Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fear The Monoculture

I fear the monoculture
because I know in the time of choosing
which culture will win out:
The Dominant One
the one that eats forests for breakfast
and oceans for supper
skips lunch because it’s too busy
and can’t afford the calories
The One that never sleeps because
it's too busy planning
its next acquisition

I fear that loss of cultural diversity
because if we all start acting the same way
we’ll be a world of bullies
in search of new victims
and only the planet itself
will be left to suffer
That would be our undoing

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I too fear the monoculture and worry when I hear the stories "everyone there speaks English", "they should do it to increase tourism", or the rest. Maybe it shouldn't be so easy for some and so hard for others.

Know what I mean?

But turn fear into loathing! That's what I say... heh heh.

No, seriously, turn fear into action, like when you're afraid of the dark so sit in the quiet of no light for hours, your imagination running wild but the darkness unable to drive you toward the light.

Make multiculture and pluralculture and otherculture everywhere you go. Don't discount others. Listen. Really, listen. Contemplate. Observe. Tread softly. Walk slowly. Listen some more. Contemplate more again. Start to understand that you don't and never will understand but that that's OK. It's becaue we come from such different cultures that understanding can be impossible. But don't force understanding at the cost of difference.

Know what I mean?

I fear it too, but let's not be paralyzed by fear. Let's do little and therefore do lots.
The first stanza is especially good--I like the word, monoculture in this.
This is a great poem.

I am so with you on cultural diversity! I dislike that (the US) is becoming so homogenized ... that all the stores are the same no matter what town, what state.

I think it's our differences that are interesting ... I was sad when they ditched Francs and Deutschmarcs for euros.
Yes, I agree with bibi.
It is a great poem.

While agreee with the maxim that a poem should not state, but be, I coldn't help thinking about some of your content.

I am multicultural, I have had my hard knocks in the days when prejudice was strong.
e.g. My university professor at Woodsworth College, U of T: "You know, we tend to absorb all the riff-raff from foreign countries."

Ah, but then I somehow got to Varsity, by hook or by crook. So Canada can't be such a bad place.

I think I told the prof I had a hell of a time understanding him through his thick navvy accent, and who signed his papers anyway.
He later apologized.

Quite frankly, I think it was better the old way. "Johnny can't play with us because Johnny's a ...."

You cut through all the prejudice and the B.S. and somehow you get where you want to go.

The prejudice is still out there,stronger than ever, but it is masked by political correctness.

And in the end, I don't believe in multiculturalism.
Seems to me that like with New Age, you end up with a pretty screwy result.
A cultural-sociological Push Me- Pull You.
A horse designed by committee, that is to say, a camel.

A lot to be said for "When in Rome..."


P.s.: Actually, mavenmiia said it more articulately.

Yet I don't fear monoculturalism but the powers that be have been working at it since just after WWII. Think WTO,IMF,WHO and once Russia (within the next two years) joins the WTO that brings 97% of the world's population under the auspices of that organization and then trade agreements that have re-distributed middle class eurocentric wealth and jobs to developing nations.

I loathe it. But on the upside you'll never have to leave home to see somewhere new because everywhere will be the same.
Beautiful Miia, indeed, action must follow the pondering. And that's where we are now, isn't it? Let's go change the world together.

OETR: Thanks, I was thinking along the lines of the monolyth...I also could have gone after a jabberwocky effect if it had been more than a passing thought.

Bibi: Those big box chain stores and cookie cutter houses hurt to see. I try to shop ma & pa whenever I can.

Ivan: Have you seen the movie Ghost World? They address in this, and do a very good job of it, how political correctness has hidden our prejudices but they remain as strong as ever. Having said that, I appreciate the effort of political correctness, because it was originally supposed to be about more than language. It was supposed to be about respect, and incorporating respect into language. Unfortunately you can't enforce respect, and it is very difficult to even teach. Policing language doesn't create respect.

I was really thinking internationally here, and about free trade zones and whatnot, how Africa recently decided to set down the road to becoming a single unified country, and the appeal of that decision but also that I fear such 'unity' comes at the cost of cultural diversity. I think of the san people in southern Africa and wonder what they have in common with, say, Algeria, and where they are supposed to fit into this monoculture that the world is headed toward.

Here in Canada I do believe in multiculturalism, not because it's forced or packaged but because we've been relatively good at opening our borders, and I think given the state of world affairs and how much space and resources and stability we have that's a moral imperative. And also, we've done very very well by our immigrants, including the highly skilled ones and also the ones who do jobs most of us wouldn't - to the extent that it is ridiculous to complain about 'those immigrants taking OUR jobs.' what a foolish sentiment that is.

TWM: I both loathe AND fear it. As I said, I fear it will be the end of our species. Humanity needs both biodiversity and human diversity to survive. I suppose human extinction wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would sure hurt, and it would hurt the usual victims first, most and worst.
oh, as for 'when in Rome' I think that's the approach most immigrants try to take here in Toronto. But with almost 20 percent of Canada's population being from somewhere else, this little rome is bound to change as a result, and this is not a bad change. It's a matter of being adaptable as, um, romans.
Your poem captured what I fear. This lack of respect goes beyond cultural snobbism. It goes all the way to objectifying people who are different to us to such an extent that we take from them what we need with no thought as to the consequences for them. You see it in international relations and in the US as well. Hence, 9-11. It is an embedded attitude here in the US. I will not go so far as to say that I am ashamed of being an American as these things are not condoned by me. But I will say that I feel very alienated sometime from people around me because they seem to be in the majority and I can't relate to them.

I too hate political correctness. It started out as a good thing and untlimately, I think that it has created some awarenesses. But in some ways it does stifle dialogue. It's often used as a bludgeon. And it often masks a lack of understanding. In other words, there is no meaning behind it lots of tiomes.
yeah, objectifying people and assuming the inferiority of their culture, society, systems, and ways of life and being. and then we help them overcome these inferiorities by first bombing them, then inserting a puppet regime and a constitution we wrote for them. tada, negative freedom, enforced. [er, sorry, just watched a great documentary about all that last night - it's called The Trap. it may have brainwashed me.]
Excellent poem, as usual, Benji. I agree that quashing the difference that make us unique harms us all.
nah! it was the truth. BBE
Here's the very reason why you get to be nominated for:
(Drum roll)

Creative Blogger!
Thoughtful Blogger!

I haven't got a post for the awards, I was kind of doing it low key, but when I've doled them out (almost done, a couple left), I may then put a page together for everyone to get linked to it. Maybe some crazy poem-thing, too. I like writing poems, sometimes...

But you can get them off the post I put them on, or the originals from Myutopia, if I messed up the copying of them. You are dicerning and nowledgeble of many. I certainly haven't gotten to everyone I know who deserves these, so grant them as you wish. We know a lot of the same people, so I'm sure everyone I'm talking about will be rewarded for their exceptional work.

I hope the world doesn't turn into a monoculture--especially of me!

Here's one heck of a story idea. A character questioning his sanity over everyone acting just like him or her... but he/she's not truly insane, but only became like everyone else over time. Everyone is insane. And it's not reversible, because all of humanity stampeding toward the cliffs of doomsday is just way too top heavy a beast to control.

That's depressing, but hey, its what is. What you say is a prophecy coming down the long narrow hallway.

Later on, Benji
Hey Eric, I'm honoured, thanks for the awards, they sound prestigious. I hope the poem's not a prophecy. Why do only the nasty prophecies seem to come true? My next poem will need a more positive outlook.
I think society will be less rooted in tradition and culture will be lost, we are losing touch with many ways heritage is spread.

Music is commercialized pop, not often reflective of society or groups . Poets continue to bear witness to struggle but poets increasingly talk to one another. We seek out our own. We often look for voices we identify with, not new territory for our heads.

New is uncomfortable. New takes work.

The ways we cross lines and talk to people are changing. In some ways, we talk more. COnsider the internet- the exposure.

Sadly though I fear culture is based more on consumption and less on preservation of group identity. Expression is about selling. Identity is about marketing.

Who knows what the results will be but if the current disconnect people feel is an indication...

I suspect that the planet will find a way to slough us off.
depressing thoughts. what you say about culture holds true in much of 'the west', but not necessarily in other places. cultures like those of the tatars, the tuvans, the sami, the ashanti, still hold strong. and even the seeking out of like minds in the west i think is an attempt to reform new cultural groups in the face of the mass popular consumerism you speak of, and that gives me some hope. will it be enough? time will tell.

benjamin barber wrote a good book about that stuff called jihad v. mcworld back in the late 90s. he's got his very own blog at, which I recommend.
Thanks, will check it out Benj.
Hope you enjoy it, Lynne, you'll notice I have now linked to it in my sidebar.
I fear the tri-culture - where muslim fanatics and christian materialists go toe-to-toe over conflicting book reviews whilst old man china waits for a weakness to present itself and decides if and when he will strike.
yeah, that's scary too. and, as is my way, i have a book recommendation about it: The Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali. It's a must read, the best book about politics&religion I've ever read. He argues very convincingly that the religious dogma is very much rooted in political power struggles that have little to do with faith or spirituality. It's been going on since the crusades.
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