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by Threehegemons
03 May 2002 03:00 UTC
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<At that time, the civilization, ( I reiterate we speak about
human being not trees, animals, plants etc ), is a set of sciences,
technologies, control of nature, and organization of social life that are
incarnated in a series of networks. Civilization is a collection of divers
social elements like economical, political, judicial, juridicial,
cultural, moral and religious elements and they are less connection to
material and mechanical elements.>

The problem with such definitions of civilization--or culture--is that they 
assume a coherence that doesn't typically exist, historically.   To put it 
another way, the networks of each 'civilization' crisscross each other, and 
actors pick and choose from options not consistently bounded by the concept.  

That said, I'm not sure I would completely jettison the term.  Although world 
systems tends to be so materialistic that it is blinded to this, part of doing 
anything in the world is creating an identity that can act.  The 
self-conception of 'western civilization' facilitated the project of 
colonialism and world domination.   During the era of nationalism, opponents of 
Western domination typically accepted the cultural project, disposing of its 
most racist aspects only.  

 Presently, to diverge from the dominant geo-culture, there are two options.  
One can try to frontally assault it, and try to overthrow its values, or one 
can delineate a boundary, in which it is claimed that some other values, 'Asian 
values', 'Islam', etc. predominate.  Whether the latter is literally true is 
not exactly the point.  It facilitates divergence to claim that some other 
civilizational gestalt is operating.  It limits the capacity of the arbitrers 
of world culture to rule on the appropriateness of one's behavior.  Eventually 
ideological differences become real differences in behavior and outlook.  It 
may make the project of global liberation more difficult.  But it is certainly 
one of the processes ongoing.  The 'reality' of civilizations in fifty or one 
hundred years depends on the outcome of struggles in the present to produce a 
unified or fractured geoculture.  But I am not sure this is so different than 
the situation that produced earlier versions of 'Islamic', 'Western' etc. 
civilization, although clearly the potential to produce and disseminate a 
unified global geoculture is much greater today.

Steven Sherman

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