Hannah Arendt and Albert Memmi on Imperialism and Racism
Even the brief analysis of how Arendt and Memmi discuss the relationship between racism and imperialism points out the fact that authors’ ideas, in regards to the discussed subject matter, are being essentially the same. After all, both authors never cease exposing the evilness of imperialism and racism while positioning themselves on the side of those that they consider ‘oppressed.’ Nevertheless, despite the fact that Arendt and Memmi refer to White racism as something inheritably wicked, the manner in which they discuss the effects of Western imperialism onto local populations in the Third World subtly implies that Western traditional racialist worldview might not be quite as conceptually fallacious as they would like readers to believe.
The reason for this is simple – whereas; Arendt’s line of argumentation is best described as being thoroughly rationalistic, the manner in which Memmi articulates his arguments is best described as being rather emotionally charged. And, there can be only one explanation to this – despite her criticism of Western imperialism, Arendt never ceased being Westerner in the psychological sense of this word. On the other hand, Memmi talks about Western civilization’s ‘evilness’ as a ‘thing in itself,’ which in its turn can be explained by the particulars of the author’s ethnic affiliation. Hence, the methodological differences in how both authors discuss imperialism/racism. Whereas Arendt implies that 19th-20th centuries’ European imperialism should be thought of as something that had been dialectically predetermined by the laws of history, Memmi assesses the subject matter from rather an irrational perspective – according to the author, the foremost reason why White colonizers were proceeding with their imperialistic agenda, is that they lacked ‘spirituality.’ In its turn, this brings Memmi to conclude that it is namely by exploring their native spirituality and religion that oppressed populations would be able to attain liberation.