Monday, April 12, 2004

London (OK, Britain) calling

There's lots of good stuff up at Harry's Place this morning.

Harry himself, his family away, spent Easter alone reading "The Communist Manifesto." (Mrs. Harry's a lucky woman to have a man she can trust not to tomcat about at the first opportunity. I'm not married but, in that situation, the thought of which strip club serves the best brunch would have at least passed through my head.) Harry calls attention to passages neglected by contemporary Marxists. In keeping with my more Bernsteinian (look it up) leanings, I thought that I would call attention to the need for the revision of one of those passages in light of subsequent findings.

For those who think 'globalisation' started in 1991:...In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes.
"Globalization" started long, long before the bourgeoisie. Remember how the demand for pepper and other spices drove the age of colonization? Or how the Romans hankered after Chinese silks? And let's not forget the importance of trade to other ancient powers. Phoenician traders established colonies like Carthage all along the Mediterranean coast.
In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction.
The venerability of "local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency" is an illusion, probably the influence of the same 19th century nationalist ideas that still cause so much trouble today in the form of multiculturalism (as a doctrine rather than a state of affairs) and postcolonialism, whose acolytes refuse to address the endorsement of innumerable nationalisms (many of which will be antagonistic to each other) implicit in the seemingly antinationalist, "right on" doctrines they follow. Give Osama bin Laden a shave and a suit; he's not so different from Slobodan Milosevic. (Heh, heh, Marx said "intercourse.")

On a related note, Marcus calls attention to the venerability of multiculturalism (as a state of affairs rather than as a doctrine) in Britain, linking to a site for the BBC program "Blood of the Vikings" (which sounds like an attempt to attract a larger audience with a Hammer-esque title), where I found the following passage.
While it's difficult to put an exact figure on it, we can say that as a result of Jim's study, Viking input in Norway was somewhere between 60-100%. This figure does not rule out complete replacement of the indigenous Picts by Vikings - the genocide theory suggested by Brian Smith from his study of place-names.
Not only has multiculturalism been with us a long time, but so has genocide. After all, you can't have racism if you don't have another race to hate. The double standard to which the left holds those who commit ethnic cleansing and persecution can no longer be afforded or excused. If it is fair to criticize the Spanish for imposing their culture and religion on the peoples they conquered, then it is fair to hold Muslims to the same standard.

For something completely different*, Johann Hari contemplates the following.
Disagreeing with somebody's view is not the same as disagreeing with their right to express that view....Why must some parts of the left imply that every disagreement with them is a small step towards cutting out their tongues?
Didn't Johann get the memo? This has been the official party line for ages.

This reminds me of the case of Gao Zhan, a sociologist arrested in China in March 2001 for allegedly spying for Taiwan. Pressure from NGOs and the US government helped win her release in July 2001, ahead of a visit by Colin Powell. This past winter, she pleaded guilty to charges of illegally exporting to China (!) technology with potential military applications.
Says Xiao Qiang, the former executive director of New York-based Human Rights in China, which lobbied hard for Gao's release: "It's time Americans realized that just because someone is a victim doesn't mean she's a hero."
Apparently Xiao Qiang never got the memo that the equation of victim with hero has been the cornerstone of left-wing thought for at least the past thirty years.

*OK, maybe not so different.