On 27 Aug 2004, at 7:18 am, Geoff Burling wrote:
And if I may allowed to be chauvanistic for a moment,
I think this
ideal is a valuable part of Western Civilization that needs to be
taught to the rest of the world. We should respect other people's
POV, we should be willing to explain our own POV, & that there
should be a fair & beneficial exchange between them
*groan* spare us your offensive ethnocentric colonialist views,
I assume that you, too, misunderstood what I meant by "Western
No, and you see, here's the irony, you're suggesting that "Western
Civilisation," a culture that has butchered millions upon millions
warring amongst itself and against other cultures over the centuries,
and forcing its own point of view on others, has some kind of mortgage
on POV-tolerance and needs to "teach" this concept to "the rest of
world." I couldn't think of many clearer examples of irony.
If not, then I am puzzled why you reject an ideal that
the land you
appear to be writing from -- the United Kingdom -- has struggled to
promote. While the struggle may not have always been praiseworthy,
orderly, or even successful, many people in that land have worked to
perpetuate the ideal I talked about.
"Tolerant imperialists". The irony thickens.
I do not reject the idea of tolerance. I find it ironic and offensive,
especially in regard to all the cultures and people who have died and
suffered at the hands of Western "Civilisation," that you suggest we
have some kind of mortgage on it and should "teach" it to the "rest of
If you inadvertently thought that by "Western
Civilization", I merely
meant the United States of America ...
No, I didn't think that.
Lies My Teacher Told Me:Everything Your American History Textbook Got
A book for everyone of the American Empire.
Sorry, but my reading time is currently spent on teaching myself the
immense amount of knowledge that was not covered -- if even alluded to
-- in my school years.
Which is exactly what the book covers. Really it's a good book, don't
be put off by my polemic.
While I should appreciate your concern for my
I find myself somewhat upset that you made sweeping assumptions about
what I learned in school.
Well I made no such sweeping assumption about your schooling so you
needn't be upset. I made a judgment about your entire upbringing based
on your ethnocentric point of view.
And in reference to your comment about "the
American Empire", not
everyone in the US agrees with the views of the current President: a
majority of voters cast ballots for his opponent in the last election,
& I would be surprised if he received as many votes in this coming
election. The US has been far more conflicted -- if not schizophrenic
-- about the its imperial role than other nations.
My comment wasn't a slur on America, it was a slur on Western culture
(which is influenced in no small part by White/European American
culture); a culture that is currently intolerant in the extreme of any
other group that does not conform to a model of capitalist "free"
markets and power-elite government by propaganda.
Wow. All of this verbage just because I tried to
express (& again, I
admit I did so badly) the hope that despite all of the crimes,
objectionable behavior & just plain shit that has been done, it would
nice if there was one positive ideal we in the west could pass on to
not only the rest of the world, but also those who come after us.
Well I have a suggestion. Stop thinking you have something to "teach"
people and allow others to make such a judgment for themselves. It's
something you might have learnt from American Indian culture had it not
been almost completely wiped out. And here's another irony I guess.
American Indian culture is probably where America's more democratic
traditions evolved from, not Western culture.
... let me explain _precisely_ what I mean by the term
Civilization": it is the common heritage of Europe, the Americas,
Australia & New Zealand. One tradition that can be found amongst all
of these people is the struggle towards tolerance, pluralism, &
unfetered speech; I am unaware of any serious argument that this
tradition of thought was introduced from Africa, India, or China.
Western culture has many traditions but anarchism really isn't one of
its most prevalent. It has spent most of its existence denying and
squashing it. I'm a white New Zealander and the spreading of anarchy
was certainly not one of the traits of my ancestors when many of them
turned up in Aotearoa to steal from the Maoris.
As John Mohawk has argued, in regard to America for example, American
Indians are directly or indirectly responsible for the public-meeting
tradition, free speech, democracy, and "all those things which got
attached to the Bill of Rights." Without the Native example, "do you
really believe that all those ideas would have found birth among people
who had spent a millennium butchering other people because of
intolerance of questions of religion?"
In fact it was the lack of hierarchy in the Native societies in the
eastern United States that attracted so many Europeans into defecting
to Native societies. According to Benjamin Franklin, "All their
government is by Counsel of the Sages. There is no Force; there are no
Prisons, no officers to compel Obedience, or inflict Punishment."
Although leadership was substantially hereditary in some nations, most
Indian societies north of Mexico were much more democratic than Spain,
France, or even England in the seventeenth century and eighteenth
After Col. Henry Bouquet defeated the Ohio Indians at Bushy Run in
1763, he demanded the release of all white captives. Most of them,
especially the children, had to be "bound hand and foot" and forcibly
returned to white society. Meanwhile the Native prisoners, "went back
to their defeated relations with great signs of joy," in the words of
the anthropologist Frederick Turner (in Beyond Geography, 245).
Unsurprisingly Turner calls these scenes "infamous and embarrassing."
Cheers, in peace,