Friday, September 7, 2012

Pathogens That Cause Cultural Decline

Hat tip to Gates of Vienna.

At the bottom of a post in Gates of Vienna, I found a number of comments. One reply in particular struck me  .
I have often noted that the there are many factors that contribute to the decline of our culture and virtues that, if we did not follow them ourselves, at least existed as constant reminders of what made Western Civilization great. This roots of this unique brand of culture comes generally from five sources. Ancient Greece and Rome were followed by the Northern Germanic tradition. These provided the secular foundations of Western culture. Christianity and Judaism (Here I specify that which came to us unfiltered by Christianity) also contributed to the Western mindset.

It was not a perfect society, but its accomplishments far outshine those of the rest of the world.

Slavery had been virtually completely excised in Christian Europe by the Middle Ages. After we in the West got back on the slavery train, Christian Europe again took the lead in forcefully moving to put and end to the slave trade. The US ultimately even fought a war in which the protection of slavery as an institution was a major factor. The Islamic world at no point has given up its love of slavery. It is still in existence today in nations such as Mauritania. In fact, the Mediterranean was a stalking ground for the predation of Muslim pirates well into the 19th century. These reapers of human harvest ranged as far as the British Isles well into the modern era. It can be strongly argued that, if Muslims had not been so active in the slave trade, Black slavery in the New World may never have occurred. The infant American Republic, shorn of the protection of the British Navy, was reduced to paying enormous sums of tribute to the Barbary States in order to stop the seizing of her shipping and enslaving of her merchant sailors. " the shores of Tripoli", from the Marine Corps hymn, refers to a battle fought against those of the Islamic world for the same purpose.

The artwork of the West is unsurpassed for its realism (Thanks to the Greeks for priming the pump), use of perspective, and other factors on which I am nowhere near qualified to comment. The Renaissance saw an explosion of works of incredible beauty and depth. This tradition was to continue until the rise of Cultural Marxism.

The West was an extremely curious culture. People were constantly looking for answers and explanations. Where else could a man like Socrates find so many people not only willing, but clamoring, to hear him speak and engage them is a series of logical questions that tore huge holes in their preconceived notions - all by asking a few quetions? Socrates too exemplified the virtue to which most of us can only dream to aspire. His sham trial and his consequent execution by poison could have been avoided by flight, but he knew that Athens would learn more by his death than his escape. Many Greeks and Romans honorably accepted exile from an ungrateful people rather than give in to prideful temptation and seize power for themselves.

Western Philosophers also have few competitors. The Stoics, for one example, influenced even Christian writers who were to follow them

The West saw the rise of some extraordinary well thought-out and stable (Yes they were at times quite tumultuous but for their time they were exceptional) governments. The memories of these were to prove to be long-lived and gave rise to the republics and democracies of our modern era. An important point to note is that in none of these was the individual forgotten or lost in the mix. In Eastern societies in which despotism (Not all of these were inherently bad) only a few favored elites were able to make names for themselves. In our history, the role call of individuals can go on forever. From the Greek and Roman orator, military commander or statesman, to the free man of the Witan or Thing of the Saxons and Scandinavians, the individual knew that he could speak, play an active part in the governing of his city or village, (Usually) have a reasonable protection of his property, and that he could hold his head high and be a slave to no one. Those societies that devolved into or fell under despotic or monarchical governments, such as Rome after the Republic, Greece under Macedon and later Byzantium and Islam, or the monarchies of Medieval Europe could not remain in these states forever - the people of the West  remember all too well where they came from.

Families in the West experience far more freedom than those of other societies. Parental authority was paramount. If a man's peers thought that he was too hard on his son, they had ways of bringing this to his attention without calling in the State to take custody. The Roman may walk up to the rostrum and pull his adult son down as he was speaking, but the Father risked losing the respect of his peers for doing so. The free family was a source of strength for a society, not a drawback. The State can never be a Father.

In no place on earth was curiosity so widespread or motivated as in Western Europe. One invention and discovery on optics, medicine, physics lead to another. The rapidity of the changes in these fields stood in stark contrast with other developed but incurious societies like that of China. There, once something pretty good or useful was developed, it remained as it was for centuries thereafter. The West was also well on its way, especially in England, to industrialization before the maligned era of colonialism began. After a blink of an eye of dabbling in Medicine, Greek thought, and Algebra (From India), Islam shrank back into stagnation in these fields as fast as the armies of Islam came out of Arabia.

Even in Christian Europe, often denigrated an an example of intolerance, there was far more room for insightful and spiritual works than anywhere else in the world. Once could spend his whole life reading Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, St. John  of the Cross, and others without running out of reading material.

(9/8/12) Among other things that I surely missed, I guess that I should add that the literature of the West stands alone for is variety, style, clarity, and provocation of thought. It tends to be marked by a balance of emphasis on religious, civic, and individual responsibilities and liberties. Printing was invented in the East, but movable type, the big step,  was invented in the West. Impressive collections of books, whether they are in libraries, schools, churches, or single-family homes, are a phenomena of the West. Private libraries are almost non-existent in the Islamic world. Easterners tend to limit their choice of books to technical works and generally do not delve into those of the great authors.
* It is strange that I missed this subject last night as I have often (Probably rightly) been referred to as a compulsive reader.

Anyway, I wanted to list the comments from the reply to the post in Gates of Vienna. The contributor goes by the screen name "Anonymous". He provides a very brief but clear summary of what has gone wrong in the West.

"Anonymous said...5

Intelligence matters a lot and you certainly don't import hordes of lower IQ types with highly regressive cultures. 3rd world people can't build a Sweden or Great Britain.

The reason the West is imploding demographically has to do with several large scale social trends that appeared over the last 60 years.

1) The creation of the Welfare State which reduces men to sperm donors and is anti-family. Look at Northern Europe 50% of kids are born into single parent homes. The State is the Father.

2)Introduction of various Marxist inspired movements that have permeated through White society:

Feminism - the radical sort which teaches women to hate men, look down on stay at home mom's and worship the corporate life. Think Sandra Fluke or Gloria Steinem.

Post-modern art and architecture movements that have made a obscenity out of art(Piss Christ) and architecture - look at the difference at buildings built prior to WWI and now. Which is more humane and warm in appearance?
See Thomas Wolfe's two books for more on these subjects.

Modern art doesn't inspire, it degrades and makes a mockery of life, it's junk promoted by wealthy people. Think about it. That's how we went from Michaelangelo to Serrano.

Intellectual movements like Liberalism and secularism are utterly toxic for people who adhere to it. They don't have kids period. Hedonism and self-centeredness is the name of the game for those who embrace it and kids get in the way.

Loss of religion. The more secular a people become the less chance of them having a positive or neutral replacement rate. For example the Red States have more kids than Blue states. Religious families are bigger. It's also manifests with charity work. The more Liberal people are the less inclined they are to engage in charity."

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