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    1. #1
      Baba Ahmed's Avatar
      Baba Ahmed is offline Honorable Ancestor

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      THE CONCEPT of the CULTURAL OTHER


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      “Wherever there is life, even if it be only a possibility, the harbingers of death must go to destroy it.
      See the footsteps they have left over all the world. Wherever they have been they have destroyed along their road, taking, taking, taking.”

      ---Ayi Kwei Armah
      __________________________________________________ ___________________________________
      Baba note: Lets continue to examine attributes of Europeanisms. European hegemony has plagued the world for many centuries. In Marimba Ani’s classic YURUGU, we’re told that her work is an aggressive attack to clearly show vital elements of “Europe’s” drive to conquer, control and rule other cultures’ people. The 8th chapter, Behavior Toward Others, she deals with:

      The Concept of the ‘Cultural Other.’

      “A crucial aspect of European culture for the understanding of its imperialistic posture is what I term the European conception of the ‘cultural other.’ This conception helps to make European behavior towards others possible. It is closely related to the European image of others, but is not quite the same. I mean to imply that it is more a conceptual construct---a mental category---that becomes the ‘proper’ receptacle for what would otherwise be considered unsupportable, unsanctioned behavior. The European image of others, of course, reinforces this concept and ensures its continuance as a part of the European world-view. The concept of the cultural other further enables the continued existence of the extremely negative image of others that is a dialectically necessary part of the European self-image. Let us look, therefore, at this conception and the style of behavior that it implies.
      “The cultural other is a creation of European culture, constructed, in part, to answer the needs of the European utamaroho.* The utamaroho is expansionistic. This, as a cultural characteristic, is itself very important to understand. The ego seeks to infinitely expand itself. This kind of self expansion should not be confused with the desire to ‘give of oneself’---to ‘merge self with other’ or to ‘become one with the world.’ All of these are identified with the spiritual experience of love. Expansionism is the psychological, emotional and ideological opposite of these. Expansionism is the projection and imposition of the cultural ego onto the world. (It is possible to interpret all manifestations of ‘universalism’ in this way.) It is the expression of arrogance, greed, and an obsession to consume all that is distinguished from self. In this setting, ‘discovered’ phenomena automatically become areas to conquer---to be made ours European expansionism is the delimitation and redefinition of the world in terms of the European self;’ as opposed to the ‘losing of self’ in the world or in the ‘other,’ which is the obliteration of the isolating boundaries of self.
      In European ideology the cultural other is like the land---territory or space into which Europeans expand themselves. The cultural other is there for Europeans to define, to ‘make over.’ That is why they can describe their new awareness of objects, peoples, and territories as their ‘discovery.’ This idea is coherent for them because according to their world-view it is their role to impart definition to the world. People of other cultural traditions and ‘persuasions’ are part of the world to be defined; it is a European world. And in this sense, the conception of the cultural other is that of the nonhuman. It is Europeans who define ‘humanness’ in terms of their own self-image and with such intensity that the ethic and rules of behavior that apply to those who are like them do not apply to those who are not. The cultural other is, therefore, the person (object) who can be treated in any manner---with an unlimited degree of hostility and brutality, as is evident when one reviews the history of the European’s relations to peoples of other cultures. It is only non-aggressive and non-exploitative behavior towards the cultural other that is negatively sanctioned in European culture.

      The thrust of my argument is that (1) the ethic that guides the behavior of Europeans within their culture is quantitatively and qualitatively different from that which is acceptable and sanctioned behavior toward those outside of the culture; and that (2) the characteristic behavior of Europeans toward those outside their culture is made culturally possible[i.e., the culture can support and sustain it] by the existence within European ideology of the conception of the cultural other. This conception, along with the utamahoro that supports it, makes possible a degree of aggression and successful imperialistic behavior unique in human history.

      European Versus ‘Non-European’

      “When I refer to the ‘intra-cultural’ behavior of Europeans, I do not mean to indicate merely their behavior within the geographical or territorial confines of nations considered to be European. I refer rather to the way in which one European is expected to behave towards another. This excludes many people who are colonized within European nations (such as the United States, part of the European diaspora) and includes Europeans living within the territorial boundaries of non-European nations. Though the European’s behavior is characteristically aggressive and competitive, there are limitations placed on the ‘acting out’ of that aggression within his culture, as there are acts that the culture does not sanction intra-culturally. Europeans are not supported culturally in the murder of other Europeans. It is not allowed; it is difficult to get away with. War among Western European nations is regretted and avoided in a way that war between a European nation and a non-European nation could never be. European intracultural behavior is characterized by a lack of trust as a basis for love…. Aggressiveness and hostility on the part of the individual makes emotional life precarious within the culture. It is obvious that the culture could not survive as a viable entity if there were not some’safety-valve’ for this aggression. This cultural need creates the cultural other, whose existence makes possible, on a cultural level, the absorption of dysfunctional internal aggression. Put simply: If the cultural other did not exist, Europeans would destroy each other’

      One of the dynamics in the historical development of the West is that as the culture matured---as it developed---its ideology ‘progressively’ adjusted itself so that the limitations on treatment of Europeans became more circumscribed with respect to certain extreme forms of political relationships. More precisely, the tendency that can be recognized is that first slavery, then serfdom of Europeans by Europeans became negatively sanctioned within the culture, and in general it became increasingly less acceptable to hold extreme overt political power over other European nations. This, of course, was Hitler’s greatest crime in terms of the European ethic; the methods by which he sought to control the Western world were obsolete---were not longer sanctioned. The European reaction to first British and then United States world ascendancy is very different. It is within this cultural-ideological process of the redefinition and maturation of Western European political nationalism that the call for European unity became audible and the negative image of others and the concept of the cultural other became intensified. In 1814 Saint-Simon called for a ‘European Confederation.’

      ‘All undertakings of common advantage to the European community will be directed by the great parliament; thus, for instance, it will link the Danube to the Rhine by canals, the Rhine to the Baltic, etc. Without external activity, there is no internal tranquility. The surest means of maintaining peace in Confederation will be to keep it constantly occupied beyond its own borders, and engaged without a pause in great internal enterprises. To colonize the world with the European race, superior to every other human race; to make the world accessible and habitable like Europe---such is the sort of enterprise by which the European parliament should continually keep Europe active and healthy.(3)

      3. Claude Henri de Saint-Simon, Social Organization, The Science of Man, and Other Writings, trans. And ed. Felix Markham, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1964, p. 49
      __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________

      cont'd below
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    2. #2
      Baba Ahmed's Avatar
      Baba Ahmed is offline Honorable Ancestor

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      Cont'd European vs "Non-European" p.405-07


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      “There is a subtle but important point to be made in this connection. While it has been pointed out that what Eurocentricists call the ‘civilization process’ (we would call it ‘Europeanization’) is actually one of ever increasingly repressive structures within European culture, at the same time the concept of asili* points to the simultaneous tendency to obliterate the severely brutal and exploitative relationships that become reserved for intercultural behavior. It is for this reason that a description of the European’s behavior towards the cultural other helps to explain his intra-cultural behavior. The nature of the culture is, indeed, intrinsically repressive and yet its survival and successful functioning depend on contract agreement, cooperation, and the cultural identification among its members. European ideology cannot condone the destruction of its own members; that is, in terms of its own definition of destruction. The conception of the cultural other, therefore, becomes that which can be destroyed or, more practically speaking, that upon which culturally destructive behavior can be unleashed. The difference is that while the culture may be repressive for its participants, they do not think it repressive---it represents what which they value; while the cultural other is treated as they (Europeans) would not wish to be treated themselves and as they would not be comfortable in treating each other. This is why a class analysis is insufficient in the explanation of European socio-political behavior As Saint-Simon indicates above, anything can be done to those outside the culture if it helps to keep the European community ‘healthy.’

      As the slogans of European ‘revolutions’ became those of ‘the rights of man’ and ‘liberate, egalite, fraternite,’ European behavior towards majority peoples became more and more extreme in its exploitiveness and its brutality. Africans and other majority peoples became more and more excluded from the category of ‘man.’ Here again it is possible to witness an ‘ingenious’ creation of the asili of the culture. The ‘logic’ of European (Euro-American) ideology leads to the continual intensification of the power drive, or acquisitiveness and greed, and of the need to consume and destroy, to oppress and exploit: the nature of the utamahoro. While the eighteenth-century ‘humanists’ were ensuring that these behaviorial characteristics would not be used to disrupt the coherence of European culture, they accepted an image of those outside the culture that made such peoples the logical, justifiable, and ethically acceptable objects of that behavior. In Kovel’s view, this definitional and behavioral process continued and intensified until its more recent form, ‘the de-institutionalization of Africa allowed the West to discharge upon it whatever was forbidden and dark, while that of America led to the creation of a new, white, institutional order.(4)

      The ravages of European imperialism must not be viewed merely as evidence of the indiscriminately applied abuses of European behavior but of the patterned character of that behavior towards people who are not European. What allows Europeans to act as they do is the nature of their world-view, a crucial aspect of which is a definition of other peoples as essentially non-human.
      W.E.B. Dubois recognized the difference in behavior:

      ‘There was Nazi atrocity---concentration camps, wholesale maiming and murder, defilement of women or ghastly blasphemy of childhood---which the Christian civilization of Europe had not long been practicing against colored folk in all parts of the world in the name of and for the defense of a Superior Race born to rule the world.(5)

      “Alphonso Pinckney makes the connection between the conception of the cultural other and European behavior towards others:

      ‘The American soldiers involved in the Mylai massacre were motivated to commit such acts, at least in part, by deeply rooted prejudices against the Vietnamese people. Had they seen these people as human beings it is doubtful that they could simply have annihilated. There were ‘dirty gooks,’ and some of them were suspected of being ‘commie;’ the combination reduced them to status less than that of human beings.(6)**
      __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________

      *Asili The logos of a culture, within which its various aspects cohere. It is the developmental germ/seed of a culture. It is the cultural essence, the ideological core, the matrix of a cultural entity which must be identified in order to make sense of the collective creations of its members.
      ** Baba note: this is the atrocity, Colin Powell, the present Sec'y of State - then a U.S. Army Major(?) step'd to the media to explain away...
      4. Joel Kovel, White Racism, Vintage, New York, 1971, p.181
      5. W.E.B. DuBois, The World and Africa, International Publishers, New York, 1965, p. 23.
      6. Alphonso Pinckney, The American Way of Violence, Vintage, New York, 1972, p. 69
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    3. #3
      Baba Ahmed's Avatar
      Baba Ahmed is offline Honorable Ancestor

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      European Law & Others


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      We continue scanning European Cultural Thought & Behavior. Marimba Ani advises, in my words, that we should avoid getting bogged down in using immorality, racism and e.g., aggression alone to define and understand the essential nature of Euro-American mindsets. She advises we know their Worldview; e.g., how they view creation, the planet, and peoples. Her classic book, in my opinion, Yurugu does just that to cover European “self-image” formulated long ago and she goes as far to suggest that what drives them seems innate. Today’s “white” folk have inherited a heritage that has imposed on others a self-image as the only beings fit to be Gods over all other cultures and people. The leaders; the improvers; the re-gentrificationists! And from this “self-image” those who’re called Europeans – old & new – have made effective and powerful use of their “unfinished” creation. For originally, as told in the Dogon mythology, “is responsible for disorder in the universe. This is a being conceived in denial of the natural order, which then acts to initiate and promote disharmony in the universe. In African cosmology such a being is deficient in spiritual sensibility, is perpetually in conflict, is limited cognitively, and is threatening to the well-being of humanity.” {baba's highlight}

      Its explained, in the mythology, that Yurugu split from its creator before being completed. He set out to re-fashion, renovate, to improve the Creators creation. But! He left before receiving his feminine principle; he peeped it and turned to get it. Too late!!! So today that’s what we’re dealing against: a being who thinks a certain way leading to identifiable actions, historically, and generated by what Mama Marimba terms, Asili. This logos of its culture, its seed produces a Utamawazo is culturally structured thought. It is the way in which cognition is determined by a cultural Asili. It is the way in which the thought of members of a culture must be patterned if the Asili is to be fulfilled; e.g., to conquer and control all others. The vital force of a culture she terms the Utamahoro. That is set in motion by the Asili. And that, “it is the thrust or energy source of a culture; that which gives it its emotional tone and motivates the collective behavior of its members. Both the Utamawazo and the Utamahoro are born out of the Asili and, in turn, affirm it. They should not be thought of as distinct from the Asili but as its manifestation.

      As part of the “cultural other;” i.e, those who’re not of Yurugu’s descent including even those who identify with European cultural thought and behavior, one major area of confusion is European Law. I mention those who consciously identify with’em who do not realize the extent and depth of a statement issued in 1902 responding to charges of brutality, etc during the invasion of the Philippines. Its ending lines are: “We repeat---the American people, after thought and deliberation have shown their wishes. THEY DO NOT WANT THE FILIPINOS. THEY WANT THE PHILIPPINES. This cited in a 1902 San Francisco Argonaut “…responding to criticism of American soldiers in their treatment of the Filipino insurgents, and as such it is a good ethnographic example of the way in which the European definition of the cultural other determines the European’s behavior towards others.” It is also valuable in that it shows a departure from the European tradition of rhetorical hypocrisy in its frankness. The statement’s frankness is expressed: “Doubtless, many of the excellent gentlemen in Congress would repudiate these sentiments as brutal. But we are only saying what they are doing. We believe in stripping all hypocritical verbiage from national declarations, and telling the truth simply and boldly.(9)

      Further on Marimba Ani poses a question: “But why do Europeans go the the trouble of creating the appearance of legality in their dealings with majority peoples? Why not simply steal and exploit without the charade? The answer is (1) that this ‘acting out’ constitutes a strategical tool that politically disarms the victims of European expansion, and (2) it plays an important part in the maintenance and support of the European self-image. The importance of this self-image must not be underestimated. One of the deepest beliefs of the Europeans is in the related notions of ‘civilization,’ ‘progress,’ and the ‘evolutionary’ superiority of their culture. The concept of ‘codified law’ is a definitive ingredient of that civilization; for with civilization, according to European ideology, comes order and legality assures ‘lasting order’---not moral conduct but consistent and predictable conduct. So that the ‘civilized’ way---the European way---is to bring laws, however forcibly, and the structures of European culture (‘civilization’) to those whom one treats immorally and for whom one has no respect. Along with ‘development,’ this justifies expansionism---for after all, Europeans bring ‘law and order’ to people who must have previously lived quite ‘disorderly’ lives (or so they believe). ‘Good’ law is written law and therefore truly legal; unwritten law is not really law; it is ‘bad’ and backward. How many times have the victims of European hypocrisy been duped into trying to deal with those laws rather than with the true nature of the European ethic?”

      “….That was one of the lessons of the Mississippi experience that black people, learned at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, much to the embarrassment of the Democratic Party that its rules for the election of delegates were not meant to include Mississippi; that the whites of that state would be upheld in their attempt to exclude blacks, because to do otherwise would, indeed, upset the ‘order’ of the convention. The separation of morality and ‘law,’ the phenomenon of mass hypocrisy; the separation of emotional commitment from action are all encouraged by the European tradition in the use of words without meaning. To be ‘civilized’ is the appearance of a moral order that does not exist. If these things are understood then it is more easily realized that to be a cultural other implies that there are no laws that govern or inhibit the European’s behavior towards you.” {Baba's highlighting}
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      9. Paul Jacobs et al, To Serve the Devil, Vol. II, Vintage, New York, 1971, p. 335.
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    4. #4
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      Baba Ahmed is offline Honorable Ancestor

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      Digging OUT OLD EUROPE/NEW EURO-AMERICAN MINDSET


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      "The authors {above in 1902 S.Franscisco article} are speaking for all wars waged by the European minority against all majority peoples throughout the history of the European diaspora.

      The statement touches on a recurrent theme in the patterned behavior of the Europeans toward the cultural other; the usurping of our land and resources. Among Europeans governed by the capitalistic ethic, there is nothing that approaches the sacred more than the rights of property and contract. The successful capitalist can do anything to rob the poor of whatever meagre resources they have, but as long as what he does is 'legal'---as long as he fulfills his contract with the wage-earner or consumer---his actions are considered ethical. Similarly, European social institutions may take from Europeans their initiative and creativity, their energy and spirit, but the system will protect their right to their material possessions; for this is their 'property.' Whatever they have, in this sense, is theirs to do with as they please. That is the meaning of the right to ownership in the West; indeed, in capitalist countries that is the meaning of 'freedom.'

      An 'ethical' implication of the European concept of the cultural other is that there are those who have no right to such property; they especially have no right to own land. A Correlative of this is that these cultural others are not truly human---not really people; therefore, they can no more 'own' land than the wild animals that inhabit it, therefore, cannot be 'stolen' from. To take land from the cultural other is not to steal. As the authors of the statement quoted above indicate, another by-product of this concept is the idea that Europeans (European-Americans) ‘know how’ to use land and resources. The cultural other is not capable of doing so and has no idea of their proper uses; Europeans, therefore, have the right and the duty to expropriate the land and resources and to make use of them. This is…the ideological source of the contemporary typology of nations as either ‘developed’ or ‘under developed.’ The natural environment is there for ‘something to be done with it.’ Europeans know what to do with if and, therefore, have rights to everything occupied by people who are not of European descent---for is the same as being ‘unoccupied,’ and anything ‘un-ocuppied’ belongs to the European.

      Kenyatta’s discussion of land tenure in Facing Mt. Kenya offers a good comparison of Gikuyu and European attitudes and values. In their colonial penetration of Kenya, Europeans conveniently misconceived the ‘big tracts of lands used for other purposes than cultivation and which were equally important to the community’(10) as being ‘under-developed’---a term that means ‘that which can and should be taken over by Europeans’ in the language of European ideology. At the same time, the Gikuyu have a category of relationship to the land termed Mohoi, meaning ‘one who acquires cultivation rights on the ng’ondo or lands of another man or family unit, on a friendly basis without any payment for the use of the land.’(11) This idea would be a violation of the European concept of self, of individual freedom; and a person who allowed her land to be used in this way would be considered a fool. Yet the Gikuyu had a concept of themselves and of those outside their culture that allowed them to treat Europeans as Mohoi; ‘this generosity of giving temporary cultivation or guilding rights to strangers was extended to the Europeans when they arrived in Gikuyu land.(12) Needless to say, such behavior is considered evidence of weakness and stupidity by the Europeans who use it to further their own objectives.

      The colonial pattern was repeated again and again wherever Europeans ‘discover’ the cultural other. The land was taken, the people were incarcerated, a colonial ‘government’ was established to import the morality and institutions of the Western Europeans and to regulate their behavior among themselves. The government would make available to Europeans those lands that could best be cultivated; each ‘settler’ receiving a large track of land, the idea being that he deserved to be ‘rewarded’ for his pioneering spirit and his willingness to ‘settle’ ‘untamed’ lands (e.g., lands previously inhabited by the cultural other). His ‘European presence’ gave colonial governments the excuse to ‘protect’ him.
      This behaviorial pattern is consistent with the European’s image of himself as the world ‘organizer;’ i.e., the initiator of ‘order.’ The cultural other, however, would be placed inreserved areas or reservations that were invariably over crowded and that represented the poorest agricultural possibilities. Land ownership and property rights are jealously protected among Europeans, but there is no comparison with the spiritual and ideological violation that is committed against majority peoples when they are forcibly removed from the land of their ancestors. But it is pointless to dwell on this fact in a discussion of European behavior towards others, because it in no way affects the behavior of Europeans; nor does it reach their ‘moral’ consciousness. It is…irrelevant in the attempt to understand European behavior and ideology

      Another purpose of the establishment of the colonial government is to give the illusion of a kind of legality, propriety or ethical presence that does not exist. There is no European concept of ‘legality’ that extends to non-European peoples. It is the traditional political strategy of the European to create the impression that such exists, therby disarming the cultural other whom they exploit, as well as those with their culture who purport to be concerned with the well-being of the exploited peoples.

      IF THIS ASPECT OF EUROPEAN BEHAVIOR COULD BE UNDERSTOOD BY PEOPLES OF MAJORITY CULTURES, IT WOULD BE TO THEIR DISTINCT POLITICAL ADVANTAGE. IT IS PERHAPS MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN ANY OTHER SINGLE BEHAVIORAL CHARACTERISTIC. THERE SIMPLY ARE NO GUIDING RULES OF CONDUCT, NO LIMITATIONS, NO INHIBITIONS IN THE EUROPESN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CULTURAL OTHER. [color=green]THEREFORE, THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENT FOR US IS TO RECOGNIZE THAT WE ARE ULTIMATELY AND INEVITABLY IN THE EUROPEAN’S WORLD-VIEW CULTURAL OTHERS.

      NEXT, THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS CONCEPT FOR EUROPEAN BEHAVIOR MUST BE UNDERSTOOD; IT THEN BECOMES EASY TO ANTICIPATE THEIR BEHAVIOR IN THE INTERCULTURAL ARENA. IF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN OBJECTS OF EUROPEAN AGGRESSION BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THAT AGGRESSION---THE Asili, OR GENERATING CORE OF THE CULTURE THAT EXPLAINS IT---THEY WILL BE MUCH MORE SUCCESSFUL IN COUNTERACTING IT
      ***

      10. Jomo Kenyatta, Facing Mt. Kenya, Vintage, New York, 1965, p. 37.
      11. Ibid, p. 23.
      12. Ibid, p. 41
      *** Baba’s note: capitalizing and highlighting done by me.
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