Possible Solutions

It is a simple but appealing answer to say all that needs to be done to solve the problems delineated and explored above is to restructure the societies in the readings. Were this to occur, then by definition women and minorities would not be repressed any longer, but would instead be hegemonically considered full and contributing members of each society… and voila! there would be no further need for fundamentalist repression. I say simple, because this is obviously impossible, and thus syllogistically removes the onus and burden of change from the shoulders of non-participants within any of the cultures discussed in the readings. It allows one to sit comfortably back, satisfied one's job, of examination only, is finished.

A slightly more thoughtful answer might look at the nature of both fundamentalism and nationalism for some means by which to either diffuse or replace them. There is by definition a certain lack of flexibility inherent in the concepts of nationalism and fundamentalism. Fundamentalism by its nature freezes a perceived historical past to justify a present or desired reality. It must therefore not change, for it is as a defense against too rapid change in the modern day world that it was first conceived.

Furthermore, nationalism replaced religion as a means to meet the needs of a collected community, and religion indubitably replaced something else. To believe nationalism is the ultimate and final ideology the community can discursively create to satisfy the stresses of modern life is surely a fallacious assumption.

Thus as discursive methodologies, both of these '-isms' would seem to have within them the seeds of their own downfall; for by refusing to change or evolve past certain societally defined parameters they must inevitably fall to a more vigorous and adaptive interpretation of the needs of the community. On a more personal level it would seem careful application of what is useful to the community (as judged by the needs of those within the imagined communities themselves) would be most efficacious in promoting liberation from fundamentalism and nationalism.

It would appear there is no one, simple, reductionist, over-arching solution, for the needs of each community vary from not only location to location, but from minority, gender, and class as well. Instead, a wide variety of small and individualized solutions would seem wisest, and can be demonstrated as working in several different locales. The spread of education and information to women and minorities, coupled with financial assistance where applicable, is one possible solution, as exemplified by the women's self-help organizations in India.

Of course, for true and lasting change, the dominant paradigm must indeed be subverted, which would seem to also indicate a need to educate those who create and maintain the hegemonic nation-state. This is not something that can be accomplished overnight, of course, and will indubitably receive heated attack — as indeed it is even today. However, the mission has begun, and must be maintained for any lasting good to come of it, and to thwart the apocalyptic predictions of societal disaster which both fundamentalism and nationalism proclaim if they are not zealously obeyed. As Taussig notes,

It is to the subversion of that apocalyptic dialectic that all of us would be advised to bend our counterdiscursive efforts, in a quite different poetics of good-and-evil whose cathartic force lies not with cataclysmic resolution of contradictions but with their disruption (Taussig 1992:165).

It can no longer be said any particular class or minority is inherently good or evil; nor do we live in some Panglossian 'best of all possible worlds.' What is clear is if we do not attempt to create it, it will never come into existence. There is no one else but ourselves, all peoples, to act, and no better force to show those new to this discourse how to act than those who are already acting with self-discovered agency, who wish change, and to be heard rather than talked at; to be, as Gunning puts it, able to modify their lives, sometimes radically, but not to jettison them.

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