Friday, April 26, 2002

Global Morality

This is basically a bunch of (English) economists, journalists and others trying to make sense of September 11 and other recent atrocities (Rwanda, Chechnya, Kosovo, etc). Some of the interesting points were: the different types of wars now waged, how you can have morality without religion, the economic value of people (and how that brings equality) and how to prevent these things.

They talk about how the recent atrocities were not committed by States but by networks/organisations (although there was dispute on this based on Pakistan supporting Al Qaeda and the Rwandan government for the militia).

It's interesting historically that it's largely the English telling the Americans what to do. Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called "The White Man's Burden". I don't read poems, but I was given a book called "The Boy's Own Annual" which was published in 1917. Apart from jolly good stories like "In the Power of Pygmies" and "A Missionary to the Cannibal Islands" there was an article called "Empire Citizens"; which was inspired by that poem.

In that article they talk about how "...the man with the white skin, and more especially the Briton, practically bore the burden of the world." It goes on to say how England gives what India, Africa, Canada and New Zealand need (that the native inhabitants need that is). "Believe me, the strongest navy in the world cannot keep an empire secure unless it is built upon the rock of righteousness".

In the end it seems to me that the mistake made was not valuing the local inhabitants as equals. It seems to me (and what the radio program was saying) that it's the same mistake that is being made all over again one hundred years later.

First hit from Google on "The White Man's Burden" (it's got some good stuff like critiques made at the time):