How to think like an individualist

Postmodernism is disposed of incisively. “Just as Western politicians and generals annex foreign lands, postcolonial theorists argue, so Western intellectuals impose their knowledge on the rest of the world,” Malik writes. But Western philosophy does not replicate the ways and methods of Western imperialism. Its criteria and methods, but also its values, are completely different. So is its relationship to the non-European world, which is not one of subjugation and annexation, but of interaction and accommodation. The key concepts of Western secular modernity that are hardest to contest – universalism, democracy and individual liberty – were not, in reality, products of Western imperialism, and are actually not compatible with it. Anti-colonialism in modern times is as much a product of Western philosophy as of non-European thought, or more so. There are also other key Western ideas, such as Marx’s critique of capitalism, that have demonstrated an impressively wide appeal in every part of the globe but remain as much contested today in the West as anywhere else.

Kenan Malik stole all my ideas. I guess I should start applying for insurance salesman positions, eh? Read the rest, by Jonathan Israel. But wait, there’s more.

Any nation that has an official religious establishment faces the problem of “standardizing” the religion to satisfy the demands of the establishment. Note that the law [passed by Austria’s parliament forcing Austrian Muslim organizations to use a German-language Qur’an] doesn’t outright ban competing translations of the Qur’an, but gives the official imprimatur of the Austrian government to an approved translation. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Austrians to distinguish the rights-protecting and religious-establishment-establishing functions of the state, and to dump the latter over the side. But I suspect it hasn’t occurred to the Austrian Parliament because it hasn’t quite occurred to Austrian Muslims, either. There are perks to be had if you accept government sponsorship of your religion: once you’re enticed by them, it becomes hard not to do a deal with the Devil to keep them in place. I don’t know about the standardized German translation, but my translation of the Qur’an suggests that seduction is the Devil’s AOS.

This is from the infamous Irfan Khawaja over at Policy of Truth. Read it.

The Dutch on Exhibit

UCLA’s library has an online exhibit (i.e. nothing too fancy) up on some of their archive material from the Dutch Golden Age. I thought I’d pass it along.

Again, there is nothing too fancy or long-winded here, but I do recommend checking them out. I would also highly recommend picking up a good book on Dutch history sometime before the summer ends. Simon Schama’s The Embarrassment of Riches… or Johnathan Israel’s The Dutch Republic… Both are magnificent and far-sighted.

The Dutch republic also plays an important role in American history, as it is the political structure of this small republic that really influenced Madison and other federal framers. Its rebellion from the Spanish monarchy and its rule over Britain cannot be discounted in the historical legacy of the United States either.