Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Identity (part 4) -Deconstructing common beliefs about Regional Identity and National Identity

Dearest brothers and sisters,

No time in history has blood not been shed.  In fact, you cannot separate victims from victors.  More so, due to wars, very few cultural groups presently have only one bloodline running through them.

However, identity presently seems to create differences and barriers between people.  Identity presently still causes people to turn away from others and consolidate around their own culture and own bloodline.  Though identity creates purpose, it is also rooted in ethnocentric and egocentric views.  An infantile mentality held together by ego, pride, and day-to-day habitual rituals created historically due to the natural environment and political atmosphere one was born into due to the “birth lottery”.

In truth, most cultures romanticize for themselves a better historical and cultural story than what really existed.   Often myths are easier to stomach than cold, hard facts and the harshness of reality.  Romanticism enables cultures to create for themselves legends that make them superior than they actually are in the historical context of existence.  Historically, very few regions and bloodlines have created empires.  In fact, most regions in existence today have been conquered not been the conquerors.  For example, majority of surnames that people presently have is due to:
(A) being conquered (ex: the surname of Khan in Central and Southeast Asia)
(B) having an owner (ex: African American and Caribbean surnames)
(C) were created during times of war (ex: Kaur & Singh during a time of war with the Muslims)
(D) were given after forced Conversions (ex: Filipinos and Latin Americans with Spanish surnames)
(E) were ancient surnames created through kinship and from family lineage before being conquered by the Aryans (ex:
  Rajan, Pillai)
and (F) were done through Marriage.  
(F) and (E) are the only ways, as well as adoption -that war and ownership is not relevant to the way surnames appear.

 In recent history only, people were given the privilege and given the ability to change their birth surnames and choose their own surnames.  However, in the past, your surname that you carry with you revealed your region, culture, and religion.  It was the main identifier to the outside world.  It often simultaneously revealed your conqueror, your owner, your region, and your religion.

Historically, intellectuals and rulers formed “identity” and “culture” for their subjects.  Often times, identity was carefully created and slowly crafted by intellectuals with the ruler’s blessing.  Using highly romanticized myths and stories, intellectuals engineered them for the masses so they could be simple, easy to understand, and easy to remember.  Rulers and intellectuals ensured that these myths (which were similar to children’s stories)filtered throughout the areas that they controlled.  Rulers wanted these myths to be easily comprehensible and interwoven into the fabric of society and repeated so that these stories created homogeneity for the subjects in order to hide the cruelties of war, the barbarity of conquest, and divisiveness of politics that had brought them to this current stage.
Identity though unifying also created divisions.  Often identity, which centered on regional identity or religious identity fostered itself around the belief of “oneness” and a “common purpose”. Homogeneity was stressed and the “us VS them” mentality was created to ensure spies and traitors could be rooted out and eliminated.  Over time, this allowed Colonial rulers to use this to their advantage when conquering whole Empires (ex: Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and Africa, Mughal Empire in India).  Homogenous regions became homogenous nations and a homogenous identity was formed often being more rigid than its original predecessor that was created before it.  Homogenous identity was stressed in regions since“Divide and Rule” could only work when divisions between groups existed.

Since the 1960s, after the first image of Earth from space was broadcasted to the world, regional identities have taken a back seat to the global mentality of “oneness” and of a “global citizen” with “global responsibilities”.  Most entrenched regional identities have now been on the defensive with the proliferation and expansion of globalization, which in turn has spun regional identities on its head.  

In truth, the only times regional identities appear is during election times when votes garnered for one party due to its regional affiliation has a direct affect on the region itself.  That is why many times, a majority government of a country or a Superpower will weaken one political party’s voting base by giving that region political autonomy.  This political move allows a voting base to be completely removed from the political landscape, altering the voting landscape in a country and a region.  This reveals that "identity" is and always has been a political tool used by those in power for their own gains.  Minority governments will create and empower autonomy movements during elections because it is their power source in order for them to get votes during elections.

In reality, the forming of identity can take many shapes and forms but when it becomes rigid, it is often because of rulers and political control that it has occurred.  The culture you know of or keep alive is different from the culture that was created and is also different than what has existed previously when it was first formed.  

Presently, “Identity” (in relation to nationalistic identity) was created by rulers and superpowers by drawing lines on a map.  Due to your “Birth lottery”, you became one thing and one identity instead of another identity. You could easily be something else but you are not because of your “birth lottery”.  You missed being something else and becoming engrained with another identity by a few inches when maps were drawn on papers and countries were formed out of nothing but paper and pen.

The regions, which shaped (or effected) almost all identities in existence today, include the Romans, the Persians, the Greeks, the British, the French, the Muslims, the Mongols, the Dutch, the Turks, the Aryans, and the Portuguese.  Most other regions have been conquered by these groups mentioned or have created identities to counter act these groups influence and control.

In truth, you can choose whatever identity you want to be, but there are historical connotations to it.  What you choose to define yourself as speaks volumes to the outside world.  History cannot be removed from identity, culture, and society though regional myths often try to hide historical truths.

It is a fact my brothers and sisters -every individual household, every family, every work environment, every sports teams has a "culture" and an"identity" of its own based on rituals, traditions, structures, and beliefs.  This “culture” is different from the mainstream culture in existence but reveals what culture itself is.  Culture is nothing more 
the range of human phenomena that cannot be directly attributed to genetic inheritance. Specifically, the term ‘culture’ in American anthropology meant the distinct ways that people, who live differently, classified and represented their experiences, and acted.  Culture is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance”.  In laymen’s terms, “culture” is how one acts, thinks, and behaves in a certain environment.  Hence, why there is such a term as “work culture” in existence.  You act differently in work because of the“work culture” in place.  You act differently at work than you would at home or at a place of worship because they too have their own "cultures".  Both those places mentioned have a “culture” of their own as well.

Regional independent groups asking for autonomy in the past have found their claims squashed not by other Superpowers but by their own country’s political leaders who deemed regional identity as being detrimental to what needed to be created and established.  For example, very few know that, “In the 1940s, 
Nehru assured the Sikhs that they would be allowed to function as a semi-autonomous unit so that they may have a sense of freedom. A resolution passed by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 9 December 1946 envisaged the Union of India as an ‘independent sovereign republic, comprising autonomous units with residuary powers’.  During a press conference on 10 July 1946 in Bombay Nehru made a controversial statement to the effect that the Congress may ‘change or modify’ the federal arrangement agreed upon for independent India for the betterment towards a united India; this claim outraged many Sikhs. Some separatist Sikhs felt that they had been ‘tricked’ into joining the Indian union.  This act by Nehru, would later on lead to much bloodshed being spilled and innocent people dying over regional and religious identity.
It is because of nationalistic myths and because of nationalistic identity devices such as: the Olympics, the World Cup, Miss Universe, and Trade Shows, etc (where political enemies are often friends and where they sell each other items you would not expect ex:  firearms, surveillance technology, etc) that identity is cemented and fostered.  Instrumental devices such as the national anthem sung in elementary schools, the national flag waving at schools, the national media, and the national entertainment sector which  perpetuate a sense of national identity.  In fact, the bigger the entertainment sector, the more wars and more “state tension/climate of fear” that a country is involved in.  More “state tension/climate of fear” creates more nationalistic and patriotic rhetoric (ex: India and U.S.A. through the use of their national media and through their entertainment sector –Bollywood and Hollywood).

In the past, bigger nations were needed to force along modernization and industrialization.  Totalitarianism was needed to force through modernization and industrialization in order to set the stage for globalization.  Now, changes implemented under the guise of humanity force change through.  "Human Rights"
 and War Crimes for example in Sri Lanka. Though it’s designed to get the emotional and sympathetic voice out to support the helpless Tamils, the moral device is actually used in order to force investment out and bring new investment into Sri Lanka  (ex: China getting all the government contracts in Sri Lanka after the Civil War concluded.  However, this left India, U.K., and U.S.A. out in the cold.  Presently, they are the 3 nations leading the calls for "War Crimes" and "Human Rights" violations to be moved forward (though they also funded, trained, and armed the Sri Lankan army against the Tamil Tigers).  Moving forward means using "War Crimes" and "Human Rights" violations in order to replace the government currently in charge for a more favorable pro-West and pro-Indian government).  This is the face of globalization, identity, and change presently.

Do no fall for the myth of "identity" whether it's regional identity, religious identity, or nationalistic identity.  They are all political tools perpetuated by myth and manipulated by the elite for gains you will never see.

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