Cultural Conversation, Essay Example
Secession is one of the prevailing cultural phenomena in the US media today. This element of secession and the need for self-governance by some states have developed through the recent history of American politics. In this context, it would not be surprising to hear widespread demands for secession from the involved states. These American citizens pushing for secession have considered what has been happening through the past years in social and economic management of US resources. There have been increased tax rates, increased in unjustified social spending and decreasing income levels (The Policymic). Based on these negative consequences of poor governance, the number of those comfortable with secession has increased significantly in the past decade. In the last two weeks since president Obama clinched office for the second term, hundreds of Americans have signed petitions meant to push for secession. The leading state with the highest number of signatures is Texas, followed by Louisiana (The Policymic). This secession phenomenon has been developing over the past years and it has just surfaced as a result of the last US general election. At its current status, it is threatening cohesion of American nations and presents an opportunity for unforeseen consequences like civil wars and federal disintegration. In this context, secession is regarded one of the cultural phenomena operating within the society. From a theoretical perspective, a cultural phenomenon develops through various stages and for specific reasons.
In order to understand inception and development of a cultural phenomenon, it would be appropriate to consider Said’s argument that cultural phenomena are expressions of desires and wishes held by any given society under consideration (Said 32). In Balfour’s speech to the House of Commons, Orientals during the colonialism period presented instances where the subjects of colonialism communicated their wishes through cultural practices. Said further explains that the main motives and causes of these wishes and desires is the need for an independent and self-sustaining social sovereignty (Said 35). With respect to secession, every society in the world would long for moments to enjoy cultural strength. Therefore, the need for secession is a manifestation of desires for political and cultural strength of those states propagating the phenomenon.
On the other hand, Cohen agrees that a cultural phenomenon is a manifestation or embodiment of desires and perceived benefits of a cultural moment with certain feelings within a specific time and place (Cohen 7). The author says that such cultural moments incorporates the elements of desire, fear, anxiety, and fantasy in formulating tangible embodiments of the feelings (Cohen 7). These artificial cultural manifestations continue in existence through successive time -periods. In the process, such embodiments evolve through time between its inception age and the time of its immediate application in the society. In this regard, the need for self-governance, and specifically secession, were manifestation of actions meant to address some emotions during its inception instance. However, the phenomenon evolved through time and social contexts to its present form. Cohen says that the gap between a phenomenon’s inception and its latest status account for the misunderstood purpose of application in addressing its cause. This concept is responsible for the misunderstood need for secession by members of Tennessee, Texas and other states with similar wishes. This shows that cultural phenomena passes from one generation to another, and respects social and political dynamics in its development.
On a deeper analysis, misconception and evolution of cultural phenomenon through time leads to uncertain effects in future (Said 36). Strongly held beliefs and the need for cultural dominance is the main contributing factor to the propagation of cultural practices from one generation to another. According to the author, Orientals believed in supremacy and superiority of even some of their bizarre social actions (Said 37). Interference of their beliefs by external forces of colonialism made them to put up defense mechanisms meant to facilitate their cultural dominance. Within any given society, those responsible for developing a certain culture and those subscribing to its values believe in cultural strength and dominance (Said 37). This is the main reason why some cultural phenomena like secession, which are in direct violation of the US public interests, persist even in modern societies within the subject states.
From another theoretical understanding, historical cultural studies show that a certain portion of every society is always attracted to the bizarre world (Cohen 12). In this case, some principles of a cultural phenomenon may be desirable to the mentioned portion of the subject society. Cohen asserts that such cultural phenomena open up new boundaries, which never existed or were forbidden in the past (Cohen 14). Therefore, movement from their current beliefs to the new ones presents new and thrilling freedom. In the context of 33 states requesting for secession, those petitioning for secession are conscious of the negative and undesirable consequences of their actions. Despite this knowledge, they still find comfort and intense satisfaction from pushing for self-governance. This concept would serve to explain why the idea of secession spread fiercely after Obama’s win. When authorities identify such phenomena with perceived negative effects, they usually employ intervention measures to curb the cultures effects in a tranquil society.
With respect to intervention measures, Said argues that European colonization in the East is an example of counterattack measures for some disorganized cultural and social practices (Said 39). The author emphasizes that according to Balfour’s speech to the House of Commons, there was no justification for England’s occupation of Egypt (Said 41). The main cause was that England perceived a certain level of degradation on Egyptian’s administrative and economic systems. This made Sir Baring to invade Egypt and other Middle East empires in order to correct what they thought was wrong (Said 41). However, Egyptians had a contrary belief concerning the Imperial invasion. Despite the benefits brought by Egyptian’s colonial rule, the locals still bear the pains and tragedies encountered during the process (Said 43). This makes them to belief that Europeans undermined their cultural practices because they believed they were inferior. In this case, Egyptians were not happy with the invasion.
According to Balfour, Egyptians were happier living within their disorganized administrative and economic systems than with imperial rule (Said 41). In the context of secession petitions in the US, members of Tennessee and Texas, among other states with similar wishes, may not appreciate the efforts made by the US federal government and its justice system towards illegalizing their wishes. Intervention by these authorities may aggravate their economic and social predicaments resulting from federal governance. On the other hand, the US justice system and other authorities against secession perceive self-governance ideologies as inferior and primitive. This context corresponds to Said’s message of inferior and superior cultural practices contained in Balfour’s speech to the House of Commons. This means that application of one’s cultural beliefs to another society presents differences and conflict between counteracting ideologies.
With respect to intervention measures, Cohen extrapolates this by saying that movement of one monster cultural phenomenon from one society to another risks attack by other cultural phenomena (Cohen 5). In addition, a certain cultural phenomenon may itself turn to become a monster once it gets out of its boundaries (Cohen 5). In this case, Cohen argues that it would be appropriate for a phenomenon to operate within its initial boundaries to avoid differences causes by the risks. With respect to the US states need for secession, petitions directed to the federal government and the US justice system has sparked immature criticism from these authorities. This counter criticism means that one cultural phenomenon crossed its boundaries into another new environment. On the other hand, principles of federal cohesion held by the US government encountered sharp criticism from members of Tennessee and other states. In this context, this instance corresponds to Cohen’s argument of boundaries with respect to monster cultures.
One can objectively understand the development and operation of the element of secession within the American society by considering the writer’s works. The writers gave varied accounts concerning the inception and development of cultural phenomena within social environments. Said argues his way out from the Oriental perspective. In his account regarding the construction of a cultural phenomenon, Said emphasizes that every phenomenon satisfies the purpose of addressing certain justified causes. However, it is the misconception of these phenomena, coupled with the belief of inferiority and superiority that causes differences between societies with conflicting interests.
Cohen argues that cultural phenomena are monsters whose inception and construction are governed by some stipulated natural laws. In his writing, Cohen vividly describes this in the seven theses of monster culture. In essence, both writers agree that cultures result from the need to address some desires or beliefs operating within a specific time. In addition, they totally agree on the factors contributing to prevalence of negative phenomenon like state secession within social settings. In this regard, cultural practices follow systematic procedures through its development stage. Therefore, it will be hard to eliminate the need for self-governance and the idea of secession within a short time. This means that the US federal government and other interested stakeholders will have to consider other long-term strategies meant to eradicate secession ideologies operating within the subject states of Tennessee and Texas, among others states. Appropriate intervention measures could include addressing the economic and social needs of members residing within these states.
McDaniel, Christopher. The polycymic. Secession: Why 311000 Citizens From 33 States are asking Obama to Secede from the Union. November 13, 2012. Posted at 08:44 am. Web<http://www.policymic.com/articles/19016/secession-why-311-000-citizens-from-33-states-are-asking-obama-to-secede-from-the-union>
Cohen Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25.
Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1979. 31-49
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