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Sonntag, 5. Januar 2020

Colonialism reloaded and the revolutionary factor



This article was also published on:
https://asiatimes.com/2020/01/opinion/colonialism-reloaded-and-the-revolutionary-factor/

There's much talk about China's growing economic imperialism, its human rights violations and about multinational corporations' exploitation of humans and nature large-scale. But what about the West?

In the Age of Colonialism the West colonized the world, invaded countries abroad to bring "The Good Thing" by religion, to "civilize" the world while exploiting the hell out of other countries, their natural resources and people.

It's all different now. Western countries have evolved, learned from history... Really? Did they? Aren't the same underlying patterns still at work? Doesn't the West still feel superior over the world?
Take psychology/psychotherapy as analysis tool: "Feeling superior" originates from an overcompensated "inferiority complex" (coined by Alfred Adler, Austrian-physicist who participated in Sigmund Freud's "Wednesday Society"), meaning overcompensating one's own shortcomings (inferiority) to feel superior over others, which Adler called "superiority complex".

Isn't colonialism based on the collective conviction to be superior over others, in Christianity deriving from culturally-ingrained inferiority complex ("original sin") overcompensated to superiority complex?

Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc. have experienced Western interventionism and "nation-building" offensives lately. In the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) the USSR driven by superiority complex was defeated in bringing Communism to Afghanistan. Since 2002 Western allies have Westernized Afghanistan and the region with humble outcome - “History repeats itselfthe first as tragedy, then as farce.” (Karl Marx).

Western leaders have a history of shaping the world according to their ideals to save the world, to break with age-old traditions on-site and urge all to follow Western traditions instead.
Today, the West still feels superior over the "rest of the world" (a common phrase therefore) pushing the world to comply, this time not by religion but by democratization and science, appearing as "new religion".

While Western technology is well-adopted worldwide, why democracy and Human Rights are hard put to establish?

I strongly advocate Human Rights. However, undeniably many consider Human Rights as secularized substrate of Christianity different from e.g. Sharia law. But many argue: Almost all countries committed themselves to respect the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), beyond culture.

Sure, but in many countries Human Rights are respected in name only, rejected as "Western product" dangerous to traditions on-site.

Albeit applying to everyone universally many perceive Human Rights as "Western invention" based on the Age of Enlightenment which Western thinkers - in response to the horrors of WW2 - propagated first. And that's its weakness.

Resistance against Human Rights in the world originates from Human Rights perceived as new colonialism of Western powers spreading democracy worldwide while using Human Rights as fig-leaf for reckless exploitation of the world, similar to the Chinese model which operates without democracy and Human Rights.

Despite even in Western countries Human Rights aren't well-established (e.g. integration struggles, non-ethical behavior of multinational corporations...), remember the many domestic workers tortured by Asian bosses mostly educated at high-ranked Western universities as do the world's many Western-educated brutal dictators! Western education falls short when imposed. Apparently Human Rights as relatively new concept are outweighed by deeply rooted age-old cultures, where human rights aren't culturally internalized.

Who pays the price for Western interventions? The history of Western "nation-building" and interventionism - coinciding with Western economic/strategic interests - fuels critics like Paolo Sensini: "If you don't come to Democracy, Democracy will come to you", William Blum: "Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country!", even video-games: "Embrace democracy or you will be eradicated!" (Fallout 3 - Liberty Prime).

But does "spreading democracy and human rights abroad" even achieve the desired results? "Change takes time" advocates of installing Western values worldwide utter. True, it only takes generations.
US-sociologist Robert K. Merton's Law of Unintended Consequences refers to unintended consequences of interventions. Not to meddle might be hard in the face of cruel traditions. But remember: They are "cruel" from a Western perspective.

The West's self-image "The shining city on the hill" (see puritan John Winthrop and American exceptionalism) or "the envy of the world" is revealing, appearing as overcompensation driven by knowing better, urging the world to model oneself on the West to accept Western standards and westernize by creating Western copies worldwide - propagated by Hollywood, the media. India's widespread obsession with skin-whitening or Asia's frenzy for beauty surgeries to look Western is telling volumes.

The West spearheads a global cultural standardization process via the World Wide Web as new colonialism. A standardized world mainly benefits capitalist global trade. Western leaders often steamroller the majority population on-site not being asked, if democracy is desired. Therefore Western interventionism appears as foreign countries' endeavors to exploit natural/human resources.

This two-faced global Westernization process appears self-contradictory: While Western cultural imperialists - no longer spreading Christianity as the bible is widely "outdated" in the West - urge the world to adopt Western lifestyle, democracy, Human Rights etc. Western multinational corporations exploit people and nature recklessly worldwide and deliver arms to cruel regimes violating Human Rights...

Democracy installed top-down creates only superficial results and mounting resistance, when ignoring the majority population on-site with its traditions unready for change. Take the French Revolution (1789-1799) - none other than the French themselves toppled their regime, or in the American Revolution (1775-1783) the Americans themselves threw off the British rule...

Revolutions have lasting change only by "the power within" - coming from inside out, if the majority population wants change. That's the revolutionary factor. Without that foreign powers bringing change are perceived imperialist looking for securing their interests, ignoring the on-site majority populations' reluctance against interventionism. Imagine the French's reluctance against making revolution then, if perceived as foreign powers' interference in internal affairs.

Post-WW2 Germany and Japan welcomed change over its majority population. Psychologically speaking everything, even democracy imposed provokes reactance in those affected unwilling to change, losing much by Westernization - from tribes to Internet-filtering regimes preserving authority by withholding their people from freedom of information. Western cultural-economic-military meddling worldwide triggers and fuels anti-Western sentiment, even "global terrorism".

The revolution's driving force is "the power within", the majority population on-site ready for change. Only then the time is ripe, the groundwork laid by the people themselves embracing change which therefore lasts.

Dr. Dr. Immanuel Fruhmann
Philosopher and Systemic Analyst

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