Monday, November 09, 2009


One of the criticisms of federal bailouts of this bank, or that company is that they prop up failure.

Subsdizing a failed industry or business model interferes with the quite natural and beneficial process of eliminating outdated and inefficient institutions and allowing more healthy and vigorous entities to replace them. The prospect of bailouts makes the need for development and improvement less urgent, and risks sustaining failing entities to the overall detriment of everyone else. They are analogous to putting a terminal patient on life support so that she may live long enough to die of something more painful.

Our society does not limit itself to bailing out companies and industries. Its wrong-headedness has led it to blunder into supporting cultural conflicts in the same way that it throws good money after bad on Wall Street. Whereas the financial bailouts of TARP and the stimulus have given us deficits and flabby competetiveness, government patronage of disparate customs has given us the disaster of multiculturalism.

The fallacy of multiculturalism is that disparate customs and traditions are simply aesthetic choices that different people make; different strokes as it were. In fact traditions and customs evolve because the are useful to the cultures and environments in which they develop. This usefulness often disappears when transplanted to different locales, where the populations flourish with traditions and customs of their own. It should not be expected that the Bedouin customs of the Arabian peninsula would be particularly useful among the agrarian economy of Ireland, or in the significantly different environment of the Northwest Territories. Societies that subsist in regions with a single dietary staple will develop different customs and traditions than those from more fertile regions. One would expect nomads to have different values than a people that has for centuries taken their living from the same village. Customs and traditions flourish because they are useful, not because they are fashionable.

When customs and traditions lose their usefulness, it is quite appropriate to let them fade away. Thus, the Indian custom of sati, i.e. immolating widows, and the despicable customs of female circucision and "honor killing" should not be accommodated in the name of diversity; if anything they should be actively eliminated. But it is not merely those cultural facets that have lost their original purposes that should wane. Some transplanted traditions and customs are detrimental to their new environment and should not be accommodated, as a matter of common sense.

Cultures, like institutions, should be left to survive or perish according to their merits, and should not be perpetuated solely to satisfy misguided notions of political correctness. Customs and traditions must be relevant and useful to their times, their environments and their purposes. They should not be used as excuses to perpetuate the separation of people who have more legitimate intereststhan, and who interact for reasons other than "diversity." A community that does not assimilate in order to satisfy some artificial notion of multiculturalism is no different than one that remains segregated to sustain racial purity. In each case, the commonality of shared humanness is degraded in pursuit of some theoretical idiocy.

Multiculturalism can be corrosive, not because it recognizes different cultures as valuable, but because it refuses to recognize that some customs, such as stoning aldulterers, or forbidding the education of girls, are detrimental to civilized society and not simply part of some grand tapestry. Some cultural artifacts are simply out of place in certain societies, and certain centuries, and should be allowed to succumb to their own obsolescence. Left to its own course, multiculturalism eventually degenerates to segregation by another name.

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