Sunday, July 26, 2015

Haters Gonna Hate Hate Hate...

I was glancing at the work of a blogger I had once respected - not you, Lumo, I always knew you were as nuts as you are brilliant - and saw that it was frothing with racist and cultural hatred. It started me thinking about what makes a seemingly intelligent and reasonable person go off the rails. There are lots of reasons, I suppose - recent terrorist incidents point to a mix of mental illness and fanatical ideology.

One potent source of the latter is the cultural disruption caused by cultural globalization. The long history of civilization is strewn with the wreckage of cultures - most of them now lost to history - digested and absorbed by conquest or assimilation. The economic globalization which has transformed the world in the last few decades has a cultural counterpart as the internet, television, and video instantly transmits fashion and attitude to every part of the world.

There is a common thread that connects the nut jobs of the American religious right with the Mosque bombers of Nigeria and all their more or less outraged counterparts around the world. All see their culture under attack by the potent digestive juices of the global cultural annihilator.

The encroaching other is a natural target for every sort of disappointment and a convenient scapegoat for every catastrophe. It's interesting to me that women's rights has been a key focus of anger almost everywhere. Women have been a disadvantaged and often disenfranchised group in much or most of the world throughout much of history, and changing that has been profoundly disruptive. Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini was first provoked to speak out publicly when the proposal was made for women to be allowed to vote in the Iranian parliament.

Cultures usually fiercely resist digestion. Sometimes the rage that provokes takes its most destructive form in the immigrant who transported himself into an alien environment purely in search of economic opportunity. The stress of growing older in a culture that can't be accepted, especially if combined with other failures, can trigger descent into fanaticism, and, sometimes, terrorism.