Friday, 22 July 2016

'Europe' Formed through A Colonial Genocide Against Africa, Asia and Islam

The Malcolm X Movement will be holding an event (details HERE) for Cedric Robinson and his amazing work - Black Marxism. Below is an extract from that work, this is an extract from Robinson explaining the genesis of modern Europe and European-ness, and how from the feudal times that feudal and the colonial conceptual nature of 'race' and 'racism' was at the heart of the developing concept of what Europe is and has become. This process took place in counter-opposition to the civilisations of Africa and Asia which were inspired and organised by the faith of Islam. This process of genocidal colonialism that developed a racialised white supremacist character, is fundamental in understanding how re-build a Black (non white) but also African and Asian revolutionary analysis and practice towards liberation. These and other connected themes will be explored and discussed at our event.


Islam and Eurocentrism 
Extract from Cedric Robinson's Black Marxism, The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, p97-100, 1983

The history of Europe for the millennium following the fifth century of the Christian era had not been markedly uni-linear. That immense span of time had contained little if any basis for teleological certainty. Indeed, there had been eras such as the eighth century when the very presence of Western high culture had been faint, preserved in scattered outposts whose own fate was made doubly uncertain by barbarian invasion and the pathetic social and material conditions of the pagan societies that surrounded them.

By the year 700, European learning had fled to the bogs of Ireland or the wild coast of Northumbria. It was in the monasteries of Ireland that fugitive scholars pre- served a knowledge of the Latin and even of the Greek classics. It was in a monastery in Northumbria that the greatest scholar of his time, the greatest historian of the whole Middle Ages, the venerable Bede, lived and wrote. And it was from the monasteries of Ireland and England, in the eighth and ninth centuries, that English and Irish fugitives would return to a devastated Europe.

Christendom slowly recovered. During what would be called the Dark Age, allied with barbarian chiefs and kings, converted or otherwise, the church gradually grew into the most mature base for the feudal organization that characterized the early Middle Ages. It acquired land, and the peasants and slaves who made that land productive and valuable. Without the slightest sense of its moral bankruptcy, moreover, the leaders of the Christian Church unmercifully exploited its human base, legitimating the brutality of the nobility, their secular kin, and sharing the profits from the labor of bound workers and a foreign trade more than eight centuries long that delivered European slaves (among other goods) to Muslim merchants. Feudal Europe, for a time, however, proved to be capable of expansion while rotting from within-but it was only for a time.

By the thirteenth century, that phase of European development was at a close; the system collapsed. The ruling classes of feudal Europe were succeeded by their Mediterranean factors: merchants, traders, and bankers. They in turn spawned or defined the roles for those actors who supplied capital, technical, and scientific expertise, and administrative skills to the states that would lead the emergence of capitalist Europe. By then, however, European culture and consciousness had been profoundly affected. Legend, as we have seen, acquired the authority of history. Moral authority continued to dissipate. The mystifying veil, which the feudal ruling classes had created to hide, or at least soften the crushing oppression that they had put in place, was in tatters. Prester John's [1] first appearance in the European imagination of the twelfth century was consequently understandable.

The legend, if it indeed originated from within the ruling class, accomplished two very disparate ends: for one it presented Europe's intelligentsia with a powerful and splendor, Roman counterpoint, inspired by Christian idealism, biblical imagery and splendor, Roman law, and Greco-Egyptian civil craftsmanship. Here was the ideal Christian society, measure by which the failures secure in its political body and spiritual soul, It was the and insidious corruptions of actual Christendom could be calibrated in detail. A model Christian Empire, which, when compared to Europe, displayed those faults that had contributed to the inability to defeat Islam either spiritually or militarily. This was the legend's internal function.

Its other significance, however, was even more critical. The legend transmuted the world beyond Europe, "the Indies," into Eurocentric terms. Whatever was the reality of those lands and their peoples, came to be less and less important. For the next 300 years, between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries, the legend of Prester John provided Europe's scholars and their l learned coreligionists with a structured a obfuse prism through which the authenticity of every datum, every traveler's report, every intelligence of its foreign trade, every fable of its poets, and every phatic foible of its soldiery could be screened and strained. Even direct evidence was not immune, for in the next century, G. K. Hunter tells us, this "frame of reference" was sustained:

"The new information which the English voyages of the sixteenth century brought to the national culture had to be fitted, as best it could, into a received image of what was important. This means that the facts were not received in quite the same way as they would have been in the nineteenth century. Historians of the last century were much taken with the idea of the Elizabethan imagination liberated b the voyagers. But there is little evidence of this outside the unhistorical supposition, "that's how I would have reacted." The voyages certainly did expand of physical horizon, but it is not clear that they expanded the cultural horizon at the same time. The image of man in his theological, political and social aspects could not be much affected by the discovery of empty or primitive lands." (G.K. Hunter in Shakespeare in His Own Age, 1964, p40)

The architects of European consciousness had begun the construction of that world-view that presumed the basic structure of other than European societies was at its foundation a European structure, that the moral, ideological, and spiritual scaffold of these societies was the same bottom structure discernible in European culture, that the measure of mankind was indeed the European. The legend of Prester John and his wondrous realm, the formidability of this purely Christian king who waited in patience for his Christian allies at the other end of the world, all this was the form impulse in its appropriate medieval costume. Thus, when the miraculous kingdom could not be located in the deserts and steppes of central Asia or even Cathay, it did not cease its fascination but was transferred to the south beyond the upper Nile The of other people fantasy and its attendant resolve to bend the very existence and being into convenient shapes were important beginnings for the destruction past. While the vitality Islam had seemed to mock the pathetic feebleness of of Christ's chosen, humiliating them in defeat and with the persistent threat of further occupations and invasions, the legend was compelling. And a basic lesson of propaganda learned: Europe's destiny was incompatible with the autochthonous non-European worlds. An increasingly prominent concomitant of the European millennium (roughly from the tenth to the present century) would be the refutation of those terms.

In freeing itself from Muslim colonization, Europe once again had a vigorous bourgeoisie and the state institutions to begin the construction of its own extra- European colonialism. From the fifteenth century on, that colonialism would encom pass the lands of Asian, African, and New World peoples and engulf a substantial fraction of those peoples into the European traditions of slave labor and exploitation. Capitalists were, from this point on, no longer dependent upon the material restraints Europe presented for the primitive accumulation of capital. What Genoese, Pisantine, and Jewish capitalists accomplished for Portugal and Spain in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, on their expulsions from Iberia they transferred to north western Europe. Soon after, an English bourgeoisie succeeded those of Belgium and the Netherlands in the domination of the now-extensive world system. We have, however, gone far beyond our immediate interests in the Muslim part in Europe development. Here we must conclude, still somewhat arbitrarily and abruptly, the survey of the significance of Islam in European history. For the moment it will have to be sufficient to remind ourselves that Islam once represented a more powerful civilization, and, again, one closely identified in the European mind with African and Black peoples.

In retrospect the Western potential for creating the Negro had moved closer in a way to its realization. The cultural and ideological inventory was at hand. A native racialism had already displayed its usefulness for rationalizing social order, and with the advent of the Islamic intrusion into European history it had further proved its value by its transformation into an instrument of collective resistance and a negation of an unacceptable past. For the Negro to come into being all what was now required was an immediate cause, a specific purpose. The trade in African slaves, coming as it did as an extension of capitalism and racial arrogance, supplied both a powerful motive and a readily received object.


[1] 'Prester John' was a myth, whereby European colonialists imagined a perfect Christian utopia ruled by Prester John that existed somewhere in the 'pagan' lands of the 'East'. ie., it was a legend that justified and motivated the colonialists to colonise and conduct genocide - MXM

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