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Should culture be accepted, or should it be rejected as a form of social authority/conformity?

+2 votes
Does it depend on the culture or certain aspects of a culture? How do anarchists even define culture? What about subcultures?

This question is intentionally left vague to keep answers and discussion open
asked Mar 19, 2013 by anonymous

2 Answers

–5 votes
You might have heard what Mahatma Gandhi told us when asked about how he felt about western civilization. "I think it would be a good idea."  As far as your question, I'm not sure if Anarchism is centrally about culture. While defending the individual's right to practice whatever culture he/she chooses to. Hopefully that makes sense.
answered Mar 20, 2013 by solid_black (140 points)
It's sad that  institutions like religion and politics  use rights   to attract those attracted to liberty, but do these institutions actually grant rights? If I tell a pig that I know my rights, will he act like any less of a pig and respect those rights?  It makes sense now that it can be used as a weapon against religion and politics, or as a means of holding those institutions to what they claim.

Do you argue that there are no natural entitlements to belief in principles?
There are no natural rights or natural entitlements. All such constructs are based on the idea of a social contract, where certain freedoms (whatever they are) are traded for security from a sovereign. It's all bullshit, smoke and mirrors, used to hoodwink those with no access to power, but who are promised fairness and good will from their superiors.
Solid answers,thanks  Lawrence, So, what do you call the liberty to practice the culture of your choice?
I call it anarchy.
i would say even calling it a "liberty" is nebulous and debatable. what does it really mean to say, eg: "i have the liberty to practice anarchy"? that some/all authority is permitting me to do so? it is difficult for me to divorce the concept of liberty from the concept of some authority (usually institutional) whose role is to grant/deny/enforce that liberty (or lack thereof).
+1 vote
Culture, as I understand it, is not exactly something that can accepted or rejected, and I find it difficult to compartmentalize culture, politics, society, etc. I also tend to think of cultures (plural, or as you suggest subcultures) rather than monolithic culture.

That said, your question brings up notions of cultural hegemony, which is to say the use of culture as a means of domination. Likewise, there are numerous critiques of art as a bourgeois cultural replication mechanism. Culture, to some points of view and using here a more monolithic sense of the term, has historically been co-modified and, of late, has metastasized into a consumerist ethos where icons and brands dominate the cultural landscape. If this is what you mean by culture, then yes, I think it should be rejected, as with other forms of domination anarchism rejects.

I think an anarchist definition of culture would acknowledge that culture(s) is something everyone plays a part in creating, and not something to be simply consumed; culture not as big name stars and best sellers, but as an expression of liberation; in short, a peoples' culture rather than a culture of the elite. This definition brings with it bias, as I work in the cultural industry, and I acknowledge arguments which suggest an ideal anarchist society would have no need for the material trappings often associated with culture, such as novels, paintings, sculpture, etc., and perhaps no need of what is typically called culture at all...

There are a few other questions on Anarchy 101 that touch on elements of this topic. The question linked below has a number of articles/books/resources that might be of interest to you as well:

answered Mar 20, 2013 by dashe (1,000 points)