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Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Debt is Only a Symptom of Cultural Problems

If we do not address culture, the Debt Ceiling debates are meaningless.  Debt is a symptom of our cultural meltdown.  Perhaps that is an overstatement.  But, if we wish to become solvent again, emphasizing cultural solutions will get us farther than emphasizing economic fixes.  Without such culturist discussions we will never pay down the debt and are essentially doomed.

            Economic forces have an impact.  When the Feds helped foment the Great Depression, people lost tremendous amounts of wealth quickly.[i]  This collapse did not happen because of attitudinal change on the part of America’s population.  And one could argue that economic explanations have new relevance as our nation careens into a black hole of debt.  Yet in truth, economic analyses ballooned our debt and culturist analysis provide the only way of permanently reducing our debt.

            We need a culturist analysis to attack inner-city poverty.  But the fear of being called racist has long kept sociologists from discussing this perspective.  Thus government money and social programs enable, rather than expose the economically unsustainable nature of single parent, low education, drug using, prison-esteeming culture.  The truth is, the long ascendancy of economic explanations and fear of looking at culture have not helped alleviate African – American poverty. And no way forward exists but having difficult discussions about cultural contributors to poverty.  

            For full economic recovery, the long dominance of the economic explanation in our schools must end. Multicultural education refuses to make any judgment on cultures.  Bereft of cultural content, schools’ exclusive focus on economics leads them to call for ‘social justice.’  The idea that all inequality must reflect unfairness leads to constant talk of ‘oppression’ in education theory.[ii]  That this economic multicultural perspective promotes anti-social behavior can be seen in the 2011 National Association for Multicultural Education’s choice to have revolutionary terrorist William Ayers as their 2011 keynote speaker.[iii]

            Teaching ghettoized African-American children that they are oppressed and should rebel and that personal responsibility cannot alleviate their class situation, maintains poverty.   That replacing this economic model’s hegemony will improve our economy can be seen in the high number of Asian students excelling in America and the economic productivity of their home countries.[iv]  Thus a culturist approach will allow us to make every ethnic group feel more responsible for their educational and economic success.  Whereas multiculturalism does not consider the potential negative impacts of culture, culturism can show communities – and our country – the way out of poverty.

In making the rational connection between culture and outcomes, by admitting that culture is important and reaffirming that this is not a racial argument, we may also be able to sanely speak about the borders again.  Latinos have grossly higher teen pregnancy rates and lower educational achievement than average Americans.  Muslim immigrants pose a much higher risk of terrorism than Japanese immigrants.  But our fear of discussing culture for fear of being called racist kills such discussions in their cradle. 

Immigration restrictions made on a culturist basis will give all Americans, of every cultural background, a sense of the connection between cultural rectitude and prosperity that has long defined our public character.  Thus, people refusing entitlements out of shame could once again become a proud moment for Americans.  Structural economic interpretations argue against such sentiments.  Adjusting our attitudes towards responsibility, pride, work and entitlements, is the only way politicians can again take us towards fiscal sanity.

Finally, a culturist analysis can even speak to corporate responsibility to our nation.  Businessmen who undermine our borders and send jobs overseas are putting an economic perspective over a cultural perspective.  We have to remind them that they have a responsibility to the nation that raised them.  Furthermore, when all is said and done, international cultural diversity means our American business leaders will not feel comfortable raising their children, living, and retiring in other nations.  This cultural analysis might help them identify with our nation again. 

I do not argue that economic theory is useless.  We need to understand how the Fed's quantitative easing will cause inflation and thus steals from all of us.  And this article has cursorily addressed the horror of jobs going overseas. And we, of course, need to reduce our government spending.  But long-term recovery requires growth.  Cutting spending will require weening from government.  Neither of those can happen if we do not renew our committments to individual responsibility in the name of sustaining our nation. 
Brave academic sociologists such as Orlando Patterson of Harvard have reintroduced culture as an explanation for explaining African-American poverty.[v]  Schools of education need to follow suit.  And our politicians need to stop calling everyone who discusses culture racist.  We can do our part by demanding that culturist explanations for our current problems get aired by using the words culturism and culturist whenever multiculturalists call our nation racist.


[i] Brian Domitrovic, Economic Crisis, Then and Now, Lecture at the Hyatt Regency, Indianapolis, IN, 10/10/09 http://www.isi.org/lectures/lectures.aspx?SBy=lecture&SFor=ec90805d-7af8-4adb-a889-2b7f1b60ba79
[ii] Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference, http://www.ptoweb.org/
[iii] The National Association for Multicultural Education: Advancing and Advocating for Social Justice and Equality, http://nameorg.org/ 2011 conference
[iv] Educational Attainment in the United States / Race.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States#cite_note US_Census_Bureau_report_on_educational_attainment_in_the_United_States.2C_2003-0
[v] Orlando Patterson, “A Poverty of the Mind,” New York Times, Op-Ed Section, 03/26/10, 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse Culturist Re-Post

This is a repost of an article published here in November of 2009.  RIP AMY



Today I heard Amy Winehouse heard for the first time. That is, I have seen her many times, but I never saw a performance that grabbed me more than it just illustrated  her tragic wastiness. But her version of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” with Paul Weller of the Jam, was a stunning virtuoso performance. She missed nothing, but remained both vicious and wild, yet controlled to the point of perfection in pitch, with  clever metered vocal fills. And even the fade-outs from her competent co-vocalist happened at the prescribed time. But her final intonation of the chorus, when she went quiet, it was like hearing the subtle twang of Mae West in her prime.

With reason, many could conclude that Winehouse is deleterious to the success of western civilization. She is a role model of potentially disastrous impact. She makes drugs and the refusal to go to rehab sexy. And culturists know that youth follow those with status. That is why we need values leadership from positive and popular role models. I would much rather those who took care of their families and diligently pursued their studies in the name of western civilization getting glamorized. I would much rather see the artistic elite banish junkies for shame's sake. But that would cost us the Rolling Stones, Billie Holiday, and many other artists. It would make the West much more like communist China. And that, I would not like to see.

Winehouse brings a very interesting cultural mishmash to the table. She is definitely Jewish, her music is clearly derivative of African – American soul tradition ala Motown, she has the biker chic that tattoos bring, and – most of all – she embodies that ennobling yet defiling self-destruction, Ziggy Stardust-style tragedy of the burn out and crash of the chosen one, the rising star style. While she presents no role model, she represents a vamp, a type, a trope, that we can all share joy in. In her way, if teachers want to use her for edification, she even ties us back to the 19th century romantic tragedy of the romantic Goethe's Lotte who died for love. She is a sacrificial lamb to our deep cultural longing for bonding through her familiar formulaic romantic cultural mish mash. 


Unlike the more electronic pop idols, Winehouse reminds us of the jewels of western culture and the romance of the individual self. And, perhaps, in a multicultural world where the divided West refuses to see it has a culture to protect and offending Islam may soon become a crime, her drunken iconic presence is a culturist good