Do We Still Want the West?

doghouse

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/do-we-still-want-the-west-1487635725

By
Bret Stephens
Feb. 20, 2017 7:08 p.m. ET
456 COMMENTS
In the late 1980s Stanford University did away with its required Western civilization course after Jesse Jackson led students in a chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” Campus conservatives tried to bring it back last year, but the effort failed in a student vote by a 6 to 1 margin.

They should try pushing Western Civ again. To adapt the line in that Passenger song, you only know you love it when you let it go.

The thought comes to mind following Sergei Lavrov’s Orwellian speech last week at the Munich Security Conference, in which the Russian foreign minister called for a “post-West world order.” He also used the occasion to deny Moscow’s involvement in hacking U.S. and European elections, to announce that his government would recognize passports issued by its puppet state in eastern Ukraine, and to call for an end to the “post-truth” and “post-fact” state of international relations.

Mr. Lavrov understands something that ought to be increasingly clear to American and European audiences: The West—as a geopolitical bloc, a cultural expression, a moral ideal—is in deep trouble. However weak Russia may be economically, and however cynical its people might be about their regime, Russians continue to drink from a deep well of civilizational self-belief. The same can be said about the Chinese, and perhaps even of the Islamic world too, troubled as it is.

The West? Not so much.

The United States has elected as president a man who has repeatedly voiced his disdain for NATO, the World Trade Organization and other institutions of the Western-led world order. He publicly calls the press “an enemy of the American people” and conjures conspiracy theories about voter fraud whose only purpose is to lend credence to his claim that the system is rigged. He is our first post-rational president, whose approach to questions of fact recalls the deconstructionism of the late Jacques Derrida: There are no truths; reality is negotiable.

Then there’s Europe, where youth unemployment runs close to 20% and centrist politicians wonder why they have a problem. In France, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen is gaining in the polls, despite expert predictions that she can’t possibly win the presidency. In Holland, nationalist politician Geert Wilders says of Moroccan immigrants: “Not all are scum.” Where have we heard these things before?

In Munich on Saturday, Mike Pence implored NATO members to spend more on their defense—a complaint Europeans also heard from the Obama and Bush administrations. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, instantly brushed the vice president’s plea aside. “I don’t know where Germany can find billions of euros to boost defense spending,” he said, “if politicians also want lower taxes.”

Berlin spends 1.2% of its GDP on defense, well below the 2% NATO requirement and among the lowest in Europe. As of 2014, it could deploy a grand total of 10 attack helicopters and one submarine. Does Germany still want the West, insofar as it’s able to contribute to its collective defense?

What about other countries? Twenty-five years ago, becoming a part of “the West” was the dream from Budapest to Ulan Bator. Not anymore.

Russia took itself off the Westernization track shortly after the turn of the century. Turkey followed a few years later. Thailand is on its way to becoming a version of what Myanmar had been up until a few years ago, while Malaysia is floating into China’s orbit. Ditto for the Philippines. Mexico may soon follow a similar trajectory if the Trump administration continues to pursue its bad-neighbor policy, and if a Chavista-like figure such as Andrés Manuel López Obrador comes to power in next year’s presidential election.

One can point to many reasons, specific and general, why the West no longer attracts imitators. Let’s point to the main reason.

There was a time when the West knew what it was about. It did so because it thought about itself—often in freshman Western Civ classes. It understood that its moral foundations had been laid in Jerusalem; its philosophical ones in Athens; its legal ones in Rome. It treated with reverence concepts of reason and revelation, freedom and responsibility, whose contradictions it learned to harmonize and harness over time. It believed in the excellence of its music and literature, and in the superiority of its political ideals. It was not ashamed of its prosperity. If it was arrogant and sinful, as all civilizations are, it also had a tradition of remorse and doubt to temper its edges and broaden its horizons. It cultivated the virtue of skepticism while avoiding the temptation of cynicism.

And it believed all of this was worth defending—in classrooms and newspapers and statehouses and battlefields.

We’ve since raised generations to believe none of this, only to be shocked by the rise of anti-Western politics. If you want children to learn the values of a civilization that can immunize them from a Trump, a Le Pen or a Lavrov, you can start by teaching it.

Write bstephens@wsj.com.
Redoubling our efforts to teach basic civics and the dangers of letting Western ideas slip is the only defense against the illiberal tide that is currently crashing upon our shores.
 

Lord Buckley

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Good to see Le Pen standing up, unlike the feminist government of Sweden.

She has grit and the French recognize this, it's game over for the appeasers, brown nosing troughers and the apologists.
 

Lord Buckley

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Can someone please post the article, the clickbait didn't work with me, as I refused to pay the subscription to the WSJ as a matter of honour.
 

QuandoDio

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Can someone please post the article, the clickbait didn't work with me, as I refused to pay the subscription to the WSJ as a matter of honour.
It is already been posted by the OP.

Interestingly i also refuse to pay the subscription.
 

Lord Buckley

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Oh yes, I see it now. With half-baked articles like that, I won't be getting a subscription any time soon. What a load of twoddle.

As one example: as with most liberal commentators he doesn't grasp that Russia has strategic interests. We facilitated a coup in the Ukraine that led to very predictable responses from Putin. He was going to move to protect his only warm sea port in the Crimea and can ensure chaos in eastern Ukraine. Anyone in his position would do the same. And also be under no illusions the ultra-nationalist forces in the Ukraine are not liberal globalistas at all. I have family there by marriage and they confirm it is the same rotten corrupt nation as it always was, Nigeria with snow.

It is in the defence of the West, albeit however flawed, that the new political landscape is forming in the USA and Europe.
 
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doghouse

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Bret Stephens, liberal? Ha. Man this world has gone mad.

I always find it somewhat amusing that people like our dear Lord B actually think they are defending the West while they are actively supporting it's destruction.
 

Leitmotif

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Oh yes, I see it now. With half-baked articles like that, I won't be getting a subscription any time soon. What a load of twoddle.

As one example: as with most liberal commentators he doesn't grasp that Russia has strategic interests. We facilitated a coup in the Ukraine that led to very predictable responses from Putin. He was going to move to protect his only warm sea port in the Crimea and can ensure chaos in eastern Ukraine. Anyone in his position would do the same. And also be under no illusions the ultra-nationalist forces in the Ukraine are not liberal globalistas at all. I have family there by marriage and they confirm it is the same rotten corrupt nation as it always was, Nigeria with snow.

It is in the defence of the West, albeit however flawed, that the new political landscape is forming in the USA and Europe.
Actually, Murmanks is also used as a warm water port and it never gets frozen, if i recall correctly something to do with a water current. They now have Tarturus ans possible Greece and maybe in a not so distant future Iran and somewhere in SA or the caribbean.
 

Lord Buckley

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Bret Stephens, liberal? Ha. Man this world has gone mad.

I always find it somewhat amusing that people like our dear Lord B actually think they are defending the West while they are actively supporting it's destruction.
Not quite, but as has wrongly been attributed to Winston Churchill: in the future the fascists will be anti-fascists.

This is where we are now. Unfortunately.

The West needs defending from the better nature of our good selves, as very sadly, contrary to various slick marketing campaigns not all cultures are equal or are working towards the same vision of the future of humanity.
 

Lord Buckley

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Actually, Murmanks is also used as a warm water port and it never gets frozen, if i recall correctly something to do with a water current. They now have Tarturus ans possible Greece and maybe in a not so distant future Iran and somewhere in SA or the caribbean.
Long way to go before they have the number of bases the USA has. Reality is that Russia economically remains weak, it's perceived and real power comes from being a thermonuclear weapon state. When it comes to technology they are way behind, as an example, if you go to Tehran the place is full of German businessmen making deals (with the Italians in hot pursuit). Now the sanctions are lifted the Iranians are buying Germany stuff, they don't buy Chinese or Russian gear by choice. Indeed, I've asked an Iranian and they said whilst their is military ties and cooperation between Russia and Iran, business wise there is next to nothing.

I am kind of amused by the rumour going around that the Russians are moving into the Arab states (beside Iran and Syria) and taking America's place. Even if there is a will, what has Russia to offer?
 

güero

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There was a time when the West knew what it was about. It did so because it thought about itself—often in freshman Western Civ classes. It understood that its moral foundations had been laid in Jerusalem; its philosophical ones in Athens; its legal ones in Rome. It treated with reverence concepts of reason and revelation, freedom and responsibility, whose contradictions it learned to harmonize and harness over time. It believed in the excellence of its music and literature, and in the superiority of its political ideals. It was not ashamed of its prosperity. If it was arrogant and sinful, as all civilizations are, it also had a tradition of remorse and doubt to temper its edges and broaden its horizons. It cultivated the virtue of skepticism while avoiding the temptation of cynicism.
I don't think the problem/solution is teaching. This is culture, not chemistry. I agree with the definition, but if you think about the individual components, it does not seem like anyone has been living up to those standards for at least the past 15-20 years.
 

Fwiffo

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It understood that its moral foundations had been laid in Jerusalem; its philosophical ones in Athens; its legal ones in Rome. It treated with reverence concepts of reason and revelation, freedom and responsibility, whose contradictions it learned to harmonize and harness over time.
Moral foundations were laid in Jerusalem? Maybe for Christians and Jewish people. Mine were laid in the 19th-20th century where might is right. As a classicist, I can agree with Athens and Rome being foundations to Western society.

But honestly these people moaning about the Western free world - what's the alternative? The caricature of socialism and communism known as People's Republic of China? Marx, Engels....and Mao would be rolling in their graves. The liberated remnants of a CCCP that is willed into submission by their one and only talisman and strong man? Equally bleak alternative.

I'm reminded by these people who protested against capitalism in the last year or two. Why? Is there another alternative? Can I breathe something other than oxygen?

Ask most of the 7 billion people in the world and they'd give their left nut or ovary for a job that pays decently, a roof over their heads, a chance for their kids to hob knob one class higher than they are, a BMW sitting in their garage, big screen TV, annual upgrades to the next iPhone and a few vacations here & there where they can jet set to ride an elephant in some jungle or ski the Alps. Offer that to the 7 billion people and the lot of them would be happy as a clam. And until proven wrong, the capitalistic Western world is still the best and most encompassing delivery vehicle to satisfy those desires that are innate to all of us.
 

Leitmotif

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Fwiffo you mean that 5 percent of the population uses 75 % of the resources? Because at the end thats what we are trying to sell.
 

Leitmotif

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We're trying to sell made-up stats?
Lol look at the amount of resources that we in the US need for our day to day life, this is the shit that we are trying to sell to anyone while we have a bunch of weirdos talking about making the plannet green again while all of them travelling in private jets and all the crap that comes with that.
 

Arnathor

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Lol look at the amount of resources that we in the US need for our day to day life, this is the shit that we are trying to sell to anyone while we have a bunch of weirdos talking about making the plannet green again while all of them travelling in private jets and all the crap that comes with that.
Oh, oh, oh! Canada has one of those assholes too, David Suzuki.

 

Thruth

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Oh, oh, oh! Canada has one of those assholes too, David Suzuki.

FUCK DAVID SUZUKI

http://pesticidetruths.com/2013/11/05/david-suzuki-the-two-suzukis-saint-suzuki-and-secret-suzuki-the-capitalist-millionaire-ezra-levant-2013-10-12/

There are two David Suzukis.

Most of us know one of the Suzukis.

Let's call him Saint Suzuki.

That's the Suzuki whose TV show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ( CBC ) constantly lectures us about our lifestyle.

He says we need to consume less, buy less and use less fossil fuels.

But then, there's another Suzuki.

Let's call him Secret Suzuki, because he's far less well-known.

Secret Suzuki is the one who lives on Vancouver's elite Point Grey Road, on a double lot, overlooking English Bay, right above the exclusive Kitsilano Yacht Club.

The City of Vancouver assesses the land value alone at over $8 million.

And that's just one of Secret Suzuki's properties.

He has another million-dollar home in Vancouver.

And then there's another home on Quadra Island.

That's three homes right there, if you count the double lot on Point Grey Road as just one property.

But then, there are his large property holdings on Nelson Island.

What's so fascinating about that one is that he co-owns the property with an oil company, Kootenay Oil Distributors Ltd.

They don't plan to drill for oil together.

It's a beautiful tourist spot ― maybe perfect for a nice big condo development.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with co-owning any property along with an oil company.

But isn't Saint Suzuki against fossil fuel companies ― especially oil companies ?

Saint Suzuki tells us that the world is desperately over-crowded, that we're over-populated, and that we're going to run out of things.

But, in his own life, Secret Suzuki has five children.

There's nothing wrong with having five children.

It's a blessing.

But then why does he think other people should have fewer kids ?

Saint Suzuki rails against corporations and profits.

He even gave a well-received anti-capitalist speech at the Occupy Vancouver protest.

But Secret Suzuki himself has several corporations.

One of them, the David Suzuki Foundation, took in a whopping $9 million last year and has $12 million in assets.

More than 10 million of that is invested in stocks and bonds.

Saint Suzuki despises lobbyists, and says they have a disproportionate control of political power in Ottawa.

But Secret Suzuki himself has nine paid lobbyists registered in Ottawa's lobbyist registry.

Not one.

Nine.

Saint Suzuki despises politicians, and says they can't be trusted.

Secret Suzuki starred in a Liberal party TV ad along with former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty.

Saint Suzuki says corporations have to be less obsessed by profits, and do more for the public good.

They need to especially think of the interests of the next generation, our children.

But Secret Suzuki has made a tidy profit off young people.

His standard speaking fee at universities in Canada is $30,000 plus expenses.

He billed Quebec's John Abbott College a cool $41,000 to visit them.

Saint Suzuki speaks in the language of tolerance and equality and liberalism ― utterly politically correct.

But Secret Suzuki engages in conduct that should cause feminists to raise an eyebrow.

When he visited John Abbott College, his assistant called with special requests to go along with his speaking fee.

Here is an internal e-mail from the college's Mary Milburn ―

We have learned, via Dr. Suzuki's assistant, that although the Dr. does not like to have bodyguards per se, he does not mind having a couple of ladies ( females ) that would act as body guards.

The college's Jim Anderson got involved in selecting the coeds, too ―

Please be certain that the women are nicely dressed, we don't want them in evening gowns, but definitely NOT Police Tech uniforms.

All of this bizarre selection of girls, dressed just so, was the result of Secret Suzuki's special request.

If he were a conservative, he'd be called a dirty old man.

But he's a saint.

So the college went along with it.

David Suzuki is not a criminal.

But he is not a saint.

He's a real man ― a capitalist millionaire, a politician, a man with a staff of lobbyists, a prolific father, a wealthy landlord.

If only he'd stop scolding the rest of us for aspiring to do the same.
 

güero

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Moral foundations were laid in Jerusalem? Maybe for Christians and Jewish people. Mine were laid in the 19th-20th century where might is right. As a classicist, I can agree with Athens and Rome being foundations to Western society.

But honestly these people moaning about the Western free world - what's the alternative? The caricature of socialism and communism known as People's Republic of China? Marx, Engels....and Mao would be rolling in their graves. The liberated remnants of a CCCP that is willed into submission by their one and only talisman and strong man? Equally bleak alternative.

I'm reminded by these people who protested against capitalism in the last year or two. Why? Is there another alternative? Can I breathe something other than oxygen?

Ask most of the 7 billion people in the world and they'd give their left nut or ovary for a job that pays decently, a roof over their heads, a chance for their kids to hob knob one class higher than they are, a BMW sitting in their garage, big screen TV, annual upgrades to the next iPhone and a few vacations here & there where they can jet set to ride an elephant in some jungle or ski the Alps. Offer that to the 7 billion people and the lot of them would be happy as a clam. And until proven wrong, the capitalistic Western world is still the best and most encompassing delivery vehicle to satisfy those desires that are innate to all of us.
I may grossly misunderstand what you are trying to say, but if you think "the west" boils down to "BMWs and iPhones for everyone", or what your understanding of "capitalism" seems to be, you have missed quite a bit and provide a shining example of what's going wrong.
 

Fwiffo

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I may grossly misunderstand what you are trying to say, but if you think "the west" boils down to "BMWs and iPhones for everyone", or what your understanding of "capitalism" seems to be, you have missed quite a bit and provide a shining example of what's going wrong.
Democracy. Freedom. The highest ideals of government and leadership. Etcetera.

I am reminded of the turbulent times in the Roman Empire when emperors alternated between imposing paganism and Christianity. If it was a Christian emperor, most people would say they were Christian and remarkably under a pagan emperor, most people obeyed pagan customs. No one went through a conversion on every change of ruler. Going with the flow to get a job and escape persecution was much easier.

To use Leitmotif numbers, the top 5 percent of Romans thought this was a big deal; ideology, dogma, civil war, our gods are better than that God.

But the rest of the people? They're happy with food, shelter, working toilets and a chance for advancement.
 

doghouse

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It's pretty terrible these days. You can't call stupid people stupid anymore.
 

doghouse

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I'd be in favor of setting up sheep in various town squares and letting the perv's fuck the shit outta them while the trannys watch, just for the simple fact of how pissed off straight society would be.
 

Thruth

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I'd be in favor of setting up sheep in various town squares and letting the perv's fuck the shit outta them while the trannys watch, just for the simple fact of how pissed off straight society would be.
Hater
 

Thruth

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We could use some of your livestock.
Oh, that is just low down and dirty. How could you even think of subjecting them to such depravity?

I just read him your post. He is disgusted.
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