As it is holiday season, this item – via Instapundit – got my attention. It is about why some kinds of travel guides tend to be mealy-mouthed about some of the countries they write about:
“There’s a formula to them: a pro forma acknowledgment of a lack of democracy and freedom followed by exercises in moral equivalence, various contorted attempts to contextualize authoritarianism or atrocities, and scorching attacks on the U.S. foreign policy that precipitated these defensive and desperate actions. Throughout, there is the consistent refrain that economic backwardness should be viewed as cultural authenticity, not to mention an admirable rejection of globalization and American hegemony. The hotel recommendations might be useful, but the guidebooks are clotted with historical revisionism, factual errors, and a toxic combination of Orientalism and pathological self-loathing.”
There is a related point, also. When I occasionally read of how a region or place is “unspoilt”, it often is just an aesthetic comment that area X or Y has not been buggered up by ugly buildings. Fair enough. Even the most ardent defender of laissez-faire does not have to like all the consequences of some buildings. But there is a danger that this can sometimes tip over into a dislike of building and human activity per se. To take one example: I love certain big cities precisely because they are “spoilt” by the energy and sometimes crazy creativity of the people who live in them and build them.