2016 was a major wakeup call for those of us who want a more closely integrated and prosperous world. Maybe you like other cultures and have learned to find them interesting. Maybe the practical concerns of terrorism, global warming and international criminal activity mean that you think great international cooperation is needed. Or maybe you believe that more trade is the path to greater prosperity for all. Whatever your reasons for liking globalization, it’s clear that some people don’t like it at all. With the election of President Trump, Brexit and similar movements across the world, they made very clear that they have very strong feeeeeeelings. In practice, this process has been going on for a very long time. And anyone who wants to understand it and its challenges and opportunities should look at Mexico.
As the old saying goes, history is written by the victors. And so, the version of history that was initially written by European cultures played out like this:
However, as information technology has democratized, we’ve gotten the other side of the story.
In practice though, when cultures clash, even the people do it in a fucked up way #ideasex happens. There is an exchange between the two cultures and the culture that emerges is something new that takes elements from both of the parent cultures. The Spanish conquistadors and the Aztecs may not have liked each other but the DELICIOUS Mexican taco is the product of both their cultures. Beef, chicken, cheese, onions and wheat from the Spaniards. Corn, tomatoes and the tortilla from the Aztecs. You can look at the food, religion, attitudes or language of Mexico but again and again you’ll find that the culture of Mexico is Mestizo. It is a mix of the two cultures. The problem with Mexico’s history is not the clash of cultures. It is HOW that clash of cultures happened.
In Mexico City, there is a square called La Plaza de Las Tres Culturas (The Plaza of the Three Cultures) which stands on the site where Hernan Cortes and Cuahtemoc, the last Aztec Emperor, faced off.
There is an inscription there that describes the event. It reads “Neither a victory nor a defeat but the painful birth of a Mestizo nation.” Knowing what we know now, how would we handle it differently? Would we be threatened by our cultural differences or would we see them as an opportunity for innovation and trade? Well, for those of us who know humanity’s superpower and the power of #ideasex, we would. Now, our job is to let the rest of the world in on the secret.
In the era of globalization, cultures will clash. The question is whether that spark is the spark of innovation or a bloody conflict. However, Mexico’s history teaches us a vital lesson: whether the #ideasex is fun and consensual or bloody and violent there’s a Mestizo culture coming. Just look at the kind of people who voted for Brexit. They’re singing a song about Vindaloo.
What’s Vindaloo? Well, it’s a Portuguese dish called carne de vinha d’alhos that the Indians in Goa changed to make more Indian. It was then taken back to England after the British Imperialist experience and became an essential part of any self-respecting football fan’s “lad’s night out.” That’s why it’s particularly ironic that English football fans are singing it to rally the troops before a Portuguese football game. The dish is originally Portuguese. Vinha d’alhos became vindaloo. The songs main lyric that “We all like Vindaloo” couldn’t be more true.
And that’s a big part of how cultural barriers break down. Humans don’t really care about culture of origin. If it tastes good, they’ll eat it. If they find tools or technologies that empower them, they’ll take them. If there are ways of thinking that help them do better in their lives, they’ll take them. And, in fact, the Spaniards took their part of the taco from cultures like the Turks, Arabs and Indians. The Aztecs took corn and tomatoes from cultures like the Maya and Olmec. This global culture has been coming for a very, very long time. We should just accept it and midwife it in. The global culture is coming. There’s no reason why the birth needs to be as painful as it was in Mexico. We can midwife it in simply by embracing it in. And the people who do will be more innovative, more prosperous and get way more tacos and vindaloo. And who likes Vindaloo? These Brexit-voting globalists who are trying to prove they’re better than the Portuguese by saying how much they love a dish the Portuguese invented: