The White Man’s burden

…When Robert Mugabe dispossessed the British farmers remaining in his country, we could only look on helplessly. A century ago, people called the Ottoman Empire the “sick man of Europe.” Today, that title surely applies to the remnants of the British Empire.

There is a difference, though. The Ottomans were militarily helpless. We are ideologically helpless. Our universal morality has been turned against us, and it is in the name of our notions of fair play that we’re giving everything up, often to people, like Robert Mugabe, who make no pretence of believing in fair play. And we accept the logic of the situation. We think it normal to judge ourselves by a harsher standard and others by a more permissive one.

Double standards normally work the other way. Normally, one judges people of another kind by a harsher standard. They are less likely to share the same notions of right and wrong. They are also less likely to feel the sort of kinship affinity that makes people want to help each other and forgive minor wrongs, or even major ones.

But we’re doing the reverse. That kind of situation is inherently unstable, even self-destructive. No other human society has ever attempted such a thing…

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