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?