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What exactly is Asian culture?



The idea that "the other culture" is some sort of inscrutable, mysterious entity that's completely alien to any kind of understanding or bridging by foreigners is a common talking point of authoritarian, nationalistic and/or warmongering rhetoric. It allows to make a number of points, such that foreign country X is the enemy, immigrants from country Y could never integrate, critics from foreign country Z should shut up because they can't possibly understand OUR culture, etc.

This kind of mentality goes beyond countries or cultures, but also affects differences between generations, genders, sexuality, etc. It is far more convenient to explain away different behaviors as "It should be expected, she's X" (or the flipped "I can't help it, I'm X") than trying to work out and overcome differences on an individual level. We're all guilty of it to some extent as it helps build a sense of identity (notably among minority groups) but the normative aspect of it is very harmful.


Unbridgeable cultural gaps, as a general matter, are very real. I recently read Record of the Listener ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/1624666841/ ), which is a collection of stories published in China in the 12th century. And far and away my most common takeaway from any of the stories was "wow, I have no idea what I'm supposed to think about this". And these stories were published for their entertainment value!

Similarly, immigrant groups tend not to integrate, critics from foreign countries really are usually misunderstanding a large number of important points, and so on.

Between any two cultures, there is a huge amount of overlap. But nothing quite coincides, and the differences end up mattering a lot.


They are real but greatly exaggerated by people using the aforementioned rhetoric and completely surmountable. People who claim they aren't are either trying to push an agenda (usually on authoritarian, nationalistic, and/or warmongering grounds), or not very well-traveled or have very narrow social circles not involving foreigners at all.

Your 12th century stories are interesting and all but do not reflect the reality of the world we currently live in. If you live in a large city and have a medium-to-high salary, which is a reasonable assumption to make given HN's demographics, it is in fact easy to get acquainted to other cultures by traveling often (possibly living abroad), learning other languages and/or befriending (or dating) foreigners. Much easier than used to be a couple centuries ago, in any case. If you do, you will find that deep down beneath the veneer of culture humans are very much the same. I don't have data to back this up, this is only from my mere experience.

Pretending that cultural differences don't exist is harmful and condescending; acting as though they were insurmountable and irreconcilable is downright dangerous and leads to disaster.


They are surmountable if one of the cultures changes. There are cultures that think things we find deplorable are okay.


> The idea that "the other culture" is some sort of inscrutable, mysterious entity that's completely alien to any kind of understanding or bridging by foreigners is a common talking point of authoritarian, nationalistic and/or warmongering rhetoric.

Damn straight! Beijing just wants to rile up Hong Kong into defeating themselves, presumably so someplace closer to Beijing becomes a more powerful trading post. No other party has a motive to turn HK against itself like this.


HK youth getting Cambridge Analytica'd for the sake of the trade war by the usual actors.


Quite. Cynically it feels more like it describes the internal European and American image of the those people east of Europe. Asia is far more diverse than either America or Europe.

Sarcastically speaking, such stereotyping is typical of arrogant Westerners.


It is inscrutable!




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