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Western Music not really necessary for Modernity

Reader comment on item: You Need Beethoven to Modernize

Submitted by Linas Kondratas (Lithuania), Nov 27, 2002 at 04:42

[High rates of economic growth depend not just on the right tax laws, but on a population versed in the basics of punctuality, the work ethic, and delayed gratification. The flight team for an advanced jet bomber cannot be plucked out of a village but needs to be steeped into an entire worldview. Political stability requires a sense of responsibility that only civil society can inculcate. And so forth.]

I agree that economic growth depends on punctuality, work ethic and delayed gratification, but one has not to turn Western to have these points. Confucian work ethics has these points even more than contemporary Western. As for delayed gratification, I think that contemporary Westerners are mouch more less capable of it than average Chinese, Hindu or even Muslim.

It is true that absence of punctuality is realy an obstacle for economical growth in some regions as in Latin America or the Arab world.

A flight team must have certain cultural habits, but I don't think they have to adopt "entirely different world view". China and India has very strong armies, but I don't think their soldiers has radically altered their worldview.

[They welcome American medical and military technology but reject its political philosophy or popular culture. Technology shorn of cultural baggage is their ideal.

Sad for them, fully reaping the benefits of Western creativity requires an immersion into the Western culture that produced it. Modernity does not exist by itself, but is inextricably attached to its makers.]

Political philosophy certainly is more important for becoming modern, but American popular culture is hardly needed for modernization. Full imersion into somebody's else culture is impossible and quite unnecessary. Have Japanese fully immersed in the WEstern culture? I think not since otherwise Huntingdon had listed them as Western, rather than a separate civilization. But certainly they adopted Western political philosophy and have a working liberal democracy.

The Japanese liking for the Western music could mean that their musical culture was less developed until the Meiji era and had less weight in indigenous culture than in other parts of world. Maybe Japanese felt that Western music fills some gaps in their culture which were unfilled to that date. I know nothing about Japanese music and it is difficult for me to judge, it is only a guess.

As for Arabs and Turks, they have realy strong indigenous musical traditions, and I think that dislike for Western classical music is generalized among them and would be there even if they weren't Muslims. The opposition of clerics to the Western music is ideological, but so is the opposition of Islamists to the Sufi music. However the later enjoys high popularity in masses and among many clerics. As for the "liking" of secular Turks of the Western classical music, it is also purely ideological and rather show their inferiority complex. I am sure that 90% of those Turks who go to listen Beethoven, are bored to death, but they want to appear Western at any price. They have difficulties with serious institutional and economic reforms, so they have recourse to such superficialities as listening Western music or making war against Muslim ladies in Hijab.

By the way India which is of course not yet a prosperous country, but not a failed country anyway and already produced large pool of successful people, India has not less dislike for the Western music as the Arab World. But I think this will not hamper it to become prosperous.

[They remain permanently in arrears, coping with one wave of Western influence after another, barely keeping up and exerting virtually no influence over the West.]

One has only to read this phrase to understand that it was writen before 9/11. Yes now they certainly exert very much influence on West, but of very morbid kind.

As for Muslims remaining in arrears and resisting change, it goes back to the idea of Jihad extended and understood as resistance to evey change antithetic to Islam, be this resistance peaceful or militant. I think that even the moderate Islam holds this view, only that they may discard for the most part militant methods.

Submitting....

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