Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Post-Ideology and the Necessity of Cultural Freedom

As we are all (arguably) culture-conditioned, there are certain things that we do/think that are based on our cultural sensitivities. There are few, if any, things that are universally accepted as "true" and "right" throughout modern and historical cultures (for example, murder is generally accepted as wrong, though self-defense and war are necessary evils). For this reason, we must admit that we are, to some degree, culturally-conditioned. We are products of our environment. Let me give a short example. As Americans, my wife and I were subject to several major culture shocks while living in Scotland for a year. One of the major issues we had was body space. As Americans, there is an appropriate distance that people should keep from you (save that of family, spouses, etc.). Not so in Scotland. People don't think much of being in your 'personal' body space. It's quite unconfortable at first, but you seem to get used to it (I didn't really get used to it). Now, for as progressive as I consider myself, I realize that this is a cultural sensitivity that I cannot prevent (or treat for that matter). This model can be extended into many other things.

Now, in order to get closer to 'post-ideology,' we must try to set our minds free from cultural sensitivity (I've got to learn to let people into my personal space?). In all seriousness, we have to first recognize our place in our own culture, respect the differences of those in other cultures, and attempt to transcend these differences. This applies to culture, religion, sensitivities, social customs, and a concept of 'right' and 'wrong.' This said, what does it have to do with 'post-ideological' worldview? It means that people will no longer be conditioned to certain uniform ways of thinking, it means that people will not be manipulated by governments, politicians, etc., and it means that people will exercise the awesome freedom to think for themselves. This is closer to what it means to say 'post-ideological' - that you are, in some sense, condemned to freedom (to borrow the phrase from Sartre). Letting go of cultural ideology means learning to think outside of our own little box. If cultural identity defines who we are, we are nothing more than tools of the state - and that's no good. Better yet, religious identity proves a more slippery slope. That's what I hope to blog on tomorrow! Stay tuned!

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