Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
A Struggle on Two Fronts

A Struggle on Two Fronts

Ratings: (0)|Views: 9 |Likes:
Published by Christopher Carrico

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Christopher Carrico on Dec 02, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOCX, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

12/02/2010

pdf

text

original

 
A Struggle on Two Fronts: Against Reactionaries andAgainst Imperialists.
By Christopher Carricohttp://ccarrico.wordpress.com Originally published in
Stabroek News
,
History This Week
,
2 September 
,
 2010The quote µHistory is written by the victors¶ is normally ascribed to WinstonChurchill. Even without the fact that Churchill is a person to whom a greatdeal of apocrypha has been attributed
,
he clearly was not the first person toconceive of this idea.Walter Benjamin
,
a far lesser known figure than Churchill
,
also addressedthe question of how the victorious write history: in his essay µTheses on thePhilosophy of History.¶ This dark essay
,
though one ultimately filled withfaith and hope
,
was completed in the spring of 1940. Later in the sameyear 
,
Benjamin was arrested by Spanish authorities while trying to fleeEurope and Nazi persecution. Benjamin fully expected to be handed over to the German authorities and sent to the Nazi concentration camps.Instead of facing these horrors
,
he chose to commit suicide by overdosingon morphine. About history
,
Walter Benjamin wrote µin every era the attempt must bemade anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about tooverpower it.¶ The only historians capable of inspiring hope are those whoare µfirmly convinced that
even the dead 
will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.¶The cultural histories of peoples who have been conquered become part of the spoils of the victors. Even in developing countries that celebrate their multiculturalism
,
there is the risk that official state-sponsored observanceslike Amerindian Heritage Month or Emancipation Day will become another way that those who have µwon¶ in these societies appropriate the culture of 
 
national minorities as part of the spoils of their victory. The bigger portionsof these spoils
,
however 
,
are collected in the museums and archives of Europe and America; in the Smithsonian¶s National Museum of NaturalHistory in Washington
,
D.C.; they were in the World¶s Fairs in London andin the U.S. in the 19
th
and early 20
th
centuries
,
where µsavages¶ andµbarbarians¶ were brought from around the world and placed on view beforethe µcivilised¶ to show the inevitable linear progression of history towards itsteleological end:
estern civilisation
. Documentation of the civilisingmission of the West is always also a documentation of the barbarism thatthe West has carried out.It is in this sense ± the Janus-faced nature of imperial power (where theywrite history as if they were the rest of the world¶s saviours) ± that thecritics of µhuman rights imperialism¶ in fact have a valid point about how thenotion of rights functions in the world today. Human rights organisations asthey actually exist can sometimes be the 20
th
and 21
st
century equivalentsof the Christian missions of the colonial era. Whatever the individualintentions of the missionaries
,
or of the human rights activists
,
their ideashelp to form part of the justification for imperialism. Because feudalism
,
 despotism
,
ignorance
,
and social backwardness exist in the world
,
theµenlightened¶ West has a duty to civilise the rest. The West is called tocarry
,
in Rudyard Kipling¶s words
,
µThe White Man¶s Burden.¶There is an element of the appeal to human rights in every Americanimperial intervention of recent times. In the Iraq War 
,
even after the worldlearned that Iraqis did not have weapons of mass destruction
,
the war wasstill justifiable on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was a dictator 
,
and agross violator of human rights.In Afghanistan
,
the war is said to not just be about the µhunt for al Qaeda¶but also to be about the freedom of the people of Afghanistan. Inparticular 
,
in fighting a war in Afghanistan
,
the US claims to be fightingagainst extreme forms of gender oppression
,
and other forms of culturaltyranny
,
not just against the Taliban.
 
The case against Iran has being built for years. The high profile sentencingof Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiana to be stoned to death for adultery will nodoubt be used by imperialists as another reason why sanctions against(and possibly even an invasion of) Iran is the right thing for the µcivilised¶world to do. The fact that in Iran
,
homosexuality is punishable by the deathpenalty will
,
no doubt
,
also be invoked as a justification.The Cold War was full of instances that are similar to the µWar on Terror¶ intheir ideological use. The terror and repression of socialist states was usedas justification for taking preemptive action against left-leaninggovernments in the name of stopping the spread of communism.The logic of the Cold War never totally went away
,
as we can clearly see inLatin American and the Caribbean. American-Cuban relations have still notbeen normalized; Hugo Chavez is presented in the American media as theSouth American equivalent of Saddam Hussein. The Chavez governmentwas so harassed by human rights imperialism that they expelled foreignhuman rights groups from the country. Even Aristide was vilified as ahuman rights violator whenever he became inconvenient for the Bushadministration in Washington to keep in power.In addition to the fact that the human rights agenda always presents thedanger of being hijacked as a justification for war and imperialism
,
thereare other problems. The agendas of international agencies are not alwayswhat seem best from the point of view of local organisations. The fundingstreams that keep NGOs running severely limit what kinds of actions canbe done to address problems in local settings. Organisations from thedeveloping world often have a lack of autonomy to set their own agendas
,
 and when they have fought for the space to set their own agendas
,
foreignorganisations often take credit for the progress that has been made byaction that came from the grassroots.Organisations that are attempting to fight social problems in the developingworld are going to need to develop more strategies that help them to movepast the trap of the liberal democratic ± human rights based paradigm.Real social movements are going to need to forcefully assert themselves

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->