Decolonization: A Necessary First Step

This is part 3 of a talk on Current Economic Crisis in Pakistan and Solutions, from an Islamic Perspective. A summary of the first two parts is given below. This third part explains that colonization requires the assent of the colonized, which is achieved by an educational system which teaches the inherent superiority of the colonizers, and the inferiority of the colonized. To solve the problems created by colonial institutions meant for extraction of resources, we must first decolonize our minds. In this process, learning to see through economic theories which keep us dependent is a necessary first step.

Part 1: The problem is straightforward: we import more than we export, and lenders enslave us, forcing bad economic policies upon us. The solution is equally simple: become self-sufficient, produce all essential needs domestically instead of relying on imports for necessities, and switch production to domestic demand, producing goods for the local market instead of exporting to foreigners. Part 2: However, this solution is not on the table for discussion. Economic experts talk about taxes, exports, corruption, regulation, privatization, FDI, ease of doing business, and everything under the sun, but not the source of our problems or their solution. Why is this the case? Because false economic theories taught in universities blind us.

The video of this part 3 is followed by a summary.

To understand the roots of our current crisis, we must study the historical context that created it. Economics, politics, and society cannot be understood without this context and without an understanding of the political power struggles within society. Currently, around the world, Economics is taught in isolation from politics and history. This blinds us to the real source of our economic problems and sets up phantom enemies that we waste our time cluelessly fighting. We can counter this by studying our economic problems within their historical and political context. The relevant history is summarized below.

European powers had direct or indirect control over 90% of the globe in the early 20th Century. This allowed them to extract resources from the world, which made them rich, and the rest of us poor. It is important to understand that this colonization and extraction of resources occurs with the consent of the colonized (see: The Conquest of Knowledge). The colonizers are too few to enforce their will by physical force. Instead, they create an educational system which teaches admiration and love for the West, and contempt and hatred for indigenous culture and heritage. Those who absorb these lessons most deeply are invited to cooperate with the colonizers in looting their own country, and exploiting their own countrymen. This educational system produced a coconut class, which was brown on the outside, but white on the inside.

The two world wars in early 20th Century sapped European power and allowed independence movements to succeed. However, power in the former colonies shifted from the European colonizers to the domestic coconut class. This class continued to pursue colonial policies of exploiting their own country for amassing wealth, and using the educational system to brainwash the masses into accepting these policies.

The transition from European to US dominance occurred after the World Wars, with overt colonization abandoned in favor of indirect colonization via puppet regimes and control of the military. Operation Ajax/Boot overthrew the popular, democratically elected leader Mosaddegh in Iran, and replaced him with a USA/UK puppet, Reza Shah Pahlavi, for control of Iranian oil (see: Coup 53). The concept of “regime change” was born. Instead of direct colonization like the UK, USA would use indirect means to achieve the same goals. This indirect colonization rests on two pillars. The first pillar is a small minority of domestic power groups are coopted into pursuit of economic policies which further US interests. The second pillar is an educational system which teaches intellectuals economic theories which blind them to reality, and make them pursue policies which impoverish the nation, and enslave it to foreign interests.

The financial basis of the system is outlined by Jason Hickel in Aid-in-Reverse: How the Poor Countries Develop the Rich. He describes how the poor countries receive 1.3 Trillion USD in financial inflows, aid, etc. from the rich. But, the poor transfer 3.3 Trillion USD to the rich countries, essentially preventing any possibility of development of the global South. The financial inflows are really payments to the local power elites (army, bureaucrats, politicians, influential people, and media) as well as infrastructure and weaponry required to maintain the neo-colonial power structures for exploiting the resources, human and otherwise, of the colonized. The purchased power elites act on the behalf of the colonizing powers, and implement policies that impoverish and exploit local resources for the benefit of foreign corporations. But, other than this hard power, soft power in the form of control of media and education, is required to create the assent of the colonized to their own exploitation. Among the most powerful tools within this arsenal are false economic theories, which keep the masses and their university-trained thought leaders engaged in fighting phantom enemies. These economic theories are inherently incapable of recognizing and addressing the real sources of our problems, since history, power, armies, and politics are deliberately excluded from the scope of study

Decolonization of minds is an essential part of the solution. Colonized minds follow policies dictated by neo-colonizers, falsely believing they are meant for their welfare, unable to see the problem and its solutions. Economic theory is at the core of the tools for brainwashing, teaching that the goal of life is maximization of pleasure. Developing an alternative to Western education is one way to counteract this process, particularly in Islamic economics.

In conclusion, to solve our economic problems, we need to recognize the historical context that created them and the mechanisms that perpetuate them. Decolonization of minds is an essential part of the solution, as colonized minds follow policies dictated by neo-colonizers, unable to think out of the box and see the problem and its solutions. Developing an alternative to Western education is one way to counteract this process, particularly in Islamic economics. We need to stop wasting our time fighting phantom enemies and recognize the true source of our problems to become truly self-sufficient and produce all essential needs domestically.

2 thoughts on “Decolonization: A Necessary First Step

  1. YYor analysis is too anglocenttric, if you knew the German tradition in economic thought your discussion would improve

  2. I am aware of the German Historical School – But it is not relevant for the de-colonization project, which requires making use of our own intellectual traditions. The best recent work along these lines is Sandew Hira: Decolonizing the Mind, which builds on non-European intellectual traditions. The vast majority of Europeans have no knowledge of these traditions, and famous German philosopher Max Weber denies the possibility of such traditions. Weber considers Europe to be the most advanced of civilizations, the result the superiority of the European mind: its rationality, inventiveness, innovativeness, venturesomeness, and so on. He considers non-Europeans to be incapable of rational thought. So, I doubt that the German Historical School would help much in the process of decolonization.

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