The clash of cultures?


by Sunny
17th February, 2006 at 3:01 pm    

An interesting article in the Guardian today by Martin Jacques:

Europe has never had to worry too much about context or effect because for around 200 years it dominated and colonised most of the world. Such was Europe’s omnipotence that it never needed to take into account the sensibilities, beliefs and attitudes of those that it colonised, however sacred and sensitive they might have been.

There is a profound hypocrisy – and deep historical ignorance – when Europeans complain about the problems posed by the ethnic and religious minorities in their midst, for that is exactly what European colonial rule meant for peoples around the world.

[hat tip: Sahail]
Some will call him a bleeding heart liberal etc, and I know many on here will agree with the sentiment that “Europe’s contempt for other cultures can’t be sustained”. But I have some issues with it.

I had a related chat with Minette Marin a few weeks back, who found it annoying that the government treated as if all cultures are equal, hence a policy of ignoring local culture over “their way of life”.

On one level it sounds a bit arrogant, but I tend to partly agree. Everyone thinks their culture is superior (especially Indians), despite their positive and negative sides. So a small clash of cultures is not only inevitable, but healthy as long as it leads to competition and debate, not wars. European society might not be ideal but on certain issues, such as civil liberty, freedom of press etc, it is way ahead of others.

In a few decades time, this continent’s power may be dwarfed by others – due to evolution (and demographics) – in which case it will have to adjust its stance as it already is towards China/India. But why not stand up for what you believe in? It is part of the global dynamic and natural evolution of human society that best practice survives and bad habits die out when a better system provides competition.

Europe is forcing the east to open up because of the internet and because there is money to be made. Soon, this continent will have to open up to eastern influences while there is money involved or they find better ways of doing things. So far it has happened primarily in manufacturing (Japanese cars/electronics) but sooner or later it will extend to other areas of life. I say bring it on.


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  1. Jay Singh — on 17th February, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    The points Martin Jacques makes are interesting in the historical context of European colonial arrogance. But placed in the context of the issues we are faced with now ie: freedom of speech, secular liberal society etc they are only peripherally relevant. Those issues are settled and must be defended.

    Apart from that, it is all history and open season. And he is right, too, that in the future India and China will play an increasingly implortant role in European life – Europe will simply have to adjust to it, and deal with it.

  2. inders — on 17th February, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

    I disagree with Mr Jacques, Europe has managed to realise cultural relatvism partly through tough lessons of past Imperial policy. Wether or not newer world powers such as the US, or the emerging world powers such as China will have to go through a likewise period of colonial expansion to learn some of the lessons that Europe has learnt is a matter that as yet to be resolved.

  3. soru — on 17th February, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    Europe has managed to realise cultural relatvism partly through tough lessons of past Imperial policy.

    Well, most of it. Denmark never had much of an empire…

    ‘Strong’ multiculturalism and imperialism are closely related – both imply one government for multiple distinct cultural groups. I definitely think one major reason right wing newspapers in the UK didn’t print it was because of lessons learnt from the imperialist past. I think someone on the Telegraph used a quote out of ‘Flashman’.

    soru

  4. Peter Pedersen — on 17th February, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    @ Soru:

    “Denmark never had much of an empire”

    Maybe you should study history ?.
    Denmark have – in previous times of history – had an empire.

    I think the reason why British newspapers didnt print the drawtings was that they didnt have balls.
    Maybe they were scared of the consequenses ?.

    Either that, or it was an order from above….

    Their doublestandards are horrific: They dont mind showing protesters with hatefull and threatening messages, and they dont mind showing torture scenes either.

    But Cartoons ?. Hell no !.

    Peter

  5. Don — on 17th February, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

    Slightly OT, anybody have an e-mail address for Islam-Archiv-Deutschland Central Institute? I feel inclined to express my admiration but google doesn’t seem to help. Those guys have class

  6. Peter Pedersen — on 17th February, 2006 at 7:03 pm  
  7. Don — on 17th February, 2006 at 7:07 pm  

    Thanks, Peter.

  8. inders — on 17th February, 2006 at 7:43 pm  

    Ask the Icelanders about the Danish Empire, or even the Celts ?

  9. Bijna — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:00 pm  

    Greenland is Danish right?
    Which makes Denmark the largest country in Yurrip.

  10. Peter Pedersen — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:21 pm  

    Yup – Greenland is part of the danish kingdom.

    But beyond Greenland, Denmark used to hold large parts of Northern Europe, Most of Scandinavia (Sweden and Norway, Iceland etc.), a big part of norhern Germany, The baltic states, as well as colonies in Africa and the Carribbean.

    Something to be proud of.. hmpf.. maybe not. But Surely Denmark was an Empire before in history.

    I think we previously also even held London, and reached the outskirts of Paris. But those were way back in the good old Viking times ;-)

    In modern times all we can brag of is winning the european championships in football anno 1992, and then of course more recently, the “lets stir up the middle-east-cartoons”.

    hehe

    :-)

  11. Peter Pedersen — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:28 pm  

    Ohh and i forgot to mention – which might interest a few of you – also a colony in India : Trankebar (Tarangambadi).

    Pete

  12. Jay Singh — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:37 pm  

    Danish colony in India? Tell us more.

  13. coruja — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:40 pm  

    While it is true all cultures might think theirs is superior to others, so far in recent history it has only been possible for Europeans to dismiss, trivialize and demonize other cultures/’races’ (and only really in order to justify stealing their resources!)

    With the recent economic developments it is inevitable the Europe has to deal with other cultures on an equal basis, at least in business if nothing else.

    I think it is a very hard thing for the Europeans to accept, since only around 50 years ago these people were considered sub-humans and unable to govern themselves, and when they fought to for the right to be govern themselves, they were castrated, killed and hung from trees (Kenya, ‘Mau-Mau’ massacre, circa 1950), for example.

    Regardless of whether writes such as Martin Jacques are considered ‘bleeding heart liberals’ or a writer such as Edward Said’s work gives rise to a whole anti-Edward Said industry, taking in to account all the ifs and buts, the gist of the article is correct.

    And while it is true that concepts such as civil liberties, freedom of press were pioneered by Europeans, they and other universal inalienable human rights were only extended to other Europeans and not the subjugated groups.

  14. soru — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:41 pm  

    Cool, a Danish imperialist. Get all sorts here.

    First google result on ‘Danish empire’ got me this:
    http://test.throneworld.com/wiki/index.php/Danish_Empire

    Up until the end of the 18th Century the Danish Empire had been the archrival and archenemy of the Empire of Swedish-Russia. Despite this, the Danes had seen fit to intervene in Britain following the Méxica support of the Stuart dynasty in the 17th Century. When the Méxica took control of the British Isles again in the late 20th Century the Danes and their old adversaries the Swedish-Russians formed the European Alliance to counter Méxica expansion into the Old World leading to World War and the use of nuclear weapons in Skawtland.

    The real one is slightly less extensive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_colonial_empire

    soru

  15. Jay Singh — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:42 pm  
  16. Peter Pedersen — on 17th February, 2006 at 8:59 pm  

    @ Soru:

    “Cool, a Danish imperialist. Get all sorts here”

    I am not sure if you are referring to the winning of European Championship 1992 ?.

    But yeah : 1966 is a long time ago !

    Pete

  17. Old Pickler — on 17th February, 2006 at 9:14 pm  

    And while it is true that concepts such as civil liberties, freedom of press were pioneered by Europeans, they and other universal inalienable human rights were only extended to other Europeans and not the subjugated groups.

    Well, a message to all non-Western cultures: if you can’t beat ‘em – and let’s face it , you can’t – join ‘em.

    Only Western cultures treat women as equals. And that’s half the population. And that’s for starters.

  18. David T — on 17th February, 2006 at 9:17 pm  

    What marks European political culture – or, more properly, non-nationalist liberal political culture – is it values political rights not only because it regards them as useful, but because they were not easily won. I object to a blasphemy law, for example, because it prevents the proper scrutiny of ideas, but because the at other times and in other places, we would have been persecuted for exercising that right.

    Liberal political culture is pragmatic, and at the same time, reflexive. It constantly questions itself and seeks to remake itself. That, I think, is one of the strengths of it: that it is adaptable and non dogmatic. It is also instinctively anti-totalitarian.

  19. David T — on 17th February, 2006 at 9:28 pm  

    Now – in English!!

    What marks European political culture – or, more properly, non-nationalist liberal political culture – is it values political rights not only because it regards them as useful, but because they were not easily won. I object to a blasphemy law, for example, not simply because it prevents the proper scrutiny of ideas, but because the at other times and in other places, I would have been persecuted for speaking my mind.

    Liberal political culture is pragmatic, and at the same time, reflexive. It constantly questions itself and seeks to remake itself. That, I think, is one of the strengths of it: that it is adaptable and non dogmatic. It is also instinctively anti-totalitarian.

  20. Francis Sedgemore — on 17th February, 2006 at 10:25 pm  

    Something to be proud of.. hmpf.. maybe not. But Surely Denmark was an Empire before in history. [Peter Pedersen]

    And it still has a rightful claim to the Scottish-occupied Orkney and Shetland Islands. These islands were were pawned to Scotland in lieu of a royal dowry, but when Denmark-Norway (it was one kingdom at the time) tried to pay the dowry and reclaim the islands, Scotland refused to accept the money and annexed Orkney and Shetland to the Scottish Crown.

    Very few islanders now think that they should revert to Denmark or Norway, but to this day Orcadians and Shetlanders do not regard themselves as Scots, and many pay allegiance to the Norwegian and/or Danish Crowns, not Queen Elizabeth II of England. Whatever, Orkney and Shetland are culturally Nordic, not British lands.

  21. Jay Singh — on 17th February, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

    Whatever, Orkney and Shetland are culturally Nordic, not British lands.

    Did you see the movie Breaking the Waves directed by Lars Von Trier? Set up there in the Scottish islands, and I think I read an interview with him when he said that the setting of the film is Scandanavian, that it is a world I am familiar with.

  22. Peter Pedersen — on 17th February, 2006 at 10:36 pm  

    Well maybe it isnt too late for a re-union ?.

    We can offer a good national football team and some Carlsberg.

    In return we can have some Whiskey and a tattoo-show.

    How about that for a cultural exchange ?.

    Pete

  23. Francis Sedgemore — on 17th February, 2006 at 10:45 pm  

    Did you see the movie Breaking the Waves directed by Lars Von Trier? Set up there in the Scottish islands,… [Jay Singh]

    Oh no, don’t get me started on that misanthrope Lars von Trier! Over at Harry’s Place there’s a current thread on “must-miss” films, and Lars von Trier is right at the top of the list. I have to say that I agree 100% with Gene on this, despite my fondness for Danish cinema.

    As for “Breaking the waves”, it was filmed in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, and in particular the Isle of Skye. The islands to the west of the Scottish mainland (“Western Isles”) were, like Orkney and Shetland (“Northern Isles”) once under Viking rule, but ethnically they were never majority Scandinavian; unlike Orkney and Shetland, where Nordic genes predominate to this day, despite large-scale Scottish and English immigration. Skye and the other Hebridean islands are Gaelic (Q-Celtic), and that is the cultural and linguistic heritage of the truly Scottish islands.

  24. Jay Singh — on 17th February, 2006 at 10:52 pm  

    Well I have not seen any of his other movies, but I thought ‘Breaking the Waves’ was depressing and uncomfortable.

  25. Francis Sedgemore — on 17th February, 2006 at 10:57 pm  

    In return we can have some Whiskey and a tattoo-show. [Peter Pedersen]

    You’ll not find kilts, bagpipes or deep-fried Mars-bars in Orkney and Shetland. A little whisky (there’s a distillery in Orkney) perhaps, but little else Scottish. The flying of the Scottish national flag is also frowned upon.

    As for cultural exchanges, there already is, though because of the ferry links it’s mostly between Shetland and Denmark. Orkney has no year-round direct ferry link to Denmark or Norway, just very expensive flights. Shetland is the hub of the North Atlantic islands ferry network, covering Denmark, Norway, Shetland, Faroes and Iceland.

    Carlsberg-Tuborg is piss. Undskyld, men det mÃ¥ siges. :-) I lived in Frederiksberg for three years, and never found a decent Danish beer! Still, I suppose Carlsberg-Tuborg is better than Scotland’s Tennants. They brew some excellent darker ales in Shetland and Orkney (I lived in Shetland for a year), but it’s small-scale, micro-brewery stuff.

  26. Francis Sedgemore — on 17th February, 2006 at 11:01 pm  

    Well I have not seen any of his other movies, but I thought ‘Breaking the Waves’ was depressing and uncomfortable. [Jay Singh]

    Lars von Trier seems to make watchable films only when he collaborates with others. Take, for example, the 2003 film “De fem benspænd” (The five obstructions). This was the only von Trier film I could watch all the way through without screaming inside. It is mostly the work of director Jørgen Leth, but there’s a lot of von Trier’s influence in it.

  27. Peter Pedersen — on 17th February, 2006 at 11:19 pm  

    @ Francis Sedgemore:

    I agree that Carlsberg is p*ss!.

    But lately a lot of smaller breweries are trying their best to produce something drinkable, so if you fancy a pint i think you will be able to find some good stuff in Denmark now.

    Pete

  28. Francis Sedgemore — on 17th February, 2006 at 11:46 pm  

    …if you fancy a pint i think you will be able to find some good stuff in Denmark now. [Peter Pedersen]

    I know you’re right, but we’re talking about little-known micro-breweries trying to get a toe-hold in a market dominated – by fair means and foul – by the Carlsberg-Tuborg conglomerate.

    I’d go back to Denmark tomorrow if I could find another job there (last one was a fixed-term contract). Great country and people. Talking of which, did you(s) see the appalling article in Wednesday’s Guardian by the Danish musician Kiku Day, which basically said that Denmark was turning fascist? Complete shite! Today’s Grauniad has three letters in reply to Ms Day; who, it should be noted, doesn’t live in Denmark, and hasn’t done so for years.

    By bringing this up I’m trying to get back on-topic, following the interesting little historical aside about Orkney and Shetland.

  29. Siddharth — on 18th February, 2006 at 12:25 am  

    Well, a message to all non-Western cultures: if you can’t beat ‘em – and let’s face it , you can’t – join ‘em.

    Fuck that. Only constipated flag wavers think that way.

    I reserve the right and the luxury, as do all people exposed to diverse cultural traditions, to pick and choose the best bits as they see fit. I’m not saying ‘what we need is a great big melting pot’ or anything as twee as that. But the smart Brownians on Pickled Politics know what I’m talking about.

  30. Old Pickler — on 18th February, 2006 at 12:29 am  

    Aha, but what you don’t realise is that Chicken tikkha is English.

    As indeed is constipation. And toilet humour in general. Rule Britannia.

  31. Jay Singh — on 18th February, 2006 at 12:42 am  

    Here comes Old Pickler. The Mother Superior of boiled cabbage and Olde Englande. Real Ale, real stale.

    For some reason, I imagine that she looks exactly like Sid James

  32. Jay Singh — on 18th February, 2006 at 12:45 am  

    Francis Sedgemore

    Yeah, I think that article by Kiku Day was dodgy. I happen to have a desi friend who lived in Copenhagen for a couple of years and he says that it is nothing like that.

  33. Old Pickler — on 18th February, 2006 at 12:50 am  

    For some reason, I imagine that she looks exactly like Sid James

    Thanks for the compliment. The Carry On films are the epitome of Britain’s greatness – our contribution to the world. Who can forget “Carry on up the Khyber”, with Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond and the scheming Khazi of Khalibar? “Ooooh, Matron, I was once a weak man.” “Once a week’s enough for any man.” And, of course, or should that be of coarse, from “Carry on Cleo”, “Infamy, infamy. They’ve all got it infamy!”

    Rule Brittania. QED.

  34. Jay Singh — on 18th February, 2006 at 12:56 am  

    I wish Old Pickler was funny. But she’s just cold porridge.

  35. Old Pickler — on 18th February, 2006 at 1:03 am  

    Well, you’ve got to get your oats somewhere, and beggars can’t be choosers.

    G’nite.

  36. Siddhartha James — on 18th February, 2006 at 2:21 am  

    Excuse me, but I reserve the right to lay claim on chicken tikka and Sid James. After all, e’s one of me ‘eroes ‘in ‘e?

  37. Peter Pedersen — on 18th February, 2006 at 2:33 am  

    @ Francis Sedgemore:

    I just read the article and i am baffeled as to the low levels people are willing to bring the issue.
    The article must be written by someone who has very little contact with the danish society.

    Fx. she claims that liberal politicians were getting away with saying that one of their party’s main aims is to stop Turkey joining the EU. Those statements werent made by liberal politicians at all, and they certainly were challenged in the public debate.
    She also calls it a right wing government. It is a liberal-conservative government we have. A lot of people even blame the primeminister to act like a social-democrat. The so-called right wing party got 12,5 % of the votes. They support the current government, however are not part of it. A lot of their issues are traditional centre-views, fx. about the direction of the welfare state. Traditional Social-democratic issues, adapted from that party. When it comes to immigrant issues you can call this party right-wing, since they have some strong viewpoints on mass-immigration.
    Mind you : the ammount of foreigners in Denmark who come either to work or study here are on a 5 years high at this very moment.

    She continues with more lies:

    “Meanwhile the 200,000 Muslims living in Denmark have been denied a permit to build a mosque in Copenhagen. There is not a single Muslim cemetery in the country”

    Thats a red-handed lie !. Already back in 1992 the planning authorities gave the permit. There are many mosques in Denmark. Go to http://www.islam.dk and see for yourself. In fact you can order a tour in one of the mosques here !. Usually in buildings not originally inteded for mosques, but all acknowledged religious groups here (including the 14 stately acknowledged muslim ones) are allowed to build their own houses of worship. In 2001 Saudis wanted to sponsor a new mosque but their efforts failed due to lack of funding from their part, and internal queries in the muslim community here in Denmark.

    And to claim that there is no muslim cemetry is also a str8 up lie. There are cemetries in many cities among others Copenhagen, Odense and Aarhus.

    She paints a picture of Denmark as a fascist country.
    I think she should stick to blowing the flute !

    Pete

  38. Francis Sedgemore — on 18th February, 2006 at 3:28 am  

    Pete:

    Kiku Day was writing for the Grauniad: a English (and I mean English, not British) newspaper whose principal readership tend to be insular middle-class liberal-left types. Look at the article in this context, and the motivation should become evident.

    The first of the reponse letters published on Friday was enough to demolish Day’s “arguments”; mine and Lasse Thomassen’s are superfluous. The København-resident author of the first letter, Pedro Poza, is clearly clued-up on the situation with regard to the proposed Grand-Mosque in Copenhagen. As Poza wrote, no such formal *application* for planning permission has been made, as the Muslim community in the city has yet to get its arse in gear as regards financing, among other things.

    I think it’s a shame that the Danish Embassy in London didn’t respond to the Grauniad article, as there are enough factual innacuracies therein to warrant such an offical response. Among the chatterati in England there is little comprehension of the realities outside their own narrow sphere of influence, so unless others shout loudly enough the English chatterati will believe pretty much everything they read in the Grauniad.

  39. Vikrant — on 18th February, 2006 at 6:26 am  

    OP for starters Chicken Tikka is pukka Indian (Punjabi to be particular) Chicken Tikka Masala is English dish in its own right.

    Only Western cultures treat women as equals. And that’s half the population. And that’s for starters.

    Oh so, western culture is sort of homogeous culture is it? Moreover your ignorance of non-western cultures in shocking. Indian cultures for one are highly diverese. Theres one community down in Kerala called Nairs ; They are matriarchial community and have been that way since last mellenium.

  40. Bikhair — on 18th February, 2006 at 6:29 am  

    Vikrant,

    Me and Old Pickler go way back. One thing you have to keep in mind when you speak to her is that she doesnt really, I mean REALLY, know anything and her best comeback is to ignore you, completely.

  41. Vikrant — on 18th February, 2006 at 7:20 am  

    Thankee Bikki, But OP ‘n me are longtime ‘blog-pals’ from JW!

  42. raz — on 18th February, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    Old Pickler is just desperate for some Asian cock.

  43. Vikrant — on 18th February, 2006 at 12:08 pm  

    Raz methought you’d polite to women thrice your age. Thats not Asian tehzeeb is it?

  44. Siddhartha James — on 18th February, 2006 at 1:17 pm  

    raz, act your age not your shoe size.

  45. Old Pickler — on 18th February, 2006 at 1:42 pm  

    Old Pickler is just desperate for some Asian cock.

    Hmm. Don’t fancy this, do you?

  46. El Cid — on 18th February, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

    European society might not be ideal but on certain issues, such as civil liberty, freedom of press etc, it is way ahead of others.
    Don’t forget charcuterie and cheese

  47. El Cid — on 18th February, 2006 at 3:04 pm  

    You’re bang on Sunny, IMHO. We learn off them, they learn off us, more people make money. As a country, we should be preparing. We have some huge advantages that we could lever off, such as the international connections and language skills of a multiracial society and the British Brand.
    I just wish more schools taught Mandarin, like Lauriston primary school in Hackney.
    I guess that makes us globalists. Problem is, what about the environmental costs? I’ve never been a dog-on-a-string, cider-swilling, wash-once-a-year, undernourished, vegan, swampy-type but all that recent stuff about greenland iceshelfs melting has gotr me worried.
    Top tip: buy your next house on high ground.

  48. Sunny — on 18th February, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

    Grauniad: a English (and I mean English, not British) newspaper whose principal readership tend to be insular middle-class liberal-left types.

    I don’t fit into that category but its my newspaper of choice :)

    I think Coruja makes some good points. I never actually meant to say that Europe was a great place pre-1970s, when it woke up from its sexist and imperialist slumber and started reforming.

    All societies go through ups and downs. 6th century India way very open for religious and philosophical debate and freedom of speech, with Mahavira (founder of Jainism), Siddartha (founder of Buddhism) and Hindu priests actively argued about philosophical concepts and sought to win approval from a growing bunch of followers.

    They had female equality and openess towards religion/philosophy in the days when Europe was still living in caves. Now its all forgotten…

  49. Siddh James — on 18th February, 2006 at 3:34 pm  

    Yeah, what I find strange is the result of the ossification of Hinduism. Fundamental Hindu extremists are against all forms of overt sexuality, “offensive” depictions of Hindu Gods/Goddesses etc. And yet ancient Hinduism is resplendent in sacred nudity and sexuality. One can almost understand the Wahhabist clerics demanding these things, because such issues are part of the Islmic liturgy (the decadence of the Qureish, their false gods etc), but its more difficult to expect that from Hindus, since Hinduism has been inclusive of all forms of primordial imagery.

    I guess the gripe of fundamentalists of all religions is more a protest against Modernity as such, and is why they have more in common with each other than they would allow themselves to accept.

  50. Vikrant — on 18th February, 2006 at 3:52 pm  

    Sid, there is no such thing as fundamental Hinduism. Hindutva is very little to do with religion.`It’s a political ideology while Wahabbism is clearly a religious school of thought.`Actually it is the Hindu middle class (sanitised to Victorian morals during the Raj) frowns upon overt expression of sexuality.

  51. Siddh James — on 18th February, 2006 at 3:56 pm  

    How do you define the politics of someone like Narendra Modi? He would be the first to state that this politics hinges on his personal and spiritual identity as a Hindu.

  52. Bikhair — on 18th February, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

    Vikrant,

    Wahhabi is not a school of thought. Muhammed ibn abdul Wahhab didnt come with a new school but was considered a revivalist.

  53. Jay Singh — on 18th February, 2006 at 6:14 pm  

    Everybody

    A must read interview with Amartya Sen in todays Guardian.

    Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen warns James Harkin of a tyranny posing as tolerance

    In the light of the recent furores over Islam and multiculturalism, Sen has written a new book, Identity and Violence, to be published in this country in July, which will take a trenchantly critical look at the British interpretation of multiculturalism. Sen sees it as his mission is to rescue what he sees as valuable in the idea of multiculturalism from the prevailing British idea of “plural monoculturalism”, which he takes to be damaging and divisive.

    What grates on Sen is the idea that individuals should be ushered like sheep into pens according to their religious faith, a mode of classification that too often trumps all others and ignores the fact that people are always complex, multi-faceted individuals who choose their identities from a wide range of economic, cultural and ideological alternatives. “Being defined by one group identity over all others,” he says, “overlooking whether you’re working class or capitalist, left or right, what your language group is and your literary tastes are, all that interferes with people’s freedom to make their own choices.”

  54. Jay Singh — on 18th February, 2006 at 7:04 pm  

    Sunny

    Will you check your e-mail please? Important.

    cheers

  55. Vikrant — on 19th February, 2006 at 5:00 am  

    Savakar the founding father of Hindutva had no qualms about eating beef which is still a strict no-no for most Hindus (& Sikhs i believe). Savarkar was agnostic Hindu, i believe.

  56. Sunny — on 19th February, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

    You’re bang on Sunny, IMHO. We learn off them, they learn off us, more people make money. As a country, we should be preparing.

    El Cid – did you see that piece in the Guardian last week about how Spain has rising to be a big player in European economics? How Spanish companies were buying out British ones, showing the country had become a serious player etc etc. I thought of you when I saw that :)

  57. Garry Glitter — on 19th February, 2006 at 6:47 pm  

    What a bunch of sycophants….pampering to one another’s uninformed banal rhetoric should be a crime……yuk

  58. Jai — on 19th February, 2006 at 7:36 pm  

    Vikrant,

    =>”Savakar the founding father of Hindutva had no qualms about eating beef which is still a strict no-no for most Hindus (& Sikhs i believe).”

    There is an on-going argument within Sikhism about whether or not it is acceptable to eat meat. For those who do not think there is any religious conflict in such matters, there is no religious prohibition on eating beef. The only criteria is that the animal should have been killed quickly and without unnecessary suffering (ie. no halal meat, “battery” farming, etc).

  59. Sunny — on 19th February, 2006 at 8:34 pm  

    Jai – I don’t think its a big issue. Anyone who is still debating whether killing animals for eating pleasure is a morally right choice or not in today’s food plentiful society clearly hasn’t thought their morals through properly.

  60. El Cid — on 19th February, 2006 at 9:13 pm  

    No I didn’t read it, but I’m aware of the issues.
    Thing is, Spanish companies are looking to buy growth abroad because Spain is slowly disembarking from the gravy train of EU subsidies as these get diverted east.
    They’ve had it relatively easy because they have been able to lever off above-average domestic growth rates. However, now they must adapt to the real world and growing competition from cheaper production centres in Eastern Europe, and one of the things they are doing is diversifying their risks by expanding abroad.
    The fact many have succeeded in snapping up assets in the UK is a tribute to Britain’s commitment to free trade and the free flow of capital.
    In Britain we don’t tend to let our economic thinking get blurred by vague and illogical notions of national symbolism like, say, the French.
    So there are two sides to the story.

  61. Lurker — on 20th February, 2006 at 2:30 am  

    Stuff Martin Jacques, a worthless communist. His opinions are irrelvent.

  62. Trofim — on 21st February, 2006 at 7:44 pm  

    Worth noting, apropos this Jacques bloke:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2049788,00.html

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