>Samir Amin

>While theory would suggest that stronger groups, in asymmetric relationships, will seek to perpetuate their dominance with autocentric constructs, this was not always the case. The ancient Greeks adopted an attitude of superiority towards the Asiatics only briefly, during the fourth century BCE, when the Persians threatened them. In fact, Hellenic civilization moved east after Alexander’s conquest, and it was there, in partnership with the Asiatics, that it continued to flour-ish for several more centuries. Similarly, the power of Islamic socie-ties was rarely founded, in theory or practice, on a racial stratification. The Islamic elites claimed cultural superiority not for particular races, but for peoples living in central climatic zones, which included peoples other than themselves. While the Chinese empires claimed centrality, this too was based on cultural distinctions, not race. It was always their official policy to assimilate the barbarians, not to exclude them.

It would appear that the Europeans are the exceptions to this. The evidence suggests that stronger groups in Europe, as early as the twelfth century, rather quickly moved towards autocentric constructs with a racial content. This may be observed in their relations with subjugated populations that were ethnically or racially different, both inside and outside Europe. Moreover, the autocentric myths were also translated into discriminatory policies–sometimes, genocidal policies–against the weaker groups.

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    Modernity, Religion and Democracy: A Critique of Eurocentrism and Culturalism

    by Samir Amin


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