Empire vs. Traditional Morality

Email Print

It has been noted that porn was used by the Israeli army as a sort of weapon against a Muslim town. We often hear complaints that the spread of American culture these days also, for many traditional societies, involves the spread of material they find offensive (like Madonna music videos).

What I didn’t know is that there is evidence of undermining traditional morality as a tool of empire going back well before MTV. Richard M. Weaver notes in Ideas Have Consequences:
The well-known fondness of the Japanese for honorific expression is but an aspect of the highly symbolic character of their culture. Naturally, this symbolism became a target for those who imagined they should re-educate the Japanese. Nothing would give the West a more complete sense of victory over the East than the abolishment of its taboos and ritualistic behavior. In this light I think we are to understand a curious press dispatch of March, 1946, which declared that MacArthur’s headquarters “had suggested to the Japanese motion picture industry that kissing scenes in the movies would be a step toward democratization.” (p. 161)

Not that I’m blaming conquerors for undermining traditional religion, hierarchy and morality. They are right. These do serve as a source of resistance to the New Order.

2:19 pm on July 21, 2003