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Western High and Low Culture

Reader comment on item: You Need Beethoven to Modernize
in response to reader comment: Beethoven & MidEast Success

Submitted by Samuel Schwartz (Israel), Dec 28, 2005 at 08:45

Dear Dr. Pipes:

A few thoughts/questions:

1. Pipes' argument seems to be that in order for a non-Western nation to get the maximum benefit from Western technology/ideas it must whole-heartedly embrace elements of the Western value system. Acceptance of Western music is a proxy correlating with acceptance of the larger Western value system.

2. Commentators have noted that (some of) the 9-11 terrorists, French youth rioters and others have adopted Western cultural practices (music in particular). Dr. Pipes has noted that this adoption is of the "lower" Western culture and not "the essence of our cultural achievements." Does it follow that he believes that non-Western countries that accept low but not high Western culture, will be less successful in modernizing?

3. Did the terrorists of 9-11, 3-11 and 7-7, and the French youth rioters really embrace the Western (low) cultural values which they practiced? Theodore Dalrymple's article "The Suicide Bombers Among Us" hypothesizes that it is the very fact that European Muslims are ambivalent about their acceptance of lower Western culture, behavior and value systems that leads some of them to try and redeem themselves through shahada.

Best regards,


Sam

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