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Culture Makes Better Future Essay

Culture is sort of like history or evolution. People make the mistake of assuming history has a purpose or that evolution has a purpose. But in reality, history is just an aggregate of facts and opinions about the past. History, or the march of civilization, has no direction, no goal. Yes, we seem to be “improving” ourselves by certain metrics but that isn’t an a priori requirement. Evolution is also not striving towards any particular direction. We are not at the cutting edge of evolution in any sense.

If in a million years, the organism that can survive on Earth best is an amoeba, then amoebae will be the dominant species on the planet. It’s not a better or worse situation (except maybe for us), it just is. Similarly it is not culture’s job to create a better future. What does “better” even mean? Better for whom? At what cost for other entities? I imagine some cultures might like to take things slow and enjoy life, while others might believe in long work hours and competitiveness. Who’s the arbiter of better or worse here?

Some culture might devalue women to the extent that it loses too many of them and isn’t able to effectively propagate itself, effectively dying out. I’m sure people from that culture wouldn’t be happy about that, although it’s “good” in some universal sense. Culture exists to propagate itself, not to do any good or bad for the people who follow it. My thoughts here are more or less para-phrasings of the discussion on ‘memes’ from ‘The Selfish Gene’. Culture at best, creates a feeling of societal cohesion, a generalized patriotism that can compel its members to perform better against other cultures.

I don’t think it makes any sense in asking if culture is good for youth and country because that assumes that there is an alternative to culture, a state of diminished culture, or non-culture. That’s not going to happen ever. Culture doesn’t allow a vacuum to exist; something always rushes in to take up the empty space. You might mean instead mean to ask about the importance of a country’s indigenous culture for that country’s progress, in the context of foreign culture having undesired influences. To that I say, let the fittest survive.

I don’t believe in feeling guilty or upset about, for example, Indian culture becoming westernized. If a culture is strong enough, it’ll adapt itself to new challenges. If not, too bad. Just like there have been millions of species that are now extinct, and also millions more than can arise given the appropriate conditions on Earth– culture, like life, will always be around in some form or the other. And just like you can’t say that any particular bird or animal or virus is “better” for nature, you really just can’t discuss how culture is “better” for our future.


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