Saturday, September 02, 2006

An American Civilization

One of my favorite contemporary writers is Bill Whittle. He has a web site called EjectEjectEject. He is writing a book called "An American Civilization". He has posted the introduction and the first chapter on his web site. It is worthwhile taking a few minutes and reading it.

Excerpts:
Humans are animals. I do not mean that in a negative way. But that is what we are: creatures capable of great good and great harm, susceptible to animal fears and passions, lower than angels but not without grace. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – a man who has seen a fair amount of both good and evil – wrote of that fault line, “that line separating good and evil, passing not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties, but right through every human heart."

As animals, we are wired to live in a state of nature. In the long marathon of our history, our civilizations are only the last two or three halting steps. It took millions of years to build the human animal. It will likely take that long again to design out all of the passions and furies that brought us here.

Until then, we live with a choice: to live in a state of nature, or a state of law. The state of nature is the default condition that the huge majority of human lives has lived under, and continue to live under to this very day – lives solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short in Hobbes’ memorable phrase. Or, we can choose to impose upon our internal fault line a series of laws and customs, a Civilization, that imperfectly attempts to keep as many of us as possible on the side of the angels.
And...
The forces of ignorance and barbarism – bearers of ruin and despair wherever they make camp – are growing in confidence. But beside their will to destroy and die they have nothing. These Death Cult barbarians think this is all they will need – that, and an initial alliance with the forces they most despise. I still hold out hope that they will crack open a second book – a history book, say – that might at the eleventh hour give them some insight into the avocado nature of the Civilization they seem determined now to assault: soft and pulpy on the outside, impenetrably tough and hard within. They are going to do more than chip a tooth on us, these raving, bloodthirsty lunatics: they are about to make, I think, the same mistake that others have made before them – to see the Cindy Sheehans and Michael Moores as representative of a corrupt and dying culture, rather than what they really are: somewhat entertaining animal acts we Westerners use to pass the time while waiting for the next opportunity to pull the gloves off, and kick some new inhuman, barbaric horde onto the ash heap of history, where reside Aristocracy, Slavery, Fascism and Communism, holding in common only the mark of our boots on their asses.
And...
There may in fact be some genetic component to intelligence, but if there is, I believe it pales compared to the effect of culture – and by that, mostly I mean the luck of the draw regarding your parents. In fact, I’ll bet my life on the fact that I can make astronauts and engineers out of any healthy babies of any color. I know I could make murderers and rapists out of anyone, and that this is far easier to do than the former.

So when we talk about the entire idea of civilization, a simple glance at history shows we are not talking about race at all. At various times in history the leading civilization has been black, yellow, brown, or white, and the barbarians lined up to tear down those civilizations have been of every color as well. So to make claim that saying one culture is civilized while another is not is somehow racist is patently ridiculous on its face. Anyone who claims otherwise is trying to shut down the argument because they know they cannot win it on facts and logic – which to some of these people are also racist. But facts and logic don’t give a damn what they think…facts and logic exist whether they like it or not. So do I, and I don’t give a damn what such people say, either. This intimidation tactic has silenced benign, well-meaning people for too long. How would a real Nazi respond to being called a racist? Hitler, dude, you’re like a total racist! That’s a compliment to goose-stepping sons of bitches. That’s a badge of pride for them. Only decent people are deterred by such rhetoric…and that is the entire objective. It works. But not here. Not anymore.

It’s not the hardware, it’s the software. It’s not race, it’s culture.

That’s what I believe.

There is a full-court effort to tear down civilization these days, to make ridiculous even the very idea of civilization, and that is a fight worth rising to. Because the unseen rhizomes of civilization – the impenetrably vast and intricate connections that exist out of our view, beneath the surface of our blinkered daily existence – produce so much that is good and necessary and completely taken for granted that to lose it would be to lose what makes us fully human.

And I don’t want that to happen. Do you?

Bill has so much of importance to say. You will be doing yourself a favor if you go to his website and read his thoughts.



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posted by Gary Aminoff at 8:36 PM

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