The Reconquista Initiative
The Traditional West is Man’s Best Civilization
Today, in some corners of our modern society, denigrating and diminishing the glories of traditional Western Civilization has almost become a cultural past-time. Indeed, in academia, the media, and the entertainment industry, traditional Western Civilization and its history are now routinely portrayed as being something uniquely evil and as being something which Western people should feel overwhelmingly guilty about. But the fact is, the West, its culture, its traditions, and its civilization, is, from a perspective of human achievement and flourishing, the very best civilization that has ever existed in the history of Man. And there is one easy argument that can be made to show that this is the case. So what then is this argument that purports to show that traditional Western culture and civilization—a culture born out of Greco-Roman traditions and institutions, moulded by Christian philosophy and morality, and hardened by humanist ideas—is the best that the world has seen to date?
The argument, ultimately, is as simple as it is common. In fact, we use the reasoning inherent in this argument all the time, such as when we pick the best politician from an undesirable lot or when we choose the best alternative from a group of options. And so the argument is simply this: for every type of sin that the West is allegedly guilty of—racism, colonialism, war, oppression, and so on—and for every vile act that Western society has committed, every single other culture, both past and present, has done the very same things, and often to a worse degree, as the West has done; and yet, at the same time, no other culture, overall, has given humanity the benefits and gifts that traditional Western civilization has given it. Therefore, when a relative cultural and civilizational comparison is made as to which culture has been best at the promotion and advancement of general human flourishing in the wide swath of human fields—such as medicine, law, philosophy, technology, economics, liberty, governance, and so on—traditional Western culture is undeniably the best culture that this world has ever been graced with.
After all, and as stated earlier, the fact is that every relatively large non-Western socio-cultural group, regardless of whether it was just a small tribe or a large nation, has historically engaged in brutality, war, discrimination, slavery, racism, murder, exploitation, violence, oppression, and so on, at a scale that was commensurate with its level of sophistication and technological advancement. For example, slave-traders on the African coast received black slaves for purchase from other black Africans. And Arabs and other Middle-Easterners had a thriving slave-trade as bad or worse than that of the West, and there is still on-going de facto slavery in parts of the Middle East today. Or consider that the brutal Mongol hordes that swept over Asia had a world war going on, as well as a colonizing empire of epic proportions, well before the West had started its own imperial march across the globe. And note that the Turkish Ottoman Empire was one of the greatest colonizers and invaders of the past few hundred years, and Turkey still occupies Cyprus to this day. Furthermore, Japanese atrocities against other Asians before and during World War 2 were as horrid as anything that the West had perpetrated, but even the Japanese were matched by the horrors committed by Chinese communists against both their own people and other cultures. Or note that the Indian caste system was and is the height of discrimination and oppression. And never forget that the Indians of the Americas were killing themselves and taking each other as captives long before any European ever arrived on their shores.
Thus, we see that everything deplorable that the West has done, other cultures have done as well. Indeed, the West bears no greater guilt in terms of committing immoral acts than any other culture bears. And so it is utterly clear that the West has absolutely no monopoly on civilizational evil. Furthermore, it also needs to be considered that several of the supposed crimes of the West—such as some of the Crusades or the Reconquista—were, in fact, quite justified strategically defensive actions against centuries of aggression and attack from other cultures and civilizations, and so it is hard to blame the West for them.
But now consider that while the West has done nothing worse than what every other civilization has done, it is also disproportionally traditional Western and European culture that the entire world has to thank for the rise of empiricism and science, the deep use of reason and philosophical reflection in thinking, technological and medicinal achievements that no other culture can match, ethical and humanistic reflections that gave rise to the idea of universal human rights and universal human standards of conduct, the creation and spread of universities and other centers of learning and knowledge, beautiful art and literature, profound saints and mystics, a humanitarian impulse to help other groups and other cultures, the boon that was capitalism, strong and relatively just legal systems and courts, powerful forms of government that protect individual liberties and which created the world’s most prosperous societies, more respect and rights for women and minorities than other cultures, a culture that is self-reflective and self-critical—in fact, overly self-critical—and so on and so forth. This is what the West has given to the whole world! And so, as stated, while the West has given the world no more evil than any other civilization or culture has, it has actually given the world much more than other cultures and civilizations have, at least in terms of human flourishing, independence, and social advancement.
Now we can debate the reason for why all these good things largely came from the West, and we can debate whether the West of today, as it becomes loosened from the traditional foundation that held it aloft, and as its culture becomes infected regressive progressives, will still be a leader in all the aforementioned areas in the years to come, but what we cannot deny is that when it comes to creating a society and a culture that has maximized human flourishing to a level that no other culture has, the West, quite simply, is the best.
Finally, note that I am not saying that Western Civilization could not be improved or that it is somehow perfect. Rather, I am making the perfectly obvious and sensible point that since cultures can be objectively compared as to how they promote general human flourishing, their overall civilizational achievements, their technological advancement, as well as numerous other concrete considerations, then a best culture, as measured by these factors, can emerge, and the West is that culture. Furthermore, note that even if a culture is not great in an ultimate sense—and this is a key point that is all too often missed—it can still be the best overall culture when compared against its cultural rivals, just like an average quarter-back can still be the best one from a poor selection pool. And so the simple fact is that a person can still consider the West to be the best culture that has ever existed even if that same person does not think that the West is necessarily a great culture, or even a good one. For indeed, a culture that is best in comparison to its rivals does not necessarily require that culture to be considered a good one—although I think that it is easy to show that, on balance, the West has been a force for great good in the world.
And so the long and short of it is this: the traditional West is the best because by almost any objective metric related to human flourishing, human achievement, and moral behavior, traditional Western culture and civilization fares no worse than any other culture, and yet it is, in many respects, substantially better than other cultures. That is why the West is the best, and that is a fact that is hard to dispute. But now let us just hope and pray that the West can right its present regressive course of the last few generations in order to stay the best, for if it does not, then the world will soon become a much darker place.
Anno Domini 2016 11 10
Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.