John Mcreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sun, 27 Aug 1995 14:01:45 +0900

Rick Spears,

"The idea that people make history and that they are shaped by their
histories is acceptable to me ."

Me, too. I've just never been fond of confusing "people" (a set of
individuals, each with his or her own memories and point of view)
and "People" (an artificial construct that demands that individuals
subordinate themselves to the official dogmas of their tribe).
As I write, there is a vigorous debate going on, both inside and
outside Japan, on whether or not the official history taught in
Japanese schools should ignore the claims of other Asians in
presenting WWII, and present Japan's role as that of a well-meaning
liberator, driven to excess by Western oppressors....The Chinese
and Koreans have, of course, a rather different perspective.
Am I to assume that you would approve the Ministry of Culture line
on the grounds that it is, which it is, the official representative
of the Japanese "People" in this matter?

Allow me to note, in passing, that I have actually read Said, Foucault,
Derrida, Baudrillard, Clifford, Rosaldo, etc.None have succeeded
(or even attempted, on my reading) to overturn Boas demonstration
that race, language and culture are utterly uncorrelated; a
point charmingly illustrated by Linton in "A 100% American."

I observe, too, that "the latest" is far from always being "the best."
What sensible historian would claim that Wordsworth was greater
than Shakespeare, Cicero greater than Socrates, or Banana Yoshimoto
greater than Natsume Soseki? "The latest" will soon be yesterday's
news; hardly grounds for serious judgment.

John McCreery