The Case for Western Civilization
I was doing some research in preparation for rejoining the real world following my prolonged Christmas vacation, and I came across a very interesting article over at ForeignPolicy.com.
Titled “10 Wars to Watch in 2015,” the article profiles the places on the planet where ForeignPolicy.com believes violence is most likely to break out this year:
1. Syria, Iraq, Islamic State
3. South Sudan
6. Democratic Republic of Congo
As you read through the in-depth analysis of the events on the ground in each of these potential warzones, you can’t help but wonder if these places have something in common which we could learn from to avoid any potential bloodshed. On the surface the answer would be appear to be no.
For example, there are overwhelmingly white and black populations on the list, as well as overwhelmingly Christian and Muslim ones. There are fledgling democracies and Marxist regimes, too. This diversity would seem to reinforce the politically correct assertions from American Leftists that culture is culture, and to claim one culture is superior to another is intolerant.
However, if you dig deeper you’ll find a hidden truth is revealed, for this diverse set of cultures actually does have something in common. And it’s the very reason why they’re on the list.
None of these nations has consistent cultural ties to Western Civilization.
Western Civilization, which built the longest-sustained period of freedom and prosperity in the history of humanity by recognizing individual rights, and undergirding those rights by basing its cultural ethics on the Judeo-Christian morality revealed in the natural law by the Creator. That way we might have a transcendent standard to hold each accountable to and determine right from wrong apart from “might makes right.”
Those two key assertions of Western Civilization are rejected immediately by Islam, which is the primary reason why Islam has been at war with the West almost from its very inception. In fact, Islamist aggression is the main culprit for seven of the nations on the top 10 list. Islamists have such disdain for individual rights they ruthlessly target even their fellow Muslim, Arab, or countryman if they attempt to embrace them.
A Marxist nation like Venezuela doesn’t respect individual rights, either, but sees both the individual and their productivity as the property of the state. It is the state in whom we live and breathe according to Marxists, so the state even determines the morality.
But what about Ukraine, you might ask? Most of its population is Christian. Isn’t that what Western Civilization basically is?
Yes and no.
Western Civilization isn’t Christianity, but it does embrace it within its proper context. Western Civilization sees that both church and state play pivotal roles in the protection of individual rights. The church creates citizens capable of handling freedom in the first place, and then the state punishes those who demonstrate they cannot.
That is anathema to both the Islamist and the Marxist, for each wants even the intricacies of their religion (Islam or statism) to dominate every aspect of public and private affairs.
At its best, Western Civilization doesn’t impose Christianity on the individual, and historically there have been terrible consequences whenever it’s tried. Instead, it promotes it by incentivizing good behavior and punishing bad, with the moral code first revealed in the Ten Commandments as the basis for knowing which is which.
Meaning Christianity is complementary to Western Civilization. It is neither in control of or in conflict with it. Christianity’s job is to preach the message necessary to produce a “good” citizenry, but it stops short of imposing its ecclesiastical edicts upon the civic realm. Meanwhile, the civic realm incentivizes that morality because it’s in its best interests to do so (stronger families and social institutions, less crime, etc.), and therefore agrees not to compete with the church for the ultimate devotion of the people provided the church stays in its lane.
This balance creates a culture capable of producing and perpetuating individual rights, and without this balance individual rights have never been sustained in the history of our species. Whenever the church or the state dominates a culture tyranny is the symptom, because in order to obtain that dominance either church or state has to expand its power in a way that can’t help but violate the rights of individuals.
This brings us to Ukraine, a nation with a troubled history but has had some brief successful experiments with freedom in the past. Nonetheless, for the most part Ukraine has spent much of its existence being dominated by its neighbors—particularly Russia.
It was freed from the former Soviet Union in 1991, but now faces an incursion from former Soviet agent turned Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. He sees Ukraine’s natural resources as beneficial to his flailing economy, which still hasn’t recovered from decades of Marxism and is now basically mafias and mercantilism. As a result, Ukraine is now being victimized by another nation that is paying the price for failing to implement the best of Western Civilization throughout its history.
That’s not to say Western Civilization is perfect, because it’s not. There are blights upon the West as well, several of which Leftist detractors will instantly point to (i.e. the Crusades, imperialism, slavery, etc.). But even then the superiority of Western Civilization shines through, because it’s the only civilization able to correct itself. For Western Civilization also produced the liberty able to eradicate its own tyranny, and the justice able to erase its own injustices.
This is true even with our own foreign policy, because every war our nation has fought came against an enemy that either opposed or abandoned the values of Western Civilization. Therefore, if Leftists really want to promote peace they should begin by promoting the superior ideals of the very Western Civilization they disdain.
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