THE PARADIGMS of CULTURE

"A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from
 the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit
 him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment"
....Lionel Trilling


"A culture based upon spectacle and images has a peculiar non-systematic
character. It's like the fall TV schedule - all you really know about it is that
its going to appear on a kind of grid, but with culture in general we are not
even sure about the grid. When you study the culture of today, you have
to go from phenomena to phenomena to see how they fit. But it becomes
crucially important for the account that I am trying to give - the project of
trying to create a human life that is free, it becomes crucially important if
the culture itself was destroying, deconstructing or disrupting the very
conditions for being human at all, because it becomes pointless to talk
about free humans in the absence of humans."
……..Rick Roderick ( TTC – Philosophy and Human Values)

"We have to stop CONSUMING our culture. We have to CREATE culture. DON'T
watch TV, DON'T read magazines, don't even listen to NPR. Create your OWN
roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are -- NOW -- is the most
immediate sector of your universe. And if you're worrying about Michael Jackson
 or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered. You're giving it all
away to ICONS. Icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that, you
want to dress like X or have lips like Y... This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking.
That is all cultural diversion. What is real is you, and your friends, your associations,
 your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And, we are told No,
you're unimportant, you're peripheral -- get a degree, get a job, get a this, get that,
and then you're a player. You don't even want to play that game. You want to reclaim
 your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you
into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of
the bones of a dying world." ......Terence McKenna

"Believing with Max Weber that man is an animal suspended in webs of
significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs.
And in the analysis of it therefore - not to be an experimental science
in search of law, but to be an interpretive one in search of meaning"
.............Jung

"Ethics is obviously about man, not about Angels or animals, therefore it depends
upon what man is, upon human nature, that is, anthropology. Not scientific,
empirical anthropology, but philosophic anthropology. Your question of what is
good for man depends upon your answer to the question: what is this man?
And among the many questions, the question as regards to ethics is whether
man is good or evil. All ideas about governance, social ethics depend upon
the answer to this question.".........TMS P. Kreef
 

THE BASICS OF CULTURE

 

Culture is one of the most complex of issues to deal with simply because the

successful study of culture demands and involves the entire range, extremes

as well as a balance of all human faculties, particularly the intellect : as also

 is required a certain kind of knowledge of human nature that is basic to all

human beings and an unbiased study of cultures and history.

It also demands an autonomy of individual thought that is independent of the

bindings of any culture and a successful negotiation of the traps and hooks

 of the culture that one is born into and grows up. This obviously demands an

unshaken commitment, dedication and hard work as well as an intense

examination of one's own core values that are independent of mere

survivability and security, and finally the exercise of one's talents in

creative expression.

Mass culture is a constant assault upon this autonomy. This assault
 causes despair of the Kierkegaardian kind  -  and this despair is not a
mood but a structure that belongs to a captured garrison - not an
accidental feature but part of it, fundamental to it.
In psychotherapy you talk this out, so that the unreflected parts
are reflected. In the mass post-modern culture the goal is the
opposite - the parts that are just yours become general property.
In the Freudian psychoanalysis even the sick parts become part of
what you know about yourself. So you dig up even ugly memories
so that you can know them - may not be pleasant - in fact it isn't.
(On the other hand), the pleasure principle of mass culture is that
it does just the opposite. It takes the socially uncomfortable
memories and takes them out of that clear garrison and throws
them into the wasteland around the city.
It is the goal of mass culture to bury any rebellious movements and
to take that part of the culture where we have begun to reflect and
understand
and to reverse this and make it unconscious. The parts
of our culture that we can understand and reflect on are just those
tiny garrisons - surrounded by the mass of the culture.


…..Rick Roderick ( TTC – Philosophy and Human Values)
 

Every culture has a certain metaphysics - a set of beliefs or attitudes about

reality ( in case a culture believes the reality of the world to be an illusion,

then this metaphysics is only about what that culture calls "ultimate reality")

and every culture usually has a cosmology or theology ( mostly mythological )

 - belief about the source or origin of the universe and finally some cultures

 have a vague sort of teleology - a belief about the purpose of existence or

 end of universe or purpose of existence of this world in space and time.

These ways of thinking or attitudes with their core associated assumptions

and beliefs, taught from birth and never to be questioned, can be called the

 religion of a culture. In this age, as of now, we have a global religion called

 "Science" that all the people in the world are forced to learn and never

question.  Apart from this global religion, which claims reality, but is not

officially classified under religion, there are other major officially classified

 religions like Christianity as well as non-classifiable, non-organised

 religions that are often put under the category of primitive religions.

 


 

CAUTION : INDIVIDUAL EXCEPTIONS

It must always be kept in mind that an individual is always to be considered

as a distinct entity from the culture in which that individual has been raised

although most people are typical representative samples of their respective

cultures, that is, all or most of the patterns of behavior of most people are

typical of that culture. Thus in any study of culture, it must be kept in mind

that a particular individual being can potentially be exceptional in the sense

that the paradigm of the culture in which he or she has been raised does not

apply to him or her simply because that person has successfully transcended

 the boundaries of that culture, even though these boundaries

may not have been circumnavigated fully.

" The duplicity that Freud located in consciousness re-occurs in culture in a more
 savage manner -because even in the most private parts of the conscious where
 we think we are at the clearest, in principle we can't be sure that they are not
already invaded, in-culturated, stamped, coded, filed, indexed.....not in a direct
crude way( but in a way that is not obvious).
"It has been a bizarre experience for me to see your earlier life re-created as
a drama of a period in which you quasi-recognize yourself, until you realize
that they have invaded everything that means anything to you and taken it
over as a game of trivial pursuit. And some very important part of you that
made you who you are has become un-reflected to you that you don't
even listen. In a culture that is so overloaded where we already suspect,
even if we don't know, that it's goal is psychoanalysis in reverse - to
make the parts of us that think into those that don't - and just react,
follow, replicate."
…..Rick Roderick ( TTC – Philosophy and Human Values)

“Against the new leviathan, whether in the guise of universal suffrage, democracy,
 or of an equally fraudulent triumphant proletariat, he (Kierkegaard) pitted the individual
human soul made in the image of a God who was concerned about the fate of every living
creature. In contrast with the notion of salvation through power, he held out the hope of
salvation through suffering. The Cross against the ballot box or clenched fist; the solitary
 pilgrim against the slogan-shouting mob; the crucified Christ against the demagogue-dictators
promising a kingdom of heaven on earth, whether achieved through endlessly expanding
wealth and material well-being, or through the ever greater concentration of power and
its ever more ruthless exercise.” ― Malcolm Muggeridge

 

THE CLASH OF CULTURES

"You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets in which
smallpox patients have slept, as well as by every other method that can serve
to extirpate this execrable race. I should be very glad if your scheme of hunting
them down by dogs could take effect."
.................General Jeffrey Amherst. (Letter to a subordinate, 1732)

No historian would accept accounts of Nazi officials as to what happened
 in Nazi Germany because those accounts were written to justify that regime.
Yet American historians are still subjective about their own history with a few
exceptions. They try to justify and rationalize what happened, give excuses or
lay blame on a few exceptionally cruel generals or wild frontiersmen. There were
too many massacres for them to be accidental. There were too many buffalo for
them to become extinct in a period of five years. Genocide is colonial policy, not
accident.....Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz (Testimony before U.S. District Court)
 

"The theoretical enterprise of the West is imperialistic in a way - its got to
find a belief /s that others then have to believe - this Nietzsche considered
dogmatic. In my view this is not a relativistic position at all - because its
 not inconsistent with the view precisely because that you think that your
 beliefs are superior to that of others. In fact I take it to be banally the case
that if you didn't think that they wouldn't be your beliefs. In other words, if
someone comes up and gives you other beliefs, and if ' oh hell! those are
better than mine', then they will be yours after you have heard them out.
It's only natural that you believe your beliefs. The dogmatic assumption is
that everyone else should believe your beliefs."

……..Rick Roderick ( TTC –  Nietzsche and the Post-Modern Condition)

At the outset, what needs to be recognized that cultures meet and clash

with each other - a culture conflict is an inevitable process of the reality

of any world. This almost always results in a struggle for domination and

subservience or enslavement of one by the other. Naturally, the one with

greater numbers or material resources or technology for warfare  is the

one which dominates.

The whole cauldron boils down to: how do one type (cultural or racial) of people

 treat or mix with other types with different values and beliefs - does it lead to a

conflict of extermination/domination and control or there results a mutual

understanding and positive assimilation of values (latter is very rare

but there are examples)

"History is ending because the dominator culture has led the human species
into a blind alley. And as the inevitable catastrophe/chaos-trophe approaches
people look for metaphors and answers. Every time a culture gets into trouble,
it casts itself into the past - looking for the last sane moment it ever knew.
The secret faith of the twentieth century is not modernism, the secret faith of
the twentieth century is nostalgia for the archaic, nostalgia for the Paleolithic,
nostalgia for the paradise that once existed. It has made us turn to the tool-
making, imagination exploring creature that we are. Why does this matter ?
It matters because it shows us that the way out is back and that the future
is a forward escape into the past. This is what the psychedelic experience
means - it is a doorway out of History and into the wiring under the
board - in Eternity.
Psychedelics return us to the inner world of the self - to the importance of
feeling - that immediate experience that nobody can sell to you and nobody can
buy from you, so the dominator culture is not interested in the felt presence of
immediate experience - but that's what holds the community together.
And as we break out of the silly myths of science and the infantile
obsessions of the market place what we discover within is that there
 are Niagaras of beauty - alien dimensions that are part of the self - the
 richest part of life.".....Terence McKenna

To subdue and enslave large populations of people for great lengths of time,

 however, requires sophisticated developments in religion and philosophy

 - particularly of the kind in which uncomfortable questions are

unthinkable, let alone answered or inquired into.

There is a certain kind of dogmatism here that Nietzsche wants to
root out in its origins. The dogmatism that is a kind of control over
what counts as true and false.
……..Rick Roderick ( TTC –  Nietzsche and the Post-Modern Condition)

So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been
brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction
of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing
 them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the
 public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom
 out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence
out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own
 city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with
pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself
into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a
weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.”
― Malcolm Muggeridge,

It is the strange fate of man, that even in the greatest of evils the fear
of the worst continues to haunt him.
........Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

 

CULTURAL EXPANSION AND IMPOSITION

 

" The quality of one's model of the universe is measured by how well it matches
the real universe. There is no guarantee that one's current model does match
the reality, no matter how certain one feels about the high quality of the match.
Feelings of awe, reverence, sacredness and certainty are also adaptable
metaprograms, attachable to any model, not just the best fitting one. Modern
science knows this :  we know that merely because a culture generated 
a cosmology of a certain kind and worshipped with it, was no guarantee
of goodness of fit with the real universe."..... Dr John C Lilly
 

" Our culture ( American ) is  becoming a world culture  - it invades other
cultures - its televised images, its movies, its music dominates the most
traditional cultures. The coke machine has become the totem around
which everyone  in town gathers"
……..Rick Roderick ( TTC - Self Under Siege )

We must be free in the most literal sense of the word—not sold
or coerced into accepting programs for our own good, not of our own
making or choice. Too much of what passes for grassroots democracy
on the American scene is really a slick job of salesmanship. It is not hard
for sophisticated administrators to sell tinsel and glitter programs to simple
people—programs which are not theirs, which they do not understand
and which cannot but ultimately fail and contribute to already
strong feelings of inadequacy. Community development must be just
what the word implies, Community Development. It cannot be packaged
programs wheeled into Indian communities by outsiders which Indians
can "buy" or once again brand themselves as unprogressive if they do not
"cooperate."  I believe that what is at the heart of this Indian revolution
is bureaucracy out of control, over-institutionalization, alienation of
individuals, exploitation of people.... And American Indians are fed up
with this......Clyde Warrior
(1967; As Long as the Rivers Shall Flow, War Resisters League)

It is my observation that we are suffering from the attitudes that
come from the Christian doctrine of manifest destiny—that one people
will rule the world. Inherent in this is the idea that a chosen people have
a divine right—nay mission—to dominate the world.....Oren Lyons

Somehow Tonto was always there. Like the Negro butler and the
Oriental gardener. Tonto represented a silent, subservient subspecies
of Anglo-Saxon whose duty was to do the bidding of the all-wise white
hero....Vine Deloria Jr

"Modern societies give you more knowledge (read information), more
power, more wealth, more freedom(?) than ancient societies, but it
gives you less meaning, less moral meaning. Most of us like that
arrangement. We don't want government imposing a philosophy
on us. But that gives us an obligation far greater than  people ever
had in ancient societies. We have to find moral meaning and truth
for ourselves. We all have to do our own thinking."....TMS P. Kreeft

Every culture holds certain values, certain beliefs to be sacred - which

can be called the religion of that culture. In wide spread cultures these

eventually bury underneath them unquestioned assumptions, but which

 are taken for granted as a sort of faith - that is, these are not even

acknowledged as assumptions, but as self evident eternal truths.

Once this happens to a certain degree, there also comes a peculiar desire

for these 'self evident eternal truths' to be made more wide spread and

evident to those who seem to have no inkling of such truths - and since

a culture is based upon these as a foundation for all its members, the

culture tends to spread and expand. In this way when a 'culture' then

encounters different people that the culture automatically labels as

'non-culture' or 'barbaric' or 'primitive', it shows a peculiar tendency

to dominate or make subservient these other 'non-culture' people,

who are seemingly 'ignorant' about certain eternal truths.

As examples : the Romans considered the rest of the world barbaric,

the Christians consider the non-Christians as lost souls, the Muslims

 take all non-Muslim to be infidels, and so on.

"The Law of Raspberry Jam: The wider any culture is
spread, the thinner it gets"......Alvin Toffler

The process of imposing these truths on other 'non-cultured people'  then

becomes the sacred duty of every member of that culture, but the method

varies greatly, some do it overtly, by force, and some do it covertly. One of

the prime motivations to do so is economic exploitation by the dominating

 culture, the other kind of motivations are more complex ( for example,

religious motivations )  and get deeply buried, in time, as society become

 more homogeneous with the developments in politics, and particularly

 in science and technology.

" Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness"...To us it was tame.
Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings
of the Great Mystery."  ........ Standing Bear ( Native American )

As an example let us look at the process of what is called civilization.

It has been an unquestioned assumption since the dawn of what is

called civilization ( development of organised societies with towns

cities as their epicenters of development ) that this is good thing

 for each and every human being - that without civilization, man is

as good as an animal, and perhaps worse. Incidentally, Rousseau

was the first to bring up this subconsciously operating assumption

into question, but found few takers to develop the inquiry further.

As a secondary off-shoot, the romantic movement developed, with

the artists and poets expressing this alienation of civilization

from nature.

The march of civilization was however relentless, without pause,

and without a backward glance, with visions of a rosy, comfortable

future for all mankind - and so every human being on this planet

"had" to be civilized as a necessary precaution against any chance

of slipping back into barbarism and dark ages - or heaven forbid -

into caves and stones.

"I have an American Indian friend who is a Pueblo chieftain. One when we were
talking confidentially about the white man, he said to me: “We don’t understand
the whites. They are always wanting something, always restless, always looking
 for something. What is it? We don’t’ know. We can’t understand them. They have
such sharp noses, such thin, cruel lips, such lines in their faces. We think they
 are all crazy.” My friend had recognized, without being able to name it, the  Aryan
bird of prey with his insatiable lust to lord it in every land, even those that concern
him not at all. And he had also noted that megalomania of ours which leads us to
suppose, among other things, that Christianity is the only truth and the white
Christ the only redeemer"......C. G. Jung
 

This process buried the unquestioned assumption that civilization,

ever-growing cities and technology were the spearheads of human

evolution, and it was the sacred duty of every "civilized man"  to

ensure that no one was left out of the evolutionary process. And if

someone resisted being civilized, he was either a primitive barbarian

( if he belonged to a different culture ) or was insane ( if belonging to

the same culture ) and in either case needed "correction", elimination,

or if rich enough, then "therapy" was the best course.

Typically at this point a "civilized man" will retort : if civilization is

that bad, do you man to say that we should have been better off

forever living as cave men ?

But this rhetoric is only used to side-step the genuine question :

was it necessary to obliterate all non-civilized cultures in order

to advance civilization ? ( Exception noted : at places where the

populations were large, the dominating culture could not quite

exterminate the indigenous people, but after assimilating them

and making them subservient to the hierarchical ethos of the

dominating culture, the indigenous culture either died or

assimilated in various degrees into the dominating one, but

remained subservient. )

"Why does the White-Eye need ALL the land ?"

....Geronimo in the motion picture "Geronimo"

The identity offered to the Indian was and remains a Catch-22 because
 there has never been an offer of unequivocal legitimacy. Legitimate
Indian governments could not have been destroyed because legitimate
Indian governments never existed. By the same token genocide
could not have taken place because the peoples and populations who
were killed or allowed to expire under oppression were never legitimate
peoples. The very identify of the Indian in European and Euro-American
eyes was, and to a considerable degree remains, a formula leading to
oblivion. ("Indians and Democracy: No One Ever Told Us," in Exiled in
the Land of the Free, edited by Oren Lyons and John Mohawk,
Clear Light Publishers, 1991.)
 

  In the preceding two articles, it was the contention that human

societies in their quest for development of civilisations, lost their

concern and care about nature itself.  And as a result,  developed

their paradigms of reality in two divergent directions: Science and

Religion.  The protagonists of both make grandiose claims over

"real reality" that become louder by the day, both claiming their

methods and procedures for "verifying reality" to be infallible

and absolute.   Both these do not make any attempt to examine

their fundamental assumptions,  nor do they even attempt to

examine the limitations of their methods and beliefs, nor do

they encourage or even acknowledge diverse

individual experience.

"There was a time when culture meant going to the things created by
us folks, as opposed to nature. Where's nature now ? There isn't one.
everything has been in-culturated. The most beautiful natural scenes
there are, are the filmed ones that are created through the fracto
-geometry at IBM.
Now you are going to have a society where you can plug yourself into
 it and it will meet all your needs. In this matrix of needs in such a
possible future system the only command or need that such a
machine would not respond to, that many of us would want to type
into it, would be that it destroy itself.
……..Rick Roderick ( TTC – Philosophy and Human Values)

This article examines the convergence of various cultures that have

lost their touch with nature, substituting their immoral actions with a

monist or monotheistic concept ( there being only a technical difference

 between them) as the ultimate metaphysics and ultimate justification 

of a decadent and dying world, thereby washing their hands off the

reality of the world in which they live, and dumping their actions on

 the doorsteps of the conceived mono entity as its handiwork or

manifestations.

 

CULTURAL CONTRASTS AND COMPARISONS

The study of cultural contrasts reveals a host of diverse areas of human experience,

explorations, value structures and accomplishments. Lets start with what a particular

culture values most in terms of a symbiotic relationship of inter-dependence in

 which both thrive. Contrast the plant-human symbiosis in the South American/

Meso-American cultures with the animal-human symbiosis in the North American

 cultures and finally with the matter/ machine-human symbiosis of the

 western culture.

[Web Int 2013: The science centered worldview clashes with the traditional worldview
not only in terms of it quantitative-measurable-objective emphasized in contrast to
qualitative-subjective of the traditional, but also that it promotes science as the highest
value in learning - something that inherently has no value because it is merely data about
the physical, whereas the traditional people never viewed matter as having primary value
 - only as means to individual value.. Unfortunately even if the mass culture wakes up to the
 fact that they have been chasing a ghost, the damage has been done - now it is only a
matter of what individuals can salvage from the wreckage of a dying world for
themselves, whatever and wherever they are from.]


 

THE (-ve ) FUSION OF CULTURES :

"Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is
overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock"......Alvin Toffler
 

The most significant historical event is the meeting of two cultures. This is the
unique opportunity for both to learn from each other as well as to examine
their assumptions  or overhaul their values. Sadly this almost never happens
because the culture that finds a different one does so only to conquer, enslave
or decimate the other in order to expand itself or have control over resources. 

 A repression or extermination takes place in order to control or assimilate the
 dominated culture so that it accepts the reality of the superiority of the
dominating culture that also subsequently develops or modifies its religion or
philosophy to justify these actions and to make sure there is no opposition
 to this "evolving" process of civilization.

"No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field
as in writing a poem"......Booker Washington

  It takes a few hundred years for major cultures to be assimilated and dispersed
 into each other, although this process is never quite total, however, what is not so
 obvious is that the dominating culture controls the lingo and the philosophy of the
 resultant culture. It has perhaps never happened that two very different cultures
 have co-existed side by side, retaining their respective peculiarities and values as
 well as allowed the other to go their own way or even acquire positive values from
 one another. The fusion of cultures is mostly a negative event for both - each
 acquires ( or imposes ) the negative values of the other more readily than the
 positive values - resulting in the degeneration of both and the consequent
degradation of the natural balance.

"We are the only human beings in the world with . . . 57 varieties of complexions
who are classed together as a single racial unit. Therefore, we are truly colored
people, and that is the only name in the English language which accurately
describes us......Mary Church Tarrel


[Web Int:2013 There are three possibilities when tribes/groups migrate into

 lands of other people:

1) In a violent conflict the dominating settlers decimate the indigenous population into
 insignificant numbers that do not assimilate - the result of which is that the tension between
them never quite ceases, and the fissures of this conflict erupt (Jagged worldviews colliding)
in strange ways even in the dominating people - very few of whom actually feel a
connection with the occupied land.

2) The conflict is partly violent, but due to suppression and co-option, the assimilation process
 leads to a stratified society in which even if the settlers are in low numbers still dominate.
The mixing of populations slowly takes place. But in this case, the indigenous population loses
it's ancestral links and their spirit connection, and the whole society/composite culture
 degenerates.

3) In exceptional cases the settlers and the indigenous have a positive fusion of societies,
 and the knowledge of the two merge into the composite culture.

A rare positive fusion of different cultures seems to have taken place in the Americas around
 the time indicated (aprox 14000), which has been sustained in many autonomous tribal nations
 - evident from the fact that no social-stratification occurred in most of the societies of the broader
composite culture that developed, whereas social-stratification which leads to degeneration
of human values is a hallmark of civilizations around the world.

(G RYDER...comment in H.Post)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/feces-fossil-stone-tools-oregon-caves-first-americans_n_167...

This is the most crucial of all issues in humanities - because the central question here is THE moral
question of how human beings treat each other, especially when there are marked differences in
worldviews, religious views, social structures of classes or casts, apart from physical differences.
 From historical accounts it is clear that this has been the most colossal of the moral
 failures of humanity (in general) with very few exceptions.

Lets take the first case of annihilation, and although complete and total annihilation has taken place
 only in a few places, mostly islands - notable are Hispaniola, Tasmania etc, but in many places near
 annihilation took place and little or no assimilation took place - these are Australia and North America.
In Africa, annihilation did not take place, but there was assimilation in a stratified form.

The very significant highlights of this first category; 1) The invading people were motivated by greed,
 that is, looking for resources and land for settling an ever growing population and commerce
2) For doing so, they had either to displace the indigenous populations or to make them slaves, or to
assimilate them into the lowest and separate strata of society (apartheid) 3) In places like North
America, and Australia, the indigenous people saw that the lifestyle, attitude, behavior and actions
 of the invaders was not only devastating to their lifestyle, it would mean giving up all that was scared
and of value to them just for the sake of mere survival as slaves or total subservience to the invaders.
 Therefore, the only valuable option for them was to resist - and for some of the warriors it was simply
the 'best way to die' (or good way to die), that is, it was a rare opportunity of engaging in a battle in
which the opponent was clearly morally wrong, and they were morally right, and so even
in death it would be a moral victory for them, that would transcend death itself.

"Dying this death (for a moral cause) is to never die again - it is to become free from
death itself forever"...Guru Gobind Singh (Translation)


This attitude was most irksome and intolerable for the invaders who expected subservience for the
 great service being provided by the invaders to the indigenous in the form of educating them in religion,
science and civilization. Thus the decimation of the indigenous took place and the remaining children
 had to be exorcized from the demonic attitudes of the primitive man, (Kill the Indian in the child)
 so that the remaining people could be assimilated in the lowest class of the dominating settlers.
H G Wells was one of the first thinkers to be moved by this horror taking place and he wrote
 the fiction masterpiece "War of the Worlds" - a deceptively simple story that was a sort of
metaphor for what was happening in the 'discovered' lands.
http://suite101.com/article/hg-wells-was-a-social-critic-and-prophet-of-doom-a236885
http://www.abc.net.au/schoolstv/australians/truganini.htm

In the second category, the indigenous people, after sporadic violent conflicts, assimilated with the
 invaders, even as their lands were taken away, and they were reduced to subservient second
class citizens. The populations of the indigenous people in these cases was large, so they could
not be decimated. The invaders became the rulers, but could not stop intermixing over long
periods of time, and so a multi-tiered society resulted, some places these levels were clearly
defined (India), whereas in Mexico and Latin America these are blurred lines of class and color.

In the third category, I have already posited that from the extrapolations of available information
 ( the fact that there was a great diversity in physical features, and that social stratification did
not occur) it seems that the only positive fusion of people took place in North America
 several thousands of years ago.
"..( the ) Native American culture lived more closely in harmony with the natural world
than any other before or since."....Roger Ebert ( Review of 'Dances With Wolves' )
 

 

THE CONVERGENCE OF CULTURES into

A CULTURE OF INDIFFERENCE and ESCAPE

"God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them…God said unto them, Be fruitful, and
multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion
over…every living thing that moveth upon the earth.".
............
King James Bible

"We now have a whole culture based on the assumption that people know
 nothing and so anything can be said to them".......Stephen Vizinczey

"As this culture threatens to become global it will do so under conditions
where many people in all parts of the world will do so in extreme naivety.
In Eastern Europe they believe we have got a democracy. And with each
step, they will become more entrapped in the same totalitarian system
that is much more subtle than the crude and simple one that many of
them have overthrown. What a joy to overthrow a simple and crude
totalitarian system ! All of us enjoyed that, right ? That dancing on the
wall was fun, because that system was so crude and not post-modern
enough - it didn't understand that there are walls you can build between
people that cannot be seen. Those are harder walls to overthrow -
the ones which are built between races and classes and sexes - those
are harder to overthrow than crude and stupid walls like the great
wall of China which doesn't wall anyone out, it just walls you in.
But the stupid forms of totalitarianism built these walls in a way
that people can storm them.
The global system that is on its way - its walls will be much harder
to storm because those kind won't be available for storming.
Those kind of walls and that kind of totalitarian system, I suspect
and many people in the world don't suspect is the dark side of
'The American Dream'.
So don't forget that the structural principles of our society are
as barbaric in their structure as they ever were,
perhaps more so.
……..Rick Roderick ( TTC – Philosophy and Human Values)

"In the Hindu world view the fourth key term is 'moksha' - (the ultimate goal of life
 was - an end to life itself ! ) This is the 'extraordinary' goal. Rather than live a good
 next life, (it was concluded), you want to get out of the cycle of existence entirely.
Moksha means release or liberation (from life). The Indians realized that most
people's life was not good, most people were miserable. And living life over and
over was pointless. In order to get rid of suffering, you had to get rid of the cycle
of life entirely - through moksha."  TTC....Grant Hardy


The  basics of social and cultural structures has been taken up in the preceding article, 
and this article goes further into the development of the mental processes and the resultant
philosophies  in  social  and  cultural patterns of thought and behavior, i.e. the philosophies
and metaphysics of the various dominant cultures, especially those that insist that everything
else is inclusive in their paradigm of reality that is eventually based upon a monist concept
like dao, soul, brahman,  quality, etc.. ( A concept that denotes an experience of 'ultimate
reality', God, Brahman, Soul, Dao, Quality, etc that is a must for all, in order to  assimilate
all into a single religion or thought process,  rather than a mutual understanding based
upon diverse cultures and beings. Alternately, all metaphysics is rejected by a science and
technology culture in an attempt to reduce everything into formulas and mathematical
equations, in the belief that reality can be so reduced into a single formula, equation,
ultimate particle, string or whatever.

This article explores the common grounds between the key concepts, religion and
philosophies of different cultures that have lost their touch with nature and its inherent
balance. This loss instead of being acknowledged, then manifests as philosophies and
religions that in their sophistication, attempt to hide, cover up, gloss over or evade, 
rather than to analyse, acknowledge and correct their ( culture's )  misdeeds.

"It isn't evil that is ruining the earth, but mediocrity. The crime is not that
Nero played while Rome burned, but that he played badly"........
Ned Rorem

The ultimate common religious  philosophy  amongst these various cultures converges
into a  kind  of  monist  concept  like  Soul,  Dao, Brahman, etc that is presumed to be
the singular source, or the mover and doer of everything, and the ultimate reality. This
article does not try to contradict these  ideas  and  philosophies,  but only tries to expose
the inherent weakness, incompleteness and failures of these to provide for a progressive
and pragmatic common understanding that has significance and validity for
mankind as a whole.

This article tries to show that these philosophies fail to correct anything ( presumably
because they have been designed to supply convenient justifications, rather than to
examine the malaise in their societies ),  because all of these fail to go to the analysis
of the roots and causes of the moral failures of human social systems and structures.
Rather, the rational analysis of cultures and human social behavior is itself considered
as invalid and even taboo by most of such schools, thereby negating any  possibility of
correct rational analysis of the historical processes in the development of the human
mind.  ( People like Voltaire have attempted to do so,  only to come up against a wall
of indifference, lies and deceptions )

Such an aversion to  rational inquiry is based upon the presumption that the rational
method is incorrect or even invalid method for the study of reality. ( The intuitive 
method is considered to be the only one by Daoist and Zen schools, whereas 
meditation is the sacred and indispensable method for Hindu and Buddhist schools ).
This presumption is not without basis because western culture's metaphysics and
philosophies are rational based,  but have provided  a  very  poor and misleading
understanding  of  reality in which the western civilization is considered as the centre
of the universe and the epitome and ultimate of all evolution. Sadly, this cultural
egotism is hardly even acknowledged  by the western thinkers and philosophers
( exceptions like Campbell, Jung and Strauss are there, but the problem is
 apparently systemic ).
The only explanation is that without the right intention behind it, reason and 
analysis is used only to justify the past, cover up all wrong  doings and to obscure
the truth by spinning out philosophies that serve only to perpetuate and maintain
social and cultural status quo's. There are extreme positions taken up, with scientific
materialism at one end and monistic mysticism at the other end.

What is worse is that there is a straight jump for most people from the rigid scientific
position to a mystical one after a 'profound' experience. This adds a new dimension to
the problem of having a minimum common thread of understanding, as it leads to an
amoral and indifferent mindset that wants to replicate itself.  This article therefore
attacks both these extreme positions for their inherently amoral implications and the
resultant fatalistic attitudes that these promote.

This is analyzed partially by Jeff Hooks in "Cultural Paradigms" website, in which he lists the
various stages of human conflict starting from the biological conflict of race and gender,
then the religious conflicts between orthodox and heretical, then the political conflict of
the class struggle, then the economic stage of conflict and finally the current conflict in
cyberspace between clarity and obscurity.  But his analysis fails to go to the foundations
of the issue, and the only example of racial conflict he gives is that between the aryan
- european culture and the indo - dravidian from which emerged the religion of
Hinduism, which example no doubt is relevant, but the more important recent racial
conflicts between western culture and native cultures of all parts of the world have not
even been mentioned by him.

Individuals and organizations throughout history who have protested
inequality have focused on this five-part organizational structure as the
enemy of their reform movements. The attempts at reform are variations on
a single theme; they are The Movement. There have been four basic versions
 of the Movement in history, and each has chosen one of the first four levels
 of the hierarchy as the model of their utopian visions.....J Hooks

 This thesis takes a more comprehensive view of racial conflicts and their consequences.
Not only have the racial conflicts not been successfully resolved, the subsequent conflicts of
religion, politics and economics have also not seen any positive resolution. Religious ant-
-agonism has only widened, political turmoil has been erupting regularly all over the world,
and economic exploitation and disparities are ever increasing. It is no wonder then, that in
cyberspace the things that thrive are : viruses, worms, trojan horses, spam, viagra pills,
pornography etc. Jeff however takes a highly optimistic view of cyberspace :

Cyberculture is an attempt to overthrow the control system of society.
It is the most recent in a series of movements that have fought against the
restrictions imposed on individuals by society. The movement toward individual
 autonomy has existed throughout history: the struggle for freedom from mortality
 imposed by biology, the struggle for freedom from oppression imposed by culture,
 the struggle for freedom from waste imposed by politics, and the struggle for
freedom from control imposed by economic systems - all have been perceived as
 class struggles. Cyberculture is the struggle of the individual for freedom from
the class system itself......J H


 Rather than an attempt to find solution to the problems and conflicts faced by mankind,
cyberspace has become the place for the budding intellectuals and writers who only
want to sharpen their skills so as to become advisors and speech writers for arrogant
and corrupt politicians.

The focal point of this thesis is that the religions, philosophies and even science,
emerges from those societies and cultures that have lost their link with the essence
of nature and human nature, create entities ( God /s and Demons or monist entities )
as the agents responsible for all  that  happens,  so that they themselves do not have
to carry the burden of responsibility of what they do, have done or will do. This thesis
proposes that for the human race to avoid destroying this world along with themselves,
will have to discard all junk religions and philosophies, and take on the responsibility
upon themselves for managing themselves and this earth. This sounds like a tall order
and it is, but in fact the only way in which mankind can possibly avoid destroying itself.
Again, most monisms and mysticisms will claim destruction as the natural outcome in
a cycle of creation - destruction, but it is this very attitude that itself contributes to
degeneration and destruction, and this is the precise attitude that is being attacked
in this article and the thesis is that this narcissistic - fatalistic attitude leads to a gross
indifference towards the environment, that is the final straw on the back of the
ecosystem or planet that supports life.

But to know why and how this sorry state of affairs arises, one must successfully
be able to analyse the deeds and misdeeds of mankind in the past that lead
to the present state as a consequence of those deeds or misdeeds .

And for this analysis, it is imperative to understand how human actions affect
reality and fundamentally those actions that human beings direct against
each other as well as towards the other living beings in the ecosystem.

In other words, the very nature and origin of inter-human conflict is the focal
point from where a series or stages of conflicts emerge that determine the
developing paradigms of cultures. 

"The artist and the political activist are one. They are both shapers
 of the future reality. Both understand and manipulate the collective
 myths of the race. Both are warriors, priests, lovers, and destroyers"
........Larry Neal

    THE ORIGINS OF HUMAN CONFLICT

Although it can be said that human conflict has always existed as long as humans
have been on this earth, but in this article the word  "conflict " does not refer to a mere
violent fight but a clash of ideas, or ideology, ways of life, culture, and also a clash
over control of resources, that is, a clash where something fundamental changes
in terms of society, economics and political control which alters the social structure
and behavior of the people involved.

Thus accordingly, a mere fight in which both parties lose some men, but no tangible
change occurs, is not considered as a conflict  in this article, but only as a fight that
has personal consequences.
A martial arts competition may have violent death involved in it, but for the purpose
here, it is not considered as a conflict. A human conflict is where the social structure
is affected apart from the resources involved.

THE GENDER CONFLICT

With this in focus, we can say that the first level of human conflict was that between
gender and race, as postulated in Jeff's Cultural Paradigms. ( quotes above & Below ).
But the thesis here is that the gender conflict precedes the racial one since the
first symptom of the degradation of human social behavior appears as a gender
bias in which the female loses autonomy and freedom to act or express. 


The gender conflict occurred as far back as recorded history and is prevalent in
all civilizations, but was hardly or rarely so in tribal cultures. The gender conflict can
be stated as that social condition in which male dominates the female in family,
economics, society, politics and culture. In clear terms it means that all or most
decisions made about work and conduct, economics and politics in all
arenas are made by men, and women have little or no say.
This is not a violent
conflict in the sense that wars are fought over it, but a family level conflict that
results in its spread into society and finally - culture. A fundamental shift in value
occurs in which the male dominates the female and makes her subservient
to his whims and fancies. Her opinions, her wishes no longer matter to the point
where she even stops expressing them.

How does this fundamental shift in man occur ? What triggers it, what fuels it ?
To know this we must go to down to the very basic human tendency to dominate
and control nature so as to attain a sense of security and to insulate against the
vagaries of nature.
Deep down, man is an insecure being, terrified of loss and
death. One of the ways man's sense of security is buttressed is by consolidating
and accumulating possessions and passing them on to their (preferably male)
off-springs, who take over the attitudes, values and possessions of their parents
and this gives both generations a sense of continuity and security that even in
death the accumulated deeds for the attainment of security through
possessions are not lost.

What is never even considered is that the misdeeds also accumulate in the
family, society and eventually - culture. This happens completely unnoticed
and unacknowledged because there is no immediate observable physical
consequence, and one of the first consequence of this is the domination over
the female, who also increasingly looked upon as a kind of possession.
like a cow or a sheep who can be made to work all day as well as  serve as a
means for recreation and procreation - as a matter of fact she was considered
as one of the most prized of all possessions.

This gender conflict was only recoginised in civilzed society recently in the Western
Culture, about fifty years or so back when several women organised themselves
in women rights groups and protested about this inequality in rights. This movement
 was inspired by the substantial successes of the black civil rights movement ( also
supported by many liberal whites ). This resulted in a women's liberation movement
that has had world wide consequences, and as a result, in most countries this gender
 inequality has diminished considerably, especially in the West.  Most countries now
have laws that apply equally to both sexes but the overall attitude of male
domination is still prevalent not only in the West but particularly so in East
and Middle East.

Apart from having possessions to buttress man's sense of security, the other major
parameter was physical strength and skill in war initially and later on the skill
( requiring intelligence) for the manipulation and exploitation of people
( politics ).
Success in these exploits meant a sense of having overcome the vulnerability
 to the demons of nature and with that came power - the ability to enforce one's
 will and fancies over others - to manipulate, to control and to exploit them.
This state of triumph which came to man after the success of a crushing conquest
and the plundered wealth of others led to a sense of superiority over other
creatures of nature - and the first innocent casualty was the physically weak
female of the species. Along with this growing feeling of superiority over other
people arising from the decimation of weaker creatures also comes an
alienation from nature and lack of respect for the balance of life. The animals
and the plant life also suffers - especially wild life that cannot be domesticated
or controlled. Thus dogs are allowed to proliferate but the wolf is to be hunted
down and decimated to extinction.

This lust for power over others and this power itself grows exponentially with the
material gains  attained through the use ( abuse) of this power. And those at
the top who have accumulated enough of it are still not satisfied : they need
divine sanction for their actions : and here comes the chief role of religion -
of the organised kind - where priests confirm in flowery terms what their
material gods want to hear : that their rule over the whole world is divinely
ordained by the very fact and simple logic of their victory over the non
-divine weaklings and lowly creatures who exist only to serve the divine.

Such things are not very explicit  but implicit in sophisticated religions, but in
crude religions like those of the Greeks, Romans and especially  Hindus, they
 are stated quite explicitly and without any ambiguity.
This then becomes the primary function of organised religions apart from the
earlier one of providing an institutional intermediary between man and Gods.
This role is then taken up by an elite class of intellectuals who develop a
philosophy interlaced with religion ( usually a monist one ) and religion then
 becomes an economic enterprise in which placebos are sold to the masses
to keep them suspended in a state of non-critical stupor.
 

THE CONFLICT OF RACE AND KIND :
The Formation of A Hierarchy

"Authority allows two roles: the torturer and the tortured. Twists people into
joyless mannequins that fear and hate, while culture plunges into the abyss.”
― Alan Moore

Once this superiority of man over woman, animals and other creatures has
been proven by  physical strength, war and conquest, then sanctified by
religion, it is but natural that this divine power cannot be equally divided
amongst all men ( women have already been stripped of it ) for then there
will be chaos. The next logical conclusion is that only the heroes and leaders
are the ones who have it, and the rest are merely followers of such leaders.
But even the cohorts and followers of such noblemen cannot be equated
with the dominated low-life that they have helped the leaders to
decimate, subjugate, conquer and enslave.
The need for a four tier hierarchy is the obvious and logical way: at the top
must be the Nobility, next the Religious, next the foot soldiers and tax
collectors, and the last that of the chosen slaves of the conquered.
( In some cultures the top slot is reserved for the religious, and only the
second for the nobility)

The dialectic of class struggle originates in biology and is first codified in the
caste system. The caste system originated from the biological differences
 of gender and race. In this system of social inequality, one's social status
 depends upon either one's genetic inheritance, one's sex, or a combination of
the two. These differences are readily discernible on sight and so no artificial
distinctions between castes are necessary. In India, the caste system became
 entrenched over thousands of years but originated from the differences between
 the indigenous, dark-skinned, earth-mother worshipping Dravidians and the
invading, light-skinned, war-god worshipping Aryans. The Aryans conquered
 the Dravidian culture which was established in the Indus River Valley and
which many scholars believe is the oldest culture in the world. The Aryans
destroyed many of the Dravidian cities and, most importantly, outlawed
their iconography - the icon was the Dravidian communication technology.

Hindu civilization is a synthesis of the Aryan and Dravidian cultures, and the
definitive characteristic of Hindu society is the caste system. The codification
 of the caste system in India as an apartheid of status and social function
evolved from distinctions between the Dravidian and Aryan people.
This codification was established to classify and control those individuals
of mixed ancestry, perhaps in order to stop the blending of the races.
The Indian system delineated people in a hierarchy from lightest skinned to
darkest skinned which was parallel to their social roles. The Brahmana, or
the priestly caste were the purist Aryan stock at he time of the codification.
Next came the Ksatriya, or warrior caste. The Vaisya, or trading and agricultural
 caste, came next. And then the Sudra, the working or low caste. Last were the
 outcasts, the untouchables, those individuals still left who were suspected
of being of pure Dravidian stock.

Outside this hierarchy are those still living in the wild - those that refuse to be
civilized - they are the outcastes - good for nothing - not even fit to be called
human - fit only to be called as half-human or even outright two legged
 animals. These are marked for hunting pleasures or to be rounded up
whenever slaves are short, or more land is needed, or the jungles need
to be cut down for wood or settlement land.


This classification of social roles is, of course, present not only in Hindu culture
but is so pervasive that one might contend that it is universally implemented
 as a control system in all cultures, that it is, in fact, the System.
The System as a five-tiered hierarchy may be seen from a variety of perspec-
-tives in many cultures. The feudal social system can certainly be broken down
 into a hierarchy with royalty followed by knights, farmers, peasants, and
then criminals. Industrial society can be viewed from two perspectives: the
liberal democrats see society made up of the policy-makers, the executives,
 the managers, the employed, and the unemployed; and, of course, Marxists
name the groups the intelligentsia, the bourgeoisie, the petty-bourgeoisie,
the proletariat, and the underclass.

As civilization spreads, this distinction becomes clearer and clearer : between
 the smart, neat, white looking ones and the wild, smelly, dirty and dark ones.
Surely if proof and evidence is at all needed, its right there in front of the eyes.
Divinity could never be clearer and obvious - God can never be wrong
-and he has made man in his own image. Such are the doings of religion, and
the devastating consequences on culture is yet to be taken stock of by
mankind. The next chapter deals with religion and its effect upon culture.

Biological System 

protagonist: genes
antagonist: entropy
action: mating
process: evolution
goal: survival
system: selectivity
foundation: fitness
success: reproduction
technique: seduction
tool: adaptation
vehicle: sex
institution: family
location: habitat
setting: natural
essence: heredity
conflict: male-female / black-white
establishment: dynasty
..........Jeff Hooks

THE CONFLICTS OF RELIGION

In the previous chapter it was explained how from a non-stratified society
a stratified and hierarchical structure emerges as man loses harmony with
nature and tries to insulate himself from it by accumulating resources and
possessions and how by this ever growing lust for land and resources then
eventually starts human resource exploitation by making slaves of
conquered people. This results in a stratified society in which those who
excel in warfare become the leaders, rulers and kings of large human
settlements or towns, cities and eventually empires.
In this process religion plays a crucial role in supplying the badly needed
psychological justifications for warfare, exploitation, slavery and even
genocide. The ruling class forms a nexus with the priestly class and in
some less stratified cultures there is no separate class ( Maya, Inca ),
 whereas in some cultures the priestly or religious class has the highest
social status and the ruling class as a shade lower status in the sense
that the ruling class always followed the advice of the priestly class
even though the priestly class was less wealthy (Hindu ).
Religion in a stratified society fulfilled many roles : to advise and keep the
 ruling class happy by making rosy prophecies  (actually ambiguous ),
 to perform rituals and ceremonies to keep the gods happy ( or appear to
be so ), and to provide the philosophical justifications by which the toiling,
 exploited and suppressed slaves could be kept in check so that they do
 not rebel or stop working.
Apart from these degenerate activities, religion does have a positive side
to it in stratified societies : that of providing a sort of psychotherapy for the
needless sufferers, but the downside of this is the psychic death of the
creative sufferers - the artists, who are then relegated to only the simple
arts like painting.
Religion in its origins was not all business, but a personal attainment in
order to find the right way and path to lead one's life so that it would be
meaningful, productive and creative. Pure and uncorrupted religion always
strived to make society better by making responsible gestures and action
in society so that by demonstration they could encourage the young ones
in society to seek the right path for themselves. Therefore, a significant
religious activity of later and advanced tribal societies was for people to
get in contact with the spirits of their ancestors so as to receive guidance
and strength to lead their lives.
Any society has its quota of good people and bad people, and the primary
 role of religion was and should continue to have been to promote or support
 the good ones and to effectively counter the bad ones from corrupting the
 whole of society. This primary and vital role of religion as a morally active
agent of society which was fulfilled by the shamans or dreamers or
visionaries or medicine men of tribal societies, was surrendered in the post
shamanic, stratified societies in which the priest didn't give a damn about
anything except their own status and free privileges that they wanted
desperately to perpetuate in their offspring.

Religion therefore became the chief protagonist of dynastic succession in
status and class of all classes, kinds and castes. The ruler's sons or even
daughters ( in case there were no sons or son in law ) were automatically
to be rulers. There were serious problems if the king had many sons as more
often than not, there would be a struggle for succession amongst brothers
in which only one would be left and the rest murdered by that one.
At the other end there were the workers and slaves who were encouraged
 to have as many off-springs as possible so that there would be no shortage
of these in laboring for the higher classes. There was no possibility of any of
them to reach a higher status by the strict social codes sanctified by the
religious authorities.
Religion in feudal societies supported and encouraged status-quo since
religious authorities had a vested interest in it. Religious authorities disliked
and condemned rebels and non-conformists since they were well
entrenched and satiated. The apple cart was not to be upset by anyone.

Conflicts in religion took place when someone was courageous enough
to challenge the status quo of the entrenched religious authorities or the
decadent scriptures or at the very least produced an idea that conflicted
with the existing beliefs or social, religious norms. Thus the conflict was
between the orthodox and the heretical. Christianity was founded upon
the death of Christ as a more inclusive religion that promised salvation
for all humans, not just the "chosen ones" and preached the equality of
all men irrespective of class, race, gender and color.
It was thus heretical not only to Judaism but also challenged the might of
the Roman empire. It took just a hundred years or so for it to become
degenerate by destroying the religious and cultural diversity firstly of
Europe and then eventually of wherever the Europeans conquered or
colonised. Similar has been the development and decadency of
Islam or other religions organised around institutions, scriptures and
definitive ideologies that only provided the necessary ingredients for
the feudal system to proliferate. This analysis differs somewhat from
Hooks model :

The first reform movement targeted the inequalities imposed by the caste
 system that used biology - race and gender - as its control method. The
 Movement in these ancient times was called religion. The priestly caste
served as the model for this attempt at community. The religious world
view universally states that salvation, in one form or another, is available
 to everyone regardless of race and gender. In other words, everyone can
 be a member of an equal community in a religious context. Historically
 religion advocates this community of spirit, and this is a utopian model
based on the top tier of the System's hierarchy. Sex - the
communication technology of biology - is taboo.

Cultural System

protagonist: ideology
antagonist: mortality
action: contemplating
process: indoctrination
goal: immortality
system: theology
foundation: faith
success: belief
technique: education
tool: truth
vehicle: art
institution: religion
location: mind
setting: agricultural
essence: knowledge
conflict: orthodox-heretical
establishment: empire

 

 

 

 

THE STORIES THAT SHAPE CULTURE

– Case Study: The Grimm Tales.

Any culture is shaped by the stories that are told to their next generation
 and therefore develops value structures that are built up by the values and
attitudes projected and highlighted in the stories told.
Having heard a lot about the Grimm brothers and by reading the stories,
some of which I had already heard, it occurred to me that many of the
roots of the Western cultural values and attitudes could be found here.

Folk or fairy tales are not only the means by which values and attitudes
 are passed on to the next generation, but more crucially are the also
 the means by which cultures are shaped. ‘What are the roots that clutch?’
 is the metaphor that signifies a search for what values a culture is based
 upon and these are based upon what subliminal messages, ideas, norms
and attitudes are embedded in the root myths and stories that are passed
 on or handed down generation to generation.

The Grimm brothers collected and wrote a large number of such tales.
 Most of these I find are fantasies, but without being fantastic, by which
 I mean that they are predictable – and sometimes even grim. The plot
 of most stories is roughly the same – that by birth there are good people
who obviously are also beautiful, and who are tormented and denied
of their rights by bad people who are also obviously ugly. After much
suffering, the good people by some miracle or twist of fate triumph and
become Kings or Queens who live happily ever after, and the wicked meet
 their doom in a terrible fashion. I concede that the positive value this is
 meant to convey is to give hope to the good behaving and obedient child
 that in the end this goodness will eventually be justly rewarded with
 riches and highest social status.

None of the tales boggled my moral sentiments because the characters are
 portrayed in black and white in moral terms, whereas morals are ambiguous;
involve dilemmas, very often a choice between two evils. Fantasy's ultimate
goal is one of provoking creative imagination, and insofar as this aspect is
 concerned, the Grimm tales fail miserably, except when they provoke
 creative criticism regarding their social, cultural messages.

There are subliminal projections of attitudes that I found deeply disturbing
 - the attitude that appearance is almost as good as reality. Plato must be
 turning in his grave. The belief being projected that all people are either
good or evil by birth and there is no ambiguity about their nature – it is
black and white. Creative imagination sacrificed for the sake of simplicity?
My suspicion is that these beliefs had already become deeply embedded in
the culture itself – are these the roots that clutch?


The most profound and striking contrast between the Grimm stories and
similar stories from a different culture, for example, the Native American
culture, was the attitude about animals, to take one instance of this contrast.
 The Grimm stories projected animals as lowly creatures and the jungle as a
horrible place where only evil witches resided, whereas in many Native
 American stories, there was a profound and sacred relationship between
 all animals and humans, particularly a relationship of inter-dependence not
 only for survival but also of learning and knowledge. One of the beliefs
 central to the Native American stories was that every individual human
 being’s nature had an intimate bond with a particular animal’s nature,
and many individuals were named according to what other people saw
 was the essential nature of that individual in relation to a particular
kind of animal and it’s behavioral characteristics. This type of relationship
 of humans with other creatures and with nature as a whole is almost
 absent in the Grimm stories. Consequently, we can observe the disconnect
 between the Western culture and nature in general and animals in
particular, and even humans of a different race or culture.
Several people have pointed out that these stories have been 'softened' so
that they are more palatable for children. I believe this is the inevitable
process of civilization where people have to be 'programmed' to behave
 in a controlled manner, and not be allowed to ask uncomfortable questions
 that may arise if the stories are too realistic.

The Story of Fred and Kate

It is an interesting tale of a person who is completely unable to accept
responsibility for her actions - every time she blunders it is always her
husband's fault for not telling her precisely what to do. This is not
innocence but actions of a spoiled child who has not been taught anything,
 has learned nothing, or is simply mentally deficient.
However it is when everything goes completely out of hand that she asks
 the question: 'Is it really I or not?' and the answer 'Oh dear it is not I'
 is again an evasion of the self that is not responsible, of someone who
keeps insisting - I did not cause this to happen.
An analogous story would be: Nuclear war breaks out and all die except
 one scientist who asks ; is it really I or not?, and answer 'Oh dear it is not
I, it is E=mc2 and all the laws of nature that did this, and I innocently,
 having no choice had to faithfully follow those infallible laws'


There are always various kinds of interpretations one can draw from any
story, and the interpretation of this story in terms of 'virtue itself is not
one that stands on it's own, but rather through the lenses of human frailty,
 can be made into a comical farce' is not an incorrect interpretation, but
 IMHO a superficial one because the end result of every interpretation should
 be in terms of what lessons we can draw from it. So what one may see
 as a comical farce, another may see as a tragedy that results from most
human beings simply not willing to take responsibility - without which a
transformation is not possible. No virtue is simple to blindly follow - most
 people in the world today accept patriotism as a great virtue, and hardly
anyone regards it as a vice - and yet the comic-tragedies that have unfolded
 by blindly following this 'virtue' have taught very very few people any lessons.
 Of course the human story in the widest context is a tragic-comedy, but the
 question is: at the end of every such dramatic story are we willing to
learn by taking responsibility? or simply say - oh that's just the way it is - we
 are just frail and helpless. Every individual must at some point take the call
 when faced with a tragic-comic situation in their own lives - and even
 if this story serves to set up to trigger an alarm bell in our own minds
 - it would be an excellent story.

 

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