Post Western World

This forum is for discussions on the noteworthy events, people, places, and circumstances of both the past and the present (note: pop culture etc... is on the back porch).
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 1979
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:48 am

Post Western World

Post by D5CAV » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:52 pm

I disagree with many of his points, but an interesting read: ... rry-redner

His analysis is rather simplistic and misses some very salient points, like the impact of Scandinavian/ Germanic religion on western European culture.

He focuses on the suicidal WW1 and WW2 as the beginning of the end of western civilization, but fails to discuss the equally suicidal policies of China, Japan, and Africa. He also has a typical history professor's view of economics - he doesn't understand the topic.
This was particularly virulent in the countries on the losing side, beginning with Russia, where it led to the Bolshevik Revolution, which briefly spread to much of central Europe; and in Italy, which was on the winning side but in danger of a Bolshevik takeover, and where a Fascist reaction ensued. Soviet totalitarianism in Russia devastated its culture and society, in a process started by Lenin and Trotsky and concluded by Stalin. This upheaval might have been contained and stopped from spreading to the rest of Europe were it not for the Great Depression, which destroyed any hope for democracy and led almost inevitably to the Second World War with all its devastating consequences.
He also talks about totalitarianism as an "accident of history". For a historian, this is hard to forgive. Totalitarianism is the majority of human history for the majority of the world population, except for a few bright shining examples in history that add up to a rounding error of time and population, e.g. Iceland since 900 AD, Switzerland since 1450 AD and the US between 1779 and 1933 AD. Population of Iceland, about 300,000; Switzerland, between 2 million and 20 million during that period, and the US between 5 million and 100 million in that period. Out of a population of 1 billion to 8 billion, it's a rounding error.
Totalitarianism was an accident of history only to the extent that the First World War was an accident of history – a very tragic accident with calamitous consequences. There was nothing in European Civilization as such, or as it was developing during the nineteenth century, necessitating the First World War. On the contrary, everything seemed to point to the impossibility of such a war.
He also confuses technology, which increases productivity, lowers costs of goods, and improves quality of life, with totalitarian government systems, which rob wealth from the people and concentrate it with the few.
During the nineteenth century up to the First World War, the Forces of Modernity were still largely in keeping with the main trends in Western Civilization, especially in America. But in non-Western societies they were having a disastrous effect on all the still surviving civilizations. Their introduction undermined traditional authorities, religions, cultures and values. They gradually prevailed all over the world, either being imposed by colonialism or through the desire to ward off colonialism by emulating the Western powers. America forced Japan to open its doors and accept the Forces of Modernity, and when the Japanese realized they had no choice about it they did so very successfully. It was a much more fraught and conflict-ridden matter in China and the Ottoman Empire.
Like any good liberal academic he trots out the familiar "Sweden is Socialist" argument, which was refuted by Rothbard and many others of the Austrian school.
Sweden is the great success story of the Welfare State and its effects on society. A century ago, it was a poor country, but in the course of the twentieth century it has gone from strength to strength, economically, socially and politically. High taxation rates have not affected its productive capacity; its firms flourish as never before. Its political system is a byword for democracy and popular consultation. Corruption is minimal.
When he talks about debt, he again shows his ignorance of economics and finance:
The main factor driving the federal debt is the diminution of the tax base due to the rapid erosion of American industry, which in the past generated well-paid full-time employment. Now the poor, even when they have work, pay little or no tax. The very rich have also found ways, legal, semi-legal and illegal, of avoiding tax. Hence, the tax burden is being born increasingly by a shrinking middle class. Wholesale tax reform is mandatory, but that cannot be carried through for political reasons. Vested interests of all kinds have a stranglehold on Congress and the major parties are usually in deadlock on this matter.
His judgement on the educational system in the US is spot on, however:
The rot in the schools began with the so-called “life adjustment movement” based very loosely on the educational philosophy of Dewey. From then on, for a majority of American youth, schooling became at best a social and not a learning experience.
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Post Reply