EDWARD SAID quotes

Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient—dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.

The sense of Islam as a threatening Other – with Muslims depicted as fanatical, violent, lustful, irrational – develops during the colonial period in what I called Orientalism. The study of the Other has a lot to do with the control and dominance of Europe and the West generally in the Islamic world. And it has persisted because it’s based very, very deeply in religious roots, where Islam is seen as a kind of competitor of Christianity.

Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate.

The Orient that appears in Orientalism, then, is a system of representations framed by a whole set of forces that brought the Orient into Western learning, Western consciousness, and later, Western empire…. The Orient is the stage on which the whole East is confined. On this stage will appear the figures whose role it is to represent the larger whole from which they emanate. The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe.

Ideas, cultures, and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without their force, or more precisely their configurations of power, also being studied.

Part of the main plan of imperialism… is that we will give you your history, we will write it for you, we will re-order the past…What’s more truly frightening is the defacement, the mutilation, and ultimately the eradication of history in order to create… an order that is favorable to the United States.

(From AZ Quotes.    Edward  Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies.)                                                                                                   

 

Prof. Sam Huntington’s quotes

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion […] but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

The relations between countries in the coming decade are most likely to reflect their cultural commitments, their cultural ties and antagonism with other countries.

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new [post-Cold-War] world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

The colonial experience all Muslim countries went through may be a factor in the fight against Western domination, British, French or whatever. They were until recently largely rural societies with land owning governing elites in most of them. I think they are certainly moving toward urbanization and much more pluralistic political systems. In almost every Muslim country, that is occurring. Obviously they are increasing their involvement with non-Muslim societies. One peak aspect of this, of course, is the migration of Muslims into Europe.

Countries will cooperate with each other, and are more likely to cooperate with each other when they share a common culture, as is most dramatically illustrated in the European Union. But other groupings of countries are emerging in East Asia and in South America. Basically, as I said, these politics will be oriented around, in large part, cultural similarities and cultural antagonism.

Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.

(From AZ Quotes). European colonialism was based on the assumed superiority of the ‘white race’ and its weaponry. It was bloody too.

 

“The boat people” – extracts

This is the first short, story from ‘Pithy Perspectives,’ a bicultural series of wacky, or weird, or uplifting or intriguing or imaginative thought-bubbles of mine.

“Go and ask that miserable-looking Asiatic who calls himself captain. Tell him that we need at least two porters.”

“Yes, dear.”

A little later, quite a little later, Rueben returns, looking mystified. “There’s no one in the uniform of a ship’s officer to be seen” he tells Miriam.

“Nonsense,” responds Miriam. “Look more carefully below deck. The officers are probably hiding in their cabins.”

“Why would they do that, dear?”

“Because that’s what these Asiatics are like. They are not comfortable in the presence of white people, are they?”

…………………………….

At the Customs barrier, he sees a bearded Sikh, resplendent in a most colorful turban, talking to a black man, as colleagues might. Approaching the latter, Rueben calls out “You! Come and give us a hand with our luggage. I will pay you well.”

“Pardon?” responds the black man, with the accent of a native of north England.

“I need a hand, man. Let’s go.”

“Excuse me, sir, I am the Immigration Officer on duty here.”

……………………………..

I need to examine your entry papers most carefully. We do not want any more illegal entrants,” says the public servant silkily, with suave satisfaction.

“And I will need to examine the contents of your luggage equally carefully,” interjects the Customs Officer, looking as bland as only an Oriental can, but with a broad Scottish accent. He is careful not to smile, although his turban seems to tremble slightly.

………………………………

Shocked out of her mind at seeing a white man, particularly her husband, doing the work of coolies, Miriam decides that she would compensate for the more brutish life of the future by buying a yacht, as her former compatriots now resident in coastal Sydney had done.

She is not to know that these new arrivals have already been described as the second-wave boat people. Where the first wave had arrived illegally by boat from East Asia in order to escape a ‘red’ regime, the second wave arrived legally to escape a ‘black’ regime, and promptly bought a boat.

 

 

 

 

‘The Dance of Destiny’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM – Overview

PART 1  :   THE WHEELS FELL OFF

Chapter  1  –  The upheaval

Covers the attack by the Japanese on Malaya in Dec 1941, the surprising retreat of British and Australian troops, the Japanese military Occupation begun in early 1942, and life under the Japanese until 1945.  Sub-headings are: a casual contact; a speedy withdrawal; avoiding the bombs; life under the Japanese.  This last sub-heading is further broken down to: the early days; the latter days; the final days; a retrospect.

The retrospect highlights the corruption of Christian colonialism, Japanese military brutality, the starvation of the people and, for my family and the surrounding neighbourhood, a reign of terror imposed for a period by a gang of communist anti-Japanese (so they claimed as they carried out some killing of civilians).

Chapter  2  –  Back in time

Describes in detail the peaceful progressive life of an immigrant family from Ceylon in the context of the British administration before the Japanese Occupation.  Sub-headings are: origins; boyhood; the way we lived.  Highlights the religious and cultural tolerance of people of diverse origins, and the way we all lived.

Chapter  3  –  Forward in time

With the defeat of Japan, Malaya became focused on the future, on freedom from foreign rule.  The author’s life, however, falls apart.  Yet, there is a glimmer of light ahead.  After a short flare of hope, the author’s life again appears doomed, when his Anglo-Australian wife rejects him on his return to Australia.  This leaves him in a societal and geographical limbo.  A quotation from the Upanishads indicates the author’s optimism-larded realism. 

Sub-headings are: a new beginning; the descent to doom; keeping afloat; Quo Vadis.  The end is dramatic: the reader, like the author, is left in suspense.

PART  2 :  OF HOLES WHICH WERE NOT THERE

Chapter  1  –  Quo Vadis

The author restates his dilemma, but now within the context of family and tribal origins and background.  He draws together the many strands of Destiny-derived influences.  These suggest that he is to belong to Australia.  Yet, there he was, stranded at a kerbside in the city of Melbourne on a cold winter’s morning in 1953.  Reconciliation with his wife offers a future, but in a nation of white supremacists and colonial arrogance.

Chapter  2  –  Memories of White Australia

As necessary stage-setting background, the author recounts his disastrous life in Australia between 1948 and 1952.  The country and people of Australia, as perceived by the author in that period, are presented as further relevant background.  The insights he has gained, the lessons learned, and his obvious respect for Australia’s ‘fair-go’ ethos ready him for his precarious future.

Chapter  3  –  A failed takeoff

In spite of a tremendous effort, involving a substantial denial of sleep over four years, the author is unable to find appropriate graduate employment.  He is a foreigner, and a coloured one as well, as made clear to him.  He has to move to the national capital (a small town set in a desert) to become a public servant.  Beggars cannot be choosers!

Chapter  4  –  The trek to the new world

The sub-headings ‘The launching’ and ‘Settling in’ describe the author’s multifarious experiences, especially his contributory exposure to a range of significant facets of society in the national capital.  He has an interesting life, being involved in an unusually wide range of societal issues.  With his second wife, he builds his family, and becomes integrated into the nation (as the spirit world might have expected).

Then, having  his career path overtly blocked because (as again made clear to him) he is “not one of us”, he moves on.

Chapter  5  –  The forks in the road

There are 2 forks here, the first highlighting the maturation of Australia through its policies on immigrant settlement (of a diverse intake) and citizenship enhancement, leading to an evolving national identity.

The second fork reflects the widening gulf between the Asian values relating to family and respect for one’s elders, and the individualism of the Ultra-West, those nations created by immigrants.  The author decries the alienation overtaking the nation, essentially through the breakdown of the nuclear family.

The author provides adequate detail on both forks, based upon his knowledge and personal experience.

Chapter  6  –  Ultimate Reality

In this chapter the author gathers together all the threads of his life experiences, and ties them into a spiritually coherent philosophy of human existence.  The path available is clearly upward.

Overview :  The nature, role and impact of Destiny are woven lightly through the whole MS.  In much the same way, a personal narrative is set casually in each chapter in the context of relevant geography, history, sociology, politics and philosophy.  Official policies pertinent to each segment of the narrative give additional depth and some colour.

The embellishments, in a story-telling approach, are not easily compartmentalised within each chapter; instead, they float in and out, often with a glancing touch.

Having completed his responsibilities to family and society, he now awaits, in mental and spiritual peace, his return to that Way Station; there he hopes to expand his learning.

 

The fall of Singapore

Seventy-five years ago, the great British Empire abdicated its responsibility for protecting its colonial subjects in Malaya (which included the island of Singapore). At the age of 13, my boyhood ended. For almost 4 years, my family and I lived in semi-starvation, and some fear, under a Japanese military occupation.

The stress contributed to the premature death of my father (at 47); my 3 uncles also experienced early death. For most of that Occupation, I lived a lonely unhappy life, away from my family.

Our colonial masters took a hiding from ”short, squinty barbarians” (words allegedly uttered by the English). For weeks, 11 children aged 13 to 2, and their young mothers, watched from a rubber estate as British military trucks rolled south in an unending stream. The little ones used to wave to the troops – who naturally waved back.

I was old enough to wonder why the British were rushing to Singapore. All that the Japanese had to do, I thought, was to cut off the water supply from the mainland. I did not know that the intention of the fast withdrawal was to escape by sea. Some did. Most reportedly did not.

The Japanese were clever. Just as they had landed on the north-east coast of Malaya without significant challenge, by moving through mangrove swamps, they had invaded Singapore by bypassing the causeway. As well, while they chased the British (and Australian?) troops down the highway on the west coast of Malaya, the latter would reportedly arrive at some road junctions only to find a few Japanese waiting for them. Presumably, these Japanese had cycled their way through the rubber estates adjoining the trunk road.

When 2 large British warships were sunk off the east coast, we knew that the British were finished. We were then not to know that Japan would, single-handedly, effectively end the colonial rule of most of Asia by the French, Dutch, and British. When the Europeans reluctantly left during the post-war period, they presumably expressed regret that they had not had the time to teach the ‘natives’ how to govern themselves. Quaintly, the last Governor of Hong Kong has been quoted as actually saying something to that effect – after 99 years of control.

Read ‘Singapore Burning’ by Colin Smith for an interesting portrayal of the way the mighty fell; and some strange behaviour by the rubber barons.

My own experiences and observations are set out in depth in my memoir ‘The Dance of Destiny’. Extracts will be published as posts on this site, to be copied to Facebook and to my book pages on amazon.com.

International laws – why bother?

The recent development in the USA, the nation of exceptionalism, of a policy of ‘America first’ has implications for the future of international laws. The following extracts from ‘Lawless World: America and the making and breaking of global rules’ by Philippe Sands, an eminent former professor of law and a practising barrister in the UK, seems pertinent.

“In the 1940s the United States and Britain led efforts to replace a world of chaos and conflict with a new, rules-based system.  … …  they hoped to make the world a better place, free from fear or want. They proposed new international rules to place limits on the use of force, promote the protection of fundamental human rights, and enshrine free trade and international economic liberalisation.”

“Over the next fifty years the mission to deepen and develop international law was, broadly speaking, successful. … … But it may have been too successful a mission. The rules which were intended to constrain others became constraining of their creators.”

“At the opening of the twenty-first century the world was a very different place from the one restructured by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill half a century earlier. International law had wrought a revolution, with rules reaching into the nooks and crannies of everyday life. … … With the election of George W. Bush in November 2000, a US Administration took office that was outspoken in its determination to challenge global rules. Soon it turned into a full-scale assault, a war on law.”

“I trace the efforts of the first George W. Bush Administration to remake the system of global rules, from the abandonment of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, through the attempt to disapply the Geneva Conventions and other human rights norms at Guantanamo and other places, to the virtual disavowal of the United Nations’ prescriptions prohibiting the use of force. … … Faced with this onslaught the British Government was often silent or, in certain respects, a willing handmaiden to some of the worst violations of international law. Together the two countries were trying to remake the global rules.”

The above extracts were from the Preface. The following extract is from the back cover of the book.

“ … America has reneged on agreements governing war, torture and the environment – with Britain often turning a blind eye or colluding in some of the worst violations. In recent years, America had abandoned the Kyoto Protocol and the Statute of the International Criminal Court, ignored human rights standards at Abu Graib and disregarded the UN’s prohibition on pre-emptive force. Are we on the verge of a new world order where the most powerful nations can put aside the rules that no longer suit them?”

“Leading international lawyer Philippe Sands has been involved in high-profile cases including Guantanamo and Pinochet.”

From p. 238 Final chapter

“There are usually good reasons why international laws have been accepted. For the most part they work reasonably well. Imperfect as some of the international rules may be, they reflect minimum standards of acceptable behaviour and, to the extent they can be ascertained, common values. They provide an independent standard for judging the legitimacy of international actions.”

A personal comment.

As a former colonial subject, I am inclined to believe that rules have never applied to, or restrained, the powerful in the history of mankind. Even if agreed international human rights standards are ever established, there has to be a balance between the integrity of sovereign borders and the accountability of international agencies and courts.    

Imposing one’s values upon others

Recently, reportedly, Australia asked the Philippines Government to dispense with the death penalty. Why? Isn’t the Philippines an independent, democratic, and Christian nation? Just like Australia? Have we asked the USA the same question? Would we dare to do so?

Not long ago, when Indonesia executed 2 Australians convicted of involvement in the illegal drug trade, those opposed to the death penalty made a terrible fuss. Since there is an underlay in Australia of antipathy to ‘Muslim’ Indonesia – in spite of its wonderful policy of Panchasila – one could legitimately wonder if white supremacy was the trigger.

Before that, when Malaysia had applied the death penalty to an Australian convicted of involvement in the illegal drug trade, reportedly, a senior politician in Australia had made intemperate utterances against the Malaysian government. So, what’s new?

Now, we have some politicians and priests who, allegedly, wish to interfere in Indonesia’s sovereignty; they seek to separate Irian Jaya from the rest of a nation with vast ethnic and religious diversity. Interestingly, according to a senior academic I met in Malaysia in the 1970s, there had been an effort to create a brown-skinned, Christian nation between Australia and the rest of Indonesia. The intention had been to establish a buffer to protect Australia from the ‘hordes from the north.’ Today, it might be just the anti-Muslim busybodies at work.

Then, when the member nations of ASEAN showed signs of a capitalistic independence from the West, the latter formed APEC. An Australian, a Japanese, and an American each claimed independent paternity. Was APEC intended to ‘smother’ ASEAN? Yet APEC apparently did not contribute to protecting those nations of south-east Asia being targeted by those intending to bring down their economies and currencies.

Prof. Krugman’s advice to Malaysia to prevent any outflow of portfolio capital saved that nation. The IMF was subsequently accused of promoting a policy which would have caused the Indonesian peoples great pain. Was neo-colonialism the ghost in this policy advice?

Australia has also gone into battle zones behind the USA. Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria seem to be chosen playgrounds by those Westerners who cannot just mind their own business.

We in Australia are not a chosen people. We cannot claim to be a nation of exceptionalism either. We continue to be a dependent nation. When China and the nations surrounding the South China Sea reach an accord, we risk being left isolated at the edge of Asia, and also the Pacific and Indian oceans.