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had before, and which not only is a benefit to them, but is undoubtedly a benefit to the whole of the civilised West. … We are in Egyptnot merely for the sake of the Egyptians, though we are there for their sake; we are there also for the sake of Europe at large. Balfour speaks then "of all the loss of which we have relieved the population and … all the benefits which we have given to them", and of Britain as exporting "our very best to these countries." While far from seeking to create possibilities of exoneration for those involved "with this rather sordid experience of imperialism", what this nevertheless amounts to for Said is an account of modern European imperialism that cannot be susceptible to any easy demonisation through a "politics of blame". There is both the complicity of the subjugated in the imperialistic ideology and frequently the recognisable good intentions of the imperialists. As he argues elsewhere, modern empires are systematic enterprises, constantly reinvested. They’re not simply arriving in a country, 98
Orientalism KSDI 3-Week 2016looting it and then leaving when the loot is exhausted. And modern empire requires, as Conrad said, an idea of service,an idea of sacrifice,an idea of redemption. Out of this you get these great, massively reinforced notions of, for example, inthe case of France, the ‘mission civilisatrice.’ That we’re not there to benefit ourselves, we’re there for the sake of the natives … that these territories and peoples who beseech domination from us and that … without the English India [for instance] would fall into ruin. There is a very real sense, then, in whichthis form of imperialismnot only insidiously affects and ‘creates’ those who are subjugated by it, but also manufactures the very people who serve it. Reflecting on the Orientalism of Joseph Conrad, Said observes that "in the end it was a form of universal corruption", a dangerous temptation to be employed of oneself or others. This entails, Said argues, that "Orientalism is – and does not simply represent – a considerable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to do with the Orient than it does with ‘our’ world." Language itself is a highly organised and encoded system, and re-presents what is commonly circulated as ‘truth’,but truth as encoded and represented. Thus "Orientalism responded more to the culture that produced it than to its putative object, which was also produced by the West." In other words, while this ideology in some senses have a certain broad coherence with features of the world it purports to describe, it says significantly more about the world-views of its advocates. The world of the ‘Orient’ itself is largely rendered mute and thereby unable to resist or surprise the projects, images or mere descriptions devised for it. Abdel Malek annonces that On the level of the thematic, [the Orientalists] adopt an essentialist conception of the countries, nations and peoples of the Orient under study, a conception which expresses itself through a characterized ethnist typology … and will soon proceed with it towards racism. … One sees how much, from the eighteenth