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Third-World Burkeans

A national broadcast journalist told me on Friday, “You have the most intelligent commenters anywhere.” This e-mail, from “London Harry” — a 17-year old British student  — justifies that verdict. I post it with his permission. What an interesting set of observations! Here’s London Harry’s original post — his “political mental map,” [1] in which he talks about having been born in Japan to a white British father and an Anglo-Indian mother, and moving back to the UK for his and his brother’s education.

Harry e-mailed today to say:

Thanks so much for starting the Mental Maps series. I’ve really appreciated reading your readers’ responses to my contribution, and am presently stuffed with food for thought. It’s also been very interesting to encounter Mental Maps from other Britons. They’ve been a much-needed reminder that in our age of endless high-political squabbling and Twitterstorms, thoughtfulness and self-examination survive among private citizens of all classes and ideological leanings.

I write to offer a few thoughts on some questions of cultural difference which were thrown up during the discussion of my Map. I hadn’t previously thought of my skin colour as being an important conditioning factor in the formation of my politics, but putting pen to paper has made me realise how much I’ve been predisposed against the racial left by my daily interactions with loving people from white backgrounds. I’d probably have a very different take on things if I was a working-class West Indian or Pakistani boy my age in Brixton or Camberwell.

These questions of cultural difference and ‘the Other’ are dark and disturbing for Britons because they demand engagement with dark and disturbing aspects of our past: the persecution of Jews and Catholics; the brutal excesses of the British Empire; the oppression of Ireland and the Highland Clearances; the transatlantic slave trade. For the moderate majority of Britons, they are difficult to reconcile with our self-conception as the midwives of common-law justice and parliamentary democracy because there exists no liberal or conservative intellectual tradition which deals with them. As such, so many of us fall back on the idle assumption that these are not politically or morally important events, and that those commentators who seek to address them are ideologically-driven grievance-peddlers. They aren’t. No brown or black Briton who seriously wants to understand their personal hinterland can avoid comparing Britain to the old country, whether it is India or Jamaica or Pakistan. That comparison necessitates some understanding of why almost all postcolonial nations have sunk back into violent racial and sectarian politics and economic and cultural dysfunction since their independence.

The fundamental issue is the role played by British colonists in liquefying these countries’ political foundations. In the absence of a postcolonial liberalism or postcolonial conservatism, three intellectually flimsy and morally objectionable schools of thought rule the roost.

The first is the neoconservative thesis, preached by Niall Ferguson. Its logic is attractively simple. The normative political traditions of Britain – the rule of law, parliamentary democracy – and its social innovations – medicine, education, modern logistics – are grounded in reason and goodness. To oppose their introduction to primitive extra-European countries is therefore irrational and bad. Yes, Pakistan is a mafia state with retrograde blasphemy laws and in the economic doldrums, not to mention its sponsorship of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Yes, it’s impossible for middle- and working-class Indians to make it into the Westernised professional class without paying bribes, which in any case will do nothing to protect their daughters from gang-rapists on public transport. Yes, an unholy alliance between Jamaica’s tiers-mondiste [Third Worldist — RD] politicians and its gangland barons has driven the populace they rule into drug-addled acquiescence. And yes, the British Empire did do some vaguely nasty things. But the diaspora of these countries in the West should be grateful to Britain for teaching them the ways of civilised man. It’s just common sense.

The second is the tiers-mondiste thesis, advanced by those on the far-left who think history boils down to an all-consuming struggle between the capitalist West and various oppressed peoples in the Third World. In this telling the atrocities of Empire show bourgeois white liberals’ talk of freedom, humanism etc. to be mere ideology, empty abstractions serving as instruments of geopolitical oppression. What the proponents of ‘imperialism’ were always really interested in was money and power. Small wonder the Third World is such a mess today. The proponents of this thesis naturally have little to say about how their rhetoric has been appropriated by postcolonial despots, or about the retrograde aspects of Third World religion and society which have nothing to do with their colonial past. In any case, the idea that liberty and medicine don’t actually mean anything should probably be discouraged in an age of political instability.

The third is the realist thesis. This concurs with the neoconservative thesis that empire was at root a humanitarian enterprise encouraged by worldwide strategic competition between European powers – never mind slavery. Yet the tragedy of empire lies not in its brutality – mere means-to-an-end – but in the failure of British statesmen to realise that these countries were irredeemably savage, as the postcolonial present attests. As the neoconservative thesis is rightly dismembered by the left, the intellectual right is increasingly falling back on this interpretation. But the assumption that the morals and politics of men and women are determined entirely by which of the world’s irreducibly different cultures they originate from is nihilistic in its denial of individual moral agency. And if Britain withdraws from all engagement with the outside world for fear of wasting its time, neither Britain nor the outside world will be the better for it.

If these three interpretations are wrong, why have conservatives and liberals not come up with anything better? I think the answer lies in cultural change. For the whole of the Cold War ethnic minorities did not have enough political agency for any politician to bother discussing our colonial past, so forty years were wasted. In the Nineties, when the end-of-history mentality and postmodern ironical posturing were in the ascendancy, would-be postcolonial Solzhenitsyns were either ignored or sniggered at. Why drag up the past when the future looked so bright?

And then something weird happened to Britain. In the wake of 9/11, Iraq, 7/7 and the 2008 crash, Britons got serious. Sincerity became the new cool. Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Osborne and Nigel Farage now lie mangled at the bottom of the greasy pole: no-one likes public-school jokers any more. Comedy has stopped being funny, at least on the BBC. The laddishness and double-entendres of Nineties and Noughties popular culture has given way to earnestness and debased sentimentality (see The Great British Bake Off, if you can bear it). Politicians who treat everything with epic piety are rewarded with party leaderships. And our politics is all the worse for it. Now that everyone is utterly convinced of the fundamental goodness of their own hearts – a conviction unacceptable to true conservatives – compromise and cooperation between different political tribes is unheard of. And because anything other than total ‘authenticity’ is haram, our culture has become childish both in its vulgarity and its naivety. No politician or intellectual thrown up by the New Sincerity has the curiosity or comprehension of man’s moral complexity to engage with the darkest happenings in British history. The neoconservative thesis and the realist thesis are rejected out of hand because notions of cultural superiority aren’t very nice, and the tiers-mondiste thesis is ignored because doubting the sincerity of the West’s commitment to liberal traditions or the very value of those traditions just seems so cynical. The irony is that it is precisely because ethnic minorities behold a hellscape of hypocrisy, idiocy and ceaseless sanctimony every day that they choose not to ‘integrate’, and justify their self-imposed segregation with the tiers-mondiste thesis.

Yet I detect a way out. In recent years ethnic-minority scholars like Uday Mehta and Ed Husain have sought to approach questions of cultural difference through a Burkean lens. These Third World Burkeans deplore the colonial project not because of its failure to impose liberalism on the Third World but because of its success. Just as the Jacobins were wrong to tear down the pillars of the French state in the hope of raising Utopia from the rubble, so British colonists were wrong to annihilate ancient monarchies the world over in the name of progressive enlightenment. This is not to vilify liberal ideas, qua the tiers-mondistes, or to vilify the peoples of the Third World, qua the realists. And it is certainly not to fecklessly excuse colonial violence, qua the neoconservatives. It is simply to acknowledge that it is far easier to upset a political order than to create one, and that good intentions are not enough. Moreover, violently imposing universal ideals on different particularities is inimical to the love of mystery and tradition so central to conservatism. In this, the Third World Burkeans have a venerable ally in the steadfast enemy of imperial expansion Edmund Burke. As ethnic minorities in Britain gain greater political and cultural agency, the colonial question will eventually have to be answered. The only way for brown, black and white people to do this without stepping into the quagmire of anti-Western radicalism or pro-Western jingoism is by journeying back to Burke.

Thanks, Harry. Thoughts, readers? Hector St. Clare, Harry’s comments beg for a response from you.

Here’s my thought: The Spectator ought to be cultivating Harry as a writer. A man who can write and think like that at 17 has a bright future. I’m going to do what I can to connect them to him.

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47 Comments To "Third-World Burkeans"

#1 Comment By Turmarion On November 10, 2018 @ 8:26 pm

The laddishness and double-entendres of Nineties and Noughties popular culture has given way to earnestness and debased sentimentality (see The Great British Bake Off, if you can bear it).

Hey, I like The Great British Bake Off! OK, I feel better now–carry on!

#2 Comment By Jonathan Scinto On November 10, 2018 @ 8:53 pm

This was written by a teenager? Yeesh, my teenage years reflect quite poorly in comparison. At 17 I was… well, not the most thoughtful or well spoken of people.

#3 Comment By Colin Chattan On November 10, 2018 @ 9:18 pm

Very clear and perceptive analysis! And “London Harry” is only 17?!?

#4 Comment By Mark B. On November 10, 2018 @ 9:34 pm

“And because anything other than total ‘authenticity’ is haram, our culture has become childish both in its vulgarity and its naivety.”

That is about to change when the consequences of Brexit hit Britain, the monster-baby born out of this childishness, vulgarity and naivety. I hope you Brits will feel the pain real good and in time become adults once again.

And thank you for your very interesting observations and insights. You are honest too: in an extreme class-society like Britain I am pretty sure you would have had a very different take on things when you would have been a working-class West Indian or Pakistani boy your age in Brixton or Camberwell.

#5 Comment By Viriato On November 10, 2018 @ 9:37 pm

Very interesting reflections. I too am in awe of this 17-year-old’s writing abilities. He’s clearly read far, far more than the average 17-year old… or 27-year-old… or 37-year-old, or, well, you get the point.

I wonder, though: How will this “Third World Burkean” approach avoid degenerating into hatred of Britain similar to that implicit in the tiers-mondiste thesis? Is there any way to reconcile a critique of empire with acknowledgment of and appreciation for the good things the British did?

#6 Comment By Furor On November 10, 2018 @ 10:05 pm

Conservatism was created by David Hume who was only followed by Edmund Burke. Arguably the whole tradition of empiricism in Britain might be conservative with its preference for evidence and dislike for abstract, practical reason.

#7 Comment By Wilfred On November 10, 2018 @ 10:10 pm

I have often wondered, if British rule was such an oppressive thing, why so many inhabitants of former colonies want to immigrate into Britain.

#8 Comment By KS On November 10, 2018 @ 10:34 pm

Finally a decent comment about the Empire.

However a fatal flaw in the entire conversation is the attempt to find a version of history that feels good, whatever that version might be.

What is the problem in recognizing that the Empire had good and bad qualities? It did, that is 100% accurate. Why do we need to pick a side?

Then how about some zen wisdom? The past is the past, it is dead and gone. This moment now is what we have. What will we do with it?

#9 Comment By Khalid mir On November 10, 2018 @ 11:37 pm

“The irony is that it is precisely because ethnic minorities behold a hellscape of hypocrisy, idiocy and ceaseless sanctimony every day that they choose not to ‘integrate’, and justify their self-imposed segregation with the tiers-mondiste thesis.”

I love the way this young man thinks he can represent the views of ethnic minorities! Based on what, I’d like to know.

“hellscape of hypocrisy”? For Pete’s sake! I don’t think I’ve met a single person who thinks like that (perhaps an extremist would use such language. He might even go on to say there was a “ceaseless” sanctimonious attitude). I’m sure such views help him put people like me in one of the three convenient ‘boxes’. But if you, you know, actually talk to real people…

The question of integration (or what he calls ‘integration’) is, of course, a lot more complex. Do people really “choose” not to integrate- and if so is it solely because of some alleged hypocrisy. Sorry Rod, but that sounds like nonsense on stilts. There are all sorts of issues here related to living in close proximity to workplaces (factories, in the 1950s), cheap housing, poor language skills, low levels of education (which hinders social mobility) and a deep sense of comfort derived from living next to people who may be from villages and small towns that were close to your own back in the old country..that’s certainly a case with a lot of the Mirpuris and I’ve heard if said of the Bangladeshi communities as well).

I think he’s ignoring the fact (I think it’s a fact but I may be completely wrong) that Britain (and the local British people) was not very keen on ‘integration’ in the first place. This, as far as I know, only became a distinct policy concern with multiculturalism in the 1980s.

On the second thesis, there is much to be said about the easy option of blaming other people for your own political (and moral) failings. Entirely agree with that. But I think the thesis itself has quite a lot going for it (Mike Davis’s Late Victorian Holocausts is good on this). It also conveniently ignores that in a lot of cases it has been western governments who have propped up these awful dictators. Not saying the Saudis would have been really great people without western intervention but I fail to understand how one can seriously talk about the trajectory of that country (or other autocratic countries) without American and British support for that despicable regime.

Ed Hussain a scholar? Dear o dear! The Burkean option, in reality-without a genuine tradition, that is-leads to the ‘Islamization’ that you rightly note in your other posts. As Ghazali would say, once you talk about tradition you’re already out of it.

A point relating to your other posts, if I may: Despite the growing number of ‘religious’ loonies it has to be said that the major parties in Pakistan are still, thank God, largely secular. There is no going back, the thread is broken. The liberal option is, in my opinion, the least bad for “He who plays the angel ends up playing the beast”.

#10 Comment By From The Third World and proud of it On November 11, 2018 @ 12:17 am

I might be misreading this but from my perspective, this falls into the common trap of placing the White Man on a pedestal of goodness, at the centre of history.

>> ” I’ve been predisposed against the racial left by my daily interactions with loving people from white backgrounds. I’d probably have a very different take on things if I was a working-class West Indian or Pakistani boy my age in Brixton or Camberwell.”

If we agree that Muslim terrorists are not representative of all Muslims, Idi Amin is not representative of all Ugandans and so on, why should not the same treatment be extended by the working-class Indian to White Britons?

To do otherwise should be called out for what it is, tribalism.

Regarding the issue of post-colonial interaction between the descendants of colonisers and colonised. It strikes me as fairly simple–Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.

Because what the anti-imperial argument is, realistically, is an argument for the imperialism of the colonised. Igbo, Yoruba, Mughal, Maratha, Aztec, Zulu, where ever, they were conquerors/oppressors too. It is not the fault of the colonisers that they were stronger.

Their mistake really was a failure to properly enforce assimilation–if you doubt its possibilities, I nudge you towards Islam, the Arabs, the Zulu, hell if you want to be cheeky, the French.

The clear barrier was/is colour. Then again, and so what. I am surrounded by people of my colour, yet divisions abound. It is a human quality I think, the question then is a question of equality before the law. That is all that should matter to the modern mind. A meritocracy and equality before the law.

To that issue, colonialism is irrelevant. I personally see it as a closed door, except for those who profit–literally– from its continued discussion.

Its stock-in-trade is the resentment of the lack of success by many of the Third World States.

The solution then lies with the aggrieved, not the descendants of past aggressors. The Germans in 1870 I am sure would have derived satisfaction from revenging the razing of the Palatinate at Sedan but to get there, they had to choose to step into history as actors and not observers.

My critique of HFL’s compromise position is this–and so?

The Polish and Jewish governing mechanisms were as decimated as those of the third world, look at them today. To put it bluntly, on a simple morality scale most of those traditions did not deserve to survive. If the colonialists had not done it, the natives would have. The Chinese and Ethiopians erased their monarchy even more thoroughly than the French and British did the supposedly erased political structures of their natives.

Rectifying their absence, however, is up to the resentful. Resentment is good, centres the mind on what needs doing. That, however, requires an utter rejection of the passive position of those from Third World Basket cases towards History. Which exists, after all, to be shaped by human will.

I have always preferred Niall’s chauvinism to the infantilising of his ideological competitors.

#11 Comment By Joshua Xanadu On November 11, 2018 @ 1:26 am

I have long been ruminating about the rise of Western Civilisation since I was a pugnacious, Chinese American boy – one who recoiled at the thought that there were anything innately superior in the West and retrograde in the East. Unlike many other Asian Americans, I have always refused to extinguish my Asian-ness in the face of a lifetime of racial stereotyping. However, the question why Westerners succeeded while Easterners lagged always bothered me, let alone other civilisations around the world. It’s not that Westerners were inherently smarter, or more creative, or had a stronger will to power. No, the truth I came back to again and again was one of the first lessons about civilization that I learned as a new immigrant to the U.S. studying social studies in second grade. The specialisation of labor – and the dignity of most job classes – beginning after the Middle Ages led to a spectacular rise in technology and foundational strength. You had great minds in China throughout the ages, but it was a society of an inverted pyramid where a select few were granted privileges and dignity for all, while everyone else was a peasant. Even the merchant class was looked upon as below the peasant farmer. Without the dignity bestowed upon the blacksmith or horse breeder, the fisherman or tailor, society and technological progress stagnated. Perhaps a Judeo-Christian respect of the individual is part of this success equation. This is also why the elites today, ironically, are subverting the Western model in favor or the the rule of a select few – leaving the truck driver, the C&C lathe operator, the custodian, and customer service rep fighting for scraps in an economy that eliminates their dignity.

#12 Comment By kijunshi On November 11, 2018 @ 2:01 am

Had too much caffeine today, cannot sleep, and one paragraph in this work annoys me.

It may well be true that the three points of view on colonialism are the only ones now present in Britain’s government. But for heaven’s sake–can’t there be ANY complexity in one’s view on colonialism?! Can’t it be true that colonialism was about the strong taking as much as possible from the weak, AND that some of those “weak” cultures were, from the start, inherently unequal, misogynistic, and brutal in a way which the colonizers had limited ability to ‘fix’? Or is there no room for subtlety in politics? There’s no room for subtlety in politics. But the downside of that is that everyone as so pegged above is WRONG. I guess that’s Harry’s point.

But. The Great British Baking Show is a good show. It’s not “unbearable” to watch – it just consists of people not specifically being cruel to each other during every on-screen second.

I’ve a good mind to strap young Harry to a chair and force him to watch a steady stream of American reality TV. He’ll either be crying and begging for the GBBS in a matter of hours… or spiritually dead.

#13 Comment By Panta On November 11, 2018 @ 6:34 am

Yet the tragedy of empire lies not in its brutality – mere means-to-an-end – but in the failure of British statesmen to realise that these countries were irredeemably savage, as the postcolonial present attests.

Burke himself argued precisely the opposite in the parliamentary impeachment of the British (East India Company) governor-general Hastings. He was highly critical of their imposition of Western ways and laws on India, which had well-developed bodies of law since antiquity. So whatever your poster may be, a Burkean he ain’t.

As for the rest of his opinions on British imperialism and colonialism, they are standard colonialist tropes. Speaking as an Indian, our British overlords never lost a chance through the 1-2 centuries they ruled over us to tell us how “irredeemably savage” we were and how fortunate we were to be ruled by them. If in the process, they had to break some eggs (or tie some people to the mouths of cannons and blow them up), we’d have to take that as bitter medicine.

Perhaps you and your commentariat have been immersed in Edward Said’s opinions or something, otherwise I don’t know why these opinions would elicit such wonder.

Finally, in case you and your commenters aren’t aware, “Anglo-Indian” refers to the mixed race European-Indian population that arose in the late 18th/early 19th century in India. In the racial hierarchy of the Raj, they tended to identify strongly with the colonial masters and exhibited racist attitudes towards Indians the same way the British did. Needless to say, they bought into British opinions about Indians and rejected their Indian heritage. Most of them emigrated to England or other English colonies after India’s independence. So I’d not look to an emigre Anglo-Indian to have any kind of sympathetic view (or even a proper understanding) of India and Indians. Not to say they can’t, but, as I’ve opined above, your emailer’s views miss the mark as far as I’m concerned.

#14 Comment By SB On November 11, 2018 @ 8:42 am

I am also impressed by this fellow’s writing.

On the whole I like the breakdown into the three categories, and I find I must plead guilty to one of his charges: I am rightist trending towards the “realist” view that it was always hopeless to think one could westernize the colonies.

But when I read his idea that the explanation for post-colonial difficulties might boil down simply to the loss of pre-existing monarchies, velcro sim., I do wonder this:

Has anyone gone through the list of colonized peoples and calculated whether they were better off before? Seems to me there should be a few candidates for “no,” e.g., Meso-Americans under Aztec domination, Britons pre-Roman conquest. If sometimes the colonized are better off, doesn’t this imply that the specific quality of the colonizers and colonized are key?

I am speaking, of course, from my cozy Anglo-American nest, which is progressively spoiled by its (fake) sex enthused nestlings; and wondering whether life might not be better if some colonial power would only come along and clean things up…

#15 Comment By LeastAmongSapiens On November 11, 2018 @ 9:36 am

The Irish are probably the oldest examiners of these questions. How do we assess the benefits vs. the downsides of the British Empire? How do we assess ourselves? Who are we?

I have grandparents from Ireland born at the turn of the last century. They spoke only English. Their parents spoke both Irish and English. Their grandparents spoke only Irish. So cultural change and historical amnesia can happen very quickly.

My grandparents were Irish Republicans. I grew up with a tribal Irish-American view of the British.

Today I’m surprised to find myself philo-British. How did I get here? I never planned to get here.

Several reasons:
1) Understanding my identity as an U.S. citizen lead me to abandon any thoughts of any retained type of Irish-ish identity.
2) Serving in the U.S. military alongside UK and other Commonwealth soldiers, who are some of the best soldiers and best people in the world.
3) Studying history, particularly salvation history and the conquest of Christianity over paganism, in all its disgusting manifestations, from antiquity through the Norse through the New World.

A sense of history, of all of it, gives one a better appreciation for contemplating historical tragedies, including historical tragedies suffered by one’s own ancestors. It doesn’t lessen the sadness to think about the tragedies but it does temper inclinations to hatred.

Being a descendant of the Conquered doesn’t have to mean hatred and anger today.

As a Christian, I am grateful to my ancestors who said Yes to the Gospel, and who put away false “gods” to turn to the true God. And that would be true however those ancestors came to Christ.

#16 Comment By Locksley On November 11, 2018 @ 10:25 am

“Tiers-mondiste”? Third-worldist? We used to have three worlds: NATO (first world), Warsaw Pact (second world), and neutralist (third world), but the second world bit the dust when the Warsaw Pact died. After that, ‘neutralist’ made no sense either. It’s been more than a quarter-century since ‘third world’ made any sense at all.

#17 Comment By David J. White On November 11, 2018 @ 10:45 am

Then how about some zen wisdom? The past is the past, it is dead and gone. This moment now is what we have. What will we do with it?

The past may be dead but it is hardly gone. We are still living with the consequences of past actions; as has been often noted, much of the trouble the Middle East has experienced in the past century and which continues today is a consequence of the actions of the victors in WWI, the centenary of whose end we commemorate today.

#18 Comment By David J. White On November 11, 2018 @ 10:47 am

I love the way this young man thinks he can represent the views of ethnic minorities! Based on what, I’d like to know.

Um, based on his being part Indian. Or did you miss that?

#19 Comment By Adam On November 11, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

Every time I read, “I am going to read x through the lens of y” I shudder. This is not to say that important observations cannot be gleaned from such an approach–but it is to say that the outcome has already been decided. A Marxist reading of the American Revolution, for example, will (shockingly) provide a Marxist understanding of the entire situation. To claim that a Third World Burkean will “provide a way out” is likely untrue. If the arguments depend on the system, then to reject the system is to reject its conclusions or to claim that the conclusions can be arrived at without the system itself (rendering the system unnecessary). To be fair, I detest anything that smells of Hegel and a comprehensive understanding of anything as systems tend to magnify the personal biases of those who have created them.

The third (realist) thesis is a straw man. The argument that “the failure of British statesmen to realise that these countries were irredeemably savage, as the postcolonial present attests,” fails to consider that one can hold this position without succumbing to racism or the notion of “native savagery.” Maybe this argument is actually advanced in the UK, I have no idea, but the more intellectual form of this argument (and one should always try to give the best formulation of an idea–not the easiest one to write against) is merely that these countries were not predisposed to liberalism. To claim that this is a “nihilistic” position ignores the fact that people are not merely the byproduct of culture but those who make it. Culture is both internal and external to a given person, both made and accepted, both living and dead. As there is a living aspect to it, one cannot claim that a cultural predisposition towards a given thing violates one’s individual agency as one’s individual agency helps to create that very predisposition.

There is also a slight of hand in the final paragraph that needs to be further clarified. “These Third World Burkeans deplore the colonial project not because of its failure to impose liberalism on the Third World but because of its success… This is not to vilify liberal ideas…” Well, it sounds like a vilification of liberal ideals.

This was well-written; however, some key arguments gloss over important considerations.

#20 Comment By WEG On November 11, 2018 @ 12:58 pm

I think the contributions of Khalid Mir and From The Third World above are very good, but I would make some further points.

“For the moderate majority of Britons, [“dark and disturbing” historical aspects] are difficult to reconcile with our self-conception as the midwives of common-law justice and parliamentary democracy…. As such, so many of us fall back on the idle assumption that these are not politically or morally important events, and that those commentators who seek to address them are ideologically-driven grievance-peddlers. They aren’t. No brown or black Briton who seriously wants to understand their personal hinterland can avoid comparing Britain to the old country, whether it is India or Jamaica or Pakistan.”

First, what percentage of “brown and black” Britons actually _have_ an “old country,” really? If they were born in Briton, and have never even been back to the land of their parents or grandparents, how much of a valid comparison are they able to make?

I would say that all Britons, like all Americans, should take their history seriously and learn as much as they can about other cultures. But this is true regardless of their racial background or the country of origin of their parents or grandparents or ancestors.

Commenter Joshua Xanadu is Chinese-American. My ancestry is British/Irish/Scottish. That doesn’t mean he is beholden to learn as much as he can about Chinese history (which is simply amazing – they were for a long time the pre-eminent civilization on Earth) and I am not, or that I am beholden to learn about B/I/S history and he is not.

Finally, that blanket statement, “[t]hey aren’t,” to me is false. Often people will bring up historical facts in false and misleading ways, as commenter “From the Third World” above points out (at least obliquely).

Rod Dreher thinks this kid is some kind of prodigy. Well, for me the key sentence that explains it this one:

“Yes, it’s impossible for middle- and working-class Indians to make it into the Westernised professional class without paying bribes, which in any case will do nothing to protect their daughters from gang-rapists on public transport.”

Hmmm. Let’s discuss India. What’s been happening in India, during this 17-year old kid’s lifetime? Lot’s of good news, that’s what – India’s economy has been doing very, very, very well, certainly by recent historical standards. So after mentioning Pakistan’s “in the doldrums” economy and before mentioning Jamaica’s gang and drug problems, how does India get characterized? As a place where the daughters of the working and middle classes are being gang-raped on the bus! Well, okay! Now I know about India!

It’s veritable Trumpian sleight of hand. Or should I say Dreherist? I completely agree, this kid will go far in today’s journalistic culture.

#21 Comment By Ted On November 11, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

Furor: Hume? Really? How about Hobbes? Bolingbroke? And Burke is an ambiguous godfather for conservatism.

It is never to be forgotten that Burke was a Whig. He was famously an advocate for the rights of Americans (meaning, as he would say, the planters). His great friend, Dr. Johnson, a Tory ever there was one, detested the Founders: he of course closed his pamphlet “Taxation no Tyranny” with “”How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” “Yelps” is I believe italicized in the original in good 18th century fashion.

Burke certainly was no imperialist, but he also believed that our obligations are determined by our circumstances. KS, zen aside, is onto something. It’s why writers like Coates help no one. For them discussion of race isn’t politics but romantic fate tragedy. The question is how do we go on from HERE? And there Burke can help.

#22 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On November 11, 2018 @ 1:51 pm

I too am impressed that a 17-year old can write like this but having one Indian grandfather who despised India does not immediately qualify one to write knowledgeably about India, let alone the third world.

The major flaw I see is that London Harry takes as a given that “almost all postcolonial nations have sunk back into violent racial and sectarian politics and economic and cultural dysfunction since their independence.”

This is silly. China and India, which account for most of the third world’s population and which were ruled to different extents by the European powers, are vastly better off now than under colonial rule. For most of history, they were the wealthiest countries in the world but they were reduced to penury by European colonial rule.

To take just one example, the British (with the connivance of the British crown) ran vast opium plantations in India and forced the Chinese government to let them sell the processed opium to Chinese. The Cali cartels are minor league drug-traffickers compared to Queen Victoria and her countrymen. Tariffs on British manufactured goods were set very low both in India and China (see Treaty of Nanjing), destroying local manufacturing.

One result of this kind of foreign rule is that some 60 million Indians perished in vast famines in the 18/19/20 century: even as late as 1943, 3 million Indians perished in the Bengal famine. These famines “stopped like clockwork” once we booted the Brits out.

[2]

By the time the British left, India contributed 0.1% of the world economy (it used to be about 20%). Today China and India are the 1st and 3rd largest economies by GDP (adjusted by PPP) and they have the highest growth rates in the world. Of course we have a long way to go in terms of per capita GDP to make up for what we lost but it is absurd to dismiss this progress by referring to corruption and gang-rape.

Meanwhile Europe, shorn of its colonies and no longer able to make money by looting and drug trafficking, is heading back to being the rump of the Eurasian land mass. Who today gives a damn about Portugal or Spain? In another generation, the UK (if there still is such a thing) and France will likely follow them into irrelevance.

Some useful data:

[3]

“According to Bairoch, in the mid-18th century, “the average standard of living in Europe was a little bit lower than that of the rest of the world.” He noted variations within both groups in 1750, citing the Asian civilizations of China and India as being the wealthiest among the Third World group, and Russia and Eastern/Southeastern Europe as being the poorest among the First World group. He estimated that, in 1750, the average per-capita income of the East (Asia and Africa) was roughly equal to that of Western Europe, and that China’s per-capita income was on-par with the leading European economies. He estimated that it was after 1800 that Western European per-capita income pulled ahead of the East.”

While I have focused on China and India, similar statements can be made about other Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan.

In short, European colonial rule is a small blip in history of the world, and most countries are just reverting back to the way things used to be before Columbus set sail for India. Blaming yourselves for conditions in third world countries is just a way for you guys to feel you are still important.

#23 Comment By David J. White On November 11, 2018 @ 2:07 pm

However, the question why Westerners succeeded while Easterners lagged always bothered me, let alone other civilisations around the world. It’s not that Westerners were inherently smarter, or more creative, or had a stronger will to power. No, the truth I came back to again and again was one of the first lessons about civilization that I learned as a new immigrant to the U.S. studying social studies in second grade. The specialisation of labor – and the dignity of most job classes – beginning after the Middle Ages led to a spectacular rise in technology and foundational strength.

In his 1987 book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy suggests that an extraterrestrial observer looking down on Earth in the year 1450 or so and being asked which of the various centers of civilization on Earth was on the verge of breaking out of its own region and coming to spread across the globe, there are all sorts of reasons why one wouldn’t have picked Western Europe. Part of Kennedy’s answer as to why Europe came to dominate is that one of the features of Western Europe that has been cited as weakness–political decentralization–was actually a strength. Whereas China and the Islamic world tended to be more centralized, Europe was filled with separate, emerging nation-states that were quarreling with one another, which led to competition among them. So, it wasn’t so much that Europe was competing with China or India or the Islamic world during the Age of Exploration; rather, the English were competing with the Dutch, the Spanish with the Portuguese, the English with the French, the English with the Spanish, etc. According to Kennedy, it was largely this competition among European powers that drove Europeans in the race for exploration and colonization.

#24 Comment By arga On November 11, 2018 @ 2:44 pm

First, India has been gloriously independent for 70 years. If it doesn’t like liberalism, it can adopt some other governing ideology. Second, if Indians (or any other people of color) feel mistreated in Britain, they can move to another country.

#25 Comment By JonF On November 11, 2018 @ 4:09 pm

Re: how does India get characterized? As a place where the daughters of the working and middle classes are being gang-raped on the bus!

It would just as easy to characterize the US today as the country with mass shootings, widespread drug addictions and ODs and politically violent gangs.

#26 Comment By JonF On November 11, 2018 @ 4:20 pm

Re: He estimated that, in 1750, the average per-capita income of the East (Asia and Africa) was roughly equal to that of Western Europe, and that China’s per-capita income was on-par with the leading European economies.

But by 1750 the hand writing was very much on the wall. China had enjoyed a brief renaissance under the Manchu, but its economy was still badly destabilized because the Chinese could never get control of their own currency (they were dependent on silver from the New World which they earned via trade). Also, China was several generations into a mushrooming ecological disaster as the clear- cutting of the highlands (where New World crops were planted, fueling immense population growth) was starting to produce catastrophic floods. In India the Mughal Empire had collapsed with European powers (especially Britain) taking an increasingly dirigiste role. The Ottoman Empire was far gone in decadence. It had lost Hungary earlier in the century, was facing an aggressive Russia to the north, and had lost its Maghreb provinces in North Africa. In 1750 you would indeed have bet on Europe– Atlantic Europe and Russia– as the up and coming powers of the future.

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On November 11, 2018 @ 4:44 pm

However, the question why Westerners succeeded while Easterners lagged always bothered me, let alone other civilisations around the world. It’s not that Westerners were inherently smarter, or more creative, or had a stronger will to power.

First past the post. Northern India had the rudiments of an iron industry, but the Brits arrived before it fully developed, and told them, never mind that, we’ll sell you iron tools, you just grow tea and cotton to sell to us. Not every area of the world would have had the same advantage — our Blue Labor African in England who used to comment here pointed out that Africa was limited by rivers that had significant waterfalls too close to the coast to serve as arteries of commerce. But it could have been India dominating manufacturing if a few features had shifted.

Its probably true that the farther a European country was from the large land-mass empires, the more opportunity it had to innovate.

China had a fleet exploring the globe before the Europeans had really got started, but some emperor decided to shut the operation down.

Janwaar Bibi is doing a great job today channeling Lenin’s analysis of Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, with the enormous caveat that until 1980 or so it was M-L orthodoxy that China and India and Africa could ONLY advance by embracing socialism. Nobody considered that they might be rising imperial powers that would eventually dwarf the North Atlantic powers.

#28 Comment By yahuofizlude On November 11, 2018 @ 5:13 pm

So I am guessing that the commenters who believe that the British Empire was a ‘force for good’ would also be as enthusiastic about defending Ottoman rule in Greece, or would all the empire apologists be hypocritical?

#29 Comment By William M. On November 11, 2018 @ 6:32 pm

My primary complaint about this discussion is how it treats the former territories of a truly globe spanning empire, with territories on every single continent (the UK still owns islands off of the coast of Antarctica) and containing virtually every single language, religion and ethnicity as a single, undifferentiated mass.

What do Canada, Singapore, Fiji, the United Arab Emirates, Uganda and, Guyana have in common, other than being former British territories? The results are as all over the map as the Empire itself. Even if you look at geographically, culturally and historically close countries, you still get wildly diverging results. An extreme example would probably be Jamaica and the Bahamas, but you can find lesser examples all over the place. Simply put, there is no Grand Unified Theory of Post Colonial Outcomes. It all depends on the particular characteristics of the specific place being colonized and the particular characteristics of the specific colonizers.

#30 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On November 11, 2018 @ 6:39 pm

So I am guessing that the commenters who believe that the British Empire was a ‘force for good’ would also be as enthusiastic about defending Ottoman rule in Greece, or would all the empire apologists be hypocritical?

I don’t understand this. As you can tell from my previous comment, I have no illusions about the British Raj but one has to give the Brits credit for some things such as:

i) Abolition of slavery.

As late as the mid 1700’s, Afghan and Central Asian Muslims were raiding India and taking Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh slaves like their ancestors had for 1000 years. It was the British who put an end to slavery worldwide, led by devout Christians like William Wilberforce. In contrast, Muslims still have mixed feelings about slavery because the good prophet was a slave owner, and as Western values retreat, you see slavery and sexual slavery reemerging in Muslim countries like Iraq and Syria (ISIS and Yazidi), Nigeria (Boko Haram), and Pakistan (see article below). Saudi Arabia banned slavery only in 1962, and they are apparently the most prominent “buyers” of Yazidi girls from ISIS.

[4]

ii) Equality under the law.

This goes back to the Magna Carta and English common law, “we hold these truths to be self-evident” etc. etc. This is an impressive idea that the rest of the world has tried to adopt with varying degrees of success. To my brahmin ancestors, few things were more self-evident than that people are created unequal, and that coming into physical contact with untouchables would pollute them horribly. Yes, the Brits have a class system and Jefferson et al. owned slaves, but as an aspirational goal, equality of all people under the law is remarkable, and the credit for advancing this notion must go to the Anglo-Saxons.

iii) On a more parochial note, Hindus and Buddhists must give credit to the Brits for restoring our monuments and temples instead of desecrating and destroying them, and for collecting the scattered fragments of our civilization, translating them into English, and studying them instead of burning them because they were “jahalliya”.

I could go on, but to go back to your original point, surely all empires are not created equal? To say there were admirable aspects of the British Raj is not to say there were no horrific aspects, and to say that one empire had some admirable aspects is not to say that all empires had admirable aspects. I don’t enough about the Ottomans in Greece to talk about that situation but I am making a general point.

#31 Comment By Khalid mir On November 11, 2018 @ 8:36 pm

@David J. White

I think he clearly associates himself with his white background. Which doesn’t, of course, mean that he can’t express his view. I’m not saying that I ( as a British Muslim) or J. Bibi or Hector have a more authentic view. But it is slightly odd that one person, who to his great credit admits others ( a Jamaican etc.) might have another view, thinks he can speak for all minorities by making these generalizations . In a similar vein, I’d be very wary of speaking on behalf of ‘the’ Muslim or making any general statement about them.

Not wholly surprising that Rod would give him the stage because the Burkean notion probably chimes with his own world view ( which is why, incidentally, journalism and blogs are probably not the best format for genuinely open discussions and often just one reinforce our initial views).

Nothing against the kid. Good luck to him! But what he says is, not too unsurprisingly, driven by his ideological view rather than any real reflection. Ho hum. “ They must be represented. They cannot represent themselves.” ( Disraeli)

#32 Comment By agnana On November 11, 2018 @ 8:45 pm

I think some of y’all ought to cut young Harry a break… I agree with Rod that he’s at least making an interesting argument. And if you’re going to argue that some of the sources he’s citing aren’t “real” scholars, at least provide some evidence-or point to people who are making a better argument. A key point that I like and appreciate is that it is important to recognize the agency of those who were colonized (especially in a country like Inida as opposed to, say the Congo). That said, a few points below.

One problem with any historical analysis is that it is hard to come up with realistic counterfactuals, particularly in a country as diverse as India. In fact, the British *did* work with native rulers (the so-called Princely states) over much of the country. However, it’s unclear how much this actually helped, although it is fair to note that the worst atrocity- the Bengal famine of 1943 that left more than a million Indians dead, even as Indians were fighting and dying for Empire- was actually fully a British responsibility. Is the fact that famine basically was brought to an end once the British left a true counterfactual- demonstrating that colonialism was irredeemably corrupt? Or would modern media and the fear of communism have caused the British to reform their ways?

It’s also worth remembering that Europe had a hard time adjusting to modernity- in particular the printing press and the rise of the middle classes starting in the 15th century. A Chinese looking at Europe in the middle of the 17th century in the wake of the conquest of the Americas, 30 Years War and the English Civil War, might have been forgiven for wondering whether Europeans were truly civilized and whether Christianity was compatible with human flourishing. A century later, the positions were reversed. Many parts of the Third World are similarly new to making the transition between feudalism/tribalism and modernity. It should not surprise it that this doesn’t always go well.

Finally, it is possible to make the case that British colonialism was as diverse in its impacts as the British themselves. Yes, there were psychopaths and racists who bear responsibility for genocide and murder. There were also the administrators who laid the foundation of the Indian university system which educated my grandfather and father, and which is still capable of doing first-class work. My dad deeply admired and loved the Scottish missionaries who taught him in school, while simultaneously despising the colonial attitudes of British politicians.

#33 Comment By agnana On November 11, 2018 @ 8:52 pm

William M,

While your comment in some ways mirrors my own, I think the author is arguing that some of those differences could be traced to the different ways in which the colonial administrators tried to deal with the individual cultures- enabling the elite to exploit a peasantry (Jamaica/Uganda), vs. importing a peasantry (Fiji), vs. working with the elite to build a stable government (Hong Kong), vs. importing a yeomanry (Canada) AND how the local cultures ended up adapting to these changes (i.e. Botswana vs. Uganda).

#34 Comment By Khalid mir On November 11, 2018 @ 10:47 pm

@ WEG,

you make an excellent point. When the author writes, “As ethnic minorities in Britain gain greater political and cultural agency, the colonial question will eventually have to be answered” I’m left dumbfounded.

I’m not even sure what “cultural agency” means but the idea that immigrants will retain much of a sense of a distinct cultural outlook down the road hardly seems realistic and is totally at odds with my own experience. Bar supporting the Pak cricket team, most of my cousin’s children (the 3rd generation) have no interest in Pakistan whatsoever – much less “the colonial question” (if anything, there’s been a return to an interest in religion..anyone vaguely familiar with what’s happening on the ground would tell you that).

I’m not sure I agree with J. Bibi’s view. To the extent that China and India “succeed” it will be on western terms (political and economic systems that are not ‘eastern’). If China in the modern age produces a Rembrandt or a Bach then I think we can meaningfully talk about civilisation.

#35 Comment By Robert Geilfuss On November 12, 2018 @ 6:57 am

(Reposting with correction of typos)
Excellent post from Harry, thank you.

One needn’t think of this only in terms of Burke, as there’s a definite affinity between his ideas and the rich tradition of thinking in German philosophy about cultural difference that begins with Herder. Even Marx, in his 1853 essay on India, described the evils of British rule in terms consistent with these precepts. He wrote: “England has broken down the entire framework of Indian society, without any symptoms of reconstitution yet appearing. This loss of the old world, with no gain of a new one, imparts a particular kind of melancholy to the present misery of the Hindoo, and separates Hindostan, ruled by Britain, from all its ancient traditions, and from the whole of its past history.” It was the dismantling of the Village System that Marx thought more destructive than any particular act of blood-letting or tyranny in India’s past.

The problem for conservatives, of course, and the question Harry leaves unaddressed, is what good is Burkean conservatism when the foundations have been razed and there is so little left to conserve? There’s a need then for some confidence in human creativity, to begin to think of us moderns and post-moderns as potential new law-givers and Founders. But, if you accept the tragic thesis of Freud in “Civilisation and Its Discontents,” i.e. that civilization and social cohesion are functions of repressive power, we’re faced with a dilemma for which modern values offer no acceptable solution. This is not intended as a brief for tiers-mondiste or Marxist tyranny, models I find deeply flawed. But if anything, we appear headed towards a kind of Tyranny 2.0, in which “social cohesion” is achieved through the isolating and repressive power of network technologies.

Scholarship can recover past “erasures,” the dignity of indigenous traditions that were denigrated and repressed, if not wholly destroyed, but it cannot so easily restore them as operationally functional social practices in the face of capitalist competition. We’re left with the unpleasant fact that the analytic science and power politics of the West did triumph over these indigenous traditions. We’re rightly revolted by the Hegelian thesis that History should be understood as the progressive unfolding of Reason in the World, and instead, like Nietzsche or Camus, we must commit ourselves to the impossible. Will still matters in History, and is probably the only force that can upset the bleak technological determinism currently on the horizon.

#36 Comment By JonF On November 12, 2018 @ 9:18 am

Re: equality of all people under the law is remarkable, and the credit for advancing this notion must go to the Anglo-Saxons.

To some extent an accident of history. Magna Carta itself is less the “Charter of English Liberty” than “The Long List of Noble Privileges”. It was up to later generations to expand those to a more universal understanding. In the War of the Roses the House of York drew a great deal of support from the mercantile classes and the towns and began to extend noble privileges and immunities to the richer sort of folk, a policy continued by the Tudors. Then in the 17th century the Party of Parliament and the anti-monarchial, anti-aristocratic Puritans mined the traditions of the past and announced that they applied to all Englishman (though not of course to those papist Irish) and since they won the Civil War, so it fell out even when the Stuarts were restored.

#37 Comment By yahuofizlude On November 12, 2018 @ 10:26 am

Re:ii) Equality under the law.

This goes back to the Magna Carta and English common law, “we hold these truths to be self-evident” etc. etc. This is an impressive idea that the rest of the world has tried to adopt with varying degrees of success. To my brahmin ancestors, few things were more self-evident than that people are created unequal, and that coming into physical contact with untouchables would pollute them horribly. Yes, the Brits have a class system and Jefferson et al. owned slaves, but as an aspirational goal, equality of all people under the law is remarkable, and the credit for advancing this notion must go to the Anglo-Saxons.

I’m not interested in what the British preached, only what they practiced, which, during the Raj, was discrimination on the basis of race. You certainly cannot argue against that. That our ancestors practiced ‘inequality’ on the basis of caste is entirely irrelevant.

Likewise, in the modern age, I am not interested in what ‘western values’ are, only the actions of the West, which isn’t at all noble. You will find that most Indians feel this way.

Thank you for proving that you are indeed a hypocrite.

#38 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On November 12, 2018 @ 12:01 pm

To some extent an accident of history.

Most good things are accidents of history, that began somewhere, and spread, because they were useful or beneficial. Somewhere, horses were domesticated, pigs were domesticated, bananas were domesticated, iron smelting was developed (that did develop independently in two or three places, one of them in Africa). Oh, and the wheel was invented. Whatever the accidents of history, democracy, equality, republican principles of government, were wholesome, healthy contributions to the development of humankind.

#39 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On November 12, 2018 @ 12:46 pm

I’m not interested in what the British preached, only what they practiced, which, during the Raj, was discrimination on the basis of race….That our ancestors practiced ‘inequality’ on the basis of caste is entirely irrelevant. yahuofizlude

So we practitioners of caste-based discrimination have the right to condemn the British for race-based discrimination, and that isn’t hypocrisy? Got it.

#40 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On November 12, 2018 @ 12:55 pm

To the extent that China and India “succeed” it will be on western terms (political and economic systems that are not ‘eastern’).

My Chinese students joke that China practices Communism with an Emperor. Like cuisines, imported ideas are inevitably adapted for local use and in the process, often end up getting changed beyond recognition. Hindus invented the zero and the decimal number system 1,500 years ago, but then the Arabs and the Europeans picked it up, changed the way the numerals are written, gave them different names, and today we have the “Hindu-Arabic number system.”

Good ideas should be culturally appropriated as quickly as possible – that’s one of the strength of the Americans and Chinese. India is still hobbled by the “not invented here” pathology – a great allegoric novel about this desi disease is “Samskara” by Ananthaswamy.

#41 Comment By Rick Steven D. On November 12, 2018 @ 1:35 pm

Glad someone acknowledged how great your commenters are, Rod. Saying they are the most intelligent anywhere is merely stating something I’ve long known. I’m still a little in awe of some of you on here…

#42 Comment By yahuofizlude On November 12, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

Re:So we practitioners of caste-based discrimination have the right to condemn the British for race-based discrimination, and that isn’t hypocrisy? Got it.

You haven’t provided the answer to this question: when during the Raj did the British ever practice ‘equality under the law’? I only ask this because it was the British who were sanctimonious about their ‘values’. So yes, the caste system is entirely irrelevant here.

The caste system is part of our culture and ethos. It was not (and still isn’t) comparable to the institutionalized racism practiced by the West which led to countless suffering and genocides. Nothing of that sort ever happened due to the caste system.

#43 Comment By John Gruskos On November 12, 2018 @ 4:29 pm

An invasion is always bad news for the people being invaded – be it South Asian being invaded by self-righteous British soldiers and bureaucrats in the 19th century, or Britain being invaded by self-righteous South Asian immigrants in the 20th century.

Separate nation states for separate peoples is the best way forward.

#44 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On November 12, 2018 @ 5:02 pm

The caste system is part of our culture and ethos. It was not (and still isn’t) comparable to the institutionalized racism practiced by the West which led to countless suffering and genocide…. yahuofizlude

Even today, there are dalits who earn a living cleaning up after upper-caste people like you (and you are obviously an upper-caste person) and me take a crap. For this, they are considered untouchable and they are denied entry to people’s houses or even to temples.

Hinduism is the only religion I know that is so devoid of humanity that it denies entry to places of worship to some of its own adherents because they are considered to be inferior.

[5]

Though Dalits are not shunned the way they used to be, they are still discriminated against because of the work they do [cleaning up our crap:JB]. Shinde says it’s hard to get a cup of tea. He’s often turned away from restaurants. A few small tea vendors will serve him a cup of tea provided he stands on the road and does not enter their premises. If he rides a bus, people turn away when he climbs aboard. “It’s just easier if I walk home,” Shinde says.

At home, we meet his family. They have a young daughter who was at school. I asked Shinde what hopes he has for his child. His wife jumps in to answer, her eyes brimming with tears. “Not this work,” she tells me, “no way.
“She’s going to finish school and she’s going to stand on her own two feet.” Shinde nods quietly. “I had no choice,” he tells me. “Perhaps it was my destiny.”

This is not suffering?

As much as I detest Islam and for that matter, all other religions, if I ever convert to Islam, it will be because of my fellow upper-caste Hindus.

You and I live either in different moral universes or in different physical universes. In either case, further discussion is pointless.

#45 Comment By francis On November 12, 2018 @ 5:33 pm

The analysis strikes me as shrewd. The question is whether these new Burkeans will succeed in the way that Burke did not. Burke was anti-imperialism, yet imperialism kept growing.

As identity politics continues to spread, why will different ethnicities across the political divide cede the power that comes from invoking identity politics? For better or for worse, it is effective.

The key question is this: how do people come to see it as best to use Burke? Believing Burke seems to imply a set of beliefs about the human person and society. It is, in part, a metaphysical/spiritual vision, yet the current discourse admits of no explicit metaphysical/spiritual visions (outside from explicitly metaphysical allusions to, among other things, “equality”). How do you address this?

#46 Comment By yahuofizlude On November 12, 2018 @ 11:24 pm

@Janwar Bibi

What you have described is still not comparable to the racism that is practiced by the West.
Besides do understand that caste-based discrimination is illegal in India. The West only preaches ‘equality’. As you have been on this website, some of the authors and commenters are certainly not interested in it even though they talk incessantly about how superior their ‘values’ are.

You are right, further discussion is pointless as you have refused to see this from India’s perspective.

I sincerely hope that in the coming generations, the tables do indeed turn against the West, and they suffer the same way we have. That alone should be more than enough to silence the Niall Fergussons of the world. They and their kind only under violence and oppression. Looking at the trajectory of history, that seems inevitable.

#47 Comment By Khalid mir On November 13, 2018 @ 2:38 am

“Good ideas should be culturally appropriated as quickly as possible”

Fair point. I guess we partly differ as to what constitutes ‘good ideas’.

“often changed beyond recognition.”

No doubt. But perhaps not always? As Chesterton would write, after all the whirl of change, “the factory remains”. Who knows how things will pan out, but I can’t see the expansion of a materialist mentality as a necessarily good thing. Think these words still ring true after all this time: “What if Man gaineth the world but loseth his soul?”