Sunday, 19 December 2010

Should Western Civilization be saved? (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.


Western Civilization is not a 'First Thing' as C.S. Lewis defined it; it is not a primary aim: it is a secondary outcome.

Western Civilization is not the kind of thing that can be 'saved', or defended, or anything else.

Whatever 'it' is (whatever 'Western Civilization' legitimately includes or excludes) nobody created Western Civilization on purpose - it is a by-product.

And, as Lewis said in his essay 'First and Second Things' (see link above) - if you do try to aim directly at attaining or defending a Second Thing as if it was a First Thing, then you will both fail to achieve and save it; and also end by actively destroying it.


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.


The self-destroying aspects of the West have always been there, and they permeate or are woven-into the whole.

Western Civilization has always been changing -  not merely superficially, but deeply. It has never been stable - not even for two generations in a row.

The West is continually becoming more abstract, more specialized, less Christian. 

There is no evidence that The West ever could be stable - and everything suggests the opposite.


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 West is perpetually in transition: it has no essence: it is evolutionary.

Those who set out their stall on defending 'Western Civilization' are therefore either defending a process (markets, democracy, 'the Open Society'), and an evolutionary process which might lead anywhere, including to self-destruction of Western Civilization (as, in my opinion, it already has)....

Or else they are really defending some other bottom line entity that is not Western Civilization and would quite likely dispense with Western Civilization at some point in the future: e.g. a nation or group of nations, a race, a ruling lineage (e.g. of monarchs, or castes)... the preservation of which might well necessitate at some point dispensing with what are currently 'Western values'.

In other words, if you favour a process (like democracy, sexual freedom) you must be prepared to sacrifice an entity (like a nation or a race): if you favour an entity you must be prepared to dispense with processes.

So, I am saying that it is strictly nonsense - and destructive nonsense - to claim to be defending Western Civilization.


People can only get away with this absurd claim to be defending Western Civilization (get away with it in their own minds, as much as the public arena) because Western Civilization is so obviously collapsing so fast; and because this process is being accelerated by an evil, blind and insane politically correct elite who apparently must be opposed - somehow - although with little chance of short-term success. 

But the Secular Right is trying to keep its cake and to eat it: to retain the residual and declining bits of modernity, the counter-currents that it personally values (especially sexual freedom); but at the same time to dispense with what is now the (dominant) flow of modernity.


So, there is a pressing need for defence of the Western social system against imminent threats to survival, and to fight the present and future-looming succession of political crisis - each of opens Western nations to their enemies and any of which is sufficient to destroy it.

(Indeed, a major source of conflict on the reactionary right is which of the many lethal problems approaching the West will be the first actually to kill the West. There are so many dangers of such great dangerousness, that we don't really know which is the most pressingly dangerous!)

But deeper than this is the relentless and almost-wholly successful use of  distraction and indifference to deal with the existential realities of the human condition, the use of media technologies and virtual realities as an alternative to having meaning and purpose in life.

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.

There is nothing to save; and anyway The West has self-destruction built-in, woven-in, pervasive.

How can you save something which so much wants to kill itself?

Take your eye off Western Civilization for just a moment and it will be swinging from the rafters with its own belt around its neck...