I don't think we Americans should characterize the Brexit vote as just another version of Trump's nativism. The EU bullied Greece and the neoliberals--who define culture only in terms of a theory of markets and rational self-interest--enforced economic austerity rather than Keynesian public investments. Yes, there is an element of anti-immigration among the working classes, but that is because the corporate managers dump cheap labor into their communities to break up labor unions, and then retreat behind their gated communities to avoid the social consequences. Planetization and Nativism are entwined forces. As we saw before in the Taiping and Boxer Rebellions in China, when the global economy expands, time contracts and becomes mythologized in new compensatory systems of identity. Hey, folks, it is time for a new Big Think about the role of nations in the globalist capitalist system.
Well now that the vote is in for Brexit, I hope Scotland leaves the UK. And this time the Scots should do it right by getting rid of the monarchy and the English Pound and adopting the Euro. There should be a county by county referendum in Northern Ireland to let the people decide whether they wish to be part of the Republic of Scotland or the Republic of Ireland or the Monarchy of England. Monarchy is an expression of what Jean Gebser would call the Magical structure of consciousness. It expresses a system of dominance that we inherited from the apes rather than a system of representation. It is useful in holding a collection of warlords and warring tribes together, but it is not an appropriate form of government for a modern nation-state.
The Lindisfarne Commune at the Compost Heap in Southampton, New York, 1974.
THREE CHEERS FOR CULTURAL DEGRADATION, 6/22/2016
Nineteenth-century America was fond of the trope of “the melting pot” in describing the process by which immigrants became Americans. We of the Whole Foods generation who actually know and have made backyard compost heaps would characterize this process as one of transforming garbage into soil. Egg shells and oranges are transformed by processes that are both anaerobic and oxidizing.
And so it is with traditional cultures in America. Shtetl Jews become suburban reform Jews, and shanty Irish Catholics become indistinguishable from High Church Episcopalians. Nineteenth century American nativists feared that the hordes of ill-educated Irish would outvote them and that the Pope would be running and ruining our country. But President Obama went to Harvard and not Howard, and JFK went to Harvard and not Notre Dame. And it was Harvard once more for the first Jewish Chief Justice Louis Brandeis.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries White Protestant USA absorbed not only Irish Catholics and Central European Jews, but it found itself being led by them. The intelligentsia of New York was overwhelmingly Jewish, and when I lived in Manhattan I found myself using more Yiddish phrases than Gaelic ones.
So it’s time for us all to relax about Mexicans and Muslims, and for the Republican Party to “Dump Trump!” at their convention. Let the American compost heap begin to work on Islam, and like Zen Buddhism with the Beats in the 1950s, allow the Umah to become fertile and transformative in our rich American soil.
Cultural degradation is perfectly natural. And though people of my generation (born 1938) may wince at a Hip Hop version of the Founding Fathers in the immensely popular Broadway musical Hamilton, I have to admit that I did not wince at Gershwin’s mix of jazz and classical, nor did I criticize Jimmy Giuffre or Shorty Rogers when I met them in LA in the fifties at our mentor Wesley La Violette’s home when Rogers was working on a piece for jazz and classical symphonic orchestra to be performed at the Hollywood Bowl.
So here’s to a new global Islam in which, the Hajib is refashioned by Hermès and Gucci and the kissing cousins of the Abrahamic religions stop killing one another.