Rather than pulling indigenous cultures forward into modernity we may pause to look back, to learn from their ways, to their potent wisdom, as we grapple with a way out from the looming dead end of the large and wasteful modern capitalist system.
Ideally, we might suppose, one single language, a single culture would lead to peace and end the strife between chauvinistic sentiments that have caused so much death and suffering due to tribal or regional pride. With this in mind, we may consider dying languages and cultures a positive step in humanities progression toward a peaceful and better world. Conflicts such as the intractable strain that exists between Palestinians and Jews in the Middle East or Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland are mere residue of an archaic tribal past. The modern world has moved on. These nationalisms should not be encouraged as the modern world develops in peace within a hegemony of a single dominant culture. The death of any of these warring cultures may be considered a relief. We may believe the modern world is growing above and beyond ancient hatreds. Nationalism, whatever it may be locally, may be viewed as as inherently violent. Nationalism supposes the nation/culture a given subject speaks for is on the side of good while the neighbour is seen with mistrust and a natural threat to the subject's culture.
I, as a subject, may do well to cast away the prejudices and heroes my people handed me. Especially my own, since I, the author, has been provided a narrative that glorified an ancient warrior culture complete with heroic stories of my own people fighting the blight that was the British Empire. Should I give way and enthusiastically join my people's slow but sure Anglicization? Should I let my own archaic views give way to progress; to joining the onward march to a better future? After all, modernity should facilitate a future where Black and White, Protestant and Catholic, Muslim and Jew live in peace and harmony. Should I willingly let the death of my own inherited Gaelic attitudes die the inevitable death it faces? Maybe not.
This scenario assumes a lot and under examination it assumes far too much. It falls under the spell of a fatal attribution error. It assumes that hatreds between the Muslim and the Jew, the Gael and the Anglo as well as all artificial and contrived divisions between common people is natural to human nature. It assumes the cause of these conflicts rests either with the Jew and/or the Arab, the Lowland Protestant and the Highland or Irish Catholic. However, these apparent organic conflicts have been anything but organic. They were foreign impositions and the mischief of those that aim to force homogenization on the lot of us in their feudal/capitalist image. It's an old trickery; an easy one to pull off. They easily plant seeds of mistrust between neighbours and then assert, using the resulting sectarianism that follows, that the dominant culture is not only natural, it facilitates progress and peace amongst disparate and inherently violent cultures.
It may come as a surprise to adherents of this view that Jews have lived in peace in Arab lands for many centuries. Shia and Sunni have also lived in peace with each other as have the various Gaelic cultures that have lived together prior to Norman feudalism, notwithstanding frictions and battles between the various indigenous cultures of the British Isles. To examine how such imperialist tactics are implemented, consider the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland that are now, mercifully, in remission.
Divide and Conquer - Division and Destruction of Gaelic Solidarity
Admittedly, frictions between local cultures have a long and at times brutal story to tell. However, much of that friction has been the result of a dominant cultures' imposition of forced or connived compliance with the will of said dominant culture (in this case Norman feudalism). It is an overall strategy of divide and conquer. The situation in Northern Ireland is an obvious example.
While the tragedy of sectarianism in Ulster may be considered distrust between Protestants and Catholics, the reality is that the whole mess is due to the creation and further exploitation of artificial divisions between a once homogeneous (more or less) people. The British Empire exploited regional antipathy existing between Lowland Scots and Highland Scots; the former intentionally planted in Ulster to usurp the seemingly intransigent Gaels. In fact, Lowland Scots had spoken Gaelic prior to Norman feudalism. There was no such division (Lowland vs. Highland) until areas that had been most vulnerable (the lowlands) to the aggression of Norman feudalism succumbed. As the south was modernized toward Anglicization, the more remote northern Highlands retained the ancient culture along with the traditional culture of Ireland. A major fracture in Scotland was accomplished. Britain then exploited the growing division between the people of the Lowlands and the Highlands through the imposition of Penal Laws throughout the United Kingdom; laws that prohibited Catholics from holding public office, holding firearms, voting, participation in the legal system, teaching, and so on. These oppressive laws and restrictions were aimed at persecuting Catholics as well as Scottish Presbyterians as well as exacerbating regional hostilitres. The more remote areas of Scotland stubbornly maintained Catholicism as did the Irish. The religious split provided an illusion that Catholics and Protestants were fighting over religious differnces. It led to violent sectarianism based on those apparent fractures that only further entrenched distrust among peoples that have common Gaelic roots.
The aim was to accomplish a collective surrender of the Gaelic culture, a mentality that did not fit with adherence to a national monarchy. Doing so would result in the privileges, prosperity and peace granted those that were British. To refuse was to face brutal persecution through starvation, deportation, and violent death.
Current divide and conquer Strategies indicate that this strategy is not only effective, it is ramping up.
More recently and far more violently the newest morph of Empire, the American capitalist hegemony has crafted and exploited divisions between Sunni and Shiite Arabs in Iraq and Syria. It is the latest manifestation of this old and utterly evil strategy where local peoples have been intentionally set upon each other.
Iraq had been dominated by Sunnis under Saddam Hussein's rule as a carry over from the British domination of the region. No longer useful or desired by the now dominant American Empire, Saddam was disposed of and his loyal Sunni tribes were suddenly usurped from their dominant status over the Shia. The Americans waged bloody war against the Iraqis, slaughtering thousands of Sunni and Shia alike and when it was all over, they walked away knowingly and intentionally leaving civil war in their wake. Their 2006 installation, Nouri Malaki, a Shia dissident under Saddam Hussein's rule, followed the departure of the Americans with widespread murder, torture, and oppression of the Sunnis.
Examples like this litter the globe. The state of Israel had been artificially imposed upon the Arabs of Palestine as a result of the horrific slaughter of Jews by the most infamous Occidental imperialist of them all, Adolph Hitler. Aboriginal peoples all over the globe, in Australia the Americas and elsewhere, were not only imposed upon, they were colonized wholesale. Africans were removed from their homes and forced into slavery. Natives were moved onto reservations and slaughtered. Survivors of these atrocities have been forced into the margins of empire where they continue to be abused to this day. And in the face of it all, Arabs continue to do the bidding of predatorial empires. Gaels have been used and continue to be used to fight wars and oppress Native peoples. Native people fought for their oppressors in Vietnam as did African Americans.
Cultural Integrity Vs. Submission
We all have our own cultural dignity. At our own roots we find common ground with those we continue to see as enemies. The Irish and the Lowland Scot were brothers in ancient Dalraida. Jews and Arabs lived on some of the earliest settlements outside Africa and the Jewish people arose, as did Palestinians, from some of the early tribes that lived on that land. Indigenous peoples across the globe have been destroyed not by other indigenous peoples but by the foot soldiers of Empires.
Today we collectively find ourselves at the mercy of the modern capitalist state and its tentacles such as the IMF and the World Bank. Financial trickery and repression continue to divide and conquer local cultures, to whip them into submission under the rule of corporate designs. Ruling classes continue to see local and indigenous cultures as a threat. The brutal repression and oppression of ancient and noble cultures as well as individual human beings is designed to subjugate and destroy potential disobedience to our assumed financial masters. No mercy is shown to dissidents and if recent military ventures are any indication, its going to get a whole lot worse. Even those that lead the charge on behalf of the Empire find themselves under intense scrutiny under the gaze of an unweildy security apparatus. The process continues unabated and the American Empire assumes dominion over all lands and peoples without even pretending respect for local or other nation's sovereignty. They do so in their drive to secure so called 'American interests'. American state interests however are not in service to the American people. It is code for corporate interests. Predator states operate with cold calculated efficiency and human considerations are not part of the plan. In this climate of total control the state apparatus has no tolerance for regional self determination or local self sufficiency. These elements are contrary to the optimization of profit.
One alarming side to our surrender to modern imperialism is that modern capitalism is no longer controlled by humans. It has taken a life of its own and corporations behave similarly to a virus in a computer. Corporations are compelled by profit and even by law to maximize stock prices for shareholders. It is a virus within the realm of humanity and if it isn't killed, it will kill us all.
Ongoing wars for America's so called national security interests occur within a fog of corporate propaganda which operates under that same spell; the profit virus. Human beings spouting support for it seem simple bots as they continue to believe the Empire is fighting for freedom. Imperialist tyrannys have typically convinced their foot soldiers they were fighting for freedom as they systematically stripped it away. Corporate media attack dogs are as convinced that dropping bombs will make them free as much as Hitler's propagandists had. A zero tolerance policy for critical thinking in large media firms appears to have been implemented, particularily in the United States. The more mindless the better. The exposure of the frail weaknesses of Brian Williams at NBC opened a gap for us to see that corporate news agents are actors, mouthpieces for corporate domination of the globe.
Within this horrific corporate hegemony we exist inside large systems of trade and exploitation. Corporate media seductees will remain as oblivious as Williams or any of Fox's talking blonde and blue eyed heads.
And In the End...
The drive for profit has taken us to the brink of our own destruction. We mindlessly march on to buy bath oils and packaged trinets that are shipped around the globe. We consume killer hamburgers in colourful packaging and on Thursday morning we feel righteous about packing a portion of it in blue bags to be re-cycled. The whole virus is killing eco-systems and eventually it will kill our grandchildren, every single one of them.
Our recent history has convinced us that the American corporate way is the way of the future. We may think of America's greatness in its drive to modernization and how it has provided inventions and conveniences that have been utilized by all, even detractors such as myself. We have become very comfortable. How could we rationally waver from our loyalty to a system that has made America the engine of the world?
Blind loyalty however is not at all rational. Consider this. America is and was a land of immigrants as it disenfranchised Aboriginal people. People from Italy, from Iran, from Africa and Asia have come together to the American dream, a dream built by previous immigrants. Cultures from all over the world have worked together in the United States and other receiving nations and have stimulated the imaginations and initiatives of each other in a nation that was building itself. Within a free nation, the myriad of methods and different ways of seeing the world brought forth what seemed a miraculous and explosive period of growth and change. America had become the workshop and the innovator of modernity. The union of disparate cultures from all over the globe made America as great as it has been; and a has been it is. The maturation of capitalism has transformed capitalism to monopolism, a very different beast. America's status as the big kid on the block is done and over. The current ease of communication and contact with people from China to Venezuela erases the previous advantage the USA enjoyed over other nations in those terms. America is sinking and you may look at any metrics notwithstanding military spending to see how evident that truth is.
At this point it is clear that the capitalist system itself is no longer sustainable. It's excesses and its colossal built in profit-myopia is destroying the life on the planet. Inside its seduction we have lost our way.
We need to return to the land and we need to access the wisdom of the hunter-gatherers that remain on earth. We need to access the wisdom of our own ancestors and cultures and re-learn to take proper care of children's development and our communities. We need to stop packaging useless items to ship them around the globe. We need to strip down the large systems that are killing the earth.
In communities across the devloped world we neighbourhoods display useless green square lawns with immense pride. We lock ourselves away from each other and watch corporate ads on our televisions and on our high tech phones. We have become alienated from the land we live on and each other. We have become virtual robots as surely as Brian Williams is a virtual robot. We lack connectedness to all that is important to be alive in a proper sense. We need to find our cultural roots to the extent we can and appreciate the roots of our neighbours. There is fantastic wisdom that is still with us. We may learn what is vital to human survival from those we have abused. The time to turn those lawns into productive crops for local consumption has come. The time has come to share the land and to end the absurdity of each and every household owning its separate vehicle and each and every household owning its separate lawn mower. Lawn mowers can re-cycled to earth churners. We can tear down our pretty petty fences and come out to play. We can plant seeds in the ground and connect with the earth and to each other. As we step out and wipe the sleep from our eyes and look around we may notice we had been existing in suburban tombs, barely alive as we swallowed boatloads of anti-depressants. We don't need them. We can shake hands with our Israeli and Palestinian neighbours. We can afford to embrace our contrived enemies. We will see we are them and they are us and we are all in this together. We can share a cow, a goat, and a garden and turn our guns into plows. At this point we have little choice. The time to wake up and sober up is here. The great capitalist party is over whether you recognize it or not it's really over. And what a party it was.
It looks like the way ahead is really a matter of going back to where we came from in some sense; to the ancient duthchas systems and their counterparts all over the planet with modern technology in hand. We will not return to our roots as we had been. We've been though a hell of a time and we've learned a hell of a lot.