2017 January 21 Saturday
Historical Departures

Picture the world in 1975. It looked like China and Russia were going to stay hard core communist places for decades to come. Few thought otherwise Then move forward 20 years. How did the world look in 1995? Kinda unipolar with communism a discredited historical relic fading quickly except for a few small hold-outs. People tend to overweight the current state of things as the way things will continue to be.

But not everyone sees the world in such a static fashion. I'm slowly reading (slowly since I cycle between lots of books reading small pieces of each) Samuel Huntington's 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. It is impressive just what a great job he does of not getting caught up in the current moment and looking at big trends, recurring patterns, and what causes them. I highly recommend if you haven't read it already.

Some people are shocked and very upset by the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. I think part of the upset is that it threatens faith in some imagined historical inevitabilities. These people would have a better time coping if they could learn enough about history to develop an appreciation for how many seemingly destined outcomes (e.g. continued rule of the Roman Empire or of the West over the Rest) turned out not to be. It wasn't all that long ago that fascism and communism were seen as on the march as well.

As a sign that our civilization is losing its most valuable attributes consider the turn against free speech. Older liberal social democrats are bemoaning the rise of anti-liberty postmoderns who demand space spaces (places where people can't be honest if they disagree with a postmodern doctrine). Conservatives are left watching from the outside while in academia liberals get threatened and cowed into silence by postmoderns.

One should really not take one's civilization for granted. Its preservation isn't just a matter of getting the right message to the masses to strengthen their faith. If the elites have to continuously reinforce faith in one's civilization then that civilization isn't built on very stable ground.

Progressives are more willing to implement supposed improvements to Western civilization with the assumption that their changes will only do what they intend and won't undermine the foundations. Their faith in the rightness of their cause and the inevitability of their way of thinking comes across as the dogmatic faith of the true believer in the one true faith. But in a way, political correctness is a sign of fear and vulnerability because is a recognition of the threat faced by their preferred form of civilization. People who try to enforce progressive norms of speaking and thinking have got to know that the norms they hold to be self evident really aren't self evident or else they wouldn't be trying so incredibly hard to suppress other points of view. Their values aren't destined to win.

Just as communism came to be seen as a failure so will postmodern progressive thought. We are actually nearing the end of an intellectual era. The foundations of progressive belief are increasingly threatened by demographic changes, economic developments, and discoveries in science. This isn't to say some other of the factions of the West's internal culture war will necessarily win. Demography is destiny and for Europe especially it looks like the old civilization is headed for replacement.

If world values aren't going to converge then that's bad news for the West. We've peaked in our influence on the rest of the world.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2017 January 21 07:08 PM 

William Vadi said at January 22, 2017 12:22 PM:

I pretty much agree with you. However, how can we cope with the return to the decrepit and disgusting "God bless you, and God bless America" still around in inaugural presidential speeches? How? I mean, even for Christians and other believers, how can we be so resistant to understand the healthy separation of religion and state? The rabbi, the minister, the priest... What the hell are they doing there talking fairy tales. How can a new president accept that when he's trying to appear objective and truthful?

Any advise on how to go on through life with these dull fantasies our leaders cling to? Thanks.

Jim said at January 23, 2017 8:17 AM:

Regarding separation of church and state note that, aside from the fact that this idea is not found at all in the Islamic World, it is a very new idea in the history of the West itself. In the history of the West prior to 1800 church and state were strongly linked. So the idea that separation of church and state will become dominant in the world in the future is probably naïve just as the idea that the whole world is going to become "modern" in the "Western" sense is naïve. Only a rather small part of mankind has "modern Western values".

Dan said at January 23, 2017 5:01 PM:

@William Vadi --

"Any advise [sic] on how to go on through life with these dull fantasies our leaders cling to? Thanks."

Did you mean advice with a 'c'? If so then here is my advice:

Cry more. Eventually, you will be so exhausted with your eyes so swollen and red that you will drift into a dreamless sleep. Gradually you will learn that you are the odd one, and accept your place on the fringes as the normals proceed with their normal lives in a normal way around you.

Samuel Hancock said at January 25, 2017 2:25 PM:

John Adams (in a speech to the military in 1798) warned his fellow countrymen stating, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Since the bible is the only book I know of that emphasizes virtue and morality, it stands to reason we must do all in our power to promote the study of it. Sadly the march of the “enlightened progressives” have totally removed any and all mention of morality from the public sphere. Which then produces the type of comment from William Vadi, above.

Check it out said at January 26, 2017 3:08 PM:

I think you have a point. There should be a separation between churches and state. Idiotic Dan doesn't know that he -as a believer- is deluded. He simply doesn't know that he doesn't know. It's called the "Believers' Narcissism".

I second what you posted William. We should speak up against the tyranny and impositions of fantasists like Dan and Donald Trump until the fuckers understand that religion and belief belong IN THE REALM OF THE ABSURD, or at least IN THE UNIVERSE OF THE PERSONAL.

@ Dan:
So Dan, you and your stupid adviCes to Non-believers will soon be outdated. The number of Atheists, Agnostics and Nons is growing so fast you won't be able to get your head out of your ass in time to notice. Make sure you wipe the crap of your eyelash fringes. The only abnormals around are those who still believe in supernatural monsters called Yahweh, Alah, Odin and Huitzilopochtli. You have mental diarrhea Dan. You go ahead and keep insulting non-believers and I'll continue to place my dick in your toothless mouth for you to suck on. Over 1,000 years of medieval bigotry, persecution, torture and murder are more than enough. We're not putting up with inquisitorial ass-wipes like you anymore Dan. Say hello to your holy mother for me too.

Check it out said at January 26, 2017 3:36 PM:

@ Samuel Hancock:

Since when are religious people more "moral" than non-religous? Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, Rousseau, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Steven Weinberg, George Carlin, David Gilmour etc, etc, etc,,,,,, Are they less "moral" than Tomas de Torquemada?

Sending crusaders to kill and toruture infidels "in the name of God" very fucken moral, huh?
...And fucken Catholic genocidals like Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco, Pinochet, Somoza..... Very fucken moral, huh? Are you going to tell me that these genocidals were Agnostics or Atheists? Dumb ass! 1,500 years of inquisition, very moral, huh?

Maybe to you, burning men, women and children alive is all justified in the name of God, in order to send a "clensed" sould up to "heaven".

Samuel, you're just another narcissit believer who still thinks that ethical behavior and objective morals come from religion. You keep your subjective morals and I'll keep my objective ethics. You go ahead and learn "professional morals" and "moral business practices" in who knows what university that knows nothing of ETHICS. So John Adams and you can go fuck yourselves for insulting William Vadi. I take it personally, so you and sell your daughter as sanctioned in the Bible to the higest bidder. What a dull little fucker. Who the fuck do you think you are, you self-righteous prick? Enough is enough! Fuck you and the horse you rode under. This is a blog on POLITICS. Keep your religious indoctrination puke out of here.

William Vadi said at January 29, 2017 12:05 PM:

Respectfully, I think that all we know about God has come from these abusers and criminals. Catholic pedophile priests and bishops, Tax-evadinig, prostitution-network protestant ministers and Jewish foreskin cutting rabbis. Is anybody ever going to put a stop to this outrage?

William Vadi said at January 29, 2017 12:10 PM:

I believe that anybody who's known to carry out circumcision, pedphilia and other forms of child abuse should be put in jail for a long time or in a mental institution until they are cured.

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