Comments: Qutbdate

I notice that this post hasn't drawn the attention that the other Qutb posts often do.

Perhaps it's because Qutb isn't quoting the Qur'an...

This quote from Qutb is on the one hand very exlanatory, and on the other hand mystifying.

If it is representative of America's image to some segment of the Muslim world, then I wonder why there aren't more airplane hijackings.

If it representative of Qutb's experiences in America as a student, then I conclude that he doesn't know the first thing about studying a foreign culture.

I learned this from friends and relatives who are heavily involved in anthropology, and related fields.

The first thing to remember when studying a foreign culture is that is is foreign. These people have many of the same problems as our culture (supply of food, clothing, shelter, and an explanation for the meaning of life). However, different forces are at work. Different materials, different history, different cultural decisions all produce different cultures.

In the case of American capitalism: it appears to Qutb to produce monopoly. This impression is easy for a foreigner to gain, from examples like Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Even a visit to America is not likely to dispel this impression, unless the visitor deliberately sets out to find out the truth of his impressions and assumptions.

I, the native to America, see many more businesses on local, regional, and national levels. Several large categories of beverage sellers and restaurants exist, and a competition occurs between local, regional, and national brand names in most of those categories.

This is but one example. The larger issue of relations between the sexes, and placement of cultural boundaries--in both public life and private life--has much history behind it.

I don't criticize the changes in the American culture without trying to understand the history behind them.

I don't have any patience for foreign critics who don't at least try to understand the history of what they're critiquing.

In Qutb's case, I have even less patience with him, because he advocates the use of force to right all the wrongs in the world.

Posted by steve h at February 13, 2005 02:41 PM