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Old 24.05.2011, 11:15
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Re: Cultural Identity: Why is it so important?

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Flanders is the majority part of Belgium and so it is not so much a breaking away but a partition.
I was thinking more about the previous partition, when the Catholic Flemish population of what was then the Southern part of the Netherlands rebelled against the rule of the Protestant Dutch majority and broke away from them, preferring to associate politically with their French-speaking neighbours with whom they had precious little in common apart from their Catholic religion. A move they have since come to regret.
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Old 24.05.2011, 11:50
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Re: Cultural Identity: Why is it so important?

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I was thinking more about the previous partition, when the Catholic Flemish population of what was then the Southern part of the Netherlands rebelled against the rule of the Protestant Dutch majority and broke away from them, preferring to associate politically with their French-speaking neighbours with whom they had precious little in common apart from their Catholic religion. A move they have since come to regret.
The Catholic part of the Netherlands plus the protestant Antwerp area did break away from the Northern Netherlands, this is true. But Belgium was NOT politically associated with France at all. And heavily into the 20th Century, the Wallonie was economically quite strong. Many problems in Belgium result out of the breakdown of the outdated Wallonie industry after WWII . One bond which still unites the Belgians against the "Northern" Netherlands is the better cuisine
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  #83  
Old 06.06.2011, 15:56
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Re: Cultural Identity: Why is it so important?

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Good point. Who can give me an example of an inclusive religion?

The only one I can come up with were the old Romans, who simply included Egyptian, Germany or Celtic gods into their own believe system whenever they conquered a new territory. But the modern monotheistic ones are fairly exclusive...
That's because the Romans never considered the possibility that anybody might not be part of their religion. Most world religions require you to somehow formally join their Church at some point, and so divide the world into believers and non believers. The Romans didn't make that distinction and so it was only logical for them to infer that whatever anybody out there believed or did to honour or worship their Gods, it must somehow be part of their universal religion.

The Roman religion was also a pick and choose affair. You didn't have to know or believe all of it but within bounds, only the bits you wanted to. So basically it allowed parallel religions to exist under the mantle of pretending to be one religion.

The early Christians were not persecuted because they believed in Jesus. The Romans didn't actually have any trouble with that and would happily have made this Jesus guy and everything he did and said part of their religion. The Christians were persecuted because they actively denied all of the rest of the Roman religion.

That would be like today denying logic and common sense.
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Old 06.06.2011, 17:03
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Re: Cultural Identity: Why is it so important?

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Two and a half thousand years ago, western and central Europe was dominated by the culture of the Celts. From their original homeland in the Upper Danube, they took their language and their customs over mountains and across rivers, from the Atlantic coast to the deserts of Anatolia, from the Alps to the Ardennes. Until those cheeky Latin upstarts from the south appeared, it must have seemed like Celtic culture would live on forever, crushing lesser cultures under its enormous tartan wheels on its way to Tartary and beyond.

Today, apart from a couple of dying languages in the rain soaked islands of the North Atlantic and a fondness for plaid amongst a certain kind of sentimental Canadian, the culture of the Celts is dead. The Romans came, then the Germans came, then Christianity came, then industry came, then the tanks came, then television came, and now, were you to ask a fisherman sitting on the banks of the Upper Danube what his culture was, his answer would have nothing to do with that which passed two millennia ago. Perhaps he drinks Tannenzaepfle beer, perhaps he wears a Burberry rain jacket, perhaps he watches the Eurovision song contest, perhaps he likes Country and Western. Whatever he is, though, he aint no Celt.

Is this man any less of a man for not maintaining the culture of his ancestors? Is Europe any poorer for not being a Celtic continent? Does anybody really care any more? Should they?

I ask because there has been a lot of fuss in the Swiss newspapers recently about maintaining the cultural identity of Switzerland. The people of Zurich have just voted to exclude the use of one of the official languages of Switzerland from their kindergartens, partly on the grounds that they don't want to see their "cultural identity" eroded.

What is this cultural identity of which they speak? Switzerland has a very rich culture - of that there is no doubt - but how much of it is original, how much is set in stone? Most Swiss in the centre and east of the country speak one of the many dialects of Allemanish German - but are their French, Italian and Rumantsch speaking compatriots any less Swiss for not speaking one of these dialects? Is eating Roesti any more or less Swiss than eating Saussicon Vaudois with potato gratin and leeks? Is it, for that matter, any more or less Swiss than eating a Doner Kebab or Currywurst? If so - why? What makes Roesti particularly Swiss, given that potatoes are a relatively recent import to the country, as alien to a 16th Century Swiss as a kebab?

A hundred and fifty years ago, there was no Rivella, no Migros, no Feldschloessli beer. But there was a Switzerland.

Conversely, a hundred and fifty years ago there must have been many distinctively Swiss things, lost forever. Yet still there is a Switzerland.

Culture changes all the time - things are lost, things are gained, people die and people emigrate, people are born and people immigrate. What makes Switzerland Swiss will continue to change just as it has changed since those chaps made their pledge on the Ruetli meadow back in 1291. Yet Switzerland is still Swiss, and is likely to continue being Swiss for a long time to come.

Is Swissness really dependent on a fixed cultural identity, to be preserved at all costs against foreign intrusion and influence?

What do you think? (Comments welcome from born-Swiss, new-Swiss, foreigners and Englishmen alike)

Hmmm. your post is certainly food for thought!

About two years ago I came across the term "the world is flat" and based on the effects of this statement- I now strongly believe that cultural identity is the essence of what has been passed down from generation to generation. Gen X/ Y etc will always engulf the latest trends in; clothes, TV programmes (good ones and even repulsively sickening ones) etc irrespective of their cultural identity...following trends can effect the intensity of cultural traditions. Unfortunately, I believe that "Swissness" is not absolute and is relative in reference to " today's trends" as it was in previous times.

An applause for the prominence of cultural traditions that maitains a steady norm in the dorfs. From an economic perspective "the world is now a levelled playing field". However, one would hope that Switzerland will always phyisically stand out not only because of its geographical terrain but because of its inheritance of "Swissness" that is based on principles excercised by the generations of yesterday.
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