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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

106] Malay matrix awaits its messiah

Malay matrix awaits its messiah
Azly Rahman
Feb 5, 07 11:40am

The world within
The world outside
Uniting in one
- W S Rendra, poet of peace

Kenalilah diri mu rata rata
Nescaya akan kau kenal Tuhan yang nyata
- an old Malay saying

What would the Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud say about "Ketuanan Melayu" or "psychologically-constructed Malay superiority? How will race-based political parties dissipate through the sands of time, dragged into the abyss by the undercurrent of corruption?

How will its own leaders contribute to its demise – through a perang agung (great war) that is fought over money and power and a lethal combination of both? How is the poor Malay and non-Malay on the street spectaroring this war of the Malay rakshashas?

How is this notion of superiority a mental plague that is permeating even the Malay youth of tomorrow?

Do all Malays subscribe to this notion of ethnocentrism? What would Islam, promoter of universal human values, peace, and tolerance - and other religions as well say about a concept of blind nationalism such as "ketuanan Melayu"?

Must a rebirth of the Malays be engineered? Of a neo-Malay as the movie The Matrix might suggest?

Searching for meaning

Malays are now frantically searching for a traditional cure for this debilitating disease which is spreading; a disease contracted from a wrong prescription of economic progress that became a lethal combination of materialism and blind nationalism. If one believes the notion of the cultural contradiction of capitalism and the rearing of the ugly head of the ethos of immoral capital accumulation, one can understand the current dilemma in the leadership of Umno.

Umno - acronymed from "United" "Malays" "National" "Organisation"" - is none of those. It is neither united, nor consists of pure Malays, nor a national entity, nor is it securely organised. It is e pluribus unum (plurality in unity) that has gone haywire and fragmenting all over the place - as a result of infightings amongst its little Napoleans.

The tie that binds it is the Epicureanism of power and money. It is the lavish use of public funds that is maintaining this structure of ephemerality. It is the continuation of patronage politics of "my-way or the highway" that is propelling the direction of this ideology.

It is the rampant and unethical use of the sate ideological apparatuses that is maintaining the structure of hegemony through the covert or overt display of authoritarianism and totalitarianism. It is the massacring of the creativity and critical sensibility of the Malay university students and academics themselves that is speeding up the spread of this "social cancer" as the great Filipino revolutioner Jose Rizal would call it.

It is the production of Mat and Minah Rempits, of bohsias, bohjans, Black Metallists, Malay gangsta rappers, Malay skinheads and "Aryan nation-wannabes", drug-abusers, foul-mouthed youth gangs, corrupt-to-the-core-untouchable politicians and many other symptoms of this debilitating illness that is at issue in the development of our own "cultural logic of late Malay capitalism", borrowing the words of the American literary critic and humanist Frederic Jameson.

Umno "then, now, and forever" are three different "yugas" as the Hindus would say of the eons of time that encapsulate its existence. Its ‘future’ is now. Its ‘then’ is lost forever.

In the past, when teachers/civil rights leaders ran Umno, the party flourished with ethics. School teachers, whether in Vietnam, Algeria, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Nicaragua or El Salvador have been altruistic individuals who subvert totalitarianism during independence movements. A teacher's das capital is "cultural continuation", not "wealth accumulation".

Teacher narratives documenting the Kirby-Brinsford era in British Malaya illustrate the fascinating commitment to Malayan radical multiculturalism of the movement against colonial rule. Teachers of all races hold ethics, intellectualism, and humility close to their hearts, in their struggle against foreign domination. Racial and religious tolerance were at a better level then – until the creation of the New Economic Policy and the discovery of its lucrative dimensions.

When technocrats and businessmen ran the party, the illusion of harmony was created – behind it was the charting of future ruins. In the future the party might no longer exist. It is running its course. Nothing lasts forever - not even the earth and sky, a Hopi Indian chief would tell us.

Politics no longer means public service. It is now about private interest through the appropriation of public goods. Getting elected through the promise made to the public means buying a ticket to unlimited public funds. Robber-baron philosophy of politics rule. Interlocking directorateship and controlling interest become the nature of today's fashion of public service.

As we approach the general elections, how will investment bankers, currency traders, and Free Trade Area local opportunists run the nation then, if they secure power? Will we finally be ushered into the Age of Mass Consumption?, as Kennedy-era free enterprise economist Walt Rostow would say. Or will we be doomed like the many nations relegated to become slaves in the sophisticated global system of legalised slavery; our enslavement facilitated by our own elected representatives?

Without ideology

But what is the once benevolent and ethical Umno - this party without ideology - resting upon? But wait a minute - a party without an ideology? PAS has one. DAP has one. PKR has one. Even Parti Sosialis Malaysia has one. These parties produce statements of utopia, the current state of Umno and other race-based parties are producing statements of myopia.

I allude to analysts such as John Funston, Milner and Mauzy, Leonard and Barbara Andaya, and Harry Benda or even Benedict Anderson who would say that Umno lives and breathes on the loose rhetoric of "Ketuanan Melayu"/dominance of the Malays – that notion of an "imagined community". But what is the psychological interpretation and political-economic dimension of this notion of Malay hegemony?

What would Freud say? If all our race-based political parties are to be laid down on a couch and psychoanalysed by Freud we will have an interesting diagnosis.

It is libido that rules the actions of men and women in politics. It is the "Id" (or the primal energy/primitive instinct) that is creating our latently manifested desire to acquire power and wealth and to construct what many German critical theorists such as Max Horkheimer would call our "authoritarian self". When a society loses the power to reason, fails to philosophize, and its powerful members uses force against the powerless ones, it will be ruined.

It is the Elektra complex of our desire to be in love with the feminine aspect of materialism and to adorn ourselves with wealth that is insatiably feeding our corrupt selves. It is the jealousness of not being able to become traditional and divinely-sanctioned kings and queens that is making our politicians live like the monarchs.

It is the Oedipal Complex of our desire to feed our masculine instincts – the Machiavelli in us - that is contributing to the accumulation of wealth to further our brutish intentions in dominating people, things, places and events around us.

Our elected leaders are feeding their artificial needs and insatiable wants, of succumbing to their repressive instincts to be like and to become ancient traditional rulers, using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal. Hence, we see even our local chieftains building palaces or istana and other structures of ideological and economic control that alienate the poor of all races.

Our politics need to develop the "Super Ego" within – as the noblest factor - to balance the inner repression and the bloated ego we construct out of the myth, superstition and selected narratives of power and ideology that define us as "historical beings."

Legacy of ethnocentrism

Youth political parties are continuing the legacy of racism and hate. All derivatives of the post-1955 National Alliance have evolved into sophisticated ethnicising of organising themselves politically. Racism and ethnocentrism have an economic basis. The inner repression is a result of unmet spiritual and materialistic needs. It is a result of poor understanding of the contradiction between communalism and cosmopolitanism in political thinking. The root is in the self – a self that wants more than its fair share. The self must revolt against the inner forces that are contributing to this form of depression. The fire within must be tamed and channeled to peaceful purposes.

These are what Freud or even Marx would agree as an analysis of the predicament on race relations we are now in.

Youth parties that capitalise on these forms of inner repressions must be dissolved to make way for progressive youth movements to take shape. One generation after the next we see race-based youth parties using outdated arguments on race and racial superiority.

Our youth parties are still too juvenile to be initiated into the complex world of Malaysian politics; a world that requires peaceful solutions to political-economic problems.

I invite readers to do more counter-diagnoses of this notion of "Ketuanan Melayu" – so that we may together find a traditional and spiritual cure for this debilitating condition.

The Malays are waiting for a rebirth. But who will be their midwife? A neo-Malay the messiah we await.

1 comment:

mokumanamana Jr said...

"It is the production of Mat and Minah Rempits, of bohsias, bohjans, Black Metallists, Malay gangsta rappers, Malay skinheads and "Aryan nation-wannabes", drug-abusers, foul-mouthed youth gangs, corrupt-to-the-core-untouchable politicians and many other symptoms of this debilitating illness that is at issue in the development of our own "cultural logic of late Malay capitalism", " --- I'm thinking and having the suspicion that all these decay and rotting of the Malay people en masse are done systematically and constructively by an invisible hand to achieve a one agenda?

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