Decolonizing Time Itself

By: Chief Mouhamadou Diagne

As impossible as it may seem the settler has managed to colonize the abstract phenomenon that is time itself. I refer to “time” here as both a resource that is violently exploited from the working-class colonized masses and a way of measuring the passing of the present.

Human beings have always measured time by looking at nature. Whether it’s using the sun, the moon,  or the seasons we have always looked to nature to keep track of the passing of time.

The Ancient Egyptians used large obelisks to track the movement of the sun, to measure the passing of time. Other societies like the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China used the flowing of water to measure the passing of time.

The colonization of time happened in two different ways. Firstly the way in which we count and measure time has been violently forced on colonized people across the world. Secondly, the actual time colonized people have available to themselves has been colonized for capitalist exploitation.

With 24 time zones, based on the  Prime Meridian (0º longitude) in Greenwich, England. Most people don’t think much about our global timekeeping system with daylight savings and 12-month years, this system organizes how people talk about travel and trade across the globe.  

This system of timekeeping was developed to suit the interests of the world’s property-owning class. Synchronization made it easier for European capitalists and monarchs to project their influence and sell their goods. 

When I say that this way of measuring time was violently forced on colonized societies I really do mean violently. An example of colonized people who resisted this violence can be found in the early 20th century Bombay India. 

In January of  1906 thousands of cotton mill workers in Bombay rioted. They refused to work the looms, attacked the factories with rocks and encouraged the revolt to spread through the heart of the city. 15 000 people took to the streets. They were protesting the proposed abolition of Local time in favor of Indian Standard time. To these colonized people this was another attempt to crush local customs and traditions as a way of further cementing British rule. 

It wasn’t until 3 years after Indian independence that a single time zone was adopted nationwide. This was a struggle that lasted almost 50 years, commonly referred to by historians as “ the Battle of the Clocks”. 

Another example was in Occupied Azania (South Africa ) where indigenous populations lost the right to mark time for themselves after missionaries deemed Zulu calendars wasteful and backward. 

Through the spread of its parasitic system, indigenous traditions and rhythms were crushed in the name of colonial development.

 As the 19th-century turned into the 20th, the colonial nations struggled to impose their ways of marking time on the rest of the globe. lined up against French scientists, British colonial officials, German war heroes, American businessmen, and Arab reformers were colonized and oppressed masses trying to preserve their traditions and rhythms. Around the globe, indigenous populations resented European meddling with their everyday lives and traditional rhythms. 

To outline how our people’s time is still colonized today I will breakdown the popular saying “we all have the same 24 hours”. This statement is often used by people with wealth to shame poor and working-class people. It implies that poor people are poor because they misuse their time. This saying is just straight-up false!  If you ride the bus to work you have less time then someone who doesn’t commute. If you can’t afford a personal chef you have less time on your hands then a person who does. If you are wealthy you literally have more time then if you are not. 

To capitalism, exploiting colonized people’s time for every cent it can is the goal. So logically sucking the blood from the host as long as possible, without incapacitating it is the goal. This is how the colonizer and the ruling class have colonized our time. By forcing us to work to survive, and by keeping the value of labor low, the capitalist class is able to coerce the oppressed masses to work themselves to the bone just to survive.

So as you can see both the way we measure time and the actual time we have to live has been colonized for the interest of capitalist exploitation. The only way to truly reclaim our time is by unifying and organizing to overthrow this parasitic capitalist system. 

Join the Black Hammer Organization and help defeat colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism in our lifetimes!

 

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