Skip to comments.Two cultures (WHY THE WEST IS SUPERIOR AND WILL WIN)
Posted on 10/10/2001 11:43:52 PM PDT by MadIvan
'THE dangerous clashes of the future are likely to arise from the interaction of Western arrogance [and] Islamic intolerance." With that prediction, and with the phrase "Islam has bloody borders", Samuel P. Huntington's book The Clash of Civilisations (1996) has soared to cult status.
Huntington forecasts a bleak future. He divides humanity into seven civilisations (the West, Islam, Russian/Orthodox, Hindu/Indian, Chinese, Japanese and African) and he forecasts that they will fight each other indefinitely. To Huntington, these civilisations are super-tribes that, like primitive tribes, will attack each other until the end of time.
Only poverty restrains super-tribal aggression, believes Huntington, but he assumes that all seven civilisations will grow rich without losing the cultural differences that provoke super-tribal war. Huntington argues that there are many different types of capitalism and that each super-tribe will find the type that suits it.
The West is unique in its individualism and its rule of law, and the West invented capitalism. But because the West was individualistic and was ruled by law before it was rich, Huntington denies that those properties are important to the creation of wealth.
To prove his argument, Huntington pointed in 1996 to the "Tigers" of the Pacific Rim. Their cultures are collective and authoritarian, and they ignore the individual's rights under the law, yet they were growing so rich that, by 1996, they were beginning to ape the Muslims in their defiance of the West.
Yet where are the Tigers now? Japan is locked in economic stagnation, while Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia struggle with economic disaster. Only the West continues to grow.
Even in the West, people have championed more than one type of capitalism. Once, we were urged to admire Germany's Rhenish capitalism. Under Rhenish capitalism, competition and individual property rights are minimised. Instead, companies collude in cartels, their shares are owned by the banks that fund them and the nation is organised by the government as a corporate conspiracy.
Yet, contrary to myth, the German economy was, until recently, a relative failure. In 1830, Britain was 25 per cent richer than Germany per capita, and was still so in 1914 and in 1939. Germany was a threat because it was big in toto, but the Germans overtook us only when, after 1945, we forced them to adopt the liberal Anglo-American market model - at precisely the time that we, under Labour, abandoned it.
The great capitalist success has been the United States, which in 1830 was as poor as Germany but which, by 1890, had overtaken Britain per capita. American capitalism was fiercely laissez faire, being rooted in property rights, the rule of law and a ferocious individualism.
What so many writers ignore is that "catching up" is easy. A country, when poor, can enrich itself simply by copying its rich neighbours. Such catching up can be achieved by any regime - during the 1920s and 1930s even the Soviet Union grew swiftly.
But once a country has caught up, it can further enrich itself only by innovation, entrepreneurism and risk-taking. Those activities flourish only within an individualistic culture where property is secure under the law.
In his analysis, Huntington overlooked a simple historical principle: causes precede consequences. Western individualism and the rule of law preceded, and therefore did cause, its wealth. Successful capitalism, therefore, is rooted in Western values, and the powerful peoples of the future will be only those with whom we can do business.
The power of Islam is deceptive. It is not rich because it is dynamically capitalist, but because of the oil that the West discovered. The rage of the fundamentalist is born of having to choose between his culture and his prosperity.
or if you prefer:
The Eagle and the Lion!
We shall prevail, because we are right and powerful!
(How about the Maple Leaf?)
I also think that he is wrong about Russia.
"What kind of a people do they think we are?
We on this side of the pond?
We are people who would elect to follow Bill Clinton, obviously . . . SIGH
I have no brief for arrogance. But "Western" arrogance is chiefly, IMHO, the arrogance of those who call GWB arrogant and prefer WJBC or Gore. But of course criticizing your own culture passes for humility amongst such as that.
Please don't think I'm upset with you personally, I enjoy reading the articles that you post. It's just that when non-breaking-news is posted into that category, it makes it harder to find the breaking news.
Reducing as it does to "correlation = causation," that last line is unproven as it stands. It is however true because in a capitalist melieu with its constant creative destruction, attempting merely to "catch up" leaves you constantly building obsolescent equipment.
You have to run as fast as you can merely to stay in place, and to truly "catch up" you must run even faster. Faster, that is, than an authoritarian system can run--its speed being limited by its inability to manage risk properly. Authoritarian regimes may make grand mistakes, but cannot take small ones in stride as capitalism does (Not that the individual capitalist enjoys the experience!) because they tend to humble the arrogance of power.
His first mistake. There is only one Civilization -- the others are Cultures -- and any veneer of Civilization that adheres to them but a draped-over carbon copy of Western [Essentially Judeo-Christian] Civilization.
.... and he forecasts that they will fight one other indefinitely. To Huntington, these [Cultures] are ..... primitive tribes, will [Envy, hate, rage at and] attack [Western Civilization and] one other until the end of time.
Only poverty restrains super-tribal aggression, believes Huntington, but he assumes that all seven civilisations will grow rich without losing the cultural differences that provoke super-tribal war.
Big mistake number two, a wrong assumption -- and a false premise from which the rest of his theory descends. Poverty is the consequence of the denial to the creators and owners of Capital of the FReedom to choose what to do with it.
And it is the envy created by the ensuing poverty that is harnessed by the leaders of the uncivilized and turned into such hatred and rage as that we witnessed on September 11.
Huntington argues that there are many different types of capitalism .....
Absolute rubbish! There is only one and -- although something akin to it appeared momentarily in Great Britain at the time of the Industrial Revolution -- and was momentarily rampant in America in the early 19th century -- politicians soon inserted themselves and fellow-free-loading bureaucrats into the loop -- and capitalism is practised nowhere on Earth. Only various forms of Socialism. [Whose clichés are taught as "economics" in all but a couple of the world's colleges]
The West is unique in its individualism and its rule of law, and the West created capitalism. But because the West was individualistic and was ruled by law before it was rich, Huntington denies that those properties are important to the creation of wealth.
[In a vain attempt to support] his argument, Huntington pointed in 1996 to the "Tigers" of the Pacific Rim. Their cultures are collective and authoritarian, and they ignore the individual's rights under the law, yet they were growing so rich that, by 1996, they were beginning to ape the Muslims in their defiance of the West.
Yet where are the Tigers now? Japan is locked in economic stagnation, while Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia struggle with economic disaster.
Huntingdon completely overlooks that all but one of the much-vaunted "tigers" were the recipients both of the foundation of Western Rule of Law -- and all of them, of Trillions of Dollars of Western Capital -- and that when their rush to self-aggrandizement, their building of massive structures [Mostly underused and not viable -- Kuala Lumpur's "tallest building in the world (It is not!) -- only 25% occupied!] as witness to their own self-importance and their corruptly and criminally siphoning-off of every single penny they could get their grubby hands on -- became more than even the kick-back grubbing Western and European bankers could explain away to their investors -- Western investment dried up -- and with it the much-vaunted "tigers" became revealed as what they always were. Pussies.
Even today, 87% of Singapore's new investment is from the West -- and Singapores much-vaunted "success" is cloaked in draconian secrecy to cover up its government-controlled companies massive squanderings and losses of much of the confiscated wealth of its taxpayers and citizens in moronic overseas ventures.
Such is its "success," for example, that it can no longer return to its citizens the thirty-seven per cent it has, for decades, compulsoraly confiscated from their every pay packet into a "pension fund" -- the money from which having been blown by incompetent technocrats on "vip" terminals at airports, on first-class and five star representation at every major international junket and bureaucracy, on obscene "salaries" for "judges," bureaucrats and MPs -- and on massively-failed overseas ventures. In China; Thailand; Indonesia; Malaysia; Hong Kong -- and lately into several of the world's airlines, in a way which had, even before September 11 2001, to all intents and purposes brought several of them [Air New Zealand and Australia's Ansett] down -- and doomed others -- quite possibly to include Branson's Virgin Atlantic and the always wildly over-rated Singapore Airlines itself!
And as Mr Huntington [Correctly] states -- and despite that much of its mismanaged and/or confiscated wealth continues to be massively mis-directed toward the East's ceaselessly swirling plug holes:
Only the West continues to grow.
And now that Osama has given us all a look at what the other half really thinks of us?
Please God we will allow the scum that own operate control and rule the Beautiful Peoples who are trapped in all of the other cultures the benefit of the consequences of their own actions; that they might all perish -- and that we, by our example, can rescue their long-suffering Peoples -- and show them FReedom's Way!
First, the heavy socialism in Europe and Japan, which prevents them from growing as fast as the US. Despite defense budgets 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the US's, their working populations are more heavily taxed. This is to support a parasitic government funded sector. It is the US's support of private property rights, and the view that taxes are an infringement on those rights, that has kept growth alive in the US.
Second, as we have seen the decline, of the authoritarian capitalist asian tigers. So shall we see, the decline of China. The secretiveness and corruption, of authoritarian regimes, isn't compatible with the transparency and stability, capitalism requires. Let me expand on that, to make a profit, a capitalist must calculate the costs and the risks. Without transparency and stability calculating the costs and risks can become impossible.
Third, if so many of the Islamic countries weren't sitting on a ocean of oil. Their culture, would have no more clout, than African culture. They are like Spain was with new world gold, when the oil's gone, the power is gone. Most OPEC countries are in hock, if a new economical source of portable power were found(cold fusion), they would all go bankrupt.
I do agree with you about India, their democratic institutions are maturing nicely.
THe will of Allah forces Arabs to rely on the will, on the violence of Islam. While Islam relies on violence, the West is truly self sufficient and relies on itself, on the individual - or G_d in a good part of the US and Israel. Violence, the will of Allah, is indeed a poor substitute for self sufficiency. It actually is a dependence on violence and manhood, dependence that the West has been getting rid of, with our women in combat (a bad thing save for the jobs women can be useful for, such as control of tight and small space or subterranean vehicles as well as spy missions).
While Islam has women depending on men for war, the West has proven time and again that women can be making the bombs as well fight for special missions. True total war, in a clash of civilization, can only be waged from a stance of self reliance. While terrorism is often called the total war because it uses all means available (civilian, military, economic, mediatic, political and technological), Islam'S propensity to use terrorism does not mean Islam is best adapted at waging such total war. The west, on the other hand, while alienating lately the resort to violence in ways that are absurd, is a world best adapted and best capable to wage total war.
Then they attack each other over veil length, beard length, male organ lenght...
Here's a definitional system for you. Several cultures that are inter-accessible between themselves but not accessible from the outside are a civilization. An ability to measure success and failure -- the ethos -- comes with a civilization, not culture. Thus Mexican peasants and British engineers intermingle without conflict in California, -- both are cultures inside the Western Civilization.
The warrior Arab civilization we are facing has a different ethos -- it is not accessible to us. That civilization also comprises several cultures. It is also thinly spread: no Arab nation consists entirely of "warriors".
We have contests between those who Make and those who prefer to Take. This might actually have given rise to governments in the first place; see Franz Oppenheimer's book The State for an extended analysis.
We have contests between groups that are simply, amorally, fighting over an asset that they cannot share. If you look at the continuous border skirmishes between the Soviet Union and Red China from about 1965 to 1990, you'll see a good example of this.
We have punitive contests, in which our enemy is not a nation but its government, and not in an unlimited sense. A government must sometimes be punished for its excesses, yet be left in place because the consequences of toppling it entirely would be worse. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was of this type. Despite a crushing victory, the German Empire preferred that France be left politically intact. Though I disagree with the assessment of Saddam Hussein as preferable to a power vacuum in Iraq, the Persian Gulf War may also be placed in this category.
We have contests between groups that view one another as morally intolerable. That is, each one sees the other as evil. This is the pattern into which our war with Afghanistan falls. The same is true for World War II.
No doubt there are other categories.
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit the Palace Of Reason: http://palaceofreason.com
Mohammed is the source of the great differentiation between Muslim and Judeo-Christian religions. So, you would be better served by modifying your statement to read "Mohammed, prophet or demon?"
I disagree. The context of Huntington's thesis is that Western ideas = individual liberty (i.e. freedom from autocratic or theocratic tyranny). The only way to provide a truly civilized society is to enable and promote individual liberty. Any other societal approach is slavery, not civilization.
I contend that the essential component part of "Civilization" is a Body of Law that preempts both the will of tyrants -- and the tyranny of the mob. [AKA "democracy"]
Another apparently essential component part seems to involve the Judeo-Christian foundation of being created in God's image and striving valiantly to achieve as close to that image as is humanly posible.
Our Beloved FRaternal and Constitutional Republic, [Not, note well, a "democracy!!"] America -- by far and away the cutting edge of Human Civilization -- and essentially a Judeo-Christian Nation -- has been the cradle of so much creativity, innovation and productivity because, having, uniquely among nations, been Founded in -- and standing on -- the Principle of Individual Liberty -- and recognising as God-given -- and therefore inalienable by man or government -- the Constitutionally-Guaranteed Absolute Right of every man to the pursuit of all that is vital to his own life -- every man has been FRee -- as never before in the entire history of our species -- to pursue and to attempt to achieve his own vision of his own God's Image!
All other modern cultures, including those of the "tigers" and of Japan, have essentially failed to produce a sustainable wealth because they pursue only the material, by which the West's success appears to be measured -- either without understaning -- or being unwilling to embrace -- the underlying Moral Integrity -- and accompanying Rule of Law.
China, often [Falsely] held up as a 5000-year "civilization" was only a hundred and fifty years ago soundly defeated [And will never forget it!] in a war with a handful of Britons in a few sailing ships at the end of a ten-thousand-miles-long supply line! And for all of its much-trumpeted "5000-years of 'civilization,'" -- and quite long exposure to Western Civilization -- to this day has never even managed to put together a government worthy of the name -- and is ruled as if [And is!] a medieval serfdom, by a mass-murdering gang of self-appointed thuggees.
. . . but unlikely to run out of it any time soon, it would appear. Cold fusion is, I fear, tin-foil hat stuff . . .
Excellent analysis generally.
Where he is his own guardian and guide.
Where he neither needs nor wants an "external authority" to rule him...
Where he fights all attempts to be controlled and manipulated by others...
Consciousness is his weapon... Not his weakness...
Great post. I agree: Western Judeo-Christian civilization is innately superior to all others.
(But be careful; there are certain people here on FR who will accuse you of being a white supremacist for saying so.)