Culture is important.
This is a statement that the American political right trots out often – but what does it mean? We tend to talk about culture in the political and social context around election time but it goes much, much deeper than that.
Take the Chinese for example. The Chinese, as a nation, are great replicators but not so great innovators. For decades, the Chinese have worked at and perfected the art of the knock-off. When I used to spend a bit of time in China back in the early 2000’s as a billion people started to taste capitalism, the common joke was this: “Do you know how many copies of Windows Microsoft has sold in China? You know what the answer was? It was “one”.
China even knocked off cars – when GM started producing Chevrolet cars over there, it wasn’t long until a Chinese car company opened producing the Chery. Billions of Gucci, Chanel, Nike, Reebok and other clothing and accessory brands were “replicated” – my favorite was when I was walking through a market in Shanghai and a little Chinese lady was trying to sell me a $500 North Face jacket for 30 yuan (about $5), screaming as I walked away – “You buy! It real North Face – no North Fake!”
And yet the Chinese cultures of history invented paper, printing, the compass and gunpowder.
Arab culture is similar – they are credited with inventing algebra, forming the first universities, the toothbrush, surgery and my favorite – coffee.
And yet, today the Arabic world produces little in the way of innovation. Most Americans would think of terrorism as the biggest export of the Arabic world next to oil (which was discovered by western companies).
What happened? There is a vibrant artistic community in China. China is filled with creative individuals, look at Alibaba.com and the innovation there.
There are also brilliant Arabs – doctors, scientists, mathematicians, etc., yet neither culture seems to live up to its heritage of innovation and achievement, so what is the common thread? What caused Japan to dominate the industrial world while countries with far greater resources (i.e. China) languished?
The cultures changed. They altered themselves and prevented innovation and true progress.
America is in decline as a world power. In all fairness, President Obama didn’t do it by himself – although he has done a bang-up job while he has been in office and his amnesty high crimes and misdemeanors he will announce today will be the single most destructive act of culture fratricide in our history.
If you consider it in context, we have been committing cultural suicide since the era of Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive movement of the early 1900’s. There is a strong correlation between the fall of traditional American culture and the rise of Progressivism.
Can we stop it? I used to think we could – at least until we started depending on the Russians for rides to the Space Station.
I think the President’s executive order awarding amnesty to 5 million illegal aliens through bypassing Congress will be a tipping point. If America stands up and fights, we stand a chance. If we don’t, we will join the long list of the “once great” cultures whose true successes are only found in the non-Howard Zinn history books.