What Is The Relationship Between Racism And The Ideology Of Progress
It is extensively assumed that ‘discourses’ exist from the beginning of human history. Discourses, being ways of representation, were mistaken as laws provided by the nature. For instance, the idea of development is never questioned even though there is a thorough research on post-development economics because people assumed that development is what we are made to thrive for, on individual and on societal level. This is exactly how people blindly believe in the idea of ‘progress’ or the concern of ‘racism’, which have been a problematic phenomenon and has given a rise to ideas of nationalism, fascism, and even extermination.
Numerous theorists/scholars define racism through different conceptions. W. E. DuBois argues that racism is cultural in the sense that it opposes a race, which itself is culturally defined. Marcus Singer argues, one’s thinking that there are differences between ethnic groups does not constitute, if it is racism at all, the same sort of thing as one’s discriminating against a person because of that person’s ethnicity, etc. (Corlett, 1998). To be precise and inclusive, racism can be categorized as moral judgment of a particular person because of his belonging to a certain ethnic group. This idea of racism influenced people into isolation where they believed that their race is their pride, and they fought to make their race the superior one.
Simultaneously, the ideology of progress has a similar notion where people compete with one another to excel and achieve ‘successes’. Before modernity, the idea of development did not even exist but overtime development became a random term that people used in their daily life. For instance, the term personal development is inferred for individuals who grow into a better person. Gradually the word development led to the formation of the term ‘progress’, which was associated with the achievements of the Western World which were thought to be implemented in the rest of the world, mainly the Third World countries (Sbert, 1997).
The idea of racism and the ideology of progress are closely interrelated because more or less, one supports the other. The West planted the sense of inferiority in the other nations by portraying themselves as the ‘role models’. West has had a upper hand in the technological advancement and economy, which influenced the other world as they thought that they strived to get the similar sense of superiority. The West focused on ‘discovering’ the whole world, which meant to colonize the nations. With this, they were also firm that they have pressed the rest of the world to a better living style, one that is more convenient with higher living standards, more technological capital, and more opportunities. As a result of this, the Rest started worshiping the West, which proved one relationship between racism and ideology and progress.
While the West paved its way in various nations through colonization and trading, they circulated the idea of progress and ensured that the Third World countries had the ‘hunger’ of progress. According to Sbert, this caused the natives to lose their identity. When the nations tried to adapt the progressive lifestyle of the West, they sacrificed their own cultural identities, which were then identified as less modern. People gave up their traditions and customs in order to develop like the Western Side of the World. The other nations started to wait for validation by the West in order to seek for their approval. The West took this as an opportunity to strip off the sense of belonging in people by making them lose their pride and confidence. This established another link between racism and progress where people suffered from a loss of identity due to the western hegemony over the rest of the world.
The Europeans assumed that they are a superior nation because they introduced the idea of medicine, nutrition, and sanitation that are sources to increase the human life. They were convinced that they brought human improvement in the third world countries who suffered before the Europeans helped them deal with the chaos. Even though the oppression and exploitation caused by the west has been undeniable, they continued to see themselves as the grander beings regardless of the losses they have caused. This was specifically true for Africa, one of the many European colonies. Slavery became extremely common in Africa and the Europeans exploited Africa’s resources and cheap labor in order to make profit. This constant slavery gave European civilization the supremacy over the other nations even if that came at the cost of exploitation.
Furthermore, the Europeans considered themselves morally superior. They tried to prove this through the scientific discovery and biological analysis (Ehrenreich, 2019). They considered themselves as intrinsically superior while the rest of the world was subsidiary to them. This was seen in the book named ‘Exterminate All The Brutes’ by Sven Lindqvist in 1992, which showed how Robert Knox believed that the white race is superior because they have a different brain than the other races.
He based this claim on testing the brain of one white man only, which not only is a reductionist approach but also is invalid and unreliable. Moreover, they extended this claim a level further when they alleged that the European animals and plants find if convenient to adapt to the landscape in America or Australia but adapting to the conditions in Europe is difficult American or Australian animals and plants. The relationship of racism and progress was viewed in light of moral inherent superiority in which the Europeans were identified as the ultimate power that civilized the other scattered races on the earth (Ehrenreich, 2019).
The Europeans established hegemony since they believed to achieve a goal and then make other follow the path that they have paved in order to achieve progress. This is exactly how the discourse of ‘The West’ and ‘The Rest’ came into being, in which ‘The West’ is regarded as the accurate and sensible way of living while ‘The Rest’ have yet to learn from the ultimately superior. It is significant to note that ‘The West’ is not a geographical concept, rather a ordinary paradigm that included only the Europeans (mainly the Anglo-Saxons) to be the in charge of the entire world.
Even though different nations had different approach to the similar systems, the Europeans regarded them as inferior just because they were not like the ‘white’. Stuart Hall showed this implication on the Indians (another colony of the British). India possessed a rich culture with diverse approach in regards to the economic system. The Europeans assumed that since there was no monetary exchange system, the existence of any other system is useless and they took it as their responsibility to provide India with a system similar to Europe for them to excel and make progress (Hall, 1992). Hence, the relationship between racism and ideology of progress depicts the discourse of ‘The West and The Rest’ that allowed the Europeans to set themselves as the standard that the rest of the races were inclined to match.
Lastly, the pride of Europeans for being the ultimate superior power caused dominant issues like slavery, slaughtering, etc. This came about, also mentioned in the ‘Exterminate All The Brutes’ by Sven Lindqvist in 1992, because of the genocidal nature of the West. They believed that since they are the sole owners who dealt with perfection, the others did not deserve to live. This brought the evil act of extermination in action due to which numerous people lost their lives for not being Europeans.
The colonies, specifically the African colony, displayed a culture of slavery. This showed that every other race is bound to bow in front of the white who contain all the power. In other parts of the world, the Europeans slaughtered numerous people under the motive of ‘civilizing’ them (Ehrenreich, 2019). Hence, the relationship between racism and progress is that where the Europeans considered only themselves as worthy of living and the rest were treated harshly.
To conclude, racism and ideology of progress are deeply enrooted such as the survival of former gave existence to the latter and vice versa. The Europeans forced the rest of the world to undergo progress in order to validate their existence. Intentionally or unintentionally, this led to the distortion of the world in which massive events such as extermination took place. The Europeans installed a sense of inferiority in the other nations while they regarded their achievements as a standard of progress for the rest of the world to follow, which also sums up the crucial relationship between racism and ideology of progress.
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