Amilcar Cabral’s revolutionary anti-colonialist ideas

this is a good introduction to amilcar cabral’s ideas on culture and resistance. a few keys points for me:

–capitalism depends critically on dehumanizing the colonial subject and central to this process is the need to destroy, modify or recast the culture of the colonized.

–the history of liberalism is one of contestation between the cultures of the ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ spaces: the democracy of the sacred space (facilitated by the enlightenment) is a democracy of the white master-race that refuses to allow blacks, indigenous peoples, or even white women, into that space, and then there is the profane space occupied by the less-than-human/colonized/other.

–colonialism maintained its power through attempts to eradicate the cultures of the colonial subject. the process of dehumanization required a systematic and institutionalized attempt to destroy existing cultures, languages, histories and capacities to produce, organize, tell stories, invent, love, make music, sing songs, make poetry, and create art.

–in the same way, neocolonial regimes have attempted to disarticulate culture from politics. yet culture is not static and unchangeable. it advances only through engagement in the struggle for freedom. otherwise it becomes a caricature of some imagined past comprised of customs and traditions, it becomes fodder for tourists’ imaginations.

–after independence, neocolonial regimes arose out of the defeat or attrition of mass movements, and gradually resulted in the demise of the struggles for emancipatory freedoms in africa and other parts of the colonized world. this is because the newly emerging middle class saw its task as one of preventing ‘centrifugal forces’ from competing for political power or seeking greater autonomy from the newly formed ‘nation’. the new controllers of the state machinery saw their role as the ‘sole developer’ and ‘sole unifier’ of society.

–‘development’ became a priority. impoverishment was seen not as a consequence of colonial domination and the continued extraction of super-profits, but rather as a ‘natural’ conditions of africa. the solution to poverty was seen as a technical one, supported by ‘aid’ from the very colonial powers that had enriched themselves at the expense of the colonized masses.

–in effect, after independence, the repressive arms of the state remained intact. the police, armed forces, judiciary, and civil service, were designed to protect the interests of capital and of the colonial powers and continued to do so. the only thing that changed was the administrator’s skin color.

–the idea of the nation, disconnected from ideas of liberation, gradually gave way to the politics of identity, tribe and ethnicity, and so we see genocides, ethnic conflicts, violence against minorities, and xenophobia post-independence. neoliberalism has exacerbated this depoliticization of culture.

–as colonized people, we need to reverse this process by ‘returning to history’ – seeing ourselves as being part of a global humanity – and achieve liberation by understanding culture not as folklore but as a ‘collective thought process of a people to describe, justify, and extol the actions whereby they have joined forces and remain strong.’

more here.

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