Friday, April 30, 2010

Shadows of Colonialism

If you wish to have "pride" in "your" folk (and if you are utilizing this exclusionary terminology, it is likely that you are drawing on outdated nineteenth century concepts that separate you from your full power of humanity and identification with life), and you want that pride to be authentic, it stands to reason that the first step, the very first step, is to fairly and squarely face and come to terms with the collective crimes of your folk.

The goal here is not to enter into the vicious cycle of victim, rescuer, and persecutor, which so easily perpetuates itself in cycles of unredeemed guilt. It will not do for the many peoples of the world to identify the collective shadow with European peoples either, transforming themselves through whitewashing into guiltless, innocent beings. But if you are going to consciously identify with European peoples as a whole, or some subset thereof, there is no escaping facing responsibility for the deeds of ancestors you claim.

This is a basic and irrefutable fact of the heathen mentality, which demands wergild for crimes committed. The scild (debt) you do not pay lingers and collects interest. Far better is it to summon up strength and face the guilt, and begin to pay it off. When you have accepted your part, your legitimate and full part, you do not have to take on the guilt of the whole. (And don't play the hypocrite game of claiming your ancestors on the one hand, when it comes to their glory, but then separating yourself as an individual when it comes to their crimes. Everyone will recognize this for the stinking bullshit it is. Let us speak frankly.)

Let us examine the incredible courage and tremendous power to be found in a passage Jung wrote in his 1956 essay, The Undiscovered Self. We have to begin from where we are ; we must face the forces that actually exist and that have been planted and come to fruition, even if they are distasteful, rank, and full of thorns, for only from honest assessment of where we are in history can we have any hope of transformation. Thus Jung :

"The horror which the dictator States have of late brought upon mankind is nothing less than the culmination of all those atrocities of which our ancestors made themselves guilty in the not so distant past. Quite apart from the barbarities and blood baths perpetrated by the Christian nations among themselves throughout European history, the European has also to answer for all the crimes he has committed against the coloured races during the process of colonization. In this respect the white man carries a very heavy burden indeed. It shows us a picture of the common human shadow that could hardly be painted in blacker colours. The evil that comes to light in man and that undoubtedly dwells within him is of gigantic proportions." (R.F.C. Hull, tr.)

Behold boldness! Behold honesty wrestling with the true horrors of collective history. Behold a European beginning to actually come to terms with the shadows of colonialism.

And get this : the only way to decolonize is to first face the shadows of colonialism so that one is not unconscious in the face of it, and so that one can honestly reach the level of ancestors who were themselves colonized, and underneath that layer, to find the truly indigenous ancestors. If going through this process does not inspire solidarity within you for the colonized peoples of the world seeking to throw off that which has been imposed on them, you haven't been authentically engaging the process.

Face wickedness and acknowledge its fullness. Mourn, and roar, and pay with good deeds for crimes upon which you stand. Not to perpetuate guilt. Not to play the sinner. Not to stand as scapegoat for all of humanity's crimes. But to pay the guilt, and through that honesty, to forthright stand back proud in one's common humanity.

That is bravery.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said! Would that more show your courage and congruity.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Apuleius Platonicus said...

The Undiscovered Self is good stuff -- very good stuff. Jung was a cultural conservative, and he desperately wanted to save Western culture from itself.

Jung knew that "only the truth shall set you free". And he possessed the boldness and the honesty to state things plainly. But people only hear what they want to hear. Jung has been turned into a harmless soft-core Christian new-ager by most of those who today consider themselves "Jungians".

But the man was a Heathen, for sure. And a courageous one who gave us an example to follow, and whose writings still have much for us to learn from.

12:55 PM  

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