Moral imperialism isn’t novel

By Aristophanes

In 1978, Palestinian political philosopher Edward Said published Orientalism, a book detailing the many moral justifications brought forth by imperialist forces throughout history. Said argues that each great empire viewed itself as more “civilized” than those that had come before. However, today we understand the unjust reality of many of these powers’ insatiable proselytizing, placing them in a common category of reprehensibility.

Said believes the great nations of the modern age are no exception. When the United States occupies Latin American countries, or when Russia invades Crimea, we see proponents treat such events as if the moral nature of humanity has just recently passed some pivotal humanitarian prerequisite.

Said believes in a slopping human timeline; history is a gradual plane lacking tall steps. In this way, we find that many current political powers are guilty of a present bias. The time of now should not be — and in fact won’t be — excluded from history.

Therefore, current world leadership should judge international activity by the same standard it assess the regimes of yesteryear. To do otherwise is to fail to recognize the unexceptional historicity of the modern era. We are a blip on the radar, no less and no more important than any other point.

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One thought on “Moral imperialism isn’t novel

  1. Thoughts of “God Emperor of Dune” come to mind when discussing empires and their motives, justifications, philosophies, etc. There is a great line in there uttered by Leto, the god emperor, that people don’t truly want democracy or a voice; they want a dictator that tells them what to do (societal rape myth?). Anyway, I dug this post and appreciate the read. I haven’t read Said and Orientalism since college, and probably need to brush up a bit.


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