Are monocultures actually the rule?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Shik, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. Shik

    Shik Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2014
    Location:
    It's the 3 most important things in business.
    I'm not trying to imply that. But language is a basic block of culture; what we call a thing becomes part of us, imbuing it with a shared form. Consider the efforts of linguistic purism around the world, most notably the French, & even more so in Icelandic. So in essence, changing the usage of a word, the design of a word, or the pronunciation of a word can effect ripples through the culture. Look even at some of the epithets used. Just last week, I glared at someone who said they "jewed the guy down on the price" & I had to educate her as to the etymology of the term; she never even thought about where it might've come from. Same thing for saying "gypped"--it means being cheated, & comes from how many subcultures hold that the Romani (Gypsies) are all thieves & cheats.
     
  2. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Containment Area for Relocated Yankees
    I am fully aware that there are efforts to impose cultural and linguistic uniformity. Those are conscious efforts to shape how the people in a society speak and think--they are not reflections of the complexities of those societies. The French have been failing to create uniformity since the 1790s.

    And like I previously wrote, language and culture influence one another. However, there is nothing about English that makes me think the same way as a South African , and dare I say that I find the cultures of France and Germany more familiar. Ultimately, assumptions about the relationship between language and culture are really hard to make without going deeply into the specifics. Making the language more problematic in the equation is that it is a medium for communication as much as it can be an expression of identity. I must make room for the interlocutors to express themselves, whether we are speaking in our native languages or not. Speaking different native languages is not in and of itself a cultural barrier. Obviously, lack of understanding increases as two languages are less familiar. However, when those differences can be overcome, ideas from one can be carried over to the other. It can be a vehicle for cultural exchange (or contamination, if you prefer).
     
  3. Shik

    Shik Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2014
    Location:
    It's the 3 most important things in business.
    All interesting points, indeed. And I agree that France & Germany are similar, but then...neo-tribalist rational anarchist here, so you're all one culture with a whole lot of subdivisions to me.
     
  4. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Location:
    In many different universes, simultaneously.
    I never got the impression that Nona came from a separate "people." She was described as a kind of healer, but that doesn't mean she wasn't actually of the same "people" as Tyree.
     
  5. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2001
    Location:
    Down in the tube station at midnight
    Her wig wasn't as bad as the other two types.

    She a bit different than the rest of the tribe. Dark hair and a 60s Sunset Strip wardrobe.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Of course Earth had a Babel event. Aboriginal tribes decided to leave Africa and walk thousands of miles.
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    ^^^They didn't even have to leave Africa. 100 miles is plenty far to be cut off if you're on foot.
     
  8. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Location:
    T'Girl
    There are also the Vulcans and the Romulans, one species but ( i would imagine) very different cultures.

    I did, I think she was from outside of Tyree's tribe, she was someone he brought into the tribe by marriage.

    I wouldn't be so sure of that, your primary language, your first language, the one you use while thinking inside your own head has a lot to do with how you see the world around you and how you categorize things.

    It has to do with thought processes.

    Language opens up cultural understandings that influences the way people perceives the world. Different languages with differing syntax and grammatical structure impact the order by which a person process information.

    You could not become part of the culture of a Australian outback aboriginal tribe, while only being able to speak English.

    Language is indeed culture.

    If you go to a Spanish language class, from day one the instructor will give instruction on the Spanish culture, because the language is tied to the culture, and the culture is tied to the language.

    There is a "umbrella" Spanish culture on Earth.

    If there are multiple cultures among the peoples of the planet Vulcan, then they would likely be tied to different Vulcan languages. Historically the Vulcan species was divided through geography or circumstances long enough for them to have two (or more) races. Tuvok is black, Spock is white (pale yellow?). This could certainly be part of a basis behind multiple cultures and languages.

    :)
     
  9. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Containment Area for Relocated Yankees
    I believe I said quite distinctly that language and culture do influence one another. Indeed, using language as an avenue to culture is a useful conceit, but it is one that approaches both language and culture as static, and unnatural condition for both. Your example of the Aborigines betrays this. Pre-European contact, the Aborigines of Australia had thousands of languages, though they were extremely similar in terms of their culture. They shared a sophisticated form of expression, dreamtime. Nonetheless, their culture lacked complexity. Now, only a few hundred languages survive, but arguably, they are much more culturally complex. Much of their evolution has occurred, though, not because they speak fewer languages amongst one another, but because they have responded to common experiences, namely those related to imperialism.

    The problem with equating language and culture from your examples is that many different cultures use the same languages, and theoretically ought to be very similar to one another because of language. They are not. Indeed, we would have a hard time explaining the political cultures of Latin American countries on the basis of Spanish: before the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'├ętat, there were numerous successful democracies. Portuguese can't be used to explain the rise and fall of dictatorship in Portugal, Brazil and Angola. English can't explain the differences of opinion about the role of religious rituals in American poltiical life. Language is ultimately too malleable to constrain a single culture to particular forms. Perhaps some small things can be explained, like how German word order makes it difficult to translate English jokes. On the other hand, it does not explain why German humor was so vicious before 1945, or why Germanophones in Switzerland rejected German nationalism.
     
  10. AirCommodore

    AirCommodore Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2014

    A dominant planetary culture could emerge. In the USA, there are remnants of Russian, Irish, Italian, German, Greek and other "white" Euro-cultures, but the US whites seem to have blended together and created, if not a monoculture, some degree of homogenization. We haven't seen a United Earth. It's possible that given enough generations of being United, what would emerge would be a much more homogenized global culture.

    The vast majority of languages are small and regional. A few languages are genuinely international. English is probably no. 1 in global, transnational usage. The era of European colonial empires has left an indelible Western mark on the planet.

    Most of the planets highest grossing films are from Hollywood, governments and constitutions are predominantly in the Western models.
     
  11. Morpheus 02

    Morpheus 02 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago IL

    In most of these cases , it was an "us vs. them" situation...not a spectrum of difference.

    The reality is that we need to have several episodes to get a sense of a culture..where we can see people from the same "side" yet be different in personality, how they approach things.

    I think too often it was made simplistic by the storyline.
     
  12. FreedPhotons

    FreedPhotons Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    To answer that I think we need first to ask ourselves two questions:
    1/ Why do we have so many cultures in the first place?
    2/ Is the reason why applicable to other planets?

    1/ We have different cultures because us humans have continuously expanded our habitat after having outgrown it (because, mainly, of population surges). With expansion comes geographical separation and impossibility to communicate (pre-internet!).

    Since the concept of evolution isn't just a biological one - as Richard Dawkins theorized and even dare I say proved, there is "sociological" evolution - we have to assume that any culture is constantly changing and evolving.

    For example, languages shift at mathematically predictable rates - it's not just a question of adaptation. But then there's the matter of adaptation to new environment, etc. Wars, interaction with some peoples rather than others, alliances, religions etc.
    All of these (and more) are the reasons why we have different cultures. In the end, peoples who are separated coninue to have their own evolving cultures, and in case of no communication, there is little statistical chance for them to evolve exactly the same way.

    2/ If we're talking about a life form that we would be able to communicate with, a life-form that we recognize as close enough to our own that we can consider them "intelligent life-forms" by our standards, they have to have "evolved", and follow "evolution" in a way that is close enough to ours that many principles apply.

    Is it possible to imagine a recognizably intelligent culture that would 1/ not multiply and outgrow its habitat? b/ not expand when it did? c/ still be able to communicate continuously when they did? d/ stay exactly the same all the time (no cultural, linguistic shift) yet be able to evolve technologically to the point we could communicate with them?

    I think the answer to that is no. So the answer to the broader question "can there be a monoculture" (even more so is it the norm) is a resounding no in my opinion.
     
  13. Shik

    Shik Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2014
    Location:
    It's the 3 most important things in business.
    Daniel Quinn (& I) disagree. But hey.
     
  14. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    This is a good beginning, but what it's missing is a projection of what we are going to look like in the future. If human culture will evolve into a "monoculture", say because of global communication, the global economy, and global travel, say over the next several hundred years, then that undermines the use of humanity as an example of monocultures not being the rule. Thanks to technology, our global society is qualitatively different now than it ever has been in the past.

    A few more quibbles:

    Expansion isn't the only reason why ancient people migrated. Climate, lack of food, and competition played their part.

    Richard Dawkins is hardly the world's seminal sociologist. To imply that sociocultural evolution is an idea due to Dawkins or to suggest that his work was instrumental in proving that it occurs does a disservice to the scientists who actually deserve credit, including those such as Childe who made significant contributions to the field before Dawkins was even born.

    While many of the intelligent species encountered in Star Trek did evolve in ways similar to how humans (in-universe) evolved, that was by no means universally true of all aliens with whom communication was possible. The Companion in "Metamorphosis" and the cloud in "One of Our Planets Is Missing" have unknown origin, they do not belong to any recognizable cultures, and they are life forms of a completely different order, and yet communication was still possible with them and they were recognized as intelligent. That alone is enough to take the "have to have" out of your statement.
     
  15. maneth

    maneth Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Location:
    Rebuilding Cardassia after the Revolution
    I can imagine non-humanoid monocultures easily enough, but for humanoids whose evolution parallels our own, I don't think monocultures are very probable. Not unless the humanoids are capable of modifying their environment completely to their needs (negating the need to adapt to it in any way, an Inuit would not do well on the African savannah, nor would a Maasai survive for long in Greenland with the skills he learned and the technology he used in Africa) and have at least one class of people who are telepathic, negating language drift and ensuring communications even before the development of communications technology. However, if the entire people is telepathic, it would obviate the need to develop communications technology altogether, indeed, the species in question would probably not even have a spoken language, making communications with non-telepathic species problematic at best.
     
  16. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Location:
    In many different universes, simultaneously.
    I was under the impression that the Tower of Babel happened in the Middle East, not Africa.
     
  17. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2001
    Location:
    Down in the tube station at midnight
    I assume a "Babel event" is something different than the Tower of Babel myth seen in the Bible. Though I wouldn't call the earliest humans leaving east Africa a Babel event, since it would take time for the the original language to mutate into new ones. The first of those mutations probably took place in east Africa as groups of humans became isolated from each other.
     
  18. grendelsbayne

    grendelsbayne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Depending on how telepathy would work, exactly, it could just as easily make it a great deal easier to communicate with other species. If they can look in my head, after all, they may also be able to project their communications straight in there, or else learn from my thoughts how to speak my language (assuming they have the physiological capability to do so).
     
  19. FreedPhotons

    FreedPhotons Ensign Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Fair enough, although even in a single country or city there are dozens of subcultures and communities. Ex: rappers, star trek fans, farmers... etc. - at least in humans, I don't think complete uniformity is possible. If aliens were to visit only NYC for example, they would see people with widely different clothing, hairstyles, attitudes, walking the same streets. Even in 2506 (if we survive that long) I have great difficulty imagining that people in Jakarta and NYC would be impossible to tell apart (as they would be on all Planet of Hats ST monocultures).


    Well, like everyone I can only refer to what I know. I happen to know Dawkins' work, and he did coin the word "meme" if I'm not mistaken. But I will definitely check those names out, thanks.

    Well there's Star Trek and the way they choose to represent the universe and then there's real life. My opinion of real life is that I find it very difficult to believe we could communicate with intelligent life-forms who had not evolved (and therefore shared with us none of our evolutionary characteristics), since that would mean they would exist in a way that is almost impossible for us to imagine. Of course, I may be proved wrong in 3069.
     
  20. JD5000

    JD5000 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2013
    Location:
    Jackson, WY
    I like how this thread brings up the question of whether or not human beings have a difficult time accepting other ways cultures could develop in theory, and the following posts all answer "Yes!"

    The problem here is that we don't have any examples to draw on other than our own. It's all pure conjecture at this point. I read every single theory posted in this thread, enjoyed reading them, and think they are all very creative and imaginative.

    Personally, I do believe we are moving towards a homogenized global culture that will likely speak the same language, use the same currency, be much more 'racially mixed' than we are today, etc. I don't believe that faith will be universal in the next 300 years. Although we're nowhere near a complete recipe at this point, humanity has unarguably been intermingling more with itself in the last few hundred years, due to advancements in communication and transportation. If we continue on the same track, to me it's fairly logical to assume that we will end up as a generally homogenized single culture in the next few hundred years, possibly much more so in the future beyond that.