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. 

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Members have made 28 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Mafuta Kizola Inactive

    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.

    • #1
    • February 22, 2012 at 2:27 am
  2. Profile photo of Fat Dave Member

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

    • #2
    • February 22, 2012 at 4:01 am
  3. Profile photo of David Foster Member

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

    • #3
    • February 22, 2012 at 5:51 am
  4. Profile photo of Valiuth Member
    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”? 

    • #4
    • February 22, 2012 at 6:22 am
  5. Profile photo of Palaeologus Member

    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.

    • #6
    • February 22, 2012 at 7:12 am
  6. Profile photo of Adam Freedman Contributor

    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.

    • #7
    • February 22, 2012 at 7:31 am
  7. Profile photo of St. Salieri / Eric Cook Member

    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
    • #8
    • February 22, 2012 at 7:35 am
  8. Profile photo of Deleted Account Inactive

    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.

    • #9
    • February 22, 2012 at 8:49 am
  9. Profile photo of Cunctator Inactive

    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

    • #10
    • February 22, 2012 at 8:51 am
  10. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    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.

    • #11
    • February 22, 2012 at 8:52 am
  11. Profile photo of Andrea Ryan Member
    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.

    • #12
    • February 22, 2012 at 8:57 am
  12. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    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.

    • #13
    • February 22, 2012 at 9:01 am
  13. Profile photo of Nathaniel Wright Inactive

    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.”

    • #14
    • February 22, 2012 at 9:10 am
  14. Profile photo of DocJay Member

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

    • #15
    • February 22, 2012 at 9:38 am
  15. Profile photo of David Williamson Member
    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.

    • #16
    • February 22, 2012 at 9:40 am
  16. Profile photo of Mel Foil Inactive

    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?

    • #17
    • February 22, 2012 at 9:42 am
  17. Profile photo of Leigh Member
    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.

    • #18
    • February 22, 2012 at 9:54 am
  18. Profile photo of Mary M Inactive

    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.”

    • #19
    • February 22, 2012 at 10:05 am
  19. Profile photo of Mary M Inactive

    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. 

    • #20
    • February 22, 2012 at 10:13 am
  20. Profile photo of Starve the Beast Inactive

    I find this encouraging. It’s exactly – and I mean exactly, down to the last molecule – the way we talked about our generation back when I was 24.

    You see, we were children of a different world, the next evolutionary stage, and the cro magnons that came before us just couldn’t relate. And the generation directly downstream of us never trusted anyone over 30, but by the time I had an electricity bill in my name they were just a bunch of old squares, so who cared what they thought?

    This article is good news because it underlines a great truth: human nature is stronger than Google. To quote one of the great philosophers of my youth: “Same as it Ever Was”.

    • #21
    • February 22, 2012 at 10:35 am
  21. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member

    Has the Internet created a new set of mores, memes and traditions that transcend religion, education, ethnic culture, and national boundaries?

    Sure. Clearly, in some ways we act differently online then we do in the real world, and some aspects of online behaviour manifests itself in the real world (like when somebody says “lol” out loud).

    Does this new “Global Internet Culture” supercede existing religious/cultural mores, memes, and traditions?

    Nonsense … for now … maybe.

    However, those parent and educators who despise “traditional” religion/culture and are raising their kids to be so-called “global citizens” may use the Internet as a way to indoctrinate children in that sort of world view.

    The day may come when “Internet culture” becomes seen as the “proper” culture. Note how some people try to argue that online standards for decorum and/or (lack of) privacy should apply in the real world. (“I can be as offensive and insulting, anonymously, as I want online. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do the same in the real world?”)

    I think Neil Postman’s Technopoly would be an instructive text for this conversation.

    • #22
    • February 22, 2012 at 10:38 am
  22. Profile photo of DocJay Member
    Starve the Beast: I find this encouraging. It’s exactly – and I mean exactly, down to the last molecule – the way we talked about our generation back when I was 24.

    You see, we were children of a different world, the next evolutionary stage, and the cro magnons that came before us just couldn’t relate. And the generation directly downstream of us never trusted anyone over 30, but by the time I had an electricity bill in my name they were just a bunch of old squares, so who cared what they thought?

    This article is good news because it underlines a great truth: human nature is stronger than Google. To quote one of the great philosophers of my youth: “Same as it Ever Was”. · 8 minutes ago

    You may find yourself…..

    • #23
    • February 22, 2012 at 10:53 am
  23. Profile photo of Joseph Eagar Member

    This is fairly predictable. All cosmopolitan groups think this. The more wide-spread and excessive is this attitude, the bigger the backlash against it will be as society fully wakes up to the moral breakdown, ruined lives and devastated communities that are a natural consequence.

    Still, I think this mindset is declining in America.

    • #24
    • February 22, 2012 at 11:11 am
  24. Profile photo of PJ Kellogg Inactive

    “Brought up on the Web we think differently.”

    Yes, you certainly do. But perhaps “think” is not the most appropriate verb.

    • #25
    • February 22, 2012 at 11:44 am
  25. Profile photo of Joseph Eagar Member

    Well, it a little true that there’s a global culture, in the sense that there is an American culture. Young internet-users have evolved a shared cultural space, even if they retain their individual cultures, much as America is made up of thousands of cultures, but everyone participates in “American culture.”

    That’s not the same thing as the traditional cosmopolitan argument; the whole “national borders are bad, blah blah blah” line of thought (my favorite response is to ask how wealthier communities can be asked to subsidize poorer ones–as happens in every nation on earth–unless they both feel part of a larger community, i.e. a nation).

    • #26
    • February 22, 2012 at 11:46 am
  26. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    It is late but I think in some ways we are seeing a Global Culture emerging…though I don’t think it is what the author thinks it is. Eager is probably right. What we are seeing is the spread of American culture further and faster than people realize. This is a double edged sword as American cultural patterns become more dominated by the internet it allows American culture to feel the influence of other cultures more strongly, thus the rate of cultural change may increase.

    Thus as American culture becomes less alien to people and adopts more Japanese, German, Polish etc…patterns more people around the world will be drawn to it and become immersed in it. I think that is the great strength of America. 

    Our culture has so many influences that we can more easily relate to other cultures. Also we are so dominating that it is hard to ignore us. We love to sell ourselves. I think only the French try harder to sell their culture than Americans do. 

    It may be that one day the world do to high levels of integration does merge into one culture with only slight regional differences…but not today. 

    • #27
    • February 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm
  27. Profile photo of Fat Dave Member
    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”? · 10 hours ago

    Mozart, Haydn, Goethe, Shakespeare, Locke, Hobbes, Voltaire, Rabelais, Petrarch, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, El Greco . . . Need more names?

    • #28
    • February 23, 2012 at 4:22 am