Friday, January 26, 2007

Through Western Eyes

I suppose I'm in a very small minority identifying myself culturally as a Westerner first, a Finn second and a European as a fairly distant third. For me the most essential identity is truly the membership of the modern, liberal and post-industrial West. One could no doubt draw crude Huntingdonian conclusions of this in line with the current hubristic atmosphere of the decadent Washington. But that is not my point: religion, history and ethnicity are irrelevant here. I do not feel any affinity with the old, Catholic and aristocratic, rural Europe that gave birth not only (somewhat accidentally) to Enlightenment but much more essentially to aggressive imperialism and all pervasive racism. In this inherent aggression it didn't essentially separate itself from any other agricultural and aristocratic civilization.

Where we do have truly new beginnings is in the Enlightenment, in the fresh, unique formulations of radical, progressive and inclusive philosophies and ideologies - so universal that any specific, local cultural background will surely be buried under the vast, limitless visions of the implied universalism. Of course, so pitifully little of all this has ever been realized, and maybe this is most that will ever be accomplished (in most areas in the modern West we see currently more deteriation than progress). Nevertheless, I would argue quite defiantly: so far all history has been a slow, irrational holocaust anyway - what is the only new thing is this radical attempt to break free of this circle of human aggression and ignorance. For this we should never apologize.

5 comments:

Giustino said...

One strange thing that happens in Estonia is that people talk about the West as if they aren't part of it. But Estonia seems thoroughly Western to me, when you compare it to obviously non-Western countries (Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Russia). The whole concept of "West" is certainly interesting.

stockholm slender said...

Yeah, I think it might not be a natural way to identify for a majority anywhere in the West - it is easiear to see your immediate national culture as the primary identity. If it happens to be a Western nation like Estonia, then, in a sense, automatically you are also a Westerner. I guess having a fundamentally historical perspective, I feel this common modern Western identity as really primary - despite being a Finnish patriot.

Jela said...

Toisin kuin otaksuit Finland for Thought-blogissa osaan suomea ja ruotsia. Blogissasi on nakojaan aika paljon tallaista mina Tarzan sina Jane asennetta ulkomaalaisiin.

Parhain terveisin

Jason Lavery

stockholm slender said...

Ei, en otaksunut: sanoin vain että primääri-tutkimuksen on perustuttava alkuperäiskielien hallinnalle - mikä tietysti on sinänsä itsestäänselvyys. En juuri käsittele Suomea blogissani, joten en ulkomaalaiskysymyksiäkään. Vaimoni on kuitenkin ulkomaalainen ja kotikieleni on englanti.

stockholm slender said...

Btw, good luck for the book (http://www.history-of-finland.com/) - I did not really comment on it at FFT, took it as so self-evidently good news as being totally uncontroversial. I usually go there for a good fight, and Phil rarely disappoints...