By Steve Beckow, Golden Age of Gaia
As long as people think, there’ll always be a culture.
Culture is the whole of a nation’s shared and valued thoughts – all our agreements, taboos, positions, etc. – as a group. All the discussions we’ve had as a nation, all the decisions we’ve arrived at, all the actions we took become our institutions and are retained in the repositories of our culture (libraries, archives, museums, schools, houses of worship, etc.).
Sometimes our shared preferences are fads and fashions; sometimes they’re biases and bigotry. They can sweep across a nation, entraining us like a flock of pigeons – the Tea Party, the Occupy movement, Antifa – on and on the blips on the screen go.
Or they may be single events that capture a nation’s imagination, like Susan Boyle’s performance of I Had a Dream at Britain’s Got Talent. (1)
They become part of our shared history or lore and we as a nation feel a sense of belonging by subscribing to these shared values and myths and celebrating them together in movies, TV, and radio.
What we’re entrained to is aligning with the dominant values of our culture – or, in some cases, subculture. Who creates and markets those values has only recently come under our scrutiny.
SaLuSa once said that the day on which our mass entrainment began was the day that commercials first appeared on television. That would have been in the 1950s, as I recall.
And certainly I well remember the stereotypes that we were entrained to – “Mom,” who always wore an apron but looked like she was always ready to go to a dance, at a moment’s notice.
Mom always had a smile. She looked like she wouldn’t know what to do with a shovel – but of course she would because … she was Mom.
“Dad,” looking tired from a day at the office, was nevertheless always cheerful. The fount of all good things, especially cash.
Fearless protector, ever fair, only interested in the welfare of the family, Dad was as far from the average father on the block as anything I could think of.
Nevertheless these were some of the shared images that go into making up the culture of a period or nation.
We were socialized by mass media to believe that these stereotypes actually did represent the character of a nation. Aspirations, perhaps. Character, I don’t think so, if there is such a thing as “national character.” (2)
I worked as a cultural historian at the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of History) and assembled a collection of contemporary artifacts designed to give as complete a picture as possible of our culture in 1973-4.
Our culture can be reflected in our artifacts. Just look at any family portrait on a box of detergent from that period. Father stands higher than Mother and he’s in the background like the valiant guardsman. Kids are all cute, half-size, and in love with life. Nothing like you’d see in a Safeway of the time.
At the levels at which business culture was decided and propagated, our Third-Dimensional orthodoxy was what I’ve called “business Darwinism.” It was social Darwinism applied to business. (3)
It held that society, like nature, was red in tooth and claw. The strongest survived the struggle for existence and the weakest went to the wall. Our business competitors were seen as sharks, out to get our lunch. It was eat or be eaten in the business world.
Very far from what we saw or heard in commercials.
(Concluded in Part 2, tomorrow.)
(1) See. for example, “Killing for Market Share: The Old Paradigm in Business – Part 1/2,” July 14, 2015, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2015/07/14/killing-for-market-share-the-old-paradigm-in-business-part-12/; and “Killing for Market Share: The Old Paradigm in Business – Part 2/2,” July 15, 2015, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2015/07/15/killing-for-market-share-the-old-paradigm-in-business-part-22/.
(2) From studying race theory for years, I don’t think there is such a thing as a “national character.” It’s a short hop and a jump from there to “racial character” – Anglo-Saxondom, Teutonism, white superiority, etc. There is however such a thing as collective consciousness. Ultimately that’s where the thoughts and memories that make up “culture” are retained.