We live in a world in which we’re constantly told that diversity is the most precious thing there is, and yet the people and institutions pushing this line are entirely unconcerned by the fact that actual diversity is rapidly disappearing.
The actual diversity that is vanishing is cultural diversity and this represents one of the great tragedies of human history. A hundred years ago there were countless cultures on this planet, all with their own unique features. These were not necessarily national cultures – often one nation would contain a number of distinctive cultures. Within living memory the Cornish still considered themselves to be culturally quite separate from the English. A Yorkshireman would have considered himself to be more than just a generic Englishman.
Even in countries with much shorter histories there was considerable cultural diversity. It’s reasonable to say that until a generation or so ago Texans thought of themselves as a distinct sub-culture within the large American culture.
If present trends continue none of these cultural groups will survive. Within a couple of generations the whole western world will be a single monoculture. Everyone will listen to more or less the same music, watch the same movies, watch the same TV programs, use the same slang, eat the same foods, obey the same social rules. Parts of the non-western world may resist a little longer but eventually they too will be assimilated into the monoculture. The elites have already pretty much gone down that path.
It’s not just going to be a monoculture but if present indications are any guide it’s going to be both trashy and dreary, and of course entirely materialistic and consumerist.
Not long ago I read a science fiction book (I’m afraid I don’t remember the title offhand) about a future in which virtually instantaneous travel was possible to all, to any place in the world. But nobody ever made use of it because there was no point. Why bother going to another city since every city on the planet was identical – the same architecture, the same interior design, the same fashions, the same range of cuisines, the same popular culture, the same movies playing, the same TV programs, the same everything. You could travel from Tokyo to New York or to Paris or to Melbourne but once you got there it was exactly the same in every respect as New York.
It seems like that future is getting closer. To me it seems like a nightmare future but oddly enough most people seem unconcerned.
This post was inspired by an excellent recent posting at Vanishing American II.