7.3.07

US Liberals: A Brief Look in the Mirror

A good point in a good text on what is behind the consensus the US government is always capable of manufacturing for its colonial wars, published by fellow Lebanese blogger UrShalim with the kind permission of the author.

15 comments:

Wolfie said...

Sophia, I don't think this American social phenomenon is isolated to foreign policy.

American society seems to exist in a strange sort of fantasy bubble, the films and TV shows portray a glamorous wealthy country which shocks visitors with its rambling poverty and waddling obese average Joe. So it seems not so strange that their views of the rest of the world are tainted by self-righteous fantasy.

For many years America pursued a politically isolationalist policy, leaving old hands like Europe and the British Empire to run world affairs but was thrust into the lime-light when these European Empires swiftly unwound in the aftermath of two German wars. Perhaps they were not as prepared for the task as they thought they were.

Its a pretty difficult question to answer though - "who do you think did a better job?"

Perhaps a more honest one is that no Empire has ever made a particularly good job of running the world but we have to live with what we have.

Sophia said...

Wolfie,

''Perhaps they were not as prepared for the task as they thought they were.'' They will never be prepared. Europeans produced tons of cultural 'products' artefacts, fanatsies and litterature about the countries they colonised. These cultural productions served both to approach the 'indigenous' populations and to convince oublic opinion at home of the benefits of the colonial enterprise. The US cannot produce but fears and prejudices to replace fantasies and only fortresses between them and the colonised.
They have to accept the idea that the US is not a nation made for colonialist enterprises abroad because they are themselves the product of a european colonialist enterprise ! They are not the great country they think they are...

Wolfie said...

Most interesting Sophia, your viewpoint is closer to mine than I expected.

It does make me wonder though how the Americans managed to forget the lessons they may have learned in their homelands (being originally Europeans). I suspect that this stemmed from early American chauvinism regarding the European cultures married with generations of the easy-life in an ecologically bountiful new continent.

One only has to observe the almost childlike interpretation they harbour for political problems back home i.e. The IRA, ETA and Palestine.

Sophia said...

Wolfie,

I predict that the American colonialist enterprise, which started at the end of the 19th century with a war against the Spanish in the bay of Havana (there was a lie involving the ship the main at that time already and its sinking in the bay which started the war) and in the Philippines, will be short lived. But it won't end without a catastrophe. I don't know what catastrophe but it is my intuition. It is an uncontrolled enterprise.

You write about how much they forget: ''I suspect that this stemmed from early American chauvinism regarding the European cultures married with generations of the easy-life in an ecologically bountiful new continent.'' Exactly but I would call this chauvinism a forced nationalism resulting from a civil war. As for forgetting the US is a nation of oblivion, it despises history, even its own. It lives in the bounty of the present. Canadians are alike. History as a component of identity here is a problem because it is founded on an original sin, the extermination of indigenous people and the negation of these people. The European colonialist enterprise in America, unlike any other colonialist enterprise, produced monstruous identities, identities divorced from their history because to reunite with history is to accept it with all its ugliness. And the ugliness in this colonialist enterprise is that, unlike others, people stayed in America and nearly exterminated the original population. The only colonialist enterprise that may resemble this one is the zionist one in Palestine.
This is how US citizens are at odds with their history. It is not the same thing in south and latin America for example, not even in mexico, because there was a racial mixing and the new race integrated the indgenous race. The result is one people proud of their common history because it makes room for the other and integrates the other. I have seen this divide all across America. If you are in Cuba or in Mexico (I think in Mexico they are still struggling but they somehow accepted this matter of fact of the other race), you are in a different America. This different America crossed the racial divide and in doing so was able to reconciliate itself with its history.

Wolfie, you are a religious person and I am not as religious as you but I believe that there are some fundamental human values and emotions carried on by religions. The extermination of a human race by another one as what happened in America is for me the equivalent tot he original sin in the bible, because both are creations of God or Nature if you want, nothing less. And if you don't come forward and recognise this original sin you can never look back at your history. And as the US is still a racially divided country not ready to look at its ugly past it will stay in a state of fear of the people whom it is going to colonise...

Bashir said...

sophia,
thanks for the link, i just want to say that i share your views on the matter.

Sophia said...

Thanks Moussa for your continual support.

Wolfie said...

I'm not sure how you got the impression that I'm religious. I have written about religion, I have studied religion (principally Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism) in quite some depth but I'm not a believer. I think its important to be able to debate with people on their own terms and understand where they're coming from. I do think one should respect people's belief but not at the expense of freedom, modernity or law.

Sophia said...

Wolfie,

I am sorry, it is of course quite different to be interested by religions and to be religious. I apologise for any misunderstanding.

N. said...

History as a component of identity here is a problem because it is founded on an original sin, the extermination of indigenous people and the negation of these people.

I have been thinking about this for almost two hours, under the water!

Sophia, I am an immigrant to North America. I haven't killed anyone. My father hasn't killed any one. My great grandfather hasn't killed anyone.

So, whose identity should be influenced by the truth of the history? The people of French origin? buut if they are teh ones to have to face the history of their great grandfather's sin, then they will have to take responsibility for it too; and with the burden of "accepting guilt" comes increased entitlement. then suddenly this land will belong "more" to them, than to me, who haven't been here more than a quarter of a century.

I really don't know how to answer my question? But I do wonder, how immigrant-based societies CAN be held responsible for their fathere's original sin?

And for how long? And to what extent?

Have I ever asked the Aboriginal people of Canada if they wanted me to come to Canada? If they minded me staying? What if they said: go get lost! Should I go? Where?

Sophia said...

N.
I think I make it clear that I was talking about European colonialism, which is quite different from arriving as an recent immigrant in a country. Is being more responsible gives more entitlement ? I don't think so.

N. said...

Yes you made it clear about european colonialism. But you also raised a point about North America's tendency to push the history under the carpet.

And I am asking, "whose history?"

Sophia said...

Theirs, N. The history of their identity.

Wolfie said...

I'm with "n" on this point, I don't believe in original sin (its justifications) or that the sins of the Father are the burden of the son. I find that an abhorrently backward mode of thinking which, if you examine it dispassionately, is the very mode of thinking which justifies the colonisation of Palestine. Much of the Jewish justification not only for the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes and some of the day to day brutality they bestow is based on the notion that what they are doing is "pay-back" for Arab colonisations over 600 years ago. To me the notion of a 600 year-old grudge is distinctly disturbing so I'm surprised that you would grasp their rod.

I'm not condoning what American settlers did to indigenous peoples but its not recent history and what's done is done and we cannot put the milk back in the pail; where I think you are correct is that the ambivalence that Americans have towards Palestine is based in their own history of colonisation. Its just that I thought the world had moved on from such things.

The history of mankind is full of colonisation and brutality. African Homo Sapiens displaced poor old European Neanderthal but who would we compensate or accuse; modern Europeans carry genes from both races.

Don't confuse these arguments as being pro-colonisation, far from it. These event happened long ago and cannot be undone but there are still modern injustices which are playing out, they have no place in the modern world and they can still be fixed if the world has the will.

Sophia said...

Wolfie,

I think you misunderstood my point. What I mean by original sin is the extermination, the near disappearance of a human race, by another race.

I think most criminals live with their guilt and it is transmitted between generations and the worst punishment for a criminal is his own guilt.

I don't call the occupation of the American continent by Europeans as colonisation. I insisted it is unlike any other colonisation. I call this 'Faute originelle'.

I am not discussing here matters like 600 hundred years of grudge or your ordinary colonisation, I am discussing serious crimes, like the extermination of races, or like what may come out from this war on terror.

N. said...

Sopiha, we all agree that the original settlers of the America did marvelous job in extermination of the aboriginal races.

I would give the trophy of that to the Spanish first!

But, I think it is people who are living in Spain (or France, or England) who should pick the prize, not the irish farmer who has escaped another form of British extermination to come find peace in the new world. Also, I find Britain responsible for the state of Palestinians, more than I blame Jews. So yes, colonization has done much harm, but WHO should pay for it? Maybe if we all denounced our citizenship of the colonizer states it would help?

And how about criminalizing the Dutch for slavery in North America? But, it were not the armies of Europeans who captured the Africans and sold them to the new world? Who were they? So what about the crime of those who captured and sold the slaves? (Maybe Bush can recruit more African Americans for his war on the middle east with this logic :) )

But you still didn't address my question: If a Mohawk comes to me tomorrow, and tells me Brownie, get lost off of my land! What should I do? Where should I go?

 
Since March 29th 2006