Tuesday, 6 January 2009


LIVING OUTSIDE TIME: "When I think about the character of China I struggle.
This surely is not only because I do not know the language. I sense that it is a
different world, not just a different part of the world. Despite the obvious,
profound differences between Islam and the West; despite, moreover, the
increased personal freedoms here in China - with respect to personal matters
such as alcohol and relationships – I do feel that China is more exotic and
strange to me than was Kuwait."

Cultural differences are like alien worlds. Indeed, culture moulds our thoughts so much that we cannot even conceptualise ideas for which we do not have precedents. And the value and
rightness of Western knowledge are not empirical absolutes. Which often makes me
wonder how presumtuous it is, indeed - as if they were divinely ordained - to
measure everything by the moral standards of the West...

The Judean-Christian morality may well be regarded as the chief
instrument regulating legislative questions subsequent to the Roman Empire. But
I, myself, am more than puzzled. What Christianity achieved by a bold stroke of
dogmatism, the world now accepts as an inherent good, which plainly it is not.
It is nothing but the identification of the supreme power with the supremely
self-serving choice. And by that identification the Anglo-American dominated
West bestows upon itself a legitimate and divinely sanctioned international
authority. And don’t tell me, folks, that world supremacy was not acquired by
effective and brazen occupation.

Nor does it prevent me from recognizing that oriental cultures have
completely different conceptions of either freedom or personal constraint.
Muslim culture wilting under the heel of the American imperialist, means more to
its adherents than all the social opportunities of a way of life directed at
nothing but the pursuit of happiness. And just how honestly anyone can claim
that the world promised by America is the best of all possible worlds, is rather
a matter of perspective. As for that freedom we worship so much, we have
considered chiefly its rewards. Impressive though it is, it may well be the
secularised version of the descent into Hell. So far as Islamists are concerned,
every constraint and taboo which builds a civilized society has been swept away.
Sexual license is at a premium, the dissolution of the family progressive,
homosexual union administratively sanctioned, paedophilia rife, crime out of
control, violence glorified, drugs the great sustainer of the multitudes.
Whereas Islam - with its gigantic affirmation of Allah - has all the attributes
associated with the propagation of the human heritage and the continuity of the

Or has it? Or is that which dominates the entire bloody sequence of
current events but a dichotomous fanaticism, impounded in its own mad,
delusional "freedom" one the one hand, and a deeply entrenched fundamentalism on
the other?

It is never a matter of iniquity. It is always a matter of cultural or
religious perspective. But it is compelling, nevertheless, to observe how the behaviour of one
side always reinforces that of the other.

There is no way I am going to forego the freedom my Western heritage
bestows. But while you and I believe it possible for Western Hellenistic
Enlightenment, ultimately, to democratise the entire globe, I personally, find
it an imposition to think that a fourteen-hundred year old theocratic culture
like that of Iraq or Afghanistan can be emancipated during the course of a
single war. The reform of Islam is a contradiction of terms. The democratisation
of Islam signals the death of its own oriental identity. Nothing less. Indeed,
let the record show that this war has been responsible for turning the austere
religious tenets of an obscure Saudi tribe - the Wahhabis - into a worldwide
Islamic fundamentalist revival!



Crushed said...

I think one thing we are in danger of here, is losing sight of objective good.

And there is such a thing.

Religions feel about in the dark for it, but ultimately it really is 'The greatest happiness of the greatest number'.

Sure, western Capitalism falls short. But it has had a history of moving towards it. To a degree where- to use aq point in your article- we are ABLE to fit homosexual unions into our culture without it harming our culture.

No, we clearly still fail. We have a flawed and- now- anachronistic economic system. And the so- called war on terror is largely a late colonial war- or perhaps, a late globalisation war. And in many ways, the west doesn't have the moral highground.

But one day a global society WILL exist. And I like to think that when it does, it takes it's morals from the greatest possible happiness of the greatest number of the living. Not guessing what a hypothetical deity thinks.

Selena Dreamy said...


Had a couple of e-mails like tht. I don't have an HSBC account, and, of course, I don't wish to open it. Obviously, it's a fraudulent pitch.

But...is the law interested in this kind of stuff?

Just wondering...

strombombolino said...

Delete it, Selena, honey. It's just spam!

Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to go to Disneyland myself. The original in Florida if you would like to sub me at all...

Selena Dreamy said...

Copacabana, Brazil is on my mind, Mutley - Rio de Janeiro!

Tickets at credit-crunch prices. You can afford that, can't you?