As you make your way through the social jungle of the university corridor, your cognitive senses can detect many a noteworthy thing. Among the many entities that can be observed manoeuvring the jungle, one is perhaps easier to notice than others. You will notice this being already from afar; the pitch of their voice and the delivery of the speech is the first sign of warning. From the modulation, you can detect that this is a person who knows that he knows everything. As the speech becomes more discernible, you will start hearing words such as ‘orientalism’, ‘emancipation’, ‘justice’ and words describing an exotic journey. As you approach closer you will notice the bohemian chic and vintage style. The outfit seeks portray itself as a result of acute and socio-economically aware fashion taste. In reality, however, the total cost of the garments could feed a mid-sized Ghanaian village for two weeks and can be acquired in most upscale shops in Soho. This is a person you will often both see and hear, because this is a person with a message you must learn, this is an augural person of opinions which proliferations are inevitable; this is the post-colonial, post-modern liberal wanker.
Imperialism and colonialism are dark spots tainting the membrane that makes up European and world history. While only the ideationally blind would assert there were exclusively negative things associated to the phenomena, it is difficult to not conceive of its great injustices. To conquer and subjugate others have been traits of communities through written history; imperialism and colonialism as phenomena are not innovations of Europe and are not simply limited to the past centuries. Arguably, the practices of imperialism and colonialism can still be observed today, although materialising in notably different forms than previously. The post-colonial, post-modern liberal wanker is, perhaps ironically, an example of a modern colonial missionary. But the fields of conquest are no longer the savannahs of Africa, the mountains of South America or the lush forests of Asia; the new meadows are the minds of men.
In a pleasant room lit by natural sunlight and filled with blue chairs circling small, modern tables I used learn about imperialism, colonialism and their legacies. As the semester ran its course, we ended up on the topic of development and development aid. As the lecture came to a close, the lecturer asked the students why we thought the West ought to aid the post-colonial world. With the inviolability of a prophet, the liberal wanker stood up. He looked around the room with a stern look, seeking to engender a deep seated respect for his opinions. In a steady voice he declared: ‘as oppressors, Europeans have a duty to make up for their evil violations.’ Now, anyone who has paid attention to the ongoing intellectual trends of young liberals knows that one ought not to argue against such a declaration. To do so would be immoral and wrong. Fortunately, said traits are both treasured qualities of mine. To morally repent for the sins of my forefathers ought to be an argument restricted to the God of the Old Testament. It is a logical fallacy that acts made in the past, far detached from my own, must be on my consciousness. Furthermore, as a Norwegian, my country was in a union with Denmark from the 1300-hundreds to 1814, a union which made Norway function largely as a Danish colony. In 1814 Denmark was relieved from their mountainous backyard as they thought betting on Napoleon would be a good idea. This caused the ownership of Norway to shift to Sweden, meaning that another 90 years of subjugation followed. Consequently, I struggled to follow the logic of the wanker; a sentiment which was also voiced by the Romanians and Hungarians in the room, whose countries had also been oppressed during the time of European colonialism.
I took issue not with supporting developing countries; I took issue with his justification for why we would do so. What constitute evil and wrongdoings will forever be contextual. If we are to forever repent for what happened in the past, human history will become nothing but atonement as our understanding of what constitutes wrong will forever shift. People should be dedicated to aiding other countries not because of past injustices, but because of present needs. For those of us who do not adhere to the bigotry of nationalism, there are few good arguments for why a Norwegian deserves a life in peace and prosperity, while a Brazilian must live her life in poverty and insecurity. If we wish to truly be as humane as we claim ourselves to be, we ought to pursue the virtues of humanity. Affluence and privilege indicates a certain responsibility because, in a finite world, it will inevitably have been acquired on behalf of the possibilities of others. Thus, there is no need for historical fallacies to justify development support, merely recognition of what it means to be human and the fallibility of our socio-economic and political systems.
The post-colonial, post-modern liberal wanker, however, cannot settle with such a simple view. The wanker is guided by a higher duty and part of that mission is to emphasis to his audience that he understands things others do not. He is a man firm in his belief about his own righteousness, much like the colonisers of past centuries. In seminars he will cut into a fruitful discussion with something nonsensical drawn from Sartre and an incoherent interpretation of the already incoherent Foucault. He is a man without nuances; a person whose purpose none should fail to understand is right. His resemblance to a preacher is evident, though the Bible has been replaced with Foucault and the holy masses with cannabis and wine filled evenings dedicated to Palestinian keffiyeh, histories about ‘spiritual and cultural experiences’ abroad and twats with guitars. He seeks injustices in your every thought; he seeks oppression in your every movement. Like the Christian God, he sees you as inherently sinful and he seeks to impose on you a duty to make amends.
In a half arsed attempt to rebel against their middle-class privilege, the liberal wanker has learnt that the world extends itself further than Marks and Spencer. Subsequently, he is destined to wander the streets seeking to teach people what is true and right, without a hint of awareness that the world is not monolith. He does not seek conquest for material spoils, but he seeks to instil a vision of the world upon those he meet in the name of what he believes to be right. The liberal wanker does not see why he needs to be modest in his conquest, because, just like the colonisers before him, he knows that his campaign is great and true.
The only true historical responsibility mankind can be said to have is to display a certain level of self-awareness as they forgetfully float down the river of history. Holding your banner of opinion the highest does not make it the most legitimate. No matter the injustice you believe you fight, you should carefully consider whether your desire to impose your views on others is not a new form of colonial suppression justified by the virtue of your own conviction.