Sunday, September 02, 2007

fire of london

On today's date in 1666, the fire of london began in Pudding Lane. It burned for three days, destroying the homes of 70000 of the city's 80000 residents.

I have a question about the fire. It seems that during and after the fire, lots of people were looking for someone to blame. A lot of blame was directed toward the immigrant population of London, and also toward Roman Catholicism.

So over the years, I've learned that American culture, and to some extent western culture in general, is rather more into blaming than other cultures--especially "eastern" cultures. Is this true? And if it is, is it reflected in historical directions of blame? when big disasters happened in "eastern" cultures, was there less blame thrown around?

We certainly are still into the blame thing, aren't we? I mean we certainly went to lengths to find people to blame for 9-11.


Megs said...

i like the japanese way - 'it seems the pot has broken', far better than the western - 'you broke my bloody pot you clumsy idiot!'

though i think in any culture, people can be distrustful of foreigners ... as a foreigner in the us of a i can speak to that experience somewhat...

Justin said...

Yes -- Do you think that the same thing is at play when Hawk's blame Osama Bin Laden, as when Dove's blame President Bush?

Do you think that this blame thing is also a thing liberals do as well as conservatives?

Benjamin Ady said...


I'm intrigued by your hawks and doves terminology--not quite sure who you are referring to.

blaming Bush vs. blaming osama. that's an intriguing question. the blame sort of goes backward forever, doesn't it? I mean we can blame ourselves for foreign policy which trained and armed osama back in the .. 80's? and further foreign policy which certainly helped create the nasty feelings which led to 9-11. and Osama for masterminding the attack. and Bush for fucking up the aftermath so badly.

There's a sort of "insider" vs. "outsider" blame thing, isn't there? I mean I tend to blame mr. bush for some things--chief among them his inability to stop blaming other people and pursue forgiveness. But I'm thinking of him as an "insider", ultimately. That is to say, I see that his evil is somehow very much my evil, and therefore when I blame him, I'm at some level blaming myself, and "us". Whereas it seems to me that people who blame Osama are blaming him as an "outsider". So they see him and his evil as exterior to themselves.

so yes, of course both conservatives and liberals do the blame thing. but I thing liberals tend more toward the blame ourselves, or blame the in group of which we are part--whereas conservatives tend more toward blame "them"--people outside our in group. BICBW

Justin said...


There is a level of irony in blaming Bush for always finding blame. And it is softened by saying -- I guess I'm really blaming myself when I blame my president.

But still -- someone has to get off.