Sunday, December 18, 2005

The West in the 21st Century

Samuel P. Huntington's now almost legendary essay about The Clash of Civilizations has generated a lot of discussion, and some justified criticism. Some would claim that there is no clash of civilizations, just a clash between a global, universal civilization and Islamic neo-barbarism. But Huntington does have some points. The West is still the leading civilization on the planet, but it is in decline. Both because we constitute an ever-shrinking part of global demography, and because we have lost confidence in our own culture. The beginning of the 21st century could perhaps be labelled "the retreat of the Western order", as the Islamic world is challenging us ideologically and China in particular is challenging us economically.

There are many possible scenarios for the first half of the 21st century.

1. Another Atlantic/Western century

The intra-Western, Atlantic ties between Europe and North America will still be the most important and defining global axis. Although not impossible, this is probably not the most likely alternative at this point, given the economic and cultural weakness of Europe in particular.

2. Another American century

The USA, more than Europe and Asia, will continue to be the world's unchallenged superpower. The 21st century will be a continuation of the American Age that started in the 20th century.

3. The Asian/Chinese century

The world will return to the Asia-centric world we had before the rise of Europe and the West. Will this be a world dominated by China, or by Asia as a whole, including India? Will the rise of Asian economies trigger nationalistic rivalries and devastating intra-Asian wars such as WW1 in Europe, or will they cooperate peacefully?

4. The Pacific century

The USA may remain the world's leading power, but Europe fades off the global scene and leaves her spot open for Asia. Global affairs will be shaped by the twin pillars of the USA and East Asia, mainly China.

5. The Anglosphere - Indian century

I believe this is what has been predicted by Mark Steyn, among others. The USA and the UK, the major powers of the previous 3 centuries, will be at the centre of this one, too. But they will share the spot with India and maybe some other countries such as Japan, "honorary members" of the Anglosphere. This alliance will try to contain China, and will have hostile relations with the Islamic world.

6. The Islamic century - Neo-Barbarism and Chaos, the new Dark Ages

Islam manages to derail the West, both Europe and later North America. This disrupts global trade, and the ripples create chaos in other parts of the world, including East Asia. India will be drawn directly into the conflict with Islam, as will Russia and Israel.

In most of the above scenarios, I take it for granted that the USA will remain a major global player, and find it likely that Asia will increase its share of global BNP (although not necessarily to the point of dominance). The big question mark here is Europe. Will Europe become Eurabia, and be crushed by the other infidel powers? Will she slowly decline into third world status, or will she have the strength to expel Islam and forge a new beginning for herself, after generations of decline?

The West needs to reinvent itself, but it should also form a strategic alliance with India. Bush has already adopted a policy designed to draw India closer to the United States in a strategic alliance. This is a good move. Bush has arranged for India to receive some of the very high tech weapons that America's allows only its closest allies to have. Both the U.S. and India were British colonies and have that British influence in common. This helps Americans and Indians communicate even though their religion and cultures are very different. Given that Islam is an enemy to both India and the United States, the combination is a natural one.

It is also my firm conviction that we need to get rid of both the European Union and the United Nations. At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama pronounced that we had arrived at "The End of History", and that capitalism and liberal democracy would now be the only global system left. But when I look at Europe today, I see democracies under threat because of an elaborate Eurabian bureaucracy and Islamic fanaticism. I see countries unwilling or unable to defend themselves against massive immigration/colonization, and the possible dawn of neo-barbarism. Has democracy become too soft to function? Have we arrived at "the End of Democracy" instead of "the End of History?" What does it take for a democracy to work? Can you still retain a democracy with massive illegal immigration going on? Is Multiculturalism inherently anti-democratic? Some people claim that the nation state is a redundant concept in a globalized world, but I can't see many democratic societies not based on a nation state. Can you? To me, the EU is the perfect example of how democracy becomes weakened when you try to make an organization above the nation state. And the UN is unacceptable because it allows dictatorships and corrupt non-democratic states to dictate democratic ones. Until we have something better, if ever, the nation state is the best way ever discovered of organizing society to provide the greatest good to the greatest number of people. The problem I think is that people get confused between democracy and human rights. Obviously you can't have pure democracy -- that is just mob rule. As some wag once wrote, "Two wolves voting to eat the sheep." That's why the famous concept of "checks and balances" were built into the US system of government -- to give some protection to the sheep. The framers of the US constitution thought long and hard about pure democracy and recognized its limitations.

The US system, with its separation of executive and legislative powers, isn't nearly as "democratic" as the European parliamentary system. Small parties have no influence there -- that's why special interest groups like feminists are often represented by lobbying organizations like NOW here rather than actual political parties as in Europe. But such a set-up mitigates against extremism -- in a Parliamentary system some extremist small party can exert influence beyond its numbers due to providing the swing vote in coalitions. Within the US system, there is a wide spectrum of political beliefs across the two parties. The Democrats have a liberal, centrist, and rightiest wing. Ditto the Republicans (although the liberal Republicans are a dying breed.) Under our system, Republicans are allowed to vote for Democratic proposals and Democrats are allowed to vote for Republican proposals. And representatives do frequently "cross party lines" to vote on issues that matter to their constituents. There is no such thing as "required vote" where you have to vote the way your party votes or else leave the party. Every vote on every issue to come up in the Congress is a "free vote." I think this is superior because it is voting on issues on an individual basis, not on a "group" basis. Of course the party in power does apply pressure, arm-twisting, etc. to get their members to vote "the Republican agenda" etc., but there is no legal requirement for them to vote so.

Ohmyrus: Bring back that Old Time Religion

Democracy is also a secular ideology and its proponents can be as intolerant as any religious fanatic. Other forms of government are viewed as illegitimate and ought to be converted into democracies. Many democrats cannot tolerate any kind of dictatorship – not the fascist kind nor the communist kind or the Islamist kind like what you see in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Islamists think that the only legitimate form of government is an Islamic state and therefore oppose Bush's plans with suicide bombers. Thus two intolerant ideologies, one secular and the other religious are fighting it out in the sands of Iraq. However, I believe that democracy is not the end of history. Francis Fukuyama is wrong. Democracy will one day be replaced by something else. Perhaps, in a thousand years' time, people will view democrats of our present era as being intolerant of other forms of governments like people of our era view medieval Christians as intolerant of other religions.

Hugh Fitzgerald: Stop taking the UN seriously

Only a fool nowadays would use a phrase such as "international community," which attempts to treat Syria and Iceland as the same kind of members, or Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia, as similarly situated and behaving. What nonsense. There is no "international community." There is no "community" which contains Iceland and Libya, Italy and Saudi Arabia, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some of these are our enemies; they wish us ill, they do not wish us well. Infidels and Believers cannot -- according to Islam itself, according to everything about Islam -- form a community. There is only the umma al-islamiyya, the Community of Believers. All others must be kept at bay, inveigled, fooled, undermined, ultimately conquered, and conclusively subjugated. No other possible outcome, according to what is contained in Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, is possible. The phrase "international community" is telling. Those who use it are telling us something about themselves. And what they are telling us isn't flattering.

There are no "united" nations. There is an organization that has been undermined from within. It is now an obstacle to the wellbeing of all those who wish to see clearly what is at stake in the worldwide Jihad, and to preserve themselves, in Europe, in America, in Russia, and in the Middle East, from the imposition of a belief-system -- through being overrun, slowly but surely, by adherents of that belief-system -- that has left every place it has conquered intellectually impoverished, and in every other way as well. Taking the U.N. seriously is by now as absurd as, in September 1939, going to the League of Nations (or as those incurable salon-habitués, the French, liked to call it, la Société des Nations, the "society or community of nations"), to ask it to please, please, please deal with Mr. Hitler -- he is behaving so badly.

Should the EU be Dismantled?

Should the entire European Union simply be dismantled? I've started to wonder whether the whole thing, just like Islam, coincidentally, is simply beyond reform and a threat to democracy. Critics claim that the Council of Ministers, the EU’s supreme law-making body, which decides two thirds of all Britain’s laws, is the only legislature outside the Communist dictatorships of North Korea and Cuba to pass laws in secret.


At December 18, 2005 11:56 PM, Blogger erp said...

"Should the EU be Dismantled?"

Europe is irrelevant.

At December 19, 2005 12:01 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"Europe is irrelevant." Then why are you reading my blog? And how come the majority of my readers on any given day are usually Americans? Why is that, if you think we are irrelevant?

Try coming back to an Islamic Eurabia with hundreds of nukes aimed at your major cities, and you'll find out just how irrelevant we are.

At December 19, 2005 1:10 AM, Blogger Steppenwolf said...

If anything your perspective is quite short sighted. You must remember that the Islamic world dominates the supply of Oil. Hence their power will increase, at least initially until some sort of viable alternative is found.

At that point the world will drop whatever tolerance it had in the middle East and the shit will hit the fan.

By this time Paki nukes will already be in the hands of islamists who want to create trouble in the sane world. While not powerful enough to destroy cities, they will still have the ability to create terror through their use, or potential use.

The US, if still a power will have to contain this along with Israel, India, China and Russia. Europe's position will depend on its demography. At the rate the muslims are increasing, its quite possible that muslim leaders will be at the helm in at least some countries. Hence Europe will have to remain neutral, neither siding with the US and the allies, nor with the Islamic world. They may still weild some political clout. (Look how France reacted with Iraq)

I therefore think there will be pockets of power, rather than 1 or 2 main hegemonies. Those pockets being the US (miliary, economic), China (economic), India (military, economic), Russia (military), Europe(economic, political) and Israel(politic, geographic).

I don't believe China really needs to be "contained", since it is in their interest to have a have a rich US and Europe. Theirs is a manufacturing economy after all, and they have to sell their goods to someone.

Either way, some good reading, and I'm curious to see how to works out!

At December 19, 2005 3:19 PM, Blogger erp said...

Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Soviet (and possibly Chinese, North Korean and other) nukes, have been aimed at our cities for the past five or six decades.

They haven't been deployed because deploying them would have gained nothing but massive retaliation. Should Islamic Europe, Asia, or Africa gather up the wherewithal to emulate the follies of the past, they can anticipate the identical immediate response, and to answer your question, I read your blog as well as many others to learn bits of information that you have found and posted from round the world.

You write: "Democracy is also a secular ideology and its proponents can be as intolerant as any religious fanatic. Other forms of government are viewed as illegitimate and ought to be converted into democracies."

If the two sentences above are directed at the U.S., you couldn't be more wrong. We aren't intolerant of other forms of government, we're intolerant of those who attack us and kill our citizens. Since we can't put a bubble around our country and we'd rather not wait until the aggressors bring the fight to our cities, we'll do what Bush has done, take the fight to them and in order to protect ourselves from future attacks, we'll effect regime changes that will ensure the safety of our children and collatarally, the safety of all the children around the world.

Time will tell whether you're right that at some future time, a better system of government than ours will be found, but until then I'll give the last word to my fellow Anglospherian, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." Winston Churchill

Here's a final clue. No matter how much history and philosophy you study or how many workshops you organize, you don't seem to be able to accept this simple truth. We really, really don't care what you think of us, cross my heart and hope to die!


Wouldn't it be ironic if China, one of the most closed and secretive societies the world has ever seen, is just on the brink of opening up and joining the free world, while Europe, the seat of western civilization, is closing down and sinking into a new dark age led by know-nothing elites in cahoots with seventh century avatars, but hey, as long as you don't bother us, you're welcome to it.

Thank you for providing the opportunity to visit here and much good luck to you in the future.

At December 19, 2005 9:42 PM, Blogger Winnows said...

Hello, I just wanted to say Thank you so much for your integrity, honesty and writing.

I have visited over the past months but not posted.

I appreciate all the effort you put into this endeavor.

Thanks for being a bright light.

At December 19, 2005 11:56 PM, Blogger Snouck said...

To Erp,

maybe YOU do not care about what others think of you, but generally US policy and public opinion is strongly influenced by the desire to look good in the eyes of yourself and of others. This is why the US goes to war under the pretext of spreading Democracy. And this is sheer folly. The world and the US would BOTH be better of if the US had not bothered with the Thirld World and left Iraq and Afghanistan alone.

Getting even with Al-Queda? Of course you should. Kill those bastards wherever you find them. Kill their brothers and cousins too. That is what they understand.

But do not occupy foreign societies. It only leads to hardbreak. This is good advice, but will not be followed because the urge to look moral is just too strong for Westerners.

At December 19, 2005 11:59 PM, Blogger Snouck said...

The reason those other nukes were not used by the likes of north korea, Soviet Union and China was that all these political systems are also targets for nukes. So they can be deterred. Al-Queda is non-territorial so it is no target. They play by different rules. The old game is up. The new rules have to be learned the hard way by us.

At December 20, 2005 2:22 AM, Blogger justmom said...

Oriana Fallaci once said "the general attitude of resignation. . .Resignation generates apathy. Apathy generates inertia. Inertia generates indifference and, besides impeding moral judgment, indifference suffocates the of self-defense; that is, the instinct to fight back. "

I cannot allow myself to get to the point erp is at . . .indifference.

Erp - the US checkmate against the Soviet nukes was due to similar values on life/death/martyrdom.

The folly of "Europe is irrelevant" is exactly as Fjordman outlined . . .
an Islamic Eurabia would have no hesitation to aim AND USE any of the hundreds of nukes against the US - regardless of potential devastating retaliation. The Islamic value system is the antithesis of ours. Islam as a nation is borderless and a nuclear checkmate appears to be impossible.

However, Hugh Fitzgerald offers historical concepts that worked once before . . .may yet work again.
Hugh often refers to the Benes Decree of 1946. "And ask yourself if Benes and Masaryk, and Jaroslav Seifert, and General Ludvik Svoboda, and Aleksandr Dubcek, and Vaclav Havel, and Pavel Kohut, some of whom instituted, and all of whom approved of the removal of the ethnic Germans of the Sudetenland, as a permanent security threat, from within Czechoslovakia, are the people who deserve our criticism, or is it not, rather, those German revanchistes who demand back the Sudetenland, or at least deplore the expulsion of the Sudeten volksdeutsche."

Islam is a permanent security threat. Remove it from our shores, ban Islam - just as Germany banned Scientology. Exchange populations - offer safe harbor to the 'infidels' living in Islamic lands in exchange for the Islamic population being deported from US and European land.

The nuclear capablities of Islamic countries will need to be addressed anyway. Since these Islamic countries do not seem to be independantly developing or maintaining the technology . . .I pray we manage to bring all sources together to eventually neutralize them.

At December 20, 2005 4:02 PM, Blogger CR said...

Fjordman, Very Good Post and intelligent analysis.

I dont agree on China being just an economical power because they are holders of nukes and have interests in destabilizing adjacent countries, like in Malaysia, Thailand, Tibet(now China), Nepal and India. They're support of Pakistan and Bangladesh as trade partners and their favour of Pakistan in arms trade is being debated( in Indian circles.

China apart, I agree on your views on Islam and the fear of Europe becoming Eurabia. That will change a lot of things and is a reason for fear. Democracy has turned soft because of the vested interests of global powers in oil and their relationship with the Islamic States. Further this tendancy of UN and governments to bend over backwards to appease Islamic communities even though everyone accepts the threat from them is sad.

Governments or the media must hold in check what is said from every religious pulpit and must watch to separate state from religion. Unless this is ensured we are sure to face more threats from Islam and other religious radicals

At December 20, 2005 5:06 PM, Blogger Snouck said...

Governments everywhere are becoming useless. They do not deliver the goods like they use to do. If we count on the government to save us from Islam we will be betrayed.

Read: the rise and fall of the state by Martin van Creveld and The Tranformation of War. He also says a lot of good stuff about the questionable loyalty of immigrants and the impact on warmaking.


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