Posts tagged ‘Americanization’

A Spot Of Light Reading: F.R. Leavis, ‘Mass Civilisation And Minority Culture’

Leavis begins by making comment on the fact that there are now a lot less people who he would categorize as ‘qualified’ to comment upon ‘culture’, i.e. there are not many people now who would be able to comment first-hand on ‘high culture’.

“goodwill and intelligence are still too little available.”

“to set up as a critic is to set up as a judge of values…”

However, he then makes reference to an earlier work of his in which he counters this idea with:

“the record and perpetuation of the experiences which seem to him most worth having. For reasons which we shall consider … he is also the man who is most likely to have experiences of value to record. He is the point at which the growth of the mind shows itself”.

Here, Leavis hints that although someone may not have been brought up in a ‘high society’, the experience of life itself would allow any man (or woman) the right to comment upon high society.

He digresses to attack America for the ‘dumbing down’ of the British society, blaming the film industry primarily. Although I think he does go a little ‘overboard’, he does ‘back-peddle’ slightly in enough time to add that it is because of America we have ‘greater efficiency, better salesmanship, and more mass-production and standardisation’.

He also covers ‘language’, primarily English. He highlights Russell’s thoughts that ‘English is the best language in the world for advertising’, again with an underlying fear that the supposed ‘Americanization’ may destroy this.

‘Shakespeare was not highbrow’

He goes on to make a bold statement that: ‘standardized civilization is rapidly enveloping the whole world’. If this is indeed true, then it is rather worrying. Will we all soon become all the same? Will we blend into a huge mass culture, unable to differentiate from one culture to the next?

In conclusion, Leavis states: “it is vain to resist the triumph of the machine i.e. all the ‘pros’ that globalization has brought us.

I.A. Richards: “this century is in a cultural trough rather than upon a crest…the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better…a slow climb back may be possible”.

“it is best if we can to keep open our communications with the future”