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Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...
Jamil Brownson on Sat, 18 Feb 2006 22:24:39 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...

jody berland writes well about the american sacred cow of free speech,
something observed more in the breech than universally, as it was often
observed that americans have the RIGHT to speak out, but most do not do so,
moreover, getting their voices to a PUBLIC audience is controlled by private
media, which are commercial enterprises more concerned about their profit
margins than any abstract concept of either fairness or public need to know ...
here i would refer to "Constructing the Political Spectacle" an academic
perspective from Murray Edelman the grandfather of political communication
studies. Edelman also cites both historically embedded and emerging policy
processes used by the US government to control information. After all, what is
speech without communication, or "free" with a price tag on it?

so, ms. berland offers us an insight into american secular religion wrapped
around the fictive holy ark of the trinity =97 declaration of independence,
constitution, and bill of rights. But this religion also finds its roots in
Calvinist theocracy =97 rule by god =97predestination, and the individual, as
subverting the secular trinity by "one nation UNDER god".

the real litmus or touchstone of american religiousity, however, is SUCCESS, a
measure within the theocratic episteme, predestination =97 god shows whom he
has selected by his favours of material and social success (financial merges
with social capital), therefore failure is damnation in this life and the next
... success, or the hell of poverty

in this world, which is an indicator of eternal hell ... so a fear-based driver
to material success underpinned by Calvinist theology. It is this subconscious
driver that accounts for the rapid rise of prosperity gospel, especially among
the poor, black americans in particular, who have been steeped in biblical
metaphor and values.

Here is the reality: american religion is inseparable from politics, and vice
versa, as the two sides of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) episteme are
wedded into a secular religion that mirrors its theological/theocratic self.
the "other" is any ideology or praxis outside of that episteme, or even threats
from within, such as liberation theology (already suspect as a roman catholic
subversion of WASP dominion), or mainstream churches that preach an oecumenical
gospel of love and charity, such as the sermon on the mount ... or chasing
money lenders out from the temple.

all this ties into manifest destiny, god's chosen people =96 WASPs=97 = and
promised land =96 America, new jerusalem, city on the hill & all those similar
metaphors for which many trees have fallen to provide paper in a publish or
perish system.

so jody berland has it right, it is a social formation particular to the USA,
developed out of WASP theological & theocratic roots, destruction of the
infidel (natives) to build the new jerusalem. it has, however, diffused through
the infestation of WASP globalisation, embedded in the ideology and materiality
of a global hegemony by Anglosphere =97 UK, USA, and including Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, and remnants of White South Africa, which share in part
this WASP disease. this contagion is carried by Brits as they buy up property
in warm climates to create their insular communities with cricket pitches,
infiltrate pub life.  that said, brits and anglo colonials have moved on,
having passed from Cromwellian WASP into more balanced social formations,
albeit still having a born again WASP PM like tony blair to guide them into
continuation of empire, only now as second fiddle to the purist WASP ideology
of the USA.

the analysis should be continued to look at how europe may divide between
protestant, roman catholic, and orthodox, in the way that free speech differs
in its ideological construct among varying social formations. imho, it divides
into individualist versus corporate constructs of state and society ... and
whether those freedoms are directed internally at the self / collective self,
or externally at "the other" in this case can we perceive an embedded ideology
of europe (a geographical fiction) and ask how it has evolved throughout
conflict, rise & fall / expansion & contraction of empires, shifting national
identities and state boundaries, north - south, east - west differences in
cultural perception of self and other, as well as how those compass points
differentiate north africa from southern mediterranean, and the levant (eastern
mediterranean coast) from europe

... the fault lines between balkan - levantine muslim civilisation, which
dominated southeastern europe for five centuries, and the
byzantine-greco-slavic orthodox world squeezed between islam and the roman
catholic-protestant west ....

then we should expand this to the rest of the world, indic states, whether
muslim, hindu, buddhist, and the indo-chinese realms of mainland southeast
asia, the insular islands of indonesia, philippines, malaysia, with their mix
of ancestral commonalities overlain by hindu, buddhist, muslim, christian &
secular values, colonial & post colonialj ideologies & political-economic
realities ... & on to the sinitic east, china, korea, japan, parts of
indochina, but all sharing a common confucian corporate construction of society
interwoven with buddhist, shinto, taoist, & modern secular value systems ..

not to forget latin american or africa, both divided into multiple regions,
each with its own complex geographic, environmental & social formations, &
pre-colonial, colonial & postcolonial histories.

to conclude, we must turn to cultural-historical anthropology & geography to
assess the epistemologies of identity, society, state formations, all of which
have evolved constructions of realities, norms & values that drive each large
human complex of territorial, environmental, economic and social modalities
that both cross boundaries and set boundaries.

jamil brownson
UAEU, al-Ain, UAE

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