According to Césaire, culture is the manifestation of the unique will of a people. Cultures can be grouped into broader civilizations, but represent the specific “material and spiritual values” (128) of a single society. Culture is explicitly affected by political circumstances and thus ‘the colonial situation’ - “What at the present time most thoroughly conditions the development of black cultures” - provides a basis for horizontal solidarity within the ‘Negro-African’ civilization.
“I think it is quite true that the only culture is national culture. But it is immediately apparent that national cultures, as particular as they are, are grouped by affinities. And these great cultural relationships, these great cultural families, have a name: they are civilizations” (128)
“This is to say that civilization and culture define two aspects of a single reality: civilization marks the perimeter of culture, its most exterior and general aspects, whereas culture in its turn constitutes the intimate and radiant kernel of a civilization, its most singular aspect.” (129)
“Culture is civilization as it is proper to a people, to a nation, shared by no other, and that it carries the indelible mark of that people or nation. To describe it externally, one would say that it is the ensemble of material and spiritual values created by a society in the course of its history; and of course, by values we mean elements as diverse as technical capacities [la technique] and political institutions, things as fundamental as language and as ephemeral as fashion, and the arts as well as science or religion.” (128)
“Culture is the effort of any human collectivity to endow itself with the wealth of a personality” (128)