Just a taste for y’all! (much more on their site: decolonization.org )
Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society (excerpted)
Vol. 2, No. 1, 2013, pp. 1-19
2013 S. L. Mendoza
CC:This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0), permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Savage representations in the discourse of
modernity: Liberal ideology and the
impossibility of nativist longing1
S. Lily Mendoza
Keywords: liberalism; modernity; Indigenous; native; colonial violence; anarcho-primitivism
“In fact, acculturation has always been a matter of conquest. Either civilization directly shatters a primitive culture that happens to stand in its historical right of way; or a primitive social economy, in the grip of a civilized market, becomes so attenuated and weakened that it can no longer contain the traditional culture. In both cases, refugees from the foundering groups may adopt the standards of the more potent society in order to survive as individuals. But these are conscripts of civilization, not volunteers.”
Stanley Diamond, In Search of the Primitive, p. 204
“To control the conceptual scheme is . . . to command one’s world.”
Goldberg, 1993, p. 9
Prolegomena to acquiescence and alternatives
In one section of her devastating book, Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Canadian investigative journalist Naomi Klein (2007) makes the claim that immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the other command economies of Eastern Europe, proponents of Western neoliberal economics lost no time in foreclosing the possible emergence of a third
model, positing a mixed economy as an alternative to monopolistic capitalism, now seemingly the sole remaining hegemonic model for organizing human economic activity around the globe.
Francis Fukuyuma’s (1992) “end of history” thesis, along with the swift and ruthless imposition of so-called “market fundamentals” as a precondition for aiding collapsed and collapsing economies during this period, according to Klein, allowed predatory capitalism to run amuck in the world, taking advantage of the shock of crisis to further accelerate the transfer of wealth from the impoverished sectors of the world’s population to the already mega-rich few. The precluding of any other alternative to market capitalism, Klein contends, was stage-managed not just at the level of policy,(2) but just as importantly, at the level of discourse. In portraying the triumph of
free market capitalism as both natural and inevitable (i.e. of the order of historical necessity), unregulated corporate greed managed to overrun the globe with its disastrous policies in the two decade long period following the post-Soviet collapse. It is only with the spectacular unraveling
of the world’s biggest economy – that of the United States – beginning in the summer of 2008 that many in the Southern Hemisphere seem to have begun to see what to them must be a just and fitting comeuppance for a predatory system that has long been wreaking havoc on their economies through state-corporate collusion.
I open with this seemingly unrelated political scenario to signal the burden of this piece, one that has to do with the creation of a discursive condition for a people that, not unlike the [footnote omitted] monopolization of the discursive space by capitalist ideology described in the foregoing
scenario, precludes the possibility of an alternate response (besides acquiescence) to the violence of an imposed social order; only this time, within the context of that quintessential intercultural encounter in modern human history: the European colonization of the so-called New World and
the consequences of that colonial encounter for the conquered native peoples. The questions I pose are age-old and almost trite: How does self-subjection happen? How does acquiescence close out memory or imagination of alternatives? Is mere absence of overt coercion or violence the equivalent of freedom of thought? That domination happens not only through direct physical
threat, but also through the manipulation of symbols, images, and representations – i.e., through ideological and discursive means – is, one hopes, by now a scholarly truism. [footnote omitted] But commonplace
as ideological and discursive critiques of symbolic power have currently become in cultural and critical studies, there appears to be one glaring social and discursive formation as yet to be fully wrestled with in all its subtle but devastating implications. I am referring to the core logic and
culture of modern civilization itself and its claim to monopoly of the only legitimate vision of what it means to be a human being on the planet. The presumption, of course, is ironic, if not altogether preposterous, especially when one considers modernity’s very short career on the face
of the planet (at least relative to the totality of humankind’s history4).