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Sakmongkol ak 47

Monday 15 September 2008

Philosophical Interlude

The Malay spirit.

I am currently reading a book. It is titled The spirit of India. It is written by Ramin Jahanbegloo. Mine is published by Penguin.

There is an interesting short passage about the concept of national spirit.

That prompts me to ask; what is the spirit of the Malay nation? When I speak of a Malay nation, it is not a renunciation and denial of the plurality of our nation as she is now. Multi racial, multi religious, multi cultural etc. Her diversity is a given.

What I mean when I speak of the Malay nation, encapsulates the collective hopes of the Malays to envisage what is to become of us. Hence, to speak of a Malay nation is to enunciate a process of self actualisation.

Which is, to will ourselves into becoming a corporeal conception of what we want to be, so that we can take our rightful place among the races in Malaysia. What we are, at any given time, is the product of our internal developments, of the culture, values that shape us.

From this it follows for example, maybe and just maybe, our present economic inertia is the result of deficiency in the national spirit. Probably so because we are so dependent on exogenous help in general, which imprisons the robust and rugged spirit in us.

I am not sure whether our pendeta Zaaba ever read Hegel. In 1927 he was able to write( the faulty translation is mine)- the Malay condition of poverty is the result of….poverty in terms of money and property, poverty in ambitions and ideals, poverty in education and skills, poverty in the values that enrich the mind and scarcity in higher and noble cultural values, of good habits- all these conspire to make Malays lose out in the life journey of a people.( see Jejak Jejak di Pantai Zaman)

Among the earliest philosopher to use the term national spirit was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The national spirit or Volksgeist, denotes the spiritual essence of a nation. The internal life of a people comprising of its traditions, values, ideas etc. that spur and urge a people to express themselves into outward material achievements. The national spirit is the sum total of values, cultural urgings that spur a people toward achieving self formation. In everyday life for example, that process of achieving formation, may take the form of an economically advanced group.

That means the spirit of a people, is constantly moving. To Hegel the spirit of the nation is a process of self cultivation. So how does a people self cultivate? By internalising ideas, ideals, values that move us forward.

In practical terms, where do we want to go? Where does the Malay nation want to go?

Perhaps, it is profitable for us to understand, that the national spirit also means the freedom and maturity attained by human beings together in their continuous struggle to emancipate themselves from the irrational conditions they find themselves entrapped.

Thus, I urge you, to define your own irrational condition. Set you free!


Anonymous,  16 September 2008 at 01:29  

dear sir,
i think all is well.
not perfect but step-by-step (New Kids on The Block hit song)..
as individuals we take time to "progress"/"change", so do nations.
modern life is being forced on malaysia. it's time to get with it.
though whether "modern" life is better than the traditional life is arguable.
gd day.

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