The Struggle To Decolonize

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Has anyone else noticed that it is difficult to decolonize one’s thoughts and actions while living in the belly of the beast of a colonizing empire?

The system we live in (or under) is founded on exploitation and practices it in nearly all of its endeavors. The system forms a binary, a dichotomy wherein one is either an exploiter or one is exploited. Put another way, one is either the oppressor or the oppressed. Much of our understanding, false though it is, begins with our education that is more correctly an indoctrination. Even the style of education within this system presupposes hierarchical structure of dominance in what Paulo Freire termed the “Banking System” of education in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, wherein communiques are merely deposited into students who are presupposed to be ignorant, and thus, inferior. The students in order to succeed must concede and adapt to this position of inferiority thereby solidify the exploiter-exploited relationship and contradiction. This system denies the agency of the student and rejects the proposition that all human beings who are not suffering from dehumanization are members of the creation and re-creation of knowledge. Only when such an understanding is reached is it possible to respect and honor the agency of every human being as full human beings. And for so long as the system denies the agency of full human beings then it is an exploitative system.
The learned and practiced adaptive preferences of this system become solidified within a person long before that person enters the workforce, so resigning one’s self to an inferior position of exploitation for another’s gain is standard operation; i.e., it is normalized. Any human being who thinks for them self, who is critical of the system is considered a pariah, is considered an outsider, a person who is against “order,” and is to be punished. This is essentially because the exploiters cannot permit those who have not received the stamp of approval, which has been codified into law, to be the agents of change even in our very own lives and communities, are to be punished, suppressed, and silenced.
This is part of the reason why I believe it is so difficult to decolonize one’s self while living in the belly of the beast of a colonizing empire. W.E.B. Du Bois called it the “Double-Consciousness,” Audre Lorde called it, “Double-Think,” Paulo Freire called it the “oppressor consciousness,” but all pointed to the internalization of the colonizer’s, the exploiter’s identity and perception of the world and of ourselves. We must overcome this indoctrination if we ever mean to achieve liberation for ourselves and all of our sisters and brothers from this system of exploitation and imperialism.
Trust in the power of WE. All long-lasting and effectual change emerges from the bottom-up, not from the top-down, and this is especially true of cultural revolutions. This means that the power to overcome this evil resides within us. It resides within us all.
  • DHFabian

    I agree. We aren’t only indoctrinated via our public education system, but our media. They powerfully “interpret” reality for us in ways that benefit only the better off, while making oppression acceptable, if largely by ignoring it. Starting in the 1980s, the masses have been effectively re-educated in a way that protects corporate power.

    Over the past 20 years, as the overall life expectancy of the US poor fell below that of every developed nation, we watched liberals march in solidarity with the middle class (recently revised to “working class”). Over the past decade, much work has gone into pitting the poor against each other by race. Divide, subdivide, conquer.

    We do repeat history, and once again, corporate powers dominate our politics and policies. How can we even begin to build a legitimate people’s movement to push back this time, after so many years of being pitted against each other?

  • mwildfire

    This brings up a question for me. I think a key to successful resistance is broad agreement that nobody goes under the bus, that we will not accept any rationale for why people of any race, gender, nationality or religion should be considered inferior, deprived of rights, or excluded. But I see an exception, and have changed my mind through life about this question. What about the 1%, the boss, the rich, the powerful? Are they also “we”? When I was young I thought them merely deluded, victims also, and that the answer was redeeming them and bringing them in, all we and no they. But my experience said that movements not afraid to define and fight an enemy were more likely to win; and I’ve come to think that some of the overarching problem of oppression and exploitation derive from that small group within any society who are INCAPABLE of compassion or moral feeling–the sociopaths. It’s hard to see this clearly because ours is, as several of today’s articles illustrate, a sociopathic culture, and most people–the Milgram shock experiment and hundreds of repeated versions of it have clearly shown–while they do have a conscience, will easily ignore it to obey an authority or go with the herd. The percentage who have no conscience is mirrored by the percentage who will not ignore moral reality–less than 5%. So, is it possible to inculcate empathy in a sociopath, or is this like trying to teach a fully colorblind person the difference between green and red? Are sociopaths a distinct group or is this a spectrum, with many able to care a little for their own families and friends?