Very little in this world is black and white, and yet these days when asked how cultures should be managed within a society, it is often answered on a binary scale. Society should either be cosmopolitan and globalist, or it should be nationalist. There never seems to be a middle ground.

If someone were to ask me the above question and I had to give a simple answer, I would simply reply that nationalism is always the way to go. However, that’s not because cosmopolitanism is without its benefits. It’s just that such an ideology causes more problems than it gives benefits in the real world.

This isn’t always the case though. While multiculturalism within nations is almost always a bad idea resulting in increased tensions and lack of social cohesion, there is a place where these problems never come into play.

Can I name this place? Of course. The Internet.

While cosmopolitanism is often detrimental in real world societies, in the digital realm it is a whole lot more attractive.

The Internet is a strange beast. The basics of what makes a good society work in real life would destroy the internet. While nation states in the land of the living must have a vast and complex legal system, a central power that regulates the landscape, and a polite functional society, such a structural layout would be hugely detrimental for the internet.

The internet is the last lawless frontier on earth. It’s a land of many dangers, but also many opportunities. Like the Wild West of old, its filled with cowboys, prospectors, contraband and amenities both reputable and otherwise from all around the world.

But one thing does separate it from the lawless lands of old: It’s a lot safer. That’s not to say it cannot hurt you if you use it the wrong way. Any tool can do that. But it’s far more difficult to get yourself killed while on the internet than it was to get yourself killed in the wildlands of ol’ Americana. In essence, it lacks the consequences of real-world actions.

This is due to the nature of the internet. It’s a very intimate medium in many ways, but it does not directly expose the user to anything within it. Computer viruses are a pain, but very few if any at all can actually affect the end user. Worst case scenario, you buy a new computer.

All the major dangers of  multiculturalism are mitigated by how the net is detached from the real world. Where loss of social cohesion in real life results in crime and destruction – in the digital world the worst it can do is lead to trolling raids, which are often funnier than they are negative.

The most unregulated zones of the internet; imageboards like 4chan, provide the best evidence for this. These have next to no rule of law, and as such the most extreme from every race and religion are free to hurl curses and slurs at each other until the end of time. However, they rarely do so.

When insults and words that are taboo and vilified in real life become commonplace online, they lose their meaning and their power. As such, to be insulting becomes trivial, even boring. People online don’t value such actions all that much. Sure, they still take part in them, but in more of a cultural ritual than anything else. They mean nothing.

What the online society does value is decent argumentation, along with a quick wit. Where insults fail, facts and logical takedowns gain significant social capital, along with humour of course.

This means that discussions can sometimes become quite technical and rather informative. I personally have learned quite a lot about fundamentalist Islam and Christianity from reading debates between online experts. As someone who has a great interest in theology, I appreciate the access it gives me to such information.

The dangers of multiculturalism mean nothing online, but what about the benefits?

First and foremost the multicultural state benefits from lots of human capital (admittedly often of dubious quality), having little to no bar for entry. This means that public projects open to all on the net can often be quite successful; whether they range from the wonderful (various gofundme charity campaigns), the silly (the likes of AMVHell), to the downright terrifying, such as when the /sg/ thread of 4chan’s /pol/ board (which brings together Middle Eastern politics enthusiasts the world over) managed to call in a Russian airstrike on an ISIS compound that they had geolocated.

Then there are also the gems of brilliance that emerge with any widespread exchange of information. This can be in the shape of cooperating to solve previously unsolved problems, but also includes the exchange of audio and visual media, programs and code, designs both 2D and 3D, and all sorts of other things that are too numerous to mention.

The internet makes it so that no matter where in the world you are, you are able to work with people anywhere on Earth to do literally anything, no matter their cultural, religious, or racial background. Not even language barriers are a problem nowadays, with translation programs getting to the point where communicating basic ideas through languages you have no knowledge of is effortless.

With all this established, it is clear that the internet benefits from this anarcho-libertarian, multicultural existence in a way that no real life society ever could. I think it’s fair to say that any person, Right or Left-wing, should be overwhelmingly in support of its free and continued existence.

As someone who is a nationalist, I particularly appreciate how the internet allows a society to access all the benefits of multiculturalism with next to none of the real-world costs. It serves as an intellectual and social bridge with the rest of the planet, and hopefully will remain so for the foreseeable future.

What’s not to like about that?

Peter Caddle

Posted by Peter Caddle

Peter is the Burkean's resident expert on all things popular and cultural.

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