Orientalism was a political vision of reality that stimulated the differences between Occident, the West, whom they refer to as “us” and the Orient, the East, whom they referred to as “them”.

Orientalists define themselves always in comparison to the Eastern world; declaring them nondemocratic, uncivilized, and primordial. They had always distorted the image of Eastern societies and forged misconceptions by portraying them as filthy and low-minded creatures.

Antonio Gramsci claims that capitalist states ruled through force plus consent and civil society is the realm of consent. For Foucault, power and knowledge are not seen as autonomous entities but are inextricably related. Knowledge is always an exercise of power and power is a function of knowledge. So in this way, the consent of civil society is orchestrated by imparting biased knowledge; thence subjugated. These Orientalists treated Eastern people as mere objects and enforced their wills upon them.

Edward Said laid more emphasis by citing Karl Marx wherein he quoted that, “They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented”. In this way, the occident paved way for the seizure of Eastern societies and championed the cause of resurrecting their ways of living. Anyhow, Marxist Comrades criticized Said for citing Marx out of context to a greater extent; because to them, how can Marx be on the side of oppressors yet advocating the oppressed rights?

Additionally, why did the Occidentals adopt this strategy to detriment the Eastern people? Said while responding to this question elucidates the possible outcomes: Firstly, the Occidentals to oppress the Orientals and to undermine them forever; they in this way should never think of superseding the West. Secondly, understanding them so that to exploit them easily and coerce them to obey our orders. Edward Said pointed to the later cause and rendered it fit for this orientalist approach. Said even speculated that Napoleon used Islam as a tool to subjugate the Egyptian societies; only working for them.

Moreover, if they contemplated only Islam as a threat, then why did they even access the other non-Muslim territories? They simply carried out divide and rule policy to get command over their languages to interpret them in their very own way. Now after encountering countless setbacks, the Eastern people are no more capable to adopt Western ideas. They became incredibly obsessed with their neocolonial techniques which led to the evolution of fundamentalism in Orientalist societies.

  • Saad Shakil did his graduation (BA Honours) in Political Science from Government College University Lahore back in 2020. Currently, he is working as visiting lecturer in Government Degree College. Moreover, he is preparing for upcoming CSS exams.

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