Discussion of Aimé Césaire’s “Discourse on Colonialism” (Part 2)

Discussion of “Discourse on Colonialism”  a text written by Aimé Césaire and published in 1955.

 

Discourse on Colonialism – Aime Cesaire

 

 

Quotes discussed in the podcast:

Because of the great betrayal of Western ethnography which, with a deplorable deterioriation of its sense of responsibility, has been using all its ingenuity of late to cast doubt upon the overall superiority of Western civilization over the exotic civilizations (p. 68).

 

To go further, I make no secret of my opinion that at the present time the barbarism of Western Europe has reached an incredibly high level, being only surpassed -far surpassed, it is true- by the barbarism of the United States.

And I am not talking about Hitler, or the prison guard, or the advernturer, but about the “decent fellow” across the way; not about the member of the SS, or the gangster, but about the respectable bourgeois. In a time gone by, Léon Bloy innocently became indignant over the fact that swindlers, perjurers, forgers, thieves, and procurers were given the responsibility of “bringing to the Indies the example of Christian virtues.”

We’ve made progress: today it is the possessor of the “Christian virtues” who intrigues -with no small success- for the honor of administrering overseas territories according to the methods of forgers and torturers (p. 47).

 

Wether one likes it or not, the bourgeoisie, as a class, is condemned to take responsibility for all the barbarism of history, the tortures of the Middle Ages and the Inquisition, warmongering and the appeal to the raison d’Etat, racism and slavery, in short everything against which it protested in unforgettable terms at the time when, as the attacking class, it was the incarnation of human progress. The moralist can do nothing about it. There is a law of progressive dehumanization which henceforth on the agenda of the bourgeoisie there is -there can be- nothing but violence, corruption, and barbarism (p. 67-68).