Asia, inter-Asia, and movement: decolonization into the future
In 1997, soon after we, a group of activist-intellectuals, started the People’s Plan Study Group (PPSG) in Tokyo, Chen Kuan-Hsing visited us and we set up for him a small workshop where he broached his initial idea about his inter-Asia project. I located the transcript of his input in an old issue, actually No. 2, of the PPSG periodical. I have read it again with some nostalgia and excitement.
Of several interesting points Kuan-Hsing made in the lecture, two impressed me at that time. Re-reading it ten years later, they tell me more than they did before. First, he said the current situation should not be seen as post-colonial. When we talk about colonization, he observed, we should include in it domination, exploitation, and suppression exercised on the basis of our identification with the West, an identification which, he thought, continued.
The other point he emphatically made was about critical syncretism that would allow us to pluralize the object so that we could get loose from the structure that determines our relationship with it. In other words, we need to positively try to become other. Unlike hybridity, critical syncretism means active mutual intervention. It is an antidote to identity politics of various strands. “We talk about ourselves. You talk about yourself. You should not talk about us.” This is identity politics. Acting on it, he said, labor activists had failed to critique patriarchy and first generation feminists to critique heterosexism.
Muto Ichiyo is theco-president of the People’s Plan Study Group in Tokyo.