“Are We Right To Deny Other Societies This Learning Process?”

Actually, on second thoughts, I can’t be arsed criticising any more of this “thing”… it’s simply too easy. There is, however, one aspect of the “manifesto” that ties in with another line of thinking that’s been troubling me… the intolerance of tyranny abroad. I’m the first to agree that there are many, many, dreadful things happening in the world at the moment. The natural reaction of most people is to want to end this suffering… but are we right to? There are two problems with this – first off, we’re assuming that our way of living and our moral standards are “correct”. How do we know this? Well, because we’ve suffered these things as a society. That is, each of the “advanced” societies have come through the most dreadful atrocities. Civil wars, international wars, genocide. Within living memory us Europeans were butchering each other by the million. After centuries of this conflict, we’ve, hopefully, realised that it’s futile and we live in peace with protected human rights. Are we right to deny other societies this learning process?

Just a few thoughts. I’m not convinced that, as a species, we’re really that far from the hunters that we were for thousands of years. Our grip on peace is, at best, tenuous – I’m not sure it’s something we’re yet capable of teaching to others. Unlike these fucking Euston Manifesto people – smug, self-important… I could go on. Actually, I have a pressing urge to use the word “cunt”.

Just for the record, I’m not saying that I want to see suffering and I’m not denying that it’s dreadful, I’m just questioning whether it’s avoidable.


  1. Eliot Bridge
    Posted 09May06 at 19:39 | Permalink

    “I’m just questioning whether [suffering is] avoidable.”

    He’s a smug and self-important cunt, but he’s got a real strong point right there.

    So he’s out of the social-conscience business then?

  2. Posted 10May06 at 09:51 | Permalink

    This really is just another angle on cultural relativism. “They’re going to slaughter each other anyway so why why waste time thinking about how to stop them?”.

    One might equally say “They’re going to write a manifesto anyway so why bother posting a comment saying ‘why bother writing the manifesto?'”

  3. Dave F
    Posted 10May06 at 20:25 | Permalink

    Yes, he seems to be sayig, “Well, killing each other on a large scale is what these benighted folk do. Who are we to say they’re wrong?

  4. Posted 10May06 at 23:52 | Permalink

    Actually, on second thoughts, I can’t be arsed to criticise this post… it’s just too easy.

    But wait, maybe he’s right! I mean, you know, from a certain perspective you could argue that raping a three-year old girl a new arsehole and then shooting her family in front of her is a perfectly acceptable, rationable – nay, even charitable – thing to do in certain cultures. Who are we to arrogantly declare that such behaviour is ‘bad’? I mean, define ‘bad’… Who’s to say genocide isn’t just like, you know, Marmite; some dig on it, some don’t?

  5. Jane Doe
    Posted 12May06 at 15:32 | Permalink

    Hey…It’s all culturally relative, man…

    Doesn’t anyone think that, while respecting inherent difference it is vital to apply a few universals here? Look at incest – that’s pretty much taboo wherever you go (OK, North Norfolk excluded).

    Myself I have a few problems with the issue of female infibilation/excision (genital). But I have been rapped over the knuckles about my ‘baggage’ on this one by a nice lady in an office in Hampstead (who hasn’t, as far as I know) undergone the procedure.

    Anyway, would love to spout off more, but must go and teach my Austrian language students that in caring sharing Britain I have a right to protect my vernacular and they are just going to have to learn how to spell “innit” correctly, or risk my wrath.

  6. Posted 15May06 at 13:34 | Permalink

    > Are we right to deny other societies this learning process?

    I have to admit that this question troubles me on occasion. Not when it somes to questions of preventing genocide, but more when it comes to things like, say, sweatshops. We had sweatshops, and they led to the economic growth which itself enabled the end of sweatshops. In other words, our ancestors went through a lot of crap that their descendants might live better. I’m grateful to them for that.

    Now we see other countries going through similar processes. Now, personally, I reckon we should do what we can to enable them to do it more quickly than we did: say, fifty years instead of three centuries. Ideally, I’d love it if someone could figure out a way for them to skip that stage completely. But I’m not convinced that anyone has figured out a way for them to avoid the sweatshop stage without also giving up their chance of reaching the affluent-without-having-to-work-eighteen-hour-days stage. I hope someone does, and soon, but glibly opposing labour conditions in the Third World on the grounds that they’d be unacceptable here seems a bit short-sighted to me.

    There’s also arguably a moral issue of whether we’re right to try and stop people working for the benefit of their descendants. That’s why it’s important that we not only try to give people decent wages, shorter hours, etc, but that we also try to ensure the positive long-term outcomes of the sacrifices that we stop them making.

    But how downright nasty do you need to be to take that sort of reasoning and apply it to cases of genocide. Even if genocide is a learning process, I don’t give a fuck. There are some lessons you don’t stand by and watch be taught. Not and keep your soul.

    On another note, every single time I have attempted to type “sweatshops” in this post, I have had to go back and correct it, having actually typed “seatchops”. My subconscious appears to have some sort of point it wishes to make. Perhaps it is is hungry.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] “Whining” “Some of you may recall that, back in April, I spent a few moments expressing my distaste for the ‘Euston Manifesto’. Today, thanks to a little playing on Technorati, I discovered that some other blog has, instead of discussing the post in my comments section or sending me an e-mail, taken chunks of the post out of context and then set about whining. Now, I don’t give a fuck what these cowards think or what opinions they express in their own circle of mutual appreciation and mental masturbation, but I find this an unsatisfactory course of action. Rude even. The irony is that these people have only leant credence to the central theme of the original post – that there are certain sections of the left-wing who believe, in the same manner as muslim fundamentalists do, that they alone know the correct state of human existence and that their views, without question, should be dressed up in emotive examples then foisted upon the rest of the world, regardless of what suffering this intervention may cause. Ooh, they irritate me. […]

  2. By Animals Or Savages – PooterGeek on 03Apr11 at 14:18

    […] its author will be round later to object to being taken at his own words, like this guy did back in 2006. Follow the trackback link at the bottom of the comments below that PooterGeek […]

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