Max, Angela, Chris, DL

Rob Schaap rws at
Sat Apr 10 06:13:23 PDT 1999

Hi again Ange (and Doug),

I reckon you two are overdoing your response to Boddhi. I do not agree with some things Boddhi says (and haven't the time to go through those right now), but his is not necessarily a racist position (indeed, having read his posts for a few years now, I will go so far as to say I have enough context to feel sure it is not).

When Boddhi wrote, 'It only takes a few decades for people to lose their decency', he is clearly saying something about our species in general. I wrote something like this on PEN-L the other day, only I averred that, in certain conditions, a few years have been known to do the trick among a decisive proportion of a population, rather than a few decades. Both might be read as dreadful theoretical humanism (thanks for adding to the vocab, Ange), but racism it's not. Mebbe what can be made bad can as quickly be made good.

And, after all, people who destroy hoses and murder people ARE hooligans. No-one's saying it's just the Serb and Albanian militias who qualify, either (are you, Boddhi?).

Seems to me also that Boddhi wanted to remind a few of us that a people, or a person for that matter, do not have their history written for them. As I read it, he ascribes them a degree of agency. And with agency comes responsibility. They must act in conditions not of their choosing, but they do have realistic options. To think otherwise is either to be an absolute determinist and/or a patronising something-ist yourself.

I happen not to agree that listers are taking sides, but then I often don't agree with Boddhi. I also think he might be a little loose with his distinctions on the criterion of 'decency' (I see decency nowhere I can look - but I expect there's a lot more of it under NATO bombs than above them) and a little sweeping in his prose - but then, this is e-mail, eh? We gotta say a lot in 4k and hope we are read generously.

That sounded more like a defence of an individual (who can quite look after himself) than the general comment I wanted to make about lists only being as good as the generosity with which its subscribers read each other's posts. Short posts on meaty topics are generally ambiguous posts, after all.

Here endeth the sermon.

Night all, Rob.

PS Oh, I see Boddhi has already unloaded - the above still makes sense to me, so here 'tis.

>apologies to others on the list, but dl's enlightened arrogance is the
>limit-point of my conversation.
>dl, you are an asshole pretending to be a mouth; and like all such
>aspirations, a mechanism is required to transform this from pretense to
>self-evident truth. in this case, that function is filled by your
>brutalisation of 'the balkans'.
>if you had any integrity at all, you would acknowledge that this is your
>fantasy, doing work for you that you so desperately need done, especially
>since what you seek to do through this is claim a distance between your
>civility and the barbarity of others. this is your own other. deal with
>your own barbarity and racism before you presume to be able to comprehend
>that of other people.
>that, unfortunately, is not a manoeuvre confined to dl. he has perhaps
>done us all service in being so crude.

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