Monday, January 05, 2004

And on the other side of DU... 

I linked to a DU comment in the post below. Obviously, what that person wrote is a minority view, even at DU. And there is usually a comment or two that somewhat restores my faith in the left. Comment #77 in the thread hits the nail on the head, (no rhyming intended) in response to a previous comment. I'm posting it in full below. I'm glad someone at DU "gets" it.

Well written, but complete nonsense.

"It used to be that when you traveled around the country, every region looked different, not only in the physical features, but in the local architecture, cuisine, slang, music, what have you."

Yes, that was because the information age had not arrived. Now everyone can see what everyone else has and does immediately. Localities and regions mean less now because we are interconnected. And this phenomena is spreading accross borders. I spend a good deal of my time in Asian nations that once were exotic and absolutely different than the West. Now that is no longer true. People keep some of their culture, but now how the access and means to absorb that which they like about others. I hate seeing McDonalds springing up everywhere, but such is life. People want McDonalds whether we wish to admit it or not.

"and local businesses are being destroyed by the same mega-corporations putting up the same big box stores in every community."

I hear this whining about Walmart and big chains like it all the time. Bottom line, Walmart has everything people need in one place. It is just more popular than little local businesses. Walmart can undercut them pricewise, and have most everything people need in one spot. I am sorry to see Mom and Pop stores go, but I, like most people, will go where I can what I need at a good price. Bemoan this if you want, but that is life.

"Worst of all, this kind of development is unsustainable."

You don't know that. Nor do you know how people will adapt. At one time the "Population Bomb" theory had people believing the rapid increase in human beings on the planet would lead to our doom - most people would agree that this theory which was all the rage a few decades ago was horsemanure.

"Don't give me 'that's what the people want.'"

It is what the people want. They want cable TV, fast food, SUV's, gossip magazines, etc, etc. And they don't just want it here in the US, they want it everywhere.

"Are you going to tell me that in 1999 there were suddenly riots in the streets demanding WWF wrestling on three channels and constant promotion of the 'wrestlers' in every media outlet?"

This is just silly. There doesn't have to be riots in the streets to prove people want something. If people in say..Pittsburgh, PA didn't want to watch the WWF, the ratings for channels playing this sort of stuff in Pittsburgh would be awful. The WWF is popular. I think it is silly and I can't understand why anyone would watch it, but people do like it and who am I - or you - to complain about it.

"Did the public write angry letters to the editor demanding that their environment be uglified?"

Huh? People will tolerate the environment being "uglified" so long as they get something they deem more satisfying at the time. That is human nature, that is just the way it is. And if/when people find that losing the beautiful environment in their area was a mistake, they would vote for candidates who promise to do something about it.

"To me it seems more that Americans are genuinely ignorant of the alternatives, especially since we have now seen three generations grow up in suburbia, completely surrounded by this fake culture and taught to hate and fear the city."

Oh please. Taught to hate and fear the city? So you like the city and are bitching and moaning because many people don't want to live there? How ridiculous. I don't want to live in the city. I find the outerlying suburbs are a better place to live. You go live in a city, and I will stay in the suburbs.


Since Imajika touched on the spread of our culture elsewhere, I will add my two cents. She (I'm assuming Imajika is female) said, to refresh your memory:

Yes, that was because the information age had not arrived. Now everyone can see what everyone else has and does immediately. Localities and regions mean less now because we are interconnected. And this phenomena is spreading accross borders.

Absolutely right. I've been to a number of foreign countries, including one with a completely foreign culture--Bahrain. Sure, it's among the more Westernized Gulf states, but fast food, chain restaurants, coffee shops, and specialty stores do not a culture make. Those are commercial entities. Culture is determined by the people themselves, and the people of Bahrain most assuredly have a very Arab identity, and they aren't ever going to let it go. Except for in the American or Western establishments, of which there are a relative handful--it's much easier to find a traditional restaurant where you pray for the best with the menu and have to specifically ask for utensils--I felt very much the foreigner. They are proud people. They're not going to let the golden arches or Radio Shack change them fundamentally.

Neither are we, as Americans, going to let imported culture change us as a people. It may not be on the same scale, but as the destination of millions of immigrants, and as a country connected to the world, it is inevitable that elements of other cultures will find their way into ours.

How many Americans a day drink a cappuccino? Or for that matter, coffee, that most Arabic of beverages? How many sushi places are there, in mall food courts alone? Is an American eating Japanese-style sushi somehow "better" than a Kenyan eating an American-style hamburger?

How many Indian or Thai restaurants do you think there were in my hometown in Maine before the age of globalization?

And I won't mention Ikea stores, Sony electronics, Volvo automobiles, Nokia mobile phones and a thousand other companies doing business in America that are not evidence of cultural imperialism, any more than a Pizza Hut in Paris.

It's a globalized world. We're all much more aware of what others have than ever before. We're all communicating more than ever before. And most importantly, we're all sharing more than ever before. People are free to accept or discard what they choose. We choose sushi and kebabs. They choose Big Macs. Where's the harm in that?
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