Sunday, January 01, 2006

Globalism, Authenticity, Preservation and Culture: Appiah's Case for "Contamination"

If you read one article this weekend, make it Kwame Anthony Appiah's "The Case for Contamination" in today's New York Times Magazine.

The subtitle is, "No to purity. No to tribalism. No to cultural protectionism. Toward a new cosmopolitanism." I found it provocative and deeply insightful. Here's a sample quote:

"So the time of the successful(Ghanaian) farming family is passing, and those who were settled in that way of life are as sad to see it go as American family farmers are whose lands are accumulated by giant agribusinesses. We can sympathize with them. But we cannot force thier children to stay in the name of protecting their authentic culture, and we cannot afford to subsidize indefinitely thousands of distinct islands of homogeneity that no longer make economic sense.

Nor should we want to. Human variety matters, cosmopolitans think, because people are entitled to options. . . .

Talk of cultural imperialism 'structuring the consciousnesses' of those in the periphery treats people like . . . blanks slates on which global capitalism's moving finger writes its message, leaving behind another cultural automaton as it moves on. It is deeply condescending. And it isn't true."
The entire piece is an excerpt from his forthcoming book Cosmpolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.

No comments: