The Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism And Other Essays by Roger Sandall

By Roger Sandall

The tradition Cultis an acerbic critique of that longing common in society this present day to “retreat from civilization.” From Rousseau and the Noble Savage to fashionable defenders of ethnicity resembling Isaiah Berlin and Karl Polanyi, a sought after highbrow culture has over-romanticized the virtues of tribal existence. against this, one other culture, represented through Karl Popper, Michael Polanyi, and Ernest Gellner, defends glossy values and civil society. The tradition Cult discusses each side of this divide among "culture" and "civilization," and among "closed" and "open" societies. The romantic insistence at the superiority of the primitive is more and more grounded in a fictionalized photograph of the past-a photo usually created via well-meaning yet inaccurate anthropologists. Such idealizations paintings to the detriment of the very humans they're intended to assist, for they isolate minorities from such indisputable merits of contemporary society as literacy and future health care, and discourage them from partaking in glossy lifestyles. Few will locate convenience within the tradition Cult, yet many will realize a helpful feedback of at the moment well known social politics.

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Extra resources for The Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism And Other Essays

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It must be hard for anyone who has not read the sociological literature, and especially the attack on the nuclear family for the last 100 years, to understand this preoccupation with jamming people together under one roof. Research from France has uncovered communal houses dating from the Dark Ages in Western Europe. But it has been Eastern Europe which really fired the imagination. "Learn from the Balkans" was the slogan (and learn from Serbia, especially) as reams of paper were expended on the glories of the zadrtiga, a common household in which fathers and sons, brothers and uncles and nephews, all lived together in unaiienated Serbian bliss.

And no one should feel bad as a result. In Rousseau's paradisal "state of Nature" everyone is broadly equal. This ensures that even the most exaggerated pride cannot be hurt. If only he had the time, he wrote in his Discourse on Inequality, I would observe to what extent the universal desire for reputation, honours and promotion which devours us all, activates and compares talents and strengths, how it excites and multiplies passions, how in making all men competitors, rivals or rather enemies [note the paranoid shift from "rivals" to "enemies"] it causes every day failures, successes and catastrophes of every sort by making so many contenders run the same course; I would show that this burning desire to be talked about, this yearning for distinction, which almost always keeps us in a restless state .

12 In England the number of men and women who listened to Millar and Ferguson was probably small. But the number in France—those who listened to the emotional sermonizing of the sensational preacher with the long locks and the black Armenian cloak—would soon be huge. In 1750 Rousseau had begun by showing in his Paradoxical Oration on the Arts and Sciences (or First Discourse) how science, art, and civilization were the cause of moral ruin. Spartan simplicity was the thing to aim for; science was ignoble; education and E N T E R T H E N O B L E SAVAGE 47 even printing were to be deplored.

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