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Why West is Best
NRO ^ | 12/3/01 | Paul Johnson

Posted on 11/19/2001 6:02:04 AM PST by walden

Why West Is Best Secrets — or rather, obvious ingredients — of the Good Society.

By Paul Johnson, the British journalist and historian, is the author of many books, including A History of Christianity and A History of the Jews. From the December 3, 2001, issue of National Review

No such thing as a perfect society exists in the world or ever will. But the Good Society can and does emerge from time to time, and is far more likely to exist within the orbit of the Western system than in any other. Why is this? To begin with, consider the historic blend of two valuable but imperfect and distinct moral/legal systems — the Greco-Roman and the Judeo-Christian — which together are much more than the sum of their parts. All of us desire moral order. All of us wish for justice. The chief problem that faces a civilization is how to translate morality and justice into a workable system of law. The Greeks took legal concepts from numerous ancient societies, notably the Medes and Persians, but they brought to the science of law the spirit of philosophic inquiry, their own unique gift to humanity. They probed the nature of justice and the validity of morals, and thus infused law-making with a new dynamic: the endless quest for truth, viability, and endurance.

The Romans, in turn, built on this method, evolving a code that worked effectively over the world's largest and longest-lasting empire, enduring in one form or another for two millennia. What the Romans struggled towards was the notion of rule by law, rather than by mere men, and this involved the supremacy of a political constitution, which men, however powerful, were obliged to obey. The attempt ultimately failed, Rome became an oriental dictatorship of god-emperors, the rule of law collapsed, and, in due course, so did Roman civilization itself, in both its Western and Byzantine forms.

However, from the 5th and 6th centuries onwards, Roman notions of law and its rule were reinforced and transformed by Judeo-Christianity. The Jews were as devoted to law as the Romans. They saw the law as God-made, and under its rule all, from kings and high priests to shepherds, were equal: That is why the great 1st-century Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, called Judaism a "theocratic democracy." The Christians took over the principle of equality under the moral law and applied it to both the law codes of the Germanic north, based upon tribal consultations, and those of the Romance south, based upon Roman digests. The clergy evolved their own canon law and, between the 11th and the 16th centuries, there was a struggle between secular and clerical systems. The result was a felicitous compromise: neither theocratic law (as in Islamic states), nor wholly secular law, since the codes recognized natural law (as interpreted by Christianity) as the basis of all justice.

The rule of law was not established in the West without conflict. The constitutional struggle that produced in 1215 the Magna Carta, the first English Statute of the Realm (still in force), the English Civil War of 1640-60, and the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, the American Revolution of the 1770s and 1780s, producing the first modern written constitution, and the French Revolution of 1789, leading to the creation of the Napoleonic law code (both these last, as amended, still in force) are all episodes in the successful effort to make even kings and governments subject to the rule of law. The process continues, the latest salient event being the collapse of the supra-legal Communist dictatorship in Russia in 1991 and subsequent attempts, as yet incomplete, to establish the rule of law for the first time in Russia and its devolved territories.

From this long history, it has become evident that equality in law cannot be finally ensured without the mass participation of the public. But it is important to understand that the rule of law must be established first before democracy can successfully evolve. That is the great political lesson of Western civilization. It explains why democracy has quickly collapsed in all those (mainly Third World) countries where the rule of law was weak or nonexistent. A notable exception has been India, which — with all its weaknesses — still maintains democracy because the rule of law, thanks to the genius of Macaulay, took root there under British rule.

Where the rule of law exists, continually reinforced by an evolving democracy, liberty too takes root. The point was succinctly made by Thomas Hobbes, who, together with his follower John Locke, was the determining political philosopher in the evolution of both the British and the U.S. constitutions. "The silence of the laws is the freedom of the subject," wrote Hobbes: Where the law does not specifically prohibit, the citizen is free to do as he pleases. In unfree or Oriental societies, the assumption is reversed, and the freedom to do any individual action depends on favor, tradition (as interpreted by the absolute ruler or his agents), or corruption.

The freedom enjoyed in Western society under the rule of law and constitutional government explains both the quality of its civilization and its wealth. In the early Middle Ages, Islamic societies enjoyed some freedom in transmuting the Greeks' knowledge and spirit of inquiry, but this came to an end in the 13th century, which was precisely the point when the Western university system took off. Where the quest for knowledge is relatively, and now almost absolutely, unrestrained, the public benefit will be great, especially where the certainty of the law ensures that knowledge is rewarded. This is exactly the combination that is the foundation of wealth-creation.

Society in the West was establishing a consistent pattern of wealth-making even in the Middle Ages. From the 15th century, two factors — the invention of double-entry bookkeeping and of printing from movable type — were joined by six others, all consequences of the rule of law and of (virtual) equality under the law. These were the invention of the legal corporation (later including the limited-liability company and the trust); the development of a clear legal doctrine of marriage and inheritance; the invention of freehold in real estate and of banks operating as sure deposits for liquid wealth (both serving as the basis for lending and investment in mercantile and industrial enterprise); the development of copyright law; the inability of government to confiscate or tax individual property except by due process; and, finally, the invention of an immense range of legal devices, from commercial and personal insurance to stock exchanges (to promote, protect, maximize, and employ savings efficiently).

From these dozen or so advantages and their interaction, capitalism evolved. It is not, strictly speaking, an "ism," but a process of nature, which at a certain state of human development — the rule of law and a measure of personal freedom being the most important ingredients — occurs spontaneously, as millions of ordinary people go about their business in as efficient a manner as they know how. It is, then, a force of nature, which explains its extraordinary fecundity, adaptability, and protean diversity. It is as much a product of Western civilization as the university and the library, the laboratory and the cinema, relativity theory and psychotherapy. Coca-Cola and McDonald's are not alternatives to the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Public Library: They are all four products of a wealth-creating and knowledge-producing process based on freedom and legal certainty.

Moreover, because capitalism is based on human nature, not dogma, it is self-correcting. The freedom of the market enables these corrections to be made all the time, to short- and long-term problems. The expression "the crisis of capitalism" is therefore misleading. Capitalism moves through continual crises, major and minor, absorbing their lessons and so continually increasing productivity and living standards in the long run.

Indeed it is the protean ability of Western civilization to be self-critical and self-correcting — not only in producing wealth but over the whole range of human activities — that constitutes its most decisive superiority over any of its rivals. And it is protean not least in its ability to detect what other societies do better, and incorporate such methods into its own armory. All the other systems in the world, notably the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Indian, have learned much from the West in turn, and benefited thereby. The Islamic world has been the least willing to adopt the West's fundamental excellences. That is why it remains poor (despite its wealth of raw materials), unfree, and unhappy. Its states are likely to have uneasy relations with the West until Islam reforms itself, embraces the rule of law, introduces its own form of democracy, and so becomes a protean player in the modern world.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: clashofcivilizatio
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Thought-provoking, in terms of what "nation-building" must consist of in order to succeed.
1 posted on 11/19/2001 6:02:04 AM PST by walden
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To: walden
Bump for a good read.
2 posted on 11/19/2001 9:43:57 AM PST by Mahone
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To: walden
Nice read

Hello, Islamic nations? Catching on yet?

3 posted on 11/19/2001 10:00:59 AM PST by Harp
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To: walden
Have his US HISTORY.Good man.
4 posted on 11/19/2001 1:06:21 PM PST by larryjohnson
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To: walden
Clash of civilizations bump. Bookmarked.
5 posted on 11/19/2001 2:00:30 PM PST by denydenydeny
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To: walden
Clash of civilizations bump. Bookmarked.
6 posted on 11/19/2001 2:02:10 PM PST by denydenydeny
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To: walden; A.J.Armitage; tex-oma; Architect; Pistias; LSJohn
Excellent, thanks.

Bumping my recent Defense of Liberty companions.

7 posted on 11/19/2001 2:10:09 PM PST by annalex
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To: walden
Great article. Bump.
8 posted on 11/19/2001 3:43:29 PM PST by Dan De Quille
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To: walden
Yeah, the West is the embodiment of all that is good in human history. What has it brought the world?

Fascism. communism. Two World Wars. Colonialism. The Nation state. The atom bomb.

I'm not saying that the West hasn't brought many good things to the world as well. But the self-adulation in this post makes me want to puke.

Oh. By the way, Islamic fundamentalism has one and only one cause: the perversion of Islamic culture caused by more than a century of Western meddling and colonialism. The earlier Jihadism had been dead for a thousand years until we came along.

9 posted on 11/20/2001 8:48:51 AM PST by Architect
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Comment #10 Removed by Moderator

To: walden
Why West Is Best

Because Jim Morrison said so??

11 posted on 11/20/2001 9:00:36 AM PST by dr gene scott
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To: Architect
Neither fascism nor communism are unique to the West, unless you decide not to count China, North Korea, Vietnam, various Islamic fascist regimes in the middle east and Africa, and various other kleptocratic fascist regimes in Africa. And, as I recall, Japan was a big player in WWII, although WWI was exclusively western. Furthermore, you may not like the atom bomb, but I firmly believe that it shortened WWII and saved many more lives than it took, not to mention preventing war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union for 50 years through the policy of mutually assured destruction. As for colonialism, compare Africa now to colonial Africa, and then explain to me how Africa is now better off (you can do the same analysis on the middle east if you like.)

I think you missed the point of the article, though. The point is not that western civilization is perfect, the point is that it is light years better than the alternative. You may disagree with that conclusion-- being a westerner, as I assume you are, you are quite free to leave and go to the third-world nation of your choice. However, I notice that plenty of violently anti-western "intellectuals" choose to live in the west, despite its evil, and not in the third world they venerate (Edward Said and Susan Sontag come to mind, but there are thousands of others.)

12 posted on 11/20/2001 9:03:53 AM PST by walden
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To: tex-oma
Show me a non-western country that is freer or better by some objective standard.
13 posted on 11/20/2001 9:34:18 AM PST by annalex
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To: walden
Its states are likely to have uneasy relations with the West until Islam reforms itself I am afraid that Islam has already "reformed itself," and that reform has led it backwards to the "pure" Islam of Mohammed. As late as the 13th Century Thomas Aquinas could propose a discussion with Muslims based on a common interest in western science--the science of Aristotle. But I see no Avicennas in the Islamic World.
14 posted on 11/20/2001 9:41:15 AM PST by RobbyS
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To: RobbyS
I think there are plenty of middle eastern scientists and thinkers-- but you don't hear about them because they're all here in the west making careers subsequent to their education in the west. They identify with civilization and its values far more than they do with Islamic law. And most of them are probably Muslim in the same way that I'm Episcopalian; mildly and quietly. It's one of the more unfortunate aspects of life that only the loudest get heard, and mostly the people willing to be loud are radical in one way or another.

Unfortunately, these people had to turn their back on their countries in order to have a future in the modern world. I can sympathize, but it seems to me that the brain drain out of the Islamic world has left behind mostly intelligent thugs (as leaders and terrorists) and untutored peasants. If the middle east is to have a future, they desperately need to retain and regain their intellectual elites, but to do that, the governments and systems of law will have to be fixed first. It's a conundrum.

15 posted on 11/20/2001 10:05:32 AM PST by walden
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To: annalex
I would say that anyone who does not like it here is most welcome to leave. Planes leave all day, every day. And don't let the door hit you...

If people are too angry or stupid or arrogant to appreciate this great nation, this great, generous, free nation, they can just take a hike and make room for folks who do appreciate it.

16 posted on 11/20/2001 10:22:39 AM PST by veronica
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To: walden
This article was about the things which came from the west. Communism and fascism are Western ideas. Like many other Western ideas (some of which are cited by the article), they have been exported to the Third World. Both World Wars are also Western. Japan is a western country - the first one in the Far East to adopt western values.

Look, I don't want to get into too much an argument about this. I found the self-congradulatory tone to be infuriating. I still do.

Capitalism and the idea of liberty first arose in Europe because of its unique historical advantages. The geographic location - a large agricultural plain crisscrossed by rivers. The only other area of the world that fits this bill is Eastern North America. But North America suffered from two disadvantages: 1) no large domesticable animals 2) it is separated from the only possible civilization cradle (Mexico) by desert. In contrast, European had horses, sheep, cattle and easy transportation to both Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Roman Law and Christianity had nothing to do with it. The Common Law is superior to the Roman version. Any other religion would have adapted itself to the new realities of emerging capitalism, just as Christianity did. It is not a coincidence that the Reformation came shortly after the Renaissance.

17 posted on 11/20/2001 10:22:43 AM PST by Architect
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To: walden
it seems to me that the brain drain out of the Islamic world has left behind mostly intelligent thugs (as leaders and terrorists) and untutored peasants. If the middle east is to have a future, they desperately need to retain and regain their intellectual elites, but to do that, the governments and systems of law will have to be fixed first. It's a conundrum.

Exactly so. But the way for this to happen is for us to leave them alone and let them find their own way forward. The most exciting developments in the Mid-east today are probably in Iran, which seems to be finding its own path towards liberty and modernity. Thirty years of a US-supported thug regime were followed by twenty years of 11th century theocracy. But they seem to be about to throw off the past and move on. If only we let them be...

18 posted on 11/20/2001 10:43:11 AM PST by Architect
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To: walden
I think that the "modernists" among th Muslims have been left with no place to stay. One would have thought that cities like Cairo and Istanbul would have become centers of accomodation between Western and Islamic thought. But neither is a place that generates wealth. Istanbul still has one of the most favorable sites in the world, but Attaturk was unable to restore the flow of trade that went through the straits prior to 1914,because Stalin ruined Russian agriculture, and that can't resume until the Russians get their act together. Maybe we should let the Turks take oil fields of northern Iraq and thereby get a cash transfusion.
19 posted on 11/20/2001 10:47:48 AM PST by RobbyS
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To: walden
All of us desire moral order. All of us wish for justice. The chief problem that faces a civilization is how to translate morality and justice into a workable system of law.

Evil people don't want the moral order, nor do they want justice--unless they think it is in their interest. I thought the chief problem that faces a civilization is how to get people to love goodness and justice even when it conflicts with their perceived interests, or to educate them to the true value of goodness and justice.

20 posted on 11/20/2001 10:57:43 AM PST by Pistias
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To: Architect
Well, as the West has produced far more intellectual ideas in total, it only stands to reason that it has produced more bad ones.

"I found the self-congradulatory tone to be infuriating. I still do."

Interestingly, that's exactly what I liked about it-- you call the tone "self-congratulatory", whereas I would characterize it as self-confident. I think the one, great virtue of western Victorian society (not only in Britain, but here as well) was its utter, unquestioning self-confidence. The response of the British authorities in India when some Indians said that the practice of burning the widow on the dead man's funeral pyre was "our custom", was, in essence, the practice of hanging by the neck until dead people who do such things is OUR custom. You practice your custom, and we'll practice our custom. They didn't argue about it, they just enforced civilized values.

Today, we're unwilling to do that. We act as though everything is debatable, nothing is solid. How many times have you seen a parent arguing with a small child over why it's not right to beat up other kids? The child is incapable of grasping the subtleties of the issue, and not far enough developed mentally to have much of a sense of empathy. The kid just needs firm, unbreakable rules, and the willingness of the parent to engage in unwinnable arguments only convinces the child that the issue is, in fact, arguable.

If the values of Western civilization are to survive and thrive, we are going to have to regain our confidence in them and be willing to proclaim that confidence out loud.

21 posted on 11/20/2001 10:57:50 AM PST by walden
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To: Architect
The wars with Fascism and Communism were over what kind of civilization we should live under.

The war with Islam is over whether we should live under a civilization at all.

For all Western Civilization's faults, that stark difference makes most anti-Western arguments moot.

22 posted on 11/20/2001 10:58:42 AM PST by Mr. Jeeves
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To: walden; Architect
At least Arch didn't blame slavery on the West. In fact, he didn't bring it up at all. Wonder why (psst... Arab culture is way into slavery. Ssshhhh...)
23 posted on 11/20/2001 11:03:53 AM PST by Anamensis
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To: veronica
There are indeed many things about this nation that are superior to those before it, but don't let self-congratulation lull you into a false sense of security. Every regime has problems, and democracies (even republics) have some of the worst, along with some of the best benefits.
24 posted on 11/20/2001 11:10:25 AM PST by Pistias
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To: Architect
"But the way for this to happen is for us to leave them alone and let them find their own way forward. "

I'm not sure that one can generalize about countries in the middle east. In the case of Iran, you may be right. Afghanistan and Iraq, I don't think so. Jordan? Certainly. Syria and Egypt? Doubtful. Saudi Arabia? I think we're their only chance-- If we leave them alone, the Islamic fundamentalists will topple the Sauds and the average person will be in worse shape than before.

25 posted on 11/20/2001 11:11:01 AM PST by walden
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To: walden
I think the one, great virtue of western Victorian society (not only in Britain, but here as well) was its utter, unquestioning self-confidence

Given your choice of psuedonym, I'm not suprised you'd find the Nietzschean ideal of "commitment" appealing.

26 posted on 11/20/2001 11:12:14 AM PST by Pistias
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To: walden
BUMP (My NR subscription ran out.)
27 posted on 11/20/2001 11:16:47 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Pistias
I'm not sure people can be educated to the value of goodness and justice prior to having experienced it. In fact, that's exactly how all of us got civilized-- we lived under the system of our parents' goodness and justice until we were of an age to understand the reason behind it. So, what do we do with adults? Pretty much the same thing, I think.
28 posted on 11/20/2001 11:23:59 AM PST by walden
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To: walden
I wouldn't say that the West has a very good record in any of these countries. Western influence has been hugely destructive in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has largely been irrelevant to the development of Jordan and Syria.

It is possible that you are right. Saudi Arabia may have to go through a stage of control by Islamic fundamentalists. If so, 70 years of American support for a corrupt and venal monarchy will have played a large part in provoking this. In any case, it is their country and their problem. Just an Iran is starting to throw off the shackles of theocracy, so too will the Saudis one day.

29 posted on 11/20/2001 11:30:17 AM PST by Architect
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To: walden
I'm not sure people can be educated to the value of goodness and justice prior to having experienced it.

I'm sure you're right--good upbringing is essential to any society.

30 posted on 11/20/2001 11:30:21 AM PST by Pistias
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To: walden
The Magna Carta was the foundation. What we enjoy today was built upon it.

I learned this back in the 7th grade. Today, freedoms are taken for granted.

31 posted on 11/20/2001 11:35:27 AM PST by johnny7
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To: Architect
Saudi Arabia is a fairly benign theocracy with a democratic twist in that the AL Saud rules by the support of the people and they still hold majlis every day. I would hardly call them corrupt. In fact, I would suggest that they are LESS corrupt than our Congressmen other government officials.
32 posted on 11/20/2001 11:35:35 AM PST by Patria One
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To: Pistias
Well, you're obviously more educated than I am-- I have no idea how Nietzsche defined "commitment", but I take it you disagree with the idea of self-confidence as a cultural virtue, and you are, of course, entitled to your opinion. I believe that cultures that lack self-confidence will eventually be destroyed by cultures that don't, regardless of the virtues or vices of each.
33 posted on 11/20/2001 11:40:18 AM PST by walden
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To: Anamensis
Maybe instead of talking about what's wrong with Western society or Arab society, we could discuss Israeli society instead. You know. Has a tendency to elect terrorists in high places in government. Denies the right to vote to 3,000,000 of the people that it "governs". Instead places snipers on rooftops to shoot them. Things like that.

Who exactly should we blame for this? Oh right. The sniper targets. They throw rocks at the occupying army, don't you know?

34 posted on 11/20/2001 11:49:31 AM PST by Architect
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To: Architect
"I wouldn't say that the West has a very good record in any of these countries. Western influence has been hugely destructive in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has largely been irrelevant to the development of Jordan and Syria. "

American interference in Afghanistan was pretty much non-existant prior to its invasion by the Soviets-- and even then, the money we sent was funnelled through the Pakistani intelligence agencies because we wanted plausible deniability. Anyway, people who argue about how wrong we were in Afghanistan are just like the people who argue how wrong we were to support South Vietnam. Interestingly enough, all of the actual South Vietnamese immigrants to this country that I know think our only sin was to desert them. I agree with them. Our fault in Afghanistan was not that we supported those fighting the Soviets, but that we pulled out and left them to be preyed on by their Muslim neighbors.

I'm not aware of anything we've done in Iraq, other than stomp them out of Kuwait. Likewise, I don't think we've done much of anything in Syria. Jordan is another case, though: haven't you seen their young king on television? Very reasonable, very moderate, British-educated, and very interested in advancing his country into the modern age. Seems like pretty good western influence to me.

As for Saudi Arabia, you may think it's just fine to abandon them to two generations of Islamic fascism, but besides turning their lives to misery and creating a flood of refugees into the west, I think it's likely to make them more virulent sponsors of international terrorism than they already are. Bad idea, in my book.

35 posted on 11/20/2001 11:53:56 AM PST by walden
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To: walden
Educated or no, look at it this way: "self-confidence" means believeing in the genuineness--the rightness--of one's understanding and practice of the true, the good, and the beautiful. And I agree, societies must think they're doing the right thing, or they lose the spirit which in large part decides any conflict.

But care must be taken: Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were quite confident that they'd figured it out, and that they were doing the right thing (i.e., exactly what they wanted so long as they didn't get caught). But we can see that this is a heinous, false, insane understanding of human life.

Nietzsche was a cultural relativist--he thought "every society is entitled to their own opinion," and carried it to its logical conclusion: that, since no opinion is true and therefore the best, each opinion was worth the same--nothing. Thus, any opinion your will is commited to--that you're confident in--is justifiable. Walden was written along lines Nietzsche agreed with--that modern reason is toxic, and a return to more natural foundations was necessary. He just went to a bad "natural" place.

That was a mouthful. I've got to go pick up my girlfriend. Adios.

36 posted on 11/20/2001 11:55:32 AM PST by Pistias
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Comment #37 Removed by Moderator

To: Patria One
Sorry, Pat. I usually agree with you but we part company here. Any country with 7000 obscenely rich princes qualifies as a corrupt and venal monarchy to me.
38 posted on 11/20/2001 12:00:41 PM PST by Architect
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To: johnny7
"Today, freedoms are taken for granted."

"In the end, more than freedom they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all -- security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and never was free again."
-- Edward Gibbons

You're right, and I hope we're not becoming Athens.

39 posted on 11/20/2001 12:03:51 PM PST by walden
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To: Architect
The only thing wrong with Israeli society is that it has the nerve to want to survive and the gall to fight those who have stated very clearly that they want to destroy Israel. The nerve of some people, huh?
40 posted on 11/20/2001 12:12:28 PM PST by Anamensis
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To: Pistias
You obviously didn't read the same "Walden" I did, and you have completely misinterpreted my opinion of the self-confidence of the Victorians. They were good, and they were confident in their judgment of what was good. I don't think Bundy and Dahlmer had any consideration of goodness at all.
41 posted on 11/20/2001 12:13:47 PM PST by walden
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To: walden
You have a curious habit of using the word West to refer to Western civilization when it serves your purposes and using it to refer to - roughly - the NATO countries when that it helpful.

Re: Afghanistan
This about western influence. western I think we have established the fact that communism is western. Besides, Afghanistan was (relatively) better off under Soviet rule than under the murderous thugs funded by the US.

Re: Iraq
In the Gulf War, the west could have decided to leave things alone, or to liberate Kuwait, or to take overthrow Saddam. All of these decisions would have been reasonable. The actual choice: to murder a hundred thousand soldiers attempting to withdraw from Kuwait and to follow up with the destruction of the country's infrastructure and a cruel and senseless embargo is, to say the least, obscene.

Re: Saudi Arabia
Their country. Their problem. Stop supporting corrupt monarchies and let them worry what the next step is.

Re: Jordan
The West has not meddled much in this country at all, like Syria. Some places get lucky in their choice of monarch. Syria has done less well than Jordan. Hopefully, they'll do better after the old buzzard dies. Like Portugal did, for example.

42 posted on 11/20/2001 12:18:50 PM PST by Architect
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To: Architect
I'm not going to address everything in your post because in my experience, arguing with people who have already decided that U.N. sanctions on Iraq were responsible for killing a gazillion children is pointless. People who believe that have a fixed, unmovable view of the U.S. and western civilization that they are not ever going to change. But, I will respond to certain other points:

"Re: Afghanistan
This about western influence. western I think we have established the fact that communism is western. Besides, Afghanistan was (relatively) better off under Soviet rule than under the murderous thugs funded by the US.

Communism is a western idea, the Soviet Union was a big place that spanned from near west to the far east. Culturally, they combined west and east. Afghanistan was never under Soviet rule-- the Soviets left, just like we left Vietnam.

"Re: Jordan
The West has not meddled much in this country at all, like Syria. Some places get lucky in their choice of monarch. Syria has done less well than Jordan. Hopefully, they'll do better after the old buzzard dies. "

Jordan may have gotten lucky in Hussein, but the western influences on both him and his father are, I think, a big part of that. The old Assad is already dead-- the new Assad is his son, just as bad.

43 posted on 11/20/2001 12:31:18 PM PST by walden
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To: Anamensis
Until he mentioned the Iraqi sanctions, I had no idea what kind of belief system I was dealing with-- straight out of the far left playbook. :)
44 posted on 11/20/2001 1:02:40 PM PST by walden
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To: Architect
There aren't 7,000 obscenely rich princes. That's media BS.
45 posted on 11/20/2001 1:10:29 PM PST by Patria One
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To: Architect
In the Gulf War, the west could have decided to leave things alone, or to liberate Kuwait, or to take overthrow Saddam.

Really? How exactly would you have suggested we overthrow Saddam? What course of action would you have recommended?

46 posted on 11/20/2001 2:29:51 PM PST by Anamensis
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To: Architect
we could discuss Israeli society instead. You know. Has a tendency to elect terrorists in high places in government. Denies the right to vote to 3,000,000 of the people that it "governs". Instead places snipers on rooftops to shoot them. Things like that.

So let me get this straight - Israel should grant to Palestinians the right to vote, even though the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge that country's right to exist.

*** head scratch ***

Are you this absurd on purpose?

47 posted on 11/20/2001 2:35:05 PM PST by dirtboy
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To: Anamensis
How exactly would you have suggested we overthrow Saddam? What course of action would you have recommended?

Well, he already got after the U.S. for killing all those Iraqi soldiers, so I guess we're supposed to wave a wand to eliminate Saddam.

48 posted on 11/20/2001 2:37:16 PM PST by dirtboy
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To: walden
Well done. Found your little hole to pigeon me into. Now you can safely discard anything I say. Of course you might instead attempt to tell me what purpose the sanctions have served - besides, of course, satisfying American anger at the demon du jour Saddam Hussein while simultaneously tightening his hold on Iraq and fomenting Arab hatred of America.

Demonizing enemies is a bad American habit and the treatment of Saddam is a good example of this trait. As tin pot dictators go, he is decent enough - aside from his very bad habit of playing with fire. There are far worse. And if you don't like this habit, do something about it instead of killing babies.

You may note that I suggested that we had three options back in 1991. Two of those options are still available today. Instead, this obscenity has been inflicted on the Iraqi people. Where exactly is this analysis wrong?

49 posted on 11/20/2001 2:38:43 PM PST by Architect
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To: Architect
You know exactly as I do where the analysis is wrong-- this has been argued ceaselessly both in the press and on this board-- you repeat your line-- I explain where you wrong-- you deny it-- and on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. The very way you frame the case tells me your belief system, and how rigidly you hold it.

Waste of time. Besides, you didn't respond to the substantive comments that I made to your other points (corrections of errors of facts, actually), so I guess the discussion is over. It would have been graceful to acknowledge your mistakes.

50 posted on 11/20/2001 3:08:39 PM PST by walden
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