Re: Why Europe

From: Douglas Brooker (
Date: Mon 18 Nov 2002 - 19:44:01 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Why Europe is so Contrary"

    Grant Callaghan wrote:
    > As a man who is deploring sweeping generalizations, you seem to be falling
    > into your own trap. Is that YOUR petard I see you dangling from?

    it may very well be what you see, but whether or not this is actually what is happening is very different question.

    the folklore or history of the British empire is very different in England, than say in India or Canada. similarly, the record the American activities in other countries since the end of WWII is also seen, when it is seen, very differently within the US than in those countries who have been the object of US affection. a month or so ago there was a conference in Washington - Pentagon I think - that meant to examine why there is so much anti-American feeling around the world. That it was held at all is nothing less than an amazing case of blindness to the military activities of the US in many countries around the world, thousands dead or maimed and dozens of governments overthrown. (a good list was circulating a few months ago of countries bombed, invaded or de-stabilised by the US since 1945)

    now you can argue pro or con about these activities - this will depend on the culture you have been raised in and other factors - there are many Americans who are unhappy about US foreign policy and there are those in UK and elsewhere who support it. so there is debate about exactly what happened and whether or not it was justified. (Along the lines of: no "massacre", the Israelis say, in Jenin in April, but last Sunday's attack on Israeli troops in Hebron was, the Israelis say, a
    "massacre", and other nice debates about the number of other people killed are required to constitute a "massacre".) (or here re the IRA - Grant has not told us that the change in US policy with respect to fund-raising activities in the US by the IRA is relatively recent)

    what is the interesting issue for me, is how a rather dominant strain of US thinking about their overseas activities can be either so dumb, naive, or ingenuous, to fail to make a connection between the record of bombing, invasion and destabilisation and the fact that there is widespread hatred of the US government in these countries. Bin Laden and Saddam, or the Shah of Iran were all American proxies and there is no end of examples which should permit Americans to establish some cause and effect between their own actions and the antipathy felt toward their governments around the world. many Americans can make this connection.

    much the same can be said about the roles of the UK during and after their Empire period, or other, usually large countries. comparing dominant myths in Serbia and ISrael would be a good study. the issue that's relevant here is how a nation or people can be blind to their own contradictions, (my shit doesn't smell) and how they create historical myths which elevate or sanctify certain aspects of their activities and make invisible that which is unsavory. on a political level, it can only be healthy when nations collectively become aware of their own blindness and contradictions. from the academic perspective, it would seem to be a compelling task to identify instances of this kind of blindness and from these examples, start abstracting theories about the functioning of national and collective consciousness, and unconsciousness.

    it seems from here - Canadian in Europe - that the kind of political partisanship in America that increasingly is reflected in its scholarship and science - (the cultural civil war) - and which makes participation by others in alot of American academic discourse at worst, a waste of time, and at best, a social challenge - is being exported to the rest of the world. it's a natural human characteristic to so identify with the myths that are the basis on one's social identity. the challenge it would seem to people involved in memetics and similar disciplines is to get outside of themselves, because if one doesn't or can't, all one's going to have to say will be recycled ideology cast in a different set of words, basically saying the same thing. It may not be apparent to those who speak it, often it is apparent to those who hear it.

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