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Torino: Europe's Last Hurrah? China and Christianity

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The Cultural Colonialism of the Left

by Christopher Chantrill
February 19, 2006 at 8:06 am


IT’S ALL very well for Europeans to reduce the Cartoon Wars to a matter of the freedom of speech, writes Martin Jacques in Britain’s lefty Guardian. But what about respect? “Respect for others, especially in an increasingly interdependent world, is a value of at least equal importance.” Let us not forget, he writes, that for 200 years:

European countries imposed their rulers, religion, beliefs, language, racial hierarchy and customs on those to whom they were entirely alien... [Now as] Europe matters far less than it used to... [we must] learn to share our homelands with people from very different roots.

But how did the “colonialist” West manage the unprecedented feat of dominating and oppressing the rest of the world for 200 years? Let’s ask the victims. According to anonymous “Dr. Wu” in David Aikman’s Jesus in Beijing, “At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.”

Leftists like Martin Jacques like to interpret the global spread of the West as pure power, one culture trying to wipe out another. It’s true, the West did wipe out the indigenous cultures of the Americas, and made a dog’s breakfast of Africa. But when the British left India it remained Hindu and Muslim, as it was 200 years before. It was the lefty imperialists in Moscow that wrecked the high culture of China with their puppet, the monster Mao Tse-tung, in fifty years of civil war, famine, repression, and 70 million dead.

Then we thought it was because you had the best political system.

But the Europeans didn’t conquer the world merely with military and political prowess. Is Martin Jacques suggesting that the 200 years of the West’s hegemony had no connection with the worldwide revolution in manufacture and commerce started by a bunch of Nonconformist British tinkerers in the late 18th century? Could it be that steam-powered looms and dirt-cheap cotton textiles played a role in the power of the West? Perhaps the amber waves of grain grown in the American Midwest and shipped across the world to sell for less than the price from the local farmers had something to do with it.

Next we focused on your economic system.

And made a terrible mistake. Politicians across the world listened to lefties like Martin Jacques and built rationally planned, centralized systems run by government bureaucracies. It took a while, and untold suffering for their peoples, for these nationalists to learn that the left’s brew of centralized economic systems was a poisoned chalice. They had to start all over again using the real western system, capitalism, built around free markets, secure property, and free labor.

But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful.

Christianity? But wasn’t it the Enlightenment that shone the light of reason upon the Dark Ages of superstition and religious wars? According to Rodney Stark in The Victory of Reason, the west’s dominance was baked in the cake during the Dark Ages, and it was baked out of the rational theology of Christianity that saw people “all one in Christ Jesus.” By the Middle Ages the Italians at the seat of Christianity had invented international banking, double-entry bookkeeping, and market-driven capitalism. But until the Industrial Revolution they did not have the power to challenge the princes of the land and their ruinous dynastic squabbles.

It was then that the West rolled out across the world with its culture, its inventions, its capital, and its arrogance in the colonial expansion that so offends Martin Jacques.

But was the West’s imperialism so bad after all? Can the West’s colonialist adventurers like Cortes, Pizarro, Clive, Andrew Jackson, Custer, Rhodes, and “Chinese” Gordon compare with leftist monsters like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Castro?

Let us look back over the last 100 years, and think about the way that the left has imposed on the West and on millions of trusting souls in the rest of the world, on “those to whom they were entirely alien,” its secret police, its vast government sector, its government schools, its secular religion, its war on civil society, the middle-class family, and the unborn. To modify Martin Jacques’ words slightly:

This kind of mentality... and sheer ignorance -- will serve [the West] ill in the future. [The Left] must learn to live in and with the world, not to dominate it, nor to assume it is superior or more virtuous. Any [movement] that has inflicted such brutality on the world over a period of [100] years has not too much to be proud of, and much to be modest and humble about - though this is rarely the way our history is presented in [the schools we control], let alone elsewhere.

Couldn’t agree more, old chap.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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