Friday, October 03, 2008

In Search of "Stupid Culture"

Argee? Disagree? Let Catholicgauze Know!

A certain resurgent culture came up during an impromptu meeting of cultural geographers including myself. I stated that the culture's success was unfortunate because it was a "stupid culture" compared to the one it was competing against. The conversation then broke into three pieces. 1) those who agreed, 2) those who favored the previous culture but were uneasy with putting down the resurgents, and 3) those who felt it was wrong to compare cultures because all were equal.

To justify my views I attempted to explain what I meant. The three parties eventually agreed to disagree but I and a few others were still interested in trying to define what makes a culture stupid. To determine criteria I thought of culture as a living being needing to live and be successful to survive. Eventually I was able to lay down two greater categories with subfields that define a "stupid culture:" a culture that destroys its own population and prevents advancement. A breakdown follows.

Destroying Own Population

A culture that kills its own young: Abortion and infanticide are brutal and ugly. It also destroys generations depriving a culture of human capital in labor and ideas. The West kills out of convenience, India aborts because it does not like girls, and poor Chinese wait until after birth to leave baby girls by the roadside because girls cannot help the family prosper. American Blacks have been relatively lucky because their high abortion rate has only lead to loss of largest minority to Hispanos while India and China risk a crime-infested future because of lack of women.

A culture that does not replace its dying: Europe needs babies. The welfare state has replaced the need of children as a support system but the system needs a constantly growing working base to support the constantly growing retirement class. This has led to Europe importing Muslim population which was culturally mistreated by some European states and in turn rejects European progressive ideals. Old Europe culture may not have many decades left before it dies with a culture that does replace its dying.

Prevents Advancement

Preventing empowerment: Humans are an excellent resource. They provide human labor and some are smart and can improve the fields of science, medicine, and politics. However, discrimination is an all too common human trait. South Africa and in the United States, for example, once had horrible laws that prevented Blacks of using their abilities to benefit the whole nation. Today, some Muslim countries prevent women from even leaving their homes by themselves let alone work or study. The cultures which promote such ideas may be "pure" in their own minds but they handicap themselves immensely.

Punishing the successful: At best this is like those cultures who view getting an education as "selling out" to the mainstream. At worst this is like the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward and the around fifty or so million dead people because of it. Too often "empowerment" movements which seek to bring equality quickly turn into efforts to punish the successful. This keeps education and industriousness down and the culture soon lags behind others.

Clearly most if not all cultures have some degree of stupidity in them. However, some sins are greater than others. Hopefully the vertical (powers that be) and horizontal (peers) pressure can help adjust these faults and improve cultures all over the world.

Self-made counterpoint: If the last paragraph too are not cultures just "less stupid" than others? Possible true. I on the other hand be in a less stupid culture than a truly stupid one.


Anonymous said...

I get your point, but "stupid culture" is not really a scholarly distinction, which is what I think you need here. The affluence of Western societies seems to take the "edge" off of people, make them less ready to think about the future. Thus, the institutions are gradually transformed to remove discomforts (say, raising a child) by legalizing abortion, which, as social policy, has a downside. For instance, the result of 40 million-plus abortions means fewer children for teachers to teach. It also means less tax revenue, fewer payments into Social Security, etc., and is probably one reason why we have so many illegal immigrants. Moreover, who will take care of the Boomer generation (which has made abortion its priority) in its old age?

I am not being romantic about the unborn, but simply pointing out the policy implications. Abortion represents a huge safety net, removing the responsibility that men once had to women. Since abortion has been legal, there has been a gradual removal of responsibility in all spheres of American life. It is as if we cannot bear the thought of people taking responsibility for bad decisions. The financial "bailout" is the most recent example of the poisonous trickle-down effect of Roe v. Wade. I don't think we've experienced the worst yet as a society for being so wasteful.

I don't feel competent to comment on China, but, in view of the West's own behavior, the Chinese obviously don't care about our disapproval of their enforced policies of sterilization and abortion.

-chris. said...

I want to point out that at this point these is ONE Muslim country that "prevents women from even leaving their homes" and that even there, in Saudia Arabia women make up a larger number of college, masters and PhD students then men.
Ironically by letting boys run wild and keeping girls at home you make them better students.
Iran has hands down the largest and most educated community of female engineers and physicists. If you don't believe it just check out the winners at Science and Math Olympics.

Catholicgauze said...

Gothe Girl and Chris,

Good comments, both of you.

Goethe Girl: Stupid culture isn't an academic word you're right about that. Chalk that up to my "anti-academia, pro-intelliectual point-of-view"

There are indeed good things to say about same sex education. Very good points there.
However, be warry of misleading stats. Men in Saudi Arabia for the most part do not go onto higher education (unless their engineers then they get their regular degree and work) because religious education has many more students than liberal. More Palestinans in the West Bank and Gaza Strip go to college than all of Saudi Arabia.

As for Iran has "largest and most educated community of female engineers and physicists" - do you have numbers or stats to back that up? Iran does have a surpringly open educational system but, according to the 2008 CIA World Factbook, only 70% of women can read and most of those are either Perisan or Azeri. Arab, Baluchi, and Kurdish women are oppressed just like the men.

-chris. said...

I don't have any statistics but you have only to go to Math and Science Olympics or look at the number of female engineers and physicists at MIT and Stanford and the number of Iranian women blows away any other female group by nationality (including Americans).