VALUES - A CULTURAL AXIOMATIC
From Interculturalism to Transculturalism
A BILINGUAL (GERMAN-ENGLISH) STUDY
In this essay I would like to address the subject of values, their logic and their management: Values! - Probably no other term has been used as frequently as this term in East and West over the past years. Washington’s game of alliances is determined by it as much as Europe’s. Chief executives of the EU define the European Community as a community of values. On both sides of the Atlantic it presides over strategic, military and economic thinking. Even transatlantic policy and strategy are subject to this key criterion of alliances. The Asian nations might circumvent such a Western rationalist intellectual construct and simply uphold their uniqueness beyond the ken of outsiders. The values debate seems to be globally scaled in culturally diverse garbs and styles. It has taken over the baton from the 20th century’s ideological debate to be carried on into the 21st century global arena of worldwide “co-opetition” (US neologism combining cooperation and competition). The baton sprint sports metaphor in a henceforth globally scaled arena sets the scene in the sense that it suggests both tough inter-group competition and best practice intra-group cooperation. Should it, however, be a replay of the old game with higher stakes, we know what we are in for. Therefore the understanding of values as a global cultural axiomatic is imperative:
Either you share the values of the respective cultural group or you are out-group. The ideological axiomatic of the game of alliances of the previous historical era has been followed by a cultural axiomatic. But the fundamental principle of ”L’ennemi de mon ennemi est mon ami and l’ami de mon ennemi est mon ennemi” (“The enemy of my enemy is my friend and the friend of my enemy is my enemy”) still applies. It testifies to the inability to handle a certain degree of diversity and centrifugality, as this might undermine the integrity of the group. Stability of a system, metastability and instability could be borrowed from science to characterize different states of equilibrium in a system, natural or socio-cultural. Irreversible disequilibria conjure up the end of any system and are, as a rule, abhorred by natural as much as by sociocultural systems.
When in-group diversity and heterogeneity reaches a certain level it is reinforced by authoritarian means as in fascism. Therefore the making of nations frequently leads to authoritarianism and ethnocentrism, because the maintenance of the coherence and integrity of the cultural group requires centralized, authoritarian measures to control the centrifugal tendencies of group diversity by centripetal measures and structures that safeguard the homeostasis of the system, which otherwise would break apart. Depending on the cultural inclination of the cultural group the strategies for safeguarding the homeostasis and viability of a cultural group may take various shapes and forms from outright naked power in culturally authoritarian environments to more subtle mechanisms ofinculcating group coherence through parochial and ethnocentric norms and values reinforcement in less authoritarian cultures. Whereas in the former authoritarianism assumes more physical and direct shapes and forms which may include physical intra-group fighting and cleansing, in the latter group pressure at all other levels than the naked power coercive strategy of authoritarian cultures will be so strong that any deviation will by collectively crucified at the political, legal and media, informational and cultural level. One might conceptualize the strategies in view of the maintenance of group coherence on a continuum form naked power measures to a wide range of more indirect and more subtle coercive measures across the entire institutional and cultural environments of a cultural group. The type of strategies adopted will depend on the cultural orientation of the group. Coercion will be either very physical and direct in culturally authoritarian environments or more subtle and indirect in supposedly more democratic environments. In either case and in spite of the shapes and forms it takes the fundamental values axiomatic applies.
The principle displays a high degree of universality, while the form it takes is culture-contingent. Group integrity and survival is perceived as a non-negotiable superordinate value which entails a set of integrative values, norms and assumptions. Any attempt to question and reverse this high priority value triggers responses of collective survival in various degrees. At a geopolitical scale, for example, any active non-compliance and perceived reversal of China’s One China Policy conjures up a thread of war to protect this high-ranking value in this nation’s hierarchy of values. Closer to us the struggle for the integrity of cultural group values has set the European multi-cultural Balkans on fire right at the threshold to the twenty-first century. Even the Superpower that champions freedom and liberty above everything else has been and is at risk of sacrificing its prime values to the still higher value of group integrity and stability. If this superordinate value cannot materialize no other value can emerge in a cultural group.
The consecration of the values of the in-group necessarily goes with the condemnation of those who do not share the vital in-group values for the maintenance of group integrity, their definition as out-group and therefore as real and potential enemies who must be fought. The fight against this supposed enemy further fosters group coherence by focusing group all attention and energies on the common cause. And when this reaches a high degree it may result in war which is a total strategy for the maintenance of group integrity. In that sense the game of values as a group integrator or destroyer causes wars. They are cultural wars as to their mechanisms, although economic and other motives may be involved.
Values are dialectical by nature and the more they are affirmed the more they challenge opposite values. When a critical point is reached the escalation of conflict sets in. The very concept of values is dialectical and triggers various degrees of conflict. - Are values dialectical and take the shape of antagonisms because the entire human psychosomatic architecture, its very neurophysiology with its energetic antagonism, is cast in the mould of duality? Why is this core question not considered to instruct culture research? Scientific research of a values axiomatic would require the interdisciplinary cooperation by physiologists and culturalists to provide a further leading understanding of the biological basis of the dualism of the game of values. - Therefore the notion of values must be considered more holistically if one wants to understand human affairs, be it in the political, economic or social arena.
The psychosomatic dualism also seems to be a cultural construct in the sense that cultures like the Indian for example consider both as material. This may also better explain Hofstede’s assumption that a lack of cultural identity corrupts. We may add that it can corrupt the mind and due to its somatic interconnection with its physiological base the body as well.
As values are at the very heart of what is called culture, culture is the key to war and peace of nations, although they may be caused by a range of motives, which can be identified and prioritized. If this notion with its logic can have such disastrous consequences one might assume that, if it is correctly managed, it may prevent such dialectical cycles of conflict. And one may further assume that such potent energies as seem to be inherent in culture and values can be harnessed to improve the performance of cultural players, of groups, nations and corporations, indeed, of the one earth with its global cultural group, for similar mechanism apply irrespective of the size of the group. Larger scale cultural groups can obviously trigger stronger cultural phenomena for the better of the worse which are replicated in the culture group’s environment as a whole, because increased resources and higher stakes have a stronger and differently scaled impact. Ecological issues that impact the biosphere as a whole therefore require particular cultural awareness and intercultural cooperation in the interest of mankind at large. Is global survival not man’s value number 1?
Shared values integrate, their negation disintegrates. They are a matter of “to be or not to be”, a vital, existential psycho-social question for cultural players at their diverse group scales. The question then arises, whether cultural players are determined by the game of values as an integrator or destroyer of their existence as cultural players? This assumption would also relativize the leadership impact of their leaders. The values axiomatic, dialectical and antagonizing by nature - because human nature seems to be cast the mould of duality - would therefore prevail over the leaders who can shape the form of the values game but would nonetheless remain subject to its logic. At best they could act as referees who preside over the rules of the game of values. Then these would be simple instruments that personify and enact the game of values which have an inexorable mechanism of their own. Then leadership would be a mere variable in the equation of a values axiomatic which would therefore be the real and seemingly irreversible biological “condition humaine” that conditions all mental activity and thereby the environment. Yet, its fuller understanding might cast a new light on it that might instruct its management. As pointed out above, intercultural/-disciplinary cooperation by physiologists and culturalists could identify the missing link between the logic of values and the dualism of human nature and provide a key to its management as I have attempted to do in the transcultural approach presented in the second part of this essay under the title “From Interculturalism to Transculturalism”.
The redirection of a holistic culture researcher’s gaze at the consciousness of the observer and perceiver as the supposed owner of a mind with the sum total of its conditioning and programming to which the quantum paradigm invites us should be underpinned scientifically for evidence and validation of assumptions. First and foremost it requires intercultural cooperation between science and social science. This entails a contextualization of culture and values in the human structure a whole which can provide more complete information on the cultural values issue.
Let us go to the root meaning of values, before we explore different generations of culture research in order to find out what their contributions to the management of the values axiomatic as a strong determinant of human affairs can be. For, if we can better manage the logic of values we are also likely to improve the management of culture conflict, of the ultimate question of war and peace and of success and failure in other global arenas such as the global corporate world.
The term value seems to have existed for some thousand years in our cultural area’s vocabulary and it precedes the entrance of the term culture into the vocabulary of that same culture area by half a thousand years. Both are, as culturalists and interculturalists know very well, derived from Latin. The root word of culture is cultura and has been used by our Roman Western forbears in the sense of tilling the soil. It also refers to cult in the sense of a transcendental connection of man. So, the physical-metaphysical environment seems to be at the heart of what two thousand years ago has been considered as cultura or culture as we call it today. Today the social dimension of the term is highlighted by interculturalists. This leads to a more modern threefold notion of culture which encompasses three relational dimensions, that to the physical environment, that to the transcendental environment and that to the human environment.
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- intercultural management transcultural management international diversity management; interkulturelles Management transkulturelles Management internationales Diversitätsmanagement intercultural quantum metaphor