Saturday, July 28, 2012

The British empire, George Orwell wrote, was "despotism with theft as its final object". So what has made imperialism an intellectual fashion in our own time, reopening hoary disputes about whether it was good or bad? After five years as a colonial policeman in Burma, where he found himself shooting an elephant to affirm the white man's right to rule, Orwell was convinced that the imperial relationship was that of "slave and master". Was the master good or bad? "Let us simply say," Orwell wrote, "that this control is despotic and, to put it plainly, self-interested." And "if Burma derives some incidental benefit from the English, she must pay dearly for it."

Orwell's hard-won insights were commonplace truisms for millions of Asians and Africans struggling to end western control of their lands. Their descendants can only be bewildered by the righteous nostalgia for imperialism that has recently seized many prominent Anglo-American politicians and opinion-makers, who continue to see Asia through the narrow perspective of western interests, leaving unexamined and unimagined the collective experiences of Asian peoples.
I'm not going to argue with Ferguson and the rest. They're idiots and they're losing, though it's taking too long. It's liberals who miss the point.

"Orwell's hard-won insights were commonplace truisms for millions..."

The hard-won insights of white American liberals regarding Jim Crow were truism to American blacks. The hard-won insights of men regarding sexism were truisms to women. The hard-won insights of heterosexuals regarding bigotry and sexual orientation were truisms to non-heterosexuals. The hard-won insights of Zionists regarding the barbarity of Zionism are truisms to Palestinians, and that fight's not done.  Zionism is the last colonial project still defended by those who call themselves liberal, and as those liberals continue to abandon past beliefs they should not be allowed to forget.

Programmatic political liberalism as currently defined has not and can not come to terms with the inevitability of fundamental error. Liberals live in the present, ignoring their own past, or one half of their own present

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is enabled.