[Marxism] Paul Theroux and imperialism

Scott Hamilton shamresearch at yahoo.co.nz
Mon May 14 15:38:11 MDT 2012

Paul Theroux has been getting lavish coverage in the Western mass media for decades, but in some of the profiles being prompted by his new book, The Lower River, he's being presented not merely as an occasionally inspired writer of travel books and fiction, but as an expert on the problems of the Third World, and as a debunker of the theory of imperialism. 
Theroux's longstanding belief that the Third World is largely to blame for its own problems, and that NGOs working in poor nations do more harm than good, is being presented, in publication after publication, not as the controversial opinion of a famously cantankerous scribbler, but as unimpeachable truth. This piece from the Pacific Standard is typical:http://www.psmag.com/culture/paul-theroux-on-whats-really-wrong-with-africa-41421/
Since the publication of Patrick French's sensational biography of VS Naipaul in 2008, we know that Theroux was happy to send racist tidbits like jokes and derogatory comments about darkies in letters to a deeply reactionary writer he wanted badly to impress. Theroux has been happy to trade on racial stereotypes in many of his books, and it's tempting to think he's been intent on impressing reactionary Western audiences in the same way he tried to win the approval of Naipaul. I've just been rereading Theroux's 1992 book The Happy Isles of Oceania, which was very unpopular in the Pacific for its almost unbelievably crude racism, and perhaps not coincidentally became a bestseller in the US:http://www.readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/when-grumpy-white-men-go-native.html

More information about the Marxism mailing list