The Problem With Culture Wars

Context: More Devoted to Order Than to Justice

I think that a focus on either end of the causal-ontological spectrum is actually a failure of intelligence, understandable as it may be. Causation in complex systems is not reducible to overarching structural forces of governance and policy and nor is it reducible to individuals’ biases. The subtle interplay between part and whole is a recurring ontological or hierarchical and heuristic hurdle which has never (to my mind) been addressed with sufficient intelligence or conceptual sophistication in public policy debates or authentic attempts at progressive social, cultural and political remediation or systemic improvement.

Granted, these discussions and public policy dialogues are critically important. However, I can’t get past a feeling that the dichotomy of part/whole (which is at base the conceptual assumption and axiomatic “container” of this debate) as an explanatory strategy is always already shaped, contoured or unwittingly biased to supporting the kinds of discrimination logic and taxonomy of difference, inequity and historical injustice which are under analysis. It is as though with best intentions we are seeking to restructure our strategies within a pre-existing rules-set and game which can only ever in one way or another reproduce the algorithmic inevitabilities inherent to its logical topology.

Shallow innovation is a reshuffling of the configurations and sequences of elements and entities within a system of thought. Deep innovation encapsulates shallow entity and relationship identification, configuration, recombination but also dives deep into the basic conceptual assumptions and ontological containers through which we understand, explain and progressively remake our world.

A culture war always already privileges a standing systemic-order (and all of its implicit biases) because that standing order is already the successfully self-propagating consequence of many thousands of years of selection and rarification through just such culture wars. This is precisely why sophistication, intelligence and authentic systemic innovation is necessary at an axiomatic and foundational level of analysis and activity. I acknowledge that there are proliferating complexities and enigmas intrinsic to my assertion but this is perhaps representative of the deeply complex and non-linear systems that we have to this point been primarily rendering with crayons and clockwork. The profoundly reflexive symmetries underlying individual beliefs and formalised methods of governance are likely not remediable through the same mechanistic and reductionist conceptual frameworks which birthed these complex problems.

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