Thursday, July 01, 2004

The culture that matters 

A few days ago I wrote about how J Lo's buttocks are conquering the world, but not necessarily making it safe for democracy:

"Yes, you can take what you want out of the West - technology and economic progress, for example - you can modernise without Westernising. But only in the short term. In the long term, you have to realise that the reason the West (broadly construed) is so rich and powerful is because it's open and free."
Mark Steyn has similar thoughts but, if anything, he's even more pessimistic:

"America, almost in inverse proportion to its economic and military might, is culturally isolated... If you define 'cultural dominance' as cheeseburgers, America rules. But in the broader cultural sense, it's a taste most of the world declines to pick up."
Steyn's right - the culture that matters most is not of the pop variety, or fashion and amusement - it's the political and economic culture - the values. And as he observes, there doesn't seem to be too many takers for the American values, whether in Europe or the so called developing world. That's a problem: "[P]ower abhors a vacuum. If America won't export its values – self-reliance, decentralization – others will export theirs."

Read the whole thing; the piece is longer than Steyn's usual op-ed piece but he's perceptive as always. What's the solution? I'm not sure, but I hope it won't take a political and military cataclysm of some sort to make the world start appreciate America again.


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