December 22, 2003

NOT GEOGRAPHICAL:

Year in review (David Warren, December 21, 2003, SUNDAY SPECTATOR)

The obvious "big event" of 2003 -- the events leading to and through the invasion of Iraq, capped with the capture of Saddam -- was probably not the most consequential. And the image of the year -- the fall of the dictator's statue in Baghdad -- is unlikely to have pointed the moral. My own extremely fallible intuition is that, if anything, this war and this image concealed the main event.

To my mind, the real story was in the opposition to this war, and how it persisted and developed in Europe and North America even after Iraq had been liberated from its tyrant. That will be the "developing story" in 2004 and years to come -- how the West has turned against its own ideals, and grows increasingly ashamed, even of its own most obvious accomplishments.

For all we know, what we witnessed in 2003 was not the defeat of an Arab tyrant, but the last prop snapping in the edifice of the West.


There is a somewhat different take on this, which, though not clairvoyant ourselves, seems more plausible: in large part as a function of globalization--or the End of History or whatever you want to call the universalization of the liberal democratic capitalist protestant state--this may be the moment at which we recognized most clearly that the West is not a geographic location but a set of ideas. In keeping with that realization, we can see that parts of the old West (France, Germany, Canada) have fallen prey to the internal weaknesses of democracy (egalitarianism, statism, and enervation) and merely await euthanasia, while a variety of nations--India, Turkey, Taiwan, the Philippines, Morocco, Uganda, Colombia, etc.--are moving on one or all levels towards the kinds of reforms that will make them truly "Western". The edifice is certainly changing, with portions having been condemned and new wings being added on, but it's really just a long overdue renovation project.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2003 8:42 AM
Comments

You are almost as utopian as Warren is dystopian.
I think the big question of the 21st century will be the (relative) failure of democratic capitalism.
In Argetina,it's meant poverty rate rocketing to 60+ per cent and the end of the middle class.

The Russian attempt collapsed and they're only now coming round under the authoritarian Putin regime.

Japan has been in a dpression for 13 yrs.

What you and others call the "West" is in fact anglo-saxon culture and it's political economic and social arraingments that have evolved for about 1,000 yrs, and which have a spotty record at best outside anglo-saxon countries.This may change,India is rising,but could as easily fall backward too,under the influence of tribalism and Hindu fundamentalism,it's a deeply fragemnted country.
The democratic movement in China is nowhere near as big as some claim,on the contrary most Chinese value stability as much as the CCP does,and China is far more unstable that many want to admit.

As for D/C in the arab world,I fear it will only come,if ever,after an enormous internal strife to settle the issue,and only they can settle the issue.We have actual little influence beyond military.

D/C,like marxism must be adapted to local cultures and systems,and like marxism,rarely translates well.

As for CAnada and Old Europe they'll come around one way or another.Much of Canada could be absorbed by the US and old Erope is no stranger to political change through violence.

The 2nd big question of the 21st centuery will be the problems if the US,which is another issue,but related

Posted by: M. at December 22, 2003 11:15 AM

M:

You're overly focussed on the failed states of Europe. The West has passed them by. They're toast.

Posted by: OJ at December 22, 2003 12:13 PM

No,I merely acknowledge that Europe in it's deaththroes could cause considerable damamge to more than Europe.In my previous post I actually mentioned several countries that only public school geography would place in Europe,and some of their not inconsiderable problems.

Posted by: M. at December 22, 2003 12:51 PM

M:

Yes, the Atlanticists always insist we have to save Europe from itself, giving us the utter waste of WWI, WWII, and the Cold War.

Posted by: OJ at December 22, 2003 1:34 PM

OJ,I would say it's actully you focusing on Europe,I never said we should save it,and yet again,I pointed out several distinctly non-european nations and their own problems,which you have twice ignored to focus on Europe.That's revealing.

As for saving Europe,we've never had that intention,WW1 and WW2 were fought for striclty national self-interest,even if misdefined.

Posted by: M. at December 22, 2003 1:58 PM

M:

What previously Western nations have you mentioned besides Canada and Europe?

Posted by: OJ at December 22, 2003 2:49 PM

"India is rising,but could as easily fall backward too,under the influence of tribalism and Hindu fundamentalism,it's a deeply fragemnted country.
The democratic movement in China is nowhere near as big as some claim,on the contrary most Chinese value stability as much as the CCP does,and China is far more unstable that many want to admit."

"You're overly focussed on the failed states of Europe. The West has passed them by. They're toast."

" I pointed out several distinctly non-european nations and their own problems"

"What previously Western nations have you mentioned besides Canada and Europe?"


"What previously Western nations have you mentioned besides Canada and Europe?"

To this I would say "none".I have mentioned China,India,Argentina,Japan and the arab middle east.I could add Brazil and Indonesia to the list of nations with problems,if you like.My orginal point,not clearly made and since lost,was the contrast between your utopianism and Warren's dystopianism.The fact is none of us really know what the future will be like.I'm actually about between the 2 of you(leaning toward Warren,but I'm a born pessimist)I think the future will not resemble your dream or his nightmare.We will take some steps forward and some back,we'll gain some things at the expense of others.You have clearly decided that what you think we'll gain is more than worth what we lose.
I have my doubts.


Posted by: M. at December 22, 2003 3:37 PM

Well, heck, it took 500 to a thousand years for Europe to become Western--expect India and China to take more than a couple.

Posted by: oj at December 22, 2003 4:09 PM

(X??gntina, Russia, and Japan are hardly good examples of democratic capitalism. Argentina was and is riddled with government corruption and bloat. Russia never had a good de-Communization, and got a hash of looted state enterprises and out-of-control organized crime. Japan's mercantilism and crony capitalism finally caught up with them.

Obviously, no capitalist country on Earth is pure, but the failures in all those examples were due to ignoring, not following, the principles of democratic capitalism.

Posted by: PapayaSF at December 22, 2003 4:46 PM

PapayaSF,my point is that to the average Argetinian,that *was* democratic capitalism!
Ditto for Russians.


"Well, heck, it took 500 to a thousand years for Europe to become Western--expect India and China to take more than a couple."

I do,I do!That was also one of my original points that democracy has thrived by and large only where it was organic(England) or part of a cultural heritage(US,Canada,Aus,NZ)

I would also add that for most of it's history,India was a 1 party socialist state(Congress Party) similiar to Mexico(PRI Party).I'm very happy to see India progress,but I'll be more optomistic after it goes over the "hump"(some major crisis)with democracy intact.

Posted by: M. at December 22, 2003 5:37 PM

Orrin:

You do give a whole new meaning to "long term".

Why are you so sure the situation in Europe is irreversible? Why can't new generations throw off the postwar traditions? If Reagan/Bush turner the US around, why can't that occur elsewhere? Surely it is a bit of a stretch to paint Poland as a beacon of liberty while consigning Germany and France to terminal collapse.

Posted by: Peter B at December 23, 2003 5:54 AM

Peter:

We're conservatives--a couple centuries is the short term.

As for Europe, where is the evidence that anyone there is unhappy with the situation? Recall that ridding yourself of morality and responsibility and being taken care of by the state is enormously seductive. Poland is toast too, they're just being helpful as they go down.

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2003 8:11 AM

Well, OJ, one bit of evidence is how well the far right did in the last French election. Not that I'm a fan of Le Pen, but I believe much of his support came from people unhappy with the recent course of French society.

Posted by: PapayaSF at December 23, 2003 4:49 PM

Papaya:

They just don't want the Algerians ruining their deal.

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2003 5:33 PM
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