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Imperial Legacies and post-9/11 actions

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
As some of you may know, I'm a Geographer, and my degree course requires me to complete modules on the Philosophy, Nature and Practice of Geography through time. Through one of these aspects, I've been lectured on the post-colonial nature of geography, and come up with a few topics that I thought might be of interest to debate.

The key tenet is that we don't have imperialism anymore in the truest sense of occupation and externalised rule. We could argue about that, probably, and a neo-imperialism through economic and diplomatic pressure without direct occupation is something that is oft debated.

There is without doubt, a Eurocentric view of science and history as being the direct philosophical descendent of the Ancient Greeks. Part of the problem, we could argue, is that the Europeans have a self-sufficient outlook; their civilising influences are internally generated and spread by contact.

Where it becomes interesting is in the privileging of the knowledges of the West, and this is the point of relevance I'd like to see discussed, really. Said's book on Orientalism is often hailed as a critique of the Western discourse, and held up as a way in which we 'other' the East. What I mean by this is that we define ourselves as normal, or civilised, but this self needs to have an other that we can reflect on. Consequently, Said argues that the tenets of colonialism and early travel and regional writing was influential in justifying colonialism. That the otherness of the East and Africa perfectly justified colonisation in order to enlighten them.

The subtext of that discourse is that the knowledge is created by the Occident, or the West, and that the Oriental other is a passive role. We can, surely, see echoes of this in the modern analogue. Only the US can act; the Arab/Muslim world is passive.

Two questions, then. Firstly, what do you say to the notion that the US attitude is a direct result of a post-colonial logic that privileges Western knowledge above all, and gives them a theoretical mandate to act? Secondly, were you to disagree with this, then what actions could the Arab world in toto (not just Iraq) take in order to avert crisis? Could OPEC, or Arab nations negotiate with the USA en bloc and take a more active role?

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    OPEC's days are numbered with a democratic Iraq and move to hydrogen-fueled cars in 10 years.

    Although Americans are proud to point to deeds on historic houses that say King George, I would argue that America is too childish to be an imperialist power adn never was one. Example after example can be sighted where we lost interest in running a country. Our arrogance as a people is assuming everyone wants to live "free" in a capitalist country similar to our own. Examples would include: Germany, Japan, Phillipines, Panama, South Korea, Vietnam (yes Vietnam), Afghanistan and now Iraq.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I am not sure that western motivation, particularly the US in their global actions is some kind of philosophical aspect (I don't think they know what it is)

    I think the imperative on the US to act is simply a result of its overwhelming power in the international sphere.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by Toadborg
    I am not sure that western motivation, particularly the US in their global actions is some kind of philosophical aspect (I don't think they know what it is)

    I think the imperative on the US to act is simply a result of its overwhelming power in the international sphere.

    I'm reminded of Thucydides' words, as true today as they were two and a half thousand years ago. "The strong do what they can and the weak accept what they must." For all of the talk of international society, the truth is that anarchy defines the international system.

    I disagree in regards to the philosophical aspect, there definately is a "superior" morality that the West believes we possess, while others don't.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A link to where I got my ideas about hydrogen fuel cells for cars and OPEC's days being numbered.

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/02/21/hln.hot.earth.hydrogen/index.html
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I diagree Allesandro.

    The man in the street may have been conned into believeing we are acting in some enlightened way but western foreign policy is based primarily on self-interest as it is with every other nation........
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by Toadborg
    I diagree Allesandro.

    The man in the street may have been conned into believeing we are acting in some enlightened way but western foreign policy is based primarily on self-interest as it is with every other nation........

    I think you misunderstood me. I don't actually believe that we have any more morality than other parts of the world, just that we believe that we do. We're not nearly as removed from the "white man's burden" mentality of the 19th century in regards to other parts of the world oustide the West as we would like to believe.

    Personally, I don't believe that morality has any real place in making desions in international affairs. It's just conveniently used to justify actions.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well, might as well totally piss people off. I think the imperialism of England, France and Spain had definite bad sides but also did bring civilizations along. I think Native Americans had some neat values as a culture, but were more primative than the European colonists.

    And it makes me laugh when people of the UK post about Americans ripping off the American Indians. The original leases that the colonists got the deeds for their land from are from King George in my area. I point that out before I get a bunch of posts about America.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by pnjsurferpoet
    Well, might as well totally piss people off. I think the imperialism of England, France and Spain had definite bad sides but also did bring civilizations along. I think Native Americans had some neat values as a culture, but were more primative than the European colonists.

    And it makes me laugh when people of the UK post about Americans ripping off the American Indians. The original leases that the colonists got the deeds for their land from are from King George in my area. I point that out before I get a bunch of posts about America.

    Yes, but the idea of this discourse is prevaricated upon the fact that us-here are more 'developed' than them-there.

    Just because, let's say, the African societies pre-colonialisation did not inhabit a value-laden territorial based society does not make them less developed by their own standards; but only by an imposed version of ours. The argument is that saying someone is 'less developed' makes inherent statements about our way of developing and what development means that are inherently Western-biased, and unfounded.

    We cannot assume parallel and automatic superiority of our method of development. The Chinese culture is far more established than that of the UK, as is the Arab and Muslim culture. The western societies which pride themselves as the direct inheritants of Plato & Aristotle first had to translate their works from Arabic.

    Colonialisation and exploration was based on Arab trader knowledge of navigation & sailing.

    Why can we assume we're inherently superior?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As a Spaniard I am deeply ashamed of what we did to Native (South) Americans 5 centuries ago. Including mass murder, slavery, raping, pillaging and forced conversion to Christianity "to save those savages' souls".

    Another indirect result was to provide them with unwanted diseases and pests, and effectively destroyed their culture and way of life.

    I am sure ours was a 'civilisation' they could have done without...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As a Spaniard I am deeply ashamed of what we did to Native (South) Americans 5 centuries ago. Including mass murder, slavery, raping, pillaging and forced conversion to Christianity "to save those savages' souls".
    I disagree in regards to the philosophical aspect, there definately is a "superior" morality that the West believes we possess, while others don't.

    That is nothing less nothing more than the history of the world. For some reason many in the West believe they have moved "beyond" all of this. They believe they have moved "beyond" religion and now "beyond" race. Materialists have to think in this manner. They have to see the world as constantly improving. For example the abolition of slavery is sighted as "proof" of this "progress." It is a tenet of their faith in mans "goodness" and the "progress" of humankind. This is similar in many ways to the Roman Stoics of the late Roman Empire. Around the 4th Century AD they were preaching world citizenship and the value of diversity. Ha! You would think that a country which will send hundreds of thousands of its troops to far corners of the Earth but fail to protect the border of its own homeland would be without precedent. The disgusting corruption described in Revelation was actually a description of the REAL late Roman Empire. The Romans also were convinced of their "superior" morality and their "superior" values. Naturally the Goths would see the self evident superior culture of the Romans and assimilate, or so the Romans believed. It is really nothing more than an ego inflating self delusion. Western Civilization will crumble just like every civilization that has come before it and when it does all these things will return to the West itself .
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Ahhh, but then DJP judge the societies on the sophistication of what they create from tools to weapons and the ability of that civilization to alter its environment. Spain, England and France all come out on top.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by pnjsurferpoet
    Ahhh, but then DJP judge the societies on the sophistication of what they create from tools to weapons and the ability of that civilization to alter its environment. Spain, England and France all come out on top.

    Why is the ability to alter the environment deemed civilised? Surely, in this age of sustainable development, the ability to work *with* the environment is desired, and hence, we don't come out on top?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    DJP. That was in reference to the era when Europeans first came to the Americas.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by pnjsurferpoet
    DJP. That was in reference to the era when Europeans first came to the Americas.

    Still holds true. Why is an ability to alter the environment (read Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel') considered 'developed'?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whoa, good subject DJP. One which has gone completely over the head of some of our posters *looks above* which is a shame because some people have much to learn from it.

    There is no "truth" in the suggestion that we are more developed than some of our fellow humans, in fact it could be argued that the price of our "development" has been to the detriment of the world as a whole.

    Before colonisation many tribe had excellent tribal customs which had severed them from years, but the arrogance of the "west" in believing that we had all the "right" answers to the world has meant that many of these systems and practices have been lost.

    Possibly the best way to look at our development would be to ask a simple question. If we lost all access to oil and electricity how well do you think we would cope? And compare that to some of the under devloped tribes in the world...

    I'd say it showed that we have really developed, just become more reliant on things we have little control over.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by Man Of Kent
    Whoa, good subject DJP. One which has gone completely over the head of some of our posters *looks above* which is a shame because some people have much to learn from it.

    Possibly the best way to look at our development would be to ask a simple question. If we lost all access to oil and electricity how well do you think we would cope? And compare that to some of the under devloped tribes in the world...

    I'd say it showed that we have really developed, just become more reliant on things we have little control over.

    Terrific point. The chaos that would ensue if all access to oil and electricity were lost....scary to even imagine it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Re: Imperial Legacies and post-9/11 actions
    Originally posted by DJP

    Two questions, then. Firstly, what do you say to the notion that the US attitude is a direct result of a post-colonial logic that privileges Western knowledge above all, and gives them a theoretical mandate to act? Secondly, were you to disagree with this, then what actions could the Arab world in toto (not just Iraq) take in order to avert crisis? Could OPEC, or Arab nations negotiate with the USA en bloc and take a more active role?

    I would say that the US attitude is somewhat a result of post-colonial logic, but is more the result of being the biggest cop on the block (note that China and Japan both "interfered" in the affairs of others when they were big cops on the block).

    However, the Arab world could take actions in the region and be very successful. Getting Saddam to step down, or removing him from power would be an obvious step. Another would be providing the Palestinians with a homeland.

    The assumption that the Orient is passive is not a very good assumption. I understand here that we are talking about Western attitudes (especially British, French and German) that were used to justify colonialism, but those attitudes were not based on fact (as all three eventually learned).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    "Two questions, then. Firstly, what do you say to the notion that the US attitude is a direct result of a post-colonial logic that privileges Western knowledge above all, and gives them a theoretical mandate to act? Secondly, were you to disagree with this, then what actions could the Arab world in toto (not just Iraq) take in order to avert crisis? Could OPEC, or Arab nations negotiate with the USA en bloc and take a more active role?"

    DJP

    I want to discuss this more.

    National pride in knowledge, values and culture is essential to a strong nationstate. The United States defines itself as not only being a free society, but also in demonstrating world leadership by helping others to live free. These core values are diametrically opposed to any fundamentalist religious group. I reject part of your question as being prejudiced. The Arab world is not of one mindset. Recently, one of the leading clerics in Australia said: Osama Bin Laden does not speak for the Muslim world. There is nothing in the Muslim teachings that justifies the killing of innocent civilians. The reaction to Al Qaeda has caused much suffering for Muslims worldwide." He's an Arab. To view the Arab world as being of one mindset, is no more valid than viewing the West in that regard. However, the world's largest free society is the enemy of extremist within the Arab World because Saudi Arabia has made it so. With the sponsor of the Whabbi sect within the Muslim religion and the subsequent encouragement of Muslim clerics to focus anger on America, the corrupt House of Saud remains in power. I also reject that the Arab World is passive. Through culture, values and their history, they work behind the scenes. My proof? While focusing anger on America, Saudi Arabia invests over $700 billion a year in America: specifically, New York based Citibank and California based Intel to name a few.

    And although I am proud of and recognize the strength of America's unprecedented, PC approach to minorities and diversity, to expand a PC approach to international dealings would diminish America as a nationstate. For instance, with a base year that benefits Germany, provisions that benefit the UK and others that benefit, polluted, emerging economies like China, for the US to be party to Kyoto would have weakened America and cost American jobs. Also to take part in the (name?) convention on racism held in South Africa, would be to enter an environment of communists and socialists leaders who are not interested in justice, but in America's destruction. For example, the convention giving Zimbabwe's (spelling?) leader a standing ovation after his well-documented murders of political opposition leaders and White farmers demonstrates a racism that I am proud America avoided. And we avoided it to the extent that we didn't even send a delegate to this invalid conference. We reject your conference and all you say about us. That was the message.

    I also reject any notion that there is a connection between imperialism and 911. America never has been imperialistic except in the minds of paranoid people who have a problem with any leaders. Europe's left disgust me with their jealously of America and ingratitude towards America and theries of governments and nationstates that were disproved by the Soviet Union.

    There are many ways to view the causes of 911. One is as I've said the world's biggest free society is diametrically opposed to any kind of fundamentalism. Also, Osama Bin Laden was one of many children. He was of Yemeni descent in a country where that was looked down upon. And he resented Saudi Arabia's relationship with the US. His father firm renovated parts of Mecca and handled other prominent projects. The architect used in Saudi Arabia at that time was also used on the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center had Arabic architectual elements prominently within it's design. .. he hated that. These included the pointed arches on the outside. His bad relationship with is father, coupled with his growing fundamentalism and hatred of Western influence grew. Meantime, America's PC approach to the world in the late 70's, 80's and 90's, was misinterpreted as a weakness....that America would be afraid to fight. His latest tape is proof that he still believes this about America.

    National pride and self determination will once again define America's future with the knowledge, that allies are sometimes enemies, charges of racism are cloats to hide terrorism and the greatest shield against a jealous and ungrateful world is the knowledge that your culture is superior and must be defended.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by pnjsurferpoet
    America never has been imperialistic except in the minds of paranoid people who have a problem with any leaders.

    Suggest you do a little research on the late 1800s and early 1900s, Pnj. The United States had its imperialistic period, without question.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    but also in demonstrating world leadership by helping others to live free

    Ah yes, Chile, Burma, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Zaire, Pakistan, etc.. Oh yes our history in that field is shining example of championing freedom and democracy.

    So throughly ignorant of reality.

    Id go further than Greenie to suggest you do substantial research onto not only our geo-politcal wrong doing, but the nature of global economics. We arent out there bankrolling anyone, Germany least of all, without extracting considerably more in return.

    Jealousy is not the motivator you wish to believe it is, very few if any are jealous of American society and the systematic concentration of its wealth into precious few hands.

    Someday with more education and experience, youll learn these facts. Doubtful, but perhaps...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    "Ah yes," Clandestine

    Don't stop there. Keeping all of Europe free including the UK. Defeating the Soviet Union. Keeping Australia and must of the East free. Reshaping Japan and Germany into democracies.

    The leader, with its allies, who will dawn the new era of the Muslim democracy - which will provide an alternative to fanatic, extremist terrorism and give young people jobs with more of a future than: suicide bombing.

    Just think, if Muslim teens live long enough, they may find a virgin on earth they can marry.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ROFLMAO! You are beyond progandaised. There is no point even trying to open your eyes to the jingoistic nonsense you wish to spout. :lol:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I am not sure that many values can be associated with any culture or nation in particular.....

    If we say that democracy is a western tradition then do we say that democracy is not part of the Chinese tradition and we should not try to 'impose' such a system on them.

    I think it is more likely that the desire for some kind of democratic system is a human value and that anyone can benfit from ideals such as democracy, equality before the law etc.......
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Toadborg, there is such a thing as English character. But you may have to not be English to recognize it. It involves standing up against enemies and with friends in an uncommon, loyal manner. The UK demonstrates it again and again.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    That is rubbish, show me the historical trends...

    I am English and I feel no 'loyalty' to the US (i assume that is the reference you are referring to) am I not properly English! :eek:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    *smirk*
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