May 7, 2009...8:54 pm
Colonialism did not die: It only reinvented itself
Rajiv Malhotra's brilliant analysis of neo-colonialism and how various tricks are used by Westerners to ensure that Hindu minds remain in a cage even today.
By Rajiv Malhotra
"In the modern planetary situation, Eastern and Western 'cultures' can no longer meet one another as equal partners. They meet in a westernized world, under conditions shaped by western ways of thinking." — W. Halbfass
This essay argues that intellectual svaraj (self-rule) is as fundamental to the long term success of a civilization as is svaraj in the political and financial areas. Therefore, it is important to ask: whose way of representing knowledge will be in control? It is the representation system that defines the metaphors and terminology, interprets what they mean in various situations, influences what issues are selected to focus on, and, most importantly, grants privileges by determining who is to control this marketplace of ideas.
As an implicit body of standards, a representation system disguises a meta-ideology – the substratum of contexts on which specific ideologies emerge and interact. It includes the language used and the unstated frames of reference, and acts as the subliminal filter through which positions are constructed and their fate negotiated.
A people without their own representation system, in a worst case scenario, get reduced to being intellectual consumers looking up to the dominant culture. In the best case scenario, they could become intellectual producers, but only within the representation system as defined and controlled by the dominant culture, such as has happened recently with many Indian writers in English.
Ashis Nandy summarizes how this mental colonialism was brought about:
"This colonialism colonises minds in addition to bodies and it releases forces within colonized societies to alter their cultural priorities once and for all…. Particularly, once the British rulers and the exposed sections of Indians internalized the colonial role definitions….the battle for the minds of men was to a great extent won by the Raj."
The repetitious use of a given representation system eventually leads to a widely accepted set of "essences," as stated by Friedreich Nietzsche:
"The reputation, name, and appearance, the usual measure and weight of a thing, what it counts for — originally almost always wrong and arbitrary — grows from generation unto generation, merely because people believe in it, until it gradually grows to be a part of the thing and turns into its very body. What at first was appearance becomes in the end, almost invariably, the essence and is effective as such."