Re: If we do get Afghanistan, what shall we do with it?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Nov 19 2001 - 13:03:51 MST

On Mon, Nov 19, 2001 at 09:15:22AM -0500, Alex F. Bokov wrote:
> If we opt for the latter, are we being cultural imperialists, since
> this is blatantly not consistant with their way of life, particularly
> the last item? In such cases, is it necessarily wrong to be a cultural
> imperialist?

Cultural imperialism isn't necessarily evil. IMHO there are things that
are always bad, no matter what your culture (for example female
circumcision) - it always decreases the possibilities for humans to
strive for happiness. This is of course an unabashedly normative
statement, which may not be popular in some quarters. But my position is
that if cultural imperialism helps people live freer lives with more
opportunities for happiness, yay for imperialism! :-)

As for Afghanistan, it is going to be a tricky case. But the way of
dealing with it that has the most likeliehood of actually succeeding and
not resulting in more undesirable side-effects like another bin laden is
not to attempt to turn it into New Jersey. Rather, there are many
remnants of liberal islam and civil society to build on. When Kabul
television re-started yesterday it was very symbolic that it was a
teenage girl who was presenter - it was both a symbol of the new order,
and a reminder of the situation before the chaos (she had apparently
been a presenter of childrens programs before the taliban threw out
television). There are many similar strands that can be picked up,
repaired and re-used to build Afghan society with outside help. That
help will necessarily be biased and have an agenda, but it doesn't have
to be coercive or seek to remake society into something it isn't and
have never been. What is needed is the conditions enabling a bottom-up
change of society rather than the top-down change. The speed with which
many people reverted after the taliban shows that top-down changes are
only skin deep.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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