July 8th, 2017

Praising Western Civilization

You wouldn’t think it would be controversial to praise Western Civilization. Even among liberals.

After all, liberalism itself, and the principles of liberty, protection of the underdog, celebration of diversity, the scientific method, and a host of other things that liberals profess to celebrate, are products of Western Civilization. But when President Trump spoke in glowing terms about Western Civilization and the need to defend and preserve it, he was roundly criticized by liberals and the left as having dog-whistled to the white supremacist fringe of what has come to be known as the alt-right.

Of course, if Trump said the sky was blue he would be criticized for that, too. But his speech was not only a good one, it contained talk about Western Civilization that not so very long ago would have been considered completely mainstream and non-controversial.

What happened in the interim? Well, one thing that happened was President Obama, who was famous for not defending Western Civilization but for seeing its faults (and there are certainly many). But what has really happened is two things that are related. One of the strengths of modern Western Civilization is its propensity for soul-searching and ability to find fault with itself. But that has been taken to an extreme by another product of Western Civilization, a political left that celebrates the third world and considers the West the root of all evil, and thinks that to speak of its achievements is to be a terrible racist.

The second thing is that those ideas have become the catechism taught on college campuses. And it’s been taught for quite some time. Although I don’t know the exact date that the practice began, it was in full flower by the 80s, when Allan Bloom was writing The Closing of the American Mind.

Here’s a summary of Bloom’s observations of the way American education had gone by the end of the 80s:

As Bloom recognized, the fruits of egalitarianism are ignorance, the habit of intellectual conformity, and the systematic subjection of cultural achievement to political criteria. In the university, this means classes devoted to pop novels, rock videos, and third-rate works chosen simply because their authors are members of the requisite sex, ethnic group, or social minority. It means students who graduate not having read Milton or Dante or Shakespeare—or, what is in some ways even worse, who have been taught to regard the works of such authors chiefly as hunting grounds for examples of patriarchy, homophobia, imperialism, etc. It means faculty and students who regard education as an exercise in disillusionment and who look to the past only to corroborate their sense of superiority and self-satisfaction.

Academia has only gotten more so since then. What we see now are some of the fruits of that academic labor, resulting in an MSM that is almost wholly populated with people who believe just that, and a former president who also believed just that and was their champion. What a deep disappointment and outrage it must be for them to hear Trump say just the opposite.

The fact that the actual white supremacist wing of the alt-right have celebrated Trump’s Warsaw speech is also unsurprising. But it does not mean that Trump was speaking to them or is of them, although the left would have you believe that. People can celebrate a speech and see things in it that are not there, and they can also use that speech in ways it wasn’t intended.

“Western Civilization” used to be a required course for a liberal education. Around the time I went to school, the 60s (ah, the 60s), the situation was in transition. Western Civ (as it was not-so-affectionately called) had recently stopped being required in many colleges, and very few require it today, all these years later. It’s not just my imagination, either:

Survey courses in “Western Civilization,” once a common component of undergraduate curriculums, have almost disappeared as a requirement at many large private research universities and public flagships, according to a study released Wednesday [in May of 2011, but the link seems to be dead] by the National Association of Scholars.

The report finds that, since 1968, the number of the selected colleges that require Western Civilization courses as a component of general education curriculums and U.S. history as a component of history majors has dropped. This decrease has coincided with more focus on world history courses.

The association argues that Western Civilization courses are uniquely capable of introducing students to key themes of a liberal education. “In the absence of such an organizing principle the curriculum spins out into an all-things-to-all-people cornucopia of offerings, many of them exceptionally narrow in scope and many of them trivial in character,” the report states.

Historians and curriculum researchers attribute the de-emphasis on Western Civilization courses to significant changes in higher education curriculums, student diversity, university educational goals, and how history researchers study the world and receive training.

I remember my reaction in the 60s: joy. The reasons were many. As a typical teenaged student (although I was somewhat younger than average when I arrived at college) I resented required courses in general. But I had always disliked history courses in particular (go figure; I love history now) because I saw them as a dull recitation of irrelevant dates. That may have been a correct description of the history courses I had taken up to that point; I don’t know, because that part of my education is somewhat of a blur. I do know that somewhere along the line I had read a great many of the books that constitute the canon of Western Civilization, and liked them, but it was mostly in English classes that this had happened.

I think I was ignorant of what a “Western Civilization” course would have actually covered. It wouldn’t have been dates and battles; it would have been something like this, and I think I would have loved it:

Bloom regarded liberal education in its highest form as a conversation across the centuries that revolved around the perennially fresh question “What is the good life?” He championed what he called “the good old great books” because they are the prime repositories of thoughtful alternative answers to that question. A liberal arts education for Bloom centrally involved a meditation on those books and the “permanent questions” they posed in themselves and, above all, in relation to one another. As such a liberal arts education was “a resource against the ephemeral” and prophylactic against nihilism and spuriousness.

But these days my guess is that in many places (not all, of course) where Western Civilization is still taught it is presented as a toxic stain on humanity, a poisonous brew of intolerance and exploitation of suffering non-Western peoples, to be studied only to be condemned. That Trump doesn’t agree is one of his many crimes, according to the left.

I’m pretty sure that at this point the left doesn’t like Churchill, either. Or maybe he gets some sort of special pass, because he was fighting the Nazis?:

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

And not so very long ago it was possible to publish an article like this one in The New Republic:

Churchill’s worldview also cannot be easily categorized. It blended Victorianism and Edwardism, Liberalism and Conservatism. He saw the world in grand, often romantic, terms and himself in the tradition of great leaders like Napoleon, Castlereagh, Marlborough, Disraeli, and Gladstone. The ultimate issue for Churchill was the advance of “civilization,” by which he meant the British and Western way of life—its liberal values, laws, culture, industry, and science. He saw Britain and its empire as propagators of civilization, imbuing his nationalism and imperialism with a moral imperative. He came to see the United States, also, as a guarantor of civilization, and his support for Zionism was ultimately rooted in the belief that the Jews in Palestine/Israel were collaborators in this grand cause. Everyone, no matter his or her race—and Churchill conceived a hierarchy of races—had an obligation to contribute to the world’s progress. As he wrote in a 1908 travelogue about Africa, “No man has a right to be idle, whoever he be or wherever he lives. He is bound to go forward and take an honest share in the general work of the world.”…

Churchill considered Nazism vile and barbaric, a rejection of civilization in every way, despite his respect for the German race. He was particularly offended by its anti-Semitism, which made Nazism, in some ways, worse than communism…

Churchill was clearly the indispensable man of the moment in 1940, whom destiny summoned to change the course of history. His overwhelming love of country and civilization, grave sense of obligation to protect and improve on all the good the ages had produced, romantic view of the world, and keen understanding of how history had reached a vital point, made him realize why he and Britain had to battle relentlessly, regardless of the odds. His firm conviction that individuals can overcome great adversity, his belief that great leaders can redirect global forces, and his uplifting oratorical abilities, allowed Churchill to shape the thoughts and feelings of his countrymen and save his country and civilization.

Note that the author mentions Churchill’s racism (which was a symptom of his time; Churchill was born in 1874), but does not emphasize it or let it detract from his mammoth accomplishments. The word “civilization” is used without irony, too; it is considered a non-controversial fact that it was worth saving. And by “civilization” it’s clear that Churchill meant Western civilization. To repeat:

…“civilization,” by which [Churchill] meant the British and Western way of life—its liberal values, laws, culture, industry, and science. He saw Britain and its empire as propagators of civilization, imbuing his nationalism and imperialism with a moral imperative. He came to see the United States, also, as a guarantor of civilization, and his support for Zionism was ultimately rooted in the belief that the Jews in Palestine/Israel were collaborators in this grand cause.

Contemplate that, and then read or listen to Trump’s Warsaw speech again.

67 Responses to “Praising Western Civilization”

  1. Mike K Says:

    My daughter, a freshman at U of Arizona in 2009, took a class titled, “American History since 1877.” I was helping her prepare for the final exam and found this in her study guide. “The Silent Majority consisted of white people who did not accept the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”
    No mention of Nixon or the Vietnam War.
    I complained to the Dean of the “General Studies” program and he suggested that perhaps I should send her to another university.

  2. Irv Says:

    Excellent analysis Neo. A perfect example of why I have read you for so many years. Thank you very much.

  3. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    A friend blogged the video of the speech.
    My comment was “Churchillesque!”

    We will fight them in the classrooms.
    We will fight them in the courtrooms.
    We will fight them in the legislature.

  4. Griffin Says:

    As you mentioned the left has gone so crazy that it almost doesn’t matter anymore what Trump says they just reflexively mold it into their preferred narrative. If his speech the other day had said something negative about the West or whatever then he would have been attacked for that (something about Russia collusion or the like). It really is so stupid from a strategic point of view to freak out about EVERYTHING Trump says and does because they have now lost all credibility with even more people.

  5. Sam L. Says:

    Oh yes I do. This has been “controversial” for some years. As the late stand-up comedian Brother Dave Gardner said, “A liberal is a person educated beyond his capacity to learn.”

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Liberal idiots aside, many of Trump’s critics don’t really think he’s a racist. It’s simply useful and justifiable propaganda. To confirm, look to the recent exposure of the actual beliefs at CNN vs CNN’s public pronouncements for the rubes.

    So too with many on the political left purporting to consider the West to be the root of all evil and speaking of its achievements to be proof of racist motivations. More useful propaganda. This is about the acquisition of power through moral subterfuge.

    In their heart of hearts, they know that Africa’s tribalism, S. America and Russia’s corruption, the prevalency of Asian society’s denial of individual liberty and the totalitarianism of Islam are clearly inherently internal factors in those society’s development. The more perceptive on the left know this but it would be counter productive to admit it.

    “if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.” W. Churchill

    I find the parallels between then and today to be compelling.

    “Churchill conceived a hierarchy of races—” Michael Makovsky

    “Note that the author mentions Churchill’s racism (which was a symptom of his time; Churchill was born in 1874)” neo

    Was Churchill a racist, even by the standards of our times, much less his own? Or did he look at the moral societal standards that the world’s societies purported to aspire to and find them woefully lacking in comparison to Western Civilization aspirational principles?

    In his time, where did German authoritarianism and Russia’s communism rank themselves? Asian societies? Muslim? S. America’s oligarchic societies? Africa’s tribalism? Native American societies had no concept of mercy and were typically brutal in their cruelty toward anyone not of the tribe.

    The grim truth is that none of those societies gave more than lip service to the principles these words evoke:

    “The world has never known anything like our community of nations.

    We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.

    We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.

    We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.

    And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.” Donald Joseph Trump

    Today, much of Churchill’s evaluation of the moral standards that the world’s society’s support largely holds true. Ironically, it is the West’s embrace of post modernist nihilism that has most changed.

    Africa is as tribal as ever. S. America as oligarchic as ever. Asian societies still exhibit little tolerance for individualism. Russia as corrupt as ever and democracy still absent from the Muslim world. At what point is it ‘permitted’ to conclude that these societal characteristics are intrinsic to these peoples? When will they be held responsible for the cultural attitudes that they continue to support?

  7. Brian E Says:

    Mr. Trump is taking a clear stand against the kind of gauzy globalism and vague multiculturalism represented by the worldview of, say, Barack Obama and most contemporary Western intellectuals, who are willing, even eager, to concede the argument to critics of the West’s traditions.- Peggy Noonan

    She calls it President Trump’s defining speech.

    Trump is winning the debate.

  8. Oblio Says:

    This is completely predictable.
    My self-aware friends on the Left rejoice in the history of what they call the Liberation movement, which opposed (European) imperialism abroad and Jim Crow at home. All of its moral claims, including the claims for extending the Liberation struggle from race to genders (first feminism then gay and lesbian rights and now extending to more genders), rely on the moral authority gained from opposing racial imperialism and domestic discrimination.
    Decolonialism remains a potent and relevant political cause. Multiculturalism has become the philosophical and more importantly spiritual justification for the moral claims of the Liberation movement. Therefore, showing a preference for and a willingness to defend the political and social institutions of the West involves a stark denial of the foundation of their entire moral system.
    President Trump is not making an historical or practical argument in their view, but committing a sacrilege that is almost entirely equivalent to burning a National flag in protest.
    We have seen this before. The Tea Party was considered “racist” not for anything they did, but because their demand that the American Republic is “exceptional” and that people become Americans by subordinating their group interests to the universalizing ideals of the Republic contradicts the claims of multiculturalism. They were “racist” by definition.
    This is the great battle of our age, and President Trump is pretty clear about which side he is on.

  9. J.J. Says:

    Thanks for an excellent summary of the issue, neo. Much to ponder, as usual.

    For now I can only say that my view of history shows that major civilizations have always declined and eventually been replaced by a more vigorous (ambitious) people. It is plain to me that we are losing our vigor. That a speech like Trump’s is controversial in the West shows how much vigor we have lost. Vigorous people know that nothing is handed to them on a silver platter. There is always work to be done, maintenance to be performed, and property to be defended. When you lose sight of that, as the progressives have, you are in decline.

    Trump is trying to restore some of our vigor. I hope he succeeds.

  10. n.n Says:

    Masochism. Marxism is a closely held, pseudo-religious/moral sadomasochistic philosophy.

  11. parker Says:

    Every presidential election the more famous amongst us threaten to flee to somewhere else if the (R) wins. They never do, but just saying it makes them virtuous hipsters. George Clooney and family are fleeing their UK estate and moving to their Californian mansion because they no longer feel secure at their European properties. Yet Clooney is still on the open boarders bandwagon.

    Its so virtuous to demean Western Civilization while enjoying it’s opportunities and freedom inside the gates of wealth made possible by Western Civilization. Sanctimonious hypocrites one and all. Too bad the Obamas can’t be exiled to Haiti where they can walk the talk they talk.

  12. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    When Samulel Huntington wrote “The Clash of Civilizations,” he did not know it would be taking place within these United States.

  13. n.n Says:

    To be fair, progressive liberals did give us selective-child (a.k.a. abortion rites), [class] diversity (i.e. semantically ambiguous racism, sexism, etc.), congruence (“=”), and social justice adventures including opening abortion fields and forcing refugee crises in clean, green wars.

  14. Dave Says:

    If soul searching and finding fault in ourselves for self correcting is our immune system, then liberalism is autoimmune diseases. If white blood cell is compassion, then white guilt is leukaemia, socialism is hiv. Islam is just a flu, but when you are an aids patient even a flu can kill you.

  15. bof Says:

    Geoffrey Brittain,

    Is “Donald Joseph Trump” any relation to President Donald John Trump?

  16. klm Says:

    no one with a brain can denied western civilization.

    but I wounder not just liberalism only you may look farther to white supremacy and neo-Nazis

  17. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    bof,

    Oops… Darn! Once again I prove I’m human.

  18. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    klm,

    Is English a second language? I’m doubtful that Palin was offering support for white supremacy and neoNazis. Nor is “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” necessarily racist.

    That is because no fair minded observer can honestly deny that whites are under attack in this country by the Left and many minority victim groups. It’s considered a given on most college campuses today that if you’re white, you are unavoidably racist.

    I think it highly probable that Palin was thinking along those lines.

  19. FOAF Says:

    So any time someone says a sentence or phrase that is fourteen words long it is ra-a-a-a-a-cist? Got it.

  20. parker Says:

    Anyone not adhering to the progressive dogma automatically suffers from an ism of some kind. Instead of brown shirts they wear green shirts. Totalitarians same as the old totalitarians.

  21. Somebody Says:

    One of the themes in Trump’s speech that warrants consideration is his emphasis on both internal and external adversaries. Setting aside the broader question of who, exactly, threatens the West so severely as to warrant a stirring defense–a Russia with a declining population that’s bankrupting itself to hold on to scraps of Ukraine and Georgia? Jihadism, at war with the entire world and unable to scratch out a lasting victory anywhere? china?–Trump’s repeated assertion that there are undefined forces that “come from inside or out,” that there is some element of the West that seeks to subvert civilization from within. Which element is this? Trump doesn’t like to names–there’s lots of talk about the need to defend our borders from fire threats but we’re outstandingly capable of defending our borders from actual security threats, unless he’s talking about immigration of Hispanics and Muslims from “the south” and “the east”–but this is an especially Bannon-esque line in a very Bannon-esque speech.

    Umberto Eco had this to say about fascism’s obsession with the internal threat: “Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside… However, the followers must be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.”

    So seriously, who do you guys think is this internal enemy that seeks to subvert the West? Liberals? Hispanic immigrants? Muslims? I’m genuinely curious, because I don’t know who Trump was referring to. I don’t think it was the Jews, because despite Bannon’s reported anti-semitism, he’s never seemed interested in identifying Jews as a particularly important threat. (He’s more focused on atheists, financiers, (uh oh, are we talking about Jews anyway?), and Muslims in his extant writings.)

    Another issue that I think seems to have eluded Trump’s mainstream supporters but not his fascist supporters is his emphasis on the West’s bonds of faith, culture, history–the things we have inherited from our ancestors, the ancient ancestors we venerate, and not on the ideological components of Western identity–things like liberal democracy. Trump talks about ” culture, faith and tradition” but he doesn’t talk about democracy so much. Trump’s conception of the West is of a community of shared descent–Bannon again–and not as something that can and should expand to incorporate other parts of the world that achieve the same liberal democracy, even if they don’t share the same “culture, faith, and tradition.” Isn’t the greatest triumph of the West our ability to enjoy freedom and prosperity together even if we don’t share the same faith, or have no faith at all? Our ability to live side by side, and even triumph together, despite our many traditions and cultures? God, could you imagine a United States without salsa? But Trump is pretty clear: it’s one vision of faith, culture, and tradition. And that’s the sort of thing that lets him give a speech like this in a place like Poland, where the government has been interfering with the free press and independent courts, because those things aren’t what Trump is thinking about when he defines The West–he’s talking about it like Bannon does, blood and soil.

    Oh, and the Jews again! Trump spent a lot of time on the Warsaw Uprising but didn’t mention the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising or visit its memorial. He also went to great lengths in his speech to blame all of Poland’s Jewish deaths on outside actors, when the Poles played a major role too: Consider the massacres at Jedwabne in 1941 and Kielce in 1946. Maybe he was just obsequiesly sucking up to his Polish hosts, an odd role for the US president, but maybe this was Bannon again too.

  22. Brian E Says:

    Americans, Poles and nations of Europe value freedom and sovereignty. We must work together to confront forces, whether they come inside or out, from the south or the east, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.- President Donald J. Trump

    Somebody, based on the context of his statement, who do you think he’s referring to?

  23. JK Brown Says:

    Trump just loudly and very openly challenged what has been the fundamental doctrine of the humanities and social science departments for the last 50 years. There is no value in the modern liberal arts degree, it having been been consumed by post-modernism.

    This may be the trigger for the evolution or demise of the university, especially the humanities and social science departments. The emperor has worn no clothes for a long time, finally someone, one often accused to be a “boy”, has shouted the fact to the crowd.

  24. Irene Says:

    @Somebody

    “So seriously, who do you guys think is this internal enemy that seeks to subvert the West?”

    Have you looked around our country lately – seen the decline of our middle class, the un-education of our children, the gang and drug epidemics, etc.? Bad ideology caused all of it and people espousing those bad, anti-American ideologies are the internal enemy. And yes, they’re doing it deliberately. Try reading their works, they’re hardly shy with their pronouncements.

    “Trump talks about ‘culture, faith and tradition’ but he doesn’t talk about democracy so much.”

    He doesn’t need to because he knows (try reading Hayek’s Law Legislation and Liberty) that democracy is a result of culture, faith and tradition. Lose those and you lose the ability of a people to self-govern.

    “Isn’t the greatest triumph of the West our ability to enjoy freedom and prosperity together even if we don’t share the same faith, or have no faith at all?”

    No. Our greatest triumph was that we fought for and won our freedom and we built our prosperity. All the togetherness you speak of is only then made possible. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

    “But Trump is pretty clear: it’s one vision of faith, culture, and tradition. ”

    Yeah, the faith, culture and tradition that made and make this country possible. It’s primarily Christian and Western European. Haven’t seen it duplicated anywhere else except in areas where Britain and the U.S. were previously and formed the basic institutions, have you?

    Ivanka and Jared went to the Warsaw Ghetto. My family was in the Vilna Ghetto, I certainly didn’t take umbrage at POTUS’ remarks, they were entirely appropriate given his audience. No doubt there was much anti-semitism in Poland, however, come on, almost all of the 3+million Polish Jews killed were killed by the Nazis with some assist by the Soviets. The two massacres you cite total less than 100 people. I note you don’t mention anything about the Poles who helped Jews. My mother could tell you a thing or two about that.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Irene, Somebody:

    On Poles rescuing Jews, see this:

    Anyone who knows Holocaust history knows that Poland was its center. The Polish people have often been condemned for their participation in the death of their Jews—but, although there was indeed a great deal of cooperation from the Poles, it turns out that the situation was far more complex than that. Not only were there also a great many rescuers in Poland (see this book for a thorough documentation of these stirring tales), but the Poles had a great deal more to lose than most from saving Jews. Not to minimize the accomplishments of the Danes or the Bulgarians, but to be a hero in Poland was a lot more meaningful than to be one in Denmark or Bulgaria–or even, as it turns out, in Germany.

    Why? Because Poland was the only Nazi-occupied country in which helping Jews would officially get you the death penalty. Here are the horrific facts (read them and ask yourself if you would have been as brave as the many Poles who did shelter and save Jews):

    “Poland was the only place where German law rendered any assistance to Jews punishable by death. That punishment was severe and collective: It was meted out not only to the rescuer but also to his entire family and to anyone else who knew about such activities and did not report them. Almost 1,000 Poles were killed this way, including entire families whose children were not spared.”

    Much more can be found here.

  26. huxley Says:

    Somebody: I realized after our exchange in which you claimed Richard Spencer was a Nazi and I defended Spencer, that I was thinking of Robert Spencer, the counter-jihad commentator.

    My mistake, though there certainly are people who say nasty things about Robert Spencer, which I consider unfair.

  27. huxley Says:

    Somebody: I don’t know what to do with your long comment.

    It seems almost every sentence is packed with presumptions, values, claims and talking points which I find questionable and would merit involved discussion.

    I would suggest shorter, more pointed comments.

  28. Paolo Pagliaro Says:

    @Somebody
    Umberto Eco may be your light, but he certainly isn’t mine (and I am Italian). As a side not, he stood firmly in the left camp, where fascism has been used for decades as the boogeyman permanently – and on every single topic – plotting to subvert the democracy “founded by the [communist] Partisans fighting against the Nazis”. It’s somewhat funny that he had the nerve to “denounce” conspiracy paranoia on the “right”.
    In order to be convinced that there’s something struggling against Western values, are you perhaps looking for some structured panel meeting in a dark room and coordinating all venues of attacks, be those Jihadist, liberal, postmodernist, etc? Blessed your heart.
    While you see jihad “unable to scratch out a lasting victory anywhere”, you could perhaps consider the fact that Christians who have been living in the ME for 2k years are literally disappearing. I understand that little people’s fate don’t disturb you, but can you see in this kind of fact some sort of change in the wrong direction? And who is against that? Trump?

  29. Donald Sensing Says:

    I posted about the speech Friday and, like you, thought it was “near-Churchillian in focus and tone and world view. And it basically renounced successive American administrations of either party going back to at least Reagan’s.”

    But alas, it is also about 50 years too late.
    Dear President Trump: The West has already surrendered
    .

  30. Oblio Says:

    Shorter Somebody: “Squirrel!”

  31. Mr. Frank Says:

    Until a few decades ago most colleges required students to take courses in “Western Civilization”, “British Literature,” and “U.S. History”. The left has ended that.

  32. Lisa Teller Says:

    That is a fantastic post. I hope it is widely disseminated.

  33. Amadeus 48 Says:

    Neo–This is one of your best. Many thanks, and congratulations on creating a pointed and bracing commentary on the implications of Trump’s excellent speech in Poland.

  34. Ray Says:

    “Trump’s mainstream supporters but not his fascist supporters”
    Somebody is still hung up on right wing fascism. I will explain it to you again. The communists were Russian socialists, the Nazis were German socialists and the fascists were Italian socialists. It was easy to tell them apart because the communists wore red shirts, the Nazis brown shirts and the fascists black shirts. None of them were right wing.

  35. Steve P Says:

    You write beautifully. I came here from Powerline and I do agree that Trump’s speech was magnificent.

    The problem with discussing Western Civilization is that it has been going up and going down simultaneously for many centuries and that the ‘going up’ (material progress / cultural achievements) phase masks the ‘going down’ (moral decay / Godlessness) phase. Liberals have claimed the mantle of Western Civilization for themselves by pointing to material progress on the one hand and substituting their ideology for God on the other. As mostly pragmatic atheists, liberals will compromise and shift on questions of material progress and how to sustain it but never give an inch on the spiritual things and that, as trump pointed out, is where the problem is coming from. To avoid the fast growing fall into liberal totalitarianism, we must get God back into our Western Civilization. That’s a tall order but there is no substitute.

    Google: Eric Voegelin.

  36. “Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture’s got to go.” - TeeJaw Blog Says:

    […] Neo-neocon: […]

  37. Dinocrat » Blog Archive » Going, Going, Gone Says:

    […] (a) My daughter, a freshman at U of Arizona in 2009, took a class titled, “American History since 1877.” I was helping her prepare for the final exam and found this in her study guide. “The Silent Majority consisted of white people who did not accept the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” No mention of Nixon or the Vietnam War. I complained to the Dean of the “General Studies” program and he suggested that perhaps I should send her to another university. (b) while we do not know what is in his heart or mind, nor that of many public figures, we know what actions and words are and that is what we have to base our impressions upon. By his actions, non-actions, words (after all he does have the best words) he is an anti-semite. He traffics in their online postings, does not deny anti-semitic behavior. He wallows in ignorance and non-intellectual curiosity. Anti-semitism along with racism, homophobia, sexism and whatever else we want to toss at him are products of ignorance and hate. (c) We begin with the meteoric fall of the U.S. from the world power that dominated the G-20 to something of a joke on the world stage where the daughter of a president known for her clothing line sits in between the British and Chinese leaders on an important meeting for her father who has managed to isolate the U.S. from the rest of the G-19 in less than 6 months. Charles Kupchan, who was director of European Affairs on the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration and spent the last 3 years as Special Assistant to President Obama for National Security, joins us to discuss the much anticipated meeting between Putin and Trump that was conducted in secret. (d) D is for doomed, since this place is gone, gone, gone. […]

  38. SR Says:

    Appealing to authority of the Obama Administration? We’re out!

  39. AesopFan Says:

    PowerLine headliner today!

  40. AesopFan Says:

    Irene Says:
    July 9th, 2017 at 12:54 am
    @Somebody …
    * * *
    Insert GIF of Irene (and others) taking down Somebody.

    As Neo said in another post thread, Somebody does introduce good topics for discussion – and it’s useful to know how someone on the Left looks at things — but these are hardly off-the-cuff comments based on immediate personal rumination over the current subject.
    In another post, Somebody made the rejoinder that “these things don’t write themselves” and that is probably true. They are most likely tweaked pastiches of paragraphs already sitting in an ur-library on somebody’s computer, who may or may not be Somebody.
    * * *
    huxley Says:
    July 9th, 2017 at 3:31 am
    Somebody: I don’t know what to do with your long comment.

    It seems almost every sentence is packed with presumptions, values, claims and talking points which I find questionable and would merit involved discussion.

    I would suggest shorter, more pointed comments.

    Oblio Says:
    July 9th, 2017 at 8:37 am
    Shorter Somebody: “Squirrel!”

  41. AesopFan Says:

    Donald Sensing Says:
    July 9th, 2017 at 7:33 am
    I posted about the speech Friday and, like you, thought it was “near-Churchillian in focus and tone and world view. And it basically renounced successive American administrations of either party going back to at least Reagan’s.”

    But alas, it is also about 50 years too late.
    Dear President Trump: The West has already surrendered.
    * * *
    From Donald’s very informative post:
    “When a culture decides not even to reproduce itself, then it had already surrendered. It had decided to go quietly into the night and fade away. That is what Europe is doing now. Despite the president’s soaring rhetoric, there will be no recovery from this decision. There is far from enough time left to do so. Tens and tens of millions of women in Europe are not going to decide suddenly to start having and average of more than 2.1 children each.

    Europe is not just millions of square miles of terrain. Our affiliation with Europe, and the reason our military shed so much blood on Europe’s soil, was not to defend dirt. It was to defend and preserve a cultural heritage the was the wellspring of human flourishing of the modern era. That the Europeans themselves sometimes seemed hellbent on killing one another in carload lots did not negate the fundamental virtues of the Western heritage of faith and reason.

    But those are the very virtues that most of Europe has abandoned. …”
    * * *
    This isn’t going to help the situation:
    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/07/09/church-england-votes-welcome-transgender-ceremony/

    “The official church of the United Kingdom voted four to one in favour amongst the Clergy and more than two to one amongst the Laity (members who are not Clergy) at the four-day Synod, the motion reading:

    “That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.”

    Vicar of Lancaster Priory Church, Chris Newlands, posed the motion to the Synod, saying he would speak on behalf of transgender people as the church’s Synod has none.”
    * * *
    The procreation rate of transgender persons is not non-zero (odd as that seems) but it is hardly enough to compensate for the dearth of births among the cis-gendered.

  42. AesopFan Says:

    I went over to Neo’s post on Poland’s Jews and was impressed by this comment’s continued applicability.

    http://neoneocon.com/2012/05/30/those-polish-death-camps/#comment-362426

    “A_Nonny_Mouse Says:
    May 30th, 2012 at 4:35 pm
    The Lefties have become used to treating their words as the Divine Logos (as in: “God said Let there be Light, and there was Light, and it was Good”).

    Lefties say, “We’re doing xyz for Justice”, and they fully expect Justice to manifest itself when they speak the Word. They use the “Word” as a token of the thing they want to manifest. (That’s why, in their messianic little minds, they simply CAN NOT SEE that something they do might have unintended consequences.)

    This Word-As-Token thing makes being a Lefty/ Progressive SO EASY, because all you have to do is “Present the Token” and it’s just as good as having done the engineering course work, gotten the degree, drawn up the plans, had the product fabricated, and have the final result ready for consumption, all shiny-new, perfect, and complete.

    It all comes down to: the would-be destroyers of Western Civilization don’t have to find a psychopathic “Dr. Evil” to do their dirty work. All they need to do is create a couple generations of “entitled children” (adult in body, but never taught that evil resides in all hearts, even theirs; that the quest for “enough power to change things for the better” ENSURES that the power-wielders will have more-than-enough power to change things for the worse; that ALL choices and actions DO have unintended consequences) and let human nature take its course. Voila! The Fall of the West.”

  43. Somebody Says:

    Irene’s answer is about as perfect as could be.

    – Still vague enough to be menacing without actually identifying the internal threat. Trump pledged war against this adversary, so it’s probably a good idea to know who it is he proposes fighting before you sign up. So who is he talking about? Bankers? College professors? Democrats? Liberals? Muslims? Whom do you think he meant?

    – I don’t think Irene is a fascist, but her middle class resentment and panic at unnamed foes is exactly what Eco was talking about re: fascism as targeting the middle class for support (and not the working class like actual socialists would). You might think that someone concerned about a declining middle class might look to the winners of our system, the richest of the rich who have largely enriched themselves thanks to wealth transfers engineered by our own government–like the Great Socialist Tyrant Obama’s massive transfer of taxpayer wealth to bank shareholders and executives as bailouts. And if you’re worried about gangs, you can be comforted by the factual, observable decline in gang activity as part of a general decline in violent crime around the country for years. But I imagine it sure feels like things are getting worse.

    And that’s what really matters: a middle class that thinks itself under threat, to which people like Trump can offer solutions–endless war against an unnamed internal threat that’s responsible for problems that were already declining decades before Trump came along. And that’s how it happens, and that’s why someone might be discomfited by someone like Trump even if he does wrap himself disengenuously in the rubric of good things like western civilization.

  44. huxley Says:

    Jihadism, at war with the entire world and unable to scratch out a lasting victory anywhere?

    Somebody: So let’s start here. 9-11 is where I got off the leftist bus. I had already studied Islam and understood its divinely mandated commitment to global supremacy and to the use of violence to achieve it as necessary from the time of Muhammad to today.

    Your comment is on par with the liberal claim that more Americans have been killed by white supremacists than jihadists — by conveniently starting the count the day after 9-11, when 3000 people, mostly Americans, were killed by jihadists armed with box cutters and flight lessons.

    The attacks were intentional attempts not just to terrorize Americans but to decapitate financial, military and government nerve centers. It’s been estimated that the cost of the 9-11 attacks, direct and indirect, amounted to $1 trillion.

    Bin Laden declared killing Americans, including women and children a religious duty for all Muslims. Muslims did not denounce him. Look up the Pew polls. Bin Laden’s support in Muslim countries declined over time, but only from half to one-third. Which is astonishing, alarming support for a religious mass murderer.

    http://www.pewglobal.org/2009/09/10/rejection-of-extremism/

    Furthermore, for all intents and purposes Iran is a jihadist country which hates Israel and America, regularly stages “Death to America” chants and is on track to nuclear weapons with Obama’s help and what seems to me the careful blindness of Democrats.

    I don’t know what it takes for liberals to wake up and notice a real live enemy. The only enemies they seem to notice are Republicans and climate change.

  45. Irene Says:

    @Somebody

    1. “So who is [Trump] talking about? Bankers? College professors? Democrats? Liberals?”

    All of the above and in addition Rosie (i.e., Hollywood writ large) and Hillary (The Swamp, including corrupt officials and the CoC), much of the MSM and much of public education. That’s just for starters. Yeh!

    2. If you stopped reading Eco for a bit (seriously, I love Umberto, but not what you’re referring to), you might have noticed that here in the USofA we don’t have middle v. working classes. That’s Old Europe. Our classes historically are fluid and that’s what people love about America. In the recent past (thanks Obama!), we have started to see incited class resentment due to social activists and SJWs and the satanic George Soros. Hopefully they’ll all explode from resentment once the US eoonomy starts humming along under Trump’s Energy Dominance Economy. Don’t you just love it?

    3. You seriously want to talk about wealth transfers? The worst were under Clinton (NAFTA and repealing Glass Steagall) and Obama. And Trump was against it all. Gosh, he even testified in Congress about it! Like starting 30+ years ago! Whodathunk?

    3. Me a fascist? I’ve never considered it fashionable. Or intelligent.

    4. “And if you’re worried about gangs, you can be comforted by the factual, observable decline in gang activity as part of a general decline in violent crime around the country for years.”

    You need to keep up with the times. Here you go: https: //www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/06/gang-violence-is-on-the-rise-even-as-overall-violence-declines

    The title of this article says it all or you can go check the FBI statistics on gang crime and violence.

    Of course, living in Manhattan (not many middle class living here!), I get to experience it up close and personal – especially when I’m downtown. Now that Sessions and Kelly are getting rid of a lot of the illegal gang members and shipping them out, we can expect to see a decline in gangs in hopefully the not-too-distant future.

    _______________________________
    So Somebody? Have you ever owned a business with a lot of employees – or even just 4 or 5 employees? It doesn’t seem to me that you have. You should give it a try. It will open up entire new vistas for you. I can’t promise that you’ll still have loads of time to read heavy-duty leftwing authors, but dealing with the real world would allow you to see just how all those theories you’ve been studying and memorizing really work. Or not.

    But let’s get something straight, Somebody. I got to watch Trump do his thing when New York was falling apart. I worked literally 2 buildings away from his first project in Manhattan (The Grand Hyatt on 42nd St.) The city was really dangerous (seriously, my mother used to call from over 100 miles away when I was slaving late at night to make sure I got home safely because – get this – NYC used to have over 3,200+ homicides per year), the city was dirty, the city was not only poor but Felix Rohatyn had just negotiated NYC out of bankruptcy and was heading up the corporation put in charge to straighten out NYC finances because our own politicians had failed, failed, failed.

    And into this stream of shit, Trump came and started a renaissance. Yeah, really.

    I’m praying he can do the same for our country.

    Just curious, who did you support for President in 2016? Bernie? Hillary? Jill Stein?

  46. Manju Says:

    Somebody: “Isn’t the greatest triumph of the West our ability to enjoy freedom and prosperity together even if we don’t share the same faith, or have no faith at all?”

    Irene: “No. Our greatest triumph was that we fought for and won our freedom and we built our prosperity. All the togetherness you speak of is only then made possible. Don’t put the cart before the horse.”

    I just wanted to note that Allan Bloom is more in -line with what Somebody is saying.

    “…by recognizing and accepting man’s natural rights, men found a fundamental basis of unity and sameness. Class, race, religion, national origin or culture all disappear or become dim when bathed in the light of natural rights, which give men common interests and make them truly brothers.”

    – Pg 27. (Highlight Mine)

  47. Manju Says:

    Irene: “Yeah, the faith, culture and tradition that made and make this country possible. It’s primarily Christian and Western European.”

    In Bloom’s view, the primacy of “faith, culture, and tradition (and family)” is what makes non-Western cultures inferior. The are inferior because they are ethnocentric. They are ethnocentric because :

    “The reason for the non-Western closedness, or ethnocentrism, is clear. Men must love and be loyal to their families and their peoples in order to preserve them. Only if they think their own things are good can they rest content with them.”

    – Pg 37.

    In Bloom’s view, the West is superior because “there some willingness to doubt the identification of the good with one’s own way.” (Pg 36) The reason for this willingness is not tradition or christianity (somewhat obviously), but rather the influence of Greek Philosophy and the Enlightenment Project…the latter being an explicit attack on primacy of (the christian) religion and (western) tradition.

    Now…who is more in-line with what Bloom is saying…Somebody or Irene? Obama or Trump?

    (One wonders who I’ve annoyed more, Irene or Somebody?

  48. NeoConScum Says:

    WOW…WOW…WOW…!!!

    So very glad I came by with my coffee mug before my work prep his morning, Neo.

  49. Henry Sloan Says:

    What is Western Civilization.

    Leftist TV reporters, and I imagine the print ones as well, will tell you what it is not. They have been saying that nobody claims South Korea or Japan are part of Western Civilization…

    …well I am now.

    Think about it.

    If you disagree, I imagine that your argument is something about geography, genetics and religion, which is pretty much how the left likes to define everything.

    Western Civilization stopped being anything about geography, genetics or religion with Australia and America.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg3Xzh2cXD8

  50. Irene Says:

    @Manju

    Alan Bloom never annoys me. But let’s be real. The Enlightenment was an expression of Christianity. You’ll notice it didn’t happen in non-Christian countries.

    Yes, yes, I know. People cite all sorts of things like this founding father was an atheist, etc. but the real test of making this republic a success was its people. And in the US, they were overwhelming practicing Christians.

    Re: the quote you cited. Here it is again, only this time with the first part highlighted:

    “…by recognizing and accepting man’s natural rights, men found a fundamental basis of unity and sameness. Class, race, religion, national origin or culture all disappear or become dim when bathed in the light of natural rights, which give men common interests and make them truly brothers.”

    I’m emphasizing the first part, because the second part is contingent upon it. And my argument is that because of America’s faith, culture and tradition we based our actions and developed this philosophy into a successful republic. Our natural rights come from God, however, working mechanisms needed to be found that could actualize this belief on Earth hence the Rule of Law, private property rights, etc. (I’m condensing a lot cuz I gotta run soon).

    Clearly, we are running into problems in many instances because there are people and groups out there that no longer accept or believe in man’s natural rights and our founding principles. (Sorry, really gotta run now. If I have time later, I’ll expand.)

  51. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I think I saw it in the Sixties. As a young person, I would naturally think it was starting when I noticed it.
    That is, believing, or professing to believe, the opposite of what the majority believed means you’re smart. And it doesn’t take any work.
    When that becomes part of your ego-support structure, a threat to it is lethal.

    Thus the majority’s belief=-when not objectively and demonstrably false–must be dismissed by name calling, shaming, and, if necessary violence.
    The violence can be the real thing, or the forces of, say, the college administrators enforcing PC.

    I keep saying, going back and forth with a lefty on the facts runs about two interchanges before it gets to illogic or ad hom. Or lies.

  52. huxley Says:

    Richard Aubrey: What I notice in left-right interchanges, assuming they don’t get personal, is the left resorts to shotgun attacks on right positions (or what the left imagines are right positions) based on current talking points or half-truths.

    However, when the right comes back with cogent, even decisive responses, the left doesn’t pause to think about it, but shifts the shotgun to a new target and starts blasting away.

    The point is always to be on attack, always keeping the onus on the right to answer.

  53. Kyndyll G Says:

    The underlying attitude that the lefty set exhibits regarding “Western Civilization” is what makes me despise them the most:

    The far left:

    1) Taking advantage of living in the latest moment of Western civilization, which has taken several thousand years of toil and bloodshed to get to – and never once appreciating it;

    2) Holding it against Western civilization for failing to be born perfect – therefore, it must be denigrated, torn up and thrown it away, and all of its citizens (aside from the lefty set, who are separate due to their special enlightenment) punished for their association with it;

    3) Blaming Western civilization for everything bad that ever happened and never crediting it for anything good that it accomplished;

    4) Glorifying literally everything in the world that isn’t Western civilization, even though few if any third world cultures share values with the far left or are remotely inclined toward going in the direction of developing them. Simply being non-Euro/non-“Western” sanctifies them and their activities, no matter how much the same activity would be attacked if committed by someone of the “West.”

  54. Brian E Says:

    “So seriously, who do you guys think is this internal enemy that seeks to subvert the West?” – Somebody

    Donald Trump wasn’t the first to recognize an internal threat to the life and health of a society. The decline of Western Civilization has been a conservative theme for decades.

    A century ago, Oswald Spengler, in “The Decline of the West” wrote about the “telltale signs of a High Culture’s decay included skepticism, materialism, scientism, and the fall of philosophy into mere academicism on the one hand, and urbanization, vulgar democracy, the rule of the rich, and eventually caesarism and bureaucracy on the other hand.”

    You seem to be squinting to see President Trump’s speech as an affirmation of his fascistic tendencies. Finding a phrase or two that resembles themes that could have been expressed by Mussolini hardly an argument makes.

    While on the right, we struggled to characterize President Obama. Was he communistic, socialistic, narcissistic, or just the devil incarnate.

    The problem with using these labels with their defined set of principles is that life today doesn’t resemble the landscape of the nineteenth century as humanists struggled to carve out a defining philosophy, while casting God adrift.

    (As an aside, here’s a prescient article that claims Obama to be a Fabian socialist. Written in 2008, it seems spot on.

    https://www.forbes.com/2008/11/03/obama-fabian-socialist-oped-cx_jb_1103bowyer.html

    I would say in eight years we revisit this and decide which characterization turns out to be closer to reality– Trump the fascist or Obama the socialist.

  55. neo-neocon Says:

    Brian E:

    I don’t want to brag (oh, maybe I do), but I got there a little bit before Bowyer—although I didn’t actually use the word “Fabian.” See this post that I wrote in 2012, referring back to a post I wrote in October of 2008:

    I’ve long thought of Obama as a type of American Fabian.

    Who were the Fabians? They were British socialists who got together in the late 19th century and believed in peaceful gradualism:

    The Fabian Society is a British socialist organization whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means….

    An explanatory note appearing on the title page of the group’s first pamphlet declared:

    “For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.”…

    The first Fabian Society pamphlets advocating tenets of social justice coincided with the zeitgeist of Liberal reforms during the early 1900s. The Fabian proposals however were considerably more progressive than those that were enacted in the Liberal reform legislation. The Fabians lobbied for the introduction of a minimum wage in 1906, for the creation of a universal health care system in 1911 and for the abolition of hereditary peerages in 1917.

    There are differences, of course (particularly in foreign policy), as befit a different time and place. But the similarities are striking, as is the fact that the Fabian Society was manned (and womanned) by intellectuals and artists, especially writers.

    I’m hardly the first person to make the comparison. Just Google “Obama Fabian” and you’ll see. One of the earliest articles on the subject was this one by Jerry Bowyer, appearing in Forbes around the time of Obama’s 2008 election. I wrote much the same about Obama in October of 2008; although I didn’t actually use the term “Fabian,” that’s what I was referring to.

    I’ve never ascribed to the “Obama isn’t intelligent” philosophy. He may not be wise, but he’s very smart about the things that especially interest him. One of these things is political strategy of the Alinsky variety. Another is “progressivism.” A third is how to appear to be moderate and soothing, and thus ingratiate himself with enough of the public to win an election.

  56. huxley Says:

    Obama as Fabian works for me.

    Except Fabians, to their credit IMO, were honest they sought socialism as their objective, while Obama and his supporters usually pretended Obama was a “pragmatic centrist” visionary above the left-right fray.

    Of course, now that Democrats almost nominated socialist Bernie Sanders for their presidential candidate and now the Bernie/Obama wing seems to have the power in the party, the S-word appears to have lost its sting.

  57. Brian E Says:

    “A third is how to appear to be moderate and soothing, and thus ingratiate himself with enough of the public to win an election.” – Neo

    That describes him to a T, but he just grated me. He was often nasty in his soothingness.

  58. AesopFan Says:

    Irene for the win.

    and this about Obama:
    Brian E Says:
    July 10th, 2017 at 4:43 pm
    He was often nasty in his soothingness.

    Well put.

  59. AesopFan Says:

    https://www.steynonline.com/7964/the-will-of-the-west

    “I’m not certain we do put “faith and family” ahead of “government and bureaucracy”, not in Germany or even Ireland, but we did once upon a time. Nor am I sure we still “write symphonies”, or at any rate good ones. But Trump’s right: “The world has never known anything like our community of nations” – and great symphonies are a part of that. I’m not sure what’s “nativist” or “racial” about such a statement of the obvious, but I note it’s confirmed by the traffic, which is all one way: There are plenty of Somalis who’ve moved to Minnesota, but you can count on one hand Minnesotans who’ve moved to Somalia. As an old-school imperialist, I make exceptions for sundry places from Barbados to Singapore, which I regard as part of the community of the greater west, and for India, which is somewhat more ambiguously so, but let’s face it, 90 per cent of everything in the country that works derives from England.”

    Yes, there were individuals in other European countries whose work helped lay the foundation for the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment, but it was the citizens of the Anglo-sphere that made real progress functional and very nearly global – except where it was rejected in whole or in part.
    That their descendants are intent on destroying all their good work is sad, but not unexpected.
    The cycle is as old as civilization itself.

    Of course, your view of Western progress depends on what you mean by “functional” and “works” — but this will serve as my response to the leftists that want to send the first-world back to third-world status, and the third-world down to a temporal hell.*

    https://onsizzle.com/i/hold-up-guys-i-need-to-pause-my-anti-capitalist-protesting-16305637

    *Who is in the second-world anyway? No one ever talks about them! – and the terms didn’t originally mean what they do today anyway – correlation always speeds re-definition.

    http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/third_world_countries.htm

  60. Manju Says:

    Irene: “But let’s be real. The Enlightenment was an expression of Christianity.
    Bloom views Christianity as a superstition. See here:

    As for religion, the domesticated churches in America preserved the superstition of Christianity, overcoming of which was perhaps the key to liberating man. (pg 161)

    The Enlightenment, for which he credits Greek Philosophy, is about overcoming our prejudices, our superstitions, our ethnocentrism, our religion.

    His esoteric take on the (free excersie clause of the) 1st amendment sums it up:

    Hobbes and Locke, and the American Founders following them, intended to palliate extreme beliefs, particularly religious beliefs, which lead to civil strife. The members of sects had to obey the laws and be loyal to the Constitution; if they did so, others had to leave them alone, however distasteful their beliefs might be. In order to make this arrangement work, there was a conscious, if covert, effort to weaken religious beliefs, partly by assigning—as a result of a great epistemological effort—religion to the realm of opinion as opposed to knowledge. But the right to freedom of religion belonged to the realm of knowledge. Such rights are not matters of opinion. No weakness of conviction was desired here. All to the contrary, the sphere of rights was to be the arena of moral passion in a democracy. (pg 28)

  61. neo-neocon Says:

    Manju:

    Why are you taking those quotes out of context?

    The first one can be found in proper context here. Bloom is not describing his opinion, nor the Enlightenment in general. He is describing the attitudes of Rousseau and others during the French Revolution and after, attitudes that became prevalent in Europe but not in America.

    The French Revolution tried to abolish religion, you know.

    Your second quote can be put into proper context by looking here, and starting on the previous page to get a fuller picture. Bloom is not being critical of religion in that passage; he is describing a particular philosophical point of view (and its later consequences) that began with Hobbes, Locke, and those who followed them.

  62. Big Maq Says:

    “Except Fabians, to their credit IMO, were honest they sought socialism as their objective, while Obama and his supporters usually pretended Obama was a “pragmatic centrist” visionary above the left-right fray.” – huxley

    That’s the “marketing” at work. They may have actually thought they were so from their point of view.

    After all, isn’t it more “pragmatic” to persistently seek gradual gains under a democracy than to attempt an actual political coup and make the changes suddenly under an authoritarian government?

    Everyone tries to frame their argument as the most reasonable or objective.

    What does matter is the substance of the issue.

    But we get tied up on discussions around the framing and how the message is delivered, and even if the messaging is accomplishing what it should (e.g. trump’s tweets).

    This speech of trump’s has many good elements to praise, and plenty to criticize as well (in the context and objective – it doesn’t help that trump hardly is consistent on the core points he raised, with much to contradict himself on).

  63. Brian E Says:

    “After all, isn’t it more “pragmatic” to persistently seek gradual gains under a democracy than to attempt an actual political coup and make the changes suddenly under an authoritarian government?” – Big Maq

    NO.

    Because that’s not what happened. Has there ever been a more dishonest president than Barack Obama? His administration was one big lie (yes, hyperbole, but not much).

    I think you need to have your reality meter calibrated.

    “This speech of trump’s has many good elements to praise, and plenty to criticize as well (in the context and objective – it doesn’t help that trump hardly is consistent on the core points he raised, with much to contradict himself on)” – Big Maq

    So, what do you praise, what do you criticize and what wasn’t consistent with his core points and where did he contradict himself?

  64. Manju Says:

    Neo: Allan Bloom…”is describing a particular philosophical point of view (and its later consequences) that began with Hobbes, Locke, and those who followed them.”

    Correct. So Allan Bloom believes that the Enlightenment Project and subsequent American Founding was “a conscious, if covert, effort to weaken religious beliefs…”

    In contrast, Irene views the Enlightenment and Founding as expressions of Christianity. But, as that passage and your description of it makes clear, Bloom does not.

  65. huxley Says:

    Obama and his supporters usually pretended Obama was a “pragmatic centrist” visionary above the left-right fray.”

    Big Maq: I have no problem with Obama as a pragmatist but the key part of my formulation is “centrist” and “above the left-right fray.”

    Liberals like to tell themselves and the world they are not ideological, but that doesn’t make it true.

    Obama was as hard left as one would expect someone to be who had been steeped in the radical left and black power movements. He was pragmatic enough to know he couldn’t socialize everything in the US on the spot, but just about everything he did pushed the US towards socialism.

  66. Brian E Says:

    Manju,

    Is Bloom possibly projecting 20th century perspectives on 18th century thought?

    If Bloom said the Enlightenment tempered the influence of religious fervor as it shaped the American founding, I might agree.
    Certainly as it played out in France, but the circumstances were entirely different. Protestantism as practiced in America already had the qualities of individual initiative as opposed to papal authority.
    Locke, in his “The Reasonableness of Christianity” laid out the essentials of the faith– what core beliefs define a Christian. Could this have laid the foundation for divergent denominations that had sometimes been antagonistic at the state levels to work together to forge a national government?

    But as to weakening “religious beliefs”, it apparently didn’t work:

    Against a prevailing view that eighteenth-century Americans had not perpetuated the first settlers’ passionate commitment to their faith, scholars now identify a high level of religious energy in colonies after 1700. According to one expert, religion was in the “ascension rather than the declension”; another sees a “rising vitality in religious life” from 1700 onward; a third finds religion in many parts of the colonies in a state of “feverish growth.” Figures on church attendance and church formation support these opinions. Between 1700 and 1740, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the population attended churches, which were being built at a headlong pace.

    Toward mid-century the country experienced its first major religious revival. The Great Awakening swept the English-speaking world, as religious energy vibrated between England, Wales, Scotland and the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. In America, the Awakening signaled the advent of an encompassing evangelicalism–the belief that the essence of religious experience was the “new birth,” inspired by the preaching of the Word. It invigorated even as it divided churches. The supporters of the Awakening and its evangelical thrust–Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists–became the largest American Protestant denominations by the first decades of the nineteenth century. Opponents of the Awakening or those split by it–Anglicans, Quakers, and Congregationalists–were left behind.

    Another religious movement that was the antithesis of evangelicalism made its appearance in the eighteenth century. Deism, which emphasized morality and rejected the orthodox Christian view of the divinity of Christ, found advocates among upper-class Americans. Conspicuous among them were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Deists, never more than “a minority within a minority,” were submerged by evangelicalism in the nineteenth century.

    https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel02.html

  67. Brian E Says:

    Interesting article at First Things:

    Praise is an engine of culture. In ancient literary theory, a genre of poetry was called “epainetic,” from the Greek epainos, which means “praise.” The leading figure in this genre was Pindar. Some literary scholars in antiquity went so far as to characterize poetry as essentially “panegyric,” laudatory, even if it doesn’t celebrate anybody or anything in particular. Perhaps we could venture a step further and claim that praise is the nourishing source of all art and of culture. You can hardly paint something, whether a landscape or portrait, without implicitly affirming that it is good, that there should be this landscape or this person there for you to paint. You can scarcely write a story without the basic assumption that it is interesting, even if you’ll have to tell many unpleasant things.

    With this in mind, we can undertake an examination of conscience on behalf of our present civilization. We must ask ourselves: Are we still able to praise? Are we still conscious of possessing something to be thankful for? Do we still have access to somebody to whom we can express our thanks? What becomes of culture without the praiseworthy? Can the worthy (the domain of so-called “values”) still be worthwhile without a metaphysical ground?

    I do not find myself optimistic about our present situation. The German literary scholar Hugo ­Friedrich made the following observation:

    For the life-culture of the ancient world, as well as for the ages that followed it till the eighteenth century, the top psychological value was joy. It was the value which showed that the wise man or the believer, the knight, the courtier, the learned man of the social elite was about to attain perfection. Sadness, whenever it was not a fleeting state of mind, was considered as a negative value, and for the theologians it was a sin.
    The modern era, or at least some of its aspects, turned this back to front. Joy and serenity were increasingly frowned upon as commonplace, not to say ridiculously bourgeois. The wellsprings of praise have been replaced by melancholy and angst, if one is inclined toward romanticism, or by a hard-won authenticity, if one prefers existentialism. The old sin of acedia—the “noonday devil” who assaults the monk when the heat in his cell becomes unbearable, so that he would dream of forsaking his vocation—is now prized as a virtue. Intellectual honesty, which is almost always portrayed as cold, analytical, and objective, compliments itself for facing the ugliness of reality. This mentality has displaced the love of truth and become, for Nietzsche, “our last virtue.” And when we cannot endure ­Zarathustra’s cold heights, we puff up our feeble selves.The Cult of the Ego was the title of a work by the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-­century French writer Maurice Barrès. It has won many followers over the last century, and the ego is worshipped under several names: personal development, self-fulfillment, wellness, self-­expression, and so forth.

    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2017/08/from-what-is-left-over

    How does this tie in to the Praise of Western Civilization?

    Western Civilization, European Culture, owes its existence to Christianity. As western civilization casts Christianity adrift, what remains is disintegrating before our eyes.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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