BRICS+: Cure for Intellectual Toxicity of Cultural Relativism
The rampant anti-Chinese (and Russian) bias pervasive in today’s society has a lot to do with the fact that people have been conditioned by a very messy world outlook known as “cultural relativism”.
While attractive on the surface due to its promotion of “respect and toleration” for other cultures on the one hand and its condemnation of imperialism on the other, an ugly paradox sits below the surface of such ideology which ironically facilitates modern imperialism’s grip on the world.
The paradox is most easily seen by exposing the core assumption of reasoning that lay at the foundation of all cultural relativist theory which follows:
ASSUMPTION: Because every culture is unique and equally precious, no culture has a right to influence another culture since: A) all influence could only be exerted by force of the stronger upon the weaker and B) if such influence were to occur, it can only be to the detriment of the culture being “influenced”.
CONCLUSION: Cross pollination of cultures can never occur organically as there is nothing intrinsically universal amongst all cultures that can serve as a basis for their poetic, artistic, scientific exchanges. Since all cultural groups contain no universality, “truth” is reduced to the subjective personal experience of each culture. The very definition of “knowledge” and “truth” is thus rendered totally impotent.
An embarrassing moral and political problem thus arises.
Since the “whole” of humanity objectively exists in the form of many people, cultures and nations spread over the surface of the earth in space and time, it is a fact of life that cultures will and must co-exist. The questions then follow: in what form will those cultures co-exist and how will the whole be defined? How can diverse cultures interact with each other in such a way where that each contributes the best of their own discoveries and poetic treasures with their neighbors if there is no such thing as “better or worse” (as everything is relative to personal experience and “feelings”)? How can any harmony of the parts relative to a whole exist if there is no such thing as “truth and beauty” (or inversely “lies and ugliness”)? How can one’s mind cease from turning into reason-free ooze of gender-free societies, woke-ism and post-truth-ism?
Ugly Twins: Cultural Relativism and Imperial Geopolitics
It was blindly asserted by such modern “geopolitical philosophers” as Samuel Huntington and Sir Bernard Lewis whose ideology exerts such powerful influence over western thinking today; humanity could only exist as a sum of infinitely divisible parts within a “multi-cultural mosaic”, at best ignoring each other and tolerating differences but never taking the time to understand or appreciate our sameness.
Huntington famously concluded in his influential book “Clash of Civilizations” that peace on earth is fundamentally impossible since Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all fundamentally incapable of coexisting peacefully due to their distinct ideologies and intrinsic differences. This cynical perspective fundamentally denied each cultures’ parallel characteristics, and common discoveries clothed behind different appearances yet containing the same substance of Love, Justice, Truth, Beauty and morality shaping both the universe and human condition as a living expression of the force guiding the creative unfolding of that universe.
The Reality of Universal Progress
The annoying fact which such thinkers as Huntington and his followers choose to ignore is that the greatest renaissances and rates of progress recorded in the human experience never occurred by distinct cultural groups simply transforming themselves at random, or doing what ones’ ancestors did, but rather all periods of progress were shaped by the cross pollinating of the best ideas of various cultures, never just replacing one set of ideas FOR another, or adding one set of ideas TO another, but rather creating new wholesthat are more than the sum of their parts and containing ever greater degrees of power to creatively discover and communicate truths of those universal principles guiding mankind and nature. This is the proper definition and purpose of “science” and “art” and their effects as technological progress as expressed across ALL cultures.
The explosion in Population growth is not a proof that humanity is a cancer as some misguided modern environmentalists are want to do, but rather that we are a species of constant perfectibility.
This was true when the Greeks Solon, Pythagoras and Plato ventured to North Africa to learn the greatest philosophical and scientific discoveries of their day. It was true when greatest ideas of India and China cross pollinated during the Gupta Period. It was true when African/Greek ideas and modes of thinking were re-discovered and applied by the Jewish, Christian and Arab scholars who organized the great 8th Century Ecumenical Alliance of the Carolingian Empire under the leadership of the Caliph of Baghdad and Charlemagne.
It was again a reality when the Abbasid Dynasty and the later Andalusian Renaissance when Islamic scholars such as Haroun Al-Rashid and Ibn Sina again collected the greatest poetic and scientific works of the east and west to reform the Islamic world. It was also true when those same Greek/African/Arabic works were then transmitted to the Christian world in the form of the 15th century Florentine renaissance whose application saw the greatest rise in the potential population density humanity has ever experienced.
CAPTION: The renaissance principle, whose lawful obedience is so vital for the successful survival of the human species is expressed in every major culture’s history at various periods. Several leading representatives are pictured above (top row): Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, Rabbi Philo of Alexandria, and the Ibn Sina (bottom row): Confucius, Plato and Gupta Empire Leader Chandragupta I.
The New Silk Road Manifests as the Basis for a New Global Renaissance
Today, a new paradigm has arisen through the multi-cultural BRICS process, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and New Silk Road. This new paradigm is not based on a passive co-existence of parts as they are managed by a Hobbesian Leviathan, but rather on the commitment to common goals and principles of progress which all participating cultures aspire to. The Chinese President laid out these concepts clearly in his August 22, 2023 address at the 15th annual BRICS Summit in South Africa:
As an ancient Chinese philosopher observes, “Change is the nature of the universe.” … Whatever resistance there may be, BRICS, a positive and stable force for good, will continue to grow. We will forge stronger BRICS strategic partnership, expand the “BRICS Plus” model, actively advance membership expansion, deepen solidarity and cooperation with other EMDCs, promote global multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations, and help make the international order more just and equitable. The gathering between BRICS countries and more than 50 other countries in South Africa today is not an exercise of asking countries to take sides, nor an exercise of creating bloc confrontation. Rather, it is an endeavor to expand the architecture of peace and development… China stays committed to an independent foreign policy of peace and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. As a developing country and a member of the Global South, China breathes the same breath with other developing countries and pursues a shared future with them. China has resolutely upheld the common interests of developing countries… Hegemonism is not in China’s DNA; nor does China have any motivation to engage in major-power competition. China stands firmly on the right side of history, and believes that a just cause should be pursued for the common good.
As I outlined in my recent essay ‘Is the Multipolar Alliance 'Controlled Opposition'? The Case of Two Green Paradigms’, based on the measurable actions of China’s economic, security, energy and cultural program over the past decade, the words spoken by the Chinese president are not rhetoric.
The concept of humanity as a species of cooperation is the natural state of mankind whenever we allow our creative reason to actively shape the experience of our senses rather than allowing our blind senses to shape our reason. The collective experience of universal history and human progress testify to the fact that this outlook is the natural way human beings survive and grow within the universe whose Creator may be called by many names, yet whose law of moral and creative reason is the same.
Whether one is Confucian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian, we are absolutely distinct from the other living beasts due to our capacity to discover, and change the principles of creation making our lives happier, more purposeful and ensuring ever greater peace and security for the generations to come after us.