The Banyan Shades

Navigating the colonial ecosystems.

Navigating Deconstruction and protest culture. 

As we stand today, at the brink of Indic awakening, we are surrounded by innumerable institutions that operate with colonial influences. We are surrounded by the influences of British and Middle-eastern coloniality. When I say institutions, I don’t just mean physical institutions like our schools, colleges, courtrooms, parliament, etc., I am also referring to the mainstream modes of thinking. In short, the colonial past hasn’t left us. In this post, I am going to address one such theme. This theme has twofold relevance: it can help us explain the spawning of the “protest” culture and it will expose the mainstream interpretation of the world as performed by our academic institutions. However, all of this will also provide us with an opportunity to explore what we can do with the existing modes of thinking, which are heavily influenced by colonial thought processes. One of these strains of thought is deconstruction. 

The twentieth century in Europe was a turbulent time. The world had witnessed two world wars. Weapons of mass destruction were unleashed, and the death of millions were reported to the remaining ones, thanks to the printing press. At the same time, colonies of the former imperial powers were dragged into European wars. This was a time when Europe (and the West as a whole) was moving towards “deconstructing” its metaphysics, philosophy, religion, and other institutions that added to its self-definition. Deconstruction properly materialized in the late 20th century. Unsurprisingly, contemporary politics swallowed the concept in several ways. That is a subject of larger discussion for some other time. In this essay, I want to discuss one of the (unfavorable) strands in which deconstruction manifests in the Indian political sphere. Please note that if you went to an academic institution offering liberal arts and allied courses, there is no way that you will miss studying this academic-political movement.

First, I want to address why understanding this concept is important. I will give you a straightforward answer: people have used this philosophical strain/line of reasoning to destabilize. To make matters more specific, deconstruction is about de-centering the authority that makes Western religion, science, and metaphysics. This included everything from the metaphysics of the Greeks to the religion of Christianity. The proponents of deconstruction argued that every structure has an innate hierarchy. This hierarchy stems from the “center”, which in Christian theology, for example, is the word of God. Everything else in a given system rests on this center. When a center is displaced, consequently, other structures are also displaced. When translated in political terms, the hierarchies are interpreted as oppressive. This can be hierarchies between man and woman, rich and poor, King and Peasant, and so on. I want my dear readers to note that this philosophy refers to a wide spectrum of European history. However, in the former colonies, this theory is taught with a universal approach. That is, theories like these are used to interpret indigenous societies like ours, which may or may not have any similarities with the concerns of Eurocentric thinkers. This has several consequences of course. 

Destabilizing an existing structure is perhaps preferable in some circumstances. But the general question to be asked is when? Given that deconstruction and the genealogical approach were taking over the Marxist critique of social hierarchies, it didn’t take away from the essence of a reactionary Marxist position of finding out or pinning the blame of social misfortunes on a particular faction. The identified faction (whoever it may be: the rich, capital-holding elite, cis men, white people, landlords, etc) are eternally damned. To put it simply, a Marxist critique of social institutions engages in the politics of blame. A deconstruction is a tool given to that “protesting” crowd to allocate and divide the blame. If Marx (falsely) predicted a revolution that would overthrow the capital-holding elite, deconstruction practitioners (read post-modernists, gender study graduates, etc.) think they can bring about a revolution by enacting chaos here and now. 

As promised, I will formulate an Indic response to this never-ending trail of “protests” in which the converts from the bygone era talk about “breaking the pagan idols” in the last pagan stronghold of the world, that is India. I will simply speak from the perspective of human response. Deconstruction, if performed neutrally, bereft of any ideological inclinations, can serve as a perfect tool for self-reflection. This, I must say, is difficult given the curriculum in our universities. However, if a neutral tool is pointing out fissures and faults in our system, we should welcome it with the sentiment of examination and response. The resilience of our civilization lies in this very response. 

2 thoughts on “Navigating the colonial ecosystems.”

  1. Pingback: In defense of academia. - The Banyan Shades

  2. Pingback: The importance of India that is Bharat book series: Part 1 - The Banyan Shades

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