Cultures are not important

As regards religions, cultures, traditions and languages: they have no reason why they should be protected. They are not things that need to be protected; people are. If a person wants to be a Latin-speaking lederhosen-wearing Norse-habited Buddhist, she has all the right in the world to be so, and to be protected; but to demand that lederhosen-wearing be protected and preserved as a big important tradition is folly. Traditions, languages and the like either attract the people they need to survive, or they do not. They deserve no special protection, not any more than any collective quirk does. Lederhosen are no different from mullets; Buddhism is no different from being a fan of Elvis; Finnish is a language no different from Lisp. If the “fandom” comes together, the cultural thing survives; if it fails to attract people, it dies, and that is that. Museums might be necessary if the thing is close to dying, just to keep a memory alive; but no culture or any other thing that needs people to survive has the right to grab and use those people just because it would otherwise not survive. If the young ones won’t speak the Old Tongue, let the Old Tongue die. If the young ones don’t want to follow the quaint ways of their forefathers, let those ways perish.

Now, when I’ve said that, I can say it shorter: I don’t care about cultures as themselves. Let them die if they cannot attract people into them; let them change, combine, mutate and eventually die; but never let the claim of a culture be weightier than that of an actual human person. (Yes, I know, here’s where I should probably mumble “Culture was made for man, not man for culture”. Whose original expression and all derivations are (c) 30 AD by Yahweh Enterprises Ltd. etc. etc.)

After that preamble, multiculturalism. As said, I’m on a level above my personal, irrational quirks (Finland yay!) quite totally indifferent to whether people keep their cultures and traditions; they are not as important as the people themselves. Thus the occasional noises about immigrants losing their heritage, or Finns losing theirs because of the immigrants, don’t move me. If someone isn’t interested in the parade of corpses that gave birth to that particular person, why, that’s a free choice and nothing foul. I don’t see a good reason for people to be chained to too many things because of their particular accidents of birth. Those accidents that can’t be changed (would that be skin color, sexual orientation, etc.?) are more than enough without adding more. If one is willing to let people be whatever they want to be that includes letting them not be beholden to a Finnish or foreign heritage, too. That heritage has no better claim for their lives than the occupations of their parents.

There’s one thing about which I’m not indifferent about cultures, though. There’s one spot where I cannot in good conscience be in favor of multiculturalism in my lazy fashion, described above. Namely: multiculturalism, acceptance of diversity, shouldn’t mean a culture ought to be free to define its own human rights. There’s only one basic set of those. Morals are but human proclamations, yes, but there still ought to be some standards.* I’m cheerfully intolerant of all cultures and traditions that are foul enough to set men above women, or to oppress those that are different. There’s no peaceful, tolerant co-existence with those; but beyond those few principles let people construct whatever patterns of chaos they want to. Those that get joiners will live; the others will die; I’ll shed no tears over the matter. This doesn’t mean my support of multiculturalism extends only to your choice of traditional headgear — what is left after human rights have been agreed on are all the diverse varieties of human life that are worth living.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t like the Amish. I never can help the feeling they’re trapped in an awful time warp the most would gladly flee if they only knew the alternatives, and had known them early enough.

* * *

Footnote, for the “*”: Well, “there still ought to be some standards” is shorter than “while morals are just human agreements about what is considered to be good and what evil, it still is better to make those agreements based on what is true about the world and the human nature, and as little as possible based on lies, i.e. religions, claims of racist, nationalist or sexist superiority, delusions of the universal goodness or wickedness of men, etc. etc. etc. — and on a quick glance many human rights are just an acknowledgement of secular truths. That’s a stupid and dangerous claim the first you think about it, the whole “descriptive equals prescriptive” delusion that has made so many hate biology, but facts are needed to keep down only those that truly deserve it. Men and women are not in any meaningful way unequal; thus they should not be treated as such. And, though I doubt you could get the UN to phrase it this way, since there clearly is no afterlife, people ought to be given a fair chance in this one life they’ve got. Most human rights follow, I think, from assuming “freedom to do what you want, as long as ye not infringe on that same right of others” is what ought to be maximized, and then fact-basedly pissing on the most traditional barriers to that. Which all may be full of shit, but hey, I never said I was a great philosopher, right? I’m just talking out of my ass while I wait for Sam Harris’s book.”

One Response to “Cultures are not important”

  1. h.b. Says:

    Sam Harris talks out of his ass too and isn’t a great philosopher either, imo. Did you end up reading that book?

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