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The colonialists' policy and their infamous political games consisted in using regressive sense of religion to restrict the natural awareness


February 21, 2006

We all share the idea that colonisation was atrocious, like slavery, it was an attack on fundamental rights. Yet, if we want to understand why these rights were trampled on and why they still are being trodden on in the world today, we have to recognise that colonisation was the beginning phase of capitalism.

What was at stake was the economic and social logic. Beyond many examples, by following logic of precise deployment through the different stages of its history, we can see that capitalism has constructed a consistent dichotomy of relations between a centre (the heart of the system of capitalist exploitation) and the periphery (made up of dominated countries and peoples).

The capitalist system has been based on unequal exchange, the exchange of manufactured products, sold very expensively in the colonies, and the purchase of products or primary products at very low prices from the colonies, since they were based on labour that was almost without cost.  During all the stages of capitalist development in the West, the plunder of the resources of the peripheries, the oppression of their peoples, their direct or indirect exploitation by capital and the dependent regimes remain the common characteristics.

In a further development, the twentieth century brought a new identity and bogus strength to some of the colonies. Oil became the new engine of the economic growth of industrial countries and consequently an additional motive of colonial plunder. Therefore, dependent states were newly formed to help the colonial hyper-exploitation, excessive property rights and opening up markets for the goods of colonists. These circumstances leading to the governmental corruption, lack of democracy and political opposition set the stage for the religious movements.

The Islamic movements were being revived when there was no progressive alternative. The Islamist movements have no real solutions for the objective problems. The state of economic dependence with or without Islamic ruling class cannot be changed. There can always be commercial monopolies, supported by the capitalist states, plundering the resources of the undeveloped nations. The real solutions are the rapid development through democratic and secular values.

By contrast to some Islamists, colonialists have respected and even propagated religion, at least in Iran, as a means of conspiracy.Colonialism tendentiously kept their colonies the most illiterate, the least developed, the most superstitious, and for all these, religion is a solid and historical basis. Plunder and looting of the colonies, without such moral conditions, could not be easily committed in the history of colonisation.

More than the institutions, like army, the civil service and the judiciary, which have systematically been set up in the colonies, colonialism needed religion to better control the vast territories they had acquired during the nineteenth century.

By enforcing and manipulating religion, sect, cult and a continuous atmosphere of backwardness, their grip on these colonies would not diminish even after their physical departure.

The conquest of the Americas by the Europeans in the 16th century was the first modern form of colonisation, an extremely brutal form which resulted in the genocide of the Indians of North America, Indian societies in Latin America thrown into slavery and black slavery through the whole continent, north and south. Later, in the 19th.century, the relative civilised Europe was not morally to accept such genocides. Furthermore, the people of new colonies could be the sources of cheap labour.  

Therefore, missionary in many African societies was the moral protector for the colonial administrators, planters, merchants, western penetration who performed a much less severe but equally destructive role.Although, the colonialists considered Christianisation of the colonial subjects as a colonial necessity, but in the case of Islamic colonies, it was not the same.

In the Islamic colonies, the missionary’s role was in fact replaced by the Islamic clergy or ulama, which could better be adjusted with the colonial aims. The colonial officials did not intervene in matters pertaining to Islam or Islamic traditional practices. However, the separation of religion from the practical affairs of government and law was a colonists’ wish. It was, in itself, interference in matters pertaining to Islam; therefore the British Empire had to handle with a great number of influential religious leaders, as it was the case in Iran.

The colonialists' policy and their infamous political games consisted in using regressive sense of religion to restrict the natural awareness and intellectual development of the indigenous people so that in many spheres of activity the country remains within the colonial periphery. Another hand, strict adherence to Islam was not so firm or so uniform throughout Muslims.  The education policy gave advancement in the colonial system to those educated in colonial schools. Thus it was produced a generation of Muslim bureaucrats who were westernised and alienated to their native culture.

While the minds of some people had to be transformed or westernised, the minds of most people were kept in religious backwardness so that colonial rulers would not be disturbed by the local population. The main strategy was that with the help of their corrupt and reactionary protégés or accomplices, the colonies remain either mental slaves of the colonial masters or incompetent for independency.In this perspective, religion, conscious or unconscious, for or against, in any position could pave thepath of colonialism. 

Even after the first successful Iranian constitutional revolution in Middle East history, Iran could not free itself from a destructive influence of religion. Soon, the written constitution that predicted power in an elective authority lost its sense. With the help of a number of clergy people, the power remained as a divine bestow in the hands of the despotic kings.

Despite division of Iran into "spheres of interest" between England and Russia, Iran was not officially colonised, but all conditions were at hand that the country loose a natural way of progress, democracy, secularism and independence.

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries Islam expanded into many new territories around the world. The political power of the Islamic community rose to new heights again with the uprising of the Safavid in Iran and the Ottoman in Anatolia (Turkey). The Islamic empires had control over most of North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, India and central Asia. During the reign of these empires, Islam spread throughout many new regions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and many were converted to Islam. The Safavid Empire fell in the eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire, which was more aggressive, continued to expand.

In 1914, the Ottoman Islamic Empire entered World War I on the side of Germany, and along with Germany lost the war. The Ottoman Empire fell into the hands of the British and the French who created many of the modern boundaries in the Middle East and set the region on the course it took through the twentieth century.  It was the end of the last bastion of glorious Ages of the Islamic world.

From the beginning of the twentieth century, it was clear that the Islamic world was left behind of any new progress. The religion, as the foundation of a common society, was intellectually moribund. Its strict rules have been standing in the way of modern changes, and therefore the Islamic world could not join the European industrial revolution. From then on, the secular world has considerably taken over the leadership of the new world.

This industrial revolution has since then changed the power equation between Europeans and other peoples of the world. With industrial might, Europe gradually transformed its values, its material bases of living, and its institutions.  Today, condemning the atrocities of the colonial or capitalist West, we have to accept that many of western values belong to the process of the modern civilisation and thus must be accepted and adapted to the native cultures. The unfettered preaching of hatred about the democracy and its culture is either a blind argument of conspiracy theory or a conscious falsification of the Islamists.

Another development in this century that has also affected the Islamic world was the rise of communism and the establishment of the communist states in the world. From the nature of its anti-West, it was considering for some Muslims a political front to assimilate with Islam, but for the most of them, it was a “Kufr” of atheism. The emergence of Marxist thought was seen by most Muslim intellectuals as an alien demon to fight and keep away from the mental and physical spaces of Muslim peoples. Though, many Islamic political organisations or parties have accepted a Stalinist model, but are more characterised by their anti-communist than anti-West. The legacies of communism remind them that the problem of atheist culture will be more dangerous than the western colonialism. Communism has always remained the main challenge to the Islamic world in the favour of the capitalist system.

When Islamists consider huge differences between Islamic societies and Euro-American peoples, they see the values, institutions, and material way of life, which are only different from their own, therefore rejected. This Islamists’ evaluation is nothing but a product of their reactionary thought. The bottom-line is that there is no escape from the fact that there exist differences between Islamic and the Western culture and way of life, but the solutions proposed by Islamists do not escape from a future disaster of apocalyptic proportion. Islam incorporates rules for every aspect of life. There is instruction for every detail of a Muslim's daily life. The Sharia (Islamic law) applies to all aspects of life and religious practices. It describes the Islamic way of life, a way which has historically reached to the state of being colonised or economically dependent.

Islamic civilisation in a very great part of the Islamic world was not resulted in the process of human development in a normal set of principles, but started by destroying many ancient civilisations and imposing Islam on their occupied territories. The ancient great civilisations from Iran, Syria and Egypt were the victims. Though, a little part of indigenous civilisations was exploited for the benefit of the imposed Islamocolonialists, but the main part was banned or not tolerated, as we know this case in Iran.

The difference between the Islamcolonisation and the classic colonisation is that the early Islamocolonialists not only plundered, exploited and looted the colony, but also destroyed the native civilisation in the favour of Islamic creed. Today, the followers of the Islamic invaders shamelessly argue that a loss of an Islamic identity is a profound danger for whole new generations of our people!

An “independent” Islamic society for them is a model of the Dark Ages, a Talibanist or Khomeinist way of life; it is preferably a way to paradise as a martyr during an Islamic Holy War, Jihad. This is now a new extension of the Islamcolonisation.

While many other non-Islamic colonies could develop, the Islamic world because of its religion could never act accordingly to develop after the initial colonisation era ended.

While under the classic colonisation, there was a gradual transformation of population in the world, under the dependent dictators to the international capitalism, there were thousands escaping the dictatorship, but under the new model of Islamcolonisation, millions, if possible the majority, of people would escape their countries.

By forcing people, especially intellectuals, escape the country, the IRI forces a model of Islamcolonisation. Sooner or later, they open the way for the monopolies of the capitalist nations for looting our country. Today, a great part of the Islamic world moves from a classic model of colonisation of the West to a new model of an archaic Islamcolonisation of the Islamists, a model of backwardness with an open perspective of recolonisation.

A healthy economy must firstly satisfy local needs, thus it must give a higher priority to a rapid development of production and a fair contribution of social needs among people. A key reality is that an Islamic regime, on its way to the Islamcolonisation, can never adapt itself to a series of democratic values stipulating the development.

For letters section
To: Jahanshah Rashidian

Jahanshah Rashidian


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