Utopias of Cultural Pancide

In an earlier article, I wrote about Star Trek being a vision of cultural pancide. It is a world where late 20th century secular humanism, Western culture, and liberalism have vanquished all other cultures. It is Bertrand Russell dismissing religion so arrogantly. That from mandalas to Madonnas, that most fruitful of cultural pillars is devoid of value and should be rightfully discarded. To, with that most callous of ignorance, burn that metaphorical Library of Alexandria. Religion as a social utility and cultural expression seldom, today, enters the discourse about it.

The average atheist on the left, as said in that article, would easily accuse my religion’s missionaries of engaging in cultural genocide but their own influence to Westernize and secularize other peoples is not seen as the same thing. As said in that article, I would go to great lengths to preserve their native traditions and to avoid that Star Trek fate. All cultures dying at the altar of late 20th century Western secular humanism doesn’t make them sad, at all. It makes me sad to have a monolithic world culture.

So much richer is the world, even when people don’t believe in God, where the streets of Istanbul are graced with dervishes, the backwoods of Mississippi still has a soundtrack of Southern Gospel, the Buddhists of Tibet still turn their wheels, and the Zoroastrians of Iran still burn their fires. That anyone would want a world where those cultures fight for their existences like some tribe in the Indonesian rainforest to ultimately fail and be absorbed into utter modernity is beyond tragic.

Of course, when the secular left does take the side of a native culture, they and any representives of that culture among them lack much elegance. Rather than pride, their emotions are self-pity, hatred, and rage. The First Nations in Canada are an excellent example; instead of working to incorperate traditional practices into modern life and liberal democracy, they mostly just scream. Most of what they scream about are things nobody can do anything about, namely, historical attrocities that have already been apologized for. It makes the rituals and art an act of hatred and in its emotional rage, feeble and low quality.

Those are the same emotions with which the secular left views Western history, very often; with rage and hatred and a complete lack of empathy. If you focus on the witch trials, you forget that almost everyone was a subsistance farmer and the middle class were burghers in the trades. As Harold Bloom noted that a feminist analysis of Hamlet would teach one much about feminism and nothing about Hamlet; viewing, for example, Puritan Boston as The Handmaid’s Tale tells you a lot about the anxieties and culture wars of the 21st century and almost nothing about the analogs of them in the 17th.

The life of a corn farmer in 1655 New England is not The Handmaid’s Tale and their greatest fears were famine and disease. If you faced a smallpox outbreak and had no idea how to stop it then you might turn to conspiracies and witch hunts, too. They were an accurate analog to modern Trump supporters facing nebulous economic uncertanties but you would only know why if you put yourself in their shoes. They were not misogynistic monsters but terrified humans facing lethal natural elements they didn’t understand.

The desire for cultural pancide and the derision of all historical culture and religion is borne of that lack of empathy. The world is a dark place but not for the reasons they imagine. The history they hate doesn’t exist. History is not about crusades, jihads, bigotry, racism, misogyny, or any of that. History is mostly about illiterate, subsistance, farmers living in a horrifying world where death lurked about every corner. They did not have political views about the monarchy which was busy, far away, and much less immediate than village politics which is where their political views actually were. Living with their self-righteous, ethnocentric, view that all historical cultures were evil and we should abolish their vestigial institutions is not only a cultural pancide which drains the verdance from the world but is rooted in a false version of history where people in earlier cultures were modern people with modern political systems who did things for relatively modern reasons.

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