Posts Tagged ‘Colonialism’

Last Days of the Western Enlightenment

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

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Taken from a conspiracy site on reddit, the post was wrong, predicting 8 years of Clinton, the sentiment in the cartoon, greatly influenced by Crumb’s visual style, is a widely held fear on the part of civil libertarians

From: https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/4w2mde/prediction_of_whats_coming_in_the_next_8_years/

I have been reading The Age of Wonder By Richard Holmes, a scholar of the Romantic Movement in late 18th and early 19th Century England. I am struck by the optimism and hopefulness for the future of humanity expressed in the views of the scientific tinkerers and poets of the age. It was a time when a gentleman, or talented craftsman, and some women, could participate the exploration of the physical, intellectual, and poetic realms in a relatively democratic and free spirited manner. The old authority of the King, Church, and Gentry was being pulled down in so many realms, with the American and French Revolutions presenting political dramatic change. Even though in England the old regime was not destroyed, this was largely due, in my view, to the fact that England had undergone its own revolution and liberalization in the previous century. But there was a strong movement in England to expand the franchise and there were those who avidly supported the actions of the French and the Americans. A strong abolitionist movement to took hold in Great Britain which led to the forward thinking abolition of the slave trade, the development of industrial capitalism and the liberation of the middle classes from dependency on the gentry and patronage of royalty as independent centers of wealth emerged.

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Political cartoon by James Gillray (1757-1815)
From: http://web.utk.edu/~gerard/romanticpolitics/revolution.html Romantic Politics.

These ideals of liberty, and the Rights of Man come out of the period known as the Enlightenment. This period in which a more optimistic view of humanity arose, in which man became the measure of meaning and the ability of the intellect became predominant in finding a more just and affluent life for humanity came to the fore. Life, Liberty and Fraternity or the Pursuit of Happiness, became watchwords and represented the very real expectations of the mass of European humanity, as they spread and colonized across the planet. Not always seen as the bringers of light, often the bringers of oppression to the indigenous peoples to whom the Europeans purported to spread their enlightenment, but propelled by the newly released powers of the mechanical ingeniousness of the likes of James Watt, and the mechanisms of trade and capital concentration developed by adventurous capitalists, the imperial European age was impressed upon the world.

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Painting by Benjamin West
William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians when he founded the Province of Pennsylvania in North America, 1771
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
From: http://statemuseumpa.org/penn-treaty/creating/ and http://pluralism.org/encounter/historical-perspectives/first-encounters-native-americans-and-christians/

The industrial revolution and the enlightenment philosophy putting the desires of the individual in the forefront, combined with the Romantic ideals of the solitary genius extracting the secrets of life from a sometimes recalcitrant nature, provided a powerful force propelling the western Europeans into a predominance world wide that had been only preambled by the earlier European conquest of the Americas. Old civilizations in Asia, China, the Ottomans, and the Moguls in India, fabulously wealthy nations, run as empires in an older autocratic tradition were assailed and swept away under the force of the newly empowered Europeans of the relatively small nations of the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal.

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The East offering its riches to Britannia, painted by Roma Spiridone for the boardroom of the British East Asia Company 1778.

What we are seeing now is in the post modern period, a designation that will probably be replaced by some other historical reference as we get further away from the Twentieth Century by something more appropriate, after all what will Modernism mean to someone a century from now? But I digress, in a era in which the benefits of the Western Expansion has become assimilated and digested by the traditional centers of wealth and power, China, India and the Middle East, we are now beginning to see the emergence of the Oriental repossession of their traditional dominance. The Obama pivot to Asia and Trump’s fear mongering denigration of American infrastructure when compared to the marvels being constructed in Asia, are reflections of an awareness of this reality. Thus we come to the end of the era of the western Enlightenment, and are entering into uncharted waters. Are we entering a period in which the individualism of the last two to three centuries will be subordinated under a technocratic autocracy with a new imperial examination system to sift out the deserving elite aids to the autocrats? Certainly trends in economic imbalance seem to be headed that way. What with the massive focus on education as if that were the solution, indicates an end to the quality and fraternity inherent in the Enlightenment approach. Now we have the dictatorship of meritocracy as the gateway to enter the garden of earthly delights. Woe unto you who don’t achieve the holy grail of high grade point averages or are not inheritors of great wealth. For you there will be the universal basic income, and meaningless lives at the bottom of the new pyramid of wealth and power. But again I diverge, the oriental nations are not by nature autocratic, but because of the necessity to create hierarchies of meaning that can sift through the mass of humanity, and the algorithms created by the power of computer technology, there will be a rather extreme and undemocratic process of winnowing unless there is a wise emperor like Vespasian who rejected the labor saving machines of the clever Greek engineers, saying, to paraphrase What will my people do to earn their bread if I take away their ability to earn a living?

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Textile Laborers in Lowell, Mass. early Nineteenth Century.
From: http://www.saltofamerica.com/contents/displayArticle.aspx?13_525 Opinions: American Technology and Human Welfare Part 2, Technology is Democracy 1800-1850
by Hugo Meier

Whether there is an alternative that is egalitarian, in which some pastoral or urban ideal can be implemented, whether in a form of cooperative industrial democracy as postulated by the IWW, the COOP movement or idealists in the sense of Owens, is to be seen. Certainly the pro-fascist protectionism and corporate nationalism proposed by the Trump group is predicated on a trade and probable war with China which is not going to be beneficial in the long run. Think of it this way, China is the international sleepy giant that the USA was before World War II. If they directed their industrial might to war industries, it might be impossible for the US to create an adequate embargo to prevent the oil and iron from reaching China unless the US can convince Russia to refuse access to its vast natural resources. I don’t think Putin is that stupid.

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Missiles are displayed in a parade to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing in this October 1, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files

From: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-defence-idUSBRE88F0GM20120916

Ebola, Colonialism, & Scientific Imperialism

Sunday, October 12th, 2014


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Crews in Liberia removing the victims of Ebola to crematoriums.

Ebola is everywhere in the news, replacing Israel and Palestine, replacing Russia and the Ukraine, or typhoons in the Philippines, even IS beheading of westerners has had to play second fiddle to the prospect of the Walking Dead in our daily lives. I wrote a short introduction to the literature on Western Medical interventions in the rest of the world, as sort of intro to Medicine and Science of imperialism if you will. I am posting it for your pleasure below, as I have been so swamped with school and work that my ability to blog has been severely curtailed.


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Health workers suit up in for work in Ebola contamination zones.

“Historical Legacy of Colonial Medicine and Science: Some Implications of Consequences of Eurocentric Science a Literature Review”

The imposition of a model of scientific experimentation by the powerful developed nations in medicine and science has led to a debate about the nature of the western derived research oriented science that may not take into account the interests of the subjects of these studies. The model of bioethics and its universality when the discourse has been dominated by imperial, colonial and post-colonial powers since the rise of modern scientific medicine in the nineteenth century taints the science and medicine as it impacts vulnerable and less politically powerful constituencies. This dominance has come under scrutiny as the underlying motivations, of the so called scientific and humanitarian efforts of the western powers, is increasingly being questioned as a more holistic, human rights approach may be the path to social reform.


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Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Colonial Medical Practice

Looking at European practitioners of tropical medicine, Neill documents how the research and development of treatments for diseases in the tropics were driven by the assumed superiority of these representatives of the imperial powers and how their ethical systems based on an ideal of laboratory research resulted in the discovery of pathogens but limited in their approach to treatment. The researchers and practitioners ultimately served the interests of the colonial powers. Examples from the French colonial practices in West Africa established patterns that during an epidemic of Sleeping Sickness in French controlled Guinea and British controlled Serra Leone the health experts advocated and established concentration camps to isolate and treat victims with largely ineffective arsenic based medications. I think the study seems especially pertinent as it explains some of the background to resistance to medical practitioners in the current Ebola epidemic.


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Dutch Colonial Images

The Sleeping Sickness epidemic of the turn of the 20th century is speculated to have been the result of disruptions of the local ecology by the colonial enterprises were enough to set off an epidemic. Neill states “Even at the time, most people agreed that there was a relationship between the rapidity of the disease’s spread and large-scale colonial development projects, economic activities, and military conquest.” The medical culture and the political and economic system of colonialism conflicted as the needs of the commercial interests would thwart the best medical practices this created an us versus them conflict in which the medical practitioners ended up deferring to other interests.


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French African Policy

The development of an ideology of “pure science” by J.C. Koningsberger and others in the in the Dutch East Indies in the early part of the 20th century is shown by Goss to be another means by which the cultural imperialism of the west was used to dominate indigenous peoples. When, Indonesia was a Dutch colony, the administration and political elites utilized science, although real and useful, as a propaganda tool to justify maintaining its control of the region, especially in the post-World War One era. Nationalist sentiments among the aspiring classes of the native Indonesians who demanded research hospitals of their own to assume some of the responsibly and status of western science were thwarted by the colonial authority until just before the Japanese occupation in World War Two in Goss’s research. The Dutch system turned objective science into a tool for exploitation. It is ironic in my view that the lack of willingness to recognize the abilities of the Indonesian intelligentsia in part resulted in the independence movement. Instead of inviting the local people racist and cultural attitudes of western superiority fueled the resentment of those whom the imperial westerners were supposedly bringing into the enlightenment of the west as Said has so clearly expounded.


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Blatant Racist Imperialism of the 19th Century

Science and imperialism are linked in the development of western science. Arnold shows that India had its own well developed medical traditions when the British gained ascendancy over the subcontinent. The Indian science has been considered to be degenerate by Orientalist writers as a result of Muslim occupation and the chaos after the breakup of the Mogul Empire. The mythology being that western intervention came to rescue a formerly advanced scientific tradition that had succumbed decadence, and needed to be saved from the vicissitudes of fate.
The introduction of the British colonial administration actually disrupted the development of Indian science and medicine which, Arnold shows, has until recently been seen as the introduction of British advanced scientific methods into a stagnant Indian landscape. Arnold states “The idea of a simple diffusion of a monolithic and progressive Western science into passively recipient extra-European lands has been challenged from several standpoints.” Diffusionist views, often held to be the model, considered science to be neutral and not culturally biased, now seems to be somewhat naïve. The idea of a passive indigenous population receiving dollops of western scientific medicine was and is not practical. The interaction between colonial administrations and indigenous subjects had to be mediated by the local practitioners and accumulated field knowledge on the ground. This can clearly be seen in the evidence of people in West Africa running from medical practitioners dressed like aliens, or even attacking aid workers if there is not a proper communication and cooperation.


Last edited by Blackleaf; May 11th, 2014 at 11:40 AM..www.prisonersofeternity.co.uk

British Empire Personified. Rule Britannia.

It is the hierarchical dominance of the British science establishment over the local colonial science and the increasingly marginalized indigenous science in India that is a hallmark of the dominant Eurocentric scientific paradigm that has pervaded science since the 18th century and led to the biases in medical practice to this day. This is reflected in the faith in the civilizing mission of western science and its breakthroughs in technology in the industrial revolution. Indian nationalists often accepted this model of following the western lead to modernity but others rejected it as leaving India always subservient to the West.

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Photograph from “The Decline and Fall of the British Empire” (Corbis)

Members of a British army polo team in Hyderabad, India.

This model of development has had repercussions in modern attempts to fight out breaks of disease as well as the imposition of European based testing models on developing countries. Garrafa and Lorenzo point out that the US and other developed countries perform clinical trials in involving poor third world subjects and the use of double standards in research are a form of moral imperialism. The WMA General Assembly rejection of attempts by the USA to modify the Helsinki Declaration to allow this type of research has led to the American abandonment of the Declaration and developing regional seminars to train local practitioners to spread the model preferred by the US. This is a case of “Indirect Moral Imperialism.”


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Scientific Racism.

Case studies such as that of clinical trials studying “the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV between pregnant women and their babies” used placebos in the control group, which was denounced as unethical. Other examples including the infamous case of the Tuskegee Syphilis study where patients were denied access to penicillin as Smolen writes among many others condemning these actions. The scientists doing the research did not inform the patients of the availability of the drug. Also the director of the program, one Dr. John C. Cutler, ran a program for the Public Health Service and the National Institutes of Health, in Guatemala where patients were deliberately infected with sexually transmitted diseases. This is a case of racist and imperialist medical practice. While there have been efforts to curb such blatantly unethical practices, as noted in the “Belmont Report,” it does not address the basic inequity of a system that pits powerful corporations and medical-governmental-industrial complexes against poor peoples around the world with little institutional support.


www.jillstanek.com

Doctors with ‘patients’ in Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Research done by Hewitt and Amola on the local cultural response to an Ebola outbreak in 2000 – 2001 in which surveys were done of students, adults and survivors of the outbreak among the Acholi people of northern Uganda has shown that practices of traditional healers have a sound basis. These include isolation of those suffering from an outbreak. Care giving is limited to survivors of an epidemic, or to the elderly, if survivors are not available. Placement of clear identifiers outside the house where the victims are located, and maintaining quarantine for a month after recovery of survivors are among these ongoing practices. This is thought to be a tradition that has preceded the colonial period and mirrors modern medical practice in many respects. Others such as refraining from sex and promoting harmony within the family were also recommended by traditional healers. The research found that other practices related to burial had a negative effect but that with communication between the local traditional healers and the health workers, the local people modified their practices. The ill ran away from ambulance’s sent to take them to the hospital largely because of the practice of not informing relatives of the death of the patient and a fear that westerners would sell body parts. Recommendations suggest a greater sensitivity to cultural practices and working with traditional healers rather than stigmatizing them. The study indicates that unlike the common belief among international health care workers that traditional practices are a hindrance to healing, that they can be helpful as local people have developed their own methods to deal with epidemics.


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Guatemalan-STD-Experiment

Toumi takes the position that the UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights argues for the medical education system to teach redistributive justice in global health care with an emphasis on the interconnected nature of the world and its heath. Instilling a bioethics that reflects the universal rights of man, there will come a generation of doctors who focus on the needs of the populace of the world as a whole. The need for this holistic approach is an argument that is hard to deny in the face of current world epidemics in which the neglected developing nation health care systems have become the breeding grounds of biological disease. In this there is a basis for hope that a genuinely redistributive allocation of resources will finally compensate for the imbalances caused by the scientific exploitation of the rest of the world by the western powers over the last couple centuries. The medical necessity of insuring global health security may point the way once it is clearly shown that western science has, while helping develop cures for diseases, also is implicated the generations of human misery.


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Looks like my footnotes don’t transfer from word to my blog. If anyone has an idea as to how that works let me know. I am not really up to reformatting everything into MLA style at least not tonight. I will post the bibliography from a previous version, it is not comprehensive but at least it does list the sources I quote. I will have to go back in at some point and put in MLA in text citations, but as a blog, and not an academic paper this should be adequate.

Bibliography

Arnold, David. Science, Technology and Medicine in Colonial India. Port Chester, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2000. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 5 October 2014.
Garrafa, Volnei, and Lorenzo, Claudio. “Moral Imperialism and Multi-centric Clinical Trials in Peripheral Countries.” Cadernos De Saúde Pública, 24.10 (2008): 2219-2226.
Goss, Andrew. “Decent Colonialism? Pure Science and Colonial Ideology in the Netherlands East Indies, 1910–1929.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40.1 (2009): 187-214.
Hewlett, Barry S. and Amola, Richard P. “Cultural Contexts of Ebola in Northern Uganda.” Emerging Infectious Diseases. 9.10 (2003) 124–1248.
Neill, Deborah. Networks in Tropical Medicine: Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890–1930. Palo Alto, CA, USA: Stanford University Press, 2012. Print.
Smolin, David M. “The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, Social Change, And The Future Of Bioethics.” Faulkner Law Review 3.2 (2012): 229-251. Academic Search Complete .Web. 30 Sept. 2014
Toumi, Rabee. “Globalization and Health Care: Global Justice and the Role of Physicians.” Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 17.1 (2014): 71-80.


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