities begin to take a more prominent role in the political dealings of their home countries. Rather than focus on how marginalized people have governed historically when they gained a level of acceptance in their nation’s political systems, these next two essays will focus on how an oppressed people operated once they created their own nation-states (Israel and Kosovo) or literally took over the major mechanisms of the state (South Africa).
Mutants in the X-Men have stood as an allegory for beleaguered people throughout the history of its run, making them a useful tool to discussing how oppressed populaces navigate a world not welcoming to them. In its early years, the X-Men comic worked well when discussing the oppression of Jewish people in the years following the Second World War Fittingly, major characters like Magneto were retconned to be European Jews, with the Master of Magnetism having survived the Holocaust.
Understandably, The Shoah weighed heavily on the founders of Israel in 1948. As the stated homeland for Jews from around the world, many who came to Israel in its early years were themselves survivors of violent oppression by governments in Europe and beyond. Their lived experience and memory of those events impacted the direction of Israel’s foreign and domestic policy, stated as early as its Declaration of Independence. Israel would act as a homeland for Jews around the world and a place to preserve their culture and traditions following its obliteration in Europe. Israel’s Right of Return legislation adopted in 1950 specified that any Jew wishing to become a citizen of Israel would be welcome to (“Every Jew has the right to come to this country”), with the nation serving as a place to protect the various Jewish culture traditions and cultures.
It is impossible to not see parallels between Israel and Krakoa in this regard. Krakoa also allows for all mutants, regardless of their moral character, to become members of Krakoan society. During the Morrison years, we saw a distinct mutant cultural-identity cultivate that went further than purely being super powered humans. While we are witnessing the early days of Krakoa, it is not hard to believe this mutant nation will also be a homeland for the cultural elements of mutant society just as Israel has for Jewish culture.
Krakoa has similarities with Israel in other ways as well. Thus far, the individual experiences of various mutants appear to take a back seat to the larger national goals of the state. The varied experiences and trauma felt by individual mutant members does not yet have a space to be discussed and analyzed. Irit Keyan, writing about the impact historical trauma has on a nation, noted the following:
“In Israel’s nascent years the common narrative and conceptualization of the Holocaust in the media, in educational messages, and in political rhetoric, emphasized mostly those national elements that were essentially related to national heroism and active resistance to collective danger. In addition, Holocaust survivors were expected to overcome, or at least conceal, their personal stories and traumas.”
This helps explain why Magneto and Apocalypse have played such prominent roles in the mental framing of Krakoa’s citizens. There is less interest in the individual injurious experiences of its members; rather, for the good of Krakoa, only figures and that rise above those infractions can be celebrated. The pain Domino is experiencing in the recent issues of X-Force is the perfect representation of this. She is unable to share her own suffering with others on the island as an unconscious decision has been made by its inhabitants to avoid those traumatic experiences collectively.
While Israel acts as a homeland for Jews from any national background, its importance in Jewish communities around the world is also debated. Obviously, Jews hold political opinions as diverse as any other ethnic group, and not all believe the best path forward for Jewish people is a designated nation state built around their ethnic or religious traditions. The debate in Jewish communities on whether or not they should leave their homelands and become citizens of Israel often centers on similar arguments made by Sue Storm in the recent X-Men/Fantastic Four. Unlike Krakoa, Israel is open to citizens of other faiths, but the debate around moving away from one’s own nation and multicultural society to nation built around their own cultural traditions is still common.
This is where Krakoa gets into interesting territory when it comes to its cultural identity. Is it a land made only for mutants, or can it be a state tolerant and accepting of those without the X-Men’s genetic makeup? Franklin Richards may be the perfect moment of contemplation for the mutant nation, as by giving him an ultimatum to join mutants on Krakoa they are displaying their intentions as a state that will not bode well for mutants with a foot firmly planted in the human world.
Keynan, Irit. (2018). The Memory of the Holocaust and Israel’s Attitude Toward War Trauma, 1948–1973: The Collective vs. the Individual. Israel Studies. 23. 95. 10.2979/israelstudies.23.2.05.