The evils of cultural protectionism
In the name of preserving cultural and traditional heritages some would rather keep cultural ‘minorities’ trapped in the dark ages, God forbid they might discover the evils of human progress and development, and specially of technology and liberalism.
People that claim to defend ancient (or not so ancient) cultures from the evil aggression of cultural globalization are not only trying to keep back the winds of progress, they are patronizing and condescending towards people that should be able to decide by themselves how they want to live.
Nobody is forced to drink Coke (I don’t) or to watch bad TV (I don’t either), it is perfectly possible and respectable to live of the earth and embrace the art of self-subsistence, I admire people that do so, and I might follow their steps some day. But trying to keep poor people ignorant and isolated, or even subsidize their lifestyle is silly, why can’t we let people decide what they believe in and what makes their life meaningful?
Cultural preservation is a form of intellectual slavery, individuals do not belong to any culture, race or ethnicity, they belong to themselves and only to themselves.
The value protecting languages
The diversity and richness of human languages is fascinating and well worth studying.
But one should never forget that languages have been a great source of division and conflict, a tool used again and again to manipulate people and to keep people ignorant and isolated.
Now, for the first time in history, we are closer than ever to have an universal language: English. It is certainly not the ‘best’ language by any objective measure, its defects are great and numerous, but that is missing the point, the value of a truly global language that everyone in this planet can understand is to at last bring everyone together, make communication between all different peoples easy and fluent, aid the spread of information, knowledge, and ideas to all mankind, and help resolve human conflicts.
At the root of most human conflicts is misunderstanding and incommunication, and the only way to resolve that is by empowering every individual to communicate his feelings by himself, without having to let someone in power claim ‘represent’ his will.
It is also one of the most powerful tools of repressive regimes to control the information people has access to, this is greatly aided by language barriers that those in power love to foment both to control the flow of information and to increase and exploit arbitrary divisions among people.
History is full of examples of how language differences have been used as an extremely powerful weapon by the most despicable nationalistic, racist, and chauvinistic regimes.
But language war is over and it is only matter of time before English takes over completely and all other languages are relegated to academic and entertainment roles. As someone else so eloquently put it:
The sort of thing they will be discussing is how to keep lots of languages alive in the Internet age. Popular with the International community at large but ultimately futile and we will be better off without them. Anything worth keeping will be translated into English. People go on so about international heritage, since when has anyone mourned the fact that we no longer have a community speaking ancient Mayan or Pharonic Egyptian? What national languages are in actuality are occasion for bigotry and violence. Get rid of Basque and you get rid of Basque language nutters killing people who object to being rulled by basque language nutters. Same goes for Welsh, one minute you have people whining about the loss of a national identity that was never really theirs in the first place, then they start imposing it on schoolkids (always a good ploy, they can't refuse and few people have the guts to stand up and object that learning Spanish or German would be a better career move), next thing welsh language loonies are burning down holiday cottages and planning lists of foreigners for 'ethinc cleansing' come the revolution. And don't get me started on the French. Get rid of languages and you get rid of language bigotry. The Web is doing a great job in this respect. Within a couple of generations it will be impossible to hold a middle class job in any country unless you are fluent in English.