Sunday, January 31, 2016

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Cultural Imperialism Eradicated Native Cultures, Including Languages

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage makes a few observations about cultural imperialism. 
 
When we English lived in mud huts and were without a written language, societies which were later forced into the British empire thrived, often in the most sophisticated way.
 
 
 
One of the most beautiful structures in the world.
 
Below, the Fenian Fox, who blogs at An Sionnach Fionn looks at why there is so much antipathy to the Irish language. He sees this as part of the legacy from centuries of foreign occupation.
 
It's not only in Ireland where such a legacy exists, it can also be found within many of the nations which once made up the British empire. I remember the ballyhoo in the UK when the Indian government had the 'audacity' to change the name from the English pronunciation of its states, and cities. Travancore-Cochin was renamed Kerala, Madras State became Tamil Nadu and so on. The excreta really hit the fan when Bombay was renamed after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, and became Mumbai, Calcutta resorted back to Kolkata, the centuries old Bengali name for the city as governments of different political persuasions reclaimed what was rightfully theirs.
 
The British empire.
 
Once the military had done their job by occupying and oppressing the local population, and big business began to profit from exploiting the county's natural resources, a cultural imperialism came into play, often with a bible in one hand and a big stick in the other.
 
Eradicating local cultures, including religions and languages became the order of the day, although in such a rural and diverse country this was never going to be achieved, although the language of business, higher education and government did become English spoken.
 
This was all done to advance the lifestyles of 'the natives,' or so the imperialists arrogantly proclaimed. But this was nonsense as what replaced centuries old cultures was a system of dived and rule. Religions which were thousands of years in the making, and languages which went far back into the distant past, were destroyed on a governor general, or viceroy's whim.
 
When the British were living in caves and mud huts and were without a written language, many of these societies thrived, often in the most sophisticated way.
 
When we couldn't even count on our fingers let alone out toes, Arabic and Indian societies were making great advances in medicine, agriculture, architecture, the arts, economics, commerce, literature, navigation, philosophy, and astrology. Yet when we occupied these lands we claimed we were bringing them 'our civilisation,' as if raping and pillaging in other people's lands is something of value for people who were under the empire's heal.
 
British and European civilisation, or the lack of it was a frequent theme in Mahatma Gandhi’s writing and speeches. Understandably he did not hold it in high regard having experienced it at first hand in South Africa and India. In 1920, speaking about WW1 he said: “The last War however has shown, as nothing else has, the Satanic nature of the civilization that dominates Europe today.”
When I see how the West have behaved in recent decades in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and how the British government treats some of it's own citizens, Gandhi again comes to mind.
 
When he was asked by a journalist in London:
 
"Mr Gandhi, what do you think of western civilisation? he is said to have replied; "It would be a good Idea."

Indeed.
 

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