By Ronald Niezen
A global past Difference unpacks the globalization literature and gives a worthy critique: one who is forthright, but balanced, and attracts at the neighborhood paintings of ethnographers to counter relativist and globalist discourses.
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Extra info for A World Beyond Difference: Cultural Identity in the Age of Globalization
His remarks on India and the Asiatic Mode of Production have spawned an entire corpus of secondary literature, including the observation by Edward Said that, despite his fellow feeling for the poor of Asia, Marx somehow succumbed to the Orientalist fantasy of European colonial mastery. ”43 There is no need, however, to connect Marx to the prejudices of nineteenth-century Orientalist scholarship to explain his juxtaposition of human sympathy with such a blatant disregard for India’s sovereignty; it is enough to consider his utopian vision, his cataclysmic optimism, his understanding of the conditions necessary for the oncein-world-history end of exploitation and conditions of misery.
36 The Tradition of Rational Utopianism 29 He therefore popularized a surprisingly durable solution to the problems posed by human differences. Spencer was not squeamish about the need to displace and supplant those whom he saw as inferior creatures, dedicated for their survival to hunting and warfare, and in the process inclined to be cunning, treacherous, and unsentimentally ruthless. ”38 Yet civilized people are by nature sympathetic toward others, as evidenced by the great number of charitable works and organizations active in Spencer’s time.
Surely a way can be found to bring a similar order to the moral universe, to protect individuals above all from the inconsistent and illogical uses of political power. This spirit of hope was undaunted by the grim realities of the industrial revolution. If anything, the social misery brought about by the factory system was a stimulus to rational imaginings of a better world. Much as we are accustomed to the view that science in the hands of a political elite is a recipe for the grossest form of tyranny, this was not altogether absent from nineteenth-century utopianism.