171 online
 
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 37 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
Life Arts    H4'ed 12/2/22

Anti-Colonial, Decolonized, Universal History (Part II)

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   10 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mike Rivage-Seul
Become a Fan
  (54 fans)

.Exterminate All the Brutes.: Filmmaker Raoul Peck Explores Colonialism & Origins of White Supremacy A new four-part documentary series, .Exterminate All the Brutes,. delves deeply into the legacy of European colonialism from the ...
(Image by YouTube, Channel: Democracy Now!)
  Details   DMCA

What if I told you that virtually everything you've been taught about European and American history is false? What if I said that far from leading human development in the fields of science, industry, culture, philosophy, and religion, Europeans and their American cousins have on a world scale been marginal and unoriginal?

What if you were told instead that African, Arab, Persian, Chinese, and indigenous peoples across the planet have demonstrated superior intelligence, more scientific originality, greater technological proficiency, and deeper spirituality than their western counterparts?

Well, believe it or not, those are the conclusions of critical thinkers in the Global South. As I pointed out in a recent posting, the latter are reconceptualizing and debunking Euro-Centric colonized history. In the process, they put Europeans and American "achievements" in their proper place as minor, derivative and ultimately destructive.

I'm referring to critical thinking specialists like Franz Hinkelammert of Costa Rica, Enrique Dussel of Argentina, and Ramon Grosfoguel of Puerto Rico. [The first (age, 91) is a colleague of mine; the second (age, 87) was my teacher in Brazil in 1984]. The work of all three centralize liberation theology.

Together with other Global South philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, economists, and theologians, they are inviting the rest of us to understand that the history we've been taught is narrow and misleading. It falsely presents as "universal" the historical experiences of nations and cultures that globally are of marginal importance at best. At worst, they are larcenous and plagiarist.

According to the thinkers I'm referencing, Eurocentric history has become universalized only because of its imposition on richer more original cultures through the militarized processes of imperial colonialism. All of us are its victims.

Euro-centric Fake History

For instance, westerners are taught that philosophy surfaced for the first time in "ancient" Greece six centuries before the dawn of the Common Era. It was only then that ideas of universal good, justice, and democracy came to be thought about in systematic ways.

None of that is true according to the thinkers referenced here. Philosophy and concern for universal values emerged not in Greece, but in the more ancient centers of learning located in Egypt, among African Bantu peoples, in ancient Babylon (modern Iraq), and eventually in China, India, as well as among Native Peoples in Abya Yala (the Americas). (The latter, by the way, were all immigrants from Asia. They brought with them their essentially Asian values.)

Take, for instance, the concept of justice. It was enshrined in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE). The latter defined justice as caring for widows, orphans, the poor, and immigrants. That is, justice centralized not one's own spouse, but that of others; not one's own child, but the abandoned children of others; not members of the royal household, but those without material resources; not one's own people, but foreign residents. That understanding of the good was adopted a thousand years later by, for instance, the prophetic tradition of ancient Israel, including the Jewish prophet Yeshua of Nazareth.

Anti-Colonial History

To counter western misconceptions, critical thinkers from the Global South paint a new anti-colonial and decolonized picture of humankind's origins. It recognizes the African beginnings of homo sapiens (300,00 years ago) and its eastward movement from Africa with its Bantu and Egyptian cultures to the ancient cities of Babylon (modern Iraq) to Arabia, India, China, across the Bering Straits to Turtle Island and then southward all the way to Tierra del Fuego. To this ancient human migration, Europe and the Mediterranean cultures were comparative latecomers and quite marginal until about 140 years ago.

This of course runs counter to Eurocentric narratives like that of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) who found the roots of human culture in the Mediterranean, in 5th century (BCE) Athens while denigrating Far Eastern cultures like China's as infantile, prescientific, and morally deficient. In fact, however, the Mediterranean was nothing more than the center of a marginal (and comparatively inferior) culture.

By way of contrast, critical historians like Dussel point out that:

  • Egyptian philosophers anticipated the analysis, theories, and insights of Aristotle and Plato 3000 years before the latter's' celebrated writings.
  • Ancient Babylon (modern Iraq) represents one of the world's oldest settlements. Bagdad is perhaps the most sacred city in world history - much more important than Rome, London, or Berlin. (It and its historical relics were absolutely destroyed by 21st century barbarians and iconoclasts led by George W. Bush. According to Dussel, that destruction was a worse tragedy than would have been the levelling of all three European cities just mentioned.)
  • The "West" owes a huge debt of gratitude to Islamic science which was not inhibited by Roman Catholicism's fundamentalism and anti-science dogma. As a result, during Christianity's "dark ages," Islam experienced a Golden Age that spread learning across Eurasia from the Atlantic to the Pacific and up into the Philippines. It's no accident, for instance, that Europeans ended up using Arabic numbers. They were invented by Arabs in Bagdad, not in Paris. Moreover, Copernicus "discovered" what Islamic astronomers had known for 600 years. And the Pythagorean theorem was not invented by Pythagoras in Greece, but by Syrian scholars 1000 years earlier.
  • The Chinese had their own versions of the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution long before Europe's. In fact, the Renaissance began in China. Already by 1463 Chinese scholars began translating Plato from Greek to Latin. Geniuses like Leonardo DaVinci depended heavily upon and even merely copied the insights already elaborated in Chinese tomes.
  • Chinese scholars had invented paper in the 6th century CE, the printing press in the 8th century, and paper money in the 9th. (The printing press wasn't "invented" in Europe until 1436.)
  • Already in 1434, a delegate from China appeared in the court of Eugenio IV in Florence with books presenting profound treatises on astronomy, agricultural tools, and military weapons.
  • Throughout the Middle Ages, Europe was completely dependent on China for fine textiles such a silk. Kings and queens ate and drank from Chinese porcelain ("China").
  • In 1870, China produced more steel than England and the United States combined. Chinese engineers traveled to Sheffield to teach industrialists there how to make steel.

Western Distortions

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Valuable 2   Well Said 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Mike Rivage-Seul Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program. His latest book is (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

 
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Sunday Homily: Pope Francis to Women: The Next Pope Should Be One of You!

The Case for and Intimate Relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene

"Cloud Atlas": A Film for the Ages (But perhaps not for ours)

Muhammad as Liberationist Prophet (Pt. 2 of 4 on Islam as Liberation Theology)

What You Don't Know About Cuba Tells You About YOUR Future

Sunday Homily: Pope Francis' New Song -- Seven Things You May Have Missed in 'The Joy of the Gospel'

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend