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Archive for April 18th, 2008

Anglo-European Standards rule our World 2

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 18, 2008

I don’t want to spend all my time arguing for the sake of argument.

Thank you for telling me that you consider this discussion, and especially my part in it, something you really cannot be bothered with and something that is said, not to engage in friendly discussion, but for the sake of argument, basically what I have to contribute to the discussion is of no consequence other than as so much hot air.

While your generalized observation that a movement towards the right has been with us since the first paddock was fenced off, it isn’t relevant to my argument.

Actually, you were the one entering the generalized observation “corporate trend”. Considering the general understanding of the word “trend” as craze, fad, furor, mode, rage, style, vogue, trend and bias, cast, disposition, leaning, partiality, penchant, predilection, predisposition, proclivity, proneness, propensity, squint, tendency, turn, trend – i.e something rather limited, but not specified, your specification of it through the use of “corporate”, a word that did not gain its general meaning “business” until far into modern history puts it into a modern context – what I did was simply pointing out that we are not dealing with a trend – something rather short-lived or recently “invented”, but with a rather essential part of human civilization – barter. Nor can it easily be called a movement, since owning, selling and buying is The Right – i.e Capitalism, i.e Conservative.

If you didn’t think this “corporate trend” is relevant to your argument, why did you enter it into discussion? It could very easily be read as if you wanted your generalized interpretation of the expression “corporate trend” to stand without elaborating argument, such as I offered, in which case your “argument” becomes propaganda. Nice and quiet propaganda, but nevertheless propaganda.

Since the invasion of Iraq, rendition, black sites, torture, private security firms that look a lot like the SS, blatant media suppression, anti-terror legislation that gives no guarantees of due process for any of us and where dissent itself can be dangerous, I would say that the facts speak for themselves.

If we cannot agree on this point then we really should leave the table and agree to disagree.


Since the invasion of Tibet, rendition, black sites, torture, State police that looks a lot like the SS, blatant media suppression, legislation that gives no guarantees of due process for any of us and where dissent itself can be dangerous, I would say that the facts speak for themselves.

D, what is happening in the USONA has been a reality of human existence and human history since one man decided that he was best suited to rule the local tribe and killed, maimed kidnapped and raped the family of whom he considered his rival – rulers have always used their power to gain control over their subjects and over whomever they consider their enemies. This is nothing new.

I would suggest that the reason all this is possible in the USONA is because it is a young nation that is still in the midst of its evolution as a nation. This is something the USONA has very much common with f.i China, which is why I used China in my example.

I did enjoy your analysis of the Declaration of Independence even though it was irrelevant to my point. As for the monarchies being Elected… That’s a stretch. Not by commoners, they weren’t.

My analysis of the Declaration of Independence is very much relevant to what you said:

“So in terms of America being the defenders of democracy, they were in the sense of the prevailing myths of the time. Other than France, every other developed nation was a monarchy that did not have any power in the hands of the people. America was the ‘grand experiment’ for which the peoples of the entire globe held out hope.”

You introduced the concept of USONA into the discussion as “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy” – words that are almost directly quoted from the Declaration of Independence, as semiotician you must be aware that such words have very high symbolic value in the minds of most people, especially since it has been hammered into the general world population since USONA was declared independent from the British. You claim that the current actions of USONA is “shocking” exactly because it is considered, TODAY, not in the past, “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy”. Then you claim that this too is irrelevant?? If it is irrelevant to what you wish to say, then why enter it into discussion? That is the third point in my argument you reduce to an insignificant portion of hot air, and I am very much inclined to believe that you do this because your favorite pet-peeve met with some resistance. Whether you enjoyed my analysis or not, however, is irrelevant to the discussion, and I suspect that it’s just another rather condescending royal gesture on your part.

Let me clear up one or two points. My criticism of most historians is that they read the past through current mythologies and fail to realize that world view rather than accepted fact, regardless of whether it is right, wrong or irrelevant causes events to occur.

I am not “most historians”, D. I am the one who constantly tell people to read current events in the light of history and the shift in culture that occurs as a result of events that are in fact guided by world views of the past. My World View will not change the present, but it will influence the future. Like stars we are always “in the past”.

You assume that I have an anglicized world view simply because I point out that it was an anglicized world view that led to colonialization. I am a semiotician. It is my job to see the differing myths that ruled our past.

I don’t assume. It’s very clear that you have an Anglo-European/North American world view. One rather blatant example of this is the fact that use your education and your job “lecturing” as a tool to suggest that your point of view is better founded than mine and that in fact I am one of your students, not your equal. Very Anglo-European.

You say:

“True, if you are speaking of how language evolve over time within culture, but misleading if you wish to apply it to actual attitudes.”

Myths are the culture, the way of viewing the world and are entirely responsible for the prevailing attitudes. We read Homer now and how Odysseus slaughtered his wife’s servants and was considered by his contemporaries to be heroic for doing it. We cannot understand it when we read it from a modern perspective. Mythology plays a far bigger role than you give it credit.

Now, who did you say was assuming things here?

However, things become offensive when you assume that I am attacking Islam. I was happily married to an Islamic Iranian woman for many years. And, quite clearly, you are confusing Islamic belief with an intractable culture that has surrounded it in many parts of the world. You confuse a fundamental Islamic culture with Islam – the view that upsets most Muslims I know – and you attack me for stating that to view women as property to be bought, sold and mutilated at will is a mark of savagery. My wife would have had a piece of you. However, you don’t criticize my assertion, just the fact that I said it. You aren’t supporting the view that women should be chattel, are you?

Again, I am not assuming. It’s there in your own words. I am not saying that you INTEND it to be. I don’t think you do. It doesn’t change the fact that by saying

“even if we disagree that a man who sees women as chattel may live in a nice home but his consciousness is 800 years old and still in a tent.”

in a context of Islam, and this thread is that, it becomes derogatory of and insulting to Islam, because you do not clarify what kind of Islam you are referring to – however it doesn’t much matter how you turn this around, D, because earlier you asserted, about the members of the OIC: “That people living in tents and 800 years in the past want to burn heretics is not surprising…” You did not say “Fundamentalist Islam” or “Islamic Culture”, you said “That people living in tents and 800 years in the past want to burn heretics is not surprising.” The fact that you don’t choose your words more carefully is what I have an issue with.

I would also like to point out that what you call Islamic Culture is in fact not Islamic in origin at all, but stem from a far older, less centralized and exclusively tribal society, actually the very society Muhammad opposed. That some of the ideas from before Islam survived and is present in Islamic Culture is as natural as Easter originating in the Pagan Feast Ostara or Xmas being celebrated on the Winter Solstice. This is not to say that I agree with those elements of Islamic Culture. But I know what it means to be from a people that originated in a tribal society and have had to clean out quite a lot of “leftovers”.

The real problem here is that you appear to be saying that the fundamentalist beliefs such as a man should travel no further from his home than a donkey can travel from sunrise to sunset, represent Islam and the vast majority of Muslims. If this is true I do not regard you as bigoted or prejudiced, merely misinformed.

Appearances deceive. While I have not made any statements about Muslims or Islam, you have, and in a generalizing manner, not once but twice. I have treated the OIC without prejudice and have addressed the attack on the UDHR only, and have not made any assertions based on perceived notions of Islam. While you have actually expressed your perceived notions quite clearly.

You see, to me whether the attack on the UDHR was orchestrated by non-religious gorillas or by devout Muslims is irrelevant. You however place the reason for the attack in Islamic Culture, (800 years in the past and in a tent) well aware (or you would not have claimed that I can’t make that distinction) that your audience might not be capable of making the distinction between Islamic Culture and Islamic Belief. In fact I am inclined to believe that you counted on your audience not being able to make the distinction, most likely for the harmless reason of then “educating” them, as you attempted to do with me.

No, I did not criticize your assertion: “to view women as property to be bought, sold and mutilated at will is a mark of savagery” – I criticized this: “That people living in tents and 800 years in the past want to burn heretics is not surprising.” and: “may live in a nice home but his consciousness is 800 years old and still in a tent.”

Many cities have been built by people that held a sword in one hand and a mason’s trowel in the other, and I think that we actually can do both, D. Yes, some will view it a hypocritical, some already do, but to give up keeping an eye on my neighbor’s garden so bugs and burglars don’t get in, is to give in to what can effectively be called a hijacking of the UDHR, the only Universal Tool we have to assure some semblance of Global Civilization.


Posted in Human Rights, OIC, UDHR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anglo-European Standards rule our World

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 18, 2008

This was sparked by a discussion that came as a result of this article: Document Vote on freedom of expression marks the end of Universal Human Rights by International Humanist and Ethical Union

I’m an Australian and while many Americans feel that the push into neo-conservatism is an American thing, it is not. This shift to the right is a corporate trend and is world wide.

Unless we are talking about a trend that goes back to when man first found out that he could grow and sell crops, bake and sell bread, breed and sell cattle, and generally barter anything he had in his possession for what he wanted or needed, I don’t see any trend, David.

It seems that crop growing, cattle breeding and commercial enterprise lead man to believe that he owned the land that grew his crop, fed his cattle and carried his tent.

The Three Cs – Corporate, Capitalist and Conservative – have been the rule of the day since the Dawn of Civilization. Maybe we should make it the Four Cs?

What you say about the atrocities committed throughout American history is correct but a little distorted. This distortion is due to the ruling mythology.

I disagree. I have a pretty clear picture of North American history in terms of where is came from and how it has evolved during the last 400 years.

From my point of view it seems you are the one with a slightly distorted view. The ruling mythology, as you call it, is very much Anglocentric, it is based in the imperialistic ideal that has its origin in Anglo-European expansion. An ideal that has been fed to us by the powers that be, which are basically the same now as they were in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries – unfortunately Australia is not excluded, but very much a part of this – after all Australia was once seen as nothing but a British Penal Colony. It was certainly treated as if the British came to an empty piece of land ready to be exploited. No matter that there already was a thriving Civilization there – because it didn’t have agriculture and cities it was considered irrelevant at best, barbaric at the worst, measured by Anglo-European standards.

The same Anglo-European standards that measured the Native Americans, both South and North, and found them to be child-like, less developed and steeped in savage traditions. A standard that is still operative in regards to f.i the Mexicans. It is also a standard that is used when measuring Arabs and Muslims.

As one USonian soldier expressed it here in Care2 about 4 years ago: “They are not like us, they do not think and feel like we do…”

Yet the Arabs were the ones who taught the Romans how to build aquifers while Anglo-Europe was still “barbaric”, by today’s Anglo-European/North American standards.

The Anglo-European and North American standard is inherently racist.

In 200 years time we may view eating meat as barbaric, the last vestiges of primitivism. We may equate it to cannibalism and wonder how our forefathers could have eaten the cadavers of animals – dead bodies – corpses… of course, currently we don’t use those words to describe meat and what occurs in abattoirs is largely ‘hidden’ from the general public – we don’t want to see it. Now, we call it chops, steak, roast, etc and it comes on polythene tray packs.

True, if you are speaking of how language evolve over time within culture, but misleading if you wish to apply it to actual attitudes. I am a farm boy, I grew up knowing exactly where the chops came from – they came from Fred, the pig I had fed, scratched and played with during almost a year of care and consideration. I was there when Fred was killed, I scrubbed the bristles off his dead body, and I considered it something to be grateful for. Hiding the “crude”, the “distasteful”, the “bodily” is a Victorian crystallization of the Greek division of human life into soma (body) and pneuma (soul/spirit). In fact most cultures in the world that have not been directly influenced by Anglo-Victorian/North American euphemisms for human reality have a positive attitude towards animals in terms of sources for sustenance – and not only physical sustenance, but spiritual sustenance. In many ways that is way more civilized than the attitude of “don’t ask, don’t tell” that plague the Anglo-Victorian/North American civilization. I agree that the “we do not want to know” attitude is negative, but I disagree with your assertion of where it originated – a shift to the right based in a corporate trend.

“…you cannot assign the modern acceptance of racial equality to an era where even the kind, caring and compassionate ‘white folks’ regarded peoples of other races in a condescending manner as requiring care because they were ‘less developed’, ‘childlike’ or ‘steeped in savage traditions’.”

It looks to me like that is exactly what you are doing. Exactly because the view you present is steeped in the Anglo-European/Victorian North American euphemisms, that are as you say there to hide reality. What makes me say this?

What is turning focus inward other than another “don’t ask, don’t tell”? If Human Rights were dependent on how well a nation manages to live up to the UDHR, no nation on earth could criticize another. Isn’t hat what you propose we do – turn inward?

So in terms of America being the defenders of democracy, they were in the sense of the prevailing myths of the time. Other than France, every other developed nation was a monarchy that did not have any power in the hands of the people. America was the ‘grand experiment’ for which the peoples of the entire globe held out hope.

It has been said that history is written by the victors. When it comes to USONA’s role in world history this is certainly true. The idea that USONA is the defender of democracy stems directly from the idea that other nations and peoples are less democratic, less civilized and therefore incapable of comprehending and/or upholding democratic values.

I find your assertion that “…every other developed nation was a monarchy that did not have any power in the hands of the people.” extremely offensive Anglo-centric and inaccurate. By the time USONA was a nation, all European countries were constitutional/parliamentary monarchies or republics that gave their citizens the same basic rights and privileges. I would also like to point out that all monarchies in Europe were originally ELECTIVE monarchies, i.e the monarch was elected by the people. It was not until approximately 1450 that monarchy became hereditary in Europe, and the monarch still had to be approved by the people. Without the approval of the people he/she could not assume the throne.

America wasn’t nor has ever been a ‘grand experiment’, nor has it ever represented hope to the entire globe, not even during WWII. It would like to believe this Anglocentric myth, because the myth legitimizes its imperialistic aspirations, but belief doesn’t make this myth true.

Let’s not forget WHY USONA joined WWII – it was attacked. Had Japan not attacked USONA, the isolationistic policies USONA nourished would have continued, probably to this day. Europe asked for help, Roosevelt pleaded with the American People to approve that help be sent, but USONA said “no”. The USONA didn’t join in WWII to liberate anything or anyone, but to defend its own interests. It has never been any other way with the USONA, and I doubt it will ever be – unless there’s a buck to be made the USONA won’t get involved.

Now, one could wish that Japan never had attacked USONA, because it is my belief that the “success of the American war-effort” was what gave USONA the idea of the world domination that it has been exploring and implementing through the Three Cs ever since.

Don’t misunderstand me. I support the subject of this thread just as I support the Tibetans, the Rwandans and the thousands of other groups preyed upon by human rights violators the world over. However, before you fix a building you must do the preparatory work – build the scaffolding and sharpen your tools and after Iraq and the crimes I’ve mentioned already, our tools are blunt.

To my mind our tools are only as blunt as we make them. While is is certainly true that we need to look over our own houses, we also need to keep criticizing those others who violate Human Rights. The way I see it is that we are in this together, because in the end whatever our nationalities are, if human rights are threatened in one place there is no guarantees that human rights won’t be threatened in my place too, tomorrow or next year. So while I keep an eye on my crops and my house I also need to keep an eye on my neighbor’s crops and house, lest the bugs and burglars come to me next.

I understand the assertions in this thread and I agree with everything said about the OIC even if we disagree that a man who sees women as chattel may live in a nice home but his consciousness is 800 years old and still in a tent.

This is one of the most racist, prejudiced an bigoted statements I have read in while simply because it’s covertly so, not overtly. It sounds plausible, so people accept it, but read it again. With 5 lines you just issued the attack on Islam, that you warn against in your next paragraph. You are effectively saying that while a man may look civilized, he is still a savage, and because this thread is about the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its attack on the UDHR you are saying that Muslims are savages.

It might be your opinion, and as such, fair enough I say. But aren’t you the one who says that we cannot point out the flaws of others, unless we have cleaned out our own crap? Yet, it doesn’t seem like you have cleaned out your own crap first, because here you are asserting that Muslims are savages. Interesting, don’t you think?

My objections are purely tactical. How can we be critical about the OIC’s restrictions on free speech while the Patriot Act (and Australia’s and the UK’s equivalent), homeland security and our media does that in spades. Without moral credibility, how can our criticisms of the OIC be interpreted as anything but an attack on Islam and result in a world far worse than it is right now.

We can because we have to. The UDHR is above the inherent crime of the Patriot Act and any other legislation we as humans may come up with that violates Human Rights. Don’t be fooled, what the OIC pulled here was an attack on the very foundation of Human Rights. An attack that makes the Patriot Act is look like a misdemeanor. Without the UDHR what is and what is not Human Rights becomes arbitrary, and rather meaningless to determine or assert. Without the UDHR we wouldn’t know that the Patriot Act is a crime in itself.

The Law determines that theft is a crime. Let’s say I am a thief, I am aware that theft is a crime. I see someone commit theft. While I might not have moral credibility on the matter of theft, not to warn someone that theft is a crime punishable by Law, would be doubly a crime, because not only do I condone my own thieving, I condone another’s thieving as well. And two wrongs don’t make one right, as we all know.

Posted in Human Rights, OIC, UDHR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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