“The division of labor among nations is that some specialize in winning and others in losing. Our part of the world, known today as Latin America, was precocious: it has specialized in losing ever since those remote times when Renaissance Europeans ventured across the ocean and buried their teeth in the throats of the Indian civilizations”.
The term 'democracy’ has accrued tremendous normative baggage over the centuries, once negative but now more positive. In this gradual development of the concept it has become further and further ingrained in common consciousness as an unassailable 'third-rail’- something no one is willing to touch, let alone dispute its efficacy in society at large. The liberal model of representative democracy that has become the basis of our relationship to political action and expression has fundamentally failed in its mission to enable a real discourse between citizen and state. It has instead separated the two parties, allowing them to operate almost independently. The state is not tied to the will of those who sustain it, but has been alienated so far from this role, becoming more of a passive administrator that only allows input from those it commands and indentures on a timescale of years rather than months or weeks. In this tract we will openly discuss the shortfalls of this sacred calf and reach an understanding of democracy as something hostile to the individual and to individual political action.
Today, the march of globalisation and progress act as forces of entropy to homogenise culture and identity. This is the “air that kills” that is blowing incessantly in the modern world. These forces cannot be indefinitely resisted, which is why conservativism is an inherently pessimistic ideology. As Lord Salisbury said: “Politics is delay”. Tradition is the tool we use to inject social capital on the local level to delay cultural entropy, in the doomed hope of resisting it on a global level. I take traditions to be activities that are performed collectively by civil society or (occasionally) the state that are repeated over time, treated reverently, reinforce a sense of place and have no immediate useful purpose. They might be the State Opening of Parliament, country shows, church services, marriage, curious uniforms and manners and etiquette, to name some randomly. They are a secular communion that reaffirm the values and social connections within a country, community and family. Tradition is a therefore a conservative state of mind and evokes the same ideas of habit, settlement, inheritance and membership that we can also see in Houseman’s poetry.
This article seeks to compare the different cultural appreciations of being successful in order to grasp the universal meaning of success. It will first analyse the concept of success in a western context, revealing that the words popularity is consequent to the “I-self” values promoted since 16th century renaissance. Then, it will ascertain how expressions of success differs in “we-self” societies like Japan. Finally, from these comparisons along with Chomsky’s universal grammar theory and Professor Michael Lewis’s work, it will assert that success is ultimately about recognition from the social group.