Colonised Mind Syndrome: Do You Look To The West For Validation Of Your Thoughts?

by Neil Ohm - Oct 9, 2016 11:21 AM +05:30 IST
  • You may have a colonised mind if you have the tendency to elevate automatically an oppressor population to that of esteem and authority.

    It is meaningless to seek outside validation. Our civilisation has the potential to contribute significant original thought.

    Should you feel insulted if you’re accused of having a colonised mind? No. The decks were always stacked against you. But you can change this.

I’m sure you’ve come across the term ‘colonised mind’, but what exactly does it mean? Should you feel insulted if someone accused you of it?

The phrase “colonised mind” describes a phenomenon that is seen not only in India but around the world, wherever native populations have been oppressed by another people: among the native peoples of North and South America, Australia and New Zealand and in various parts of Africa. The oppressed in these communities exhibit an unconscious tendency to elevate the oppressor population to that of esteem and authority, harbour a grudging respect for them and a compulsion to be more like them.

Ever catch yourself saying “Even [blank] says so”, referring to some Western source in punctuating your argument? Do you believe it is necessarily true that the opinion of Western experts, authors and academics are superior?

Appealing to the authority of the oppressor civilisation for any truth claim is meaningless. In knowledge fields supported by a strictly materialist framework such as the pure sciences, mathematics, engineering or life sciences, truth claims must be falsifiable and must be able to overcome factual challenges. The origin of the authority is irrelevant. Why then do so many of our compatriots look to the West for reaction and validation for the Indian Space Research Organisation’s achievements, or for that matter, the Tejas fighter?

The social sciences which study areas of behaviour in society and individuals sometimes apply quantitative approaches such as surveys to test truth claims. For such claims, the origin of the authority is largely irrelevant, though the design of the experiment is subject to challenge. Not only is it meaningless to seek outside validation in these areas, our civilisation has the potential to contribute significant original thought. As opposed to the West’s sole focus on individual rights, our historical assertion that individual duties must always accompany individual rights could lead to innovative new approaches in economic policies and socio-political frameworks.

Other social sciences, which involve qualitative methods and interpretation, and the humanities which depend mostly on interpretation make truth claims which are clearly not falsifiable. These have little to do with “science” as such. Various arguments are made for or against a truth claim appealing to observation and logic, heavily imbued in personal and cultural bias. The process requires that thorough, vigorous challenges and counter-arguments be made in order to filter out false claims, but that thoroughness hardly ever materialises in most fields. This is where whoever shouts the loudest and longest wins. If under these circumstances, you tend to elevate voices from the oppressor to a position of authority, here lies the most significant threat from mental colonisation.

Our civilisation, society and culture has witnessed several centuries of ugly, biased and treacherous attacks on our way of life. Then there is the self-loathing that comes from the knowledge of our civilisation being bested by others in strategy and war in the past. It is also tempting to compare our contemporary civilisation with that of the other and be disappointed by our perceived shortcomings. These lenses are grossly unfair when looking at ourselves but yet we are affected by them.

Ask yourself the following questions: what do I know about my nation’s history beyond what the oppressors wrote? How much can I find there to be proud of, to be ashamed of? Most of your compatriots find mostly shame and disappointment in these questions. They react either by suppressing or ignoring these feelings, or by making tall, ridiculous counter-claims to compensate. In truth, the underlying problem is that positive facts about our people have been erased, diminished or otherwise subverted. If you have grown up in this environment, the edifice upon which your cultural identity stands has been compromised and weakened.

To make matters worse, other civilisations actively seek to attack, divide and absorb us. Just spend some time familiarising yourself with Rajiv Malhotra’s works in this area, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find them fascinating. Malhotra has compiled a large body of well-constructed arguments based on excellent research. Any objective study of these other civilisations shows that they are full of serious flaws, many in areas where our civilisation has better solutions. If our civilisation succumbs to them, we would all lose something important as individuals, but all mankind would lose too.

Imagine the remorse felt as a plant in the Amazon, developed over millions of years of evolution, and with the potential to seed important medicinal discoveries, goes extinct. Should not the remorse be greater for the extinction of a civilisation that grew over thousands of years and developed so many remarkable, egalitarian worldviews?

One significant example of our more enlightened solutions is that of unqualified respect for another’s worldview. Both the Christian-dominant worldview in the West and the Islam-dominant worldview of the Middle East assert that only their respective worldviews are valid and that all others are not only false but their existence cannot be tolerated. Marxism has a similar intolerance for other views, and actively seeks to undermine and destroy status quo worldviews. If you look closely, you will see the same intolerance amongst the liberals of the West too, although a bit more nuanced – they are all handicapped by a black and white, my-way-or-the-highway perspective. The significance of this gift of our civilisation seems to elude our compatriots, both our majority and our minorities.

Another is the notion from the Abrahamic religions that the natural world, the animals and plants around us, are here for humans to exploit. You can see this in societal behaviour, such as factory farming of chicken, or in countless examples of highly carcinogenic environmental pollution. You can also see skewed variations of this perspective among various interest groups in the West, such as environment and animal rights activists, where only their centre of interest is held of value and other aspects of our world are ignored. Our civilisation has a highly enlightened viewpoint, that we must view all plant, animal and human life around us with equal compassion.

Consider the landscape of cultural and social intercourse in our nation under this light. Note the complete absence of our civilisation’s point of view presented in a reasoned, respectful manner. Oh, we have our angry voices that purport to speak on our behalf, but these are either the ashamed-angry-defiant voices or the voices of those who want to respond to violent language with violent language and violence with violence. Neither represent us or do justice to our noble civilisation.

So I ask again: should you feel insulted if someone accused you of having a colonised mind? My answer is that you should not. The deck was stacked against you since before you were born. What is your individual duty to combat this? I propose that your duty is to get much more circumspect about knowledge and opinions presented to you, to question their veracity and motives and to resist an automatic appeal to the West as authority on information and opinion. We are fortunate to be born into a civilisation of great merit. Your duty is to understand it better and to champion its cause. The moderate majority needs to inject sense and intelligence into our national discourse.

Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber
Comments ↓
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

Latest Articles

    Artboard 4Created with Sketch.