Saturday, June 30, 2007

A passion for empire-building?

Niranjan Mohanty in his reflections on the current scenario has raised certain vital issues that must be debated before it is too late. I agree with his view: “At times I feel that the colonial, deconstructionist and postcolonial discourses have elusively alluded to the construction of a passion for empire-building, for erecting boundaries, for perpetuating the dialectical, often subvertive relationship between the center and the periphery, between the privileged and the marginalized.” INDIAN ENGLISH WRITING: POLITICS OF REJECTION? Published by R.K. SINGH April 2nd, 2007 in Poetry Discussion and Poetry India.
For those of us born after Independence, postcolonialism should have ended in fifty-five years of romance with democracy. With the current politics of empowerment of the socially and economically deprived and too much Hindu and Muslim, or majority and minority, only the signs of a new colonialism are visible. At national and international level, after the fall of the USSR and the rise of the processes of globalization, the postcolonial societies everywhere have been experiencing a new dominance under the control of the USA. It seems to me that postcolonialism is not devoid of colonialism. It is rather continuation of colonialism with certain added features to suit the perpetrators of colonialism, be it art, culture, commerce, or politics. Or, we are heading back to colonialism by not resisting the politics of tyranny of a handful of zealots who have virtually consolidated their brutal power and are now out to obliterate the “marginalized”.
I think it makes sense to talk in terms of revival of colonialism after post-colonialism. And this is what we face in the first three years of the 21st century: the totalitarian morality of Information Technology, the manipulated fear of war/disaster/doom through globalization, multi-national capitalism, corporate economy, WTO, environmental concerns, various rights, war on terrorism, etc.; through political orthodoxy in the name of democracy, religious fanaticism, ethnic dominance, and repression of the liberals and the simple, and through the new processes of fossilization of the precolonial/colonial/postcolonial that may render many of us irrelevant. I wonder if we are not terribly dislocated in our world divided into North/South and First/Third world today, just as many postcolonial writers, settled abroad, have been communicating with a colonized mind/subjectivity and getting media recognition.
A new colonialism of the right wing, the American and the British, is taking its hold in developing countries, which have become a playground for long-term exploitation by the newly empowered colonialists within. A process of re-colonization is going on in the name of decolonization, as evident from post-September 11 developments, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Against such a perspective, new writers and poets, be it in India or in any other country need a positive mediation on the basis of equality rather than “us vs. them” treatment which is geared to separate or ignore talents that await discovery and recognition. With empathy, recognition, and responsiveness, the literary scholastic orthodoxies of the earlier decades can be replaced with fresh contexts, unaffected by monopolistic approaches. Instead of pronouncing the demise of Indian English Writing or lamenting over its poor quality, if academic critics could demonstrate professional dedication and commitment, they would be able to locate good poets/fiction writers, and playwrights besides fostering the art, harnessing the taste, and developing the talent. –R.K. SINGH
REFERENCES Niranjan Mohanty. 2003. Sirs/Madams, This is the Indian Poetry in English Scenario for you. The Journal of Indian Writing in English, Vol.31, No.1, p.12-17. M. K. Naik and Shyamala A. Narayan. 2001. Indian English Literature: 1980-2000.Delhi: Pencraft International, p.183.

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