Sunday, January 18, 2009

Blah blah

The recent ending of the (temporary) "occupation" of the Gaza strip allows for a much needed critical retrospective analysis of the reactions that the conflict has brought about in many Western countries. The reasons of the often intense reactions in the West are manifold.

First, there is of course the religious significance of Israel for all three Western religions. The paradoxical situation that a shared monolithic truth can be so destructive in nature was most visible in the anti-Semitic reactions that the aggressive violence thousands of miles brought about. Burma instead is already long forgotten; the left’s fascination for Tibet is and will always be but a fashion outlet and the Kurdish situation is neglected in most intellectual debates. Israel is however, due to its religious and historical proximity and significance, always been a matter of debate. Strangely enough however, such debates are often a-historical, biased and extremely popularised in their orientation.

Second and related to the first, the dispersal of all three religions into the Western world, by which I refer to the US and Europe specifically, together with the recent (re)intensification of the presence of Islamic cultural elements in Europe and the US, has resulted in an multiplication of interests and thus of potential conflict. It is only logical, given the West's (especially the EU’s) failed immigration policies and the growing influence of religious orthodoxies, that a traditional form of culturalism rather than a sort of nationalism grounded in modern norms and values leads to an extreme struggle over the monopolisation of truths. This is not to argue for a multiculturalism which by definition is virtually impossible in a world in which religion has once again taken a leading role in the making and breaking of identities, but in fact, as I will argue later on, to propose to break with liberalism and its hopeless idealized relativism and to confront the often unbreachable differences that exist between the modern world and the traditional segments within its society.

Third and continuing from point two, the West, and especially Europe in this context, seems to suffer from a rather high level of political connectedness which finds its roots in a liberal form of human rights. The cultural relativism proclaimed and celebrated in many of the European Union's and nationally sovereign institutions often neglects the potential cultural incompatibilities between different ideologies, cultures and laws that derive from the earlier described growing migrational exchanges. The fact that much of Europe's (critical) socialist left supports a Hamas led government on the argument of its democratically position, is in Marxist terms "vulgar" and "fetish" indeed. This should become clearer when one takes in consideration that it is in fact religious opium that forms the backbone of this democratically elected government which thus by definition must be considered anti-revolutionary and de facto anti-democratic. The fact that Europe's intellectuals close their eyes for this inherent contradiction and favour instead an emancipatory liberal stance, not so different from their ongoing promotion of a blunt global campaign for "human rights", is characteristic of the intellectually poverty of the continent. Europe's left intellectuals find themselves incapable of resolving their problems at home and rather than confronting the real issue, instead worsen the status quo through an adaptation of political correctedness and cultural relativism. Their ongoing support (rather than critical engagement) for a corrupt political party, which finds its ideology reflected in centuries old religious texts grounded in hate which it uses for the legitimation of its violence, is not only utterly repulsive but symbolic of Europe's intellectual void.

Instead of spreading a religion of tolerance, which in its nucleus is not emancipatory but forgetful of its social responsibility towards critical thought, the intellectual left is weakening itself from the inside out. It is no wonder then, that the right regains the upper hand in many of the European countries. The protests in favour of Hamas, in which Israel was both violently and uncritically condemned for its admittedly brutal acts of war, are characteristic of the problems embedded in Europe’s left. What is needed is a critical mode of reflectance in which both Europe must re-establish its norms and values and in which the reasons for Israel’s counter attack must be scrutinized and understood. A reborn critical voice, which seriously engages with its self-made reified image of revolution (from Che to Hamas) and which is capable of countering the spreading of a false cultural relatvism not only has a future in Europe but is much needed to counterbalance the false liberalism which increasingly penetrates the vision of Europe's socialist left.