Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ignoring the Real Threat

James Lileks on what he fears:

I do not worry about libertinism. I worry about libertines who think the greatest threat to the imminent Utopia is a Wal-Mart exec who refuses to stock a CD because the lyrics celebrate shooting cops in the head, or who think that uptight repressed Christers are six inches and five days away from replacing the Constitution with the plot of “A Handmaiden’s Tale.”
I think he nails it. With all of the real causes of concern available to worry about, the Left focuses on Bush and Wal-Mart. Why aren't feminists overjoyed about the liberation of millions of women in Afghanistan? Because they don't care about them. What they do care about is abortion here and that's why they take the side of islamofacsists who who stone them to death as whores over a President who wants to curb abortion rights. Better millions suffer overseas than Bush claims a victory.

The problem with the Left is that they can't see anything good in the culture that produced them. Everything Western is inherently tainted and evil and everything "other" is inherently pure and good. Just ignore the fact that their culture oppresses women, enslaves minorities and judicially murders homosexuals. The Left is so guilt-ridden about being born into a prosperous civilization that they magnify every fault of their own culture while turning a blind eye to much greater problems in others.

Guilt is a problem, but it’s not the entire enchilada. It’s guilt married to a peculiar belief that Western Civilization is unique only in its sins. The only thing Western Civ really gave the world was slavery, imperialism, war, and capitalism; the fact that we have eliminated or diminished or abbreviated those sins is due not to anything inherent in Western Civ but some overarching, free-floating Enlightenment unmoored from the cultures that produced it. The world began in 1968, and owes nothing to what came before; if we wish to combat the regrettable enthusiasms of some other cultures whose animus appears religious, we should deconsecrate the cathedrals in order to set an example and light the way.
We're not perfect, but as of now, Western Civilization is just about the best system of living that humans have come up with. It's brought undreamed of prosperity to billions and is holding out the welcome sign for the rest of the planet to join us. The Left doesn't think so, and maybe neither does Europe. Its ironic that with so many people in India, China, etc. striving to join the global cultural-economic system - Thomas P.M. Barnett's "functioning core", so many who have enjoyed its benefits don't think its worth saving.