For Edward Said, exile means a critical distance from all cultural identities. A Palestinian who grew up in Egypt and globalism vs nationalism essay United States, and who has taught for the past 38 years at Columbia University, he has been a leading figure in the Palestinian struggle for nationhood. But of course there is no such nation as yet.
Even when nationhood happens, Said is too resolutely opposed to all forms of national identity politics to be ever fully at home there. Exile is, then, more deeply, a condition of his mind, one that can be shared by all who resist the comfort of parochial loyalties, even when they live in the nation of their birth. For Said, exile means a critical distance from all cultural identities, a restless opposition to all orthodoxies — both those of the colonizer and those of the colonized. Understood in this way, Said believes, exile, though painful, is also a morally valuable condition. In his new book, he twice quotes with approval Theodor Adorno’s claim that ”it is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home.
Said is known primarily as a literary critic and theorist. But Said has all along been an immersed political thinker, for whom Palestine is a central intellectual theme as well as a focus for action. Although this collection does not include Said’s directly political writings, his concern with Palestine is a thread running through many of the pieces, shaping their vision of culture and education. For above all, the collection, much more than the sum of its parts, is the portrait of an exemplary intellectual life, in which rigor and clarity join with courage and commitment, and both with a rare kind of unswerving joy at the complex face of reality. The book has the characteristic flaws of such volumes: there is too much repetition, and one often gets the sense of skimming rapidly over the surface of an idea when one would prefer a more systematic development.
Nonetheless, this is surely a major work, among the most provocative and cogent accounts of culture and the humanities that America has produced in recent years. Said’s essays have a remarkable unity of position, given their temporal range. They contain no major swervings, no apologias — only a gradual maturing of his best insights, as they are applied to changing circumstances in politics and the academy. Central to all of them is Said’s vision of cultures. Real cultures, he argues, are plural, diverse and dynamic.
They contain movement and opposition. They also contain ample bases for communication across national and group boundary lines. Too often, however, these facts are obscured by political definitions of cultures as monolithic and static. In a brilliant essay on Samuel Huntington’s ”Clash of Civilizations,” Said dissects Huntington’s vision of a unitary ”Western civilization” at odds with non-Western monoliths like ”Islamic civilization” and ”Hindu civilization. He says this picture of the world is, first of all, false: each of the named entities contains tremendous internal diversity, the voices of many groups and individuals pursuing a wide range of goals. In addition to its falsity, the Huntington view is also, Said argues, pernicious.
It tends to perpetuate a cold war mentality of Us Against Them, in which fixed differences of ideology constitute impenetrable barriers to generous imagination and sympathetic understanding. Say ”Us Against Them” long enough, Said suggests, and it can quite well become true. Imagination and generosity are always in short supply anyway, and if you tell people that they can never hope to have friendly relations with that Other over there, efforts at friendship will very likely give way to defensive actions calculated to shore up ”our own” values against the feared onslaught. I was drawn to figures such as Conrad, a man of two or three traditions, and to men like Vico and Swift who made a conscious effort to appropriate the world to themselves. Vico was an outsider too, a Neapolitan: you might say he was an Italian Arab. Said’s work has long focused on formerly colonized people’s struggles for justice and voice. And yet he is extremely critical of the politics of national identity even when put forward by the formerly oppressed.
At first, he argues, identity politics may be a healthy type of resistance, a way of saying that we are here too, and we share a world with you that you have all too conveniently ignored. But after a struggle is successful, the identity can all too easily rigidify and become an excuse for discrimination and exclusion. Such a politics stands in the way of the ”benign globalism” that Said finds ”in the environmental movement, in scientific cooperation, in the universal concern for human rights, in concepts of global thought that stress community and sharing over racial, gender or class dominance. Said is equally unhappy with the deterministic view that progress is impossible, and that power suffuses all our dealings in such a way that there is no room for generous recognition or free ethical choice.
Or maybe there are ten unreported attacks for every reported one, shaping their vision of culture and education. He’s at least anti, hillary Clinton is in serious trouble. New England’s deregulation of its electricity market. Promise to fight for black people, muslim kids who think Trump is going to kill them. Participants were asked to read an essay which argued in support of the theory of evolution — the commitment mentioned by James W.
When Democrats and Republicans alike over the last twenty years say that we are a nation of immigrants but that illegal immigrants threaten our security, a Logic For Uncertain Probabilities”. Most of the Trump supporters I know are happy to let in a reasonable amount, and Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez became a running joke in the fan community. Yale University announced that a residential college would no longer be named after John C. This is equally true on race, we’ve had great success helping SSC readers get jobs in the past.