The book begins with “The Discovery of the New World.” In this first chapter, Ton Lemaire (TL) describes how Western humanity in the Renaissance viewed (possible) distant lands and the travel to them. He explores how the first images of American nature and culture reached us through Columbus’s discoveries and the influence (or aftermath) of his ethnocentrism on our “collective consciousness.” The discovery of the New World as an ideological revolution, i.e., the eve of expansion, exploitation, oppression, and extermination.

In the second chapter, “The Native American in the Renaissance,” TL narrates the so-called legitimacy of the conquest of the New World: Europe in America based on Christian conscience (Utopia). The missions in exchange for labor and exploitation. Civilization as the ultimate goal to be achieved for Native Americans. “The savages who had to be transformed into second-class whites; colonization all around.” TL also describes two important role models for the West: Las Casas and Montaigne, who advocated early anti-colonialism.

In the third chapter, “The Native American since the Renaissance,” the focus is on the influence of the Western image of Indians on Western scientific, cultural, societal, and philosophical movements, as well as their explicit representatives. TL examines what this influence meant for world history but also what this world history meant for the Native Americans. Lastly, TL compares both periods of consciousness and wonders if modern Western civilization can still open itself up to Native America.

Have both renaissances merged into a great underlying melting pot of hatred and enmity based on superficial characteristics? In other words, is it an irreversible process where sincerity can no longer play a role? Are there still enough people who believe in a manageable society? What is done cannot be undone, but perhaps our shared past and current knowledge (and its use) will someday lead to a more peaceful future: “Armageddon – when the righteous rise up and beat down the wicked” (KRS-ONE / Boogie Down Productions), where race, color, and spiritual belief will not play a role.

Note: Generalizing in terms of THE (collective) Native American and THE (collective) white man, etc., may enhance the clarity of this story, but the subject loses strength if I fail to acknowledge this note, i.e., “deviating individuals”; the aforementioned types of people do not exist.

Anyone who reads the fourth and final chapter “Native American Renaissance”, will find it difficult to avoid identification with our own (current) continent and the integration problems faced by different population groups. The geographical history may be completely different, but the core problem remains: different groups of people with different cultural backgrounds trying to form a (harmonious) culture based on those differences, without resorting to any form of segregation. The matter of an Native American consciousness among Native Americans in a “Europeanized” society, the search for a balance between the present and the past, between nostalgia and progressiveness, between human and human, seems to have the same problematic nature.

In the first part, TL arrives at the concept of “indigenism” through the Mexican Revolution: the designation of theoretical and practical activities relating to the relationship between the national society and the indigenous population groups. This indigenism has played a certain role in almost every Latin American country since the previous century. Mexico has taken on the leadership role in this regard and is, in my opinion, a source of inspiration and knowledge for Western political and other types of society reformers.

Unlike Western anthropology, for example, Latin American anthropology maintained close ties with indigenism. Anthropology became applied anthropology, which in practice meant helping indigenous groups integrate into the national state. It goes without saying that this led to a strange and ironic relationship with the indigenous past. The (already given) response to this indigenism seems obvious, but it remains an interesting aspect for Western issues: critical indigenism.

Like all critical movements, this movement begins with a radical attack on established indigenism-anthropology, which it critically exposes as a scientific reflex of internal colonialism.

Regarding Europe, one could argue that there is also a kind of internal colonialism, emanating from the dominant society towards the subjugated groups, where the identity of the latter is partially lost. Although it does not concern oppressed indigenous populations, but disadvantaged {immigrant} population groups. Is there really that much difference? Apart from the differences in geographical history, there is at least one common factor: the white man. He either seized the land or took the inhabitants to his own country.

Of course, there are also groups that have obtained their current existence in Europe through other means, and seeking justice based on contemporary inequality seems like a better starting point for today’s problems. However, history cannot be seen separately from the material, and due to its poor or unfair use, fair use is now necessary to provide the basis for reforms in a modern and just manner. Some may label this as a naive approach, but “No one is free until everyone is free” seems to me like a universal statement that, once realized (in terms of inequality persisting, but not in terms of innate characteristics), could potentially resolve many problems.

What I mean to ask here is whether the (economic) world, divided into competing teams, yields more than a hypothetical large universal team aligned with each other and therefore relative universal economic equality. Maybe there should be a few teams (Europe ’92 is a good step if it ultimately proves to be a good sponsor for good causes), maybe there should be many teams, whatever; as long as the benefits and so on are fairly distributed. For example, leaving Africa as it is – I am convinced – will ultimately work to the disadvantage of other parts of the world. And what are all those constructive steps meant for, if not for future generations?

The problems that disappear will in turn make way for other problems, but I am confident that they will rely less on the dark side of Western existence. Moreover, this dark side will no longer be maintained, and Europeans will be able to quell their guilt over time. “But nature is just as cruel” is often the counter-argument; in nature, there is also no mercy based on rules and systems. I argue that humans are considered higher beings for a reason, and it is more or less everyone’s task not to indulge in hateful emotions that turn us into each other’s enemies. (This is the point at which I wonder if I am positioning myself as an outdated Marxist, etc., but oh well…)

This pretentious advice applies naturally exclusively to the power-hungry individuals at the top of existence. Native Americans, Africans, and others still benefit from a certain amount of hatred towards the West, simply to prevent their identity from being further trampled upon. However, ultimately they too will have to accept the higher within themselves and free the world from hate, which can be called a universal human feeling and is often the only evil driving force behind technology, power, etc.

Ironically enough, I also understand that nothing will change for anyone in the short term if we were to approach the present with a utopian theory like the one above. The prevailing system forces certain groups to defend themselves using the same means (with all the subsequent reactions).

I do recognize a valid counter-argument to the above in statements about natural opposites, such as: for every Jesus, there must be a Judas; high-low, fat-thin, poor-rich. In other words, life is incomplete without contradictions.

But then, as a human, what should one strive for to keep the world running? More money, multiple killings? Being more open to other cultures, then. Understanding others is understanding oneself, it is wisdom, and that will come in handy when resolving the many problems between different peoples.
The statement “God is red” by Deloria immediately makes me think of the American black organizations Nation of Islam and the Five Percent Nation, which claim that God is black. “Jesus Christ was black” as conveyed by hardcore hip-hop groups inspired by these movements, such as Boogie Down Productions (BDP). And why not? If there is a God, in my opinion, it is a kind of power that resides within oneself, and you do not give it a name, but if you were to imagine it, it would be more logical that it resembles you, or nothing at all, or everything; otherwise, it doesn’t work.

In other words, I believe that recognition in matters like these is of the utmost importance and not difficult to accept. Another quote from BDP is: “If you know who you really are, peace and knowledge shine like a star” (…), in other words, people or groups of people must first be themselves before they can accept a multicultural society. After all, such a society can only exist based on respect for each other, and I believe respect is achieved by understanding each other and oneself.

Respect, therefore, is the magic word that was lacking during the initial encounters with others. We already lacked respect for Native Americans (in their own land) back then, and respect for foreigners in our own country or continent seems to be fading rather than growing. Are we truly the supposed devils of this world? Fortunately and unfortunately at the same time, the exceptions confirm the rule. The typically Western “Go for self” is the prevailing mentality that now permeates all groups (I can’t blame them, but I’m not really happy about it either); it seems to be an unbreakable cycle, the pinnacle of the current system. If, in the end, TL wonders who actually possesses the Native American consciousness, in our opinion, it is no one more or less than the universal human. This long-distance thought will hopefully prove to be very useful in the short term.

P.S. I am aware that the book is from 1986, and also that my anticipation of it is a classical one. (I have to start somewhere.) PEACE!

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