Thursday, July 28, 2011
A Clash of Histories
The clash of civilizations is also a clash of histories. The Western view of history is progressive. A march upward from barbarism to greater phases of enlightenment. This view is fairly modern and fairly liberal, yet closely associated with the success of Western civilization. In progressive history, human techniques from the technological to the social can be used to improve life and make the world a better place. The Islamic view of history is regressive. A lost golden age followed by unbelief and heresy, culminating in a struggle by the believers to restore Islamic dominance. Everything that humans do independently of Islam makes the world a worse place. The perfect touchstone of history was Mohammed. And the only way that history can be set right is by restoring the lost and corrupted caliphates.
Both the progressive and the regressive views of history have their limitations. The progressive views tends to unrealistically overestimate its own progress. It does this by dismissing 99 percent of what came before it as bunk and barbarism, and places itself at the pinnacle of history. Using the Dark Ages as a prop, history is divided between the medieval and the enlightenment, superstition and knowledge.
Overlooked is the knowledge that civilization and barbarism actually come in cycles. And that the ancients were not stupid or ignorant, often they were quite sophisticated. But they were unable to retain, integrate and build on what they had until it formed the core of a stable and self-sustaining civilization. Despite our technological sophistication, we are actually poorer than them in vital areas, and there is every sign that our own civilization will implode the way that theirs did.
The surest sign of this may be that the intellectual elites of the West have begun to make the switch to a regressive model of history. The environmental movement and the postmodern left have become the champions of a regressive history which demands that we turn back the clock and learn to imitate the slums of the Third World in order to become a better society.
That the people doing this are some of the best and the brightest, the graduates of elite institutions and the thinkers and philosophers of the West, who have followed the dark road of social revolution into oblivion and have come away with no reason for their cultures and nations to go on living-- testifies to the peril that the West finds itself in.
The progressive model of history is on life support. In its pure form, it hardly exists outside of scientific circles, rationalist atheists and patriotic Americans. And the former two often incorporate it into a global admixture that depends on a Wellsian world-state through the United Nations. An organization founded on a progressive worldview, but that in the hands of the left and its Third World allies has become a regressive influence.
That just leaves the regressive model of history with its lost golden age and its distaste for a humanity whose petty faults are in the way of a full restoration.
We are most familiar with the Islamic version of regressive history, whether it is Osama bin Laden or an exhibit on Islamic science. Both depend on a heavily distorted and romanticized history. False history which must remain false in order to justify the pursuit of an impossible goal. A golden age.
Islamic reformers, unlike Western reformers, reform backward. Their goal is to reach back to the past. The Wahhabis with their purge of modern corruptions of Islam exemplify the hypocrisy of regressive history. Their embrace of modern techniques and ideas to force the restoration of a medieval tyranny is sophisticated and self-destructive. They seek to deny change, even while they ride it.
The biggest appeal of regressive history is purity. The romanticisation of the past is a universal impulse. Few Europeans really want to damage the mythology of chivalry with an accurate appraisal of what knights were really like. Every romantic image of the past, from King Arthur to the Vikings, is not improved by close scrutiny. But few Europeans also want to return to a feudal society. That is not the case in Islam.
Imagine what Europe would be like if some 90 percent of the population wanted to restore feudalism, theocracy and the ducking stool for women. There's no need to imagine it. It's called the Muslim world. And a rising percentage of the European population consists of Muslims who are implementing Sharia, Burqas and Jihad in its major cities.
But the Muslim Jihad is not irrational, it's arational. Muslims don't believe in reason as a solution to human problems. They believe in no human solution at all, only the abnegation of humanity to Allah through a clerical guardianship. This is their means of creating a perfect society.
Progressive history accepts human imperfection and builds on it. Regressive history rejects it as a force of evil. Instead it holds up a beacon of a golden past, the promise of absolute purity that rejecting and thereby transcends all human flaws. The daily submission of Muslims arises out a contempt for the individual as a moral actor, and replaces him with the collective Ummah, the receptacle for their transcendence under the guidance of the clerics. The Jihad abandons individual morality for collective bloodshed in the name of creating a perfect society through world domination.
The perfect society is impossible, and the pursuit of it is an excuse for never lifting yourself out of the mud. Its disdain for any society that is less than perfect makes reform seem pointless, and its extremism excuses all lesser crimes and abuses. Having no faith in the present or the future, it has no reason to live but the endless struggle to restore a perfect past. This is the pathology of Islam.
Working societies are built on a hope for the future. Islam has no hope for the future. It may use modern tools, but it never values them, let alone the gifts and sciences that brought them into being. Its gaze is hopelessly dingy, rimmed with disgust for anything that is less than perfect. The tools are inferior copies of what the Koran makes possible. The societies are corrupted and decadent. Even religion isn't right. Islam is striving, but always for the past.
Machiavelli is second nature to Muslims, but only as practice, not as understanding. Deceit is constant and the most overly complex plans are drawn up all the time. Everyone is practiced at manipulating everyone else and accordingly there is no real trust outside the family. And little trust even inside it. And all of this only goes to reinforce the essential Islamic message of human worthlessness. None of it is used to usher in reforms, because Islamic polarity views reforms as black and white. Driving out one group and putting the perfect people into power. Leader worship leads to disappointment, uprisings and a new leader to worship. The cycle repeats itself over and over again.
European expectations of Muslim integration were flawed from the start. Muslims may identify with countries, but their pessimistic worldview was never compatible with Western democracy. They lack the faith in humanity that is essential to the republican experiment. And instead became easy prey for itinerant preachers recording venomous sermons promising them a new bloody golden age, awful in its perfection.
Rather than identifying with their new countries, Muslim immigrants instead decided to replace them. To remake them into the same Caliphate mirage under the guardianship of quarreling clerics and greedy uniformed thugs. And no amount of visits to mosques and Ramadan dinners thrown by Western leaders will change that. It only accelerates the process.
The Western fallacy is the failure to understand that there is no meeting point with Islam. That its numbers are large enough and its ambitions serious enough that it cannot be ignored, and that its orientation is so fundamentally different that it cannot be reconciled at any cost. Multiculturalism assumes that harmony can come by paying enough attention and respect to every culture. But tolerance and co-existence, the assumptions that lie at the heart of multiculturalism, are alien to the purity that is at the heart of Islam.
Islam's aim is unity. The absolute collectivism of the Ummah standing over the diminishing number of Dhimmis who have not yet been convinced to take the plunge into the Sharia pool. It views a society that is based on division as corrupt and confused. Multiculturalism is alien to its ideological DNA. It cannot accept the equality of those who are different. The very idea of it is blasphemous.
Pre-Mohammedan Arabia was multicultural and tolerant. Today it is a land of Muslim masters and imported non-Muslim slaves, funding the spread of that same social setup and worldview around the world through violent and non-violent means. And this Islamic feudalism is the closest that Muslims ever get to their perfect society. A setup that only works as long as there's enough loot to divide up among all the powerful families.
This Islamic dead end is not where Europe is headed. If a Eurabia ever comes into being, it will not be half as pleasant as that. Europe is filling up with Muslims, but with Muslims who often have little in common with each other, except their mutual hatred of the Jew and the Christian. Any region that they dominate will look like Lebanon or Iraq in Saddam's day. Either a permanent civil war broken by truces and agreements, or a tightly run dictatorship.
Lebanon is the likelier model for Eurabia, the remnants of a European influenced society devolved into countless factions and treacheries. A country where the government is weak and the factions are strong. Where every structure falls apart and every agreement falls apart into infighting. But even that is optimistic. The people of Lebanon have things in common that the people of Eurabia will not. And it will take a thousand years until European history has been as thoroughly eradicated as the pre-Mohammedan history of the peoples of Islam was.
All this is the inevitable outcome of a clash of histories. The progressive against the regressive.
If the West still believed in progress as a moral imperative, it would have no trouble holding the gates. And understanding why the gates need to be help. But the worldview that made that possible is in decline.
The left rejected commercial progress as capitalist, but continued to embrace technological progress and cultural development. Then it rejected technological progress as destructive, culture as perspective and stated that the highest moral principle was for the West to save the world by destroying itself. And under their leadership that is the way it has been ever since.
While the regressive history of Muslims at least embraces their own past, or that of their Arabian conquerors, the left's regressive history is not national, cultural, religion or even specific. Instead it is primitivism itself that it seeks out. The backward and the barbaric, the poor and the lacking, that is their new compass. Having lost all native religion, they are on a free floating quest for spirituality, in opposition to materialism. The content of that spirituality does not concern them, only the rejection of what little Western culture they have does.
And the sizable number of Muslim immigrants and the Islamic world is more than happy to step into this vacuum created by the willing abandonment of Western civilization. To take another shot at restoring their glory days in gory ways.
Behind the clash of civilizations is this clash of histories. The momentum of colliding declines. The barbarism that undoes civilization, but only once the civilization has undone itself.
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