The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.
P R A E S I D I U M
A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis
10.4 (Fall 2010)
THE POLIS VS. PROGRESS
courtesy of artrenewal.org
Multiculturalism: Globalist Gambit to Annihilate Culture
Peter T. Singleton
In the previous issue of Praesidium, I expressed my particular regret that so many private citizens who consider themselves conservative–and truly are so, I believe–are misled by public figures who sell them on disastrous contradictions. (Citizens who lean left do not excite my regret in the same way, because politics is usually a religion for them, and religions are supposed to be turn one delirious with contradiction. Secular utopianism can make one see more flying white buffalo than any vision from a smoke-filled tepee.) Conservatives should not be fighting wars to rid the world of bad people. They should know better. They should understand that we all carry the germ of evil, and that the best defense is constant house-cleaning with occasional lifting of the drawbridge.
I further argued that conservatives should recognize in globalist economics the certain ruin of our standard of living. If the world should become one vast marketplace, where the cheapest product sells best, then cheap production will always be most easily managed where the living standard is lowest. Third World sweatshops may eventually be drawn up toward Western levels of comfort and safety… somewhat; but in the meantime, Western workers will be put out of a job, or will keep their jobs only by accepting conditions closer to those of the Third World sweatshop. A vast leveling must take place which is sure to be an overall lowering.
If you were to smooth a mountain into its neighboring plain, more square miles would probably be elevated than depressed; but the amount of lift for anyone on the plain would be a foot or two, whereas the amount of fall for anyone on the mountain would average thousands of feet. The only big winners in this scenario would be those who manufacture or rent out bulldozers. It is precisely they, or their mouthpieces–I mean, players behind the scenes like banks and their pimping facilitators in brokerage houses and lobbying firms–who tell us tirelessly that free and open competition was the ideal of our founding fathers. I would wish that most of these people might be shot as traitors, for their program, far from conserving anything, is radically subversive to our culture and our values (not to mention our standard of living). Yet uttering folly to see how many fools listen to it cannot be a crime in a free society. For this unfolding calamity, we really have only ourselves to blame.
I would like to take a small space in this issue to clarify what I see as one of the problem’s deepest, most gnarled roots: our misunderstanding of the word “culture” itself. That misunderstanding has been carefully nourished for years–far more so than the abuse of words like “conservative” and “liberal”–and the pattern of “disinformation” (i.e., systematic lying) is very instructive. Just as Communist China has embraced the cultural solvent of free enterprise to prepare the world’s masses for its anthill-utopia, so the global capitalists have exploited the self-hatred rife within Western academe to promote “multicultural” post-culture. A functioning culture has something to say about most facets of life. You are to marry (for instance) by a certain age, and you are to provide for your children. You are to teach them respect for institutions that they can’t yet understand (which is just about every one), and you are to protect them from demoralizing forces such as pornography and wanton jeering at authority. You are to labor hard but fairly at some endeavor which improves rather than diminishes your community (selling well-made furniture, say, rather than costly, frivolous gadgets with hidden financial costs and hidden health risks). You are to abstain from certain food and drink; you are not to be a glutton or a drunkard. You are to be aware continually of your neighbors’ peace and quiet–you must not blast the streets with loud noises or gun an engine at three in the morning. Your teenagers are to abstain from sex until marriage–or, if a pregnancy results from an indiscretion, the young man is to take the burden of a family upon himself.
And so on, and so on… these are expectations and strictures that can be found (though they could once be found much more abundantly) all around the wide world. People who style themselves liberal (i.e., people who want to remain perpetual children with a daddy-state that picks up all the bills) will immediately denounce this kind of society as repressive, prejudiced, and Christian. It is precisely each of these things except the last–for the picture I have just painted describes traditional Hindu and Muslim societies quite as much as it does Christian ones. As for repression… yes, all cultures repress. You must do things this way, not that way. You must wear clothes in public and not shout obscenities. They also exercise prejudice, or peremptory judgment. Adolescent sex is just wrong–this, at least, is how the issue is presented to adolescents, who haven’t the life experience or intellectual training to gauge all of the hygienic hazards hidden within early sexual activity or all of the spiritual desensitization likely to shadow it some years later. Parents similarly prejudice their toddlers against speaking to strangers. If you love someone whose parameters of judgment are limited for some reason, you seek to infuse prejudices in that person which will help him or her to survive. True culture–human culture that has simmered away for hundreds or thousands of years–is all about love.
Now, it is readily seen how a programming such as this can deprive ambitious marketers of potential clients. Huge, faceless businesses (as opposed to the local furniture-maker) cannot afford to tailor their product to eccentric communities; or they could probably afford it, in fact, and some of the best (as in “most profitable”) have done so in the past… but due to the sad realities human nature, the leaders of such businesses tend to mass-produce that article which the greatest number of people will agree to buy rather than differentiate it for an even greater number of people. Television is a spectacular example. Hardly any man in the street will say that he enjoys most of what he finds to watch. He may name one or two favorite shows: the rest are “time-killers” or “sometimes mildly amusing”. Communication satellites were supposed to have inaugurated an age when viewers could enjoy a formidable menu of favorite shows. It never happened. Why dramatize all of Jane Austen’s novels for the not-negligible audience sure to devote itself to that product when the same audience will tolerate a mish-mash of Austen novels, Gothic romances, and Chief Inspector So-And-So mysteries such as Masterpiece Theatre has ground out for years (with government subsidies, I hasten to add)? Viewers are faithful to a time slot, for the most part. They have a certain hour or two free on a certain day, and they will stay faithful to a certain channel if only modestly rewarded because they can find nothing better in the same slot.
Big business, then, has a keen interest in “weaning” us from our “petty prejudices” so that we will consent to watch a show with occasional nudity or obscenity, buy a house with absurdly large bathrooms, eat food with so much salt that we crave an extra beverage, draw so many shocked stares from friends that we finally have to purchase a cell phone, hear rap music in so many public places that we finally muster only a wince against it, etc., etc. Taste is the enemy of mass-marketing: taste is “discriminating”, by definition–and we have all been trained to recognize what a wicked word “discriminate” is. (Might that training be called prejudicial, I wonder?) Cultures teach taste. A culture bestows upon a young individual an already classed-and-filed set of clues about what the people around him or her tend to consider appropriate. Such an awareness might take forty years to acquire on one’s own. Thanks to culture, one may enjoy its advantages at the ripe age of sixteen or eighteen. (Take my word for it, if you’re under forty: there were tasteful teenagers even back in the sixties.
What multiculturalism does with frightful efficiency–the only thing it does with any efficiency at all, in fact–is destroy all functional culture. It reflects the ingenious (yet ever more familiar) stratagem of effecting major social and political change by disguising yourself as your adversary. Multicultural strategists pretend to fight on culture’s behalf. As Judas kissed Jesus so as to show the Sanhedrin’s goons whom to collar, they piously mouth platitudes about the importance of keeping culture (used nonsensically as a collective noun) alive. Of course, the culture being “defended” for the moment always has an ethnic or racial adjective before it. We must not disrepect Hispanic culture (whatever that is… Puerto Rican culture? Spanish culture? Mexican culture? which Mexican culture? that of white-European professionals in Cuernavaca, or of fishermen in Baja, or of indios in Chihuahua?). We must honor African culture through Kwanza (which has nothing to do with even a small part of that vast continent). The overarching message, though, is that CULTURE is good. Your culture, my culture… why would you criticize my food? Why would I criticize your clothes or music? It’s our culture, man!
Big money, interestingly, is often behind this evangelism. Various private endowments feed Western-hating academic communities to advance multicultural occasions: dress-up days with covered dish adventures for primary-schoolers, online projects and transfer-student programs for high schools, and travel study that may include months on a touring ship for college students. Let me affirm clearly that my trips abroad as a young man were among the most instructive, formative, and delightful experiences of my life. I do not question the potential value of these undertakings… but I do question why so many private-sector grants seem available to fund them. I am especially disturbed that our children receive little sound, supportive instruction in their own culture before being unleashed upon others. Furthermore, the exposure is almost always a sampling–a dusting of stereotypes similar to a sprinkling of Holy Water. One would have thought that today’s academic, whose nose quickly sniffs out the presence of vested interests and propaganda in history and literature, might have been just a tad more dubious of this sombrero-and-tortilla approach to education. From kindergarten to college, far too much of the “cultural awareness” teaching I have seen goes no deeper than a change of clothes, a spicy dish, and a colorful holiday with partying in the streets. If actual travel is involved, a week or two visiting the sites recommended by guide books does the trick. Little enough detailed history accompanies such courses, virtually no classic literature finds its way into foreign language instruction before senior-level college classes taken only by majors, and discussions of practices objectionable to most Americans come up only insofar as they illustrate our own silly squeamishness or pompous arrogance.
Where is the depth? In the seventies, actors like Ricardo Montalban and Sidney Poitier were vocally objecting (with excellent justification) that people of their race were constantly type-cast in films. A white man could be a hero or a villain, a private eye or a stockbroker. Why did a Latino have to be leading a gang of bandidos? Why did a black man–if he could find any part at all–have to play an angry ghetto superman like Mr. T–why couldn’t he be a stockbroker, too? Whence all the stereotyping? People are human beings first: the hue of their skin is secondary (or even tertiary). Remember Dr. King’s dream?
Multiculturalists apparently do not remember that dream. If there is one theme running throughout all of their programs, it is that “these people” are “other than you”, little American boy or girl. The American child is too provincial, believes that his ir her way is the only way. Multicultural studies purvey the “not-American” as a way of mortifying that yokel “ethnocentrism”. Superficial difference is emphasized–different food, different clothes, different holidays–precisely to shock the young student out of any inbred respect for his or her native culture. This explains why Ramadan is showing up on more and more calendars with Norman Rockwell reproductions gracing each month and why mosques with ostentatious minarets are being forced upon more and more Western cities whose architectural mood is entirely at odds with them, yet a manger scene cannot even be displayed before Town Hall at Christmas time. The idea is not to “celebrate culture”: it is to subvert mainstream American culture–Western, Judeo-Christian, English-based, somewhat Victorian. Écrasez l’infame!
In most parts of the country, Islamic nuances are still quite low-key, if one finds them at all. References to other cultures must be strictly positive–they must imply that the other culture is not only different from America, but better–and Islam is a hard sell to Americans for the time being. Women are not attracted to the heavy clothing and the stay-at-home mindset, kneeling to pray three times a day is scarcely as much fun as shooting fireworks on Cinco de Mayo (which is not really Mexican Independence Day, by the way), and eating with fingers out of a central plate… even the staunchest liberal rears his or her kids to sit up and eat right. Actually, we could do with a lot more Arabic classes on our campuses–a great many more. We will have critical dealings with the Arabic world for the foreseeable future, and to deal always through interpreters is inconvenient and humiliating, if not dangerous.
But the multicultural agenda, you see, is not about preparing young people for a diverse world. It is about reducing the vestiges of real culture in America to a rubble. Once Christmas is thoroughly gone–once it is only and fully the Buying Season–once all manners and inhibitions are gone, once marriage and a sense of duty to one’s family are gone, once respect for privacy is gone, once the prizing of self-sufficiency is gone… then our amorphous mass of a populace can be spoon-fed whatever value system the Ruling Class wants us to adopt. This is the dream (and what a grotesque and squalid one it is beside Dr. King’s!) of both Big Business and Big Government. How many more software packages will Microsoft sell when the government mandates voting, completing the census, and so forth through one’s personal computer (“personal”, indeed!)? How many more cars will government-shared GM sell when long-standing neighborhoods are irreparably fractured by hordes of wandering immigrants speaking three or four tongues? The current administration is trying to restrict speech on the Internet as I write: how much loot will government-approved broadcasts and entertainments rake in if eccentric or contrarian cultural views can only be criminalized as “hate speech”?
Do not expect–those of you who believe that something nebulously called Latin or Hispanic culture is richer than America’s identity-tortured Anglo culture–do not expect, I say, that governments of the future will deal with your values more kindly than current forces are dealing with mainstream values. The typical Mexican does not approve abortion or homosexuality. The Ruling Class will receive those convictions no more hospitably draped in a serape than dipped in a vanilla Middle American drawl. The byzantine alliance of bankers, speculators, and progressive ideologues now ruling Europe will most certainly not watch idly when fulminating Muslim minorities seek to export Sharia law from port city ghettoes to Covent Garden and the Champs Élysées. The-program is for mainstream culture to die first, suffocated in the contradictory tendrils of half a dozen competing minority cultures. Then the minority cultures fall one by one, easily picked off in the crossfire between government regulation and the “popular culture” represented by TV and outlet malls.
The truth is that if you wanted to find an American who understood the general spiritual thrust of Islam, you would seek a Christian before an atheist; and if you wanted to find a European who understood why most Americans still value childbearing, you would ask a civil Muslim or Hindu sooner than an Oxford don. People who actively practice a certain culture (as reflected, in this case, by religion–but the same could be said of manners or taste in art) “get it” about cultures not their own far more than people who live in the commercialist or statist interstices between cultures. If the mission of our educators were really to foster a deeper understanding of culture, they would begin by trying to understand our own–their own–rather than trying to sell us the pipedream that every horizon is rosier than the ground beneath us. As the old people used to say in Ireland (when Irish culture was more than beer and jigs), “Don’t chase after a horse that won’t wait for you.”
A frequent contributor to this journal, Peter Singleton lives in semi-retirement in the North Texas area.