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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haiti, Culturism, and the Basis of Rights

In a prior post, I used the moving of Sheik Khalid Mohammed’s trial from downtown NYC to illustrate some culturist principles. That rights come from cultures that can afford them and believe in them was my main point. Mohammed’s right to have a trial will disrupt the lives of whomever it comes near and will cost lots of money. Like rights, as many know and only some suspect, money is not metaphysical. We cannot just print more and have it hold value. The 200 million a year we spend assuring Mohammed gets his rights must come at the expense of services many American’s also assume they have a right to.

In comments, some serious objections to this foundational culturist philosophical tenet were raised. One set of comments claimed, “Rights that are the result of cost/risk-benefit are not rights at all. They are mere luxuries.

We have our rights, which do exist a priori even to many Atheists, because we fought for them.” Another commentator found our rights existed in our “potential to rise up and throw off our oppressors.” While insisting that we had a choice as to how many rights to give Mohammed, both correspondents worried that a lack of grounding in “potential” or “God” laid us dangerously close to moral relativism and a Nietzschean will to power model.

Haiti’s recent disastrous earthquake shows that rights do not exist independently of man’s belief and ability to afford them. As of the morning of January 31st, 2010 America has suspended evacuating critically injured Haitians to the US for care. Our issue? Cost. Florida’s health care system was reported to be, “quickly reaching saturation” and was “already under strain because of the winter influx of elderly people.” Even if those Haitians doomed to die think that God has given them the right to live, they will find out that that right has very little importance here on the earth.(1)

Secondly, the title of the article that announces our suspending the airlifts reads, “Haiti patients ‘will die’ because of US airlift halt.” Proximity is a factor, but I do not believe it is the reason the whole of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the US. China and Saudi Arabia simply do not care about people outside of their realm. They believe in their people’s rights, not human rights. Yet, ironically, we get the blame for not helping!! Again, rights, - and in this case the most basic right there is, the right to have your life saved - only come from nations that believe in them. Rights do not come universal precepts.

To protect rights we must make sure the West is solvent. If we can afford to save Haitians and give terrorist rights, that is groovy. But, ultimately, our duty is to keep our nation alive so that our vision of rights can survive. Outside of the West, there is no sustained, solvent tradition of rights. If the West falls, the right to be rescued, let alone vote, will die. Ask yourself which nation will bring them to us? In a meaningless and abstract way the “right” to a full trial and be airlifted to a hospital may continue. But, I do not see Saudi Arabia granting you either. Rights only come from nations, like ours, that believe in them. If we do not appreciate right’s geo-political basis we will likely fail to adequately appreciate the need to protect our interests.

Does that throw us open to cultural relativism? NO! Just as China and Saudi Arabia believe in and protect their way of life and beliefs for their people, we must do the same for our people. Our values meant that we cannot just start to silence or kill people here or abroad without qualms. We have a very firm domestic tradition of rights, democracy, and freedom of speech that would make such abuses appear starkly wrong to us. Socrates and Jefferson would call us traitors to our ancestors if we were needlessly violent or dismissive of rights. Christ would haunt us if we did not respect the individual. But, we must be clear that other nations celebrate conquest, submission, and enslavement. Rather than cultural relativists, recognizing that rights are only western and dependent on our solvency makes us more appreciative of their fragility and the need to realistically protect them.

(1) BBC News, Haiti patients ‘will die’ because of US airlift halt, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8489392.stm, January 31, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sheik Khalid Mohammed, Rights, and the Terrorist Aftershock

Culturism does not hold that rights are – with apologies to the great Thomas Jefferson - inalienable or God-given. They do not hang in the sky enshrined by metaphysical truths as “human rights” advocated contend. Rights come from cultures that believe in them and can afford them. Enshrining rights in mystical ether and ignoring their real-world basis and costs endangers our nation.

Today the White House abandoned their plan to have Sheik Khalid Mohammed, the admitted 9-11 mastermind, tried in lower Manhattan. The decision was done on the basis of considerations that show rights are not metaphysical abstractions. Trying Mohammed requires creating a security perimeter. This would have meant locals would have had to have shown identification to get to their homes, traffic would have been terrible, and businesses would have been virtually inaccessible. Rights happen in real times and places.

Mohammed’s right to be tried in Manhattan would have come at the cost of others’ right to stay in business. The trial will cost, according to New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley, around $200 million a year and last for several years. The Federal government may reimburse for some of the costs. But whoever supplies the dimes, we can see in times of financial stress and hiring freezes, Mohammed’s rights happen at the expense of others’ rights to get fire service, police protection, or teachers. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Rights cost money.

Rights happen in a spectrum that, in our history, could be said to run from lynching to Sheik Khalid Mohammed. Lynching could not have been called a form of justice when the wrong person was caught. But, for arguments sake, on that occasion when the person lynched was guilty, the justice was swift. Such deterrent and retribution required zero lawyers, delay, or cost. In the middle of our spectrum of justice, we have cases where guilt is in doubt and we have a trial. And, at the other extreme, we have a clearly guilty man getting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of protections. The extremes are clearly problematic.

During times of war, even America has had a culturist, rather than an absolute metaphysical, vision of rights. We did not, for example, both have the resources to give every person of Japanese descent a trial before relocation and fight World War Two. Nations have long interned enemy combatants, or potential enemy combatants, en masse for just such reasons. We knew that had we lost World War II, no one would have rights. We understood that rights do not exist in a vacuum; they cost money, take time, and require a culture that believes in them for them to be in existence.

It is unprecedented that we now, in debt and at war, spend hundreds of millions to protect a man clearly guilty of killing thousands of Americans. Obama believed that the cost was worth the international propaganda value of the trial. This change of location shows that he only secondarily realized the disruption caused by the trial will have a domestic political costs. It will also have the domestic impact of disrupting businesses and costing us each lots of money. In a time of War this chaos and economic bleeding could be considered a second terrorist hit. Until we realize that rights cost money and require a sustainable functioning society to buy them, we are vulnerable to such aftershock terrorism.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Age of Aquarius meets the Age of the Terrorists

The naïve optimism of the hippy generation boggles the mind. No one dislikes the idea of universal love and peace. But that assumes that there is no evil. The unbelievable culpability of the generation of love stems from the fact that this generation’s parents fought against Hitler. They should have understood that unreasonable evil exists. We understand that the Woodstock generation needed a place in the sun and were overshadowed by the greatest generation. It makes sense that they needed a spectacular War with higher ideals than their parents to stake their generational claim and so fought against all they called sinful in an impure world. But, their doing this with an ignorance of history has created cultural ripples that endanger our very survival and it is time to grow up.

Our current generation faces a threat very similar to Hitler and the NAZIs in content, radical Islam. The proponents of this vision play hardball in an attempt to place an authoritarian theocratic stranglehold upon us. Were the Islamic vision implemented it would have many of the same odious features as NAZI Germany had. It would put a stranglehold on all freedom of speech, it would put women even farther back than NAZI Germany in terms of feminist freedoms, and it would give little men the power to brutally exercise violent authority over their enemies. One could hope that this Islamic vision would only include the traditional second-class citizenship given to non-believers in their societies, called dhimmitude. But NAZI Germany and Muslims allied over their hatred of Jews. A second holocaust, or at least the destruction of Israel, would not be unlikely if the power of Iran’s ruler, Ahmadinejad, and his ilk spread. And like NAZI Germany, when the radical Muslims take over the moderates will not dare voice dissent.

Barak Obama wholeheartedly embraces the sixties generation’s ideals. When spoke in Egypt and Turkey, he pleaded for the kindness and understanding from the Muslim world. Obama decided to go after those who used waterboarding on three terrorist and give the mastermind of 9 – 11 Sheik Khalid Mohammed a civilian trial to improve our image abroad. The concept is that if we are seen as loving, they will not hate us and we can all live in harmony. This might work with people that might already love us. But hateful evil monsters bent on our destruction cannot be reasoned with. The thought of reasoning with Al Qaeda or Hamas, like reasoning with an evil madman like Hitler, shows a naiveté that is pathological. Bad people can only be reached through inflicting pain. Bad men only divulge information with torture. And, in war even innocent people get hurt.

Multiculturalism is a manifestation of the same 1960s mindset that convinces Barak Obama that we can “all just get along.” In this vision all cultures can find peaceful coexistence because they all, deep down, believe in love, human rights, and the dignity of the individual. Its slogan “celebrate diversity” affirms that all cultures are essentially good and that, ironically, no diversity exists. In its darker side it goes back to the 1960’s anti-modernity, anti- western stance and blames us for not being the angels it expects all people to be. It lionizes the non-western as its founders lionized the Vietnamese as they fought us. Well, the North Vietnamese were violent warriors who turned their nation into a living hell after we left. All that is non-western is not good. To challenge the dominant unreal and dangerous 1960s cult of multiculturalism we need to spread the name of its opposite, culturism. Culturism acknowledges that sometimes cultures can be evil and unreasonable and must be dealt with as such. It recognizes that not all is peace, love, and flowers. As such it helps remind those who still carry the 1960s peace and love torch that their parents confrontation with evil was not a one-time occurrence.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wilders Repost in Honor of his Stance

Geert Wilders, a Dutch parliamentarian, was refused entry into the UK. The Muslim community threatened to riot if his film FITNA screened in parliament. Ironically, the Muslims objected to the film’s portrayal of them as intolerant! And since freedom of speech is so central to a functioning democracy, this censorship threatens the continuance of western civilization. In appreciation of Wilders' efforts, I would like to offer him the intellectual gifts of ‘culturism’ and ‘culturist.‘ Using them will ease and hasten his victory over multiculturalism.

On his website, www.geertwilders.nl, Mr. Wilders posted the speech he was going to read to parliament had he cleared customs. At the end of the speech he blamed “the multicultural project” for undermining western civilization. As a culturist I agree. But the best he can offer is a condemnation of multiculturalism. We need solutions. Culturism provides lots and spreads them cheaply and easily. If he does not use these words, few will remember the ideas in his speech. They will be spun by media and read by few. His ideas will spread quickly if he announces, “I am a culturist and believe in culturism!”

Because multiculturalism is already a household word, citizens of Britain would instantly know what he means by culturism and culturist when he used them. Multiculturalism holds western nations have no core traditional cultures to prefer, promote and protect. Intuitively understanding the opposite of multiculturalism, the Brits would say “Yes,” we do have a core traditional culture and a right to protect it.” They would recognize that all nations are culturist and that our schools and our laws should reflect and protect our traditional cultures. And they would be able to communicate this sentiment as easily as multiculturalists now do theirs.

Wilders’ ban from Britain was partially justified by his being prosecuted for racism. He now has to repeatedly announce that he does not hate all Muslims and that he is not a racist. And this is fine and good, but he would be better off advocating a positive program than defensively refuting what others say he is. He can do this by simply saying he is “culturist” not “racist.” He could help people make important distinctions by explaining that while racism is stupid and dangerous, because cultural diversity is real, culturism is necessary. Then the multiculturalists could defensively explain why diversity is not important. The multicultural lefts’ flip abuse of the word racism would diminish immediately.

Then, once the distracting charges of racism were diminished he can focus on the positive culturist agenda. He can explain that western schools should teach western virtues and history. He can convey that western nations should only recognize western legal systems. Culturism’s taking diversity seriously will give him a basis upon which to argue that freedom of speech is a western value that needs protection. Culturist logic will give him a rational basis upon which to discuss border regulations. He can affirm his language. Rather than just be against multiculturalism, Wilder’s using the word culturism will teach people about the positive western agenda and history he promotes.

Geert Wilders has risked his life for the West. Yet his own western governments vilify him as a racist. He is a hero whose case should be celebrated by all western culturists. In the speech he was not allowed to give, he identified multicultural ideology as the enemy of the West. In gratitude and solidarity I offer him the use of the words ‘culturist’ and ‘culturism.’ As a culturist I encourage you to help Wilders in his fight by also identifying yourself as a culturist. When someone mentions multiculturalism, tell them you prefer culturism. When they brand those who discuss diversity as racist, tell them the discussion is culturist. These are politically correct and assertive ways to fight our destruction. Back Wilders. Back his mission for the West. Help him spread the words.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Frances Kellor, Universalism, Particularism, and Culturism

Where do our historic Americanization movement and culturism fall within the spectrum of particularism and universalism? The answers are not so obvious and nearly counter-intuitive. Particularism says that cultural groups, such as the Jews, should focus on what makes them unique. Universalism holds that groups should find that which is common to all humanity within their cultures and basse their identity on those features. Clarifying this distinction is crucial in understanding our personal and national identities as well as our national policy.

Frances Kellor lead much of the Americanization movement which greeted the first wave of heavily contested immigration from 1906 to 1921. You could say that she advocated what might be termed a “multicultural nationalism.” During WW I, on the 4th of July, under the banner of ‘Americanization Day,’ she held loyalty parades. On that date, annually, hundreds of thousands of immigrants, in over 160 cities, marched in their native costumes to demonstrate their community’s loyalty to the United States and the allies. Thus, initially, one might see Kellor as the precursor to particularism.

Culturism defines itself as the opposite of multiculturalism. More specifically, culturism holds that majority cultures within a nation have the right to define, protect, and guide themselves. Most nations are culturist. Saudi Arabia guides itself on its principles according to its traditions and history; China does the same. Domestically, culturism parts with multiculturalism in saying that the West too has a particular culture and a right to protect, promote, and guide itself within its borders. Since this philosophy has a precept which gives the same right of sovereignty to all nations, people could nearly mistake it for a form of universalism.

The difference between Kellor’s vision of Americanization and culturism comes in the form of boundaries. Kellor, in fact, was pulling a trick. Her main technique of Americanization implemented John Dewey’s idea of melding citizens via democratic participation in reform efforts. Thus her curriculum called for community activism. And, if one read the details, nearly none of her Americanization curriculum concerned American history or the celebration of ethnic cultures. Kellor did not mind if you held on to your ethnic heritage. In point of fact, she did not care at all. Kellor, like Dewey, self-consciously sought to guide folks into the modern industrial age. She actually had a faith that all such differences would ultimately become insignificant.

Culturism, as the name denotes, takes culture seriously. The book, Culturism: A Word, A Value, Our Future, devotes two solid chapters to history. Its belief that the West has a core culture to protect, ties it to Europe. In an ultimate act of particularism, culturism holds that democracy, freedom of speech, the separation of church and state, and other such values are not universal, they are western. China’s government censors the internet as it sees fit, culturists do not assume that this nation’s ultimate desire is for democracy; this is a western political virtue. Culturism does not hold that Islam’s goals tend towards freedom of religion; this, again, is a western value. Thus culturism holds that international cultural particularism is not only important, but real.

Kellor’s Americanization ignored culture. In this it aligns with today’s multiculturalism. It considered culture ephemeral and reduced it trivia such as food, festivals, and fashion. Culturism, on the other hand, considers culture very significant. Culturists believe that cultural values can greatly influence economic and educational achievement, as well as the fate of nations. And so while Kellor’s Americanization movement would make no cultural distinctions in terms of immigration laws or which culture would be taught in schools, culturism would base its policies on the promotion of our particular western culture.

As schools of all nations, culturism holds that our schools must teach our heritage. Again, multiculturalism holds that we have no western core heritage. Our land is just a neutral space where various ephemerally distinct cultural groups play out universal values. Multicultural policy holds that if we emphasize our apparent-but-insignificant cultural diversity, we will arrive at universal agreement. Culturism, in taking values seriously, would expect cultures within our shores, if left to themselves and not taught the western historical narrative, may naturally turn anti-western. Thus culturism, possibly counter-intuitively, holds to particularism, and Kellor’s form of multiculturalism rests on the philosophy of universalism.

John Kenneth Press, Ph.D. is the author of Founding Mother: Frances Kellor and the Quest for Participatory Democracy.  www.franceskellor.com has more information

Friday, January 8, 2010

Culturism, Avatar, and the Death of the West

Avatar, the movie, illustrates all that is wrong with multiculturalism and shows how it threatens Western civilization. This film is easily summarized. It is the good indigenous people fighting the bad U.S. military. But, beyond the highest globally grossing film of all time having audiences cheering the killing of U.S. Marines, the film reflects even deeper multicultural truisms that we must combat with culturism or die.

This film provided a perfect representation of multiculturalism. At heart multiculturalism says to respect all cultures, except the West. This is because we are, as the film explains, seen as imperialist. And, as we have transformed the world, we have disproportionately disrupted the indigenous cultures multiculturalism celebrates. Culturism, by way of contrast, supports the West and recognizes progress.

In indigenous cultures, on average, Lawwrence Keeley and other anthropologists tell us, 25% of the male population died in warfare. And, there was yearly war. The population stayed low because of starvation and death in childbirth. And, while the men fought, women were beasts of burden. In 20th century Europe, by contrast, with its two World Wars, only 1.9% of males died in combat. Most Americans never go to War. Nearly none of us die in War. We live long lives with lots of comforts and food. If you are anti-War you should support the West.

Indigenous poplutions were not the angelic environmentalists of left leaning Hollywood minds. As the indigenous population spread across North America, it wiped out 85% of the large mammals. Jared Diamond, in Collapse, tells us that Arizona used to be forested. The locals used all the trees and descended into cannibalism, before Columbus arrived. And remember Easter Island? Science solved the Ozone problem. To abandon the West and rationality is to destroy the hope of environmental management.

The film backs an array of pathological leftist multicultural thoughts. This film, as multiculturalism generally, denigrates progress and the West for having made it. The lead character says the indigenous will not give up their way of life for “lite beer and blue jeans.” The West is more than that. We have taken the world from one of scared superstition and constant warfare to a place with comfort and progress. Thanks to the West, slavery is nearly gone and the world population is booming.

It was significant to me that the lead character had a “tribal” tattoo. These tattoos show disaffection with the rational West and sympathy for a more emotional primitive past. In several scenes the indigenous people all chant or sway in unison. They have a sense of community. The West is an alienating place as it stresses individualism. But, we could again find cohesion in the fact that we are the cutting edge of technology and freedom in the world. By claiming that we have no majority culture or connection with western civilization, multiculturalism drives people to look for it in fairy tales and get tribal tattoos.

In Avatar the left’s hatred of America was on display. Though it happens in a remote time and place, a protagonist calls the marine’s destruction “Shock and awe.” A Marine leader says “we must fight terror with terror.” And, as a central trope, the Marines attack their tallest structure, a tree. This covertly justified the indigenous people’s attack on our tallest structure, the World Trade Center. When you couple this with Avatar’s asking us to root for the killing of American soldiers, we have a fairly anti-American film.

In reality, whether Hollywood’s left or Obama want to admit it, we are currently fighting for the survival of western civilization. Our Islamic enemies, like all indigenous folks, are war like, irrational, and oppressive. When the Taliban took over parts of Pakistan last year, they immediately destroyed nearly two hundred girl’s schools. They are attacking Thailand. It is not because of Thai crimes. It is due to the rabid, irrational, drives that their form of theocracy unleashes.

Lastly, the film sinks to its lowest multicultural level with its invocation of racist themes. The angry Marine leader, before and in the ultimate showdown between good and evil, asks the lead protagonist to stick with his own “race.” The correct word would have been species. But the choice parallels the multicultural blurring of race and culture. The multis label all mention of negative aspects of cultural diversity “racist.” Ultimately, in this film, to be for the West is, in the Marine’s words, to be racist. That optimizes the multicultural left’s position.

We must use the words culturism and culturist to help distinguish between race and culture. Racism is stupid. But cultural diversity, like progress, is real. If we cannot talk about the negative aspects of some cultures, and if to root for our side continues to be demonized as racist, we are in trouble. Avatar’s overtly saying those who side with Western civilization are racist reflects a common multicultural tactic of the left that should not be taken lightly.

Perhaps even scarier, the film constantly evokes the use of the word, “the people.” In Avatar, to be for western civilization is to be against, “the people.” This is the sort of black and white thinking that leads to genocide. When leaders start doing things in the name of “the people” we are on our way to demagogic authoritarianism. To be good, the lead protagonist must show is he not part of the West, disdains it, and has converted to being one of “the people.” This is a bad trope.

For the West to thrive, it must replace multiculturalism with culturism. We must know we have a valuable and vulnerable civilization and strive to protect it. This will give us a much-needed sense of pride and community. We must recognize that progress has happened and we can revert to something much worse. While we have a war on terror, films that subtlety justify the 9/11 attacks and overtly justify the killing of Marines, sap our defense of civilization. The West must stand against theocracy. To do so we must side with and strive for the success of the West. We must adopt a culturist, rather than a multiculturalist, perspective. Avatar shows us why.