(A working definition of decoloniality = a political program that is based, non-negotiably, on the eradication of domination and oppression across ethnic and/or religious grounds)
Recap: I wrote a post a couple of months ago about the take-home lessons from a summer school I went to on how to ‘decolonize’ the Muslim subject. The lessons to learn here, however, aren’t so particularist and actually provide the building blocks for how to construct a decolonized world for all of us. I’ll get to the rest of those lessons next week.
But, there’s still a crucial question to pose though, about why anyone should buy into a decolonial program. Suppose, hypothetically, the top 1% in the UK spontaneously favored a redistribution of income of a scale that would solve all the gaps in public services, would rehouse the homeless, would fund domestic violence services and would provide enough jobs for all, even those seeking asylum. What case is there then for decoloniality beyond the sentimental takes to ‘stamp out prejudice’ for stamping-out sake? After all, most think recalibrating the economy takes care of all that nasty stuff.
The thought experiment is a good measure of how much you reckon economic stimulus erases racial prejudice, and whether that is a zero-sum game.
Learning about de-coloniality almost absolutely turns this view on its head. When Britain voted to leave the EU, I knew then that most were willing to give up economic privilege if it meant erasing immigrant presence in the UK. I’m aware that most voted under the entirely vague opinion that erasing immigrants would conversely bring back jobs, I take this to be intellectually-disingenuous on part of said voter. There’s good reason to buy into this view, it’s why there was an incalculable surge of google-searches following the lines of: ‘What does the EU actually do?’ after the vote had already taken place.
There are countries today, Japan and Germany, that are industrial, infrastructural and tech powerhouses, their economies are in healthy surplus, the level of inequality between the highest and lowest of incomes is impressively narrow – and yet, they are bitterly unpleasant places for migrants and refugees. Their social housing is regularly set on fire, many suffer the indignity of not being granted permission to work, and the possibility of violence follows them everywhere.
What does this have to do with decoloniality, you might ask? It means, I think, the following: that racism cannot be erased with a stimulus package. After all, colonial powers were in more than healthy economic shape when the states’ main trades were based on slave-ownership. It’s why they decided to reimburse the slave-owning class of Britain’s elite at the time of abolition.
Strictly anti-capitalist programs do not have the machinery to handle racialized poverty, the racialized pay gap, sexual violence in undocumented labour, and neo-colonial economic structures.
I do not mean to suggest that a decolonial program wouldn’t also lend itself to anti-capitalist values. But rather, any ‘socialism-lites’ that appear to be gaining ground shouldn’t see dabbling in affirmative action as a serious remedy to racism (though it can’t hurt).
Here’s another reason why nothing other than decoloniality will do: it’s an excellent way of understanding the biggest of geopolitical fuck-ups, both today and in the last few centuries.
It opens up, and lead to questions about the asymmetry of modern powers (the EU and everywhere else), the debt market, the arms and war industries, Islamic capitalism (bismillAhdam Smith – a mere subset of the tentacled activity of the big daddy banks), and yet more regime changes – we share these with our colonised neighbours: South-east Asia, and all/most of Latin and Central America. The struggle to build robust democratic structures when faced with an onslaught of 2723621 coup d’etat(es?) – don’t quote me on that number – should be the first reason we look to when wondering about the instability of said regions. Instead, it is apparently easier to believe that some are constitutionally incapable of political organizing.
So decoloniality is intrinsically linked to the most pressing of geopolitical problems today. It is a constant, difficult effort, to place and locate cause and effect seriously into some of the biggest political crises we see on the news. It is the rejection of lazily resorting to discourses which imply that some just aren’t capable of proper politics.
Next week I’m gonna write about decolonizing intimacy and desire, orientalism, why decoloniality needs to be about more than nostalgia, and also how men ruin everything. Join me, next week.
ALSO, WATCH THIS SPACE FOR A SPECIAL POST ON WHY FLAMENCO IS FUN BUT ALSO DECOLONIAL AND FEMINISM.