Global Culture: Communism Ideologies Relative to Arjun Appadurai’s Argument Research Paper
Global culture is changing rapidly due to the influence of political, economic, social, religious, and technological factors. Humanity is struggling to build a better society by ensuring that these factors function optimally and collectively towards achieving the millennial development goals and overall growth of nations.
In the 19 century, Karl Max and Frederick Engels drafted communism manifesto with the intention of transformation global culture after realizing that capitalism fashioned society into class struggles. Kuhn argues that “…in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour…small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands” (2011, Para.12).
Communism as an economic system represents a powerful and opposing force of capitalism not only in the European countries but also across the world. Capitalism and communism are two opposing commercial systems that dominated the world in the 19th century, but currently, capitalism is more dominant with many countries exercising the hybrid economic system of the two.
In contrast, Appadurai perceives capitalism as means of cultural, technological, and economic globalization, thus national development. Due to complexity of global culture and globalization, this essay compares and contrasts communism ideologies relative to Arjun Appadurai’s argument.
Karl Max and Frederick Engel see global culture and globalization as constructs of capitalism that result into power and class struggles. Individual members of the society are competing for available resources to attain different social classes that have certain powers.
Countries and mega-companies are also striving to achieve international hegemony by keeping abreast with the demands of globalization. Appadurai agrees that global cultural economy is subject to local factors that regulate it, such as surplus and deficits, consumers and producers that balance delicately in the world of capitalism.
Therefore, from perspective of communism, capitalism is shaping the individual, companies, society, and countries towards power and class struggles and as Kuhn argues, “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe.
It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere” (2011, Para.9). The quest for free market by capitalism has made capitalists venture into the remotest parts of the world, thus causing cultural globalization.
Appadurai argues that the complexity of global culture is due to economic, political, and social disjunctures that exist in the modern world. He elucidates five disjunctures that are responsible for globalization by stating that, “current global flows occur in and through the growing disjunctures between ethnoscapes, technoscapes, finances, mediascapes, and ideoscapes” (Appadurai, 1990, p.11).
The ethnical diversity and increased international travel has enhanced intercultural interaction and thus globalization of culture. International and cross-cultural exchange of information has increased speedily due to technological advancement and powerful influence of media to different audiences.
The ideology of capitalism has shaped acquisition and utilization of modern finances. Karl Max and Fredrick Engels argue that capitalism is eliminating cultural and international borders and replacing them with economic and social classes as product of cultural globalization. According to the communism manifesto, property has power and capitalism promotes individual acquisition of property, hence social power in the society.
Moreover, “Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriations” (Kuhn, 2011, Para.16). Karl Max and Frederick Engels hold that communism enhances equitable sharing of national and international resources while preserving cultural entities amidst the process of globalization. Capitalism, on the other hand, eliminates and destroys cultural entities and international borders by creating social and economic classes of people across the world. In contrast, Appadurai argues that capitalism provides a platform of social, economic, political, and cultural transformation that is imperative in keeping abreast with globalization.
Cultural and economic globalization results into ‘deterritorialization’ of various aspects of economic borders; for instance, shift from local industry and cultural diversity to outsourcing and class struggles respectively. Appadurai asserts that “deterritorialization is one of the central forces of the modem world, since it brings laboring populations into the lower-class sectors and spaces of relatively wealthy societies, creating exaggerated senses of criticism or attachment to politics in the home state” (1990, p.11).
Consistent with communism perception, deterritorialization is a consequent of globalization that causes inequality and exploitation of human labor under capitalism economic system. The strength of communism ideology lies in the creation of an equal society with cultural preservation, but its weakness lies in the fact that communal property ownership and restriction of market discourages economic growth. In comparison, strength of Appadurai’s argument is in the identification of disjunctures that flow in the process of globalization, but its weakness is that, disjunctive flows promote inequality among nations.
What is globalization?
Globalization is due to disjunctive flows that lead to cultural heterogenization and homogenization. The movie, Paris Is Burning, depicts ball culture and classifies contestants according to their race, gender, and social class. The movie portrays how social, political, and economic disjunctures have influenced ball culture not only in America but also in other countries.
The disjunctive flows elucidate how various aspects of society such as ethnicity, media, technology, ideas, and finance collectively interact resulting into cultural globalization. “At all periods in human history, there has been flow of disjunctures, but the sheer speed, scale and volume of each of these flows is now so great that the disjunctures have become central to the politics of global culture” (Appadurai, 1990, p.12). As depicted in Paris Is Burning, the performance of contestants depends upon their gender, social class, and race meaning that ball culture reflects both cultural imperialism and globalization across the world.
Paris Is Burning shows ‘deterritorialization’ of the world’s economic and cultural system that is gradually transforming in the modern society. Appadurai argues that, “the idea of deterritorialization may be applied to money and finance, as money managers seek the best markets for their investments, independent of national boundaries” (1990, p.13).
Likewise, the Paris is Burning reflects diversity in the world by selecting contestants from various races, gender, and social classes and interact them for the disjunctive flows to occur. Drag balls offered the opportunity for exchange of diverse attributes of contestants as disjunctive flows.
Transformation of global culture occurs due to social, political, and economic systems that nations possess. Communism is an economic system that antagonizes capitalism, but both have a significant influence on cultural globalization. Karl Max and Frederick Engel believe that capitalism is a bad economic system that creates inequality in the society and ‘deterritorialization’ of economic jurisdictions, but communists believe that deterritorialization enhances free market for business leading to unhealthy competition.
Appadurai holds that deterritorialization offers an opportunity of disjunctive flows that enhance cultural globalization. Therefore, capitalism provides political, social, and cultural environment where disjunctures interact effectively as in Paris Is Burning for the society to keep abreast with the globalization.
Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy. Spring, 2(2), 1-24
Kuhn, R. (2011). Karl Max and Frederick Engels: Manifesto of Communist Party 1848. Communist League. Web.
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