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Free «Conflicting Ideologies» Essay Sample

Althea Prince in his work “Anansi Folk Culture” discusses the issue of conflicting ideologies using the example of such a Caribbean ethnic group as the Antiguans. It is a matter of common knowledge that the Caribbean culture has to put together a couple of cultural factors making up what the contemporary cultural panorama of the area is like today. The black culture that takes its root in Africa with its peculiar way of seeing the world and also interpreting life clashes with the prevalent cultural impact brought externally by Christian missionaries.

The Christian culture has become the standard “official” value system for the area, but since this sort of culture is based on certain religious affiliation, it cannot change the mentality of people who do not want to accept the particular religious beliefs of Christianity. As a result, Antiguans have to be divided between their social culture, which is based on Christian values, and, at the same time, cherish its cultural folkloristic achievements, which demonstrate a complete opposition to the Christian way of thought. For example, the fundamental difference between the Christian and black Antiguan cultures rests in what these two cultures appreciate as the most important achievement in life (Prince, p.27). The Antiguan outlook is directed down to earth, being focused on the tangible assets of one’s activity, while the Christian one is set on the higher extraterrestrial forms of rewards, found in the heavenly life to come (Prince, p.27).

Here we see an example of conflicting ideologies and can give an approximate interpretation of what it is. It could be suggested that conflicting ideologies are a cultural phenomenon representing a case where a certain area has to provide some sort of co-existence for a number of antagonistic beliefs which find their basis in the ethnic or religious background of their adherents. It is possible to extend this thought to that in the case of conflicting ideologies one ideology, or one vision of life, its goals and necessary actions, can belong to the lower level of the implicit intrinsic culture and another one to the upper level of the explicit publicly acceptable culture and its practices. If we approve of this sort of approach to discussing the co-existence of ideologies, then it will be a natural inference to make that they are in opposition to each other, since the ideology of the upper level attempts to suppress the one of the lower level. As a rule, the ideology of the lower level strikes back exactly by means of cultural leverages such as, for example, calypso and reggae songs aimed at criticizing the government (Prince, p.28). In this case the musicians represent one ideology (low-level or the masses) and the government stands for the upper-level ideology, which main feature is all sorts of dominance.

The low-level ideology will always be focused on psychological survival, since pressure is exerted on it by the prevailing ideology. The culture that derives from the hard life of African born slaves, taken away forever to culturally hostile lands, had no other way to preserve itself as to imprint itself on the hearts and minds of its living carriers, thus influencing their view of the world and their place in it. The low-level ideology seems to be all about survival in antagonism and making it through whatever it takes. The point of survival is especially stressed here for the reason that the predominant ideology cannot bear a challenge to its worth and uses the leverages of legal power to attack the phenomena able to put its superiority at risk. It is possible to see it in the example of how the Antiguan Minster of Culture even pre-determined what the songs’ lyrics should be about during the Carnival of 1979 (Prince, p.28). This was done only for the reasons of political safety, being afraid of that such a weapon of the low-level culture as music could disturb the existing prevailing culture publicly personified in the members of the government. Yet, the cultural response was the creation of such popular heroic images such as ”badjohn” as a way to express the autonomy of the low-level ideology at least through cultural means. This same expression of autonomy will be implemented this way or another in what religious views one has, since no one can currently make anyone adhere to that or these religious views. If a person is affiliated with the low-level ideology, for example, deriving from African culture, and he does not sympathize with the expression of the predominant culture, for example, in the form of the government, he will not take the side of its ideology and religious views and, thus, will choose the opposite ones.


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