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Anti-colonial Resistance

Halfway around the world Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) was developing his own ideas of resistance. Arriving at conclusions similar to Burke and Arnold, he stood these conservative notions on their head in opposing British colonial rule. Central to Gandhi's political philosophy was the idea of satyagraha. In Sanskrit this means "insistence on the truth"; Gandhi, however, also used the word to denote "civil resistance." This was a logical translation for him. Insisting on the truth in an India under foreign rule meant resisting the imposition of that rule, for as long as India labored under colonial guns and culture, she would have a false idea of herself. It was this false idea: that English culture comprised the "best that has ever been thought and said," that one needed to be violent like one's oppressors, that needed to be resisted more fiercely than even the British themselves. To be free of European bodies on Indian soil was one thing, to be free of their ideas, their prejudices, and their technology, was another. As Gandhi rhetorically asks in an early pamphlet Hind Swaraj (1910), "Why do you forget that our adoption of their civilization makes their presence at all possible?" (p. 75). As with Arnold, insistence on the truth meant cultivating a resistant culture that could rise above the world of the West and act as a guide to a truly home-ruled India. And like Burke, tradition offered a resource for this resistant culture. Gandhi counseled breaking India's economic dependence on Britain by khaddar, a return to the hand looming of cloth, and looked to non-Westernized, rural India for political and spiritual models.

Radical resistance, defined in part as the rejection of foreign cultures and the celebration of indigenous traditions, winds its way through the twentieth century, as European colonies in Africa and Asia were swept away by struggles of national liberation. This strain of resistance makes its way back to the metropole in the words of those finding parallels between their own struggles and anticolonialism. A key point of identification was the fight against internalized oppression, what the Algerian writer and activist Albert Memmi (b. 1920) referred to as the colonizer within (1965). In 1970 the American group, Radicalesbians, issued a manifesto calling for "The Woman-Identified Woman." "[W]hat is crucial" they write, "is that women begin disengaging themselves from male defined response patterns.… For irrespective of where our love and sexual energies flow, if we are male-identified in our heads, we cannot realize our autonomy as human beings." "Only women," they conclude, "can give to each other a new sense of self."

These final words were picked up and developed by the radical black women of the Combahee River Collective, who asserted in 1977, "We believe that the most profound and potentially radical politics come directly out of our identity," setting the stage for an "identity politics" that argued for resistance based within and upon the unique experiences of a person's ethnicity, gender, or sexual identity (p. 272).

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Reason to RetrovirusResistance - Conservative Roots, Anti-colonial Resistance, Totality, Cultural Resistance, Resistance Refuted And Reimagined