Should Western Civilization be saved?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Should Western Civilization be saved?, Bruce Charlton asks — even if it could be saved:

It is purportedly the baseline belief of the Secular Right that the major goal of conservative or reactionary politics should be to ‘save’ Western Civilization.

Yet this is not a coherent belief, nor is it possible, nor is it desirable.
The big problem is that it is precisely Western Civilization which created Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, and Political Correctness; ‘modern art’; ‘human rights’; pacifism — it is Western Civilization which is destroying itself.

The counter currents have always been there — at least since the Great Schism of a millennium since — and the counter-current has now overwhelmed the main current.
Furthermore, all of those abstract attributes which the Secular Right wants to preserve in Western Civilization are complicit in the decline: freedom of choice/selfishness; democracy/mob rule; freedom of consciousness/secularism; philosophy-science/rational bureaucracy; art/subversion; freedom of lifestyle/moral inversion; kindness/cowardice; an open and accessible mass media/the primacy of virtual reality… the whole lot.
The Secular Right is, I am afraid, merely Saruman attempting to use Sauron’s Ring to fight Sauron; all its tactics to defend what it regards good are simultaneously (but in other places) strengthening the forces of destruction.

There is enough to suggest that the Left is indeed the main line of a Western Civilization which is pre-programmed to self-destruction; while the Right is merely imposing temporary corrections which save the West in the short term but only at the cost of entrenching its long-term and underlying errors.

The West cannot be saved.

His revisits these ideas in the second of his four tough questions for the secular right:

What are the mechanisms by which your ideal society would be maintained? Are they plausible? Are they strong enough?

Or are you just engaged in day-dreaming?

(Anyone can come up with their own ideal utopia — but in the real world, stable options are heavily constrained.)

That’s obviously not just a question for the secular right.

Foseti took a stab at answering Charlton’s questions, but I think he side-stepped the crux of that one:

Sure. Take Singapore. It’s a lot closer to my ideal than the current American form of government. It exists — it’s therefore possible to get a whole lot better.

As I said there, I don’t think Bruce Charlton would argue that Singapore can’t exist, but rather than it can’t last — not in its present form.

I was pleased to see Charlton himself respond to Foseti:

I’d like to emphasize that this is not really a matter of what I want, but of what we will get. And that I am thinking on a timescale of human generations (c. 25 year units), not of the next few years.

I was profoundly influenced by the analysis of Ernest Gellner who (in brief) divided all human societies into the 1. hunter-gatherer, 2. the agriculturally-based (dominated by warriors and priests, in various combinations), and 3. the post-industrial revolution modern societies — which depend on permanent growth (which means permanent increase in efficiency/productivity — largely by increasing functional specialization and coordination).

When (and not if) industrial civilization collapses (and this will happen sooner rather than later, not least because the politically correct ruling elites want to destroy The West and they are clearly succeeding); The West will (like it or not) revert to the agriculturally based societies run by combinations of warriors and priests which existed everywhere in the world (except among a handful of hunter gatherers) before the industrial revolution.

Our choices are between different balances of warriors and priests, and between different types of priests. The current default world religion is (obviously) Islam, not Christianity — due to its demographic growth and sustained assertive self-confidence.


  1. Foseti says:

    It’s hard for me to argue with Mr Charlton — I don’t really disagree with what he says.

    I’m still hopeful that we can avoid a full collapse of Western Civilization — he’s not. That may be the fundamental difference.

  2. Bruce G Charlton says:

    Thanks for blogging this.

    Yes, you are right that I think Singapore cannot survive in the present state.

    I hope you are right about the West surviving, at least for selfish reasons. I just don’t see any signs of a will to survive.

  3. Isegoria says:

    I suppose we don’t see a will to survive, because western elites feel no threat.

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