Orientalism Revisited

DANIEL.DAVIES at flemings.com DANIEL.DAVIES at flemings.com
Mon Jan 24 09:54:00 PST 2000

>> . Matter of fact, in my experiences in pomoland among the PC,
>> I was often reproached for being white, male, and of European origin and
>> insufficiently shameful about this fact. If you have avoided these
>> experiences, I can only say that you have been fortunate.

>it was to be expected that he would conclude in the idiom of an
>accountant keeping a cultural balance sheet:

>Sure you will read all this as pc ravings meant to make you feel guilty
>about your whiteness.

Hmmmmm ... as a pasty-faced, ginger-haired Welshman, I'd always assumed that feeling a little bit ashamed of my luck was a necessary condition. If one wants to feel pride, then one (almost logically) has to at least be open to the possibility of feeling shame. And since I do want to feel proud of Western liberal values, culture, etc (even of a rugby team that simply will not win), then that sort of obliges me to feel ashamed of a lot of things that I didn't do, would not have agreed with had I been there at the time, but nevertheless benefit from every day of my life. It's kind of how it must be to wake up in the morning and realise that you are George W Bush -- that your position in life owes very little to your personal qualities, and much more to a lot of horrible things done by your ancestors. Feeling guilty about being white seems like a perfectly normal and rational attitude. Far more rational than feeling guilty about being an accountant, a perfectly harmless brotherhood of men who have done much more to maintain their integrity over time than most other "professions", and who have existed in one form or another in all cultures, Eastern and Western.

Of course, coping with guilt is quite easy for me -- there are so many people that I loathe, but nevertheless have to do business with, that dealing with a little bit of self-loathing is a pretty small marginal effort.

Gawd, I feel one of my periodic defences of the pomos coming on, somebody stop me ... too late:

>>one main theme of the young man's talk was that the American criminal
justice system means taht we live under fascism. At this point I demurred, noting that if we lived under fascism, he wouldn't be giving this talk, and if he did, he'd be dead or in a camp.

Yeh, good point, he was clearly using a pretty insensitive hyperbole. But there's no need to kid ourselves that this kind of thing is unique to the pomos -- how many times have you heard "analytical" philosophers saying equally asinine things about whether or not we live in a "free" society? Or talking about "equality of opportunity"? I just don't believe that there is anything intrinsic to postmodernism which makes it more or less productive of bullshit than anything else.

And finally, I can't resist flying the old college flag for Galen Strawson, my old phil. tutor, and a bloke who very definitely did believe in a kind of determinism which meant that the everyday concept of responsibility was meaningless, and wrote the book "Freedom and Belief" to prove it. I can't help but notice that the non-determinists seem to be equivocating. In attack, the concept of personal responsibility is very strong -- it seems to be one under which people actually create their own personalities ex nihilo; an almost metaphysical sense. In defence, though, all that is put up is something which boils down to "We should punish guilty people, not innocent ones". Or as Wojtek put it:

>>We do not need a weatherman to tell which way the wind's blowing. In the
same vein, we do not need a philsopher to punish a person who violated the rules by which a society lives.

But we do need philosophers, and plenty of them, to convince ourselves that the person we're punishing *deserved* it.



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