chapter  16
15 Pages

Culture, identity and world process

ByJonathan Friedman

The past decade has witnessed a marked change in the cultural state of the world that could not have been predicted in the ‘progressive years’ of the 1960s. In the increasingly crisis-ridden centres of the world system there has been an implosive loss of faith in the progress of ‘civilization’, and a corresponding explosion of new cultural movements, from cults and religious revival to primitivism, a new traditionalism, a striving for the reestablishment of a new culturally defined identity. All of this activity has been accompanied by an increasing ‘national’ and ethnic fragmentation in the centre-from Basques and Catalans to the Irish and Scots-and an exponential increase in cultural-based political movements, collectively referred to as the ‘Fourth World’: Amerindians, Hawaiians, the Melanesian Kastom movement, etc. In the following discussion I hope to be able to suggest some of the ways in which an understanding of this truly global phenomenon might be approached. Such an understanding is necessary if we are to come to grips with a process that has not only seriously affected our conditions of existence, but even our interests, values and desires.