Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Democratiya 11: On Cultural Relativism, Apostasy, Neoconservatism, Democracy. . .

Fear is the most powerful of human motives, and a willingness to rationalize the irrational is a fatal liberal weakness. Add in the despairing and reactionary turn modern leftish thinking took after the collapse of socialism, the tolerance of the intolerable inculcated by post-modernism and the doubts about democracy in the liberal mainstream, and I hope you can see why so many could not oppose totalitarian movements of the far right or even call them by their real names.

That's from a lengthy post-script in the reprinted edition of Nick Cohen's What's Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way (reviewed here), which appears in full the latest issue of Democratiya.

Among the other splendid essays, reviews and commentary you'll find there: Anja Havedal trounces Elaheh Rostami-Povey's Afghan Women: Identity and Invasion; David Zarnett examines the growing intellectual renunciation of Edward Said; Irfan Khawaja looks at contingent pacifism through the lens of Larry May's War Crimes and Just War; Chandrahas Choudhury revisits Jawaharlal Nehru; David McKnight assesses the rise of American conservatism; Ophelia Benson considers the brave stories of apostasy recounted in Ibn Warrak's Leaving Islam. . .

. . .And on it goes like that. If you 're looking for a more engaging and intellectually independent liberal-left journal of ideas in the English-speaking world, you might as well stop, because you're not likely to find one.

Democratiya is as good as it gets.


Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Not necessarily directly relevant but I do like the video:

"Training for Afstan: You read it first in the El Paso Times"

What would Fast Eddie Said have said?

More here, and here.

It is simply stunning how little anyone these days knows of the Ottoman Empire. Including it would seem Fast Eddie.


7:31 PM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

Hey, Mark. Noga's variations on the theme:


12:48 PM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Terry: Something that I don't think I've ever seen. Premise: all cultures are equal or at least should be considered, er, non-judgmentally.

Fine. But does not that idea have an element of historical discrimination? I mean how can one criticize the Inquisition, much less Mao's China, Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia? Not to mention the African slave owners who willingly sold their own slaves to intrepid European merchants who came to the west cost of Africa?

And let's talk about the cultural respect owed to Tamerlane. And the Crusaders. It's a mug's game.

Let a whole lot of seeds germinate and never selectively choose from the results.


4:53 PM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

"Something that I don't think I've ever seen. Premise: all cultures are equal or at least should be considered, er, non-judgmentally."

While rarely put so explicitly, that's Fast Eddie Redux. It's been the rage for quite some time now. But collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity nowadays, it appears.

6:05 PM  

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