Friday, July 03, 2009

I think therefore I perish


I think therefore I perish

Azly Rahman



“Cogito ergo, sum”

-- Rene Descartes


Rene Descartes the 17th. Century French philosopher and mathematician, in his most famous essay “Meditations” and “A Treatise on Methods” proposed the separation of mind and body in our conceptualization of human nature paving way for the evolution of scientific method in the way we study phenomena. Sense perception alone is not capable of understanding Nature, thought process separate from the physical entity of the self make understanding Reality complete, according to Descartes. The ideology of thinking is now known as Cartesian paradigm. From Cartesian paradigm the idea of falsification and determining of truth-ness of a study evolve, later known as the Scientific Method.


Cogito Ergo Sum, or “I think therefore I exist”, according to Descartes. For the layperson this may mean that it is the independence of thought that determine the nature of existence. It is through the encouragement of thinking that human existence is celebrated. It is through doubting and dissenting that human beings will be defined as thinking beings.


I think therefore I perish


We have our own Cartesian philosophy that governs the way we separate the individual from society. We call it “I think therefore I perish”. It permeates not only at the top level of political management but also universities, high schools, religious and social institutions and even our homes.


In the case of those who think for society and suggest for the betterment of the largest number of people, in a Utilitarian way, we see out government applying our own Cartesian principal of existence: we banish the thinkers and incarcerate them so that they will not become, like Socrates, Gandhi, or Mandela, an irritant to the rakyat and an agitator to the ruler or the State. We see them taken away, put in solitary confinement, brainwashed, and indoctrinated with a new consciousness that will make them most subdued and lose their critical sensibility.

This is the Orwellian world we have allowed to evolve – the world in which the British writer George Orwell (pen name of Eric Blair) described in his famous work, 1984 in which “truth is power” and “war is peace” and the Ministry of Truth produces Official Knowledge to be filter funneled into the mind of the citizens of Oceania . We are all guilty of being happily amused by the goodies and the candies we deserve as a result of our own surrender to this technopoly we let this Third World capitalist state establish. We have allowed the Malaysian corporatist developmentalist agenda dictate our economic condition and elect leaders amongst those who have a warped view of human nature, capitalism, and industrialization.


As in the case of many of Malaysia's ISA (Internal Security Act) detainees, we let our leaders jail those who show their rage against the machine; those who dissent and present powerful arguments for an alternative society that champions equality for all and punishes the corrupt and powerful few. We let the media evolve into a powerful instrument of mental colonization, letting television become babysitters to our children so that when they grow older they will become not only good consumers of artifacts produced by the Malaysian culture industry but become good and obedient followers of the ideology of communalism – ideology that thrives on the playing of religious and race sentimentalities.


We have consumed too much the State-controlled newspapers, entertained by nice stories of the myth of our own Horatio Alger and the self-made urban legends of our Warren Buffets, Bill Gates, Vanderbilts and Rockefellars unbeknownst to us the complex interlocking directorates and proxies involves in the propping up of our rich and famous. Understandably the lower the socio-economic class the rakyat is in, the more they are attracted to the bonfire of race and religious vanities. Perhaps it is to the advantage of the ruling class that the philosophy of education for critical consciousness is to be silently murdered so that we will have generations after generation of Malaysians that are hegemonized and “neutralized” by a system that gives them Prozac and Valiums as they travel through the conveyer belt of education – from kindergarten to even graduate school.


We see Act such as the University and University Colleges Act being jealously guarded by those in power; the part that disallow students to be involved in political parties are still kept intact in fear that the students will be free to work for parties that fit their liking for idealism and to ensure that corrupt parties will be legally challenged by an even larger number of students. We are allowing irrational patronage system to dictate how our students should behave. Wile many of the vice chancellors are former leaders of communal parties championing ketuanan this or that, and while many now are chairmen and chairwomen of alumni of those race-based parties, the students are not allowed to join any. The argument that that students will not be able to focus on their studies if they join political parties is a lame one; like a bad tune on a broken record or a badly-scratched CD – students leaders, like athlete-scholars, can perform brilliantly when their focus is to enrich their experience with the philosophy and practice of establishing republics of virtue. Each student must be given the freedom and opportunity to decide the kind of government they want. Each generation must be allowed to evolve into ethical beings that will remove any government that has become corrupted and intoxicated with power and no longer serve the rakyat.


They think, therefore they will perish.


In our age, the governing Cartesian philosophy is “they think, therefore they will perish” Or more accurately, if they think and act, we will make sure they perish – seems to be the way the present regime modus operandi.

In universities, we see the separation of mind and the social self in the way our students are encouraged to think. Of course we see students protesting here and there but there is still a sense of emptiness in the content. The sense of critical sensibility does not seem to have permeated in their consciousness; as the curriculum that structure their mind is still watered down of its critical components.


Over the past few years cases of students and faculty dismissed for speaking up against the government and the university’s governance abound. Many are not yet resolved, waiting to be argued in courts. Violations of fundamental rights to speak up and to dissent are at the heart of these cases. They reflect the inability of our universities to respect the rights of individuals to be intelligent.


We saw sometime ago in the case of University Teknologi MARA the Cartesian principle applied. Why would those thousands of students embarrass themselves by championing for their rights to be chained and caged by the comfort of one-dimensional race-based thinking when their counterparts globally pride themselves with how diverse their campuses are? We saw the dangerous concept of “Ketuanan Melayu” funneled into the mind of the students; our bright young learners who ought to be socialized into a world of meritocracy and cultural democracy that values not only hard work and cognition but also inter-cultural understanding and collaboration. We should have not allowed institutions such as Biro Tata Negara to set foot on our campuses and force our children to learn its version of “citizenship”; one that is not only based on a truncated and warped history of Malaysia but also one that closes the mind of the Malays into evolving into brave souls that values multiculturalism and champions the idea of “world citizens”; a noble concept that sees poverty and dehumanization as a problem of humanity to be solved peacefully and collectively.


We think, therefore we perish.


What then must we do?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article Dr. Azly! Is it any wonder that the majority of Malay Intelligentsia now are in the iron grip of irrational Islamist fanaticism, especially brought form Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia? They have lost their capacity to think as rational free beings but submit themselves to be manufactured instead, like machines, by such irrational dark Age Islamist and Malay-Muslim Supremacy ideology, from inside out. Look at them; subjugating and enslaving themselves and their powerless children to waht is actually Arab-primitive culture of Dark Age veilin "honour" ideology! Taht is trying to homogenize and absolutely control diverse Muslim identities and ethnicities!

Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza Othman),

Germany.

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION: Brilliant article Dr. Azly! Is it any wonder that the majority of Malay Intelligentsia now are in the iron grip of irrational Islamist fanaticism, especially brought from Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia? They have lost their capacity to think as rational free beings but submit themselves to be manufactured instead, like machines, by such irrational dark Age Islamist and Malay-Muslim Supremacy ideology, from inside out, due to such controlled and primitive Malaysian education system. Even when they studies overseas, do they venture out beyond their narrow Malay-Muslim "Ummah" and read up progressive western philosophy for example? Look at them; subjugating and enslaving themselves and their powerless young girls to what is actually Arab-primitive culture of Dark Age veiling "honour" ideology! That is trying to homogenize and absolutely control diverse Muslim identities and ethnicities!

Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza Othman),

Germany.

Anonymous said...

If on the land we have many malay elites like DR. AZLY RAHMAN, then we don't have to talk on 30% quota nor even the privilege. Bravo!!

ajoyly said...

Regimentation it is - producing docile students and citizens that would end up being intellectual eunuch.And institutionalising it to become a part of the Malaysian life style. Done on a ' run silent, run deep ' approach

jiwasahara said...

On reading the article by Dr Azly I come to wonder how short the judgement from Katharina Sri, deducing the after effect of Islamist fanaticism. Not one sentence of Dr Azly’s article mention about the Malay-Muslim Supremacy but rather Malay Supremacy or Ketuanan Melayu. Obviously Kathrina Sri is looking into the perception of Muslim idealogy which is vastly contrasted by the Malay supremacy. I would like to correct the perception made by Kathrina that those Malay Supremacy is the result of Islamist, but rather those racist attitude is a by-product of Christian Secularist approach towards life. You wrongly mentioned that the malay intelligentsia have lost their thinking capacity as a result of being Muslim. This ia a typical argument from whom that has lost the true sense of understanding Islam. Islam in its true sense of meaning brought about much changes to the narrow mindedness of the Christians with their colonialism in attitude, suppression in action and utilising divide and rule as a tool.

You mention about Malays who went to do their degrees overseas but do not venture into reading up the progressive western philosphy. First of all, there’s nothing progressive about the western philosophy. What philosphy are you talking about ? A very clear fundamental issues of managing the economy has brougt about a drastic changes in the mentality of the westerners. They even reached out for implementing the zero interest policy, fall short of calling an Islamic concept of interest free economy. Their Darwinism theory is now crippled. Their own theory of Intelligence Design is coming at a centre stage in the US, which is what Islam said as “man was created by God”. The Malays who hold to their power with the antics of suppressing other race is really a sort of shadowy act. The truth is that those that hold powers do share their riches amongst the other race who are head of the clans, but not to the poor. Its feudalistic, as what happended during the time of Descrates ! Even though they are Muslims, act as Muslims, think differently when comes to the riches of the world.

When one argue that embracing Islam as being primitives, one only see the effect of socio-cultural transformation that was engineered by the western mean of subjugation of human being. You obviously seems to blame Islam as religion which forsake women, or women as a second class citizen, as what your eye sees. You must understand how to differentiate between Muslims who did not follow Islam hundred percent and the true teaching of Islam. Those who profess Islam, but does not practice their belief is not the wrong of the religion but its believers. It goes without saying to other religions.

You can see the true colours of westernisation. They never complain about the undemocratic Islamic countries of the Middle-east because they knew that the rakyat of those countries will simply voted the existing leaders out. Look at what happen to Algeria. The Islamist win the election, but the election is then declared null and void. Look at Turkey, the Islamist win a majority in Parliament, but the army threatened with a coup. This is a result of western philosophy.

What you have said is just to justify what you have done – being a Katharina Sri after being Noor Aza Othman???

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