In this article, the Author Kwame Appiah tries to elucidate the numerous ways through which the world is becoming globalized. As such, the author goes further to illustrate how the world is being “contaminated”. The use of term “contamination” in this article refers to the numerous modern innovative values that are destroying and eventually damaging what can be collected from our ancestors. To support his argument, the author explains the gradual transformation of different religions and many cultures, but remains open minded by avoiding the influence of his religion. The tone used in this article affords the reader to make a decision between modernization and authenticity. Despite the author use of globalization as the main theme of his literature, he has left a space for freedom of choice, respect for other religions and ultimately the power of leadership. According to the author, the power of free will and freedom of choice forms the most significant influences that impact on globalization, religion and cultures. This echoes Boyce (2004) literature in her text titled, “Democratizing Global Economic Governance”. Nonetheless, the article convincingly shows that the wickedness and misery in the world is a recipe of human actions. Culture not only exists in history, but keeps on changing as it continues to develop. This essay discusses how preservation of traditional cultural institutions impacts on society’s diversity.
Appiah gives a good illustration of traditional culture by the arrival of the king of Asante which was followed by a much ritualized procedures. In this case, many people in today’s modern society would not expect such kind of procedures. In light of globalization, Appiah argues that diverse cultures have spread to every corner of the world. Moreover, with the spread of Western cultures to modern Africa, the traditional African cultures seem to be outdated hence considered by many unnecessary (Aman 2003). In this regard, I agree with the author that globalization is worth for it leads to overall diversity, tolerance and eventually societal happiness if applied in the right way. Further, the author gives a clear distinction between societal orderliness and disorders. The opponents of globalization argue that the influence of cultures on other cultures eventually could hamper diversity since all cultures would eventually be the same. Appiah refutes this claim and explains that the view of total disorderliness should be viewed rather from the positive perspective. I strongly agree with his argument considering that eventually, the state of culture will be one that is fully diversified.
According to the author, all religions are transnational and global. With this regards, they need to organize humankind beyond the national boundaries. He further argues that, despite the slow pace with which the religion has taken to respond to human development; it has contributed significantly in fostering universal fraternity. However, Appiah continues by explaining how religions have contributed to the wave of globalization. The Christian churches together with other religious organizations mobilize their followers against unhealthy global influences. In this respect, I support the author’s argument for it is the role of the religious leaders to provide guidance on universal influences that affects an individual’s life. As such, the valuable guidance offered by the religious leaders helps to solve the identity puzzle that faces many people experiencing the wave of globalization.
According to Held (2000), in today’s society, people are entitled to choice of alternatives. In this regard, Appiah stresses that people exists as individuals and not as groups and, therefore, any effort to discourage individual contamination is foolish and wrong. He goes further to state that people should be allowed to go tribal if that is their choice and institutions should only serve to clear the obstacles that could stand on people’s path. Logically, the society and its institutions should give protection to culture to the extent that people wants, but should refrain from protectionist actions that serve to promote “purity” of the traditional practices.
According to Dryzek (1999), the authentic cultural practices drive the society backwards. To the worst, they are short of modern technology, medicines and education. Considering this, Appiah advocates for loss of one’s distinctiveness which allows interaction with the modern world that brings about a new kind of distinctiveness, the contamination achieved through individuality will lead to exposure to more advanced goods and opportunities. Notably, globalization leads to the disappearance of the cultural islands which are replaced by more exposed individuals with liberty of choosing their own distinctiveness. Appiah admits that contaminated diversity is better than the authentic practice as it not only agrees to individual’s basic commitment, but also attempts to hold on to the former in a more cost prohibitive manner. In this situation, Appiah reference to economic realities is quite revealing. He seems to understand the problem of those whom we ought to feel sympathy for since they cannot afford to lead the kind of lifestyle they would desire. According to Appiah, the greatest concern is how to stop such anti- globalist and anti- cosmopolitans from forming a click that could ensure that people who are in those islands continues to become more wealthier at the expense of the poor masses. In this regard, I strongly agree with Appiah’s argument considering the testimony given by many farming families of the marginal lifestyles they lead and their wish to joining the main stream.
One point that I would beg to disagree with Appiah is that many liberals assume that culture is more of conservatism. That it serves to conserve some kind of purity. Realistically, every cultural community has suffered some sort of contamination considering the today’s diverse human choices at one point or the other. Notably, it is economically/ socially impractical while at the same time conceptually bizarre to conserve all the cultural purity (Nagel 2005). However, Appiah seems to have taken a strong assumption, by failing to appreciate that the expression culture as a fluid continues to evolve day in day out. The cultural practices of every culture get enacted, revised, critiqued, defended or even dropped to remain with only the most appropriate for a given society. Nonetheless, this is all what “contamination and resistance to globalization is all about. The societies do not supposedly defend “pure” cultural content, but only protect the content that its people are able to work to work within. Appiah’s reference to culture gives a primary thought of culture as static and burdensome practices that detour people from making independent economic and social decisions capable of shaping their cultural practices.
Appiah reference to dominance of American media on other world’s cultural contexts is undeniable that numerous anti-globalists resemble the old imperial sin that was common with the natives. I agree with Appiah that “cultural consumers are not dupes”. It is supported by the argument that one can either consume or reject any learnt behavior based on one’s decision that of how such learnt behavior will impact on one’s lifestyle. When the author confirms that Israelis and Arabs acceptance that women who are abused by their husband should go back to their father’s home, this shows people enjoys the freedom to engage in what they learn and feels that it is good for them. Notably, the behavior acceptance learnt from American movies is a clear indication of hoe both Arabs and Israelis cultures have been contaminated by American culture. It further shows that both Arabs and Israelis are disconnecting by dropping their old cultures by allowing battered women to return back to their father’s home.
Finally, Appiah argues that people are free to choose not to be cosmopolitan. This argument essentially sounds favorable, but the way in which he presents it makes it look as if everyone is already cosmopolitan. In my opinion, the argument will lead the society backwards. This is because, as a society, we need to be in a particular context for us to choose cosmopolitanism which lead to a further question of how such many contexts can be preserved and empowered. Such contexts start with analyzing the way people are already coexisting depending on the places of birth, language they speak which should be common for one community. Nonetheless, we are the people who are responsible if the history actually wipes out totally on earth. The article suggest that we should learn from other cultures and embrace what is beneficial to us and not get accustomed to the foreign cultures blindly for we have the freedom to choose.
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