Postcolonial Thought's Blind Alley

Chibber, Vivek
http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=65868
http://www.eutopiainstitute.org/2014/05/postcolonial-thoughts-blind-alley-by-vivek-chibber/print
http://mondediplo.com/2014/05/10universalism

Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX16485

Throughout the 20th century, the anchor for anti-colonial movements was, at least for the left, a belief that oppression was wrong wherever it was practised, because it was an affront to basic human needs for dignity, liberty, wellbeing. But now, in the name of anti-Eurocentrism, postcolonial theory has resurrected the cultural essentialism that progressives rightly viewed as the ideological justification for imperial domination. What better excuse to deny peoples their rights than to impugn the idea of rights, and universal interests, as culturally biased? No revival of an international and democratic left is possible unless we clear away these ideas, affirming the universalism of our common humanity, and of the threat to it from a universalising capitalism.

Abstract: 
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Excerpt:

Postcolonial theorists have wasted much effort tilting against windmills of their own creation, and so have licensed a massive resurgence of nativism and Orientalism. It is not just that they emphasise the local over the universal. Their valorisation of the local, obsession with cultural particularities, and insistence on culture as the wellspring of agency, has licensed the exoticism that the left once abhorred in colonial depictions of the non-West.

Throughout the 20th century, the anchor for anti-colonial movements was, at least for the left, a belief that oppression was wrong wherever it was practised, because it was an affront to basic human needs for dignity, liberty, wellbeing. But now, in the name of anti-Eurocentrism, postcolonial theory has resurrected the cultural essentialism that progressives rightly viewed as the ideological justification for imperial domination. What better excuse to deny peoples their rights than to impugn the idea of rights, and universal interests, as culturally biased? No revival of an international and democratic left is possible unless we clear away these ideas, affirming the universalism of our common humanity, and of the threat to it from a universalising capitalism.

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