Author Archives: symustafa1996

Addressing Our Inner Racist.

Black Skin White Masks (1952) by Frantz Fanon had me thinking: is there a racist side to all of us? Somehow there’s this percieved notion of the desirable, default race that others aspire to imitate, conciously and subconciously. People, for the most part, do not tend to imitate the Japanese or the Chinese, the South Africans or the Middle Easterns; European and North American cultures and lifestyles are somehow put on a pedestal in developing nations. There’s just something about Western culture that is somewhat applicable in a lot of places. Food, technology, art, fashion, you name it. There may be traces of influences from the colonial past of plenty of the developing nations, but in a lot of cities like Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul, Seoul etc. their national identity is fading into something they reflect upon and the future looking more and more like London, New York and Berlin with their subways, malls and billboards. Why is this the case? Why is the West the current norm, the current standard?

Of course the Industrial Revolution starting in the West had a lot to do with it, and the colonial consequences of that still resonates today. Of course of all the British colonies Great Britain is going to experience more development than Bombay or Singapore, both of which only experienced independence 60-70 years ago. To a certain extent the dependancy complex does exist within those colonized, but it could be said that its more political and economical than social. The development of all those independent colonies all went towards similar directions that would see similarities to the West. Even when they have reached a certain standard, however, the stigmas still stick around. Just look at the various stereotypes that exist of various races and cultures.

As I looked at Beauvoir’s notion of the status of women as the “Other” in comparison to man last week, it could be argued that non-whites were somewhat seen to belong in another sub-category all together. Fanon talks about how even blacks try to distance themselves from other blacks by immersing themselves in Western societies and imitating them. A white women marrying a black man wouldn’t uphold her status in a white society, but it would raise the status of the black man in a black society. Like the myths surrounding women, there exists the myths that surround black men. Fanon lists a few, namely that black man has bigger penises, are a little better than animals and the idea that black is sinful and white is pure. So fear surrounding myths plays a part in it.

This fear of other races is something that still resonates within a lot of people today. Let’s be honest, some of us when walking alone at night will cross the street when encountering a black man, even if he doesn’t look harmful. Some of us only associates Arabs with terrorists. There are various others I would rather not list due to potential offense, but these ideas of subconciously classifying race has even spread to non-white societies. So if there is a racist side to all of us, is it because the effects of colonialism still lingers in everyone’s mind? Fanon seems to agree to an extent, but the success of distancing one’s self from past actions and the consequences is somewhat questionable.



Moral Ambiguity

I can only summarize my experience of Leviathan in one way, however coarse it may be: A pain in the a**. I apologize for the crudeness, but books concerning certain theories are not my cup of tea. It was difficult for me to go through due to the archaic language, and I attribute this partly to English being my second language. It does not motivate me to read further.

However, from what I could understand, there are certain parts of the book that I can agree to. The idea of achieving the greatest good is simply not possible by the state for the people because of the fact that the greatest good of individuals varies. This would simply lead to civil war due to disagreements regarding achieving the greatest good. A state cannot simply decide on one “good” for everyone because in this regards, no one is going to be equal. But when he goes on to talk about the laws of nature, that is where he lost me. “The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place.” (p. 78, [13]) This is very morally ambigious in my opinion, especially as it relates to men in “solitude”. While this goes back to the idea of no one is going to be equal, the open ended-ness of the assumptions on “men” could possibly end in chaos. Hobbes talk about the passions that incline men to peace: the fear of death, desire for commodious living and to be accepted into their industry. This is very broad in the sense that the extent of the passions for each man would not be equal. How would the men come to agreement in regards to peace when if nothing is just or unjust, the passions is morally ambigious?