Accommodation and the Market
In the previous discussion of norms and tolerance, it was suggested that America is continually progressing to accommodate a diversity of experiences, that rather than describing its diversity in terms of the failed metaphor of a melting pot, one is more apt to describe Americana in terms of individual groups governed by similar norms.
Though tolerance is certainly advantageous, as it allows for the incorporation of cultural, sexual, and religious differences, and though in the attempt to achieve accommodation Americana must itself seek ever inclusive means, there is a deeper level with which these norms function, that cultural norms serve a greater function than simply serving as a standard with which actions are judged as proper or improper, moral or immoral.
There is a motive within Americana that is itself goal directed. This direction toward a particular end or goal is called a telos. American culture is moving toward an end, and like market conditions that naturally seek out the lowest wages possible to return the highest profit margins for its shareholders, Americana is sustained and supported by capital.
Unlike economic trends, however, the telos for Americana is not an economic end. Certainly culture is supported by money, that is, the sustenance of culture requires an exorbitant amount of capital, which is demonstrated in our current economic crisis. If market conditions become so bad that the entire economic system crashes, the American way of life and Americana collapses as well. Thus, Americana is buttressed by capital.
Even this account, however, skims about the surface, for there is still another level of complexity. If Americana is supported by money, and the norms governing the American way of life is such that it continually seeks ever inclusive means of accommodation, then what is the relationship between its willingness to accommodate and market conditions?
Diversification refers to investment practices wherein capital is hedged or secured while other money is appropriated into riskier investments. The more diverse my portfolio, the better the odds I will see a return on my original investment. Diversifying one’s investment portfolio, then, necessarily strengthens the portfolio.
Within biology the same theory holds true. Asexual reproduction is a form of reproduction without the union of sex cells. Diversity is an inherent advantage of sexual reproduction, as gene mixing results in a nearly limitless combination of offspring, which is not true of the former. In asexual reproduction, if the parent is susceptible to certain environmental factors, all the offspring are equally susceptible to the same factors, which is not inherently true for sexually reproducing offspring.
As demonstrated in the examples of economic or even biological diversification, diversity strengthens the system. The same conception, then, holds true for cultural diversification, which is why the metaphor of a melting pot fails to describe Americana.
The truth is cultural diversity fuels the market, but this is not an absolute claim. Cultural diversity, as such, is no more or less important than other factors that contribute to market resilience. The market is strengthened by cultural diversity because innovation emerges from various segments of the population and niche marketing targets exactly those segments of the population most influenced by cultural affiliations with the product.
For example, as a Jamaican-American I have eaten my fair share of beef patties. Imagine that I were to move to a predominantly Jamaican neighborhood within the U.S. After moving, however, I realize that there are no restaurants that provide beef patties. So being the industrious businessman that I am, I decide to open a patty shop. Low and behold, my patty shop is successful.
My particular understanding of Jamaican-American culture has given me the ability to market goods or services to members of the population that share similar cultural affiliations. That money is then circulated throughout the entirety of America’s economic system and thereby strengthens the system as such.
Thus, on a deeper level — and now we return to the notion of telos — the patty shop is accommodated because the patty shop is economically viable and contributes to strengthening the system. It is not simply that America is this beneficent land of inclusiveness and accommodation where anyone’s beliefs will be accommodated. This is patently false.
Socio-cultural accommodation is reserved for those that are economically viable. The concerns of Blacks, women and Hispanics have been accommodated because their economic viabilities have been recognized. Their abilities to market and manufacture products for their respective communities have strengthened Americana. Thus, the payoff for accommodation is a net increase in wealth.
With respect to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community, once it can be demonstrated that accommodating LGBT concerns will offset any economic loss by those seeking to obstruct such concerns, it is certain that accommodations will be made. More easily stated, once members within the LGBT community demonstrate their economic viability (which I know sounds horrible) their concerns will be addressed.
America is in the business of accommodating as long as in so doing, a return is made on its investment. We are an economic juggernaut because we are diverse. Our diversity is accommodated if such accommodations are economically viable. If they are, accommodations will be made. If they are not, no amount of protest and appeal to rights and morals will yield any recognition.
For better or worse, money supports Americana and it is only in understanding this that our value as consumers is inherently tied to capital that one can properly navigate one’s self through culture, which, again, isn’t an indictment of Americana as it is an understanding of our roles within Americana.