Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Cultural Dynamism vs Cultural Invasion


Cultural Dynamism  vs Cultural Invasion

On Tuesday, May 17, when some members of Upper House of Parliament complained about the inability of government and, particularly Ministry of culture and information, to protect the so-called Afghan culture against foreign cultural invasion because it (Ministry of culture and information) failed to stop TV channels broadcasting foreign dramas which were against Islamic culture and Islamic teachings of Afghanistan; I recalled my teenage, when I used to live in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan Province.

If any one of you is interested to understand what the true meanings of fundamentalism, extremism and conservatism are, just have a happy journey there since Afghanistan of Taliban does not exist anymore. But the city has a privilege which makes me optimistic that it likely restores its past relative open and moderate environment and ends the current abysmal situation, unlike parts of Afghanistan, from the very regions Taliban militants built power and were sympathized, which were benefited lesser from modernization and open environment of cities like Kabul before start of civil war.

Anyhow, I used to live during the end of Taliban regime in Afghanistan till years later. When US attacked Afghanistan, there was angry voices calling for Jihad, the decree if issued by high influential scholars, all Muslims are obliged to wage war and fight. However, I am sure, that religious scholars were hurt, except a very minor fraction of modern clergies or who opposed the project of Talibanism, but none moved ahead, and all remained silent when Pakistani government sided with US as well as global attitude turned against militants through out the world, particularly in Muslim countries.

Well, one of the things frequently discussed was the concept of cultural invasion, when I first heard the term it appeared completely vague for me. Once I was sitting with two of the teachers in office of my school, a person who just returned from Afghanistan after the outstation of Taliban quoted that various English centers were being opened across the country to respond to increasing demands of Afghan youngsters learning English as their second language. At once, my teachers frowned and said: "then West has started enforcing her colonizing policies and aims at eliminating cultural values of the country". According to him language was inseparable and key part of culture.

Indeed, the cultural invasion is not a new term. From years, it has been the center of hot-bed discussion in third world countries. These countries have been practicing different types of traditions and rituals and have had different life styles. Thus, almost anything that went against the old normal process of the society has been deemed as ill-export of West, the term applied to European and North American countries. When cables became prevalent and demands were increasing for it, many were going mad against programs which, of course, were against their tradition. Religious scholars were alarming people, "please, be afraid of God and his judgment in the day of resurrection (Qiyamat) and do not learn from TV cables and dish, learn holy Quran and pray to Allah to protect you against evils of today's world".

Such sounds are heard here in the country since the very outstation of Taliban regime. Several times, TV channels have been criticized by traditionalists about their programs on the basis of their contrast with Islamic teachings.
For this layer of society, indiscriminate cultural depiction of their country's traditions, or any change in the course of society is deemed evil, and all the rituals practiced are deemed good.

For decades many view with suspicion everything which has some kind of links with the West. Concepts like modernization, globalization etc have been viewed equal to Westernization and Americanization. Indubitably, after the Second World War and subsequently Cold War, European countries and United States has had huge affect on the global order. Even it can be claimed that after the collapse of Soviet Union, which engraved the bi-polar global order, the US emerged as the super power in the world. Such position for the US, who has been the supporter of democracy in the sphere of politics, free-market economy in sphere of economy, and liberal individualism in social and cultural context, definitely has been effective to promote such values.
Most such values are globalized and deemed as value even by the poverty-striken and backward countries like Afghanistan.

It does not seem that anybody can ever stop the technological explosion and its rapid spread through the entire world. Large portion of people will definitely use TV channels, and desire variety of programs anywhere in the world. Censuring them can only be a brake, but soon after communication technology like satellites, which even now a poor family of Afghan can provide for, can respond to demands of people and circulate the censorship plan. Accepting or not, remaining silent or resisting, modern world and its values will never leave anything untouched. Now youngsters whether African, Asian, American or European will put on the same brand of jeans. So, if the process is not controlled, the propagators of traditional and cultural values can do nothing else except struggling uselessly.

The term "cultural invasion" should not be used again, and replaced by term "cultural dynamism". Major modern values are not all against the traditional values and they should be accepted. Something which deemed as taboo according to religious teachings can be reformed according to modern demands of cities and countries. Practices which are against such global values should be left away at any cost. The thing which is the most complicated as well as difficult part of phenomenon is about morality. One of the unacceptable evils of, perhaps, modernization is sexual freedom and immodesty which can cause many social and psychological problems and disorders. Therefore, struggles of both religious scholars and government should be concentrated on such issues and alarm youngsters about such pitfalls.

Jawad Rahmani is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mail@outlookafghanistan.com

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