Saturday, October 19, 2013

The true history of the West

There's a post at American Renaissance worth reading which briefly summarises the challenges faced by the West over the past 1500 years. In the year 1900, it is true, the West dominated the world - a fact which has helped to feed a view of the West as being historically privileged.

However, if you go back further in history you find that the West has had to fight for its survival against powerful aggressors. If you're not already aware of this history, I encourage you to read the American Renaissance piece, as well as my own posts on the Harvest of the Steppe and White Gold.

I have only one criticism of the American Renaissance piece. It ends by explaining the problems facing the West today in terms of the rise of cultural Marxism. As I've explained previously, I'm open to learning more about the influence of the academics associated with cultural Marxism, but my reading to this point doesn't support the idea that they were a key influence. Explaining Western decline in terms of cultural Marxism also has the danger of leaving the politics of right-liberals unexamined.

Let me give some examples. Traditional Australia began to be dismantled from the early 1940s and was certainly in full swing by the late 1960s. The men who did the job in the early 1940s were part of the Labour left. The radicals of the time to their left were not cultural Marxists but your everyday Marxist-Leninist Marxists. The men who finished the job in the late 1960s were Liberal Party businessmen types.

Or look at Australia's contribution to 1960s radicalism. The most famous figures contributed by Australia, such as Richard Neville and Germaine Greer, were part of the Sydney "Push" - a loosely organised libertarian group whose politics were most influenced by a Scottish philosopher called John Anderson.

And if we look at feminism we find that it was alive and kicking by the mid-1800s, a long time before cultural Marxism was supposed to have gained its influence over the left in the 1960s and 70s.

16 comments:

  1. I am already aware of the attacks on Europe that took place historically by Asian and Muslim forces such as the Huns, Mongols, Moors, Ottomans, etc. The racial aspect of this is discussed in the book March of the Titans by Arthur Kemp.

    And yes, there were European slaves in historic Muslim societies.

    The whole "white privilege" thing is a load of tosh. Obviously.

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  2. The phrase Cultural Marxism is sometimes used narrowly to denote the Frankfurt School and its epigones, and sometimes broadly to describe all of the forces of cultural revolution that have been shaking the West since 1789. The same might be said about Marxism, which is sometimes used narrowly to denote the Historical Materialism proposed by Marx, and sometimes used broadly to describe radical left thought generally. Cultural Marxism as presently used among writers on the alt-right may not be precisely defined or historically accurate, but it is a term for which we have no ready substitute.

    In its broad definition, Cultural Marxism denotes the activity of revolutionary intellectuals who have labored (successfully) to undermine the élan of the West with propaganda disguised as scholarship. The aim of this propaganda is to make the men of the West feel ashamed of their history and their institutions. As far as I know, this sort of propaganda first appeared in the Reformation as virulent attacks on the Catholic Church, and by the 18th century had become a more comprehensive denunciation of "religion" and "tyranny." Today's attacks on "white privilege" and the "racism" of whites are just the latest phase of an old, old war.

    Not everything in the history of the West is a cause for pride, of course, but it is important that we recognize two very different types of shame. There is a salutary shame that causes a man to amend his behavior, and a malignant shame that causes a man to commit suicide. If someone chides me for drinking too much at a party, they are trying to elicit salutary shame. If they endlessly tell me that I have been a curse on humanity, they are trying to elicit malignant shame. When a bully drives some young person to suicide, they do it by instilling malignant shame. And that is precisely what Cultural Marxists (broadly defined) have done.

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    1. That's a good distinction between different types of shame. I believe we need to make the same kind of distinction when it comes to pride: there is a pride that makes men overconfident in themselves and too self-oriented, but also a healthy form of pride which flows from a recognition of the good within one's own tradition.

      I agree with you also that the term "cultural Marxism" is being used in a poorly defined way on the alt-right. I wouldn't use it to describe larger trends within modernity, for the reason that Marxism was a specific movement in time with a specific ideology. Furthermore, it is not the philosophy nor the political movement which the Western elites have identified with - that belongs to classical (right) liberalism and social democracy (aka left liberalism).

      As I understand it, William Lind decided it would be better to associate modernity with Marxism because he believed that would cause more revulsion. But, as you point out yourself, modernity goes back in time to before Marx was born. And, even if you decide to limit the term "cultural Marxism" to the twentieth century, the fact is that the intellectuals associated with this school were not always the most radical of the modernists - some actually opposed aspects of developing modernity.

      I believe it's better to use two terms. Political modernism for the larger, all-embracing historical trends, and liberalism for the dominant politics within the Anglo countries.

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  3. "Explaining Western decline in terms of cultural Marxism also has the danger of leaving the politics of right-liberals unexamined."

    The explanation for that is fairly obvious. The liberalism of the Anglo societies provided both the freedom and the weakness for left liberal ideology to enter and take root. In contrast Marxism had to be forced upon the Eastern European societies and Russia which were more traditionalist and conservative societies. Marxism was enforced by the brutal assassination of the Tsar and his family and the ruthless assassinations performed by the Cheka together with a totalitarian police state. This type of violent political enforcement was not possible in the more economically developed Anglosphere West and so Marxists adopted the long term strategy of infiltration of the institutions of society to produce a slow moving revolution. Marxism therefore took advantage of the freedom which the Anglo societies permitted in order to propagate its pernicious ideology. Marxism became the dominant form of liberalism, eclipsing right liberalism, as it was better organised and financed.

    Therein lies the weakness of the Anglo societies. Excessive freedom and individualism lowers the defenses to hostile ideologies. And therefore we can see that the free societies produced by right liberals were unsustainable. They lacked the organisational capacity and resilience to fight alien and hostile ideologies. We see a similar situation with Islam in the West.


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    1. Anon,

      I partly agree with your comment. My point of difference is that I don't think the role of liberalism was just to weaken defences to hostile ideologies (which it did), but that it had a logic of development within itself which would have brought about similar outcomes anyway (perhaps more slowly).

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  4. I'm sorry, but arguing that nothing terribly serious changed because of the Cultural Marxist revolution is like arguing that nothing terribly serious changed when the Bolsheviks conquered Russia. Yes there had been a long history of cultural undermining, with intellectuals playing a dishonorable role. There was even a revolution. But it was the second revolution that mattered.

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    1. Titus, I'm not sure I understand this. Both the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution predate the emergence of the critical theorists of the 1920s. If you mean by the "second revolution" the emergence of a New Left and its rise to dominance in the 1970s and 80s, then you can at most argue that this New Left made it harder to recover ground that had already been lost. In Australia, for instance, it was the right-liberals in the Liberal Party in the late 1960s who finalised the policy shift toward open borders and multiculturalism, though the shift had begun as early as the early 1940s.

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  5. I think cultural Marxism's big achievement was to successfully delegitimise dissent in the West, in a way classical Marxism never managed. So Liberalism and Socialism could cause problems, but these could potentially be corrected, and occasionally were. Cultural Marxism has made reversion or correction illegitimate/impossible, so since its triumph ca 1990 things have become more and more extreme very rapidly.

    A healthy society needs a strong Traditionalist element as well as a Liberal element,the exact balance varying by society. Certainly the overwhelming victory of Liberalism created a severe imbalance. But classical Liberalism allows for dissent, for argument and opposition. Without cultural Marxism it would have been possible to at least make 'unprincipled exceptions' to Liberal principle - eg to limit immigration where immigration was shown to be disastrous. With cultural Marxism, the more disastrous some program is, the more heavily any dissent to that program is punished.

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    1. "so since its triumph ca 1990 things have become more and more extreme very rapidly."

      Agreed that things have really picked up pace since roughly around that time. It could well be for the reason you describe, though Professor Carroll in his book on humanism has a different approach. He believes that "humanists" (by which he means something like modernists or liberal modernists) did not initially try to rule solely along the lines of their own political principles. Instead, there was an attempt to create several fusions, e.g. one with aristocratic principles, another that he calls a bourgeois fusion. What marks the twentieth century is that humanism (liberalism, modernity) increasingly went it alone, so that there were no longer the same constraints on the working through of modernist principles.

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  6. Traditional Australia began to be dismantled from the early 1940s and was certainly in full swing by the late 1960s. The men who did the job in the early 1940s were part of the Labour left. The radicals of the time to their left were not cultural Marxists but your everyday Marxist-Leninist Marxists. The men who finished the job in the late 1960s were Liberal Party businessmen types.

    I lived in Australia from 1965 to 1975, and I don't agree that "traditional Australia" had been dismantled then. The job was not "finished" then -- it was not even started.

    Just to take one obvious indicator, I never saw a single non-white person in Sydney at that time. Not anywhere, ever. All my school mates and everyone I saw on the street was as white as they come. I remember being taught that Australians were an Anglo-Irish people descended from Anglo-Irish stock. We didn't even hear any of that "aboriginal genocide" crap, and if you can believe it, some of my schoolteachers openly mocked "the Abos".

    So as far as I'm concerned, things were fine when I left, and this idea that the "Marxists" in the 1940s destroyed traditional Australia is totally unconvincing.

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    1. Feh, the timeline goes as follows:

      1943 Australian cabinet decides Anglo-Australia is to go, to be replaced by a multi-ethnic Euro nation
      1950 Colombo plan - scheme to bring Asian students to Australia
      1957 - non-Europeans with 15 years residence become Australian citizens
      1958 - Abolition of the dictation test - "highly distinguished and qualified" non-Europeans allowed to immigrate
      1964 - further relaxation of entry for non-Europeans
      1966 - Holt Liberal Government abolishes White Australia Policy
      1971 - Liberal PM John Gorton "I think if we build up gradually inside Australia a proportion of people without white skins, then as that is gradually done, there will be a complete lack of consciousness of differences between the races. And if this can be done as I think it can, then that may provide the world with the first truly multi-racial society with no tension of any kind possible between any of the races within it. At any rate, this is our ideal."

      Also, I do not believe that the Marxists in the 1940s destroyed traditional Australia. I was pointing out that Marxists reached a peak of influence in Australia in the 1940s, but these were not "cultural" Marxists but just the normal ones. I don't believe that Marxists ever reached anything other than third place in their influence on Australian politics.

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    2. So it sounds as if by the '60s they had determined a plan to destroy the original Australian nation, but the results were not yet visible. This looks similar to the US experience, with the 1964 immigration act, but large scale population replacement not really visible until the 1990s.

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    3. Simon, that's right. I understand why Feh made the point he did, because if you had lived in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the 1970s - or even the 1980s - you would have said the same thing (less so in the western suburbs).

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  7. "My point of difference is that I don't think the role of liberalism was just to weaken defences to hostile ideologies (which it did), but that it had a logic of development within itself which would have brought about similar outcomes anyway (perhaps more slowly)."

    I don't think that Right liberalism alone would have brought about similar outcomes as it did not have the power to do this. It did not have the totalitarian dissent crushing force to destroy opposition. It was more benign and less malevolent and could respond to public opinion. It sought to govern by consent rather than by deception and force. It also lacked the organisational capability to infiltrate the institutions. Right liberalism would have been restrained by public opinion and opposition.

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    1. Anon, that's possibly true as long as it is emphasised that we're talking about right liberalism *alone*. In Australia, it was a right liberal party which was responsible for each ramping up of non-European immigration, so it cannot be seen as a benign or neutral kind of party. However, it's possible that it was the work of leftists in the institutions which made it difficult to resist what the right-liberal party was doing in power.

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  8. I think there was some miscegenation between Middle Eastern Muslim Arabs (who are Caucasoid) with some European slaves (who are Caucasoid too) long ago. I can't confirm this though and it's only a thought.

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