Momentarily breaking up the echo-chamber tedium of the Orrinanism-fest that is the modern Brothers Judd blog, the redoubtable Peter B makes an sharp insight.
He quotes an article by Spengler in the Asia Times:
Many beautiful things will disappear because poor people no longer will suffer to make them. One simply cannot find decent Mexican food in the United States, in part because traditional Mexican cuisine requires vast amounts of labor. Machine-made corn tortillas never will hold the savor of the hand-made article, but Mexicans migrate to the US precisely to escape a life of making tortillas by hand.
Will more money make them happier? I do not think so, any more than the loss of traditional Chinese culture in the globalized urban jungle of the coastal cities will make Chinese peasants happier…What it will do, however, is enable them to contemplate their unhappiness with a sense of empowerment. People with money, education and opportunity may be as miserable as any illiterate dirt farmer, but they have the means - how did Thomas Jefferson put it? - for the pursuit of happiness. Whether they choose good or ill is not up to this writer. But it is a vicious form of condescension to condemn people to perpetual poverty in the name of preserving traditional culture.
This illustrates one of the great fault lines of modern conservatism, especially in North America. Supporting both the progress that liberates from poverty and the traditions that ground in non-material priorities, conservatives wrestle with the inconsistencies and ambiguities of celebrating constant change and innovation while at the same time fearing the dark side of timeless, immutable human nature. This is why conservatives are right to be wary of ideology and why both optimism and pessimism are prominent in conservative thought.
Not so on the modern left, which has surrendered to full-blown, ideologically pure reaction. Whether defending international law as if it were inscribed on tablets from Sinai, opposing globalization and trade in the name of cultural preservation, doubting other cultures wish or are “ready” for democracy, fear-mongering about the environment, supporting traditional poverty and oppression in Africa or waxing furiously and nostalgically about the disappearance of pathological sewers like the ghettos of New Orleans, the left has declared total war on the modern and now seems to be animated by a feudal ideal of a static, hierarchically-ordered, centrally-directed bastion of protection against chance and change that would condemn much of the world to poverty without escape. Indeed, as disorganized and directionless as today’s left may seem, they do seem united in their determination to stand athwart history yelling: “Stop!”
The Guardianista’s obsession with ‘authenticity’ for his annual holiday destinations is just another example (environmentalism and socialism are the others) of his anti-humanism. He is not a cultural relativist because he openly asserts that anything ethnic (ie. backward, outmoded but looks pretty in National Geographic) is superior to modern western culture.
Globalisation has of course lifted many more people out of abject poverty than all the charities put together. Unfortunately, we non-Guardianistas have to face the fact that an inexorable march towards the drabness of a global mono-culture may ultimately be the price humans pay for refusing to allow state-enforced poverty.