|An independence day monologue|
|Azly Rahman |
Yes, America is an interesting experiment in democracy. General George Washington had almost 80,000 acres of land to himself when the war ended. Other generals had their own thousands of acres of acquisition.
Independence is about robbing the native Indians of their land (10,000 Arawak Indians were killed in Columbus' time). Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence had more than 300 slaves. These are the ironies of American history.
But I still enjoyed the Fourth of July fireworks show by the Hudson River in New York city. Beautiful sight. Across from where I was standing I could see the city and the spot where 9/11 became a symbol of yet another war in which America has been involved.
America has had a long history of war - from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 to the French-Indian War. Then came World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. In psychological terms, there have been the Cold War, and war on terror.
Conflict sells. How else can warmongers profit if not through the creation of global areas of conflict? The wheels of capital must continue to turn bringing prosperity through wartime industries.
But on the bright side is the America of Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry David Thoreau. In the America of the Sixties, its youth stormed and took over Ivy League campuses to protest the Vietnam War.
What can Malaysians learn from American historicising; in the way alternative history or the history of the people is produced?
Malaysians must learn to rewrite their history. Our Merdeka is not for the poor Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups drowned in the making of Malaysia. Our Merdeka is for the aristocrats who have plundered the land since time immemorial.
The Malacca Sultanate was a story of robbery in ancient times. Tun Sri Lanang was a well-paid court historian, just like owners of our modern mainstream media.
Our history teachers did not tell us the whole truth about Sejarah Melayu. Some even lied to us about the real winners of history. Our children need a new version of history. They are being deprived of other interpretations.
Malaysian history, too, is about the history of war - of the classes. From the time of the founding of Malacca to the country's plunge into the war of the two coalition parties (Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat), it has been about gang wars over territories, labour and capital.
Whether it was among the warring ancient kingdoms from the time of Majapahit to the current battle for control of Putrajaya, Malaysia's Independence Day fireworks are merely mark a day of ceasefire in a century-long war between the classes.
Because official historians are good at masking truth and burying the stories of those who fought for the poor and the oppressed, history is presented as a shallow narrative of the detailed process of glorifying people, places, crafted events and villains-turned heroes. The poor and the powerless are made to remain silent.
We see the same structures of power maintained, rhetoric of peace and stability overplayed, and an increasingly violent ideological warfare fought in the political and cybernetic spheres – a warfare that is seeing gross violations of human and constitutional rights.
Especially with the rise of Pakatan Rakyat, Malaysians are witnessing a fierce struggle for a balance of power being slowly transformed into a balance of terror, both in physical space and cyberspace.
Whether in the end, Malaysian politics will become a glorious fireworks or a gruesome display of firepower remains to be seen.