What can we learn through cross-horizon encounter, that is, through personal encounter with the social movements formed by the peoples of the Third World? (See “What is cross-horizon encounter?” July 26, 2013).
Given the importance of colonialism and neocolonialism in Third World experience, we will discover such questions as: What was the role of colonialism in establishing the world system and its structures of domination and inequality? What changes were made in the world-system in response to the anti-colonial movements? What is neocolonialism, and what are its characteristics? What role do neocolonial structures play in the preservation of global inequalities? How do the neocolonized peoples react to neocolonialism? As we respond to these questions, we will arrive at an understanding of the structures of colonialism and neocolonialism, including their importance in the development and maintenance of the modern world system, and we will come to appreciate the significance of Third World anti-colonial and anti-neocolonial movements.
Thus cross-horizon encounter enables us to overcome what I call the “colonial denial,” by which I mean the tendency to overlook the significance of colonialism and neocolonialism in shaping global inequalities and political conflicts. The colonial denial pervades the cultures of the countries of the North.
We manage to accomplish the colonial denial in various ways. The consumer societies of the North are characterized by lack of patience with intellectual work of any kind, including the study of history. So we are not accustomed to thinking of the unfolding of current events in their historical context. This tendency is reinforced by the news media, which presents conflicts in a superficial form, without sufficient effort to explain their historical development.
According to structural-functional theories of society, serious study of social problems and issues should occur in higher education. But in colleges and universities, the study of the social world is divided into the disciplines of sociology, political science, economics, international relations, anthropology, history, and philosophy. This organization of higher education was designed to ensure that the people would come to understand very little. It emerged in reaction to the threats posed by Marx’s analysis of the historical development of the political-economic systems of the world and by Lenin’s updating of Marx with his penetrating analysis of imperialism as a more advanced phase of capitalism. The organization of knowledge of society in higher education retards the development of understanding, but it makes sense if the goal is to have an uninformed population that can be manipulated by elites.
The peoples of the Third World have been in movement for 200 years, seeking to create a just and democratic world. The Third World movements have developed an understanding of the dynamics of colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism. Drawing upon what they can teach us, we will in subsequent posts engage in colonial analysis, which is the opposite of colonial denial.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, Lonergan, cognitional theory, epistemology, philosophy