Monday, July 2, 2012

We Colonised Ourselves

Desmond Fennell laments the dearth of original Irish thinkers in today's Irish Times. Joe Lee lamented the same back in 1989.

In fairness to Fennell he has tried to make up for the deficit by penning a magnificent essay on The Staggered End of Western Civilisation. Here's one quotation, about the anomie-inducing consequences of Ireland's enthusiastic embrace of political correctness (along with the rest of Europe):
The post-European collection of rules—new ones combined with some old—that by the 1990s had come to hold sway in the West did not and could not make sense to the human collective, white westerners in the first place, on whom it was imposed. Thrown together by a late-European ideological sect and its supporting governments, to promote justice, virtue, consumption and power, its sponsors had treated overall sense as superfluous. 
What white westerners were faced with was a framework for life similar to that which had confronted every so-called ‘primitive tribe’ after its rules system had been adulterated by colonising Europeans. The resulting hybrid of new and old lacked, a priori, two qualities which a set of rules-to-live by must possess to make sense to a human community: namely, a venerated source, divine or human, guaranteeing the rightness of the rules, and a single rational structure pervading all domains of life from the most abstract to the most particular. 
Small wonder, then, that the hybrid framework imposed on such tribes had, in one instance after another, produced a condition of anomie or normlessness, and with that—together with a lot of alcoholism, suicide and prostitution—a sort of creeping despair and the gradual dying-out of the tribe. 
It's a fascinating, thought-provoking essay, full of original and even quirky perspectives. Not unlike the writings (and documentaries) of Adam Curtis. Though unlike Curtis, Fennell cares to look ahead to where we're going. And it isn't pretty. 





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