Furthest Right

Cultural Relativism


From the occasionally-profound Lindy West, an analysis of our knee-jerk cultural relativist reaction and where it breaks down:

Babies stirs up a shade of white guilt that’s awkward to acknowledge but even more awkward to ignore. Watching the film, hopping back and forth between wildly disparate cultures, one thought is constant: Which baby would I like to be? Where would I like to raise my baby? Which baby is best? After the screening, a friend came up to me and announced—thrilled, unsolicited—that SHE would be the NAMIBIAN baby. Certainly not the Tokyo baby (it’s too crowded there). Certainly not the white baby. Here’s the thing. No you wouldn’t. I’m sorry, but you would be the white baby. The Namibian baby (though it is the cutest!) sits in a pile of red dirt all day and plays with a bone. Once in a while, a goat comes by and steps on it. Like the other babies, it is lovin’ life, it is healthy and deeply cared for, but we can see its future right there on the screen: It will grow up, it will sit in a pile of red dirt all day and care for its baby, and once in a while a goat will come by and step on it. Which is, of course, fine. Whatever. But you, middle-class white lady from Seattle, would be the goddamn American baby and you know it, because as much as you want me to know about your superliberal cultural relativism, you cannot live outside of it. You would rather eat hamburgers and go to college and know who Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is than enjoy whatever noble simplicity supposedly exists in that pile of dirt. Not because it’s better but because it’s true.

Cultural relativism occurs when we are comparing cultures, and out of a sense of fair play or fear of being seen as a critic, we equalize them, which requires putting an undue emphasis on the superlatives of whichever culture is obviously at a disadvantage.

This is why white liberals detonate into paroxysms of virtue signaling whenever presented with something that is obviously less thriving. They invert the meaning of “good” so that they can make the bad equal, which has always been the point of egalitarianism: it appeals to the individual ego by promising to neuter society so that it cannot notice the bad things that this individual does, has done or might do.

At the same time, cultural relativism is not very comforting. For one thing, the superlatives indicate which culture is having trouble, which comes across as even more bigoted than simply stating the obvious. Calling a group of people savages is one thing, but damning them with effusive praise that implies that they are both (1) savages and (2) too primitive to know when they are being conned, is even worse.

Unfortunately, Lindy West came to a sticky end. She was unable to escape liberalism and ended up a neo-SJW.

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