Jimmy Krotoff

Culture as communication. Competition and/or cooperation

I recently listened to Georgio Gaber l'America from the 1970s. Gaber became famous first as a pop singer, but he drastically changed genres, left television and became a satirical singer, like Pete Seeger. One of his grievances against America is that there is no culture in America. This is a very typical complaint of a European intellectual. Gaber thought that American culture was too "semplicità"-simple. Too "immediatezza" - primitive. He illustrated this with a sound quote from the rock and roll "Tutti frutti". Too sharp division into good and bad.

Gaber's rebuke is not quite fair: there is enough vulgarity and platitude in Europe, too.

Nevertheless, the peculiarity of American culture is obvious. But it is not vulgarity. American life is based on competition, and culture is based on competition plus communication. The communicative component of culture in the United States is severely weakened and underdeveloped. Just as when a president is replaced, the winner takes all: all employees of the previous team are fired, so in American culture, the winner takes all. There is no accumulation of achievements. It is as if the culture is born anew every day, and this contradicts the very essence of culture as a transmission of experience. Hence the sharp division into good and bad: in competition there are only opponents, and what an opponent is like outside the competition does not matter. But the culture is built on the fact that the other is not only a rival and a competitor, not only a donor or a buyer, but a person who is interesting regardless of his success in the sales market.



(c) Jimmy Krotoff