Thursday, February 16, 2006

From France

A friend alerted me to a recent piece in the New Left Review by Jean Baudrillard, who I haven't seen much of since my days in grad school and enslavement to the kings of theory.

While the article is ostensibly about immigration in France, it also very aptly points a finger at the West in general, as my friend highlighted the following excerpts:

Yet French or European discrimination is only the micro-model of a worldwide divide which, under the ironical sign of globalization, is bringing two irreconcilable universes face to face. The same analysis can be reprised at global level. International terrorism is but a symptom of the split personality of a world power at odds with itself. As to finding a solution, the same delusion applies at every level, from the banlieues to the House of Islam: the fantasy that raising the rest of the world to Western living standards will settle matters. The fracture is far deeper than that. Even if the assembled Western powers really wanted to close it—which there is every reason to doubt—they could not. The very mechanisms of their own survival and superiority would prevent them; mechanisms which, through all the pious talk of universal values, serve only to reinforce Western power and so to foment the threat of a coalition of forces that dream of destroying it. . .


The superiority of Western culture is sustained only by the desire of the rest of the world to join it. When there is the least sign of refusal, the slightest ebbing of that desire, the West loses its seductive appeal in its own eyes. Today it is precisely the ‘best’ it has to offer—cars, schools, shopping centres—that are torched and ransacked. Even nursery schools: the very tools through which the car-burners were to be integrated and mothered. ‘Screw your mother’ might be their organizing slogan. And the more there are attempts to ‘mother’ them, the more they will. Of course, nothing will prevent our enlightened politicians and intellectuals from considering the autumn riots as minor incidents on the road to a democratic reconciliation of all cultures. Everything indicates that on the contrary, they are successive phases of a revolt whose end is not in sight.

Speaking of the supposed "superiority of Western culture," did you hear Condoleezza Rice getting grilled yesterday by the Senate? To hear them talk you'd think she was personally responsible for making sure Hamas wasn't voted in in Palestine. In all the discussions I heard, it was essentially taken for granted that a win for Hamas means the U.S. is doing something wrong. What is true is that the U.S. doesn't have much of a clue how to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians in the first place--and it certainly has never been interested to do so, anyway.

2 Comments:

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Rami said...

Speaking of cultural superiority, did you know that to obtain French citizenship, one has to change their name into a French one? It is a law.

 
At 4:10 AM, Anonymous Katia said...

To ajnabeyeh: I just came across your blog and it's really interesting. Keep up the good work! I'll certainly surf back here.

To Rami: the "have to change your name into a French one" is BULLSHIT!!! I wished people would stop spreading news in an ignorant way like that...

 

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