The Ex-Muslims Forum on Twitter alerted me to an article by Tariq Ramadan. Here’s how it begins -
Culture constitutes an essential element of human life. As people have risen up across the Middle East and North Africa, the diversity of their cultures is not only the means but also the ultimate goal of their liberation and their freedom. Though imperialism was primarily political and economic, it was also cultural; it imposed ways of life, habits, perceptions and values that rarely respected the societies under its domination, that seized control of minds — a true colonisation of human intelligence.
Globalisation extends to culture, often leading, in the societies of the Global South, to self-dispossession. Genuine liberation, the march toward dignity and democracy, requires a “cultural uprising” in all dimensions of its popular, artistic, intellectual and religious expressions. The importance of culture and the arts in undertaking the task of re-appropriation is critical: the tools of thought and tradition must be used to lend shape and substance to the sense of belonging that alone can guarantee the well-being of individuals. If there is no culture without religion, and no religion without culture and if, finally, culture is not religion, the issue must be explored; the complex questions of values, meaning, spirituality, tradition and the arts — the factors that give form to history, memory, nations and identities; that transmit well-being and freedom, or fail to — must be faced squarely.
Notice something odd?
It doesn’t say anything. It solemnly points out the obvious, without saying one thing an average teenager doesn’t already know.
And the whole piece is like that. It goes on for eleven more paragraphs, emptily stating obvious truths for no apparent purpose. Here’s a bit at random -
To assert culture, memory and identity is to assert that they are meaningful, to affirm that they are capable of addressing the challenges of the day. To assert one’s self is to become a subject, to take full responsibility for one’s heart, body and mind, as well as for one’s fellows, one’s society, and for nature itself. The imperative of coherence is incontrovertible; the very condition of genuine well-being and freedom.
Uh huh. Who could disagree? Who could care? Culture is meaningful; you don’t say! To assert one’s self is to become a subject; okay, now what?
It gives academics a bad name, that kind of thing – just blathering for the sake of it. Or to put it another way, the imperative of coherence is incontrovertible.