27 December 2013

Post-modernism, Ideology of Imperialism

Pieces of Samir Amin, 2009, "Post-Modernist" Discourse

Samir Amin


Ideology of Imperialism

Post-modernism caps the discourse called by some the "new spirit of capitalism," but it would be better to call it the ideology of the late capitalism/imperialism of oligopolies.  A recent book by Nkolo Foe gives a powerful description of how this functions very well to serve the real interests of the dominating powers.14

Modernism originated in the discourse of the Enlightenment in the 18th century in Europe, together with the triumph of the historical form of European capitalism and imperialism that goes with it, which subsequently conquered the world.  It suffers from contradictions and limitations.  The ambition to be universal that it formulated is defined by the affirmation of the rights of man (but not necessarily of woman!), which are in fact the rights of bourgeois individualism.  Real capitalism, with which this form of modernity is associated, is moreover an imperialism that denies the rights of the non-European peoples who have been conquered and subordinated to the levying of the imperialist rent.

Criticism of this bourgeois and capitalist/imperialist modernity is certainly necessary.  And Marx effectively undertook this radical critique, which it is always necessary to update and study more deeply.

The new Reason considered itself emancipatory; and so it was, to the extent that it freed society from the alienations and oppressions of the Anciens Regimes.  It was thus a guarantee of progress, but a form of progress that was limited and contradictory because it was capital which, in the final instance, was to manage society.

Post-modernism does not make this radical critique to promote the emancipation of individuals and of society through socialism.  Instead it proposes a return to pre-modern, pre-capitalist alienations.  The forms of sociability that it promotes are necessarily in line with adherence to a "tribalist" identity for communities (para-religious and para-ethnic), an antipode to what is required to deepen democracy, which has become a synonym for the "tyranny of the people" daring to question the wise management of the executives who serve the oligopolies.  Post-modernist critiques of "grand narratives" (the Enlightenment, democracy, progress, socialism, national liberation) do not look to the future but return to an imaginary and false past, which is extremely idealized.  In this way it facilitates the fragmentation of the majority of the population and makes them accept adjustment to the logic of the reproduction of domination by the imperialist oligopolies.  This fragmentation hardly disturbs that domination; on the contrary, it makes the task easier.  The individual does not become a conscious, lucid agent of social transformation, but the slave of triumphant commodification.  The citizen disappears, giving way to the consumer/spectator, no longer a citizen who seeks emancipation, but an insignificant creature who accepts submission.

14  Nkolo Foe, Le post modernisme et le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Sur une philosophie globale d' Empire, Dakar: Codesria, 2009; Samir Amin, Modernité, religion, démocratie, Critique  de l’eurocentrisme et critique des culturalismes, Paris: Parangon, 2008; Samir Amin, Sur la crise, op cit, Chapters 2 and 3; Jacques Rancière, La haine de la démocratie, Paris: La Fabrique, 2008.



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