Relatively Irrational

A rational critique of the irrational but ever so chic blame-the-West worldview.

The Adversary Culture
The perverse anti-Westernism of the cultural elite
Keith Windschuttle
Address to: Summer Sounds Symposium
Punga Cove, New Zealand
February 11 2006

Something is obviously going terribly wrong here. The logic of relativism is taking Western academics into dark waters. They are now prepared to countenance practices that are obviously cruel, unnatural and life-denying, that is, practices that offend against all they claim to stand for.

To see how decadent these assumptions have become, compare today’s relativism to the attitude that prevailed when the culture of the British people was in its ascendancy. Sir Charles Napier, the British Commander-in-chief in India from 1849 to 1851, signed an agreement with local Hindu leaders that he would respect all their customs, except for the practice of suttee. The Hindu leaders protested but Napier was unmoved:

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

The moral rationale of cultural relativism is a plea for tolerance and respect of other cultures, no matter how uncomfortable we might be with their beliefs and practices. However, there is one culture conspicuous by its absence from all this. The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own.

Since the 1960s, academic historians on the left have worked to generate a widespread cynicism about the nature of Western democracies, with the aim of questioning their legitimacy and undermining their ability to command loyalty. Let me demonstrate some of the ways in which national and imperial histories are being used to denigrate Western culture and society and give the nations of the West, especially those descended from Britain, an historical identity of which they can only be ashamed.

Via ¡No Pasarán!

3 thoughts on “Relatively Irrational”

  1. The Sir Charles quote is excellent.

    However, the author attempts to further his point citing extreme examples of “moral relativism”. He weakly defends (the moral relativism of)western expansion and the oppression of “indigenous” people with an attack on the crackpot extremists who believe it was a great anglo-racist plot involving genocide. (“indigenous” is used loosely because I recognize that no people are truly “indigenous” – but instead use it to represent the status of people living there at the time).

    The point he misses is the western expansion caused the extermination of people, the oppression of the survivors and the acquisition of their lands and natural resources. Thats simple fact.

    Today the “moral relativism” that favors non-western culture (when western and non-western culture clash) is a continued indication of the oppressing culture always being required to give way and creedence to the lesser cultures in order to assuage the oppressed.

    There is no mention of the conditions that occur in response to the clash of two non-western culures. My guess falls back on the oppressor-oppressed relationship opined above. Even Islam historically “allowed” the existence of infidels within their midst – how else do we have multicultutral states like lebanon and sudan? (how else do we have secular genocide [today] in sudan?).

    Im not a big fan of moral relativism, unless of course the relative morality is mine. And there’s the catch… whose moral equivalent are you willing to abide by?

  2. Let me add …

    On western expansion, the same points can be made on the rise of Islam in 1000 AD, the brittas empire, the ottomans, the russians, jews, mongols, romans, blah, blah, blah.

    One can suggest that all these actions of expansion/oppression are morally equivalent.

  3. Who is oppressing whom when “a continued indication of the oppressing culture always being required to give way and creedence to the lesser cultures in order to assuage the oppressed”? That is the self-contradictory logic of cultural relativism.

    You seem to have missed one of the main points of the article. The “extermination of people, the oppression of the survivors” is only a “simple fact” if you swallow what the academics pushing cultural relativism tell you. Do you believe the nonsense Ward Churchill spews?

    Even though these same biased academics write our history there are still enough honest people and contrary evidence that in America and Australia at least the indiginous people died mainly from disease. The “noble savage” is a myth. They brutalized each other in poverty long before the West came. You can go somewhere remote and live however you want. Most seem to prefer cities with their cars, computers, TV, and microwave ovens.

    Islam on the other hand through jihad and Sharia has literally exterminated and or converted by force virtually all the former inhabitants of the lands it conquered. And the conquest grinds on in places like Kashmir, the Philipines, Timor, Chechnya, Niger, Kenya, and Sudan. The superior civilizations in Persia and Byzantium were crushed. Thankfully Western Europe survived. Until recently at least.

    There is no equivalence here. To make your mind so open that you see one is to drain the words “culture” and “moral” of all meaning.

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