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The Forum > General Discussion > Collective Identity and How the West was Lost.

Collective Identity and How the West was Lost.

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I was stunned by the encapsulation of such intense truth supplied by one of our other contributors, from Francis Fukuyama, that I feel special attention to this is well deserved.

What are the hot topics which always rate 100s of comments ?

1/ MultiCulturalism.
2/ Religion.

I want to focus on just one, 'MC' and this is the quote from Fukayama

[' Modern Liberal societies have weak collective identities. Postmodern elites, especially in Europe, feel that they have evolved beyond identities defined by religion and nation. But if our societies cannot assert positive liberal values, they may be challenged by migrants who are more sure of who they are']

This has said, in a couple of sentences, ALL that I've been trying to say in bits and pieces with each of my anti MC posts.

2/ POST MODERN ELITES........ exactly !
3/ MIGRANTS more sure of who they are culturally and religiously. Hooray ! spot on.

It should not even have to be argued, that a weak collective identity is vulnerable to those with a stronger sense of identity making devastating inroads into that weakened socio/cultural condition.

This is the fundamental flaw in MC in Western societies. Already weakened by post modern relativisim, now they are further eroded and even in the process of being usurped by confident alien cultures.

This is also the root of my own cry for 'pro-active' enculturation in Australia, to recapture that sense of collective identity. Without it, we are doomed. A footy team without a sense of collective team identity will play like browns cows ...and lose.. disasterously.

I itched...fukayama scratched, now I feel better.
Posted by BOAZ_David, Monday, 12 March 2007 8:06:42 PM
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..... never mind that religion is a figment of the collective imagination, so long as the crowd all believes in the same thing! (ref. Gulliver's Travels; BigEndians & LittleEndians).

Some people just haven't got it in them to believe that they simply can't BE without some "divine" force.

Oh well..... we'll all see the truth (whatever that is) when we die.
Posted by Iluvatar, Tuesday, 13 March 2007 10:44:45 AM
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BD, your capacity for absorbing big ideas and bringing them to bear is wonderful. The way you choose to use those ideas is another thing altogether.

Take a squizz at Fukuyama's latest offering and you'll find that he's squirming out of his earlier convictions.

He still believes, like you do, that the West is falling apart because it has no coherent, strong cultural beliefs, but he blames the current crop of neo-cons for misrepresenting neo-conservatism.

He blames a bunch of French postmodernist thinkers for relativism, without considering the strong American tradition of possessive individualism which, at the same time, he praises for creating so much wealth.

He also reckons that the failure of American foreign policy (read Iraq) stems from a failure to consider the cultural peculiarities of the popultions involved (failure to consider cultural relativism).

He attempts to get himself out of this pickle by suggesting that neo-conservatism should start calling itself by another name.

Think about your posts on Christian socialism and collectivism, then think about the individualism you see all around you in Australian society and you needn't go anywhere near postmodern moral relativism if you're looking for someone to blame.

Our own individual greed is probably the strongest defence we have against your perceived enemy, and that's something we share with the cultural enclaves in our society. Not even your worst Muslim fundamentalist wants to be poor.
Posted by chainsmoker, Tuesday, 13 March 2007 11:15:16 AM
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Good points chainy
I'm not so much looking for someone to blame, we are all to blame for this state of affairs don't you think ?

Our individualism still needs to be brought into the 'teamwork' framework, difficult though it is to feel part of a 'national' team regarding our countries destiny, because with the wrong people at the helm, we could go so far off course it aint funny.

Irrespective of anything Fukuyama says now.. regarding NeoCons.. I think his primary statement is actually GOLD... it is one of those incredibly 'true' statements that I can only compare it to a chunk of 2x4 over the back of the head.. it is hard hitting.

Neo Cons have little to do with our need for collective identity.
If anything, they are probably partly a barrier, as they represent only a segment of society.
From what I gather they are more interested in the 'PNAC' and American Empire. I'm thinking more of the simple need to foster and nourish a good sense of identity without including any territorial ambitions.

Collective Identity should be nation specific not as sweeping a thing as 'The West'.

If we look at most European countries, say Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania etc.. most of these have something like 90%+ of one ethnicity, a carry over from the tribes they originated from.

Please don't read too much of my anti Islam rants into this particular topic, as I said.. Islamic influence is just one of a large number of forces at work, its not by any means the major one.

Regarding 'blame' I would tend to blame the Post modern intellectual elites for OPPOSING such a direction of collective identity but not for causing it.
Our current experience is the result of the flow of history in every sphere, the arts, education, science, even faith (or its lack) etc etc..
Posted by BOAZ_David, Tuesday, 13 March 2007 11:59:25 AM
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Boaz, did you actually read the Fukuyama piece, or just latch onto one sentence that appealed to you?

Given your selectivity in other areas, this would not surprise me.

Your man quotes extensively - and approvingly - from Olivier Roy's "Globalised Islam" - here is one that I think you might like:

"According to Roy, the root of radical Islamism is not cultural — that is, it is not a by-product of something inherent in Islam or the culture that this religion has produced. Rather, he argues, radical Islamism has emerged because Islam has become 'deterritorialised'"

Tell me, do you agree with this summary? If you do, perhaps you could agree to stop your constant "Islam is an evil religion" rant, as it clearly has no relevance to their radicals' behaviour.

If you don't, perhaps you can explain to us why you selected just the one idea from Fukuyama's piece to get behind?

Fukuyama himself points out:

"First-generation immigrants have usually not made a psychological break with the culture of their land of birth and carry traditional practices with them to their new homes. Their children, by contrast, are often contemptuous of their parents' religiosity, and yet have not become integrated into the culture of the new society. Stuck between two cultures with which they cannot identify, they find a strong appeal in the universalist ideology of contemporary jihadism."

He must also watch your antics on this forum – here's what he has to say:

“Since 11th September, a small industry has sprung up trying to show how violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic or historical roots. It is important to remember, however, that at many periods in history Muslim societies have been more tolerant than their Christian counterparts.”

Boaz, if you are going to get all triumphalist and carried away with the notion that aha, here is someone who agrees with me, it is probably wise to do a little more than just pick on one single line that appears to support your ideas.

But I guess selective quotes are pretty much your trade mark, aren't they?
Posted by Pericles, Tuesday, 13 March 2007 3:28:49 PM
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Pericles is right about the quote-the context is important. Also the deterritorialisation bit. BD you know enough about history to give that some sympathetic thought.

Neocons have everything to do with our need for collective identity, since that's the model Oz works to now. In that model we have only a glorious past of morally fabulous achievements which binds us all. Rainier could probably tell you what's wrong with that picture.

How do you plan to be/stay nation-specific when you yourself spend so much time in globalised cyberspace? You are a global citizen. Have a squizz at cosmopolitanism from Kant on that. Cultural isolation is impossible for Western nations-think The Simpsons for somewhere to start.

"Postmodern intellectual elites" (don't get me started) don't oppose collective identity, they just reckon there isn't one, which is pretty much your complaint too. If I'm any judge you'd probably find Roland Barthes appealing.
Posted by chainsmoker, Tuesday, 13 March 2007 4:35:49 PM
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