Independent Online Edition > Profiles

Friday, October 13, 2006
Independent Online Edition > Profiles: "But you see it every day, this surrender,' he says. He runs through a list of the theatres and galleries that have censored themselves in the face of religious fundamentalist protests. He mentions that the entire British media - from the BBC down - placed itself in purdah during the Mohammed cartoons episode. 'What I fear most is that, when we look back in 25 years' time at this moment, what we will have seen is the surrender of the West, without a shot being fired. They'll say that in the name of tolerance and acceptance, we tied our own hands and slit our own throats. One of the things that have made me live my entire life in these countries is because I love the way people live here.'"


Knucklehead said...


Fascinating article. Thanks for the link

What I cannot understand about the likes of Rushdie, however, is why they cling to "leftism". Why is "leftism" the "natural" ideology for this man?

What on earth is the attraction other than a "soft" version of all the things he so fully understands as horrible about the talibanistas?

Is it nothing more than the fact that leftism is the ideology most adored by the litterati circles he is a part of? What has leftism accomplished that warrants such devotion?

Seneca the Younger said...

Knuck, I've never gotten that either, going back to Vietnam, and immediately after. How many times do "killing fields" have to happen before they catch on?

Skookumchuk said...

How many times do "killing fields" have to happen before they catch on?

A whole bunch. This is religious dogma we're talking about.

Rick Ballard said...

"going back to Vietnam"

How about back to Kant and Hegel? The deification of materialistic reason seems to have picked up steam at that point. Rushdie is not going to abandon his Articles of Faith any faster than an ayatollah would set aside his hadith or the Pope the Bible.

Reason is a very indifferent god who doesn't require blood sacrifice but certainly doesn't oppose it. As long as the pretext for slaughter has a rational basis it will fit within dogma - and Rushdie will applaud.

chuck said...

The deification of materialistic reason seems to have picked up steam at that point.

I wouldn't call Hegel a materialist as I understand the word. Anyone who can use pure thought to prove the existence of precisely seven planets lives in a fantasy, not in the material world. To me, the word material implies science, as in the observable world. The Left, with the possible exception of Engels, is about as far removed from science as you can get. Witness Lenin's diatribe against relativity where he points out that if Einstein had had the slightest understanding of philosophy he would have never proposed anything so ridiculous. Or Trotsky castigating doctors and engineers for their lack of true understanding of socialism as revealed by Marx. And so it goes. On the whole, a bunch of conceited dilettantes with little understanding of anything that could be called "material."

Rick Ballard said...


The theft and corruption of your understanding of the word in order use it as a cornerstone in building a fantasy world is central to all that followed. The distance from objective reality of any of the "materialist" fantasies is probably a function of the number of words used to obscure the writers profound inability to distinguish between the probable and the plausible. Hegel would certainly be a leader in that respect, although Marx would give him a fair run.

One might be inclined to view the continued existence of a fallacy some 240 years from its initial promulgation as rather solid evidence that rationality is not man's strong suit.

Luther McLeod said...

"rationality is not man's strong suit"

No, it isn't. But many are quite adept at the rationalization of 240 years of failure.

Seneca the Younger said...

Rick, are you really arguing that you think reasoning based on natural processes, without inclusion of "supernatural" events, is inherently flawed? Or are you arguing for some meaning of "materialism" of which I'm otherwise unaware?

Rick Ballard said...


No, I'm arguing that the application of "natural causes reasoning" to behavioral sciences is quite similiar to alchemy. As long as you're not picky about calling lead gold it's fine.

truepeers said...

The "supernatural" is a fact of human existence whether there is/whatever is a God, or not. Language, our model for the supernatural, transcends the natural world. So human science must be anthropological, not merely naturalistic. Theology is one kind of human, anthropological, science though one that relies on faith in a divine Being. The object of faith is optional, but any good human science requires good faith of some kind. As participants in human culture we cannot observe it like the natural scientist before nature, and we cannot know the many implications of what we are doing and learning.

gumshoe1 said...

"Language, our model for the supernatural, transcends the natural world."

i would think something more like
"revelation" would be the model,tp.

any number of mystics would
share their inability to
describe thier experiences in words.

truepeers said...


Is it really a revelation if you cannot put it into words and share it with someone else? How do you know it is real and you're not crazy if you cannot get confirmation from your fellow human beings? You may die unknown in your lifetime, but if you can at least write it down (paint it, etc.), there is a chance others will grasp your experience/vision in future. Ultimately, the truth of revelation must be proved by others taking it up.

Having said that, I would think that we can have an experience mediated by language (though not yet sufficient to find all the right words) - a revelation - that we cannot immediately put into logically coherent sentences. We might require an art form to express it; but art is part of language too, broadly speaking. This is because language - according to the theory with which I work - in its most original or basic form does not take the form of logically coherent sentences, but rather of ostensive gestures, e.g. "Look! Fire!", signs that are as much to do with vision, movement, and sound as to do with simple words (not yet) separated from all the esthetic baggage.

We do indeed have to struggle to find ways to communicate revelation, but I don't think that's to say that revelation isn't linguistic.