by John Ward
Without the retention and encouragement of natural, bottom-up cultures, the human race will sink into an abyss of bureaucratic status quo. The battle between controlling process and open-minded creativity is the war of our Age.
Ever since Microsoft bought Skype – now somewhat old hat, but ten years ago, a revolution in international phone charges – the service has degraded, the bollocks content has trebled, the updates have quadrupled….and excellent phone alternatives like WhatsApp and Messenger have (I’d imagine) cut a swathe through its business model.
Every time Skype updates me, the service is always a mess for at least a fortnight. The last one was a month ago, and now this morning they want to award me another one. They seem to be oblivious to the competition biting at their heels: not a single update occurs with a view to improving the service. The only criterion appears to be the desire of one binary pointyhead to have something new and groovy up there. (I’d have ditched it long ago in favour of WhatsApp, but for the fact that SFR here in France doesn’t support it. But then, that’s the anti-protectionist, free-market EU for you).
Gmail gave itself a really flash new look two months ago. Now it’s like settling down to watch a movie: there’s a really neat animated logo, and a little red line that shows the connection gradually becoming secure and then bingo, up come your emails. The only problem is, it takes twice as long to load….and if you go to another window for more than a minute, it starts from the beginning again. Meanwhile, the way Gmail orders conversations remains as eccentric as ever.
The “improvement” to Gmail consists of a cheesy choice of replies you can make to your friends when they e you to say they got dumped or had a leg bitten off by a crocodile. So the choices for that latter one would be No Shit, Go boil your Head, and Never Smile at a crocodile. But just think of the time you save not having to type the response yourself:
“Crocodile, schmocodile….I’m busy already. Look, you take an outback trip, there are crocodiles there, am I right? Caveat emptor for fuck’s sake”.
You see, Google emotes so you don’t have to.
Last week, the host of this your favourite website replied to my complaints about ads appearing via certain browsers (a) without my permission and (b) without any kickback for me. This was their response on Twitter:
If you think that’s an adequate reply from a host caught in the act of using myten year investment in a blog brand without my permission while not telling me about it is adequate, well fine and rock on. Do you want to buy Westminster Bridge as a feature for your back garden, as you sound like just the sort of mug I need.
Observe the mealy-mouthed non-apology: “We have to be dishonest and fuck up the look of your site without your permission because without us doing that, you’d have to pay”.
The foregoing may have seemed to you merely a series of moans about the service and integrity gap that typifies almost every last provider of internet service.
But my point here is that, without the right culture, every person, organisation and country on the planet will go wrong.
A bad culture that ignores all sound advice to change will go to the wall.
An outfit that contains conflicting cultures will pull itself apart until a civil war lines a lot of people up against the wall.
Only a creation with a clear, majority and forever relevant culture will smash through every wall to solve a problem.
The ultimate fate of the three examples above will be, respectively, revolution, vassal status, and benevolent survival.
I embrace the idea of a multi-ethnic society that adds positively to the overall culture of the host. I reject the insane concept of a multicultural society where one or more minority sexuality, gender, racial, ideological or religious groups want to dominate the debate.
However, by far the worst of all worlds is the attempt by a non-existent culture to impose its imperial fantasies onto individual sovereign States. There never was any such thing as a ‘Soviet’ culture. After nearly 250 years, there is still no such thing as an ‘American’ culture. After 3,000 years there is no such thing as a ‘Chinese’ culture. And as sure as eggs are oeufs, there is no such thing as a ‘European’ culture.
There are, however, Muscovite, Tartar and Bashir cultures, a Californian culture, a Deep South culture, a Mandarin culture, a Hoinam culture, an Aquitaine culture, a Parisian culture, a Macedonian culture, a Mani culture and many, many others around the world.
The Earth is not a Global Village, it is a fascinating kaleidoscope of cultural difference and adaptive diaspora. It is a planet upon which live millions of species, almost all of them dependent on the survival of other species. This means that the most successful inhabitants are those that compete to ensure species development, and cooperate with other tribes and species to ensure maximal survival.
Perhaps not in my lifetime – but certainly before the century is half over – all of the major power blocs will have disintegrated into their cultural parts. And leading the way in this change (almost entirely as a result of their its own existential hubris) will be the European Union.