Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Al Fin: Abandoning Western Civilisation: Views of an Evolving Professor

Al Fin: Abandoning Western Civilisation: Views of an Evolving Professor

Interesting post that loyal Sojkas Call readers will find familiar. This one takes a while to digest unless you have previously read Professor Bruce Charlton or the French Philosopher Andre Glucksmann.  Al Fin highlights the suicidal tendencies existing in western society using the writings of Charlton and Glucksmann as background.  Sojkas Call readers have engaged in discussions pertaining to the insanity of government policies and how they are leading to an inevitable catastrophe either economic, social, or militarily.  

Glucksmann writes using Greek mythology and the rise and fall of the Roman empire as examples and to show how the thinking from that era still permeates western culture today.  Charlton, while to me not as persuasive intellectually, uses powerful religious arguments that did get my attention.

Check out the link to the Al Fin post and read the recommended background material.  The posts by readers on both Charlton's and Al Fin's blog help further illuminate the thesis.

8 comments:

Keith said...

The authors attempted at tackling a difficult topic. How to summarize in a few paragraphs 2500+ years. Approaches a off told old joke. "A summary of the history of the world in 100 words or less". I am not sure I even understand what these guys are trying to say about Western Civilization. Calling it an entity or a process is like saying it is either a noun or a verb. Is it a noun as in a History of Western Civilization which is the title of most college courses that summarize the subject, a summary of the past that can only be looked at through a review mirror. Or a way of testing what fits into that evolving history of our lineage going back to the Greeks. If you were to take any snap shot in time over the course of the history of Western Civ. you would see every form of government, from democracy, to feudalism, to monarchies, to autocracies, theocracies, and communism with tendencies toward and away from nationalism to totalitarianism including communism right here in this country during the earliest colonial occupation. Having tried everything and evolving to where we are today, is that not evident that Western Civilization is not an entity, nor a process but merely an indication of our history, where we came from? ie Western Europe through Eastern Russia vs the western portions of Asia. The West has done no more or less than those with non-Western Civ. roots. Our roots may passed through these various ideologies, forms of governing masses of peoples coupled with reforms upon layers of reforms before or at least at different times than the East or Mid-East. Now that China has jetted forward over the past 60 years and at hyperspeed within the past 15 years towards our way of life, are they now a part of Western Civilization where East meets West. Are they not having the same debate over the loss of Eastern Civilization, or do they even waste time with such ridiculous debates while managing their new found wealth?

Is this really more an essay by the paranoid who feel there are those that they perceive a threat to Western Civ. Specifically, without seeming to PC, is this not a disguised anti-Islamist essay? Having previously expressed my positon on any foreigners that wish to extend their stay beyond tourist visa, accepting total assimilation, I certainly am not defending anything resembling the creation by Moslems of their own Islamic "state" within the US that does not represent freedom of thought, religion, etc.

Keith said...

Part 2 Like it or not that is the current state of Western Civilization. It is what we have evolved to today and what we hold up as a standard to all other systems, Democratic Capitalism on the political/ economic front whose primary basis is the Constitution of the US. for our version of contemporary Western Civilization. The test for everything is the scientific approach as opposed to the "take it on faith" system of demagogery that we find so prevalent in the East. The scientific approach is the most important aspect of Western Civ. and its survival. From embracing of science sprang forth the middle class when average citizens could rise above class based upon their own intellect and initiative to develop ideas that could be translated into income.

Unless we as the current tenants of this place in time in the history of Western Civilization are willing to abandon the scientific method, or the Constitution which is the dogma of our faith in those methods in evaluating new ideas, I am not fearful of the end of Western Civilization. Given that the majority of people in the West do not want to repeat the type of feudalistic closed society that much of the Middle East is stuck in, I do not believe we have a problem. Are we not busy converting that part of the world to Western Civilization? Ala Afghanistan, Iraq etc. It would seem they are more threatened than we. The real threat to Western Civilization is, I believe about energy. We grind to a halt and will be forced to ratchet back if we don't develop sustainable energy outside of petroleum. So there in a nutshell are the keys. Make the scientific method the test for change, hand on to the Constitution as a anchor document, and develop sustainable energy and we continue the geneology of Western Civilization.

Sojka's Call said...

Keith - it is interesting you don't want to accept that western civ is a process (verb) or an entity (noun). We call the North American landmass you and I live on a country which is a noun. Our democratic process (verb) functions to keep the country whole.

So, why cannot those terms be used to designate Western Civ as we know it to encompass many countries? All those semantics aside, and getting back to the articles and your other points, I like your focus on the scientific method and agree that was what liberated the common man from the yokes of religious authority and in many ways was responsible for the industrial age and letting people believe they were not peasants and serfs anymore.

But, back to the authors points, they are saying that the majority of people who belong to western civ have given up defending themselves and their culture against the encroachment of the Islamic culture in particular, but, also eastern (China). Since the world has changed so much you now you don't need to conquer a country militarily to change its culture, secure it resources, and make its people work for you. Now, you can do all that economically and with population migration (legal and illegal). Unless a culture is willing to defend itself from those seemingly indirect attacks it will succumb.

From that point the two debates were whether Western Civ has already succumbed and just does not realize it, or, is this a process that can be reversed. And, your belief seems to be we have nothing to worry about at this point as long as we keep the scientific method and the constitution. When I think about this further, it seems both of those are under serious attack. The Pubs repeatedly throw out science and revert to religious pronouncements in place of science or just call everything they don't like to hear "junk science" and the Constitution has been ignored by the Supreme Court whenever it has been convenient and it senses the political winds and stays in them even if the executive order or congressional bill was blatantly unconstitutional.

Keith said...

This is indeed an interesting topic. I agree the topic of Western Civilization is a descriptive of what today characterizes our current juncture with our cultural history. It is an old discussion item going back to the same fears and alarms during the 1980's when it was brought to public broadcasting by Jacob Bronowski with his Ascent of Man series. I was merely pointing out that the author was weighing the merits of whether Western Civ. is a process or an entity. My position is you can't really tell since you don't know where you are until you get there. I don't deny Western Civ is both an entity (noun) and a process (verb), but because it is an ongoing history which can only be evaluated through the rear view mirror, so to speak, you cannot evaluate the its loss until it has collapsed otherwise it is continuing the process of evolving. Much semantics here with little meat.

My point regarding the scientific method and the Constitution is they are they are the process and means for retaining our cultural identity coupled with an understanding by every westerner of the History of Western Civilization, the narrative of how we got to where we are today is what will allow us to continue as a unique "civiliation". The majority hasn't given up. They just don't know what Western Civilization means. Again it goes back education which has failed across all fronts. Science, history of Western Civilization and what the Consititution means and how it embodies the principles that came about through the scientific method. How many people even know what the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason is all about and what it means to us today? Faith based reason, as embraced by Moslems, Hindu, and Fundamentalist Christians was an aspect of Western Civilization whose yoke was thrown off 500 years ago, however those elements are still a threat to Western Civilization today.

Looking at the world today, China, Japan, and even India are considered westernized, ie they have embraced western values, therefore I believe they are now part of the ongoing Western Civilization narrative. The Moslem countries which in the 14th and 15th centuries played a major role in the preservation of Western Civilization through mathematics, sciences etc have ironically reversed course with the embrace of Islam and now are a threat to progressive thinking. Couple that with extremists on both ends of the US political spectrum from extreme right wing republicans and yes, Tea Party (know-nothing advocates), and anarchist bound leftists, and the Consititutional side-stepping Supreme Court who now more than ever makes political decisions vs using the Constitutional as the testbed, it is no wonder that one would feel Western Civilization is under attack. I am not worried that we have lost the battle, and believe that protecting the scientific method of evaluation testing radical changes to the the Consititution will prevent our loss of direction. We have not lost it because you and I are still here and we still understand the legacy of Western Civilization. If we lose it, it is not because of Islam or China (a new westernized country) but because of our own loss of identity, lack of knowledge of our history, and the embrace of the "new ignorance" as embodied in the likes of Sarah Palin, and Christine O'Donnell and our attacks on Islam, and foreigners in general. It will be our failure rather than their success because we just don't understand what our lineage called Western Civilization is all about.

Keith said...

This is indeed an interesting topic. I agree the topic of Western Civilization is a descriptive of what today characterizes our current juncture with our cultural history. It is an old discussion item going back to the same fears and alarms during the 1980's when it was brought to public broadcasting by Jacob Bronowski with his Ascent of Man series. I was merely pointing out that the author was weighing the merits of whether Western Civ. is a process or an entity. My position is you can't really tell since you don't know where you are until you get there. I don't deny Western Civ is both an entity (noun) and a process (verb), but because it is an ongoing history which can only be evaluated through the rear view mirror, so to speak, you cannot evaluate the its loss until it has collapsed otherwise it is continuing the process of evolving. Much semantics here with little meat.

My point regarding the scientific method and the Constitution is they are they are the process and means for retaining our cultural identity coupled with an understanding by every westerner of the History of Western Civilization, the narrative of how we got to where we are today is what will allow us to continue as a unique "civiliation". The majority hasn't given up. They just don't know what Western Civilization means. Again it goes back education which has failed across all fronts. Science, history of Western Civilization and what the Consititution means and how it embodies the principles that came about through the scientific method. How many people even know what the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason is all about and what it means to us today? Faith based reason, as embraced by Moslems, Hindu, and Fundamentalist Christians was an aspect of Western Civilization whose yoke was thrown off 500 years ago, however those elements are still a threat to Western Civilization today.

Looking at the world today, China, Japan, and even India are considered westernized, ie they have embraced western values, therefore I believe they are now part of the ongoing Western Civilization narrative. The Moslem countries which in the 14th and 15th centuries played a major role in the preservation of Western Civilization through mathematics, sciences etc have ironically reversed course with the embrace of Islam and now are a threat to progressive thinking. Couple that with extremists on both ends of the US political spectrum from extreme right wing republicans and yes, Tea Party (know-nothing advocates), and anarchist bound leftists, and the Consititutional side-stepping Supreme Court who now more than ever makes political decisions vs using the Constitutional as the testbed, it is no wonder that one would feel Western Civilization is under attack. I am not worried that we have lost the battle, and believe that protecting the scientific method of evaluation testing radical changes to the the Consititution will prevent our loss of direction. We have not lost it because you and I are still here and we still understand the legacy of Western Civilization. If we lose it, it is not because of Islam or China (a new westernized country) but because of our own loss of identity, lack of knowledge of our history, and the embrace of the "new ignorance" as embodied in the likes of Sarah Palin, and Christine O'Donnell and our attacks on Islam, and foreigners in general. It will be our failure rather than their success because we just don't understand what our lineage called Western Civilization is all about.

Jeff said...

I believe our culture is going to have to defend itself from the Chinese. There are places in this country that they are buying up land and commercial real estate at breakneck speed. They have also gone to war with us in trade. We are in debt to them to the hilt. I think we are still in a position to fight back, but is is going to have to be done one consumer at a time. Stop buying Chinese goods. Give tax incentives to US corporations to keep and/or return jobs to the US.



As far as giving a summary of the world in 100 words or less, I think the guy on Airplane did it best: Well first the earth cooled, then the dinosaurs came, they got too big and fat and died and turned into oil, then the Arabs came, and then Price Charles started wearing all of Lady Di's close and I couldn't understand it...

Sojka's Call said...

Jeff has a point from the western civ perspective. The Chinese have Siberia in their sights. They are moving people into there. They are closer to it physically than Moscow. There was another Al Fin post about that........ http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2010/12/russia-worlds-largest-dying-empire.html

He states... Demographic shrinkage is also leaving Eastern Siberia open for Chinese takeover.Moscow is also warily watching China's unauthorised movements into Siberia and the Far East.

Beijing is about six times closer to the port city of Vladivostok than is Moscow, which has very weak administrative control over its eastern territories.

Already, an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 Chinese nationals have illegally settled in these oil, gas and timber-rich areas.

Beijing is also tempted by Siberia's freshwater supply, given that China already has severe shortages throughout the country.

The Russian Far East is inhabited by only six million people, while the three provinces in northeast China have about 110 million Chinese inhabitants. By 2020, more than 100 million Chinese will live less than 100km to the south of these Russian territories, whose population will then number between five million and 10 million.

As Medvedev recently admitted, if Russia does not secure its presence in the Far East, it could eventually "lose everything" to the Chinese.

See this link for more.......... http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2010/12/29/watch_out_for_russian_wild_card_in_asia-pacific__99333.html

Keith said...

Defend ourselves from the Chinese? Are they not becoming us? I would be more concerned if I was Chinese that I was losing my Eastern identity. They are not buying up land and commercial real estate, we are selling it at breakneck speed. But isn't that the freemarket capitalist way. We are in debt because we wanted to borrow money from China. China didn't do anything that we didn't do to ourselves. Maybe we should go Chapter 11 as a country and wipe the slate clean. That would piss them off wouldn't it.

So I guess you support the devaluation of the dollar vs the Yuan as I do which was one of the purposes of the Feds $600B purchase of Treasury notes since it is the one thing we can do to increase the cost of Chinese goods that are artificially held low by the Chinese government which would in turn help US manufactured goods compete in our own markets as well as international markets? Couple that with tax incentives to US manufacturers and you have a recipe for revitalization of the US economy.