Western universalism and civilization states

Western values seemed to many people living in Asia or Africa as just one alternative among many; Western values and norms still needed to be interpreted and enforced, and the most powerful nations in the West had always arrogated that task to themselves (…) universal values stood for the negation of the civilization-state and affirmed the freedom to experiment with different ways of life (…) the concept of a universal civilization helps justify Western cultural dominance of other societies and the need for those societies to ape Western practices and institutions (…) Universalism is the ideology of the West for confronting other cultures (…) lately, doubts have been growing about whether it is really necessary to imitate Western nations in order to acquire all the benefits of modern society (…) For a civilization-state, cultural ties are potentially more important than the mere legal status of citizenship (…) the defenders of the civilization-state are saying that the search for universal values is over, that all of us must accept that we speak only for ourselves and our societies (…) but if Western civilization is one of many, what stops the rest from pursuing their visions by engaging the same tools of state or military power? (…) different civilizations are universal in practice if not in aspiration; they may well compete for global power, but they all belong to a common, increasingly integrated political and economic landscape (…) The European Union is in the process of being reconfigured as a civilization-state, a political entity aggregating all those who live by a specific value system and using political tools to protect European civilization from the attacks of its enemies (…) if we have returned to a world of civilization-states, the root cause is the collapse of the concept of a world civilization

Notes from Bruno Macaes: The Attack Of The Civilization-State (June 2020), https://www.noemamag.com/the-attack-of-the-civilization-state/

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Image available here

Just watched 2011 Adam Curtis 3-episode BBC series under this title of a poem by Richard Brautigan. I strongly recommend that you watch this documentary (link available here); Adam Curtis is a master at creating consistent narratives (remember ‘the century of the Self’). In the meantime, here is the poem the series owe its name to, dedicated to all my friends the cyberneticists.

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.