Tuesday 22nd of October 2019

How Does Culture Change?

All cultures are constantly changing. Changes may happen rapidly or slowly. Since culture consists of various factors, changes in one will also affect the others. Some sociologists believe much social maladjustment is due to unequal changes in different cultural components. When some parts tend to lag behind others, cultural retardation develops. Most of the cultural retardation observed in the history of the United States concerns ideas, traditions and mental matters. Science and technology advances so rapidly that it often overtakes culture and leaves it behind. Therefore, guiding the leaders of technology today -who lucratively provide themselves with power and authority -toward more consideration for human culture and moral virtues may prove in vain, or perhaps cause them to become even more resistant toward it, and strengthen the advance of technology. Therefore, it is best to address societies where the fundamentals of human culture still exist, and hope for a day when they lead a cultural renaissance. A point ought to be emphasized here, although we will address the issue when we explore disharmony in cultural elements. The point is that unfortunately, scholars currently presenting definitions and characteristics for culture do not distinguish the stable sections of culture from its variable parts. The unchangeable cultural elements depending on man's fixed needs should be distinguished from the change-prone elements; however, the two are usually integrated, which leads to errors in cultural activities and understanding. Let us now consider the general, unchangeable principles of culture which are not to be mistakenly mixed with its variable examples. For example:

1. Eagerly seeking greatness is an undefiable principle, despite the variety of its outcomes in different people.

2. Respect, which is reflected in human cultures in forms such as love and devotion for fellow beings.

3. Man's intense need for a meritorious life.

4. Adjusting and correcting the four relationships: man-himself, man-God, man-universe, man-fellow beings.


Culture Seen by Argentine References

“Etymologically, culture means cultivating the earth and reflects the relationship between men and the earth, although its meaning has undergone change through time. The simplest definition of culture describes it as a series of physical and spiritual advantages a human community acquires in order to establish harmonious coexistence in its national society.” Argentina's scholars, lexicographers, historians, philosophers and even revolutionary anti-imperialist sociologists have defined culture as mentioned above. As well as being a true fact existing outside man's physique, culture also has mental aspects. Most intellectuals have failed to understand the comprehensive quality of culture, for they are obsessed with individualistic civil culture (and also affected by Imperialistic culture infiltration), and therefore cannot realize how vast the concept of culture really is. It goes far beyond that, in fact. This is why we are addressing Chinese, Spanish, French and Latin American cultures.

Imperialism is constantly influencing the masses, “democratizing” cultures by imposing its own imperialistic culture, luring intellectuals towards its anti-revolutionary goals, spreading huge amounts of publications and movies. By presenting imaginary tales of big city life and imperialistic centre lifestyles, they create a mirage of a luxurious life. They have thus estranged millions of their own culture by spreading American patterns of life. Although America has presented the lifestyle, Americans themselves are devoid of historical or cultural background. In South America, native cultures were unable to resist imperialistic propaganda, so alien cultures succeeded in separating the middle and well-to-do classes from the country's national culture. As imperialism falls astray now, native and alien cultures, still in constant conflict, continue to divide the people. The first impact reflects in arts. It is not surprising that is South American folk art (in Brazil and Mexico, for instance) shows significantly political background. The reason is the endless folk culture and increasing revolutionary conscience of third-world South American artists.” [23]


We now should point out a few things concerning the above text:

1. The briefest definition given here for culture is the same as the comprehensive one presented in other well-known encyclopaedias. Since we have already treated them, there is no need for further elaboration.

2. “As well as being a true fact existing outside man's physique, culture also has mental aspects.” This is absolutely correct, and we will address it later on in our discussion entitled: “Culture is a Bi-polar Truth.” [24]

3. “Culture is also a historical reality.” Considering the definition of culture and its historical effects, it is obviously a reality arisen from man's original needs.

4. “Intellectuals are mostly unable to understand the comprehensive identity of culture.” The reason is the great diversity among cultural elements and outcomes which inhibit a comprehensively common concept. However, if we consider culture as a progressive reality, we may present a definition based on the one given during the first sections of this book, which can include all of the elements and outcomes of culture

"Culture consists of the appropriate qualities or meritorious methods for man's spiritual and physical activities, based on logical thinking and emotions arisen from sensible evolution.”

5. The other reason mentioned why the comprehensive identity of culture has not been understood, lies in cultural invasion -and also due to Imperialistic cultural invasion. “We have already mentioned that the issue currently is not cultural invasion, but deculturization, for in order to generalize and globalize culture according to the definition above, obviously invasion and opposition are totally unnecessary, for all of mankind eagerly desires a culture so developed that it would guarantee their spiritual and physical evolution.


6. “By influencing the masses, 'democratizing' culture and imposing Imperialistic cultures, Imperialism is luring intellectuals towards its own anti- revolutionary goals.”

“Democratizing culture” is equivalent to “pursuant culture”, which totally neglects the moral, political, literary, artistic or religious development of man, for the motto of pursuant culture can be defined as:

What I want is certified, only because I want it”.

7. “By mass-producing publications and films, they are constantly deteriorating the minds of the masses. A mirage of a luxurious life is created through showing fairy tales of big city life in Imperialist centres. Millions have been infatuated by American lifestyle propaganda, and have become estranged with their own culture.”  

Such statements need no further comment. However, those who lead the operations aimed to destroy other cultures should have in mind that all human societies resemble a swimming pool, if in which a small stone is thrown in its corner, waves large and small will diffuse in all parts of the pool. The adverse results of destructing cultures will definitely infect all human communities. Once, a father got angry with his young son and said, “I will take you by the ear and swing you around the yard.” When his son asked, “If you do so, father, will you swing, too?” The father immediately let go of him. He was a highly intelligent father, for he at least valued his own safety.

8. “Millions have been alienated from their culture.”

This magnificent statement reflects its writer's deep thoughtfulness and sense. It is clear that pioneer cultures affect human souls so profoundly that their destruction will lead to the deterioration of man's own identity.

9. “Foreign and native cultures still divide people into separate groups, which are constantly in conflict.”

Cultural conflicts can damage every aspect of people's social lives. 

source : Pioneer Culture to the Rescue of Mankind - An Introduction to Islamic Culture by Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari
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