Is there a “global culture”?

No. There! That was easy. But hey, not so fast. The Atlantic website today posted a piece by a Polish writer about the thoughts and needs of the generation that grew up on the Internet. An excerpt:

Participating in cultural life is not something out of ordinary to us: global culture is the fundamental building block of our identity, more important for defining ourselves than traditions, historical narratives, social status, ancestry, or even the language that we use.

This strikes me as nonsense, but you may disagree. Read the whole piece for context, and what he really wants. (Cheaper downloadable movies. Also, Democracy.) I’d post my reply here, but it’s long, and you can find it here, if you wish, under the pictures of failed Times Square skyscraper plans. 

  1. Mafuta Kizola

    This seems to be the product of internet forum discussions, which are more often than not pits of stupidity and mediocre ideas.

    The internet is not an extension of reality, it is a network owned by millions of third parties.

    The only global culture that exist could only be the American Culture, but even this concept is somewhat limited.

  2. Fat Dave

    I would be more concerned about the death of High Culture, rather than the emergence of “global culture.”

  3. david foster

    Pretty much claptrap. Similar to the belief that the telegraph would bring about a new era of universal understanding and peace.

  4. Valiuth
    Fat Dave: I would be more concerned about the death of High Culture, rather than the emergence of “global culture.” · 2 hours ago

    what pray tell is “high culture”? 

  5. Matt Bartle

    James,

    That link to your bleat doesn’t work. Should be this:

    http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/12/0212/022212.html

  6. Palaeologus

    global culture is the fundamental building block of our identity, more important for defining ourselves than traditions, historical narratives, social status, ancestry, or even the language that we use.

    This is incoherent.

    Culture is shared, learned behavior. I suppose he means that global historical narratives, traditions, and languages are more defining than local ones

    I’m skeptical about this, other than at the margins. I don’t see culture driven conflicts disappearing anytime soon due to the intertubes.

  7. Adam Freedman
    C

    My only quibble with your comment, James, is that this guy doesn’t want his downloads cheaper, he wants it all for free — that ghastly cliche about how information “wants to be free” (no, you want it to be free — not the same thing). And, like all advocates of “global culture,” this guy seems to have no confidence in his own culture. Im not surprised by Alex Madrigal’s comment that such manifestos usually come from Europe.

  8. St. Salieri

    Brilliant Mr. Freedman, you’d think someone from Poland might, might, have a respect for a culture that has survived the dual flaying of Nazism and Communism (not to mention suppression in the 19th century), and has produced some powerful cultural artifacts…geez!

    Adam Freedman: My only quibble with your comment, James, is that this guy doesn’t want his downloads cheaper, he wants it all for free — that ghastly cliche about how information “wants to be free” (no, you want it to be free — not the same thing). And, like all advocates of “global culture,” this guy seems to have no confidence in his own culture. Im not surprised by Alex Madrigal’s comment that such manifestos usually come from Europe. · 0 minutes ago

  9. Deleted Account

    If you read it as a parody of the angst, wishful thinking, historical illiteracy, and unfounded romanticism that makes up the Occupy-think of eternal adolescents, it’s actually pretty funny.

  10. Cunctator

    My only pithy observation is that when I see someone from abroad burning the US flag, they are often wearing a NY Yankee cap or Tommy Hilfilger clothing

  11. tabula rasa

    All of this “we-ness” of the great and only global culture causes me to hearken back to my stand-by wise man, G. K. Chesterton:

    We can say that the family is the unit of the state; that it is the cell that makes up the formation.  Round the family do indeed gather the sanctities that separate men from ants and bees.  Decency is the curtain of that tent; liberty is the wall of that city; property is but the family farm; honour is but the family flag.  In the practical proportions of human history, we come back to that fundamental of the father and the mother and the child.

    Or, to paraphrase something like I think someone said, “A child of the world has damned poor parents.”  

    All this talk of a global culture is bilge.  In the end, it comes down to family, church, tribe, community, state, and nation.  Everything other than that is ephemeral and, in the end, undependable.

  12. Andrea Ryan
    etoiledunord

    Except, I’m not a WE. I’m an individual, thank you. What makes “global culture” creepy is the expected conformity. It’s the new conformity rebelling against the old conformity, and that’s not really progress, is it? · 11 hours ago

    Great point!  I saw a lot of “WE” in Sweden and was appalled by the lack of individual value in their Socialist culture.  It seems there is no “I” anywhere else on this globe like there is in America.  As long as we continue to deserve having the Bald Eagle symbolize who we are then we will never be merged and melted into a global sea of cultural nothingness. But, another four years of Obama could destroy it.

  13. tabula rasa
    James Lileks: No. There! That was easy. But hey, not so fast. The Atlantic website today posted a piece by a Polish writer about the thoughts and needs of the generation that grew up on the Internet. 

    Am I the only one who has noticed that The Atlantic has now joined Time and Newsweek as unreadable.  I’ve told them to cancel my subsription, but they keep sending it to me.  The lead article is “Obama Explained” by James Fallows.  Last paragraph:

     “And for those who supported him the first time, as did I?  To me, the evidence suggests that given a second term, he would have a better chance of becoming the figure so many people imagined.”

    That makes my blood run cold.

  14. Nathaniel Wright

    Behold!  I give you the Worldly Man!  The Wordly Man has a Wordly Culture…a culture of the World!

    There is no I and only We!

    The Worldly Man has no ancestral theater, only LOLCats!

    The Worldly Man has no defining cultural literature, only 4chan and spends too much time on the Yaoi boards!  Some things cannot be unseen!

    The Worldly Man has no individual appearance, only a Guy Fawkes mask.

    The Worldly Man has no cultural musical tradition, only Rick Rolls!

    Behold!  I give you the Worldly Man!  He ranks high in skills at Modern Warfare: Call of Duty and lacks skills at conversation!

    The Worldly Man laughs last because he Worldly Man laughs all the time, and stupid stuff…really stupid stuff…I mean really really puerile stuff…

    Sorry, I cannot finish my litany against the Worldly Man for “Someone on the Internet is Wrong.”

  15. DocJay

    There’s a global culture of stupidity.  They like Obama still.

  16. David Williamson
    Samuel Amaral: This seems to be the product of internet forum discussions, which are more often than not pits of stupidity and mediocre ideas.

    Well, let’s hope Ricochet is in the rare “not” category.

    In my travels, and from my kids and their friends, I can see that there is indeed a global culture of the young. This is probably the future, and it looks a little, um, socialist.

    Mr Obama taps into this well, unfortunately.

  17. Mel Foil

    We do not feel a religious respect for ‘institutions of democracy’ in their current form, we do not believe in their axiomatic role, as do those who see ‘institutions of democracy’ as a monument for and by themselves. We do not need monuments. We need a system that will live up to our expectations, a system that is transparent and proficient. And we have learned that change is possible: that every uncomfortable system can be replaced and is replaced by a new one, one that is more efficient, better suited to our needs, giving more opportunities. What we value the most is freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of access to information and to culture. We feel that it is thanks to freedom that the Web is what it is, and that it is our duty to protect that freedom. We owe that to next generations, just as much as we owe to protect the environment.

    Except, I’m not a WE. I’m an individual, thank you. What makes “global culture” creepy is the expected conformity. It’s the new conformity rebelling against the old conformity, and that’s not really progress, is it?

  18. Leigh
    We do not feel a religious respect for ‘institutions of democracy’ in their current form… We need a system that will live up to our expectations, a system that is transparent and proficient. And we have learned that change is possible: that every uncomfortable system can be replaced and is replaced by a new one, one that is more efficient, better suited to our needs, giving more opportunities.

    Same quote jumped out at me , with a different thought — Edmund Burke would have some things to say to to this guy…  This kind of train of thought can get dangerous easily.

    Oh, and we want a lot, and we are going to get it by demanding it, apparently?

    An interesting read.

  19. Mary M

    Agree with Tabula Rasa that a global culture is undependable.  BUT humanists from the time of the Tower of Babel have continued to try every way, any way to bring it about.  Scripture tells us in Proverbs that “There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof is destruction.”   

  20. Mary M

    Again, just as the Tower of Babel people spoke one language, which God in His wisdom somehow overcame, our globalistic generation has a digital language.  Now God can destroy that or He may cause His Own to use it for His glory. 

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