EDWARD W. SAID: REAL TRUTH, JUSTICE AND NATIONALISM Exploration Paper

E Deb W A R G W. H A We D: Big t R U T L, J U S Big t I C E

A N D N AT I To N A L I actually S Meters

Jan Selby

University of Sussex, UK

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Said

Foucault

Chomsky

nationalism

Palestine

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Inside post-colonial debates, Edward Said has tended to be viewed by critics and admirers likewise through a mainly postmodern lens: as a great (albeit inconsistent) Foucauldian genealogist of the relations between american truths and oriental subjugation, and as a great opponent of cultural homogeneity and endorse of hybridity and relegation. This newspaper argues, in comparison, that Said was above all a vital modernist committed to truth and justice; that despite his opposition to pure identities he was certainly not anti-nationalist; and was incredibly consistent, both philosophically and politically, throughout a lengthy period of at least twenty-five years. In his desire to ‘speak truth to power' and in his ethical universalism, Said experienced much deeper affinities, the conventional paper argues, with Noam Chomsky than with Michel Foucault. It was this essential modernism, I argue, that underlay Said's belief that nationalist motions could be of progressive and liberatory potential, and that also underlay his critiques of popular propaganda within the question of Palestine, and also his unklar positions for the utility with the two-state answer.

...................................................................................... interventions Vol. 8(1) 45 ГЃ/55 (ISSN 1369-801X print/1469-929X online) Copyright # 06\ Taylor & Francis DOI: 10. 1080/13698010500515241

EDWA RD W. S i9000 AID: To RUTH, JUSTICE A ND NATIONA LISM

Jan Selby

41

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It may be almost common to charge Edward Said and his use inconsistency, actually hypocrisy. The list of arguments that have been made is lengthy indeed. Because of not only would Said deploy Foucault along with Gramsci in Orientalism (1991) [1978]), and T. H. Eliot alongside Fanon in Culture and Imperialism (1994a [1993]) Á/ in a manner that elided their perceptive as well as political differences. Not merely did Stated juxtapose agonizing denunciations in the racism inherent within ‘western thought' (claiming of the nineteenth century that ‘every Euro, in what this individual could claim about the Orient, was... a racist, an imperialist, and almost fully ethnocentric') with, on the other hand, a quite conservative preference for this same humanist tradition (1991 [1978]: 204, 2004). Not only would Said approach, epistemologically, among Nietzschean reviews of objectivity (‘truths happen to be illusions regarding which one has forgotten that is what they are') and Chomsky-like exhortations of the importance of ‘speaking real truth to power' (Nietzsche 1954; Said 1991 [1978]: 203, 1994b: ch. 5). Not only would Said (1999a) think of himself, biographically, since an ‘out of place' exile and a homeless outsider Á/ despite his privileged background his professional location near the centre of liberal American culture. Not merely did Stated, for some, walk a tightrope between like a detached literary scholar, on the other hand, and pro-Palestinian polemicist, one the other side of the coin Á/ ‘Yasser Arafat's gentleman in Fresh York', together headline experienced it (Smith 1989). Not only this, but Said was likewise seemingly unsure on particular directly personal issues in relation to the plight and future of the Palestinians. Hence for many this individual appeared to incorporate a violence towards the nation-state and nationalism, with his popular and forceful championing from the Palestinian right to self-determination. Stated also, it is often claimed, changed from support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue during the 1980s and 1990s, to advocacy of a sole bi-national state in the years before his death. The question necessarily positions itself: exactly what are we to create of all these supposed buttons, tensions and contradictions?

It appears to me that you have at least four possible answers. You could respond that Said's quarrels were indeed...

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