Academic, Language, Politics, Race

Edward Said, the world-renowned scholar, writer and critic has died aged 67, it was announced today.

Here is one of the last things he published before he died:

All over the world people are all experiencing the quandary of a revolution in thought and vocabulary in which American neo-liberalism and pragmatism” are made on the one hand by American policy-makers to stand for a universal norm whereas in fact — as we have seen in the Iraq example I cited above — there are all sorts of slippages and double standards in the use of words like realism”, pragmatism”, and other words like secular” and democracy” that need complete rethinking and reevaluation. Reality is too complex and multifarious to lend itself to jejune formulae like a democratic Iraq amenable to us would result”. Such reasoning cannot stand the test of reality. Meanings are not imposed from one culture on to another any more than one language and one culture alone possesses the secret of how to get things done efficiently.