The title, and the manner in which the author slants his account, are somewhat misleading. Of course all cultures are not equal. Nothing in nature above the molecular scale is ever exactly equal to anything else. If you clone a cell, creating two genetically identical cells, the odds are vanishingly small that both will grow to the exact same size in microns, or live for the exact same length of time in nano- or picoseconds. So what? That's no reason why a thousand upon thousand different flowers shouldn't bloom and flourish.
And that, according to this article, is exactly what is happening in the world now. When the globalization of the world economy began, many feared that it would result in total homogenization -- everything controlled by a few large corporations, everybody drinking the same soft drinks, wearing the same tennis shoes, and watching the same movies. Instead, the global economy has generated innumerable niche-markets for different subcultures, preferences and lifestyles. And with them come "designer identities", rising above demographic constraints to embrace new definitions of self.
A couple of relevant quotes (with negative value judgements omitted):
Not long ago, people said that globalization and the revolution in communications technology would bring us all together. But the opposite is true. People are taking advantage of freedom and technology to create new groups and cultural zones....
The members of these and many other groups didn't inherit their identities. They took advantage of modernity, affluence and freedom to become practitioners of a do-it-yourself tribalism. They are part of a great reshuffling of identities...
Although the author focuses heavily on negative aspects such as separatism, inequality and conflict, I regard this development as fundamentally positive. For the first time in history, people around the world increasingly view themselves as free to create and choose their own identity, rather than merely accepting what is "given" by by birth, location and circumstance -- that is, by default. Increased mobility allows us to seek out those of like minds to form new geographic aggregations, shaped by choice rather than accident, while the rise of electronic communication allows us to form virtual communities across worldwide distances without leaving our seats.
As individuals take an active role in creating their sense of self, so also do we, as communities, form cultures and environments which foster such self-creation. And the cycle continues.
Welcome to the 21st century -- the age of Freedom of Being, identity by choice. This board is about exploring this new freedom, both on a cultural-historical level and an individual, practical one.
- Marlana, Anomia, Claribel &c., of Factio Effrenata, Anarchic Entity.