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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Filed in: Culture,The World