Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Coming to the west

I was discussing over the weekend the idea of western civilisation with someone who maintained the politically correct view that Western civilisation is just a white man's institution, and in any case western civilisation is no better, and even inferior, to the various tribal societies that still pockmark the globe.

As you might expect I demurred at this description, suggesting that greater prosperity, longer life expectancy and an ability to put a man on the moon suggested that in any meaningful comparison between primitive tribalism and Western civilisation that the latter was infinitely superior, and that if longer life and greater happiness are your standards then it's in every way preferred. I pointed out that to say this is not to be racist, but simply to recognise the truth. (If you really insist on some ecumenical racism, then just try this.)

And I reflected back to a debate on the same subject last year in which the same points were made, and in which I made George Reisman's point that because it arose in the west does not make Western civilisation racist. As he says, Western civilisation is not a product of race.
Once one recalls what Western civilization is, the most important thing to realize about it is that it is open to everyone... The truth is that just as one does not have to be from France to like French- fried potatoes or from New York to like a New York steak, one does not have to have been born in Western Europe or be of West European descent to admire Western civilization, or, indeed, even to help build it. Western civilization is not a product of geography. Indeed, important elements of "Western" civilization did not even originate in the West."Western civilization is not a product of geography. It is a body of knowledge and values. Any individual, any society, is potentially capable of adopting it and thereby becoming Westernized."
An eloquent example of what that meant came immediately after last year's debate when after debating the superiority of western culture over tribal culture I headed off to a performance of Russian classical music performed at the Auckland Town Hall which was conducted by a Peruvian, with a young Chinese soloist on piano and played by an orchestra containing people hailing from at least a dozen different countries. It was a marvellous night, and an eloquent example of what is meant by West is Best, and by Reisman's point that the great strength of Western civilisation is that it is open to everybody. Anybody can 'come to the west' simply by accepting the west's body of knowledge and values, and, fortunately, many people continue quietly and happily to do just that.

LINKS: The racial slur database
Education & the racist road to barbarism - George Reisman

TAGS: Multiculturalism, Racism, Political_Correctness, Objectivism

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1 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

If 'Western civilisation' is a White Man's world that is not superior to any other civilisation(and possibly inferior to them) your friend must be a hypocrite for not going to live in a superior culture not founded and run by white men.

3/29/2006 10:13:00 am  

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