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What the West fosters comes back to bite it.

The postmodern, post-industrial economies of the West and first-world nations of Asia continue to rely on the exploited labor and poor working conditions of many second- and third-world countries, but the products of these new economies focus more on cultural than on material consumption. What is exported in the form of new technologies, popular and mass entertainment, fashion, and high-cultural literature and ideas cannot be ignored in its global circulation. At some level, these cultural exports return to us, whether we live in New York, Paris, or Tokyo, in the form of immigrants drawn both by better jobs and their utopian fantasies of the First World fueled by the cultural products they have consumed. I

What happens when we challenge the progressive scheme that leads from the proto-democracy of the Greek city-state through the formalism of Roman law to the emerging nationalism of Elizabethan England to the French and American revolutions and the birth of democratic institutions

Western civilization cannot be disarticulated from the institutionalized slavery and global imperialism on which it depends.1

Nevertheless, the criticism of progress from within the West often turns to universals, such as Greek tragedy and its predicates: hubris, hamartia, anagnorisis, catharsis, and other reductive answers. What happens when we step outside this tradition, which is what has irreversibly happened in U.S. society as a consequence of new immigration and changing demographics? What is the universal appeal of Oedipus, Lear, and Ahab to a Chinese immigrant to the United States? I

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