Thoughts on Collapse, Apocalypse and the Coming Dark Age
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Death of the West, or a Return to Barbarism?
Muslims protesting British troops on the streets of London -- the Death of the West in a single picture?
When you survey the global situation with an objective eye, one thing that should jump out at you is the fact that the world is still for the most part about warring tribes, advancing or retreating through military, economic, religious and cultural struggle. This is the uncomfortable truth about our species that globalists in the West work so hard to deny: human beings organize themselves around tribes and other primary loyalty groups, and our lasting political structures are defined by what we are willing to fight for, not what we are willing to buy. Almost everyone will fight for family, tribe, religion or homeland; few will fight for abstractions like democracy, free markets, the European Union or the International Monetary Fund. Unfortunately for the governments of the westernized world, this means that motivation and loyalty is always going to be problematic. Our fighters are professional soldiers, not holy warriors; our leaders are technocrats, not mullahs. Pakistan is a case in point: the Taliban have powerful primary loyalties to Islam and tribe driving them, while the regular Pakistani soldiers have military bureaucracy and an IMF-sponsored paycheck. Which side would you put your money on to prevail at this point?
The civilized world has a word for tribal warriors like those who are currently overrunning the Western-backed government of Pakistan: barbarians. The great Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun viewed all of history as cycles of rising and falling of such barbarian tribes. As Wikipedia describes his theory:
Perhaps the most frequently cited observation drawn from Ibn Khaldūn's work is the notion that when a society becomes a great civilization (and, presumably, the dominant culture in its region), its high point is followed by a period of decay. This means that the next cohesive group that conquers the diminished civilization is, by comparison, a group of barbarians. Once the barbarians solidify their control over the conquered society, however, they become attracted to its more refined aspects, such as literacy and arts, and either assimilate into or appropriate such cultural practices. Then, eventually, the former barbarians will be conquered by a new set of barbarians, who will repeat the process.
According to this model then, the future always belongs to the barbarians. In the West, where we have systematically waged war against our barbarians for centuries, we have largely succeeded in creating a population of docile, refined citizens who are ill-equipped to defend themselves against today's barbarian assaults. The last remaining barbarian holdouts in the United States have largely been brought to heel, though the frontier spirit dies hard in rural America, and even in that poster child of urban decay, Detroit. The best illustration of where this civilizing trend leads is modern western Europe, where all military engagement is viewed with distaste and the preference has long been to let America, which still retains some vestiges of barbaric spirit, do the bulk of its fighting. But without a barbaric spirit of its own, Europe is a civilization in obvious decline, its population shrinking, its societies slowly being conquered from within by Islamic and immigrant populations who have not yet been domesticated by European civilization. If current trends continue, it is not difficult to see that Europe will cease to exist as a distinct and powerful civilization some time in the next century. As elsewhere, and in accordance with Khaldun’s theory, Europe will belong to the next wave of barbarians.
Is this the spirit that can save Western civilization?
We therefore come to the rather paradoxical conclusion that in order to save itself, Western civilization may need to become less civilized and more barbaric. The stifling political and legal institutions that have been erected to keep Westerners domesticated may have to come down, or their civilization may fall to barbarians for the same reason Rome's did 1600 years ago: internal decay. This time, however, the conquering barbarians won’t be Germanic tribes, but non-European muslims, who will impose a very different kind of civilization from the one Europeans are accustomed to.
The good news, if you would like to see Western civilization continue in some form, is that such an institutional collapse appears to be exactly what is happening. The existing order, with its pervasive media apparatus and financial leverage, is rapidly going bankrupt, both economically and morally. The globalists who are clinging to power in the Western world by their fingernails, with their empty promises of “stability, growth and jobs” and a “new world order,” must look increasingly delusional to a population that appears to be finally starting to wake up. No doubt a last-ditch effort will be made to prop up the globalist order with stimulus packages and heavy-handed restrictions on the restive citizens of Western nations, but without popular legitimacy and with no means to revive economic growth it seems unlikely that they can succeed where the Communists failed in decades past.
"Stability, Growth, Jobs", or "Desperation, Greed, Fear"?
If I had to make a prediction then, I would guess that a huge upsurge in nationalism and populism is just around the corner as globalism melts down and the worldwide Depression deepens. Immigrants and hostile religious groups may face persecution and expulsion as scapegoats for a globalist order that threatened to sacrifice every culture and religion on the altar of international capitalism. But when the dust settles, and the world has re-localized and re-tribalized, will its citizens be worse off or better? Ex-banker Gordon Brown would have you believe that we are at risk of a “damaging spiral of de-globalization.” But one has to ask: damaging for whom exactly, other than the small class of plutocrats like Brown who have profited so handsomely from globalization's imposition? Will the sweatshop workers, displaced farmers and fishermen-turned-pirates of the Third World mourn globalization’s passing? Will the Westerners who are losing their livelihoods to unchecked outsourcing and immigration mourn its passing? Has our quality of life really improved under globalization, and is our planetary ecosystem any less degraded? The answer to all of these questions, it seems to me, is a resounding no!
The big picture then, in the early spring of 2009, appears to be an imminent worldwide revolt against global capitalism, from Chiapas to China to Pakistan and now finally to the capitals of the Western world. Is the advancing line of control of "tribal areas" in Pakistan a metaphor for a retreating global civilization? Does a Taliban takeover of Pakistan, whose westernized elites are clinging to power by the barest of threads, herald a greater defeat for westernized elites throughout the world? Does the current orgy of plutocratic looting of Western treasuries mark the beginning of an exodus of the global elites from civil society, who will take their ill-gotten gains and run to faraway compounds like rats fleeing a sinking ship? Let's hope so, and if so good riddance to them all. Without these parasites collapse can proceed swiftly, and the people they have plundered will be free to do what they have always done to re-vitalize themselves: return to barbarism.
Is Pakistan a microcosm of the receding "line of control" of Western civilization?