Monday, July 2, 2018

Western Civilization Is Drowning in Guilt

It’s not just the artifacts. It’s not just about whether Once-Great Britain will return the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

The guilt is real enough. The self-flagellation is more than sufficiently real. Guilt for imperialism. Guilt for colonialism. Guilt for capitalism. Guilt for the patriarchy. The liberal West is drowning in guilt for its past. Thus, it systematically diminishes the achievements of the West and embraces other more barbaric cultures. As for the liberal world order, whose decline is much bemoaned, the multiculturalists have it in their sights. As long as they fail to defend what is valuable in Western civilization, it will continue its decline.

As I say, it’s not just about the artifacts. More importantly—I emphasize the point because Giulio Meotti doesn’t—its Western success and achievement. Wealth and power, riches and might… for which Western elites feel waves of guilt. (via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit)

They cannot praise the accomplishments of capitalism because they believe them to have been won by exploiting the less developed and less civilized world. Yes, indeed. Elizabeth Warren expressed it well: You didn’t build that. You did not build what you built. You did not earn what you earned. The grand dame of American socialism tells you that what you earned is not yours. It belongs to everyone. The reduction ab absurdum of the mania about rights is quite simple: others have the right to whatever you have earned. It might be illegal migrants. It might be the oppressed peoples of the third world.

It does not suffice that you pay taxes from what you earned. It does not suffice that those taxes support a government whose reason for being is to constrain your business activities. The important part, for socialists like Warren, is that you do not own what you own, did not build what you built, did not earn what you earn. Your success was built on exploitation and even criminal enterprise. If the state comes along to take it away from you, well, you didn’t build that and you do not own the profits of your enterprise.

The mania for equality masks a narrative in which one person’s success can only have been purchased at someone else’s expense. You did not build it. You cheated. You lied. You oppressed and exploited. Thus, the logic of socialism has it that what is yours is mine. But especially what you worked to earn must be redistributed to those less fortunate or less industrious. Until, as Margaret Thatcher pointed out, you run out of other people’s money.

Meotti examines the question from the perspective of cultural artifacts. And he notes that our civilization is no longer proud of its achievements:

The cultural elite in the West now seem so haunted by feelings of imperialist guilt that they are no longer confident that our civilization is something to be proud of.

Being as I have discussed the perils of guilt culture in two books already, I am happy to agree to Meotti’s point: guilt has become a substitute religion in a post-Christian age:

A sense of guilt now seems a kind of post-Christian substitute religion that seduces many Westerners. The French scholar Shmuel Trigano suggested that this ideology is turning the Westerners into "post-colonial subjects" who no longer believe in their own civilization, but instead what will destroy it: multiculturalism. In France, for example, a manifesto was launched for "a multicultural and post racial republic". The result would be, in the words of the anthropologist Jean-Loup Amselle, a "war of identities" and a clash between communities. Last month, the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that, if elected Prime Minister, he would order the British Museum to return to Greece the Elgin Marbles, the frieze that had surrounded the Parthenon of Athens and one of the major attractions of the British Museum. "This whole campaign is sheer lunacy," wrote Richard Dorment. But it is a lunacy spreading all over Europe.

Those who are appalled by parliamentary democracy happily embrace the most brutal and uncivilized totalitarian movements:

Thirty years ago, in a book, The Tears of the White Man, the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner wrote that, "the remorseless and self-righteous critic who endlessly denounces the deceptions of parliamentary democracy is suddenly rapt with admiration before the atrocities committed in the name of the Koran, the Vedas, the Great Helmsman..." Since then, Western elites have excused many crimes committed in the name of political Islam, as if these were the consequences of our own colonial crimes.

Thus, when ISIS took over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, when they persecuted Christians, the West, and especially Barack Obama stood silent. Gang rapes, sex trafficking, murdering homosexuals… not a problem for the enlightened liberal West:

When Christians in Iraq were exiled, murdered or persecuted en masse by the so-called Islamic State, the West stood silent -- as if these Christians were the agents of the Western colonialism and not the legitimate and oldest inhabitants of the Middle East long before the Arabs converted to Islam. When a mob destroyed the French Institute in Cairo, burning books and collections, those who now want to return the "colonial artifacts" stood silent. When Iran's President Rouhani visited Rome, the Italian authorities covered the naked statues in the Capitoline Museums. Are we covering our own culture to please the Islamic world?

How many of the enlightened few who are willing to take up arms against ICE were equally willing to take up arms against ISIS?


Anonymous said...

"How many of the enlightened few who are willing to take up arms against ICE were equally willing to take up arms against ISIS?"

The Democrat opposition to ICE is a disgrace. ICE stands for Immigration & Customs Enforcement. So the Democrat Party is now against immigration enforcement and customs enforcement? Do they even believe America is a country?

This immigration stance is bad for Democrats, which is why we should encourage it. More Antifa madness. Refuse service to Trump officials at restaurants. Buy a bus for Maxine Waters and have her go on tour. Robert Di Nero as a national Democrat spokesman. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez as the 2020 presidential candidate. Elena Kagan for Chief Justice.

With newly-elected AMLO in Mexico, they're going to be sorry. Part of AMLO's platform is to flood Mexicans over the U.S. border to create an AmeriMex economy and remit those earnings to boost Mexican economic growth. Oh, and AMLO favors amnesty for Mexican drug cartels. What a leader. And he's going to be the latest boob to try democratic socialism, which never ends well.

I want these Democrats to sign up for the ICE/Border Patrol night shift and get a taste of what it's like to enforce the law. Being against law enforcement is an automatic loser in the United States.

Keep it up. November is looking better by the day. Western Civ will drown in guilt when it believes the premise. The vast majority of us don't.

Anonymous said...

For all those "science says..." poseurs who say "Weather isn't climate," we receive the eminent wisdom Al Gore:

Heads, I win... Tails, you lose. Typical Climate Change nonsense. For those Western countries that are expected to save the Earth, which is more of the left's faith-based guilt trip.

Sam L. said...

The Elgin marbles would almost certainly have been broken into rubble had Elgin not taken them to England.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Elizabeth Warren expressed it well: You didn’t build that. You did not build what you built. You did not earn what you earned. The grand dame of American socialism tells you that what you earned is not yours. It belongs to everyone.

I have to think politics makes people crazy, unable to hear what is being said, and only hear what you want them to be saying so you can say why they're wrong, while purposely ignoring what they're actually saying which otherwise you'd agree with.

Isaac Newton said "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." Of course he may have actually been mocking Robert Hooke at the time, but there's an honest truth there, that how far we go is by large part enabled by people who can long before us, along with our parents and community.

Myself, I'm proud to pay taxes, especially local taxes, because you know exactly where it is going, to the community that supports you, and to the schools that helped educate you. Perhaps if I was a graduate of 2018, with my $50k in student loans, I'd believe I educated myself and when I paid off that debt, I'd consider myself even with society, and owe it nothing more. But since I graduated from a public college debt free, I lament the world we've created, which I can't quite explain, how my generation could pay for college with grants, scholarships and summer jobs, while only a fraction can do this now. I do feel guilt about that, but at least I can be proud when I pay my taxes. I don't have to live in resentment, even if the generation before me had it even better.

Anonymous said...

Isaac Newton and Lieawatha have exactly nothing in common.