Sunday, April 13, 2008

Three Culturist Questions

Three Culturist Questions
Yesterday I spoke to a group of libertarians. Some of the Q and A follows:

One of the most interesting questions was, "Doesn't the universal desirability of technology such as air-conditioning show a global value system towards which all are moving?" My polished answers was,

If I pray five times a day, believe blasphemers should be killed and beat my wife for showing her hair, does the presence of air conditioning indicate cultural similarities? Secondly, people know about consumer goods, but do not organize their lives so as to maximize their access to them as we do. People have tons of babies even though they are poor. Not everyone makes attaining goods a top priority. Lastly, infrastructure makes civilizations look superficially alike, but values can still greatly vary. For example, the Aztecs, Hitler, Iran and the U.S. all have political systems and roads. But values still make diversity real.

Another challenging question asked, "Isn't Islamic attack was justified by our occupation of their land? Aren't they, in fact, freedom fighters?" My four part answer went,

First of all, much of multiculturalism is driven by the idea that we have been a bad and arrogant force upon the world. As world history shows a poor self-image facilitates decline, the West should reaffirm that it has done more good than nearly any other civilization. Secondly, killing for God happens for offensive reasons. It is a common feature in the world and we should not doubt it is possible. Thirdly, if there is a country where people chant "death to America" regularly, I don't care if they are doing it for religious or "social justice" reasons, we are safer not having them in our nation. Getting back to the first response, since I love the West, and don't think it evil, I want to protect it.

A final question queried, "Should break away republics such as Quebec and Kosovo, with cultural majorities, be recognized?"

Boundaries are flexible. Though we may joke about Canada being an American state, in reality, their fate is not for us to decide. But, this case should give us pause in our unquestioned celebration of diversity. What if California wanted autonomy as a Spanish speaking state? We'd be nuts to accept it. We had better recognize that culturally distinct regions sometimes try to break away. This started WW I. Diversity can hurt.

In Kosovo, we clearly have an interest and a side. In recognizing Kosovo we created a non-Western, Islamic majority entity in the Western sphere. This is wrong. We make a culturist error when we pretend we do not have a side in international situations. In the Middle East, for example, we are on Israel's side, Muslims are definitely on the Palestinian side. We are not neutral there or in Europe.

It was a wonderful event; four books sold and lots of conversation. What do you think of my answers?


Lexcen said...

John, we agree on the question of multi-culturalism. It is the single most destruction idea ever conceived that un-necessarily promotes self-loathing and guilt.

Culturist John said...

Lexcen, I have a new tagline. It is "whereas racism and multiculturalism divide us, culturism unites us."

If people ask, "who does the pronoun us refer to?" The answer is those who believe in Western values. This will exclude some peoples and some values. But if you are not very pro-Western values, you should not be here.

Multiculturalists may say, their ideals join us in our differences. But then try to get them to say the West is a special and great place. If they are willing to then GREAT!!! But they likely will not want to teach ideals of individualism and Western civ in schools. And they cannot differentiate at the border.

At any rate, we have to push the question "What is good for the West/America/Australia?" If that question does not have priority, your policy should be condemned. Answering in the questions phrased with this criteria of outcome will make all a little culturist.

Mustang said...

Whether or not we have ever achieved a truly united America is a subject worthy of debate over a few pitchers of beer (John’s buying); I do not think it is possible to completely unit people around a common sense of purpose outside a military environment. That said, most Americans came together after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Fifty years later, after the attack on 9/11, Americans once again seemed to unite in a common purpose — it was short lived. The difference is that in World War II, citizens back home were as much involved in the war effort as our front line soldier. Mr. Bush, in his infinite wisdom, excused Americans from their participation “back home,” and this resulted in the destruction of that sense of “common purpose.” So I think it must take more than culture to unite us as a people. It takes quality national leadership, and this has not been our strong suit since the Reagan administration.

I wonder if there is not some of the libertarian inside me, but this may not actually be the case; the questions posed to you seem (to me) disappointing. Air conditioning, indeed. How many millions of people worldwide have never seen an air conditioner? Naturally, my question only tends to underscore how horrible we are as a people that we haven’t sent air conditioning units to deepest, darkest Africa so that we can provide them with enlightenment. The point is that valuable lessons can be learned by studying Great Britain’s experiences in India; a people who resisted westernization simply because it didn’t fit with cultural traditions. One day we may actually benefit from these lessons, but I have my doubts. Until we are able to value our own culture, we should not be trying to change the traditions of other people.

Whether or not Islamic extremists see themselves as “freedom fighters” is completely beside the point. In fact, Hitler’s army may have seen themselves as providing enlightenment to the whole of Europe, but that doesn’t make it so. This question was simplistic (and sadly typical these days) because when someone is trying to kill you (or your family), his purpose for doing that is not at all important; survival is. When confronted by a ruthless enemy, we must become even more so and we must understand that survival really does equate to the complete destruction of that enemy and his will to fight. Truly, if extremists were freedom fighters, they’d be confronting the desert sheiks, and not selecting innocent civilians as targets of opportunity.

As to the third question, I have addressed this issue on several occasions; I agree with you. If only our state department was competent. Confronting Hamas on one level, while supporting them on another does not make much sense — but then, I’m just a taxpayer. Your analogy with respect to California is a good one. The solution to Canada’s problem is the reemergence of “civic virtue,” a topic (by the way) no longer taught in American classrooms. And we wonder why no one cares about the “greater good.”

Culturist John said...

Mustang, Yes, the air conditioning phrasing was a bit weak. TV or global hip hop might have been stronger. At any rate, these things take on very different cultural flavor elsewhere, are not dominant, and go to show that culture is absorbed as much as created.

Your Hitler answer is a great one. Right, Nazi's also saw themselves as freedom fighters. What does it matter why someone wants to kill you. From his point of view he is right. So??!!?! Does that mean we apologize and present our necks for chopping?

The problem is, immigrants speak for immigrants, politicians speak for votes, other nation's leaders are all about them, corporations speak for corporations and few in power ask what is selfishly good for the civilization we love best! If few see our culture as special and likely to disappear, if few esteem it enough to value it and build their values around it, none will stand up for prioritizing it. Multiculturalism tells all we are not special. Culturism is needed to say we big tent Americans rock!!

Culturist John said...

BTW Thanks for the long comment AND did you read about the two savage beatings of kids by kids this week? If we do not teach what you call "civic virtue" anymore, natural dynamics will lead to more of the same. The Christian notion of the natural depravity of man has some basis in reality and social utility.

Tapline said...

Dr, Multiculturalism was one of my first posts. (I haven't been blogging very long). The reason I got the bug, so to speak, is the screwed up world we are living in. I no longer could make sense of what was happening around me, so I decided to write about what was happening around me, the way I saw it.... Nouf said about have an excellent post and Mustang, who directed me to your site gave an excellent response. I agree with his comments and point to our higher education elites for much of the problems we are having within our society. To give you an example of what I'm talking about...A young Girl, Senior at UMF as a project on political art, made pictures of American Flags Some large ones which she placed at random throughout a hall in a student area at the University, She also made some smaller ones that she threw around randomly.. The purpose of the project was to see how many students or people would step on the flags. She learned very quickly, some people were very upset that she would even consider such desecration of our nations flag. The fire marshalls office came and made her move the flags to the side of the hall because where she had them displayed could create a fire hazard. She moved them to the side and a short time thereafter moved them out entirely. She was surprised that about 85 to 90 percent of the people would not step on the flag. The administration stood behind her project 100%. Her father,who was a veteran stated that he had fought for her right to do that. I also fought in two wars and I didn't fight for her right to desecrate the flag that I fought for....Do I make sense..I ramble....stay well...

Culturist John said...

Tapline, nice to meet and read you. Sounds like someone out there is taking some culturist actions. Many people disagree with the mullticulturalist typecasting of all things mainstream as offensive. American flags pain multiculturalists. I'm glad someone is putting them up!!