Re: Culture & symbols

thomas w kavanagh (tkavanag@INDIANA.EDU)
Tue, 30 Jul 1996 18:18:49 -0500

On Tue, 30 Jul 1996, Robert Snower wrote:

> Multiculturalism denigrates individual merit in favor of ethnic
> collectivism.

By this, I presume you are speaking of the contemporary American political
stance known as "Multiculturalism" in which the "group" is emphasized (as
in, only Bongo-Bongos can speak about Bongo-Bongo things) not a
description of a socio-cultural situation such as Hopi First Mesa, on
which the village of Hano is occupied by Tewa-speaking people who also
speak Hopi, and by the villages of Sichomovi and Walpi, whose people speak
Hopi, but {allegedly because of a curse} not Tewa.

> Ethnic collectivism is the theme of prehistoric culture

If, by this you mean that 'prehistoric'/non-modern/"tribal" [the
differentiation someone made a couple of days ago between 'prehistoric'
and 'historic' culture (note singular) is meaningless] cultures had
clearly defined social/cultural/political boundaries and that they
included ethnocentric xenophobias, I would disagree. The belief that
ethnic boundedness is/was a basic feature of 'non-modern' cultures is an
unfounded stereotype. [The promotion of "modern nationalism" (aka "nation
building") in place of "primitive tribalism" is often merely the
replacement of one set artificial boundaries by another {when is a Nuer a