Cultural Imperial Hubris
In Christopher Carr’s Off the Cuff regarding Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt, Tod and Notme had a small exchange that piqued my interest and started a mental log rolling. We as westerners feel that freedom of the press in incredibly important. Do Egyptians? The reason I am asking this is because we who come from an Enlightenment culture assume many things of others in society. And these assumptions can, to the untrained/unbelieving eye look like cultural imperialism/whitesplaining when applied outside the west, to borrow terms that are often used by the left in our political debate.
“I’d say it’d make sense for it to keep you up at night because the enlightenment is what it takes and looking back on our enlightenment what precipitated it? Blood, a great deal or blood and war. Hundreds of years of it.Now other societies seem to move up the ladder faster now that there’s a previous example, so maybe the Middle East/Islamic Society will only take decades of wars? If so then even the optimistic position is pretty damn depressing.”
That is from esteemed commentor North, in Tods post Why Do We Continue To Trust These [people]? But as non-western groups did go through periods of increadible bloodshed, but in the end did not come to the enlightenment, what are we, who charish the ideals of equility, freedom of speech and other liberal goals, to do with societies that don’t share those beliefs?
Take for example sweat shops. We can look at them and think of horrors such as the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, but do the people of Bangladesh or Nigeria need to learn the lessons of those horrors on their own, and come up with their own answers? Or should we implement top down solutions from the safety of the west, possibly eliminating jobs as the country starts to climb the economic ladder? Will they see this as another form of Colonialism, keeping them in the global poorhouse? Because indeed, I, as a libertarian, do see this as another form of Colonialism, or whitesplaining/cultural imperialism. Now I realise that both Nigeria and Bangladesh are former colonies, but does that change the equation, or does is show greater paternalism? Does it change if the example is moved to Thailand?
This is not a call to change your beliefs. This is not to accuse anyone of stupidity. What I am asking is if this is indeed whitesplaining/colonialism/cultural imperialism or not. And if not, why not?