Harold James / Princeton
Historian Samuel Huntington’s famous paper that the post-Clash of Civilization world is defined by the “Clash of Civilizations” turned out to be quite wrong. Instead, what we have is a cultural conflict within the civilization, which ultimately makes the civilization itself impossible, or at least dysfunctional. From Covid-19 to geopolitics, all issues are now the subject of cultural warfare. The veil of dignity has been stripped.
There are ubiquitous debates about cultural values, but everyone seems to be incomparable to the post-empire hangovers of Britain and France, or quite different from the blunders of America’s own empire. I think the country clash is somehow unique. Is the American debate about the legacy of slavery and racial oppression really peculiar? Is the struggle to overcome (or reassert) national identity really a European phenomenon in nature? In fact, the terms that define these arguments are rapidly losing their meaning.
In 1907, the American philosopher William James caused widespread anger when he suggested that the validity of an idea could be evaluated by “a concrete difference … it is true.”[s] In someone’s real life. ”
He provocatively referred to “the true cash value from an empirical point of view” and argued that the idea had no intrinsic quality. Rather, they must show their value by being widely accepted through general distribution in the market.
The philosopher John Greer Hibben, who wrote shortly after the devastating financial crisis of 1907, condemned James’s practical argument, and its acceptance was “the same as a similar demand in the financial world. It will surely cause a panic in our world of thinking. ”
This 100-year-old debate is as current as it is today, now that the feeling of panic is commonplace. Following the financial crisis of 2007-8, populism emerged and the Covid-19 pandemic continued to be devastated. Each development has deepened a broader crisis of language and meaning. When a financial panic destroys value, a language crisis destroys value.
If you use a term that you don’t understand, you literally don’t know what you’re talking about. This practice has become very common. Many of the words we use today are the product of previous upheavals. Capitalism and socialism were adopted in the early 19th century to harmonize with the Industrial Revolution. Globalism, geopolitics, and multilateralism gained momentum in the early 20th century to explain the imperial power politics and World War I. Like viruses, all of these terms have changed since their inception.
For example, capitalism and socialism originally described how the world is and should continue to evolve to understand how it is organized. But now they’re just scary words. Your side in a cultural war is determined by whether you are more afraid of socialism or capitalism (or repetitions such as “supercapitalism” or “awakened capitalism”).
Capitalism was recognized as a cross-border phenomenon very early on and became a global reality. Socialism was also international, but its realization depended on the nature of the national system, embodying the belief that the nation-state is a normal (and inevitable) political structure. .. Thus, the international phenomena of national politics, capitalism and socialism were in constant tension with each other.
Capitalism began as an explanation of a system that not only facilitates exchanges, but also commoditizes more areas of life, thereby destroying traditional norms and institutions. As more and more kinds of things were exchanged, capitalism as an idea became more and more widespread and permeated every aspect of personal behavior. Ultimately, market forces were applied to dating, spouse selection, sports management, cultural production, and more. Everything seemed to be economically equivalent.
In addition to its modern meaninglessness, capitalism is full of paradoxes. This system relies on decentralized decision making, but as capital becomes more concentrated, decision making comes from a small number of central nodes. It paves the way for planning and replaces the authority of old socialist nations in shaping our actions and economic actions by Facebook and Google. Neither arrangement is actually governed by individual choice or representative institutions.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the conditions of all political debates were set by four two options. Capitalism vs. socialism; technocrats vs. populism; and multilateralism vs. geopolitics. These discussions are now obsolete. In either case, various options are clearly needed.
Adding the “post-” prefix can help a bit. Post-globalization is more appropriate than de-globalization, and post-capitalism may be a good way to formulate a solution to over-concentrated capital. Post-socialism may provide a way to circumvent the limits of the nation-state inherent in traditional socialism. Post-populists can empower people without resorting to the destructive and surrealistic notions of “real people” (as if some were unreal). In either case, the “post” society needs a new set of terms.
Today’s uncertainty about meaning is an obstacle to productive debate, not to mention the basic logic. Intellectual tidying is required. Marie Kondo, a leading figure in the minimalist lifestyle, recommends throwing away anything that “stimulates joy” anymore. Her approach encouraged the family to screen and discard the debris left by previous generations.
It’s not a bad idea to improve our intellectual hygiene. Instead of attic cleanup, there is a debate to identify non-functional concepts. The goal is to make room for new ideas – a real-life image change. Culture war eats old and empty nostram. To stop wasting battles, you need to throw away anything that doesn’t stimulate your creativity. — Project Syndicate
* Harold James, a professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University, is the author of The War of Words: A Glossary of Globalization.
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/707386/Understanding-the-clash-of-cultures Understanding cultural conflicts