03 March 2008

Clearly Superior

Westerners are not supposed to recognise that they are living in a civilisation that is superior to other civilisations. But the smarter ones have trouble not seeing it, and in their more honest moments they admit the superiority of western civilisation, at least to themselves.
The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind. It was the West that took steps to abolish slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in Africa, where rival tribes sold black prisoners into slavery. The West has secured freedoms for women and racial and other minorities to an extent unimaginable 60 years ago. The West recognizes and defends the rights of the individual: we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live lives of our choosing.___CityJournal
One could characterize the difference between the West and the Rest as a difference in epistemological principles. The desire for knowledge, no matter where it leads, inherited from the Greeks, has led to an institution unequaled—or very rarely equaled—outside the West: the university. Along with research institutes and libraries, universities are, at least ideally, independent academies that enshrine these epistemological norms, where we can pursue truth in a spirit of disinterested inquiry, free from political pressures. In other words, behind the success of modern Western societies, with their science and technology and open institutions, lies a distinct way of looking at the world, interpreting it, and recognizing and rectifying problems.

...A culture that gave the world the novel; the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; and the paintings of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rembrandt does not need lessons from societies whose idea of heaven, peopled with female virgins, resembles a cosmic brothel. Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate.
Western civilisation has worked its way through periods of monarchy, world colonialism, battles of totalitarian ideologies that took themselves too seriously--and has mostly come out on the side of facilitating the healing of the world's sick, feeding of the world's hungry, and helping to enable the impoverished of the world to acquire a measure of comfort. All of that, and much more typifies the prevailing spirit of the achieving west.

The suicidal west is another matter, but I suspect we can deal with them. All the doomseekers, holy warmers, lefty dieoff.orgies, and the like. But we cannot allow the suicidal insiders to sabotage us in our resistance to the bloody outsiders who would take our freedom and our lives.

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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

I was reading the comments of someone who was following the comments in regards to the apostasy issue recently on two major Arabic language sites. He (I think it was a he) found that while the comments were split on whether death is an appropriate earthly punishment for apostasy, those who thought it was appropriate were also split. Some justified it on the simple basis of, to borrow a Biblical literalist phrase, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." The others - a significant fraction of comments - said that apostasy was sedition and would encourage more defections. It seems that there are large numbers of Muslims who believe that given a choice, vast numbers of their community would leave the religion.

I suspect that they are right but that means there will be no large scale reform of religious freedom laws among the Islamic nations anytime soon. Maybe growth of Internet access in cities of the dar al-islam will allow communities of apostates to form and support each other over time. Certainly the growth of apostate communities in the West is a small yet positive sign of progress.

Monday, 03 March, 2008  
Blogger SwampWoman said...

I don't have any trouble differentiating between superior and inferior cultures.

Monday, 03 March, 2008  
Blogger neil craig said...

OK so we are way ahead of the Moslems. The real competition is the Chinese who are very good at adopting western habits. Even the photo of Chinese you chose was made to make them look like Nazis - but the aren't - Nazis were a product of western culture.

Perhaps the real question is why the Chinese didn't beat us centuries ago? A question we may wish to answer if we want to play to our strengths.

Tuesday, 04 March, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

The "nazis" you see there are Hezbollah shia militia.

Neil, why do you think China did not beat the west centuries ago? It seems to have involved a completely different mindset in the Ming Empire. China enjoyed "top-down" decision making, whereas in the west the several European countries competed for profit and plunder.

Throw in the breakdown of the Roman church's grip over much of Europe plus the feverish growth of knowledge in the Renaissance.

Top-down vs. more distributed, competitive enterprise.

Tuesday, 04 March, 2008  
Blogger neil craig said...

Sorry, my mistake. they do look Chinese! Or perhaps all heavily regimented societies look the same to me.

I agree with you as to Chinese centralism being a cause. This is one reason I think the EU is such a disaster - rather than reflecting European culture we have adopted rule by a bunch of bureaucratic mandarins. As an example - when Cheng Ho returned from his voyages of exploration in 1433 he found the Emperor's line had changed & that was it. Whereas when Columbus found the kings of Portugal, France & England weren't interested he went to Spain.

Even so the Chinese score so consistently high on IQ tests it is surprisng they didn't beat us. Perhaps Europe having a leaven of even higher IQ Jews may have helped. Or there may well be other factors we are to close to it to see.

Saturday, 08 March, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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