Western Barbarism — with no end in sight

I just came from Wikipedia, where I had been doing some research on the Rhodesian national anthem, in relation to a possibly oblique reference in one of Marechera’s children’s stories. By the way, Marechera says the following:

“Let us eat him in a civilised way,” said White Baboon.
Black Baboon agreed, “Yes, let us eat him in a civilised way.”
They carried Green Baboon into the kitchen.
They cut Green Baboon into chops and steaks.
They cooked Green Baboon with spices and dry white wine.
White Baboon made the salad.
Black Baboon made the custard.
They spread the tablecloth on the table out on the verandah.
They set the knives and forks. They placed two plates
and two serviettes and two comfortable chairs.
They sat down to eat. The moon was up, big and round.
Black Baboon had put on a record on the gramophone.
“Ah, Beethoven!” sighed White Baboon, listening to the music.

[emphasis mine]

The Wikipedia article was suprisingly forthright at coming up with actually a very similar sentiment to the one that I thought Marechera was expressing in the emboldened line above:

The unoriginal choice of tune prompted ridicule among foreign observers. The British writer Richard West, in his 1978 book White Tribes Revisited, remarked; “How can one not…squirm with embarrassment, when television ends at night with the Rhodesian national anthem, sung to the tune of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony?” adding that “white Rhodesians are notoriously philistine”.
It’s kind of like those Islamic ragheads that make you want to squirm for not being western enough, or those hook-nosed kikes who try to take over our banks. (They also make us squirm with embarrassment.) Prejudice and hatefulness are always in season, although the objects of rage and discrimination may change.

So that those who may take courage from such stereotypes in order to perpetuate their hate-crimes think twice, I emended the Wikipedia entry slightly. It now also reads:

The fact that a plodding funeral anthem is shared by England and the United States (“My country ’tis of thee,” and “God save our Queen”) does not imply any similar unoriginality, nor does this raise any question of the members of these countries not showing good taste.

While my sarcasm may be a little awkward, I also know now that opposing a sea of prejudice never quite ends it. The social and political sanctification of hatred towards a group really betrays a low-level mindset. It shows me that those who are politically correct are not so righteous as they want to seem to be.

But let me move on to the earlier point about Marechera’s children’s verse, and therefore on to something really subtle. The subtelty we have before us is that of Black Baboon and White Baboon eating Green Baboon in a “civilised way”. This is just after Green Baboon calls out to them to “stop fighting” because he finds it so distressing. Upon hearing this appeal, the baboons’ eyes become narrow and sharp. They beat Green Baboon all day, and it is “like thunder”. Once he is dead, these baboons decide that they want to enjoy the recognition from each other that they are both very civilised. They decide that the best way to achieve this effect is to cut Green Baboon into steaks and eat him in their preferred way, with dry white wine and dessert — whilst listening to Beethoven.

In terms of the verses above, the killer baboons listening to Beethoven signifies the false attribution of civilisation to processes that have nothing to do with being civilised. Listening to Beethoven whilst you are eating your brother is not just phillistine, it is barbaric. To those who want to use power in order to make others obey, Green Baboon says, “Stop! I cannot stand it!”

Those who write books or make articles suggesting that it is okay to be derogatory about a certain group of people because of their aesthetic sensibilities (or lack thereof) or for any other reason, are declaring open season upon that group of people, in all sorts of minor and major contexts. This is an act of war, which forces society to regress as people are forced to take sides in order to defend their putative identities. The people who perpetuate this kind of warfare are profoundly irrational — they cannot be reasoned with. That they take on the cloak of civilisation and believe themselves to be speaking on behalf of civilisation itself is only to be deeply lamented. They are defenders of Beethoven, no doubt, and like their Green Baboon very lightly toasted, with the subtle aroma of Dom Pérignon in order to express the state of their high mindedness as self-chosen appointees of Ultra-Civilisation.

http://unsanesafe.blogspot.com/

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Living the difference!

From a cultural point of view, I think that those of the west are socially conditioned NOT TO respond to differences that are not related to production values (-- those being the divisions of labour which fuel the industrial economy).

On the other hand, a white teacher in a school in Namibia will have these questions directed at them:

What is it like being white?

Do you wish you had black skin?

Do you think that we are funny?

Would you ever be inclined to marry any of us?

These are probing questions which are intended to engender learning on an empirical level (one watches closely the teacher's reaction in order to gauge the meaning of racial differences).

In western schooling, such questions would be considered unconscionably rude. So, a way of knowing that is expressly NON-EMPIRICAL is required. Unfortunately, the schooling in political correctness often backfires, as one learns on the basis not of being permitted to ask and then observe the reactions of an outsider type for oneself, but on the basis of much more subtle and implied ideas, which, because of their way of distancing the subject at hand, produce a sense of danger or exoticism.

I think that many of the philosophical issues about difference would be greatly alleviated if only an empirical method to social interaction was considered culturally acceptable.

irony and the decline of civilisation

One of the ways you can tell that something is amiss with the state of civilisation as it currently is, is the lack of irony and irony appreciation in the public realm at large.

In Africa, my school teachers were almost all ironic.

Our maths teacher used to tell us: “Open your desks and take out that ghastly pink book which calls itself […]”.

I don’t think you would BEGIN to try talking like this as a teacher in an Australian school, because very soon you would be labelled as having a very bad attitude and for talking in a way that the students didn’t understand and therefore found insulting.

Ah, me. How I have plumetted into hell.

Can’t teach new tricks! The education of the Modern

When I was doing my teaching practicuum — an experience in which I failed, spectacularly, I found a major psychological impediment to be my inability to consider the students to be people like me. Above all, I wanted them to resist my ideas at times, in order to show their fighting spirit, which is to say, their underlying intelligence — which might be different from mine. I didn’t find this spirit, however — which was an outcome shocking and disturbing to me!

The monitor, from the university, therefore found my
approach to teaching “highly paradoxical” because I alternated between being very strict and also tending to very much encouraging free action.


I’d wanted to impart a sense of relation to authority
which was capable of being very independent OR conforming, according to one’s personal strategies. Yet, I found this characteristic difficult to impart to because of the already well developed Modernistic character structure of my
students.

One of the most significant aspects about the training and
education of a Modern is that this training dispenses with that which used to be a part of traditional education systems — the training to resist.


For the modern, he is who he is and that’s all there is too that. He’s pretty pleased with how he is, too — he thinks the way he is to be “universal”.

This presupposition, of course, makes it difficult for him to relate to those of other cultures — a reality that he generally fails to register! His capacity to resist the imposition of control from the outside, especially control by ideological forces, is very limited. He is manipulated by Skinnerian behaviouristic techniques, and therefore fails to see the manipulation for what it is — this is at the basic level of schooling. He is educated only to the sufficient level that is required for the position in society for which he is being groomed (See Louis Althusser).

THe Modern student is also “allowed” to progress through his
education at his own pace (student centred education), as if he were wise enough to manage it himself — thus he is conditioned to choose the path of least resistance in life as the “natural one” (See Nietzsche: “The hand that kills with leniency”.) He is trained especially to be a dully conformist worker and a mere consumer.

Wah wah

Which is it better? Highly flawed people, who live relatively untrammeled lives upon wide-ranging plains, tumbling through history in chaos and sheer delight? Or those who know their moral place (and that of others) with a finalising certainty, having established their identity early on, and wanting only, through sheer systems of belief, to lift themselves a little higher in their social strata?

western robots and authoritarianism

You can tell when someone is going authoritarian on you because they actually stop acting like a human being. Suddenly, the human being in them ceases. There is not so much as even the pretence to be human any longer. The machine takes over.

This machine is called Skinnerian behaviourism. It is supposed to work as an impersonal mechanism on you in order to get you to do what the authoritarian wants. The authoritarian dissociates his own personality from this mechanical system of leverage which he or she seeks to employ. The  authoritarian is morally coy, and doesn’t like to see himself or herself as using their personality to dominate you. The western authoritarian dissociates their personality from human sensitivies, thus allowing them to operate in a nasty way, on behalf of the social order whilst feeling pure and unaffected in what they still mistakingly take to be their separatable self.

This authoritarian will not take the trouble to ask you to do something because “this is what the system expects.” No such honesty or directness is attempted, as a rule. Rather, he or she will use Skinnerian behaviourism to attempt to impress upon you that “Reality itself” demands that you behave a certain way. Thus, this type of authoritariansm is potentially much more insidious and damaging than any direct humanising use of personal authority (which, by appearing to be contingent rather than absolute can be rejected more easily by the dominatee.)

Western authoritarianism is as common as can be — but it is hard for some people to see because its thousands of adherents reject the term, “authoritarianism”, as if this feature of civilisation belonged to the past when authoritarianism has mutated into a stronger form and dug in beneath the level of social consciousness or awareness.

Having lived under a different kind of authoritarianism — a more honest kind, perhaps — I have felt pained whenever some authoritarian robot has sought to apply its behaviouristic leverage. The reality of this cowardly failure to engage in direct communication  has never escaped me.   When a robot ceases to address me as a human being, I don’t see the transcendence of the system working through them I see an ape.

stereotyping

An aspect of western education which I was very slow to apply was the principle of making easy categorizations of various people’s identities.  We were taught this in English class, in my very first year in Australia. I had too much common sense about me, at this time, to be able to suddenly shift paradigms and see things from the average person’s point of view. The ostensible purpose of the exercise was to teach us literary characterization through comparing and contrasting two very similar narratives. In the first instance, the character depicted walked on the shady side of the street, looking down, avoiding human contact. In the other narrative, he walked on the sunny side of the street, looking up, and seeking out human contact. From these sparse facts, we were encouraged to draw conclusions about what sort of person each of these characters was.

It should have been easy enough to do; only, my imagination hadn’t been repressed to the point where there were any easy answers, in my view. I could well understand how somebody might have a lot to think about, might therefore look down, daydreaming, avoiding the biting glare of the sun, taking a relaxed approach to life, for once, spontaneously deviating from social expectations. Furthermore, I could imagine how — out of necessity — one might feel compelled to comply, to walk where one could be seen at every moment, to behave politely, or maybe just enjoy the sun if it was not too glary. To feel compelled to draw conclusions about personalities on the basis of one’s preference for the sun on any particular day could only be a futile exercize. My own cultural expectations were that one would have to know each of these people for longer–maybe a few weeks — in order to find out what they were like, in order to know their characters.

This attitude remains my general, overall view. I am very slow to judge, but finally my opinions about others start to firm. Even to this day, I find that those who are quick to judge me on the basis of a few interpretations of things that I may have said are almost always wrong about me.


Gettin vicious just means you are more animal than human!

You know, even though I lived in a society in Africa where women’s economic status was systematically low (more so than in the first world), I absolutely see the state of the society surrounding me as being really decadent. (And there is so much of a superior smugness on the face of this decadence.) I hate this society, in all of its basic cultural manifestations. It’s a society where people (as children) are coddled from real life experience. All the other negatives stem from that. Parents consider children their property and threaten to sue anybody with any authority who so much lets the child’s toe get stepped on. They panic and get vicious with authorities. Parents drug the child with ADHD medicine (speed) because the child will not sit still in class. They panic and get vicious at the child. Meanwhile children get murdered by rapists in shopping centre toilets. Nobody has taken any precaution, because this isn’t something already on the list of things to get vicious about.

the law of the jungle

In general, contemporary western educational systems prevent a person’s emotional development from going beyond the age of 4. Egotism and selfishness are the order of the day, and the child is specifically taught, as a matter of principle, NOT to share its toys (or to appear to share them, but without an equivalent emotional sense of generosity or real enjoyment). To allow a child to develop emotionally to the age of five would be wrong. At the age of five, one wants to explore one’s environment, to reach out beyond parental confines. This is wrong. One cannot be permitted to learn for oneself. What if one fell down!!? All stages of learning must be linked directly back to the parent, so that no stage of self-revelation can bypass the cautious and controlling influence of the parent or parent substitute (a teacher). Thus is the social system reinforced, to prevent any child’s emotional development beyond the age of four.

Above all, the child must be prevented from seeing other children as human beings just like himself. Rather, he is to stay at the level where other children are merely dim threats, lurking in the background, challenging his sense that he is all there is in the world. By preventing the child from reaching the next stage of his emotional development, where he can see others claims to things as being just as worthy as his own, the child will be able to more blindly compete in the capitalist market. He will be able to express his blind rage against all the other shadows lurking against him, in the background of everything he does. He will not pause to consider the human costs in eliminating every sort of threat surrounding him. Instead, he will take them on, from a position of someone who has the emotional age of four.

 

out of the flying pan into harms way, praying all night, weeping all day

When I think about the fate that I all-but narrowly escaped, I can’t believe my luck. I didn’t entirely escape this fate, only its worst effects. I would have ended up like a small shuttle in a pinball machine. This is the fate of all women in a right wing society, where women are not their own to manage, especially once battered. It is the men who control their fates.

I look back, and I see the poisoning of my reality — intended to throw me into the waiting arms of the nearest lurking male. My father orchestrated the process for all this: by initiating an ongoing low level hatred,which would occasionally overboil when he would fling forth his malign announcements of contempt. He had intended to poison my reality, making life for me a hotbed of discomfort. The goal was that I would leap out from his frying pan of pain into his well-oiled fire. In right wing society, no woman makes her choice about a man. It is assumed she wouldn’t accept any man if she was given a free choice.

If the first male did not work out, one would have to find another, almost straight away, bruising eyes and all. A lower grade male would accept such broken goods. This is the game of pinball — to keep the battered woman in male circulation, never allowing her to come to rest.

It was only later that I realised how this would have been my fate, had I not emigrated.

Non-responsibility

Social reaction does allow various unstable, aggressive and weak-minded bullies to abdicate their responsibilities. Actually, community reaction (because it is often nil) goes further, and reinforces the idea (for those participating in or observing the sordid affair of watching a destructive male deconstruct )that social responsibility is not meaningful or valuable facet of experience. Community non-reaction — or worse, condemnation of the victim — spells out a clear message: That nobody shall get their sense of value as a person from participating in society in a socially responsible way. Community non-reaction spells out that this avenue of social meaning and social form of self-realisation is barred by contemporary society — and especially to men.