Cultural Appropriation is a Silly Notion

As my dear friend Donald J. Boudreaux says, you can’t unjustly appropriate something that didn’t belong to anyone in the first place. No one owns a culture.

Cultural appropriation, like many of the rhetorical weapons wielded in the culture wars and the politics of group identity, is a silly notion. I doubt that there is a single culture on earth that does not consist largely if not entirely of elements taken at some point from other cultures. The cultures of the world are a complex and ever-changing conglomeration produced by such interchanges. But each adoption was made for a reason, for an expected benefit. A world without cultural appropriation would be a worse world, but worry not: such a world is impossible in any event.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.