Decolonizing Democracy in Time

Democracy as a conundrum of colonialism has been re-articulated in various historical contexts. In the 19th century, French poet Arthur Rimbaud writes: “Let’s drink to sodden and spicy places! –that promote the most monstrous industrial or military exploitation.”*1  His poem “Démocratie,” and especially its title, was an attempt to condemn an atrocity committed in the people’s name when it was actually masking “a genuinely bourgeois regime,” and the inauguration of colonial power.*2 In the contemporary context of India as a postcolonial nation-state, Partha Chatterjee, the eminent scholar of the Subaltern Studies Group, argues, “The framework of global modernity will,…inevitably structure the world according to a pattern that is profoundly colonial; the framework of democracy, on the other hand, will pronounce modernity itself as inappropriate and deeply flawed.”*3 Looking at the democratic movements in Taiwan after the lifting of martial law, the leading intellectual figure Kuan-Hsing Chen proposes a “de-Cold War” schema, in which he argues that these democratic movements are the cultural results of Taiwan’s engagement with American imperialism, which was characterized by its right-leaning, anticommunist tendencies and pro-American agenda.*4 The origin of democracy, as examined by Jacques Rancière, also was constituted upon “a nature order of things according to which assemblies of” those, who are entitled to exercise their governing power over those who has been categorized as governed.*5 Whether or not Taiwan’s Sunflower Student Movement, which occurred from March to April 2014, could be claimed successful as the defeat of the pro-unification Kuomintang and the overwhelming disillusionment with the current ruling party, the People’s Progressive Party, the romanticized discourse of democratic movements inevitably lost its relevance, as evidenced especially by the ideological violence of populism and the gradually carnivalized mass mobilizations in the era of the collapsing welfare state. Having in mind Antonio Gramsci’s proposal for countering hegemony, … Continue reading Decolonizing Democracy in Time