Friday, February 11, 2011

Salman Rushdie: "Cultural relativism is the end of a moral sense"


Blogger Jared Gaites said...

OK, so we know Salman Rushdie's explanation of cultural relativism but we still don't have a definitive guide to multiculturalism. What is it now here in the UK, what does it mean exactly and what should it mean, how should it be existing, what should we be thinking about it? Salmand thinks multiculturalism is "enriching", I would like to understand how it can enrich here in the UK without developing an ideology of cultural relativism about the failures of other cultures. How do we gloss over the nasty bits like stoning people to death, and forced marriages, and genital mutilation etc?

Don't just quote Salmand, who highlights the discrepancies in our logic. You have raised this issue so let's hear your ideas.

11 February 2011 at 20:40  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

First class.
I thought Rushdie's explanation useful. What Cameron was trying to say is that Islam does not sit comfortably in the multi-cultural society which its ideology seeks to destroy.

11 February 2011 at 20:49  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Thank you Your Grace. And well said Mr. Rushdie, as ever. I'll have to listen to the rest of this, as soon as I can.

11 February 2011 at 21:53  
Blogger English Viking said...

How much does this **** cost to protect each year?

Let the mullahs have him, and kill two birds with one stone.

11 February 2011 at 22:39  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

So, apart from better food and better clothes—oh, and sport—multiculturalism is a disaster area where you cannot describe the spread of gossip as ‘jungle drums’ without being branded a racist.

11 February 2011 at 22:42  
Blogger Sean Baggaley said...

@English Viking: Seriously? You'd be happy to hand a fellow human being over to those who would see him murdered, solely because he *wrote some words down*? Many people have died, fighting for you to have the right to have your say, *regardless* of whether they agreed with it.

When you kill someone, you are also killing their ideas.

@Archbishop Cranmer:

When studying current affairs, I'm often struck by how much overlap there is between these processes and that of designing the interactions (and interfaces) between complex systems. The same rules seem to apply.

Some rules in this field explicitly touch upon the problems caused by interactions between incompatible systems. The usual solution is to have an intermediary system that acts as a go-between.

Religions are usually, though not always, mutually exclusive. This is particularly true of theist religions as, logically, they can't all be right. Thus there are inherent system incompatibilities between these. You can't be both a practicing Jew and a devout Hindu. Something has to give.

As long as incompatible systems agree to deal with each other through intermediaries, the problems can be alleviated, but there's always an element of tension.

This explains the historic tendency for each new wave of immigrants to stick to its own kind for a generation or so, creating ghettos of like-minded fellow immigrants. Later generations, who have grown up within the local culture rather than entering it from without, leave that ghetto, with the result that, after a few generations, that ghetto becomes a pale shadow of its former self. The larger, local, system has finally digested and assimilated the incoming system.

Where this fails is when the cultures are so incompatible that "indigestion" occurs. In such cases, social engineering of some sort is invariably needed to help the immigrant culture to assimilate.

Anyway, I'm sure I had a point to make, but I'm just rambling now. I'll shut up.

12 February 2011 at 06:02  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Your Grace.

The thing is that we are now a multicultural society whether we like it or not. The problems we are facing with the different cultures clashing over fundamental beliefs, and ideological structure, is not going to simply go away on its own. We either start to communicate and find middle ground in order to move forward, or we continue to battle with condescension and sectarian mentality.

The argument that you have just had on Twitter is a classic example of two people on either side of the cultural divide who are unwilling to budge one inch and engaging in sectarian bullying and adolescent point scoring.

Talk about multiculturalism and all it's difficulties. We know it's not easy and that real problems exist. You have both been as bad as eachother. You may be highly educated and extremely eloquent, but highly educated and extremely eloquent tantrums do not help anything.

12 February 2011 at 07:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Jared Gaites

The strange concept of a middle ground doesn't exist. For example; what is the middle ground on "honour" murders or slashing out a girls genitals (incorrectly called female circumsision).

The native/majority culture has tried to accomodate, why should it do anymore when the other side(s) haven't moved and iota?

A simple example is:

I offer to share half and half in an estate, you say no you want a 100%. Third party splits the difference so you get 75%. Not fair nor equitable.

Also, if you seek refuge or or suport work in another land, trying to force your ways and laws on them or demanding that you be allowed to ignore the laws of the land you reside in is wrong. Most countries, especially those such as pakistan would laugh at you then hang or gaol you for claiming such things.

If I intend to emigrate and live in a foreign land, the least I'ld do is learn the local language. I wouldn't expect the locals to spend millions translating benefits leaflets into my language, nor for the courts to pay for my translator.


12 February 2011 at 08:20  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...


I agree with you on some points. Many Islamic countries/societies are intolerant of other religions/faiths/belief systems. We in the UK are supposed to be a nation that has surpassed this kind of intolerance, yet we continue to send out mixed messages.

We have moved on from old customs and traditions based upon God, sin and punishment. Our culture has been shaped by our Christian heritage but things are not the same anymore. Now would be a good time to completely separate church and state, and remove the bishops from the House of Lords and declare this nation a secular but religiously tolerant and unbiased constitution.

All religion should adhere to the law of the land without any exception. One law for all regardless of who you think created he universe and what privileges this will mean for you in any afterlife. We can have this "Freedom of Religion" but it should mean exactly what is states. Even unbelief is itself a belief, and in some ways kind of natural religion of secular humanistic liturgy.

Let's make the playing field equal and spell it out that no religion has any influence on how we make laws and rules about a principled and moral society. If we don't level the ground some time, then we will inevitably end up ripping eachother apart in the streets.

12 February 2011 at 08:34  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

Jared, if you play by the 'rules' while others don't you can't have a equal playing field. Muslims regard non-Muslims as inferior and Sharia superior to other laws. No-one wants to end up ripping each other apart. The only way to avoid that is to meet the religious ideology of Islam head-on, not pretend that the problem will go away if we ignore it.

12 February 2011 at 09:01  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

I did not suggest that we ignore the problem. I am suggesting a level ground where the law is the law. Break the law and you will have your liberties removed, which in my world will include the removal of the vote also.

I describe myself as Agnostic because it's the closest label I can find that will allow me to engage in discussion while being able to project a basic and safe image of what I think.

I have tried out of desperation to subscribe to other belief systems but they are all deeply and fundamentally flawed. I don't believe in any religion at all anymore, but I do experience the numinous; it's a very real and tangible phenomena for me and I keep an open mind, while at the same time reminding myself of the need for rationality.

I can look at a sunset on my local beach and wonder at the beauty of it. It's just a set of natural occurrences and interactions, and any beauty and meaning is all in my mind, it is what I perceive through the physical senses and how my imagination gives poetic meaning to the sound of the waves rolling in on the shore and the orange glow of the Sun behind the mountain and the effects of the refracted light. It perplexes me when I think that without a mind to behold this, this loveliness would be lost, and it is at times like these that I feel a very real spiritual aspect to my existence. But these numinous sensations are not a licence to make wild speculations. I enjoy the idea of a created universe and a personal God, but I am not altogether convinced about any of the ones that inhabit the world today in ancient form.

There are people, I am led to believe, who are completely numb to any numinous sensation about their universe, and I have to respect this, even though I pity such a bland consciousness. So it has to be that we all accept eachother as different, which means accepting that we have very different ideas and imaginations.

12 February 2011 at 09:23  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"Muslims regard non-Muslims as inferior and Sharia superior to other laws."

Isn't that also essentially true about Christians? I was told here that as a non-believer I am anathama to Christians, and we are constantly arguing about the primacy or not of God's law in the UK.

Also, I work with Muslims and so they are not Other to me. One of the nicest and most cheerful people where I work is an observing Muslim. I'm not getting "you're inferior" from him nor am I getting "you will live under Sharia law if I have my way" either.

Coincidentally, one of the most unpleasant and miserable people at work is a church-going evangelical Christian. Actually, this has been a recurring theme throughout my career too.

It just goes to show that representations in daily life and representations in the media or on paper are not always true.

12 February 2011 at 09:28  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

The World was always multicultural only disparate peoples had their own lands and kingdoms where their traditions and customs were held in common.

That is the essence of a truly diverse World and the reason cultures flourished.

12 February 2011 at 10:01  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

DanJ0 said...

"Muslims regard non-Muslims as inferior and Sharia superior to other laws."

Isn't that also essentially true about Christians? I was told here that as a non-believer I am anathama to Christians, and we are constantly arguing about the primacy or not of God's law in the UK.

DanJO Very sorry to hear of your experience "here" (I presume on this blog?) of the above.
One essential difference between Moslems and Christians should be that of tolerance of those who differ from them.
The ideological fundamentalist Moslem will often reject you as an "unbeliever" and therefore an infidel, who not only is not to be listened to, but who also must suffer the death of an infidel.
Wholly illogical, unreasonable, and even terrifying, that is the reaction.
By contrast the Christian should welcome an open discussion with you in such words used by the Old Testament prophets:
"Come, let us reason together".
Not from a position of superiority, or patronisingly, but as two humans interacting.
The Christian therefore has no right to condemn in any sense the unbeliever, but on the contrary to invite mutual contact and exchange.
Neither Jesus, not indeed any Christian of the New Testament treated others as "anathema".
That would be to mimic the arrogance of ideological Moslems, which excludes from the outset the normalities of civilised intercourse.
Incidentally, re your last sentence. The issue is not about the primacy of God's law for the UK - a nation, but rather more personally, its relevance for you and I.

12 February 2011 at 10:30  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12 February 2011 at 10:53  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

If I may, I'll respond to Jared and DanJP together.

I find labels distinctly unhelpful as they tend to put people holding differing views in the same box. I am a Christian through my baptism but have thought about it and was a satisfied Anglican within the universal church until liberals within the church decided to go their own way crippling the search for unity. How one expresses one's spirituality should be a matter of choice and the fragmentation of Christianity is witness to that but, sadly, with too much exclusivity, eg, Anglicans are regarded as separated brethren while some within the Anglican church regard others as beyond the pale. However, there is an element of choice here. Not so in Islam. It is easy to get in but less so to get out with the threat of death or imprisonment.

That brings me to my second point. I am not suggesting that all Christians are good and all Muslims are bad. Both are answerable to their maker. The problem is that some people seek to gain points with the Almighty by assisting Him in what they think He wants. In most religions *today* that simply causes irritation but in Isalm it can cause death and destruction as it witnessed constantly from the estimated 5,000 'honour' killings each year to terrorist atrocities, etc, etc.

We regard Muslims as good if they adhere to Christian values but for Islamists they would be bad Muslims. This is the dilemma we face. Those of us who have 'seen the light' do not question the integrity of individual Muslims but the religious ideology that not only permits but encourages attacks on Christians and other religions. In that sense Islam presents a threat where other religions do not. We would be mad to ignore it.

12 February 2011 at 10:57  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

The defining characteristic of cultural relativism is that values are different but not better or worse. This is nonsense and although I argue with many here, I expect that we Christians and atheists living in Britain share many values even though we disagree about where they came from. Those values, traditions and national characteristics are what bind our society; multiculturalism is undermining and even destroying it by allowing the ghettoisation of immigrant groups who feel no need to integrate.

However in a multi-ethnic society those who are immigrants and bring with them distinctive features of their culture like food, art, music etc, can enrich the host society. But and it is a very important but, they must understand the values and traditions of the host community and be willing to absorb them so that their previous cultural identity is diluted. This after all is the melting pot.

The problem with cultural relativism is that it fails to put a value on morality. And here’s the paradox for an atheist; I recognise no absolute values. And yet I contend that my moral compass is superior to any that is informed by religion and especially Islam which as widely expressed today is barbaric.

The reason I make such an arrogant claim is that an atheist’s values are based on the fact that human beings have an instinctive knowledge of good/bad, right/wrong, it is integral to our species success. Islam on the other hand has corrupted these simple humanistic values and replaced them with obedience to a set of dictats that bear no relation to naturally occurring human values. They are derived from ignorance and superstition and the misogynistic and homophobic culture of a 7th century desert kingdom.

12 February 2011 at 10:57  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Rushdie observes much, asks little, and so answers still less.

He should ask WHY this has happened, then he might be more worth listening to.

Cultural relativism came from our great universities, did it not?

Cultural relativism has been promoted by our main stream media especially our BBC for decades, has it not?

Cultural relavitism has been promoted by many of our more 'socialist' or 'radical' politicians, also for many decades, has it not?

Therefore find that which connects all 3 of these things together, as well as a whole lot of other things, and you have your prime suspect.

The answer is therefore the ESTABLISHMENT making way for their grab for power, known as The NWO.

A governing system that desperately neads to control, as much as possible, everything, including ALL religions from the very top.

Nothing must be allowed to be free, or grow from the bottom up. Not even the smallest of small business, if at all possible.

What can not be overtly taken over must be either secretly subverted, or effectively destroyed.

The Muslim faith has been subverted by the same mother of harlots that corupted Christianity as far back as the time of Constantine. Rushdie alludes to this, but does not actually say so.

Please be reminded that far less, or virtually nothing at all, just happens all by itself.

A hundred years could go by, during which nothing would change if no one planned on changing it.

Change is not therfore inevitable, it happens because the powers that be, better known as The Establishment, decide to change things, often many decades of years before time.

The way this is done in the western world, is by planting the seeds of CHAOS within our great universities.

These seeds go under the general heading of radicalism or socialism. What at first seems to be utterly insane, soon becomes main stream authodoxy, as promoted by our BBC.

Which is surely self-evident to anyone over the age of 45, especially those which did not attend an establishment brain washing indoctrination, better known as a university education.

12 February 2011 at 11:30  
Anonymous i albion said...

East is East and West is West, and never the twain should meet.

12 February 2011 at 12:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch the latest Pat Condell, The Taste of Multiculturalism at YouTube:

12 February 2011 at 16:33  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Bred in the bone @ 10:01:
Exactly so!

Dan-Jo @ 09:28:
Nice, but naive.

Ancient Briton @ 10:57:
I admire your patience; a sound response.

Sean Baggaley @ 06:02:
''Indigestion'' indeed! :o)

We are indeed suffering a form of cultural 'dyspepsia', but until we neutralise the acid, no amount of ''social engineering'' will ease the patient. There is no effective socio-political'antacid' available. A change of diet is required; it is best to avoid highly-spiced and exotic fare.

12 February 2011 at 17:31  
Anonymous len said...

I think you should study Islam where it is in the dominant position,where it swings into full strength, so to speak.
Say in Iran ?

12 February 2011 at 18:06  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"I think you should study Islam where it is in the dominant position,where it swings into full strength, so to speak.
Say in Iran ?"

Yes Len. This is what happens when the religious get temporal power. We've seen it throughout history here and elsewhere.

It's much better to keep them in their place where they are limited in their ability to do harm.

Most Muslims I meet in the UK are normal, moderate, functioning members of society. That doesn't really surprise me.

That said, I wouldn't want Islam to get temporal power here either. The combination of religion of any sort and power is not a good thing.

12 February 2011 at 18:26  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ DanJ0 (18:26)—I wouldn’t want Islam to get temporal power here

Relax. It isn’t going to happen in your lifetime. Not much fun, though, for atheists and homosexuals when the demographics swing Allah’s way; the Islamic punishment for both atheism and homosexuality is death.

12 February 2011 at 19:03  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"Relax. It isn’t going to happen in your lifetime. Not much fun, though, for atheists and homosexuals when the demographics swing Allah’s way; the Islamic punishment for both atheism and homosexuality is death."

I'm pretty relaxed. Afterall, I'm not on the street hassling my fellow citizens going about their business, pretending to be valiant defenders of something instead of just racist thugs up for a depraved laugh.

To be honest, it hasn't been much of a laugh for atheists and gay people in the UK for much of its Christian history. We've just about thrown off the pollution of Christianity and established true social justice in the last decade or two.

12 February 2011 at 19:13  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ DanJ0 (19:13)—Ah, mud-slinging. Always a sign of a fine intellect. Talking of racist thugs:

‘Manningham belongs to Muslims. We don’t want whites. We rule Bradford. We are going to get you out.’—Telegraph & Argus

12 February 2011 at 19:27  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

What's the point of slinging mud at mud-wrestlers? Everyone can see they're already covered in mud. They video themselves and publish the videos.

12 February 2011 at 20:09  
Blogger Ron said...


Not much fun for women either.

13 February 2011 at 15:46  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Ron (15:46)—In fact, not much fun for anyone who isn’t a heterosexual male Muslim. DanJ0 is a gay atheist so I tailored my comment to suit his predilections.

13 February 2011 at 17:40  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"DanJ0 is a gay atheist so I tailored my comment to suit his predilections.2

In another failed attempt to wind me up. :)

13 February 2011 at 18:23  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ DanJ0 (18:23)—In another failed attempt to wind me up.

In an attempt to spread the word about Islam. I may well fail in that, too, but my conscience urges me to try.

13 February 2011 at 18:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny 13 February 2011 18:38 Len and others

Why you all bother to converse with DanJo is a complete mystery to me.
Just a complete wind up merchant!

Whatever you say, He/She has an opposing opinion.
1.'I was told here that as a non-believer I am anathama to Christians,'Who has stated this, as if christians can feel superior to others. We are redeemed 'sinners', nothing else!

2.State a current problem with specific types and He/She knows somebody of this type who is delightful 'Also, I work with Muslims and so they are not Other to me. One of the nicest and most cheerful people where I work is an observing Muslim. I'm not getting "you're inferior" from him nor am I getting "you will live under Sharia law if I have my way" either.'

3.Whereas some christian who holds to a valued christian belief is a miserable, wicked individual who can barely hold their contempt for others and hope's the lake of fire comes quickly for them. 'Coincidentally, one of the most unpleasant and miserable people at work is a church-going evangelical Christian. Actually, this has been a recurring theme throughout my career too.'

A complete and utter liar, who will say whatever it takes to win a discussion and put the other person down at the same time.

Proverbs 23:9
9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

The Man Who Never Was ;-D

13 February 2011 at 19:18  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Anonymous (19:18)—I find DanJ0’s posts useful in that they provide hooks on which to hang my own comments. While Dan says ‘whatever it takes to win a discussion’, I’ll just go on presenting the facts and people can decide for themselves who to believe.

13 February 2011 at 19:43  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Anonymous. 1. It was Voyager, I believe. 2 + 3. Anecdotes. I live in a very multicultural area. Muslims by and large are not the vicious loony people the media portrays. Conversely, Christians by and large are not the nicey nicey people they like to portray.

I have never lied here. What's the point of that? I also post under the same moniker each time. How about you, o religious one? Writing styles are quite easy to spot. ;)

13 February 2011 at 21:15  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"I’ll just go on presenting the facts"

Johnny, you're presenting a careful selection of facts. A selection which suits your fringe agenda.

13 February 2011 at 21:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DanJo said 13 February 2011 21:15


'I live in a very multicultural area.' Don't we all in GB?

'Muslims by and large are not the vicious loony people the media portrays.' Who said they were but show me a muslim country where these 'moderates' rule and children are not beheaded for stealing bread?

'Conversely, Christians by and large are not the nicey nicey people they like to portray.' Who on earth portrays themselves as this in christianity as all christians are like reformed 'addicts', they know what they are still capable of but need God's help daily. As opposed to YOUR 'unreformed self', who sees nothing wrong with THEMSELVES?? The delusional self deceit of the addict!

'I have never lied here.' The best one of the lot..You are the 'proverbial compulsive liar' - a definition perhaps,
(Someone living in a fantasy world of their own creation. Generally lies to either make themselves look 'cool' or to become more popular.
Compulsive liars also lie to gain the upper-hand in arguments or confrontations and to provoke sympathy from their peers.)

'What's the point of that?' See above definition!

'I also post under the same moniker each time.' Yeah, Right, as DanJo!

'How about you, o religious one? (Oh, hey, steady) Writing styles are quite easy to spot. ;)'
Aren't they JUST my old mukka ;-D !!

The Man Who Never Was..My Moniker on this occasion?

15 February 2011 at 01:20  

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