The Reincarnation Of History

Despite witnessing so much horror during the two World Wars and after, the modern world is once again letting an unparalleled crime take place

The Reincarnation Of History

The world is quite aware of the historic brutality, oppression, and dispossession that European colonialists perpetrated against those they deemed lesser humans. From the colonial plantations of slavery where black bodies were eviscerated and dehumanised to the inglorious famine of Bengal, all the atrocities carried the implicit excuse that the Europeans were more civilised than the savages of their colonies, which they themselves were savagely exploiting and dispossessing. However, it was the Europeans who had thrown off the garb of humanity by inhumanely destroying the indigenous nations they colonised.

William Faulkner rightly said that “the past is never dead; it’s not even past.” The past is never disconnected from the present: its reincarnation occurs persistently in the present. The recent conflict in Gaza is a testament to the reincarnation of history. With the modern world witnessing so much horror during the two World Wars and after them, it is once again letting an unparalleled horror take place.

Gaza has been a colonial plantation for decades under the colonial occupation of Israel. The occupying power has closely monitored and lashed the population of Gaza with extreme violence and brutality. It has denied the humanity of the subjugated population of Gaza, just as European colonialists had stripped off their colonised populations of humanity.

However, the emboldened Zionist state is not alone in its atrocities. The Western world is actively offering diplomatic and material support while covering up its crimes through their mainstream corporate media. Nothing stops them from withdrawing their support: not the UN, not the ICJ, nor the majority of the world, which is appalled at the brazen genocide of an entire population. 

There is a reason that the West is unconditionally supporting the Zionist regime: it is a cleansing operation in line with Western colonial legacy

The West is well aware that they are losing the war of narratives at home and abroad, yet with every passing moment, their involvement is getting deeper. The reason for this involvement is beyond understanding. While they appear to be irrational, western governments, their elites and academia are not idiotic. They are very ingenuous in their calculations: they must know the price they are paying and the prospective benefits they might reap.

To any sane human being, the benefits from the mass slaughter would appear ridiculous and irrational. However, there is a ‘method in the madness’. At every stage of human civilisation, humanity has tried to define itself; and in its attempt to define itself, it has excluded some part of itself. This exclusion has always been premised on the scale of difference. Those of a different race, colour, creed, class or gender have oft fallen under the axe of brutality. These ‘different’ human beings have been deemed as sick and unhealthy populations of the herd, which must be culled in order to preserve the healthy lot. They are seen as a threat to the survival of the healthiest. Therefore, they have been carefully and methodically relegated to subhuman status. Historically, women, slaves, and non-westerners have been disqualified from the status of humanity, and they bore the brunt of being subhuman for generations.

There is a reason why the West is unconditionally supporting the Zionist regime: it is carrying out the colonial and imperial project of removing the weak Palestinians from the ambit of humanity. It is a cleansing operation in line with the perpetuation of the Western colonial legacy. This is perhaps why the West is sticking with Israel; otherwise, they would have parted ways long ago after seeing the unprecedented crimes it has been committing. 

The ongoing conflict in Gaza is a remnant of the supremacist ideology attempting to keep the West’s imperial hegemony intact

The concepts of human rights, justice, and equality that the West floats as universal are, in fact, not universal. They are exclusive to those who conform to the universal values of the West. ‘Be us, or get out of the way’ is the rule. That is what is happening today in Gaza. All the hypocrisy and double standards are naked as never before. It is not far off to say that the current crisis is a remnant of the supremacist ideology attempting to keep intact the imperial hegemony of the West.

One wonders, why does history reincarnate? Is history a bad teacher, or are human beings the foolish students who fail to learn their lessons? These are questions with no simple answers. However, one thing is certain: we never learn from history. It repeats itself in its most atrocious forms. Perhaps that is why Faulkner refers to the past as a ghostly figure that always lurks and reincarnates in terrifying ways around us. It reappears and disappears, giving us chilling nightmares.

James Joyce, Faulkner’s contemporary who also saw the horrors of the First World War, said that “history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”. The war in Gaza is a nightmare from which the world is trying to awaken. However, the ongoing nightmare has numbed the senses of the world so much that I fear that once they have awoken, there might be no Gaza at all. The wholesale slaughter of the discounted Gazans would have reached its culmination, and then humanity would wait for another round of slaughter to knock at the door. Thus, the cycle of history marches relentlessly on the path of destruction.

The author is an M.Phil. Scholar in English Literature at GC University, Lahore.