Timor again (sorry Lou)

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at SPAMqut.edu.au
Sun Nov 21 02:15:07 MST 1999

At 11:09  20/11/99 -0500, you wrote:
>I take it Gary doesn't see any problem with describing Timorese in this
>"The east-timorese are very sensitive to this kind of nobility
> > > and distinguish it with blind loyalty and ritual submission."
>Jim Blaut
Hi Jim,

I was reluctant to get dragged into the Joao versus yourself.  You are a
scholar with a considerable and well earned reputation.  But I look at the
East Timor conflict from a perspective which is I suspect a little closer
than yours.  Australian politics has been greatly affected by the
relationship with Indonesia and the ongoing situation in East Timor.

In many ways we here in Australia know literally nothing about the East
Timorese despite their closeness.  I have found Joao's posts
extraordinarily informative. They provide an antidote to the bourgeois
press and they can be also a necessary corrective to the line  that comes
out of the Green Left Weekly. The latter institution is very close to the
action but it tends to the uncritical adulation of the Timorese resistance.

Now I do not endorse every formulation of Joao's.  We should though note
that he is not writing in his native language. However by and large I have
no objections to his attempts to describe a culture with strong elements of
pre-modernism in it.

Now IMHO the above phrase is not all that objectionable.  I am Irish and my
own people have regularly endorsed the local 'bigman' or ex-football star
in election after election.  I put that down to the continued presence of a
peasantry in Ireland. I also think that presence is a source of political
backwardness. Is it racist or anthropological to say this? And while we are
at it what about Lenin's characterisation of Russian culture as barbarous?



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