Sunday 18 February 2024

Civilization is ours to redefine: following up on "the civilizing mission" discourse, etc.

[A reply to a supporter on Patreon.]

This is not the model of "civilizing discourse" that I am proposing or asserting —and you may well have already noticed this, already understood this, etc., from my videos, but I will explain it (briefly) anyway.

I do think that any individual can assert his or her own notion of what is civilized: if you think it is civilized to grow dandelions as beautiful flowers, therefore (for you) they are not weeds to be exterminated but —instead— something beautiful to be cultivated.  You could also be cultivating dandelions intentionally, as something edible, I note —as they are (as a matter of scientific fact) edible, although most people don't eat them.

I knew a man (I will leave him unspecified) who thought that it was very important to REFUSE to use pesticides in raising crops on his own property, but he accepted (by the same token) that when he made jam out of his own berries his jam would contain a significant quantity of crushed up insects.  For him this was civilized, for someone else uncivilized (i.e., wouldn't it be more civilized to use pesticides and then NOT eat bugs?).

In Thailand, obviously, I was surrounded by white men who thought it was perfectly civilized to pay money to sleep with prostitutes who really had no common language with themselves: however dehumanizing prostitution may be when everyone speaks the same language, the situation of (e.g.) a Burmese refugee (teenager) in Thailand having sex with a European man is several degrees MORE dehumanizing (in the absence of any common language, etc.).  I have met men who thought it was perfectly civilized for an intellectual to sleep with prostitutes under these circumstances.

My suggestion is that each of us asserts (and fights for) his or her own notion of what is civilized —often in contrast to one's own father's notion of what's civilized, one's own brother's notion of what is civilized, etc.

So, implicitly, I am not asserting a model in which there is only one right answer: the average attendee of Coachella has a very different notion of civilization from the average Saudi Arabian —and both may be wrong in different ways, and to a different extent, from my perspective.  However, yes, there are (ultimately) criteria of right and wrong: brain damage (via drug use) and cutting off part of your own body (e.g., circumcision) are clearly wrong —and yet a huge number of people accept them as civilized.

[I should add the example of cousin marriage, i.e., something perceived as civilized by a huge percentage of the world's inhabitants, but that —as a matter of objective fact— results in diminished brain capacity for successive generations, as well as higher rates of truly horrific (genetic) disabilities.]