Blinders of Convenience
The aggressive effort to reduce “Western” or “European” civilization to its alleged sins — racism, sexism, imperialism, systemic inequality, cultural appropriation, greed, and the rest of the neo-Marxist talking points — serves as a convenient diversion from the truth that these same sins, such as they are, may be found equally, though perhaps with regional variations, in all times and places. By hiding this self-evident truth behind the sheer noisy vulgarity of their invective, the critics of “Eurocentrism” (more recently dubbed “white supremacism”) conveniently avoid a frustrating and awkward question they would prefer not to entertain: Why did the Western iteration of these sins become the globally dominant one?
Once we dismiss the untenable notion that these societal impulses — toward race identity, the division of sex roles, the urge for external influence, the artificial stratification of society, the incorporation of foreign themes, ideas, and motifs into one’s local customs, knowledge, and art, and the weakness for material excess — are tendencies unique to the West, as anyone may dismiss without qualification by spending five days in a non-Western society without his anti-West blinders on, all the Marxist fog about systemic oppression and historical dialectic lifts to reveal an inescapable fact: The so-called West — by which I mean the ideas and customs that arose and flourished within that general tradition — won the world, not only leading to all the kinds of power, progress, and political innovation so bitterly envied by today’s neo-Marxists, but also to all the fancy critical theories and deconstructing rationalizations designed to obscure the uncomfortable fact that the West has accomplished more, by the critics’ own tacitly acknowledged standards of evaluation, than any other civilization. Accomplished more in philosophy, in scientific investigation, in economic development, in diversity of political experimentation, in the unleashing of artistic inventiveness, in practical equality, in refinements of love, marriage, and family, in liberating the individual aspirations of the once-powerless multitudes, in technological advances, and, most strikingly, in universal influence as revealed by the voluntary co-opting, by peoples and nations of the non-Western world, of so many of the fundamental premises, structures, and ideals that have defined the West.
This three-thousand-year ascendancy must be acknowledged, understood, and then, to the extent possible, explained, by anyone who wishes to compare civilizations seriously and in good faith. The simple-mindedness of neo-Marxist reductionism is no explanation at all, but merely a desperate attempt to avoid the responsibility of explanation, which is to say to reject the human quest for truth. And of course I am aware that the progressive obfuscators have a ready-made and all-too-convenient response to this criticism as well, namely that the “quest for truth” itself is a racist, sexist, patriarchal, anti-democratic fallacy.
Well, perhaps it is. But if so, then the neo-Marxists would still have to explain, and have yet to explain, how and why this malicious and oppressive fallacy has led to so many real, tangible enhancements of practical life — and again not only economic ones, but equally so in the arts, literature, and science — which have long been the envy of the world, as evidenced by the past generations around the globe who, in a fit of what has since been labelled “false consciousness,” sought to improve their own lives either by employing this life-enhancing fallacy in their homelands, or alternatively by emigrating to the epicenters of that fallacy-based world in search of their piece of the dream; or by the present-day millions who, grown sophisticated under the anti-West logic of (primarily) white male Western academics, are seeking to destroy that fallacious world outright, while simultaneously appropriating its boons and “privileges” by brute force, an uncivilized thuggery they rationalize with conspiracy theories so all-encompassing, unfalsifiable, and self-contradictory that they make all the QAnon lunacy look reasonable by comparison.