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“Discourses on Colonization” by Aime Cesaire Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Jan 25th, 2021

The origin of Aime Cesaire

Aime Cesaire is the author of Discourses on Colonization, which is a book that has been translated by Joan Pinkham. Cesaire, who is an author, politician, and poet, comes from Martinique, France. He lived between 1913 and 2008.

The effect of colonization on the colonizer

Propagators of colonization sought to amass other nations’ wealth to quench their own individualistic gains (Katz 41). Cesaire asserts that people who propagate colonization site hypocritical reasons. Cesaire says, “It takes refuge in hypocrisy” (1). For example, he says the goal of Europe is to deliver good to the colonizers at the expense of the resources of the colonized class; Cesaire maintains that it only serves to decivilize the colonizers. It makes them appear brutal, immoral and characterized by racial hatred (Bradford 354). These attributes only serve to degrade their character.

Human values coming from colonization

Quoting from various religious writers such as Muller, Cesaire claims that such writers are convinced that colonization ensures that resources are not left in the hands of incompetent, ignorant, and lazy people who cannot convert them into a form that can benefit all people as God intended the situation to appear (Heller 10). Therefore, colonization is equivalent to a civilization. It enhances better resource distribution. However, Cesaire does not believe that colonization has any human value. This position is clear when he asserts, “out of all the memoranda that have been dispatched by all the ministries, there could not come a single human value” (Cesaire 2). He claims that the only room that exists between the colonized lot and the colonizers is for terrorization, augmented policing, abuse, construction of disdain traditions, strained effort, and corrupted masses. For instance, he cites the rampant issues of rape, mass killings, and torture in France, Madagascar, and Vietnam, which only deprive human beings of their value.

Writers quoted for proving the arguments

While supporting his claims, Cesaire quotes from philosophical, selections, religious people, and political writers. For instance, quoting Joseph de Maistre, Cesaire proves that colonialism represents the re-emergence of selections ideologies (9). He quotes from the work of Mill, who is a scientist who also believes in racial superiority, cultivation of a positive racial self-image, and the need for enhancing domination of one race over others (Ojo-Ade 23). Fact, a political author, shares the perception, “After all, civilization has never yet been made except by Whites” (Cesaire 10), which is contrary to Cesaire’s opinion. For instance, Cesaire refutes this assertion by quoting the philosophical work of Descartes, who saw differences among members of the same species as accidental rather than natural in their form. Hence, the Whites who are the colonizers are shoddier than Negros, Indochina people, Africans, and the colonized lot in general.

Cesaire’s opinion on Hitler/Hitlerisms

Cesaire considers Hitler the worst violator of human rights and a colonizer of minds who was at least not a hypocrite in the exploration of his discourses, unlike the Europeans or the US barbaric colonizers. For instance, Europe has gone to the extent of “undermining civilizations, destroying countries, and ruining nationalities” (Cesaire 23). He confirms that the present European brutality has become extensive. However, he retaliates that he is not discussing Hitler or even a reformatory security officer. Rather, he refers to a ‘civilized fellow’ who conducts himself or herself as a reputable bourgeois (Cesaire 8). He gives an example of Hitler, who led to an immense pouring of blood in the quest to advance bigotry and racial superiority (Phayer 105) that Cesaire describes as Hitlerist discourses that were evident during Europeanization.

The element of Cesaire’s writing that helps to emphasize his argument

Cesaire’s work is rich in thoughts and historical experiences of the colonized people. It draws its arguments from many schools of thought, such as communism. “Communistic materialism…threatens to turn the Negroes into “moral vagabonds” (Cesaire 12). It reveals the dangers of imperialism and capitalism as propagated by colonialists (Cesaire 17). For instance, through capitalism, more policing becomes necessary, implying that communalism is perhaps a better way of sharing resources, which in turn enhanced security.

Works Cited

Bradford, Helen. “Women, Gender and Colonialism: Rethinking the History of the British Cape Colony and Its Frontier Zones, c. 1806–70.” Journal of African History 3.7(1996): 351–370. Print.

Cesaire, Aime. Discourses on Colonization. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press, 1979. Print.

Heller, Ben. “Césaire, Aimé.” Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean Literature, 1900-2003. Daniel Balderston et al. (eds.) London: Routledge, 1998. Print.

Katz, Reynolds. The Battle for Rome: The Germans, the Allies, the Partisans, and the Pope, September 1943 – June 1944. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Print.

Ojo-Ade, Femi. Aimé Césaire’s African Theater: Of poets, prophets, and politicians. New Jersey, NJ: Africa World Press, Inc., 2010. Print.

Phayer, Martin. Pius XII, The Holocaust, and the Cold War. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2008. Print.

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