The era of intellectual homogenization

Steve Sailor on Charles Mann and the homogenization of the world:

Strikingly, Mann defines globalization as bringing about the dawning of the “Homogenocene”—the era of cultural and even biological homogenization. Proponents of globalization like to congratulate themselves on fostering diversity—that great talisman word of our age—the reality is that the world is becoming, in many ways, more homogeneous. Diets, for example, became more similar around the world in the wake of Columbus.

There are, by nature, two kinds of diversity: micro and macro. Globalization drives the world toward micro-diversity, but away from macro-diversity. Practically every strip mall in Los Angeles, for example, features a Mexican taco restaurant, a Cambodian donut shop, and an East Asian nail salon. Each strip mall is therefore diverse within itself. Yet, even the most ardent diversiphile has to admit that every strip mall seems an awful lot like every other strip mall in L.A.

Eventually, if the prophets of globalization prove accurate, the entire Earth will resemble one gigantic L.A. strip mall. Will that make the world more diverse or more homogeneous?

More importantly, will that make the world better?

The Homogenocene has practical advantages and disadvantages, as the history of Ireland notoriously shows. Mann writes:

“The Irish, who ate more potatoes than anyone else, had the biggest boom: the nation grew from perhaps 1.5 million in the early 1600s to about 8.5 million two centuries later.”

But while the Peruvians had developed about 40 different species of potatoes, which provided them with a safety margin of genetic diversity against potato parasites, only one Peruvian species was taken to Ireland. That made things simple, standardized, and efficient. Then, in 1845, a potato blight began to devastate the crop. A million Irish starved to death.

I wish that Mann had developed further his theme of the benefits and dangers of the Homogenocene. For example, the global dominance of the English language in the 21st Century certainly makes life more convenient for English-speakers. Why bother learning a foreign language anymore?

But is the world in danger of entering an intellectual Homogenocene in which global discourse is restricted to merely that which is considered appropriate in the English-speaking media capitals of New York, Washington, London, and Los Angeles? For example, Alexander Solzhenitsyn couldn’t get his last two books published in New York because they, apparently, offended local prejudices.

Is the world putting too many eggs in too few intellectual baskets?

More importantly, is the globally enforced consensus true?

4 Responses

  1. Off-topic, Bonald, but there’s an interesting discussion on physics going on over at my blog. Since you’re a physics guy, your input would be appreciated: http://collapsetheblog.typepad.com/blog/2011/09/bergs-third-way-the-god-has-no-explanatory-value-argument.html.

  2. Homogenocine is not a happy neologism, is it? This cultural change has nothing to do with the geological time scale and we already have too many names for it (e.g. globalization, diversity, political correctness, post-nationalism, etc.). Imagine that geologists could get tenure for proposing new names for the Pleistocene (maybe the “Chiliastic Revolution”) and you’ll begin to understand half of social science.

    The purpose of micro-diversity is not homogenization in the good, New Testament sense of metanoia. The regime likes to have millions of utterly idiosyncratic subjects because they, the subjects, are then too atomized (“micro-diverse”) to form any anti-regime solidarity. And, of course, if something more powerful than another atomized individual gives voice to an opinion, how am I to resist, talk back?

    This is particularly important for those who are not intelligent enough to defend their beliefs against all comers, or arrogant enough to give not a fig for what others think. They need the comfort (literal sense) of a support community. Take that away and they are dust in the wind.

    So the Homogenocine is just (following Robert Nisbet) the triumph of the State.

  3. I like “homogenization” better. Everybody knows what it means, and it has the right negative connotation.

    I tend to think of it as the triumph of the journalists, who are our true masters and have eliminated resistance to themselves in the way you describe.

  4. When we use the word homogenization, perhaps we should remember the metaphor of homogenized milk. It’s purpose is not just uniformity and blandness, but also to keep the cream from rising to the top. A homogenized society cannot generate an indigenous elite, and so has to make due with an elite that is alien.

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