One of the biggest mysteries that plagues the world of neoconservatism is the question of why the end of history – that final triumph of liberal democracy and consumer capitalism – hasn’t occurred yet. All around the world in many different cultures and nations there is a strenuous reaction against these very things. Indeed, even in the western core – Western Europe and the Anglosphere – there is increasing skepticism about these tenets of the Enlightenment.
The question which the neoconservatives ask is, “Why do they hate us?” This question increasingly applies to pretty much everybody all over the world, but most especially to the Muslim world. Instead of seeing Fukuyama’s end of history, we’re seeing Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilisations. It seems to many of the neocons that the Muslim world is simply being obstinately ungrateful in refusing to recognize the blessings of democracy, secularism, and hedonism being imposed upon them by the force of Western military might.
Now, far be it from me to defend Islam itself or to defend the terroristic tactics which Muslims use. Certainly, I find Islam to be a false religion and Muslims to be primitive barbarians for the most part. However, my attitude toward them tends to be one of desiring to neither invade them nor invite them. I’m perfectly happy to let them do what they want in their own lands and to run their own countries as they see fit, so long as their barbarism is not imported into our Western countries.As a result, I can’t agree with the neoconservative efforts to impose Western values on the Muslim world. We should observe that these values have to be imposed because Muslims don’t seem to be very disposed to adopt them volitionally.
Honestly, I can’t say that I blame them. Perhaps the reason why Islam seems so ungrateful toward these neocon efforts is because what the neocons are trying to impose on them isn’t really worth receiving. Indeed, the aspects of Western civilization which the neoconservatives are trying to force on to the rest of the world – democracy, secularism, crass materialism, hedonism – are really a bag of garbage tied shut with a golden bow.
Let’s face it – the neocon effort to westernise other cultures is a mess. What is being exported around the world includes the worst aspects of Western, and especially American, culture. Concomitant with universalistic, lowest common denominator democracy is a trashy, lowest common denominator type of culture. The neocons thought they could turn Pakistan into Sixpackistan through a combination of bombs and Baywatch, yet it just isn’t working.
Traditional and historic Western civilisation is wonderful, robust, and eminently worthy. Unfortunately, that’s not the West that is being exported. Instead, we see “modern” Western civilisation, a godless, materialistic, consumer-driven monstrosity, an atomised, anti-natural morass of propositions and ideology replacing natural, organic community. Frankly, if our own ancestors from 300, 400, 500 years ago could see what their civilisation had become, they’d hate us too.
The underlying assumption of the “superiority” of modernism lies in the belief that all the things that we can tangibly “feel” as superior about the West – the science, technology, modern medicine, etc. – are inextricably tied to the liberal and secular values of the so-called Enlightenment. Together, these intertwined avatars of goodness and light contribute to the mythohistorical entity called “progress.” The myth of progress and modernity is a philosophical worldview built around several unexamined and downright incorrect assumption which clash with truth and reality, such as the goodness and perfectibility of man and the tying together of material improvements with liberal philosophical enlightenment.
Yet, none of these assumptions really hold true in the light of historical and logical inquiry. Liberal democracy and secular materialism are increasingly being exposed as failures. Modern “enlightened” Western society is proving incapable of finding the will or courage to defend itself from the Islamic barbarians which the neocons think to mold in our own image. Even in the West, an increasing number of people are seeing the failures of liberal democracy and the whole network of assumptions built around it that arose from the “Enlightenment.” This being the case, it should be no surprise that the efforts to bomb people into constitutionalism and democracy aren’t working.
Culture is enduring. Cultures may evolve and change over time, but this usually originates from within the culture as its own forces and mechanisms operate to evolve naturally. Cultural change imposed from outside almost never works. Forcing yourself onto traditional Islamic culture and presuming to force them to send their women to school to be doctors or to force them to give everyone freedom of speech or religion is nothing but a fool’s errand.
Hence, it’s no surprise that the Muslim world (or Russia, or China, or…) isn’t buying what the West’s false prophets of modernism are selling. The culture we’re trying to influence them toward is a perversion, both intrinsically (because of its hedonism and fantastical materialist premises) and historically. The Enlightenment was an error that dragged the West away from a reasonable and balanced outlook on society, science, religion, morals, and community and set us on the path toward a dehumanising and isolated form of modernism that essentially destroyed the underpinnings of our society, the things that made the West authentically the West. It is this inauthentic and artificial type of society – the destroyer of community and social bonds and traditions and authentic life – that our neoconservatives and other globalists are trying to spread. It is no wonder that the Muslims and others the world over are rejecting it. Were I in their shoes, I would do the same.