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ESTABLISHING PURPOSE BEYOND THE PRESENT
GLOBALIZATION PAPER #2
In Stefan Tanaka's New Times in Modern Japan, he quotes Inoue Enryo as saying, "There is a thing called will in humans, and when one possesses will there is definitely purpose." Tanaka expands this to say that "will is that source of progress that separates human nature from nature," and quotes Inoue again, that "when the complete human being is not led by will, there is no development as a human being."1 In speaking of European colonialism and imperialism, the relentless human will and lust for hegemony were compelling factors behind the push outwards from the cramped, competitive European nation-states to new colonies worldwide. Such pressures did not exist in potential nation-state rivals such as China. In order to ensure their domination, perhaps subconsciously understanding the power of human will, the European colonists perfected human domestication by destroying and suppressing the human will of other peoples so that they would not and could not resist the destruction of their cultures and assumption of their lands. But it speaks to the power of the human will that those who were colonized eventually broke out of the manacles of mental inferiority and enslavement and re-established their own identities as a "complete human being". Thusly, the human will must be discussed from multiple perspectives of the colonial equation: the will to expand, the will to dominate, and the will to be free. In the pre-colonial era, Europe was essentially balanced enough that its highly competitive states, with no room to expand geographically or economically, had reached a stalemate. Also, according to David Abernethy’s The Dynamics of Global Dominance, "in cultural, economic, and geographic terms [Europe] has long been relatively unified," 2 so the different states competed with strikingly similar goals and abilities to adopt
Stefan Tanaka. New Times in Modern Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 161. David B. Abernethy. The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires 1415-1980 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000), 9.
advancements in military technology and economic and political theory from each other. As a result, the "nervous energy"3 to develop first-user technology in military and naval projection was high among the European states, and pressures to colonize new lands and exploit their resources to shift the balance of power were too great to ignore. Contrast this with China, whose recalcitrance to pursue global imperialism was probably in some subconscious level related to its disperse population and plentiful land and labor. China's different philosophic and political goals alienated it from the European homogeneous competitive mindset. As Pomeranz points out in The Great Divergence, in China "none of the changes that combined to arrest Western Europe's ecological decline during the nineteenth century was operative."4 Such competitive energies did not exist in China and therefore it did not have the will to change its situation, and therefore had no purpose to expand. It should be noted, however, that China was still an influence upon the colonial expansion in its ravenous demand for silver, which created a world market as silver (which continued to be found in new deposits, thus inflating its value economically) was exchanged for other goods which could be used to purchase raw materials elsewhere for Europe. Pomeranz sums up: "Not only were the land and labor that produced New World resource exports very much the fruits of extra-market coercion, but it took the unique arrangements of Caribbean plantations and of mercantilist policies throughout the New World to escape all the forces that caused core-periphery exchange within the Old World to plateau."5 European "overseas aggression became attractive as a way of easing, though never ultimately resolving, a metropole's security dilemma."6 The balance of power in Europe had expanded to the international stage, and the potential of finding new colonies and resources could mean survival for the insecure European states. And Europe had reached the limits of what it could produce at home, having "little chance of expanding
Abernethy, 206. Kenneth Pomeranz. The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 239. 5 Pomeranz, 274. 6 Abernethy, 207.
its supplies of clothing fiber and wood from within its own borders, given its relatively non-intensive agriculture and limited labor supply."7 When the Europeans arrived in the Americas, they had little idea that North America would become the economic powerhouse of the world a century later because of its plentiful land as well as plentiful imported labor. In the meantime, however, "it turned out to be possible to address these shortages through long-distance trade"8 through specialization in the colonies. In a very realist operating environment in Europe, the will to dominate other countries superseded all. Except for France, which showed some ambivalence towards colonialism9, Europeans did not hesitate to subvert newly discovered cultures and indeed expressed their arrogant superiority in doing so.10 Abernethy describes two of Europe's methods: the "explore-control-utilize" syndrome11 and the triple attack.12 The "explore-control-utilize" syndrome consisted of the affirmation of "the importance of curiosity and the value of satisfying it"13, the feeling of entitlement "to exercise collective property rights abroad"14, and the "realization of imagined potential" through perpetual restlessness15. The will to dominate extended through this syndrome even to controlling nature, to "realize nature's untapped potential,"16 changing it to suit man's purposes and to improve upon it. It is easy to see how this mindset led to the mental ease in dispatching foreign civilizations and enslaving them to do their bidding. In a competitive world, might makes right. While the "explore-control-utilize" mindset provided validation of colonialism, the triple assault was the insurmountably insidious method in which institutions were brought in to overwhelm colonized peoples. The public sector "[obtained] compliance by heavy reliance on the use and threat of force" while the private profit sector rewarded producers with imported consumer goods. To give everything an aura of timelessness and righteousness, missionaries "specialized in what Émile Durkheim terms 'normative
Pomeranz, 238. Pomeranz, 238. 9 Abernethy, 216. 10 Abernethy, 12. Tanaka, 97. 11 Abernethy, 185. 12 Abernethy, 227. 13 Abernethy, 185. 14 Abernethy, 186. 15 Abernethy, 186. 16 Abernethy, 187.
pacification.'"17 The colonized peoples would be recruited to assist the colonizers in running their sectors, incorporating them into western customs and institutionalizing their families into the system, alienating them from their past. In fact, sometimes the colonized would be tricked into violating their religious principles18, subverting them and making it easier for them to abandon their beliefs. When it was more difficult to subvert people, a colonizer could rely on pure profit motives: "a chartered company was able to penetrate other societies more readily than public sector agents acting on their own" as, "if rulers believed they themselves could profit by trading with the company they might tolerate its troops on their territory as a minor strategic risk outweighed by economic gain."19 Colonizer techniques were under a constant state of improvement. To keep the people cowed, western powers would divide and rule. Using segregation of people and groups, unity among the suppressed was impossible. Different groups were encouraged to compete against each other instead of cooperate. It was not in their mutual interest to combine their forces, and physical separation from each other reinforced the desire to take advantage of each other.20 For instance, the fact that Africans were actively and ignorantly complicit in the massive Atlantic slave trade has yet to be fully absorbed in its entirety as a scar on human history. How was it that the west was able to exploit the will of the African princes, kings, and merchants so that they would be major participants in the enslavement of their own people? David Brion Davis elaborates, in Inhuman Bondage. By appealing to the greed of these people, offering them "textiles, liquor, hardware, bars of iron, guns and gunpowder, tools or utensils of various kinds, and cowry seashells"21, western companies exploited the fragmented cultural and national groups and played them against each other. Their will to receive luxury products outweighed interests of unity and resisting foreign influence. Thus, in the face of this bombardment of influence and interference within the triple assault, it is more interesting to remark on those civilizations that were able to repel
Abernethy, 236. Abernethy, 237. 19 Abernethy, 239. 20 Abernethy, 285. 21 David Brion Davis. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 89.
the west. Abernethy mentions briefly the examples of Japan, Thailand, Afghanistan, Abyssinia. Both Afghanistan and Japan benefit from defensively advantageous geographies and have repelled invaders for centuries, as securing all the different mountainous regions or islands is a near impossible task. This somewhat negated the fact that neither country benefitted from strong, unified rule until Japan did much later in history. For other resisters, having a unified, strong federal government was the key against the westerners -- the westerners found it easier to divide and conquer by playing tribal chieftains against each other. The westerners altogether tried to avoid lands populated by Muslims, as they considered the Muslims incontrovertible from their religion. But even if a region or state managed to fend off the Europeans, it still suffered the merciless effects of contact whether through disease or through western ideas. Tanaka's New Times in Modern Japan, for example, strikes the reader as an extremely saddening book in discussing the effect of assuming the solar calendar in place of the lunar calendar. The mechanical impersonality of modern time forced an abstract perception of reality upon the Japanese, who found no soul, fervor, or festiveness in "invented traditions"22. "The old holidays were celebrated because the people felt them to be festive occasions."23 Myths, eternity, and the story-telling nature of Japanese life had been invalidated by the Japanese government. The Japanese people felt that "things were becoming important because they were old, not because they were tied to some form of belief or spirituality."24 How much different is this from physical colonial rule, when your culture is replaced with one that doesn't coincide with your agrarian schedule or cultural history? One can consider time to be an enslaver, forcing people to live by its never-ending ticking, its tireless will to reach an infinite future. Domination of people and the triple assault eventually became a liability to the Europeans. The brash, rebellious personalities sent by Europeans to implement institutions abroad eventually sought their own independence, writing at great length on the subject of personal liberty. The requirement for work skills and the false magnanimousness of Europeans brought some degrees of literacy and higher education to
Tanaka, 17. Tanaka, 16. 24 Tanaka, 33.
the colonized and to slaves. Eventually the oppressed observed the movement within the American colonies to free themselves from British colonial rule. That a slave named Prince would, after hearing revolutionary rhetoric from his master, would say, "Master, you are going to fight for your liberty, but I have none to fight for,"25 exhibits a massive awakening of the self among slaves. Frederick Douglass and other thinkers provided the model and inspiration for slaves to pull away the wool (cotton?) from their eyes. Before then, slaves were unaware that they were even slaves -- black children would play games acting as slavemasters, not realizing the disgusting future ahead of them. Douglass testified that "the shock of coming to terms with a slave identity was then devastating, especially in a country that talked of liberty and equality and took such pride in disavowing hereditary titles and aristocratic status."26 Former slaves sometimes even became slave-owners themselves, and slaves would often, according to Douglass, think that "the greatness of their masters was transferable to themselves."27 One cannot understate Orlando Patterson's perception that slavery is "the permanent, violent, and personal domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons."28 And yet, despite the fear of death and intimidation and hopelessness, the enslaved and the colonized began to fight back. Slaves in the US observed the bloody battle for Haitian independence and the high-minded talk of American settlers -- India observed the American Revolution and pursued it in its own country. Colonialism in many areas began to be checked. Colonists tried to block this transfer of information and hope by keeping slaves illiterate by law (for instance, in the Southern states after the Nat Turner rebellion29). But the movement had already begun. Even the religious prong of the triple assault was bent back upon its users, most poignantly as the Zimbabwean nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole stated: "If the Bible teaches that the individual is unique, of infinite worth before God, colonialism in many respects said just the opposite, and it became only a matter of time before one ousted the other."30 This notion of individuality sprang from the human will, and freedom and liberty became the purpose of the enslaved's will. This
Davis, 144. Davis, 199. 27 Davis, 196. 28 Davis, 30. 29 Davis, 209. 30 Abernethy, 340.
will to pursue individual liberty was not coming from just one direction, either. Justification for colonialism within European states had already begun to wane, and was in fact banned as a practice in some European countries well before the anti-slavery movement in the US hit its stride. So all throughout the course of colonialism, from its initial curiosities and competitive pressures to the domination and subjugation of foreign peoples, to the awakening of the enslaved to their own "complete human being", the human will has repeatedly changed the nature of the situation -- the human motivation continues to seek to establish purpose beyond the present, to achieve a more promising future than what life provides already. As Tanaka concludes, "Will establishes a horizon of expectations as an inherent part of human beings."31 Looking forward, it will be interesting to see how the will to control and the will to be free compete, how we as a society will marry the two together equitably.
VICTOR BENJAMIN TURNER MSFS 507-01 DR. PATTY O’BRIEN
ESTABLISHING PURPOSE BEYOND THE PRESENT
GLOBALIZATION PAPER #2 BIBLIOGRAPHY
1) Abernethy, David B. The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires 1415-1980. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000. 2) Davis, David Brion. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 3) Pomeranz, Kenneth. The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. 4) Tanaka, Stefan. New Times in Modern Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.
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