To illustrate his argument, let me quote from his essay:
"Anthropologists tell us that every culture has its core of central, commonly shared assumptions--some call them zeitgeists, others call them dogmas. These are beliefs that each individual in the tribe or community will maintain vigorously, almost like a reflex.
"It's a universal of every society. For instance, in the equatorial regions of the globe there's a dogma that could be called machismo, in which revenge is a paramount virtue that runs deeper even than religion. From Asian family centrism to Russian pessimism, there are worldviews that affect nations' behavior more basically than superficial things like communism, or capitalism, or Islam. It all has to do with the way children are raised.
"We, too, have our zeitgeist. But I am coming to see that contemporary America is very, very strange in one respect. It just may be the first society in which it is a major reflexive dogma that there must be no dogmas!"
"But think, for a moment, how unique this is . . . how unusual this cultural mind-set has to be! Throughout history nearly every human society has worked hard to ingrain its children with the assumption that theirs was the only way to do things. Oh, we still get a lot of that here. It probably comes automatically with flags and nations and all that tribal stuff. But where and when else has the societal dogma also included such a powerful counter-indoctrination to defend otherness?"
"The Dogma of Otherness insists that all voices deserve a hearing, that all points of view have something of value to offer."
Links of interest:
*begining of 'The Dogma of Otherness' essay (unfortunatly the full text is not online, but you can get it from a library near you or buy online)
*The New Meme - another of Brin's essay's which discusses this issue (this one has full text available)
*Survival of the Fittest Ideas: The New Style of War -- a Struggle Among Memes (excerpt from Brin's speech)
Googling for "The Dogma of Otherness" produces also some other people's comments about this issue, but I think reading original Brin first is a better idea.
TTags: Culture, Brin