Friday, January 11, 2019

Colonialism/Postcolonialism by Ania Loomba

Colonialism/Postcolonialism is a comprehensive survey of postcolonial theory and thinking The author, , is a Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. She has written several books on colonialism, India and Shakespeare. The edition of the book that I read was updated in 2015. This book is used as a kind of a textbook in a lot of postcolonial classes. However, the book is very readable, contains the author’s opinions, and it is essentially a work of social and political philosophy. Thus, I would not call it a textbook. The issue of colonialism and postcolonial theory has come up on this blog as well as with other people that I know both in real life and on social media. In addition, people who I know both in real life and on social media profess to believe in at least some of the tenants of postcolonial theory. Thus, I wanted to read a basic introduction to the subject. 

Loomba does a good job of outlining the fundamentals of the postcolonial position. She explains what the various thinkers in the field have postulated. She also talks about the important books and other writings that have influenced the ideology. She covers the main points as well as the various controversies within the belief system. She also usually makes clear what her own positions on these issues are. While this is my first book whose subject is postcolonialism, based upon opinion pieces that I have read and based upon conversations both in real life as well as online, it seems that this book is a fairly accurate representation of the ideology.

As per Loomba, the philosophy starts with the idea that European colonialism had a profound effect on this world. Both colonized and colonizing nations were and still are affected. The effect is still profound. The effects of colonialism reach into the major building blocks of civilization. In fact, things like capitalism, science, certain value systems, the literary cannon, etc. are the products of colonialism.

Something that runs throughout this book is the point that capitalism is harmful to all humanity and it is based upon racism. While explaining the views of some theorists of postcolonialism, Loomba writes, 

“racism not just as an effect of capitalism but as complexly intertwined with it.”

As is true for many aspects of the modern world, capitalism in its current form is seen as being the result of the colonial system.

“we could say that colonialism was the midwife that assisted at the birth of European capitalism, or that without colonial expansion the transition to capitalism could not have taken place
  
Globalism is similarly criticized and its origins attributed to the colonial system.  

Marxism is portrayed as a superior and beneficial system. In addition to Marxism, postmodernist philosophy is also extolled. Political and social postmodernism, at least here, is the questioning of basic social systems, basic value systems and the origin of what people consider truth.  Since science, art, modern value systems, etc. is seen as all subjective and to a great degree the products of colonialism and the West, the basic tenants of these systems are questioned and ultimately rejected as being the results of colonialism.  I want to emphasize that it is clear that all of this goes beyond just rooting out possible bias and flaws in these systems. Instead, the entire systems are put into question and “decolonization” is advocated (Loomba herself seems to go easy on literature and just advocates that people add more diverse authors to their book selections).   

A good example of this critique is the postcolonial approach to science. Loomba explains how postcolonial thinkers point to the fact that in the past, supposed scientific thinking was used to justify racist and imperialist beliefs. Therefore, science is believed to be changeable and based on ideology. The scientific method is viewed as malleable and is not really the path to solid truths. I am somewhat oversimplifying here, there are pages and pages within this book that delve into this and go into a lot more detail and nuance than I am going into. 

The ultimate postmodernist argument manifests itself when the entire concept of anti – colonial struggle and nationalism is seen as a creature of western colonial thinking by some theorists!  The author writes, 

“Nationalism also engages in a complex process of contesting as well as appropriating colonialist versions of the past. Anthony Appiah has accused nationalists in Africa of making ‘real the imaginary identities to which Europe has subjected us.  Nativists, he says, are of the West’s party without knowing it, and in fact ‘few things … are less native than nativism in its current forms’

For some of its theorists, postcolonialism is used to examine all belief systems, cultural trends, etc.  If the belief system is deemed as colonial in origin, it is rejected as being harmful to humanity. I like to call theories and belief systems that try to tie everything together as universal. 


There is a lot more to postcolonial theory presented here. There is important concept known as “hybridity,” which exams the mixing of native culture and ideas with colonist concepts. Also, the role of women and feminism is examined. Non - Marxist and non - postmodernist forms of feminism are criticized and Marxist and postmodernist forms are championed by the advocates of this philosophy. 
  
I would like to step back for a moment and share a few observations on the current state of discussion and ideology that is out there. Having read some opinion pieces on this issue as well as observing and participating in a few discussions on this set of issues on social media, I think that it is fair to say that there are roughly three major positions relating to colonialism out there. First, there is the postcolonial position as outlined above. Then there is what I will call the conservative position, which is that at least some aspects of colonialism were beneficial to the colonizers and the colonized.  Then, there is what I will call the traditional liberal position, which is that colonialism was wrong for all sorts of reasons. However, the fact that it was wrong is no reason to throw out such positive things about civilization as science, regulated capitalism, our worldwide consensus on values, etc. I take this position. This is all part of a larger rift that has developed in the left between postmodernists and traditional liberals (my terminology is imperfect here. Some of the  terms that I have used do not have generally accepted meanings. Liberalism, conservatism, postmodernism and “the left” all have different meanings in different parts of the world and in different contexts. I am trying to describe certain beliefs and trends that do not yet have agreed upon names). In this the book Loomba expresses her personal criticism of both the traditional left and the conservative views. 

I disagree with a lot of postcolonial theory as outlined in this book. However, Loomba has convinced me that because of its scope, colonialism did have a bigger effect on history and the world than it is usually ascribed to. Furthermore, Loomba makes a strong case that colonialism is still influencing the modern world. There is also a lot here about colonialism and imperialism as these things relate to racism that also ring true.

I strongly disagree with Marxist thought and economics. Though this one post is insufficient to delve completely into the issues of capitalism, free markets. Marxism, etc., it seems clear, based on history, that Marxist systems have led to human misery in all sorts of ways. It also seems clear that capitalist systems, when properly regulated and supplemented with government programs, have improved the human condition immeasurably. Furthermore, regulated capitalist systems have led to free societies that are far from perfect, but they help nations move towards societies that  protect the rights and help empower minorities, women and non – conformists of all sorts.  I am very aware that all capitalistic modern societies have a long way to go. I also believe that when capitalism is unregulated as well when it is abused in certain ways, it can lead to terrible exploitation and suffering. On the other hand, Marxism inevitably leads to such suffering. 

I also believe that the postcolonial and postmodernist reasoning in regards to truth, science, value systems, etc. is flawed. The postmodernist take on science is a good example. If the goal of postmodernism was to eliminate bias in the way that the scientific method is employed, or to decrease discrimination aimed at women and minorities in the field of science, then I would be more receptive. However, these belief systems challenge the basic tenets of science. The scientific method, when employed correctly, is the only road to the truth about how the universe works.  The fact that biased people have misused science is no reason to reject the scientific method. Instead, it is reason to identify and root out bias. 

I also do not agree that science and other institutions scrutinized by these theories are the products of colonialism. Such reasoning seems very simplistic. In addition, a lot of what the postcolonialists attribute to the West, such as science, modern ethics, etc. have roots in cultures from every corner of the earth.  

If a nation, be it American, European, African, Asian, etc., “decolonized” like some theorists espoused, it would rip apart civilization. It would result in death and suffering. Science and certain institutions are key drivers of freedom, equality and eliminating oppression. The postcolonial theorists would have us dismantle these systems. Radical social engendering experiments have a long history of leading to calamity. One needs to look no further than the disastrous revolutions that have occurred in Russia, China and Cambodia, to name a few. 

Loomba mentions climate change and its relationship to capitalism. Once again, I think that a society that rejects scientific thinking and acts as inefficiently and wasteful as previous Marxist societies have done would be in no position to combat climate change. I believe that a reevaluation of certain aspects of how we do capitalism may be necessary to counter climate change. However, eliminating it is not the answer. 

I have to note the fact that postcolonial studies is considered an accepted academic pursuit. Many universities offer degrees in the subject.  I have perused multiple reading lists for graduate students and I have chatted with several students on social media. Unfortunately, the field seems to be an echo chamber. There are few mainstream liberal views, and much fewer conservative views, entertained. There are books that approach colonialism from such viewpoints, yet I could find none on any of the academic reading lists. In this book, Loompa portrays such views as adversarial to postcolonial studies. Even more concerning; In 2017 a conservative article on colonialism was withdrawn after the author faced death threats and harassment. Details of that incident can be found here.

My position here has little to do with agreement or disagreement with this set of ideas. If postcolonialism is to be considered a field of study, it should at least include exposure to different viewpoints. I would like to think that I would feel the same way had I agreed with most of the tenants of this ideology. Because of the one-sidedness of this, I would not call postcolonialism, as presented in this book, as a field of study, instead it is a set of beliefs or ideology. There is nothing wrong with being an ideology. There are sets of ideas that I mostly agree with. However, I think that it is disingenuous to call this a field of study and it should not be taught as such. For postcolonial studies to be considered its own field, it needs to entertain more diverse viewpoints. 

Ultimately, based on the views outlined in this book, I disagree with the basics of this thought system. However, Loomba cannot be faulted for outlining the basics of these beliefs. In fact, she does an excellent job of explaining the complexities of all this. With that, I disagree with many, but not all, of her own opinions. They say in for a penny, in for a pound. I think that I may read one or two of the “classic” postcolonial texts out there. Some of these books appear to be more personal than this book and I may find more common ground in them. I also plan to read at least one or more conservative takes on colonialism. I actually recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the basics of postcolonialism. It is an excellent introduction. 

45 comments:

Patrick Murtha said...

A thoughtful take, with which I am in substantial agreement. My own position is somewhere between the liberal and conservative, probably leaning towards the latter (although in contemporary politics, I would consider myself left-center). I also lean towards the deterministic position that THE PAST COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED DIFFERENTLY.

Additionally, I believe that not all cultures are “created equal” - that certain cultures, for all their flaws, have more substantial contributions and achievements in the overall ledger, and are in that sense more “advanced”; and that some are indeed more “primitive”. For example, aboriginal Australian cultures were never going to succeed in competition with technologically advanced European cultures. What happened in Australia was certainly tragic, but was very predictable.

Post-colonialism can be very simplistic. Racism, slavery, and misogyny, for example, were characteristic of some colonized cultures as well as of colonizing cultures.

Brian Joseph said...

thanks for the good word Patrick and thanks for stopping by. The question of whether the past could have been different or not is such an interesting philosophical question. I must think about it. Perhaps it is a good topic for another post.

Without doubt some cultures seemed to be more on track to develop technology. I agree, many of the cultures that were colonized were just as repressive, some mores then the Europeans. Loomba actually acknowledges that in this book and talks about debates among Postcolonial theorists that this train of thought has sparked.

Patrick Murtha said...

Yes, that is a really good topic, amd I am glad that she acknowledges it. My own position is that no one’s hands are clean. I’ll tell you what had a major impact on my thinking - teaching for a year in South Korea. I thought that I understood a little about racism, being an American. But the racism of East Asian cultures towards each other blew my mind. It is not based on skin color. It is based on the simple fact of belonging to another culture. And it is INTENSE. The European Union may face some issues, but it EXISTS; I can assure you, there will never be an Asian Union, because they all HATE one another. (They are not keen on black people either, but that's another story.) Living in Korea changed my perspective on these issues.

mudpuddle said...

fine analysis, Brian... a complicated subject whose tenets are indeed predisposed to an "echo chamber" effect... it's always important to obtain or discover another pov, but initially there inevitably are bloopers and illogical assertions... hence the inclusion of science as a major contributor/enhancer of colonialism. as you indicate, the discipline, if such it is, will surely benefit from a more rigorous approach that will accrete over time...

Sue Bursztynski said...

I suspect I might find this book not really to my taste, but you certainly seem to have got plenty out of it. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

Whispering Gums said...

Thanks for this post Brian. There's way too much here for me to take in and comment on in one reading, but I describe myself, like your first commenter as left-centre.

Just a couple of observations. I call myself wishy-washy, which means I tend not to adhere to any single idea and feel suspicious of those who view the world through a single ideology. I see the world very much in terms of greys, rather than black and white. Until proven otherwise, I like the idea of capitalism moderated by a just dose of socialism.

As for post colonialism, of course I agree with some of its tenets. Colonialism has done some terrible things - and is probably still doing it in some parts of the works - but to accord it sole responsibility for beliefs/doctrines/practices like racism and capitalism seems rather bizarre to me. I don't think I'll read the book, so I greatly appreciate that you did for us!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Patrick. The world is indeed full of bad things. These things have been universal between cultures and throughout history.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Mudpuddle. I hope that The Postcolonial evolve to a point where it is more diverse. Right now, the rift thaf I mentioned within the left is leading a lot of traditional liberals to push for it.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sue - The book is indeed full of theory and philosophy. I suspect that for a majority of readers, it would not hold interest.,

Brian Joseph said...

Hi WP - The world is indeed full of greys. It makes sense to be wishy warshy in a lot of ways. It is very true for capitalism, it works best with a strong does of government intervention.

The university of postcolnial thought does seem hard to defend..

CyberKitten said...

Brian, Kudos for reading and indeed finishing this book. From your review I doubt very much if I would've made it all the way through!

There are SO many problems with the arguments the book puts forward its hard to know where to start. For example (as you pointed out) its crazy to think that Science can be 'decolonised' or even 'de-capitalised' and that somehow it's essentially biased to produce the results it does.....

Arguing that Colonisation is inherently bad and always leads to damaged societies (paraphrasing somewhat) is clearly nonsense too. After all the USA is was founded by Colonialists and did quite well for itself?

As a Socialist I certainly don't give Capitalism a free ride and hold the ideology to be responsible for many of the ills in the world but colonialisation isn't either the basis for or the result of Capitalism. The idea of Empire, which is really what we're talking about here, is based on power. In the Age of Empires Europe, for a whole host of reasons, had power and much of the rest of the world didn't. That meant when explorers 'discovered' other lands they could force unequal trade deals or topple governments to get there way. Yes, this eventually enable Western Powers to have cheap imports at others expense but European Capitalism would have begun and flourished without them.

Your final comments are both illuminating and not a little chilling. You find the truth of things by listening and debating many viewpoints - they're not called perspectives for nothing! Without at least entertaining other points of view you can hardly get a rounded view of things.

Thanks for giving me a book to avoid. I need more of those!!

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Brian, this is a subject colonialism/postcolonialism that I don't know enough about and thank you for explaining it so well. I sense from your review that though I would disagree with this author on alot, her book does a good job in laying out her position. I know so little regarding how the British, the French, the Dutch etc ruled during the centuries that they colonized Asia and Africa, although colonization itself is always wrong. I tend to be a bit of an anglophile but I think that in Britain's rule of India for example there was an interaction and exchange of cultures between the two countries at least during the later parts of the 19th and early twentieth century. No justification for Britain colonizing India but its always seemed to me that Britain wanted to learn about and be open to being influenced by the countries they ruled as opposed to other colonial powers who simply took over. We see that in books such as A Passage to India, Jewel in the Crown etc.

JacquiWine said...

A very thoughtful post on a complex subject, not one I know very much about I'm afraid. That said, I do admire the fact that you've taken the time to analyse the positions presented by the author, and to outline your own views on these points. As Sue observed above, it seems as if you got a lot out of the experience of reading this book, just by thinking through the issues it raised.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Cyberkitten – I really particularly disagree with the postmodern take on science.

I get the critique on colonialism. I think that one could find benefits to most large historical trends, , but nevertheless, it was unjust and I think that it led to a lot of suffering.

Your comments about the European colonists having more power then the indigenous peoples reminded me of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. He tries to get to the root as to why Europe was more technically advanced. He ultimately attributes it to the climate, botany, and zoology of the various continents.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Kathy - I agree, despite the fact that I believe that colonialism was wrong, there were complex interactions that were not all negative. To Loompa's credit, she gets into this.

Indeed, despite my disagreement with some ideas, Loompa really does a good job explaining a complex subject.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Jacqui - I did get a lot out of this book. I think that one can get a lot out of reading things one disagrees with.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Really impressive review in its thoroughness and objectivity. I would not have gotten through the book because of it's obvious slant.

Your points comparing colonialism to Marxist regimes is right on and I also deplore the very one sided bias that is going on in places that are supposed to be havens of critical thinking.

I think the certain ideologies become a religion for some people and they are blindly fundamentalist in their adherence to it.

Have a wonderful week.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Sharon. I do disagree with much of the thinking behind Postcolonialism but this was a good description of the thought system. Some diversity of opinion would do the belief system some good.

Have great week!

Violet said...

OUCH! As you know, I studied PoCo at uni, so to read that you don't think it's a legitimate field of study? Arrow to my heart! Hahaha.

Fair enough that you don't agree with the tenets of PoCo. I'm not big fan of the Enlightenment and capitalism. Holding different ideologies makes for interesting discussions. :)

The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, Bill Ashcroft (ed.) is a good collection of excerpts of important PoCo texts, if you ever come across it.

I wonder if you'll be reading up on postmodernism next? *heh*

Brian Joseph said...

Hey Violet- Not wanting to shoot an arrow at you, more like a frisbee launchesd in your direction :) Seriously, a little disagreement is good. Thanks for The recommendation. I am thinking that I will approach postmodernism soon by starting with Foulcart and Derrida. As for Postcolonialism not being a field of study, I just want to see more diversity of opinion.

James said...

I am impressed with your thorough review and admire your willingness to explore views with which you primarily disagree. I consider myself a classical liberal with views similar to those of Hayek and would find it difficult to wade through a book like this one. Another thoughtful analysis of Imperialism (colonialism) can be found in Hannah Arendt's magisterial tome, The Origins of Totalitarianism.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks James. I am trying to read more things that I disagree with this year. I am familiar with the Classical Liberal worldview. I fit more closely into what in America is labeled as liberal. I find that these liberal views to mw more and more in conflict with postmodernist thinking.

I must read Hannah Arendt soon.

Judy Krueger said...

I learned much from your review. I have thought long and hard about colonialism because of My Big Fat Reading Project, reading books (mostly novels) set in my lifetime. Also now that the formerly colonized countries are producing literature that finally get translated into English, I have heard the voices of the colonized. It is this big tangled mess of conquest and economically driven views of the world that play a big part in climate change as we experience it now. An endlessly complicated history of events which did not just begin in Europe. Think of Ghengis Khan, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, the Japanese, the Chinese. It is curious to think about how government and business, which after all are made up of people, adopt the prevailing views but I think mostly those views are self-serving and based on excesses of power and greed. So you set my thoughts on a ramble and that is good!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Judy - I think that it is a great thing that folks from all over the world are now producing books that are readily available to all. You raise good point, the repression and injustice that went along with colonization were not invented by Europeans, they are ingrained in human history. What I think id significant is that the Europeans had enough power to colonize much of the world for a period of time and thus have a profound effect on so much. Without a doubt folks will adapt what is popular in order to benefit thems

Tracy Terry said...

My goodness! You do review some deep books.

Once again thank you for such a thoughtful and considered post. Possibly not a book I'd read but I love that I always come away from Babbling Books with something to think about.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Tracy - I do delve Rgsbks into some crazy stuff! I love exploring ideas. Glad to hear that my posts get the mental juices flowing.

Suko said...

Brian Joseph,

There is a lot to contemplate in this post re colonialism and postcolonialism. It's interesting that this book is used as a textbook, although you call it "a work of social and political philosophy", and say that it's "an excellent introduction" to postcolonialism. Now I'm eager to learn more. Thanks for your honest and thoughtful commentary about this book!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Suko - This being used as a textbook is interesting. It seems a good introduction to the subject but it also continues a lot of opinions.

thecuecard said...

Wow there is a lot to think about regarding the many facets of postcolonialism. It seems capitalistic policies can and have been racist but is capitalism inherently so? I just don't know. Thanks for talking about this author's ideas. I have been to Africa so I have seen colonialism's after effects but at some point it wasn't perfect before that either. Surely more needs to be done to move beyond it too.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Susan- In the past, capitalism, like almost every other institution, was untwined with racism. However, I am convinced that it is not inherently racist.

Loomba acknowledges that pre colonial societies had problems. With that, I believe that not every theorist concedes that.

R. T. said...

A very good posting and analysis .... during my MA in English, I had to tolerate a lot of lit theory and criticism.... I never was won over to colonialism and post-colonialism .... I.remain an unreformed New Critic ....
https://rtmarginalis.blogspot.com/
Tim

Stefanie said...

I thought I had commented on this really interesting post but I see that I never managed it. Really enjoyed your thoughtful comments. I'm not sure Marxism is the answer to colonialism and capitalism. Both systems have been and continue to be detrimental on a global scale, but historically the places that have tried to create a Marxist system have mostly fallen into various kinds of authoritarian forms of government and perpetuated horrific crimes too. And if postcolonial thinkers are as insular as you indicate they are, I can't say that I would trust them to put forth any practical theories or ideas for transformation.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Stefanie. I agree that we could do without Colonialist tendencies going forward. I think that our best hope for the planet is to use capitalism to work towards a green and none carbon revolution of sorts. It will require us to do capitalism differently from the way we have done it.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks RT. - I am partiall to New Criticism myself. Though I am OK with the newer schools of criticism when they stay somewhat moderate. When they try to reorder the world I think that they start to get us into trouble.

Andrew Blackman said...

Hi Brian,
Wow, this is strange - it's not a view of post-colonialism that I recognise at all. Then again, most of my reading on the subject is quite out of date - the earlier thinkers like Edward Said and Homi Bhabha. I remember Said, in particular, as being quite critical of Marxism as well as capitalism, and arguing for a recognition of the Eurocentrism of much scientific work rather than for discarding the scientific method altogether. I wonder if these are the views of this particular author, or whether the discipline as a whole has taken a different turn in more recent years.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Andrew - I suspect that there are two things. I do think that post - modernism has gotten somewhat more extreme over the past few years. But I also think that Loompa emphasis some of the more extreme thinkers. I may read Said soon.

Maria Behar said...

BRILLIANT, FASCINATING POST, BRIAN!!

This is indeed a very complex topic, and it seems that no one text can possibly have all the answers as to how to approach it.

You have written a very comprehensive post on the matter, and once again, have piqued my curiosity and interest about a book I would not normally want to read.

Also, even though you didn't mention this in your post, I think this topic also raises the question of whether free will does in fact exist. It seems to me that colonialism, with all of the effects mentioned by Loomba, has actually molded the thinking and belief systems of those countries it has conquered.

I am so happy to hear that you abhor Marxism just as much as I do! And, like me, you also believe in regulated capitalism. However, Loomba's assertion that capitalism and racism are related is pretty disturbing. I had not thought of this before, and would definitely like to explore it!

I have much more to say about this post, but am a bit strapped for time at the moment. So I'll come back later!

Thanks for another of your EXCELLENT, insightful posts!!

Hope you're having a nice day!! <3 :)

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Maria.

You raise an interesting point about Colonialism molded the belief systems of the colonized nations. One point that Loomba makes is that colonialism molded the belief systems of both the colonized and the colonizer. This is why many theorists contend that the effects of colonialism are all pervasive.

Regulated capitalism seems to be the best path to human prosperity and happiness. Marxism seems to lead mostly to misery.

I think that racism was so pervasive in the past that it wrapped itself around a lot of things. Capitalism was one of those things. I do not believe that there is any deep rooted connection between capitalism and racism.

Have a great day!

baili said...

Your mastery over the topic is striking dear Brain!

Extraordinarily done post as book offers a controversial and complicated ideas

I admire your own thoughts over the book and agreed with all you have said about it

World is not simple place because numerous people with different ideas makes it complicated and difficult habitat to survive on

No matter how intellectually we pull the strings shape of life today depicts the one ultimate formula that

"powerful survive at the end of the day and secure position to make the rules for others "
No system is perfect here and nor it can be unless we be able to accept and respect other's rights as we do our'sour's"

Thank you for remarkable review

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Baili - I think that you are correct with no system being perfect. It is so true for capitalism.

These things also get very complicated.

Caroline said...

Thus was very interesting, Brian. I never doubted colonialism to be the source of our problems. Being familiar with French and African history, I’d say there’s no doubt about it. It’s puzzling to me though, that anyone would defend Marxism. Nothing good came out of it and it was just as corrupt as Capitalism. Possibly the one Marx had in mi d, but what came out of it.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Caroline - I think that a lot of arguments that evolve out of this issue arise out of how to deal with some real and interpret these problems.

I also think that that a lot of folks embrace Marxism and envision something very different from the reality. It just seems unworkable.

Maria Behar said...

Well, it took me a while, but I'm back! Lol.

I wanted to add that I see colonialism and (unregulated) capitalism as a natural extension of the patriarchal system, which is based upon a rigid mindset -- that men are the superior gender, and, therefore, that male values are the standard to measure human behavior by.

I take issue with the conservative position on colonialism. As you stated in this quote, "....which is that at least some aspects of colonialism were beneficial to the colonizers and the colonized." That might be true, but what was the price paid for these positive aspects? In the case of Spanish colonization, the price was much too high -- entire indigenous civilizations were wiped out, and the indigenous people themselves were either massacred or enslaved.

Again I point to the patriarchal system, which is based on masculine values -- greed, a desire to be the "top dog", competition, oppression of what is considered "weak", such as compassion and empathy. I am not blaming ALL men here, of course, but the system that emerged from the suppression of the female gender and the values associated with it.

I wonder if Loomba also refers to any possible connection between genetics and colonialism. Was the patriarchy an inevitable part of human history, because of the genetic component behind male aggression and an innate desire for conquest and domination?

I agree with you that those postcolonialist theorists who attack science are totally misguided. I also agree that, at this point in time, "decolonizing" would do MUCH more harm than good. It would be totally pointless. What should be done, in my opinion, is to work within the existing systems by changing aspects of them. As you already know, I tend to be a moderate, not a radical, so I support your own moderate views. :)

Thanks for a most thought-provoking post!! Sorry I took so long to comment again.... :(

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Maria – There is never a rush to comment on a blog post.

I agree with you in that many of the drivers of colonialism such as the tendency towards violence and other forms of domination are much more prevalent in large populations of men. I also think that this is driven by genetics. I think that as better ideas and values disseminate throughout world culture, such tendencies are lessening. Though Loompa does not address this.

You are right about the price of colonialism. The destruction of indigenous cultures was one of the many horrors involved.

I am also completely with your moderate views. Pushing for the values of science, empathy, reason, democracy, etc., in peaceful ways, is the best way to drive progress.

Maria Behar said...

Thanks for the GREAT reply!! Hope you guys are enjoying your weekend!! <3 :)