(started on FB but truncated -- thanks, BookFace)
Historian David Starkey has told BBC's Newsnight ''the whites have become black'' in a discussion on the England riots with author and broadcaster Dreda Say Mitchell and the author of Chavs, Owen Jones.He also hit out at what he called the ''destructive, nihilistic gangster culture'' which he said ''has become the fashion.''
For an education of how a tiny island took over the entire world and managed to subdue whole nations, watch this. The concepts being expressed by Starkey are the residue of a construct that *justified* the conquest of entire peoples by any means necessary -- force, coercion, enslavement, genocide, eradication, cultural domination, you name it -- in the name of "civilization". It's a lie, but the lie was necessary in order to allow good people to sleep at night.When you are in the process of building an entire economy/civilisation/empire through the enslavement and mass transshipment of people while at the same time building a nation/civilisation/tradition that enshrines the principles of democracy and enfranchisement, there is a fundamental gulf that has to be crossed. What we are not taught about the history of the modern world (the world in which we find ourselves, where western = normal/civilised/modern and everything else = exotic/savage/primitive) is that it is the product of a struggle for political power and economic domination that occurred basically within Europe, but using the rest of the world as its battleground. We continue to buy into the ideas that were spawned at the same time, that were connected but not connected to this struggle, but which had to make sense of the struggle. For while the western European governments were engaged in their battles of one-upmanship, their mapping of "the world", their determination to claim every inch of the globe as Spanish, English (later British), French, or Dutch, their intellectuals were engaged in defining and imagining the human being. As the writers and philosophers of the Enlightenment were advancing ideas of democracy, equality and brotherhood, laying the foundations of a universal charter of human rights, merchants and mercenaries were making economic alliances along the coast of Africa, trading guns and rum for human beings, invading India and South-East Asia and those parts of China they could penetrate, and colonising the rich lands of the so-called "New" world.Thinkers and bureaucrats alike had to reconcile these two radically different impulses. How could Europe advocate the universal rights of man at the same time as they were enslaving Africans or making entire peoples the servants of a small group of privileged rulers in whole nations? How to make sense of this disjuncture? The problem was especially difficult for those people who had principles, who bought into the notion of human rights, who believed in the rights of man, who fought for democracy, for liberté, égalité, fraternité.The answer: to define different groups of humans as fundamentally different kinds of people, to separate the human tribe into distinct species (called "races") who were intrinsically suited for different kinds of behaviour and different kinds of life. Thus democracy and human rights also gave birth to the ladder of humanity, which placed different groups of people in a hierarchy of development or evolution, which posited an inherent difference in the ability of "races" to attain certain kinds of order. This was expressed in the concept of the savage and the civilised, the primitive and the modern, and gave rise to the concept of the "white man's burden" -- i.e. the responsibility of the "fully evolved" European to civilise, educate, save, or elevate the lesser "races", to speed up their evolution, to teach them the benefits of civilisation. Always a top-down beneficence. Always a sense of inherent entitlement coming from inherent superiority. Always (and most evilly) the sense that some human beings are more naturally suited to living in harmony, prosperity and social order than others—that these virtues must be taught to other humans as they are not inherent in them. All humans are equal, yes; but some are more equal than others.The ideas that are being expressed by people like Starkey as "white" and "black" culture, therefore, are rooted in this concept. The idea persists that "black" is savage and "white" is civilised—that "black" culture is intrinsically disposed to erupt in violence and disorder, and that when "white" people do the same they have been contaminated by that inherent savagery. This is what lies at the bottom of every expression of outrage at the growing prominence of the non-white and non-European: the sense, often unexamined, that the whole natural order of things has been upset. That to have people of non-western traditions or non-white skins attain positions of power is to fly in the face of nature, or of God. The colonisation of the entire world was so complete (as it had to be in order for European empires to attain the power that they did) that it is virtually unthinkable to really believe that all humans are fundamentally alike, are really, intrinsically equal, no matter what their appearance or their wealth or their culture might suggest.The irony is, that much of so-called gangsta culture buys into the same imperialistic lie. The images of the "gangsta" and the "thug" do not challenge this hierarchy. Instead, they simply overturn the hierarchy and place value on the very things that European imperialistic thinking assigned to the "lesser races". So-called gangsta culture does not question the idea that these activities must be assigned to specific groups of people, or that they are somehow inherited through genetics; it does not challenge the view that "black"=savage/violent/physical and "white"=refined/peaceful/intellectual. It does not attempt to break down these categories and recognize that behaviour is often the result of environment and of choice, not of "race", and that these groups of traits do not necessarily have to be linked to one another at all. Rather, it accepts it, and simply redistributes its value. In this way, the "gangstas" and "thugs" speak the same language as Starkey, albeit using very different tones, vowels, and consonants.You know what they say. You reap what you sow. What was sown in the 19th century is being harvested in the 21st. It's time for us to raze the fields and plant a whole new crop.