Pakistan's problem is that we did not make it British enough … Having told the Indians last year that Pakistan was basically a nest of terrorists, David Cameron (left) has now told an audience of academics in Pakistan that the real problem is Britain! Not just Kashmir, he said, but pretty much all the world's problems are our fault. He really does like to please an audience. For once I agree with Tristram Hunt, the Labour MP and historian, who said: "To say that Britain is a cause of many of the world's ills is naïve. To look back 50-odd years for the problems facing many post-colonial nations adds little to the understanding of the problems they face. – UK Telegraph/Ed West
Dominant Social Theme: There's baby-faced Cameron again, running around the world and running down Britain, besides. He's an embarrassment. Heck, bring back Labour. Long Live the Queen!
Free-Market Analysis: The UK Telegraph is often a good read. But occasionally you run into stories such as this one by Ed West who is a young columnist for the paper. Just to make sure this column was not an aberration, we checked his archive. Sure enough it was littered with columns like "How will Anglo-American relations fare when America is no longer majority white?" and "Regime change in Syria could mean the extinction of Jesus Christ's language." These are not our concerns, but they are West's and to a lesser extent, the Telegraph's. It is still, in a sense, a Royalist newspaper with a specific voice and agenda, though a muted one in this modern age.
Anyway, we wanted to take the opportunity to comment on this editorial because to us it represents almost everything that is wrong with a certain robust strand of Western thought that one could call, politely, "neocon." British neocon thought, actually, is not much different than the American version. It is based on a robust nationalism, a tendency to want to impose one's culture and will on others (especially in the so-called developing world) and a willingness to use violence to do so.
Western neocon-ism is robustly, militantly masculine, in the ways that only columns can be that are written by reporters who can't shoot and don't know how to fight. Most American neocons have never been closer to a gun-battle than a TV set, but that doesn't stop them from celebrating the reality of violence or its potential. This sort of faux-militarism is also marked by "tough talk." We have an example of such rhetoric in the opening stanza of the article, when West asserts that, "David Cameron has a tendency to go to countries around the world and tell them what they want to hear, whether it is in Israel, Turkey, India and Pakistan."
Of course the article is not entirely black-and-white. "Britain did many good things in southern Asia, and many bad things. Where two countries have an unambiguous history, then such contrition may be appropriate – the German chancellor in Israel, for instance – but Britain's relationship with Pakistan is more nuanced." But West is not able to compose in shades of gray for long. "We did give them ‘parliamentary democracy, superb irrigation systems, excellent roads, the rule of law, the English language and, last but not least, the game of cricket.'"
The last quote comes from Peter Osborne who wrote a previous article about Cameron's apology that seems to have set the West off. He quotes Osborne's list above approvingly and then makes the point that Britain's biggest gift to the developing – again according to Osborne – is the "rule of law." For West, as for Osborne, the crowing achievement of British civilization is the creation and implementation of the rule of law. He then elaborates with the following astonishing statement:
"The reason the world speaks English today, not Urdu, Persian or Arabic, is that England, and a host of other, smaller countries in north-west Europe, were able to undermine traditional family, clan and religious structures and loyalties to create societies with wide circles of trust. England, the Netherlands and Denmark in particular were able to forge nation-states in which men did not rely on clans or religious leaders for protection; this rule of law, and the creation of a strong national (rather than tribal) identity, helped to bring about astonishing growth in trade, transport, education, science and medicine.
Of course, anyone who has dropped by now and again to read DB articles knows we have come to EXACTLY the opposite one – and state it on a regular basis. The problem with Western society is that it has created ever-larger agglomerations of artificial sociopolitical entities and foisted them off to citizens as legitimate structures. Tribal and clan relationships have been abrogated and in their place have been inserted fraudulent ones between the individual and the nation state, or even worse, between individuals and the mechanisms of global governance (the UN, etc.).
In fact the structure itself is often mentioned in personal terms. China, for instance, an often racked and ravaged land of some 1.2 billion, is said within media contexts, to accomplish things in aggregate: "China hosted the Olympic games"; or "China is cracking down on Internet freedoms"; or "China is keeping interest rates on the yuan too low". Of course China is merely a name. It is PEOPLE making these policies and then hiding behind the nomenclature of the state.
Human beings cannot relate to more than 150 people at a time, anthropologists tell us, but we are to believe somehow that people born into a nation-state with 150 million people can accomplish the feat of adequately relating to all of them? They do not. The wider circles of trusts that the West so eloquently identifies do not in our view exist. They are part of a large dominant social theme, a fundamental fear-based promotion by the Anglo-American elite that is pursuing global governance using these hypothetical constructs as a justification for its actions.
West, and there are many more who hold his views, provides us with a full panoply of elite memes in this article. He claims that former colonies that have mimicked Britain most closely have thrived, and that Pakistan is not one of them. From his perspective even the introduction of Islamic law is a fundamental step backward." Pakistan, he writes, "has made little progress in nation-building, tribal loyalty is supreme, and cousin marriage – an absolute guarantor of national failure, since it retards the development of civil society – is widespread." And he concludes: "If Britain owes Pakistan an apology, it is for not doing enough to make it more British."
We are always baffled by such Western-centric perspectives, and West has provided us with an especially robust version. We are baffled because we see Western culture as having been overtaken and manipulated by an Anglo-American power elite that seeks a one-world government and is using the history and systems of Western culture as tools to help it get its way. Within this context, the various instrumentalities enumerated by West are facilitating global authoritarianism not civil society. This has been true for quite a while and the results are increasingly obvious to anyone who wishes to look.
From serial wars to unrolling inflationary recessions (and depressions) to an increasingly complex overlay of often-insupportable regulations and taxes, Western society is reeling from an expansion of aggressive government activism. Vast spying infrastructures are now aimed at Western citizens, a prison-industrial complex has been erected to take the place of common-law justice and the West's larger military-industrial complex is increasingly being used to enforce the Western elite's vision of a New World Order across the globe. Fear-based promotions such as global warming and Peak Oil are incessantly promoted to frighten Western middle classes into giving up more wealth and power to internationalist facilities.
It is true that the West has created an entire infrastructure for civil society and a philosophy and intellectual history to support it. But given where the West is headed today and the influence of the West's globally-focused power elites, it is increasingly difficult in our view to argue that Western sociopolitical systems are superior to any others. The proof unfortunately lies not in where the West has been (bloody enough) but where the West is apparently headed. As that future unfolds, even neocon historians may be hard put to justify it.