In some of the recent debates across the blogosphere one of my key arguments has been that only endearing culture endures across time. Ugly, undesirable culture isn’t adopted willingly unless it is force-fed to youth with immature critical thinking and judgement skills. In other words the only way ugly culture can perpetuate itself is through indoctrination, and over time that breaks down.
- In Palestine they teach children a grievance, revenge-based story of history, and they create murdering suicide bombers imbued with hate. (no need to detail this as it’s available here; read a few of the entries with the term “child abuse” in them.)
- In the extreme Belgian political party Vlaams Belang they teach their youths grievance theater based on hate, (your grandmother had her head shaved, your grandfather had to flee to Argentina, the Walloon officers got us killed in the first world war because the orders were in French instead of Dutch, etc.) It’s how they propagate Flemish supremacy and nationalism, which keeps concepts like apartheid and neo-nazism alive in modern Europe. See here.
- In the hinterlands of Pakistan they teach their children that their tribe is best and that to marry outside it is to bring dishonor on the family – hence honor killings.
These are all vain attempts to keep the current ugly culture of tribal supremacy and cultural barriers of pride and grievance going forward.
The tribalists are losing the battle to keep the ugly parts of their culture over time. In the hinterlands of Pakistan there are Trekkies, in Palestine they love Star Wars, and American pop music is heard more by the youth of Antwerp than nazi punk rock.
Left to their own devices humans are innately curious, and they explore. They try new things, and those which are endearing they keep. The power of beautiful art and culture cannot be underestimated, and over time it survives while that which is ugly rots in its own bile.
Sometimes in America we forget things that are beautiful; the power of them reaches from the past and makes them continually new again. Iowahawk loves hot-rods and the beauty of detroit styling of yesteryear, and he keeps it living on the web. Others do the same, and over the past few years you’ve seen that reborn in Detroit showrooms full of “retro-styled” vehicles.
At the Atlantic, Virginia Postrel tells the tale of how the forgotten children’s story of Mr. Pine is new again through the inspiration of the internet as well.
So the power of our culture relies not on how well we propagandize, but rather on how beautiful and open it is. In the US we tend to be adopters of good things from other cultures – you can find great sushi in the midwest, pinatas at kid’s birthday parties are common here, and you can find almost as many flavors of Vodka here as you can in Europe.
That’s right: we will steal the good parts of your culture and make them ours. Over time that becomes so powerful that everyone except the indoctrinated wants to be us.