Sunday, September 02, 2007

135] In search of a new Malay mind

In search of a new Malay mind
Azly Rahman
Aug 21, 07 11:49am

The decision by Umno to create the "Hulubalang Umno" class interests me. It asks us the question of reason and revolution in the rise and fall of nations and how combative must politics continue to be. I have some thoughts on the kind of mindset to be created.

In an age wherein the neuroscientist and bio-semioticians talk about "brain gain", "the global mind", "brain power industries", and "the need for renaissance thinking" must the Malays emulate the thinking of the Arabs, the Jews, the Chinese, the Japanese, the European, the French, or the American?

Or should they go back to the drawing board of conjuring what is good, progressive, rationalistic, and ethical from all these "peoples" and turn this new model of the "Malay mind" so that it will become a powerful synthesis of outlooks that will help the Malays evolve gracefully for a thousand years to come? How might this model be fluid enough to help the Malays work together with other ethnic groups in Malaysia in a peaceful and collaborative manner so that the wealth of this nation can be shared equitably?

The Malays must not continue to be known as a people whose only tool of social change is the keris and amuck. They have never wanted to be known as such a people.[Photo] [Photo]The Malay mind has more exciting, stimulating, and positive neurons that are eager to developed and to be made into neural connections that would make the Malays become known as a nation of philosopher-rulers rather than the "hulubalang class of gung-ho soldiers of fortune" proud to be "yes men and women" and always ready to follow orders however questionable and unethical they are.

The Malays have been for centuries colonised by the mental model created out of the feudal mode of production; a mode that continues to perfect itself from the age of the Malay rulers to this age of neo-feudalism characterised by the cybernetic frame of consciousness. In all the stages of growth, the interplay between culture and technology has shaped the kind of thinking that either enables or disables the creativity of the Malays.

Top down reform and "mental revolutions" versus "bottom up" grassroots movement in the revolution of consciousness has characterised the push and pull factor and the thesis/anti-thesis character of the evolution of the Malay mind. Much of the evolution has been dictated by the political-economic elites over successive generations; the evolution facilitated by institutions of power relations that shaped ideology and inscriptions of the Malay psyche.

Mental model

The Malays need to find a mental model of how they should think and be able to ride the wave of globalisation. They must become the subject of this new mental revolution and not merely become objects of consciousness to be manipulated and indoctrinated by those who own the means to control others. They must evolve gracefully and synthesise the elements of "best practices" in formulating a worldview that is going to take them to newer heights.

Even Arjuna, an embodiment of the Kshatriya gets to ask questions to Krishna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. The dialogue on whether to go to battle against one's family members in the name of dharma or higher goals attest to the need even for the warrior or "hulubalang" to think hard on the issues of ethics and pragmatics in the face of possible destruction.

There is a need for a pragmatic-philosopher class to be created among the Malays. The class can be created out of a bricolage of multiculturalist thinking. The Malays need to create the "gentleman class" of thinkers able to not only become guardians of culture and deconstructionists of their worldview as well. They need to create radical, world-wise multiculturalists amongst their best and brightest; a class that is less ultra-nationalistic and parochial but more cosmopolitan and universalistic and socialistic in outlook.

In Confucionist thought, the scholars or the "jen" or the gentlemen class sits at the pedestal of Chinese society. The Malays can learn from the need to train the mind in the rigours of the Classics as in The Analects or the Taoist text of I Ching and to reflect upon the fate of society and on good ethical govenace.

Again, there is no need to create a "hulubalang" class. The ethos of "Hang Tuah" is no longer suitable to be embodied by the Malays nor the "spirit of Hang Tuah" to be further refined to be used as a mental construction of the neo-feudalistic Malay mind.

How do we create this new Malay mind – out of the ruins of a dying ultra-nationalist Malay ideology no longer in sync with the principles and progress of neuroscience in the age of deconstructionism brought about by high-speed Internet access and nano-technology?

We need to go back to the drawing board or possibly rewrite the history of the Malays.

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