Dubai, Feb 12 (PTI) Globalisation has flattened the cultural landscape and the world is facing a challenge from “mono-culturalism”, American historian and political scientist Mark Lilla has said.
The professor of humanities at Columbia University said people were beginning to feel that they are like elementary particles floating in space and not part of the narrative of one particular culture or country.
“The challenge of our time is not multiculturalism, but mono-culturalism,” Lilla said.
“Due to the internet culture, our children are much more alike than the people in this audience, and this will become more and more the case with time,” he said.
Lilla’s remarks came at a session titled ‘The Interplay of Politics and Society’ at the seventh World Government Summit (WGS 2019).
The summit, which runs until February 12 in Dubai, has convened more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 30 international organisations.
“A lot of the identity politics that we see in the world, in conflictual terms, does not come from hatred or distrust of the other, but from the anxiety in the face of a monoculture that no longer roots us in one place,” Lailla said.
To counter this, the governments need to create a strong political identity by focusing on civic education as the glue that binds citizens together.
“Civic duty has to be inculcated at an early age and based on a political idea, not just a cultural one,” he said.
Laill was in discussion with other academics to share his views on the state of the world’s politics, political tribalism and the need for governments to promote civic education.
Building on Lilla’s point of identity politics, Amy Chua, American professor of Law at Yale Law School said human beings were like “tribal animals”.
“We are hardwired that way and it’s biological. We need to belong to groups. And once we connect to a group, we tend to cling to it and defend it,” she said.
Cautioning against political tribalism, Chua said it was on the rise across the political spectrum from left to right.
Political tribalism is particularly dangerous as members start seeing everything through the lens of their respective groups with disregard to facts, she said.
To combat political tribalism, Chua said that countries should look at becoming a ‘super group’ by satisfying two conditions: develop a strong overarching collective national identity capable of inspiring patriotism and allow sub-groups, whether ethnic, religious or cultural, to flourish freely. “The concept of a ‘super group’ can be very helpful for many multi-ethnic nations around the world, including in the Middle East,” she said.
In his session ‘Why Nations Fail’, British economist, political scientist and author James Robinson discussed rising income inequality in countries such as the US and the UK, and the detrimental effects of separating elites from the rules.
“I don’t think inequality is causing populism, I think inequality is caused by populism,” Robinson said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.