March 25, 2008

"A-Culturation"

From Lawrence E. Harrison's article in The National Interest:

FUTURE GENERATIONS may look back on Iraq and immigration as the two great disasters of the Bush presidency. Ironically, for a conservative administration, both of these policy initiatives were rooted in a multicultural view of the world.

Since the 1960s, multiculturalism, the idea that all cultures are essentially equal, has become a dominant feature of the political and intellectual landscape of the West. It has profoundly influenced Iraq War policy, the policy of democracy promotion, international development agendas and immigration policy, with consequences for the cultural composition of societies.

But multiculturalism rests on a frail foundation: Cultural relativism, the notion that no culture is better or worse than any other--it is merely different. That's doubtlessly good advice for cultural anthropologists doing ethnographic studies in the field. If one's goal is full understanding of a value system quite different from one's own, ethnocentrism can seriously distort the quest and the conclusions. But what if the objective is to assess the extent to which a culture nurtures values, attitudes and beliefs that facilitate progress toward democratic governance, social justice and an end to poverty, the goals of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? The idea that some cultures are more nurturing than others of progress thus defined--and that this assumption can be measured and assessed--challenges the very essence of cultural relativism.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve I'd argue the reverse. Iraq FORCES the failure of Multicultarism, moral relativism, and PC.

People see first-hand the barbarity of AQ. Even Muslims in Iraq see it and are disgusted by it. People burned alive in pits (a fave of AQ). Arms and such hacked off. And so on. Worse than the NVA/Viet Cong, and with tribal people well armed.

It's estimated that 700 Muslims a day convert to Christianity. Many inside Iraq disgusted by Islamist violence.

What Iraq does is Force people to confront ala Monty Python "the violence inherent in the system" of Islam. You can't escape from it. If you're a soldier seeing it, or an Iraqi experiencing unvarnished just what future AQ holds. Far more than the "ordinary" horrors of war, the brutality (which the media has carefully shielded Americans from) of AQ has radicalized all US servicemen and women who have seen it. And many have. The bloggers and independent reporters who have also seen it have been radicalized as well.

And the radicalization has been to believe that Western Civilization is Superior to that of Islamic Civilization. Undermining the whole basis for PC-Multi-culti immigration and open borders.

You can see this up-the-ante with Osama calling for terrorism. In Europe. Over Danish Cartoons and something the Pope said. Presumably the baptism of a Muslim who converted to Catholicism on Easter will also prompt a response. Ordinary people in the West see this and view Islamic culture as both failed, and an eternal threat which must be dealt with.

Much of American policy in both parties has been to ignore Islamism, pretend it's a criminal matter, and hold to PC and Multiculti fantasies. Iraq, the AQ response of not just brutality but Extraordinary brutality and depravity force Multiculti off the table. Even Iraqis are admitting, in the privacy of their conversions to Christianity, the failure of Islam.

manindarkhat said...

multiculturalism: the idea that all cultures are essentially equal,

Only in Orwell's sense: all cultures are equal, but some are more equal than others. The real point of multiculturalism is to attack and undermine the white Christian majority's culture. See the war on Xmas.

Roger Chaillet said...

Anonymous is correct.

I know a restaurateur here in town who's an Iraqi Kurd. He spent five years in the US Army as an interpretor. I was last at his place last week. We got to talking about the war, the Kurds and Iraq, when he blurted out, "Why do they want to open the borders with Mexico? Are they crazy?"

I have no idea where he got this message, other than perhaps from CNN. It's always blaring in the background, and Lou Dobbs had just been on.

Also, he's in agreement with Steve: ethnic partitioning is the way to go in Iraq. He mentioned some sort of "federal" relationship involving the three main groups - Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis.

My brother then asked him if the Kurds were Arab. He responded, "No, we're Aryan. Like the Iranians or Germans. European."

Ditto for a Paki/Persian friend who owns yet another restaurant. He and his Filipino wife attend a mega-church here in town even though he is nominally Muslim. And better yet, he HATES Bush!

Anonymous said...

No. Harrison, Steve and these comments have it precisely backwards. The neocons weren't/aren't at all multicultural in orientation. Far from believing that all cultures are equal, the neocons were under the impression that US-style democratic culture was so inherently and obviously superior that as soon as they knocked out Saddam, the Islamic world would see things their way. They could have used some cultural relativism, which might have enabled them to understand the Islamic worlds first.

And war on Xmas? Please... I hurt your feelings so badly with my 'happy holidays?' Sheesh...

Manu said...

Multiculturalism is a reality. The Obama campaign gaffs are bringing it to a head by showing whites that blacks have their own views that are expressed behind closed doors.

Let's talk some race realism. Immigration is a reality. The black underclass is also a reality.

How can we make this 21st century multicultural society work, keep the principles established by our Founders? On the ground, I mean.

One thought. Why waste time trying to drill kids through 12 years of reading, writing, and arithmetic? That idea goes back to the Progressive idea of acculturating all the white ethnics a century ago, but we are not dealing with them anymore.

We seriously need some multi-track public education. It is a big waste of money otherwise that causes social resentment in the kids who can't perform and have no use for physics or calculus. Much better use of public funds to teach kids how to fix a car properly and so on.

Reactionary alarm ringing might sell copy, but anyone who calls themselves a Conservative realist needs to tackle the future. Because if Conservatives don't, then tax/spend Liberals sure will.

Martin said...

"manindarkhat said...

multiculturalism: the idea that all cultures are essentially equal,

Only in Orwell's sense: all cultures are equal, but some are more equal than others. The real point of multiculturalism is to attack and undermine the white Christian majority's culture. See the war on Xmas.

3/25/2008"

I agree. That is the primary purpose of it.

"Far from believing that all cultures are equal, the neocons were under the impression that US-style democratic culture was so inherently and obviously superior that as soon as they knocked out Saddam, the Islamic world would see things their way."

No, it is because of their fundamental belief in the tenets of multiculturalism that the Bush's advisors thought that a western style government could take root in Iraq.

John of London said...

This is a straw man.(1) No-one claims to believe all cultures are equal. Leftists and liberals believe in progress, ie that a given culture can be better than it was in the past; and if cultures' value varies in time, the same must be true of other dimensions.
(2) There is no such thing as "western" civilisation or culture. The inferior cultures against which English-speaking civilisations have defined themselves have also been western and sometimes English-speaking; eg Roman Catholic Europe from c 1550 to c 1700, Nazi Germany, the Southern States from the run-up to the Civil War until the 1960s. There is a large part of the "West" which has never contributed anything to the advaqnce of freedom and democracy. Also the European countries where F&D did develop (eg Britain, France, the Netherlands) often had extensive colonial empires where the "natives" were treated with the utmost barbarity.
(3) To equate Islam with AQ is grotesque. No religion is that monolithic. As on so many questions "The Cousins' Wars" by Kevin Phillips is illuminating. It doesn't mention Islam, but the intricate tracing of the conflicting influences of different Protestant Christian sects in 200+ years of Anglo-American history shows the sort of scholarship you'd need to understand political Islam.

Michael said...

Hmmm.

Here's the question I have about this line of reasoning. I quite like cultural relativism and multiculturalism (in a soft and non-prescriptive sense). Yet I have no trouble at the same time wanting to look out for people who are close to me, my country, etc.

I don't want to stand up for my country and friends because I think my friends are, objectively/philosophically/economically speaking "the best people in the world." I mean, they are, but perhaps only to me. I root for them and care for their well-being not because they're "the best" but because they're my friends.

Same with my country. I think a lot of other cultures have a lot going for them, including a lot we could learn from. And god knows there's a lot about America that stinks. I root for my country to flourish not because I think it's objectively/philosophically/economically "the best country in the world," but because it's my country. I was born into it; I'm fond of it. I think it has a lot going for it, sure, but I can't for the life of me see why I should think of it as "the best." Heck, I agree with most criticisms of it.

My fondness and loyalty and affection have zero to do with whether what they're attached to is "the best," in other words. To be honest, I often dislike "the best." This is just me, of course, but I'd rather enjoy a minor-league or amateur game of baseball than deal with all the crap involved in watching the pros, for instance. The art that has moved me the most and that I feel most fond of is, 90% of the time, not the Great Masterpieces, as much as I admire them. It's oddball stuff that took me by surprise.

So I find myself wondering about people who don't just want to do what's sensible to protect family/friends/country and contribute a bit to their flourishing, but who find it necessary to first argue that their family/friends/country are "the best." Who on earth needs such a rationale? And why would someone turn to that rationale?

I find myself thinking, Well, maybe there's a functional reason for this. Maybe many people, in order to stand up for something, feel the need to think that what they're standing up for is "the best" before they can get themselves to stand up for it.

Anonymous said...

anonymous neoconservative,

The neoconservative position was that all cultures will adopt Western individualism and laissez faire economics with the mere introduction of civil rights legislation and democratic rule (both anti-conservative, btw). Since this experiment has so clearly failed, the response is to demonize Islam as the one group left out of the happy-clappy democratic club, never mind the hundreds of millions of Muslims who never bother us and obligingly mop up our inflation-soaked dollars.

But aren't we being a little narrow in our focus? What if we were to apply the same metric of pathological behavior to American blacks as we do to Muslims? Black males, amounting to 6% of the population, are responsible for half of US society's murders. Or how about Africa, where shocking brutality is always right around the corner?

When I hear the neo-cons calling for military occupation of America's majority black urban areas or for the recolonization of sub-Saharan Africa, I'll believe them when they say they're not multicultural in orientation.

Really though, the neo-cons are just another subset of the cultural Marxists: enshrining the secular, anti-cultural State over organic society. Rest assured when white orthodox Christians decide to leave the reservation, they'll be on the outs as well.

And if the neo-cons really are clear-eyed realists who know multiculturalism can't work, why are they insisting on multicultural regimes in Iraq and the Balkans? Why, for that matter, do they promote the centralized Washington-based regime with its deliberate policy of cultural inundation of the US from all corners of the globe? The answer gets us back full circle: they really are multiculturalists who believe in the Tower of Babel.

johnt80 said...

The neocons do not believe in the ideology of multiculturalism. Their extreme ethnocentrism and loyalty to Israel was masked by the lofty rhetoric of universalism, democracy and human rights. It was a good marketing strategy to sell the Iraq war. The neocons believe in diversity so much that they advocate multiculturalism here but never for Israel.

benn franklyn said...

Here's a thought. Multiculturalism doesn't mean white people need to become black or even like black cultural things. It simply means that everybody accepts that there are different cultures, and respects them. Multiculturalism is not some exercise in intellectual self-stroking or naval-gazing for white people.

It means instead of snickering or bemoaning that your "typical black person" (to borrow a phrase from Senator Obama) doesn't give a hoot about intellectual things, you make a system that acknowledges these differences and addresses them in a practical way. Benefit: you save tax dollars on textbooks for kids without aptitude.

Instead, you give them training they can use for their lives. That could even mean B-Ball training instead of Pre-Calc.

Instead of wasting time with Little Jose who also has no use for higher maths or literature, you teach him Agronomy, Auto Mechanics, Construction or whatever fits his aptitudes and interests.

Maybe for some kids who incline towards violence (gang bangers), you expand the JROTC have public military high schools.

braindead said...

"People see first-hand the barbarity of AQ. Even Muslims in Iraq see it and are disgusted by it. People burned alive in pits (a fave of AQ). Arms and such hacked off. And so on. Worse than the NVA/Viet Cong, and with tribal people well armed."

Westerners saw on TV blacks being burnt to death with so called necklaces in South Africa, but still cheered mandela into power. I guess whites never learn a thing.

green mamba said...

Bla bla bla john. Anti-"neocon" boilerplate.

I got news for you: Israel can't be easily compared to any Western nation because it's tiny and vulnerable. What do you think "multiculturalism" would look like for Israel?

Another bit of information, not that you care: Israel is already highly multicultural, as it is comprised of people from all over the world, including many from Russia and the Arab world. (No, all Jews are not the same.) Oh, and don't forget the million or so Israeli Arabs, 20% of the population.

Something else to consider: Do Irish-American liberals (such as, say, Chris Matthews) advocate multiculturism for Ireland?