Sunday, January 15, 2006

Exporting Identity

I was having thoughts about the moment the world went from a set of oft-fluxing, but beautiful cultures, to a mediocre, whoring, monochrome cesspool rife with greed, lust, envy, etc.

May I offer this: The 'melting pot' is wrong. Burgers in Kyoto is wrong. Exporting 'culture' is wrong (If it supplants another countrys, especially, like the American entertainment juggernaught). Being aware of the beauty of other cultures is fine, but to maintain that singular beauty one should treat it somewhat like a prize hound, admire from a respectful distance, and if the gate is shut, leave it be.

I'm saddened whenever I meet a denizen of any country that has forsaken their dwindling cultural heritage for a pair of jeans, a burger for breakfast, and a quick fuck. Now, I am not suggesting a return to 12th century separation, but what I am hoping for are governments to start taking stock of who they truly are, what matters most, culturally and idealistically, and make policy decisions with that foremost in mind.

Now I am not advocating and all-out ban of of other cultures' products and services, what I am advocating is that careful consideration be given to the scope and scale of those items in relation to the existing cultural norms within a given country. To allow unfettered access to alien content is to ring the death knell for aboriginal culture.

It will be painful at first. McDonalds can bring a lot of financial benefits to any community (and potentially rape it as well), but it does nothing to advance or maintain an aboriginal community. All it does is homogenize, displace cultural eating habits. And for the sake of what? Economy. How often have we heard an immoral idea or lustful/greedy person quantified with the tagline, "yeah, but he/she/it makes a lot of money." I'm no expert, but I'm sure this is not the best way to react to insolence, ignorance or poorly-thought-out economic or environmental policy.

North America is a mess, a shining beacon of proof that different solitudes can only play nice if they dissolve all that they once were and become one with the controlling populace. Yes, they keep certain aspects of their cultures (i.e. Indian restaurants that make bland food) but America at home is not the issue here... it is the exportation of the 'make way for the west' attitude that is most damaging, the force-feeding of Western culture on the rest of the world in the guise of trade policy. All those Big Macs, Automobiles, designer jeans and porno magazines add up in the mad rush to erode and supplant cultures to make them more friendly to the west, and therefore, more dependant.

...And governments should do more, act more in defiance, in defence of their cultural identity. I actually applaud Hugo Chavez for standing up, after decades of CIA rule in south america, death squads, forced labor, etc. I'm not saying he's doing it properly (lord knows, we never get the whole story), but that he is doing it, risking life and limb, for IDENTITY, is a wonderful concept. I hope it continues, respectfully of course, this drive towards re-establishing pride in a nation's identity, and I pray for it to continue on a planetary scale. However, to assume that the policy-makers will put anything before economic savagery is highly unlikely, alas, but one can dream, no?

So dust off your Kilts, Kimonos, Saris, berets, anoraks... Cast off the pale jeans of cultural homogenization and wear them with swelling pride.

20 Comments:

Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

I was born in America, but I'm English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French-Canadian, German, Lithuanian, Prussian, Russian... and that's just the last several generations.

(I agree with what you're saying. It makes me laugh to realize if I embraced all of my heritage I'd probably go schitzo.)

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Chance the half-wit gardener said...

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

TS Eliot

9:44 PM  
Blogger DaProkah said...

TELL it preacher.

That's it. Cultural Preservist Preachers are in need. Ilk like yourself to travel the world and spread your gospel. Praise the Culture Lords!

12:16 AM  
Blogger DaProkah said...

PS: I'm reposting this on my Myspace cccount. Nigguhs neeed to see this.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

I'm in! It'll give me the excuse I've been waiting for to walk around with a 'babushka' on my head and carry a sack of boiled perogies (the kind grandma makes!) on which I will constantly feast! And no one can say squat!
And then, given the other aspect of my heritage, I can spend some of the time mumbling half-baked and spiteful things about the Irish while I wait for Coronation Street to come on for the hundreth time that week!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Blog Monkey said...

i was concerned this could be taken the wrong way, but some experiences i have had recently really made me think...

10:31 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

Kathleen, maybe you SHOULD embrace your heritage(s), maybe going schitzo, culturally speaking, is the next inevitable evolutionary step for humanity and resistance is futile.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

On a more serious note, I think I see your concern there Blog Monkey, but I think also that maybe we can speak of two different forces when we look at the issue of the West eroding the identity of other cultures. There are definitely forces that seek to actively wipe out identity for the sake of shortsighted profit and power at any cost. But I believe that good can come of cultural sharing (and that's the key, we have to want to learn from others as well and appreciate what they have, not take it and exploit it. And help them keep it, not because they need help, but we can control ourselves, our appetites and runaway desires simply through not trying to possess and control it and make it fit our view of the world, which I think is what you're talking about). Also, there are some examples of cultures taking on aspects of other cultures while simulataneously keeping traditional aspects and growing strong, like Japan (read an article on that recently and I'm racking my brains trying to remember where).

I for one think that, like you say, we have to make the decision to keep diversity in the world (on the cultural as well as the "bio-" level). And though capitalism might claim that letting market forces determine which cultures win and which do not, we know that capitalism does not function like evolution for the simple reason that it is a human invention and is run by, corrupted by and manipulated by human interest (contracts to Haliburton anyone?). And besides, why does altruistic decision making and actions, forces for 'good', seem an unnatural force in the evolution of culture? I think, as any decision we make affects the future of our race, so too can "postive, self-less" thoughts and actions (and they should be given their due). We don't want a museum world of course, artificially preserved with policies that could be used to justify 'racial purity' and the like, but rather mindful, tolerant and reasonable attitudes, understanding and actions that can keep cultures healthy and diverse while still able to communicate with and influence on another. In an ideal-typey world anyway.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Blog Monkey said...

survival of the fittest, huh? if it were only the case. it is not the superior that wins out here within it's own microcosm, but transplanted ideas and species that spread like weed.

they were seperate for a reason, and don't allow for a moment to believe that our current state of wanderlust is driven by natural imperative, but rather, economic superlative... which is an artificial concept.

exporting cheap clothing and food is not survival of the fittest, but rather more like parasitism that weakens a beast so that even worse cancers can take root, eventually ridding the once glorious beast toothless, hornless, helpless.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Blog Monkey said...

i agree also. i just got set off and had another point to make.

your points are valid.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

Thanks! LOL

11:25 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

I only believe in survival of the fittest on the bacterial level. Anything bigger than that should start to include ethics in their decision making processes (yes, even lobsters should have moral crises!) And, just to clarify, I was trying to say that if humanity actually used their brains to make decisions that helped each other, creating a better (sustainable) world by being a little less 'survival of the fittest means if I get to it first or kill you first I survived therefore I am fitter' and a little more far-reaching in their thinking of survival (it ain't just for the moment, morons!) then perhaps we could see the value in allowing altruism and diversity into the scheme of things. Not for profit but for a healthier world (which I guess is profitable in that one and future generations are able to profit from it and live at all!)

11:37 AM  
Blogger Blog Monkey said...

more from sinkchicken:

"anyway, i was just going to say, when i started the response, that i feel that the evil capitalistic forces of the world doing what they do make it seem like cultural contact is a bad thing....but really it is the TYPE of contact that makes it a bad thing, which I think was something you were sort of saying when you talked about leaders making decisions that would prevent it from being bad
i was just realising that most of us don't consider a kind of decision/choice based human intervention for something that is not profit based as a good option. Why? Maybe because we're trained to feel that anything that involves thought or decision or choice is 'unnatural' and therefore not as good as something that seems to be an unstoppable force beyond us, like evolution or gravity or, mistakenly, capitalism"

11:42 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

This is a great topic, btw!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Sinkchicken said...

But it's really eating into my 'work time'!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

First, thanks for the comment on isamericaburning.

Second, I'm going to suggest to our small group of readers that they check your post (or I may steal it outright).

I could drive from central CA where I live to central NY where I was born and see nothing but franchises.

Did you see the item about a boy who was kicked out of his school prom here in the States for wearing a kilt?

I can probably still find the link for you. It was on Blogging Baby and it's probably been repeated in many other places.

"worried american" (the other half of the blog team will probably check in with you as well. She usually does. We're two great-grannies in separate states just plugging away.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Blog Monkey said...

hi granny!

you are more than welcome here. most of the 'humor' should be taken with a grain of salt.

nothing is sacred when humor is possible.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Plunky said...

After reading that I am going to put on my Lederhosen,cardigan, and my clogs then head out to drink me self silly till I pass out in front of a Catholic Church! AMEN!

6:27 PM  
Blogger Blog Monkey said...

deb_la... you go girl!

3:38 PM  

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