All cultures are not equal

This belief that modernism lies at the root of all evil is so pervasive that only right-wing reactionaries, like Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher or the late Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, it sometimes seems, are willing unreservedly to defend (CLR) James’ belief in the superiority of ‘the learning and profound discoveries of Western civilisation’ [‘The Making of the Caribbean People’, in Spheres of Existence: Selected Writings (London: Alison and Busby, 1980)].

So the real question to ask in the wake of 11 September 11 is not, as many have suggested, ‘Why do they hate us?’, but rather ‘Why do we seem to hate ourselves?’. Why is it that Western liberals and radicals have become so disenchanted with modern civilisation that some even welcomed the attack on the Twin Towers as an anti-imperialist act? spiked

Contrast with this review, from The Economist. of Will Hutton’s The World We’re In:

America has become a danger to us all, according to a British bestseller. Can such a view honestly be sustained? … George Orwell said that some ideas and opinions were so foolish that you had to belong to the intelligentsia to believe them. Will Hutton is a left-wing British journalist who took time off in mid-career as a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, to become an intellectual. On the evidence of this book, he has succeeded brilliantly in proving the wisdom of Orwell’s remark.

The reviewer holds up the following excerpt from Hutton’s discourse to prove to readers of the review that he is not exaggerating in concluding that Hutton is inane:

“This, then is contemporary America. If it is rich and entrepreneurial, it is also economically volatile, profoundly unequal and nothing like as productive as it could be…Its democracy, one of the great Enlightenment triumphs…now resembles pre-Enlightenment Europe in its dependence on money and private power. This is the orderly country whose citizens routinely shoot each other. This is where worship at church is rivalled only by worship of the shopping mall. It is becoming a land of individual strangers questing for their inner happiness because the public realm is so corrupted and depleted. It is a country that has burst its limits; an economy that is on the edge. And the whole is overshadowed by a tenacious endemic racism that is the still unresolved legacy of slavery and the civil war.”

IMHO, the reviewer is hoist on his own petard; it’s a pretty cogent thesis, if the excerpt is representative…