Saturday, July 7, 2007

It’s simply racist to claim that there is a ‘Western’ imperialism

Much is made of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment as defining moments in the creation of ‘Western’ civilization, but as we all know these periods simply marked the rediscovery of Classical Eastern culture. Nor was it the Europeans that kept the flame of Eastern civilization alive. It was Islam. When the Christians had gained control of the Western Roman empire they attempted to extinguish the flame of Eastern civilzation. Emperor Justinian closed the philosophical schools and the Christians went on an orgy of book burning and violence to suppress all heretical and ‘pagan’ beliefs. The Classical tradition reappeared in the Christian world after European travellers encountered Arabic translations of Greek works, particularly in Islamic Spain.
There really is no ‘Western’ civilization, so why use the term? As far as I’m concerned it’s used by the intellectually lazy and those with a political agenda, particularly a leftist, anti-imperialist agenda. One of the false impressions the post-colonial critique gives, particularly in the hands of those who see themselves as victims of ‘Western’ colonialism, is that imperialism and colonialism is the fault of ‘white’ Europeans. It isn’t. Imperialism and colonialism occurs as a result of state expansion. The history of China is the history of such expansion with several emperors attempting to gain control of regional competitors, first within China and then in neighbouring cultures. If you travel throughout Asia, through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, etc, to Korea and Japan you easily see the influence of Chinese culture on the region, in architecture, in astrology, in clothing. Japan essentially borrowed Chinese culture almost in total.
Indian culture expanded into Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and down to Indonesia. The island of Bali is the last remaining Hindu culture in the region, the invading Muslim culture almost wiped out the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms of SE Asia.

No comments:

Post a Comment