cultural stereotypes

One might, taking a cue from Ashis Nandy, differentiate between the kinds of damage that can be done in colonial societies and that which is done in and by those societies that have an efficient industrial machine — far more efficient than is available in colonial societies. The later societies also have a more efficient military system. But the evil of naziism is projected backwards (in developmental terms) onto colonial societies, as if the racial distinctions were somehow a religion (which, for some colonialists they were, indeed, but these were a small cluster of ‘true believers’). The majority of the ‘colonisers’ were not so efficiently organised by an ideology to think and act very clearly according to categorical terms of race — an anti-intuitive fact, no doubt, for some. Rather, the inherited certain attitudes quite subconsciously (and what I mean by that is that these attitudes about race and gender came to them via cultural conditioning in entirely subtle ways).

But, the assumption is that a white from Africa has learned an ideology about race, that they are tenaciously holding onto and which they must be disabused of in a way that forces them to release their tight, possessive fingers from the holy grail of racism. (read: “must be reeducated”).

This is the mistake. Those self appointed re-educators also have an attitude that has been just as subtly imbued, concerning the naturalness and superiority of their own moral position, which, like all positions, has been subtly culturally conditioned. But they don’t see that their own cultural conditioning is precisely that, and has its own errors entailed in it, such as presumptions about progress, presumptions about the superiority of their own nationalism, and illusions of being in a position to judge others.

The assumption is that it’s just all about ideology and who has the superior one. And the answer to that is taken to be self-evident: The reeducators do!

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3 thoughts on “cultural stereotypes

  1. What I tend to observe, however, is that one first practices atrocities and so on in the margins (the colonies) and then brings them home.

    People were horrified at the machine gunning in WWI and thought of it as new but it was what had been done in the Boer War. Practice in the colonies, then bring it home.

    The same thing with neoliberal economic programs and so on: we forced these on Latin America first, then started implementing them here under Reagan.

    ?

  2. What I tend to observe, however, is that one first practices atrocities and so on in the margins (the colonies) and then brings them home.

    People were horrified at the machine gunning in WWI and thought of it as new but it was what had been done in the Boer War. Practice in the colonies, then bring it home.

    The same thing with neoliberal economic programs and so on: we forced these on Latin America first, then started implementing them here under Reagan.

    ?

  3. Yes, that can happen. But it doesn’t create a metaphysical principle as some might automatically presume. Things happening in certain places do not cause the place to be metaphysically coated with a slick of evil paint all over.

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