Cultural Ambivalence: Cultures are ideals if they are transcended but can become ideologies.

Cultural Ambivalence ” By Bahjat Rizk

” Cultural Ambivalence .”


Since the fall of the Berlin Wall ( October 1989 ) there is almost half a century , we face a real ideological vacuum which makes it extremely difficult to build a coherent political discourse.

 Globalization and the development of means of communication have led to an interpenetration of cultural spaces without having a grid of suitable reading that redefines identity and political debate. We are becoming increasingly aware that all conflicts are cultural conflicts and that any culture revolves around several constant parameters but whose importance varies according to the dynamic history of societies . Which often leads to a great deal of irrationality and subjectivity in the pronouncements of our political leaders . Why France who fought alongside the government against the jihadists in Mali supports the rebels (with a very high proportion of jihadists ) against the government in Syria?

Why the United States that al Qaeda chase around the world have supported the election of President Morsi and oppose at first to his ouster by the Army ?Why Eastern Christians so enamored of freedom are required to support the maintenance of a dictatorial and murderous regime ? Answer all these questions does not fall clearly . However, we can try to give an initial response , suggesting that there would be a prerequisite frame of reference should be developed to frame the debate and maintain a minimum of rationality.Going back to Herodotus, the father of history that saw the first clash of civilizations between the Greeks and the Persians during the Persian wars , five centuries before Christ , we have the first definition of the nation “United by the same language, the same race, same religion and the same morals. ” Moreover, the same parameters appear in the charter of UNESCO encourages respect for ” human rights without distinction of race, sex, language and religion. ” We are faced with the same parameters subject to two opposing imperatives : to consider these structural parameters but can become discriminatory and that of himself from it in favor of an abstract human identity. Western democracies , where are born the rights established and enshrined in the Declaration of Independence of the United States (1776 ), the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789 ) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations (1948) are concerned about this universalism but must also defend their culture and cohesion as nations , especially vis- à-vis countries that are governed by the patriarchal system and where image of the father in all its forms (religious, military and monarchy) remains dominant . This cultural shift is that when there are interventions of the West in the name of human rights , they are often picked up by local structures that release a second time the West turned into occupant. In other words , the message is ambivalent : we just released the name of human rights but walk away on behalf of the patriarchal system. Hence the failure of Western intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan , perplexity regarding the Arab Spring in Egypt , Tunisia and Libya and of course the ambiguity of the war in Syria , which is transformed from a pacifist , secular rebellion in an armed revolt then a jihadist war. It is this evolution that is now reluctant Western leaders , who are constrained by their own recalcitrant public opinion. Intervention can produce positive if the cultural link is clearly established , if it is consistent and not contradictory internalized and not manipulated results. And for that we are required to go through the settings that facilitate access to another and culture , otherwise quickly turned into intervention and support occupation desired response. This issue of cultural differences must be resolved beforehand not to cause misunderstandings and misunderstandings that mutate rapidly hostility. Certainly not to intervene when human rights are violated can be a matter of conscience . Intervene but without deep understanding, this is the risk of getting stuck and getting caught quickly. In Mali , the community of language and the ideal of certain democratic values ​​served as a cultural bridge to France . While in the Arab countries, the West and particularly the United States unconditional Israel are perceived as intruders . Anyway , religious parameter being essential in the Arab world , sooner or later there is a resurgence of archaic fears of clashes that revive centuries. Cultures are ideal if they are transcended but can become ideologies. It is this quasi -anthropological ambivalence it is therefore clear .

 By Bahjat Rizk

 The September 26, 2013

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