Thursday, July 14, 2005

Why I’m an Iconoclast

Conformity for its own sake, in my view, has always been somewhat problematic. In that light, the concept of culture is a sort of a ‘necessary evil’.

For most (functional) societies, cultural norms seem to be a prerequisite. In some ways, our species responds very well to ‘sameness’. This need to be ‘apart of the group’, to identify with others, is perfectly normal. It transcends ethnic and geographic distinctions. Indeed, this is nothing new.

Now, there are those among us for whom culture is preeminent. Moreover, these are active participants in the so called Culture War, which essentially denotes a desire to shape and define what is and is not ‘acceptable behavior’. Inasmuch as such behavior extends beyond violating the rights of another, I will not be a part of it.

In the context of seeking to control the subjective, non-violent and non-coercive actions of others, Bernard Goldberg’s new book entitled 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America purports to contrast the ‘offending 100’ with ‘traditional American values’.

Tradition, as such, is fine for those that wish to participate, but certainly it is not on par with more rigid concepts like morality, ethics and individual rights. For what is tradition, if not antiquated rituals and beliefs agreed upon by previous generations? As for me, I think rational thought is a far better gage of ‘proper conduct’, as opposed to relying upon the received wisdom of self-styled Culture Warriors.