by John K. Press (December 2015)
My friend, Chuck, recently enthused, “Utlitarianism is popular in the Silicon Valley and Washington DC,” (the center for his tech industry and where he lives). As one of the group, Chuck loves utilitarianism too. As a culturist, I hate this destructive vapid philosophy. The arguments I used in my bout with Chuck can be used against multiculturalists, Marxists, libertarians and all other believers in culturally–neutral philosophies. We must win these arguments to save the West. The key to winning is affirming that cultural diversity is real.
Utilitarianism is a political philosophy that aims at “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.” This is their motto and creed. This is why Chuck and his ilk support taxing “the 1%” to pay for welfare. In theory such wealth distribution makes more people happy than it makes unhappy.
But, when utilitarians discuss the greatest number of “people,” they create an empty category. People are never just people; they always belong to some cultural group. This is the problem with the West. Individualism has convinced us that we don’t have a group identity: we’re all individuals. But, this is a western belief. Islam teaches that people belong to a group. China is hugely group oriented. Mexicans are very proud. We in the West alone think we have no group. We do! And we”re the only major culture that believes in democracy, free speech and the rights of the individual.
This universal category of “people” justifies the current “refugee” invasion of Europe. Utilitarians see no borders. They just see generic people who have a lot, materially, and other generic people who do not have, as we say, a pot to pee in. Thus the “greatest good for the greatest number of people” formula dictates that we should allow “people” from the Middle East to enter into the land with “people” called “Europe.” This mass movement, they argue and my friend Chuck thinks, will make for more equality and so for more happiness for the greatest number of “people.”
But, as a culturist, I told Chuck that, “Cultural diversity is real. The goal of Islam is theocracy. In fact, as you shouldn’t need my Ph.D. to know, Islam means, ‘submission.’ That is submission of everyone, including Western individualists, to the will of the Koran and its interpreters. Institutionally, Islam thinks whipping women who show skin is more important than ‘happiness.’ It thinks killing gays, like you Chuck, is moral. Cultural diversity is real. Ideas of happiness are diverse. Not all ‘people’ or peoples are interchangeable.”
“Because of this,” I continued, “we need laws that protect the greatest happiness of western people and western culture. This means ‘no more refugees.’ And, if that leads to misery in the Middle East, I am sorry. But, that is not our fault or our problem.” Then I asked Chuck, “If Islam leads us into submission, if we get destabilized and destroyed, what other culture will support individual rights, democracy and the freedom of speech. China?” He replied like a globalist, “Well, everyone believes in those things.” I silenced him with the shocking truth, “The penalty for being gay in many Muslim nations is death.”
Since we were discussing income redistribution, I let him off the hook and switched back to that topic, “With Britain”s 1832 Poor Laws, utilitarianism helped create the modern welfare state. In doing so, these laws took no account of cultural diversity. This might have worked in a homogenous western nation of old, but it requires major rethinking now.” Without giving you every line of dialogue, here is my thinking:
First of all, utilitarian”s have no problem with giving Islamic polygamists welfare. “That’s their happiness,” utilitarians would say. “No,” culturists would respond, “the West has a culture and our laws must uphold our culture. Our laws should not be culturally neutral. We need to jail polygamists, not give them welfare.” And, in regard to establishing some things are not western, Chuck was easy to defeat. He was willing to stand up for polygamy, but honor killing and female genital mutilation rubbed him the wrong way. And, when I asked if he supported Islam’s attacks on gays like him. Well, he would not say it, but his silence meant no, which meant that he was culturist on some issues.
Secondly, utilitarian thought assumes that all “people” work equally rationally and diligently towards personal and private achievement. Since they see no cultural diversity, they only see inequality. Thus they have no problem, (as you would expect in Chuck’s hometown of Washington D.C.), taking their fat grubby fingers and moving money from one group of “people” to another group of “people” to make all equal and hence more the same. Spread the wealth and widen the happiness, that’s their goal, regardless of cultural diversity.
The problem is that our utilitarian, culturally-neutral nature of income distribution removes all social assessment away from cultures. Some cultures drop out of school at a higher rate. Some have higher birthrates. I chided Chuck, “As a person of Korean heritage, you must take some pride in your culture’s success, eh?” He said “yes.” But he still wouldn’t admit that it was unfair to tax his successful people to help those who made bad choices. “The problem is,” I tried to insist, “that they are not just ‘people,’ they are largely people in a dysfunctional culture. Until that is addressed, freebies won’t help.”
We got in a loop over how much people are or aren’t culpable for their poverty. While admitting that culture impacts success, he kept insisting that, “We can”t say that every single person is poor due to their culture.” The best I could get out of him was to say that sometimes culture plays a role and so it should be considered in making welfare policies, somehow. Since that wasn’t going anywhere, I switched to telling him why I really hate utilitarian, culture-neutral redistribution policies: they come embedded in the multicultural, Marxist, narrative of resentment.
Culturism largely stands against multiculturalism. Multiculturalists, ironically, don’t think diversity is real. The proof is that whenever they see income inequality between groups, they attribute the differences to racism. If blacks don’t succeed, they insist, that is because of current and historical white racism; same for Hispanics. It can never be due to cultural pathologies. Joking, I told Charles that it is unfair that we whites don’t then get credit for Korean’s success too! He laughed. Utilitarians are Marxist in that they loathe inequality. When their cultural neutrality mixes with the resentment of multiculturalism, we get a toxic brew.
When imbibed, this toxic brew of utilitarian Marxism and resentful multiculturalism, leads all non-white groups, even successful ones like Koreans, to blame disparities on whites. This precludes lagging groups from taking a critical look at their own cultural beliefs and practices. It also means that we make whites feel guilty about their achievement and past. Finally, most dangerously, it means we spread hostility throughout our society. The recent black lives matter inspired killings are evidence of all of these dynamics. Culturism is a cure for the whole brew of effects the toxic brew mixing utilitarianism and multiculturalism causes.
As a culturist, I think we need to protect the West. Our laws should make for the western peoples’ greatest happiness. That means no refugees! But, we especially shouldn’t bring in historically hostile refugees and then use the inevitable income inequality to justify resentment and call the West “racist.” And, even within the West, we must recognize that different cultural traits make for different outcomes. This culturist tact will help all cultures within our borders improve themselves and allow us to all unite via shared pride in western accomplishments. To this end, our laws should aim at reaffirming our culture. Stopping Islamic refugees affirms our culture, so would jailing polygamists and those who practice female genital mutilation.
I told Chuck all of this, but he still left the argument officially supporting utilitarianism. Even so, as a Korean, he appreciated my emphasis on merit. And, living in D.C. he is well aware of the evils of “ghetto” culture. I don’t think he’ll join my cause in spreading the words “culturism” and “culturist.” But, as I pushed the female genital mutilation angle, I think he’ll have some lingering doubts the next time he pushes a culturally–neutral philosophy. And, he has been warned about Islam’s attitude towards gays like him.
John K. Press, Ph.D., teaches at a university in South Korea. He is the author of the book, Culturism: A Word, A Value, Our Future. More information can be found at www.culturism.us.
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