Omar says below:
Razib Re Anurag, As someone who once more or less took for granted all that Anurag has written, I have a few observations:
1. These beliefs are integral parts of a certain “elite” Brown worldview that is so normative that it is not even visible AS a worldview. Its not just left wingers. The brown elite, right, left, fascist, all share this view. Since it is also then normative in academia, the usual method of “look it up” also doesn’t help much. So Anurag is not being personally retarded. It’s like saying Newton was retarded because he believed in alchemy. That was the normative view. Everyone believed it. Why wouldnt he?
2. Particular counter-examples mean nothing. They can be set aside and the argument continued with new books about the Congo. The list of actual crimes (as you know better than most of us) is very long. And coming from a more advanced civilization, they are also better documented. A lawyerly argument can easily be sustained for decades (and can be backed up with quotes from hundreds of well respected historians and intellectuals, not just fringe elements).
3. For many of us, somewhat distanced from our traditional religions, its is an almost religious understanding of the history of mankind and of good and evil. Anyone not fully convinced is not just challenging a particular historical fact. He is challenging beliefs that give meaning and structure to our lives (that nothing much changes if you do drop it is irrelevant…..thats not how it feels while you are within the religion).
Interesting points. This reminds me of the problem I had with some readers when this blog started: they objected that I made fun of their moronic religions, and advised that I should tone it down. This of course led to their banning. I simply don’t follow the normative view common among many brown-folk that savage ancestral superstitions should be given due deference, or that they should be organizing principles of self-identity even if you don’t accept the truth of the belief system (e.g., “cultural” Muslims and Hindus who won’t intermarry and will readily kill each other over retarded religions they don’t believe in). I am not “secular” in the way that Indians (or Pakistanis or Bangaldeshis, etc.) are. I’m secular in the way that Baron d’Holbach was secular, your gods are figments of your imagination, and I don’t feel it relevant to give due respect. Of course doesn’t mean I’m a militant atheist. I think most people are stupid and tend toward supernaturalism, so religion will always be with us like the poor and shit.
In regards Anurag’s comment, I am conscious of the fact that that perspective is normative among many brown folk. Even among Indian Americans raised in households which inculcated a sense of Indian nationalism this view is common. Obviously I don’t agree with it. Ethiopia is stinking pile of crap despite its evasion of colonialism. Additionally, in many cases the economic history seems to make it clear that colonial enterprises were a transfer of payments from the national fisc to the petite nobility, and enterprising rent seekers (e.g., Cecil Rhodes), because only the nation-state could provide the institutional infrastructure for their “adventures.” Anurag, the savage barbarian that he is, didn’t understand that when I was contrasting Spain and Scandinavia I was being sarcastic. The landfall wealth of Spain’s New World colonies resulted in inflation, and a long term disincentive toward investment in human capital, as opposed to the quest to seek rents (e.g., “conquistadores”). In contrast, nations with no overseas colonies for most of their history, such as Sweden and Germany, entered into economic take off because of their endogenous human capital. The same reason that East Asians have taken off. This is not a controversial position among economists, though rejected by many sociologists immersed in postcolonial theory.
As for people like Anurag, apologists for Islamic science, or Han Chinese befuddled with why their nation is now having to catch up with barbarians, I don’t really give a shit. They’re as interesting as a Papuan tribesman with superstitions about ghosts with a bone through their nose. Of anthropological curiosity only.