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No, because cultures can only be undermined by their own carriers in a free society.  I can't force people of other cultures to eat pork or cow, or go out drinking every Friday night, or watch profanity-filled movies.  I can't force them to listen to rock music or accept my God (or lackthereof).

There's a claim often made by opponents of globalization that says it will destroy cultures by somehow forcing our culture upon them, and it's nonsense.  People will make their own decisions about their cultures, because cultures are tied directly to our individual and collective fundamental beliefs -- as nations, as families, and so on.  And no one can take away your beliefs.

Whether someone accepts the West's culture or his own is his choice.  But isn't it better to have a choice about such a thing?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 01:08:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Tibet is modernising rapidly, thanks to booming China's billions, but at what cost to its unique culture?

...for those expecting a Shangri-la in the Himalayas, the club's existence is likely to be a disappointment. But it is a striking example of the disorientating changes in modern Tibet, as economic migrants rush into one of the most spiritual places on earth, hoping to cash in on breakneck economic development that is raising the living standards of its impoverished people but heightening inequality and destroying a unique culture.

 ...Lhasa is already being transformed. Ten years ago, the streets around the Jokhang Temple were filled with pilgrims. Today, they are filled with tourists haggling at souvenir shops.

...Tibetan life remains spiritual, but materialistic global values are seeping in through television and the internet.

...Clubs like JJs can be seen in every major town. For the urban young, these are exciting times. For the rural old, something essential is being lost. Those caught in the middle admit they are confused.


The spoiling of Shangri-la

The credentials for finding this article should go to a
professor of mine in International Political Economy

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel

by Chris on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 01:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see how this changes anything.  "Materialistic global values are seeping in through television and the internet" because citizens of Tibet are apparently looking for them or accepting them when they happen to come across displays of such values.  But this, in no way, forces others to live by materialistic values.  Am I missing something?  Is someone forcing the people of Tibet to buy televisions and internet access?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:01:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Tibet has been unique cultural centre centuries before Columbus has discovered America?
Does such heritage have to gradually dissapear due to  McDonalds' and Levi's ways of perceiving the world horizon?

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel
by Chris on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:09:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Tibet has been unique cultural centre centuries before Columbus has discovered America?

Yes, but many other areas have been, as well.  I have nothing against Tibet, and I'd love for its culture to be preserved, but these are people -- not Smithsonian artifacts.

The heritage doesn't disappear because of McDonald's and Levi's.  That's just "rubbish" (practicing my Britishisms ;-).  People don't have to buy Levi's jeans or McDonald's Big Macs.  I don't know why people shop with those two companies, anyway.  The latter is sewage on a bun, and the former is over-priced clothing that falls apart within a year.

Further, I don't understand why it's taken as a given that consumerism cannot be coupled with a maintenance of one's heritage.

Is it fair to ask that the people of Tibet maintain their traditional culture without giving them all of the available choices?

It's just as ridiculous as the claim that Wal-Mart is destroying "small-town America," which brings up images of the pretty, little Main Street stores and the local Methodist church and the harmonious community and all of that other bullshit.  (For me, it brings up images of anti-abortion protests, religious nutjobs, segregation, hunters shooting furry woodland creatures, and pseudo-patriotism.)  If people stopped shopping at Wal-Mart (or McDonald's or whatever other chain), it wouldn't be an issue.

If the traditional culture of Tibet is held to be so important among its people, it will remain important.  But people deserve to make their own choices.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 03:46:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well yes and no, Drew...  remember that Mall-Wart, B&N and similar chains often run a new store at a loss for 1 to 3 years in order to undercut all local retailer prices and drive the smaller retailers out of biz, then restores prices to their national average.  and that the cheapness of their goods is predicated on near-slave labour in estremely undemocratic China...

so the "fairness" with which they compete for the dollars of consumers (who may themselves have been impoverished by the foldup of American manufacturing and the rise of monopoly ag) is dubious.  yes, it's short sighted of the locals to cooperate in the pithing of their own state and county and town economies;  but the poker game is somewhat rigged as well.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 07:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and this reminds me of what, I am told, all con artists understand (a secret of the trade):  the sucker wants to be deceived.  we know the prices at WalMart are "too good to be true".  people commonly collude to some extent in their own deception, which imho doesn't really make grifters and flimflam men any less culpable.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 07:55:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's more of a sign of financial desperation, in many cases, than wanting to be suckered in a con game.  People from rural areas, in my admittedly-limited experience, are taking the biggest hit in today's "booming" (hahaha) economy.  The coastal cities are doing fine, despite being ground zero for the housing bubble, and they always will, because they're always going to have something to offer the world economy -- if nothing else, a lot of consumers with high levels of education and diversified economies.  Life is not so easy for the rural areas of the country.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 08:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Much of that is true.  I don't disagree, and we desperately need to strengthen our anti-trust laws -- and, more importantly, we need to enforce them, because, after all, laws don't mean anything if they're not enforced -- in small-town and rural areas, because I think it's fairly clear that small markets are much more vulnerable to monopolistic practices.

However, in many cases, Wal-Mart has moved into areas where the manufacturing jobs had already left and the small retailers were not making any money because of the local economy being crippled by the plant moving to China or Mexico.

You'll get no argument from me about the Chinese Communist Party being a brutal regime that promotes slave labor and steals peasants' property.  And any group that brags about being the "Heir to Mao" will win no brownie points from me.

But we're just as guilty on that issue, because we're the ones who have promoted trade without promoting worker rights, too.  As I said, we shouldn't trade with countries that force children to work and that don't enshrine, for example, the right to organize.  (I think "Mall-Wart" -- I love that, by the way; well said -- employees in China recently gained this right by lobbying the managers and the local party official(s), but I may be thinking of another company.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  If so, at least it's a start, but we need to back them up.  If Americans really want the world to love them, as they say they do, they'll start rebuilding their relations by pounding the table on human rights -- starting with China.)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 08:27:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, what is missing from this discussion of Tibet is that "the urban young" are mostly Chinese implants into the country, as part of a systematic policy to destroy Tibetan culture...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:21:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And yes, I know it's not relevant to the cultural imperialism of the West, but it deserves remembering whenever we talk about Tibet.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I simply meant that people around the globe are losing their diversity. I do not like it, somebody may share another opinion. It is a open question...:)))

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel
by Chris on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is that we can't both wish for third world countries to become rich (by proclaiming: "one mobile phone to every bedouin!"), and expect that once they do they will retain their culture.

To become rich nowadays means to embrace capitalism, and this means embracing notions of consumerism, possession, increased purchasing power, and in particular this means obtaining the possibility to purchase exotic/luxury items. And since one man's local product is another man's exotic/luxurious product, rich Bengladeshis buy vintage Indian cars, rich Indians buy Ferraris, rich Italians buy Rolls Royces ...

So either we stop wanting the third world to emulate our path (so that they can save their culture), or we choose another path, for example the one of degrowth, which I somewhat affect.

God what am I saying? Ok, this was just typed as I thought it.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:51:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We won't have to embrace degrowth. It will be force upon us by the rise of India and China. There are just so many PPP dollars to go around.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:55:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point, and that's why I think that we have to prepare for degrowth. Better be prepared for it than not.

The rise of global competitors and upcoming energy problems should start pushing us down this other path we haven't yet tested, an alternative to communism and capitalism. Europe could show the way ...

The very least we need to do is to start eating more potatoes and less bananas, like in the good old days.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 03:00:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
down this other path we haven't yet tested, an alternative to communism and capitalism. Europe could show the way ...
or else, down that other path we have already tested, an alternative to communism and capitalism. Europe once showed the way ...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 03:03:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not as long as China is dependent on our consumption.  After all, they can only sell what we can buy.  We're not going to experience degrowth.  American gains are European and Asian gains.  European gains are American and Asian gains.  And so on.  The only thing I see that poses a serious risk to long-term growth is the environment.  We need get off of the oil, yesterday.  And we need to dedicate ourselves to also helping developing countries, like China and India, to avoid the level of dependency America now suffers from.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 03:58:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Chinese are dependent on your consumption but they earn U.S. dollars from it. Some scholars argue that with these immense sums they buy U.S. treasury bonds and they possess so many of them that the Americans are paying the interests  through their taxes. And the economy is implicitly dependent on foreign owners of bonds. So you are right about the American dependency on countries with low-paid labor and cheap products.

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel
by Chris on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 04:14:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, Americans pay the interest through their taxes.  The main problem is the budget deficit.  Our interest payments in America are rising at frightening rates, and I've got to believe that this is exactly what the Republicans want, because it will cripple our ability to finance our welfare state.

But remember that, if America collapsed, China (and/or our other lenders) would be left holding useless pieces of paper.  Trade creates "inescapable interdependencies," as von Mises -- whom, for the record, I despise -- rightly, I think, referred to it.  It's the beauty and, at the same time, the horror of capitalism.  A crippled America translates to very bad news in Asia.

At this point in time, America is still, easily, the dominant partner in the relationship.  But, if America does not use that dominance to demand a liberalized yuan, both countries will wind up in one hell of a mess in the future.  (And I, my friend, will be well-insulated in Europe. ;-)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 05:03:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These peaces of paper will actually mean nothing without
America's financial and economic prosperity, as they are not anymore backed by gold. I guess this fact leaves carte blanche to financial speculators and bankers to play the role of semi-gods all around the globe ;)))

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel
by Chris on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 05:20:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but backing the currency with gold is a bad idea, because it essentially means pegging the currency to something that doesn't react in a reasonable way to the market.  Gold doesn't naturally fall in price when the economy slows.  In fact, it does the opposite, because investors know that the government needs to pump up the money supply and inflate away the recession.  (Gold has traditionally been the ultimate hedge against inflation.)  Speculators played the role of semi-gods -- or, more accurately, semi-Satans -- much more back in the days of the gold standard.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 08:42:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With fractional reserve banking, it is the private banks and not the government that decide how much money to create. Sure, the government can set the very short-term interest at which they will lend money to the banks, but that is a very indirect way to control the money supply...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 08:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is very indirect.  Agreed.  And the government -- by "government," I mean the elected officials -- has no power over the lending rate.  (Its only power over the money supply is through spending.)  The central bank controls the lending rate, obviously.  The objective of the game should be to involve the central bank and government only to the extent that it is necessary.  It's good to try to find ways for the market to move rates as needed.  The problem with gold is that it doesn't move as the item should move for the given purpose.  Gold could be a shooting upwards in value while the economy plunges into recession.  It's better to let the economics and banking gurus determine the supply, even if it is an elitist model.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 09:11:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't trust the private banking gurus, because they have a conflict of interest.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 09:13:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the system is imperfect, obviously, but that it has worked fairly well, especially since the Volcker Era.  What are the other options?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 11:45:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. What do you think of these writings on money? Are they crackpots, or do they have a point?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 11:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to reply, after I finish reading some of the articles, at the bottom of the thread, so that we have a bit more room to read.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 12:12:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You could also make it a separate diary.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 05:00:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure if I can write enough to get an entire diary out of it.  But it's a good idea.  By the way, sorry for the delayed response.  A huge story broke on Katrina and a clear lie from Bush, and I'm getting a great deal of enjoyment out of watching these little bastards get fried, finally, for their incompetence in New Orleans.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 07:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not incompetence, it's worse.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 2nd, 2006 at 05:46:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, apparently it is.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Mar 2nd, 2006 at 07:50:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a theory that when the money supply in Ancient
Rome was reduced by 90% the common people lost their lands and homes.With the demise of plentiful money the people lost their confidence in the government and Rome
plunged into the gloom of the Dark Ages...

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel
by Chris on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 03:46:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only thing I see that poses a serious risk to long-term growth is the environment.

I would have put this precisely the other way around :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 07:50:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only if long-term growth doesn't involve developing clean energy sources, which it will, since we have no other choice.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 07:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this gets back to the Polyannic assumption that the only limiting factor is energy.

whereas there are whole clusters of limiting factors to growth, both sources and sinks, and unless we posit star trek technology, energy alone is not sufficient to solve them.  but this s/b a separate thread I think...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 05:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, pollyannic with 2 L's -- if I'm going to neologise I should at least get the root right :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 05:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.  That's very true.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 03:47:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For the urban young, these are exciting times. For the rural old, something essential is being lost. Those caught in the middle admit they are confused.

Young people apparently love it, judging by that sentence.  And, again, the rural old don't need to participate.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a claim often made by opponents of globalization that says it will destroy cultures by somehow forcing our culture upon them, and it's nonsense.

It's not nonsense at all, because it's always backed by a propaganda onslaught called 'advertising.'

Your point is like trying to argue that people chose to stay behind the Iron Curtain. When there's no alternative, when you can't physically move somewhere else with alternative values, and when the media are saturated with On Message slogans peddling conformity of taste and interest, in what sense are people being offered a truly free choice?

Globalisation doesn't work on the basis of 'Well, here's an alternative way of doing things - which part or parts of it are you interested in?' It always comes with aggressive hard sell, and it's this deliberate homogenisation of values that's one of the most insidiously poisonous things about it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 05:08:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's nothing like the Iron Curtain.  People know of the alternative, and the alternative is available to them.  No one's forcing the people of Tibet to give up their values.  No one's forcing them to buy televisions and computers.  You can say that media advertising is propaganda -- that's certainly true.  But do you run out to the store to buy every product they advertise for?  No.  Why would you expect the people of Tibet to do so?  You have tastes and preferences, following from your own cultural likes and dislikes, and so do they.  You can't force people to accept a new set of values in a free society.  They accept these on their own.

Now, keeping people in the dark, so that they will maintain only the lifestyle of the past -- yes, that is like the Iron Curtain.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 07:40:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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