The Logic of Cultural Suicide and Application to Contemporary Global Strategies: Drawing from Models in Psychology and Biology

Author: Lempert, David
Almanac: Globalistics and Globalization Studies Global Evolution, Historical Globalistics and Globalization Studies

This piece offers a preliminary test of the hypothesis that there are processes of cultural ‘suicide’, that are analogous to individual suicide or genetic suicide. It attempts to offer definitions and typologies of this phenomenon for future measurements and analysis within the context of theories of cultural change and processes of collapse and seeks to determine whether certain cases of cultural extinction or rapid transformation could be reclassified or classified as cultu- ral suicide. If this is a valid category for social processes, it may offer a logical explanation for what appears to be current choices of cultures in regard to strategies for human survival that are environmentally unsustainable or that appear to invite potential wars that threaten human holocaust. Analogies with other disciplines also suggest that in some cultural groups some processes of self-destruction may be at work that facilitate collapse and rebuilding or extinction as part of a cultural dynamics within groups of cultures. This could explain some current behaviors that are otherwise described as ‘irrational’. Nevertheless, we are only at the very early stages of modeling, explaining and predicting such behaviors. Opening up this topic also points to many of the unresolved paradoxes and difficult measurement issues that social sciences need to confront.

Keywords: suicide, culture, identity, determinism, classification, role theory, so-cial change.