Europe and Its Illusion of Moral Superiority

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Europe and its illusion of moral superiority has been used to justify some of the cruellest acts of violence in history, classifying whole peoples and nations as “civilised” or “uncivilised.” Those judged barbaric are denied their full humanity and barred from Europe’s sphere of responsibilities.

Helen Fein invented the term ‘universe of obligation’ to describe people whom society believes worthy of respect and compassion and whose rights deserve preservation. These rights are denied to those excluded.

Europe and its sphere of responsibilities

In recent weeks, it has been more evident than ever before that Europe’s universe of duty only comprises itself and its former colonies such as the US, Canada, Australia, Israel and New Zealand. The remainder is dehumanised and marginalised.

Non-Europeans are therefore denied the right to respect, compassion, and rights worth fighting for, whereas Europeans are entitled to them. In fact, any violence inflicted against them is immediately ethically acceptable, particularly when perpetrated by Europeans. This normalizes such violence, resulting in complete indifference to the pain of millions of its victims.

European moral outrage at the Ukrainian conflict

In recent weeks, photographs of the pets of Ukrainian rebel fighters have accurately portrayed them as heroes. No Iraqi, Palestinian, or Libyan has ever been depicted in such a positive manner. Even when NATO warriors traversed continents to attack, occupy, and destroy their homes.

In recent weeks, many Westerners have openly criticised Russians who remain mute about their government’s activities in Ukraine. Ironically, many who throw fingers have never spoken out against the bloodshed their governments have supported.

Why would the West be so eager to accuse Russians of silence when they are insensitive to the violence their own governments perpetrate? The explanation lies in the “universe of obligation” in Europe. Russian victims of brutality are European and deserving of protection. However, NATO victims are not. In contrast to Ukrainians, they receive little sympathy for their pain. Any hardship imposed upon them is justifiable and warranted.

Read more : In the History of Empires, The United States is the Worst Manipulator

By denying sympathy for their pain, the context for any human response to the inflicted violence is denied to them. This includes the denial of their right to self-defence and resistance. Such actions are stripped of their context and recast as aggressive behaviours motivated by pure hatred. The latter promotes Western moral superiority and justifies aggression against its victims further.

For Palestinians, Libyans, and Iraqis to be labelled terrorists, all it takes is a child throwing rocks at a military tank. Mainstream news channels continue utilising these images to bolster the West’s moral superiority and justify violence against their victims.

Spiral of violence

Here, violence continues to exist. It is repeated in a cycle, but with each loop, more blood is produced, resulting in a spiral.

A continual cycle of global violence fostered by Western apathy towards the pain of its own victims. The have conveniently omitted victims from their sphere of responsibility.

A constant cycle of global violence that can only be resolved with justifications for more violence. More carnage that benefits no one but the military-industrial complex. The latter receives trillions of dollars from taxpayers that might be utilised for social benefits (such as healthcare, infrastructure and education). Instead, money is utilised to support a constant global condition of conflict.

Finally, there is a profound irony in all of this: the exact capitalist methods that have bolstered the West’s idea of moral superiority now threaten the planet with environmental disaster. In the midst of such tragedy, indigenous traditions and practices provide genuine hope. That is, while civilised activities threaten to wipe off mankind, hope lay in the practices of people Europe (and European colonies) considers uncivilised.

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