Friday, November 21, 2014

An Interstellar view of ‘Malay-ness’

by Azly Rahman



Of late there have been intensifying debates on ‘Malay-ness’ and that political parties will continue to engage in this, conducted within the framework Malaysia’s ‘commanding heights’ (read Vladimir Lenin’s essay) or the economic and ideological basis of this country as a hypermodern state.

Reading some seminal work on evolutionary biology, eugenics, social Darwinism, and the ‘mitochondrial Eve’ as the first human, questions came to be demanding perspectives on what actually is ‘Malay-ness’ and whether the ‘Malay’ exists and what does it have to do with culture, consciousness, and human progress in a multicultural society such as Malaysia.

I recently wrote these on my Facebook page:

“THE TRUTH is ... THE MALAYS

are not the first race/people on planet earth
as will be soon claimed by pop-pseudo-evolutionary biologists
the Mitochondrial Eve from Mother Africa
was the first ... then here is migration and variations
Malay-ness and ‘other-raceness’ is
merely a construct
mere illusion,
mere construction,
merely an idea of social dominance
not to be taken seriously
and to write a history
or a theory of jealousy
race, ethnicity do not exist and has no scientific basis
so you politicians - stop whining
and complaining
and scheming
and fighting till we bleed
read more science and become more human
treat each other like human beings
like what Mother Afrika Mitochondria preaches - ar

Is ‘culture’ the culprit?

We continue to debate about culture and religion in our public schools. We might be debating on faulty premises. We might have to look at the issue of culture, race, and ethnicity from a radically different perspective. Let us see what this may mean based on the propositions I will be making which fundamentally begin like this - culture is in the imagination and is not real.

There is no such a concept as ‘original culture’. Cultures are systems of construction of realities that is influenced by the historical-materialistic march of technology and capital, that then develops conditions of existence and formulate human consciousness. Culture is fluid and amorphous and is a construct rather than a constant. Culture is not static. Cultural construction can be conveniently used and abused to lend legitimacy to power and its concentrated self.

It is more than just the tools we use and play but also the house that we inhabit. Its definition is problematic; the numbers of definitions are many. The words Malay, Chinese, Indian, American, Indonesian - all these are cultural constructs that are useful in some ways but useless in others.

Unfortunately it is the uselessness of culture that is often most attractive and get translated into sophisticated racist policies. As racist policies become further institutionalised and as economic interests that go with these need to be protected even more, racial tensions and consequently violence erupts. As these further mounts, we have war and ethnic cleansing - in the name of cultural superiority.

We are endowed by the Creator these variations in skin colour and appearances to have use of to solve problems of humanity; to understand what needs and wants are, and to discern what is Good and what is Evil.

Cultures can enable human thinking and it can also disable it. It can be shaped, structured, and symbolised based on the influence of class structure of the people/peoples.

This will translate into ‘high’, ‘low’, ‘mass’, ‘popular’, and ‘sub-culture’. With all these subdefinitions of culture comes the status symbols of the object of display, affection, work, leisure, etc, that shape and that are shaped by the economic condition.


Hence, a goblet used in a sultan’s palace might be worth a thousand goblets used by the sultan’s hamba sahayas. Or a Rolls Royce used by a royal family signifies a symbol of ‘high culture’ as opposed to a ‘[Proton] Rusa’, a symbol of ‘popular culture’ used by a family in a remote kampong.

There is a new dimension of culture emerging. There are classes of culture and culture of classes. Classes of culture are post-industrial tribes that are victims of producers whereas culture of classes are the internal logic of cultures that have been eroded by the forces of globalisation and late capitalism.

I am still thinking. I don’t have the answers. I have only more question on whether the ‘Malay’ actually exist and if one needs to defend the people, through political designs. For too long we have been dwelling upon this problematique. Many have written about it.

Maybe we have been asking the wrong question all this while and fighting the wrong battles and setting up the wrong race-based institutions, based on the wrongest premises of winner-only-crafted history. This question by the way, was inspired by a movie I watched recently - Interstellar.

What, then is the answer? Or rather- what should be the questions?


BELOW IS MY LATEST BOOK 
(IN MALAYSIAN BOOKSTORES in December 2014)



2 comments:

arya said...

We look at a picture of planet earth, we see land surface and water surface.We cannot see the 7 billions people on it and other solid, liquid and gas because they are too small,thus we have to imagine.
Imagine the humans, animals, plants, sands, stones and rocks,
fixed structures like houses and big buildings,transports on land, water an
Imagine too on which part of the earth we ourselves are on.
That is the reality on the earth surface.
We do not see cultures, religions, politics, Malays, Islamic States, happiness, sadness,and for that matter, whatever concepts that we know of.
They are mind matter.We see it only in our mind.
To know what a culture is, we have to mix whatever knowledge, information, and experience that we have in our mind.
It differs from one person to another.Some can be nearer to reality and truth and others could be farther away.
What everyone gives his or her most attention is the 3 things that our body cannot do without, namely food, clothing and shelter.
The needs for these 3 things,spawned developments, progresses and civilizations.
Humans and their mind plus whatever they do with their physical organs are what life is all about.
To know what a Malay is , we must have some knowledge and information that go with it , otherwise he or she is just a human being.
To know what Islam is we must have knowledge and information that are in line with the Quran
otherwise the Islam we know is not Islam at all or maybe just small part of it.
The emotion of fear is the tool that the powerful use to control the less powerful and the weak, to prevent their loss of power and riches.
The emotion of fear subdued the less powerful and weak, from going against the powerful.
We called that culture or higher up the law.
Well then, we can take solace that Allah do look at what we have in our mind and not what are outside our mind.

Wintermute said...


Everyone should memorize this quotation :

" I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their hands and strike off every fingertip of them." Quran 8:12

Oh, no wait, sorry, my mistake. Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam

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