Thoughts V: Mental colonization
Mondar M. M. A. NOVO
In 1835, Thomas Macaulay, who served as President of a Committee on Public Instruction in Bengal, recommended a thoroughly English educational system which "would create a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour but English in taste, in morals and in intellect" and through such a class the British would perpetuate their rule.
It is my firm belief that if our plan of education is followed up, there would not be a single idolater in
Bengalin 30 years hence...” Macaulay (1836)
The greatest colonization is the colonization of the mind. In the initial stages of colonization, the conquered people are enslaved and controlled with the force of arms. The weakness of this form of colonization is that the colonized people can rise up in revolution and send the colonizer packing, permanently. This colonization is transient. However, the colonizer has other weapons in his arsenal and these are used to colonize the minds of the conquered people, since colonization of the mind has more permanency.
There are various degrees of this mental colonization. Specialized education and exposure to carefully controlled media are used to partially colonize the minds of the people. This is not a thing of the past and is still done with greater vigour. The big guns for this colonization are the televisions, radios and newspapers and other forms of media – often this is called deculturisation by people labelled as conservative.
Entertainment, News, TV, and radio programs are slanted to allow the people to form the “desired” opinions and the “desired” prejudices. Primarily, however, it is education that is controlled. The media adds to the colonization by controlled education.
Books and curricula are chosen more or less by the existing powers (corporate, government, and religious) reflecting their wishes. Students learn what the “powers” wish them to learn. The choice of material for the student from which the student learns is pre-selected. The material which will enable the student to go beyond the classroom are also controlled either by subtly discouraging the student from going too far from what is taught in the classroom or it is controlled directly by making certain types of material more available than others and some simply unavailable.
This affects the freedom of thought. Freedom of thought depends heavily on the diversity of knowledge and the control of education greatly curtails this freedom. Where the freedom of knowledge is controlled, freedom of thought is dead and thus freedom of speech becomes irrelevant. And democracy thus becomes a mere tool of the existing powers.
Effects of even this partial colonization can be seen in much of the world. It has grave cultural effects such as in
(subcontinental) where many people, however they shout out their nationalism, associate native male clothes with the “lower class” and western clothes with the “higher class”. Even on national days, such as the Language Martyrs’ Day in India , wearing the Lungi is considered unseemly. Even eating with forks and knives is often considered more “civilized” than eating with the hand, which is the Indian tradition. Many do not stop to think that eating utensils and many other customs of the west developed out of what their environment demanded. For people in colder climates eating with the hand meant washing it, which is not comfortable in their climate and as such, there was a necessity to invent eating utensils. This also goes for shoes that enclose the whole foot. Those kind of shoes are not necessary and rather uncomfortably hot in warm weather but today, Indians and many other warm climate inhabitants use the shoes where more stringy sandal-shoes would suffice. Bangladesh
(subcontinental) is westernized – and this does not exclude Gandhi who wore Indian clothes but was an utter admirer and supporter of the British Raj. The attitude towards clothes and utensils represents the mindset of the still colonized Indians. Westernization (the culture of the colonizer) is seen as modern and more acceptable. Apparently, Macaulay was successful. India
The ultimate weapon of colonization, a weapon far superior to any conventional weapon, exists in the arsenal of the colonizer – it is religion. One can rise above one’s education once one observes reality to be contrary to the teachings and may even see past the television and other media. However, it is much harder to reject religious teaching (for fear of punishment and for greed of reward) as religion suppresses one’s thinking faculties. Thus, the ultimate colonization of the mind is done by religion. Once this is done, mental colonization is complete and the people readily submit themselves to the colonizer. The colonizer may leave the country and allow nationalism but will still have a colony just as Macaulay said, “Indian in blood and colour but English in taste, in morals and in intellect" and through such a class the British would perpetuate their rule”.
The mentally colonized individual even looks for his heritage in the land of the colonizer. They feel pride in the colonizers’ history and glory. They hero-worship the very aggressors who parasitize their country like leeches as colonizers or in their most recent form – neo-colonialists. Still slaves just without chains!
A very tiny section of the colonized, usually those who were affluent before the arrival of the colonialists or those who were servants of the colonizer deal with the colonialist to achieve pseudo-independence and gain power, just as Marx said. Through these “educated” natives, the colonialists practice neo-colonialism, in which the wealth of the colonized nation still flows to the colonialists. This tiny group becomes the elite and extremely rich and powerful while the rest of the people fight each other, intoxicated by the scarcity principle, for the scraps that fall down the cracks of the system according to Reagan’s highly insulting “trickle down” theory.
Even the culture is gradually modified – and needs very little outside force. People abandon their own culture and traditions as they are taught to think that their culture and traditions are primitive and uncivilized or antireligious. A native child who grows up in a Christian missionary school very often associates their parents and/or ancestors as misguided and leftover from an uncivilized world and embrace westernism freely. Even the language is modified as in East Bengali Bangla where certain Bangla words (like the word for water) are replaced with Urdu (Hindi dialect with a heavy dose of Arabic and Persian words) words, which are considered more Islamic.
From the very birth, religion controls all the vital points on one’s life including one’s name, which is just the tip of the iceberg. When one reaches sexual maturity, one has to take refuge in religion, since religion controls one’s sexual freedom. One needs to get a licence from the priest to have sex – marriage. (Today, thankfully, one can avoid this – but still needs to get permission from the court in many countries.) Even at death, one has to pass through the hands of the priest. Ultimately, the colonization is done in such a way that for all the important things in life, one has to run to religion and the bosses of religion. The very way a person leads life is dictated by religion. By controlling the vital points, virtually a person’s entire being is controlled by the religion – loyalty of the individual to the bosses of the religion (the colonizer) is achieved. So undoubtedly, it is the ultimate colonizer.
This ultimate colonization of the mind is symbolized by the conversion of faith AND choice of NAMES for children by parents. The parents, who stand in awe of the aggressor and search for heritage in the aggressor’s land, take names for their children from the names of the colonizers. Arabic and European (Biblical) names are the choice names in the different colonized nations depending on the faith. The colonizers recognize this very well.
Until recently in some countries, like
, Canada and USA , native children (Native Americans and Australian Aborigines) were kidnapped by the government and handed over to the different church orphanages (catholic, Anglican etc.). These highly abused (and sexually abused) children were forced to abandon their religion, language and culture and NAME, as Christianity, English and European culture and Christian names were shoved down their throats. (The law was formally removed from Australia law only in the mid 80s.) US
One might trivialize the use of foreign names. However, it is a bigger issue than one realizes. It does not only symbolize the loss of culture and ultimate colonization, it also has many consequences. A name is one of the most intimate possessions and control of the name has a lot of significance and effect on one’s mind.
What is the need of names? When we want to learn about something or one, we need to distinguish and identify, hence comes the use of a name or in general terms, a label. The name one is given at birth or individual label controls how one is perceived in many ways and even how one views oneself. All Daves and all Toms are not the same, however, when the name indicates a certain type of origin, it immediately triggers prejudices. Arabic names indicate to us that a person is Muslim and Indian/Bengali names indicate that the person is probably Hindu. It affects both the person with the name and those around him. It moulds the world around a person. It encourages generalization. A person with a Bengali name will be perceived generally as a Hindu and the circle of friends around him will form partially filtered by that name. The outlook of the person born in an Islamic family with a Bengali name will be much different from that of one with an Arabic name.
Then there is a much more important issue – the confusion of name due to the generalization and prejudice has greater implications -- an extremely long-term effect of mental colonization. If a person with an Arabic name of Bengali origin does something wonderful and is noted worldwide, there is a great chance that he will be perceived as an Arab. This will create ambiguity and confusion... much more in the future than at present. In a thousand years, one might find the name and achievement of an individual and get a completely wrong idea about his heritage. Again, this shows the permanency of this type of colonization.
Ultimate colonization by conversion/imposition of religion starts in early childhood. Before the capability to use sense and logic is developed to discern the fallacies and absurdities of religious teachings, religion is honed into the mind of a child. A child’s primary sources of teaching (absolute) in this period are the parents who initiate the colonization process... infusing the child with a foreign doctrine as if it were a virus being transmitted. The parents, themselves, were infected by their parents – the virus of colonization is passed down the generations from parent to child.
This colonization/belief is then strengthened by the priests, media and even schools as the child grows up. Ultimately the child’s faculties for thinking and discerning logic from illogic, is selectively paralyzed. On certain issues – religious issues or “patriotic” issues, the person will fail to “see” logic and reality. One is taught unthinking, obsessive and ostentatious practice of beliefs through sterile rituals -- religion.
This colonization also creates a hostility in the minds of individuals when beliefs run into conflict with reality or own inherent sense of logic. That is, when the individual is asked or some situation forces the individual to review a fundamental illogical belief, the individual feels stress and feels irrationally threatened. This conflict is often the cause of great religious intolerance.
Today the colonization process has its own life and does not need any fixed colonizers. Colonized individuals feel duty bound to propagate the colonization process. Religion is the greatest self-propagating colonizing weapon, which again makes religion the ultimate weapon of colonization. Its great power facilitates mobilization the masses. The colonizer or other authority of religion can mobilize the unsuspecting masses even to go to war upon their bidding even if the war is unjustifiable.
Religion with the power of the media creates this zombie like effect where people kill and die for second hand beliefs and for scraps that fall from the table of the masters of the society. Individual minds are so colonized through the slanted media, selective education and the ultimate colonizer, religion that they are trained to be intellectually lazy. One would rather let someone else do their thinking and would just accept that someone else’s opinion as their own belief. In other words: ultimate and long lasting colonization. And so Einstein laments, “It is in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”
When faced with the chasm of unfamiliarity or uncertainty, I would rather build a bridge of reason than take a leap of faith. -- NOVO
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