Thursday, 18 June 2020

Europe is structurally bad

In Die Zeit a noteworthy article: ‘We, eternal racists‘. Claim: Europe is structurally racist. Without colonial exploitation and slavery, the development of Europe’s prominent place in the world would not have been possible:

“Europas Aufstieg wäre ohne koloniale Ausbeutung und Versklavung unmöglich gewesen.“ 

In an understandable and laudable attempt to make readers more aware of unconscious racist behavior, the whole of European history and identity is painted as racist: everything European is white privilege, a luxury bought on the destruction of ‘The Other’: the non-European. There is, by implication, no European achievement, in whatever field, which can escape the burden of crime on a vast scale. Enlightenment values, democratization movements, human rights formulations (postwar Eleonore Roosevelt) are ALL Western products which have in them a concealed contempt for everything that is not European/Western (did Indians or Chinese or Africans have any say in the formulation of human rights?). Western culture is thus also entirely and structurally racist, a product of a vile civilisation.

All of this is a flagrant lie. For instance, historical research has revealed that, although colonial exploitation has contributed to Europe’s wealth, and many economic activities could somehow be related to slave trade, these forms of exploitation consisted only in small percentages in relation to the total of economic benefits. In such accusatory generalizations, the benefits that ‘the colonies‘ experienced are, conveniently, left out of the equasion. For instance, recently the International Institute for Social History in Leiden (Netherlands) have carefully calculated what the contribution of the Dutch slave trade was in 1770 to the general wealth of the country. In that year, the atlantic slave trade was at its highest. It appeared to be 5,2% of the gross domestic product. For other European countries at the time it will have been something similar, on average. The idea that all European wealth is due to exploitation and colonial suppression, that it is somehow ‘stolen’ from non-European areas, leaves out all the other trade, like fishing, exchange of goods which were produced within Europe, etc. 

It makes one think of the bland nonsensical lies of cultural critic Edward Said, one of the founders of the academic field of ‘postcolonial studies’, who in ‘Orientalism’ claimed that all Western attempts to understand ‘the East’ and ‘Easterners’ were distorted projections of Western fantasies, all coloured by racist prejudice. The reality is, that many European scientists spent much and sometimes all of their life time locally to explore and understand Eastern cultures, the products of which fertilized European science and culture, and greatly contributed to the understanding of the ‘Orient’. Not for Said: only people like him, who were orientals by birth, could say something worthwhile about their own culture. If this is not cultural racism, I don’t  know what else it could be. His connection with Daniel Barenboim is thus tainted with quite an amount of nonsense and unscientific posturing.

The implication of such idiocy as exposed in the Zeit article is, that European culture as a whole is supposed to be tainted by crime and that any rejection of it is morally justified. So, not only painting, literature and science is burdened, but also classical music, which is the product of white privilege based upon exploitation of ‘the other’, i.e. classical music is inherently racist by its sheer existence. Structurally so.

It is understandable that people with a personal distaste for Western culture, and/or for classical music for political reasons, would wholeheartedly welcome such ideas, they seem to justify any attack upon any Western art, especially what is inherited from the past.

I think one cannot object loudly enough against such absurd ideas which have nothing to do with reality.

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