Posted by: Dawud Israel | November 28, 2010

21 Realities of Colonial Subjugation

We all are aware of certain strategies that work to rule over the masses such as divide and conquer… but this post will get into the nitty-gritty of some other strategies and insights relating to colonization.

1) Be so scathing and exhausting in your giving your racist-inspired “objective” scientific research and ensure many others will continually reach the same conclusions, over and over again, that the Oriental person can’t help but think, “there must be some truth to this.” And then the Orientals will carry on these ideas and perpetuate this cycle of thought.

2) “Reveal him (the colonizer) as winning out over the obstacles confronting him, a foreigner, in a strange place.’ (compared to the Muslim in the West bumbles around countless obstacles)”

3) “Do not let the colonized see the real life of the colonizer: “When it became common practice during the nineteenth cenruty for Britain to retire its administrators from India and elsewhere once they had reached the age of 55, then a further refinement in Orientalism had been achieved; no Oriental was ever allowed to see a Westerner as he aged and degenerated, just as no Westerner needed ever to see himself, mirrored in the eyes of the subject race, as anything but a vigorous, rational, ever-alert young Raj.”

4) They cannot represent themselves but must be represented (Marx)

5) “Lebanese literary critic and novelist Elias Khoury has said, the legitimacy of the future is built almost solely on the illegitimacy of the past- that seemingly limitless series of failures, invasions, conspiracies, destructions, and betrayals. After you’ve listed them all, there is not much more to say, so you say nothing. This in turn has allowed the entire apparatus of the modern Arab state, tyrannical and lusterless in equal parts, to propose itself as the legitimate guarantor of the future, and more important, the legitimate ruler of the present.”  (Interiors)

6) “All that is left of your cultural legacy and the remains of prolonged cultural amnesia is hatred. This is how one knows they have succeeded.”

7) “What has been cogently thought,” Adorno says, “must be thought in some other place and by other people. This confidence accompanies even the loneliest and most impotent thought.” That is another way of phrasing the Palestinian dream: the desire for a perfect congruence between memory, actuality, and language.

8 ) “For the native,” Fanon says, such a European value as “objectivity is always directed against him.”

9)”For if colonialism was a system, as Sartre was to say in one of his post-war essays, then resistance began to feel systematic too.”

10) “The former had the Word; the other had the use of it…In the colonies the truth stood naked, but the citizens of the mother country preferred it with clothes on” -Fanon

11) “Today,” says Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth (1961), “the Third World…faces Europe like a colossal mass whose aim should be to try to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find answers.”

12) Mythologize and deize the colonizing motherland: “she must yet again become the England she was once, and in all beautiful ways,–more: so happy, so seclured, and so pure, that in her sky–polluted by no unholy cloud–she may be able to spell rightly of ever star that heaven doth show; and in her fields, ordered and wide and fair, of every herb that ships the dew; and under the green avenues of her enchanted garden, a sacred Circe, true Daughter of the Sun, she must guide the human arts, and gather the divine knowledge, of distant nations, transformed from savageness to manhood, and redeemed from despairing into peace.” –John Ruskin

13) Imperialism is in our nature: “Because England is to be “king” of the globe, “a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of light,” its youth are to be colonists whose first aim is to advance the power of England by land and sea; because England must do that “or perish,” its art and culture depend, in Ruskin’s view, on an enforced imperialism.

14) “So strongly felt and perceived are the geographical and cultural boundaries between the West and its non-Western peripheries that we may consider these boundaries absolute. With the supremacy of the distinction there goes what Johannes Fabian calls a denial of “coevalness” in time, and a radical discontinuity in terms of human space.”

15) Paternalistic Education whose purpose, “in a Platonic sense, to awaken the colonial subjects to a memory of their innate character, corrupted as it had become…through the feudalistic character of Oriental society. In this universalizing narrative, rescripted from a scenario furnished earlier by missionaries, the British government was refashioned as the ideal republic to which Indians must naturally aspire as a spontaneous expression of self, a state in which the British rulers won a figurative place as Platonic Guardians.”

16) “Ecological Imperialism: reshaping of the physical environment, or administrative, architectural, and institutional such as the building of colonial cities (Algiers, Delhi, Saigon); at home, the emergence of new imperial elites, cultures, and subcultures (schools of imperial “hands,” institutes, departments, sciences–such as geography, anthropology , etc.–dependent on a continuing colonial policy), new styles of art, including travel photography, exotic and Orientalist painting, poetry, fiction, and music, monumental sculpture, and journalism.” –Alfred Crosby quoted summarized by Edward Said Think of some of the European sounding street names in formerly colonized countries…

17) “But the important factor in these micro-physics of imperialism is that in passing from “communication to command” and back again, a unified discourse — or rather as Fabian, puts it, “a field of passages of crossing and criss-crossing ideas,”–develops that is based on a distinction between the Westerner and the native so integral and adaptable as to make change impossible.

18) “The aim to civilize and bring light to dark places is both antithetical and logically equivalent to its effective end: the desire to “exterminate the brutes” who may not be cooperative or may entertain ideas about resistance. In Sulaco, Gould is both the mine’s patron and the man who plans to blow up the enterprise. No connectives are necessary: the imperial vision enables the natives’ life and death at the same time.”

19) “France was culturally attached to what Raoul Girardet called a double movement of pride and worry–pride taken in work accomplished in the colonies, fear about the colonies’ destiny.”

20) “the partial tragedy of resistance, that it must to a certain degree work to recover forms already established or at least influenced or infiltrated by the culture of empire.”

21) “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretense but an idea: and an unselfish belief in the idea- something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…”  -Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Most quotes taken from “Culture and Imperialism” and “Orientalism” by Edward Said


  1. Good collection of quotes. But I have a doubt about this.
    What do I as a muslim say to those who say that muslims did the same in the past ?
    What about nom muslims in Iran,Egypt.other Arab lands and the Indian subcontinent who use the same logic because their lands were conquered by muslims ? Were they not ‘victims’ of muslim imperialism ? Thier original culture was often destroyed and despised and considered inferior ?

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