Lovin' and Lyin' in the Dumb-as-a-Post Modern World (9.20.08)
In this sense, the ancients were correct in being suspicious of time. At any given point in history, looked at in a certain way, things always look bleak and seem to be getting bleaker. Therefore, why not stop the whole colliderescape and get off?
If one were to look at the way things stood in the world over the 500 years or so up to 1700, one “would not have been optimistic about the future of mankind." As historian Robert McFarlane notes in his The Riddle of the Modern World, nearly every civilization had reached some sort of "invisible barrier” that prevented further development. "The world and its roughly 500 million inhabitants seemed to have reached the limit to its potential to support human life.... Mankind seemed to be caught on a treadmill."
How did we ever get off that treadmill? It's an important question, because it is at the heart of our current conflict with Islam. They are still on that treadmill, and when one isn't progressing, one generally degenerates. Life is not static. Reduced to stasis, it becomes death. There is no middle ground. You cannot be "a little bit" alive or dead. Any evolving system must maintain disequilibrium by exchanging matter or information with the environment. The deepest problem with the Islamic world is that it is a closed system, both individually and collectively.
Prior to West's discovery of the dynamics of material and intellectual growth, life consisted of unrelenting deprivation for all but a very few. In order to accomplish our breakthrough, “almost all the trends of the last 2000 years had to be reversed. ” Among other things, the monopolization of knowledge had to end, so that knowledge and technology could be shared through widespread education and literacy. Furthermore, this couldn't be just any kind of education. Rather, it had to be a rational education in which one freely discovers universal truths that are not context-bound.
There is a divide between people that is mirrored in the gulf between left and right. There are those who say that what the world really needs is more love, more peace, more mutual understanding, more cuddly blah blah.
Nonsense. Nearly every serious problem in the world may be reduced to an absence of Truth. The pursuit of love and peace is perfectly admirable on a micro level in one's personal life. This is the meaning of “love your enemies," “turn the other cheek," "the meek shall inherit the earth," and all that other mushy stuff.
But the Bible is not a suicide pact. On a macro level, the most important societal value by far is Truth. And not just any kind of Truth, but the Truth of truth and a method for discovering it. It has been said that it wasn't this or that particular invention that distinguished the west. Rather, it was the invention of invention, the discovery of a method of discovery.
In the Islamic world, truth is received, not discovered. And most of what they receive is not only untrue, but cannot possibly be true. But because they have no tradition or means of independent verification, they are immersed in darkness and falsehood, drowning in lies the same way a body eventually consumes itself if deprived of food.
The other day, an acquaintance mentioned the left wing barking point one often hears, that if only the Israelis had settled someplace other than Israel, there would be no problems in the Middle East. Nonsense. Muslims do not object to Israel merely because it exists, but because they believe outrageous lies about Israel. Likewise, for all those leftists who say that America is hated, that may be so, but it is hated because the haters believe things about us that are outrageously untrue, just as the left hates President Bush because they believe lies about him.
By being sensitive to Muslim feelings for decades, we have essentially honored their insane lies. In the spirit of a deeply illiberal multiculturalism, we have allowed these lies to take their place alongside the truth as a coequal partner. Light shall no longer shine in the dark, but shall dialogue with it, imam to man. The Pope let slip a banal truth about the sordid history of Islam, and look what happened. The entitled liars bristled in defense of their primordial lie, a lie which has been further enshrined by that half of the postmodern world that regards truth as relative and arbitrary. In so doing, they have simply allowed these tyrannical hordes to elevate their truth (which is a lie) to an absolute.
For, although they are the benefecesaries of liberal academics who teach the false absolute that truth doesn't exist, they don't believe that for a second. Rather, they simply use the means of leftist relativism to advance their own absolute end of religious totalitarianism. For when truth is denied, raw power fills the vacuum, destroying love and everything else in its wake.