The subject of a culture war has been around a good bit lately. But what does it really mean and why does it matter? We, as a society, seem to be involved in a great many disagreements, debates, contests, and struggles. Just to name a few we have the Liberal-Conservative, the Left-Right, the Religious-Atheist, and the Individualist-Collectivist. Debate and struggle breaks out on such diverse topics as Abortion, Drugs, Regulation, Finance, Guns, and even Christmas. I don't seem to fit clearly on either side in many of these.
Just to take one as an example, take a look at the Left-Right political struggle. I cannot endorse all the positions taken by either side; and I refuse to be classed based on the seating arrangement used in the French Parliament of their new government after the revolution of 1848. But I think the over all term of Culture War best describes the collection of struggles, although even that is hard to be certain of.
It is hard to be certain partly because we need to use words in a debate or to explain an idea; and the words and their definitions are certainly slippery. I appologize to Isaac Asimov for stealing his example of evolving definitions.... Gay used to mean full of happiness, humor, or boisterousness. One need only run across two drunken marines, singing at a bus stop, and remark 'you are certainly gay, aren't you?' This could result in bruises or a more severe beating. Unless they are gay, and then the results could be even more appalling.
When I was young, the definition of 'culture' closest to the culture war basically dealt with refinement and taste. We spoke of a "cultured person" as someone who had good manners, good judgement in art, musc, literature, etc. But then the term expanded and added a meaning or definition taken from Anthropology. In this definition 'culture' seems to refer to those values, habits, traditions, and assumptions that form the basis of society and are passed on from one generation of people to the next. This later definition seeems to best it today's Culture Warrior and the Culture War.
We are indeed involved with a set of isssues and debates that revolve around creating a Culture to be passed on to our children. There are soo many issues involved that I strngly doubt that anyone can be an expertt in all of them. You could devote a lifetime of study and practice to become a professional or expert Linguist, Lawyer, Theologian, Historian or Philosopher; and that list oesn't even scratch the surface of the issues or subjects involved.
But all these subjects and more are involved in the outcome; and I feel impelled to pass on the crumbs I have discovered. I plan to use this blog as one medium to do that.