Written by Daniel Greenfield
No country falls but from within. Given a sufficient population and resources to hold off its enemies, the only sufficient explanation for its fall is internal.
Take the decline of the West, which is often talked about and attributed to leftist conspiracies and Islamic colonialism. But why is Japan, a First World nation whose culture and geography differs dramatically from America and Europe also in a state of economic, political and cultural decline? Not to mention demographic decline.
The Japanese left is certainly active, but blaming it for the country's decline is a more difficult proposition. Japan has a long history of Islamic outreach, but it isn't about to be Islamized and immigration is not a factor. Nor did Japan have a religious heritage that was lost to secularism. Nevertheless with its dwindling population, escapist culture, dysfunctional politics and tremulous foreign policy-- Japan's follies seem to resemble those of the West. The origins of its problems may be different, but the outcome is the same.
Taking a broader view, it almost seems as if joining the club of First World nations is a national death sentence. Sure the technology and the social benefits are nice, but they're not much good without a future.
The future is an important part of the equation, not the actual future to come, but how people see the future. Progress split the world into two kinds of societies, those that could envision a future different from the past-- and those that could only imagine the past endlessly repeating itself.
To change, you must first know that change is possible. Only then is it possible to break free of the wheel of time and rise like an arrow into the unknown reaches of the future. A hundred years ago, the world was dominated by nations that were fascinated by change and futurism. 1900 was attended by wild predictions about what life in the year 2000 might be like. That century also brought the explosion of Science Fiction, a primarily American literary genre that envisioned technology reshaping mankind.
60 years ago those elements still remained in place, but progressivism had become Dionysian, irrational pleasure seeking and substance abusing, its reformism limited to social reforms. Big government was swiftly becoming the only element of the old progressivism that still remained intact, but even that was a shell of the scientific government it was meant to be.
Pessimism has replaced optimism. Mankind is in a state of eternal war against its own social problems, class war, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on carbon and the war on terror with no solutions in sight. The Dionysian intoxication drifted between naive optimism and pessimistic melancholia aided by large doses of self-medication with drugs, prescription and illegal, to aid in their doomed search for happiness and fulfillment.
The enemies of the West had never embraced progress. The Soviet experiment was derived from a Western European model and quickly reverted to Czarist feudalism under a new name. And Islam, which had never accepted any other future than the past, was determined to tear away modernity and replace it with the past.
The Clash of Civilizations is a clash between a First World that no longer believes in its own future and an Islamic world that is determined to undo the future and bring back the past.
It is always difficult to envision the future, but the First World's visions of the future have gone from the optimistic to the pessimistic to the entirely blank. The progressives see the future as a long chain of government offices, the expansion of authority from the local to the national to the global. But there's no romance in global government as even the EU's biggest enthusiasts have trouble depicting it as anything more than some tottering gargantuan nightmare.
Take Europa riding the bull, a common piece of EU art, the outward symbolism is of the gentler side of humanity fighting to rein in the beast of nationalism, but the actual tale is of a god in the form of the beast abducting Europa. The Eurocrats might like to pretend that the woman represents the EU, but actually they see themselves as the beast-god, ideals posing as brute force, to kidnap and ravish the nations of Europe for their own good/
The EU's motto "In Variate Concordia" or "United in Diversity" means something very different from the similar sounding, "E Pluribus Unum" or "Out of Many, One", the original motto of the US and even more different than the official motto, "In God We Trust". In Variate Concordia is contradictory, expressing the limits of the progressive vision without even knowing it is doing so.
Bigger and bigger government is not inspirational to anyone who doesn't foresee a future working for it. Nor is a national identity built out of regional and global diversity at all meaningful. A future of multicultural bureaucracy isn't visionary, it's crisis management for societies that use cheap slogans to pave over real problems.
That European vision defines the First World, but it is a vision in decline and the decline of national vision is also the decline of nations. Latecomers to the club, including America, Japan and Israel have tried to adopt the European vision with disastrous results and formerly optimistic countries now suffer from national malaise.
50 years ago, America, Japan and Israel represented the "can do" spirit. Today they're as hapless and dysfunctional as Europe and unable to imagine a future that doesn't hinge on some kind of global togetherness as expressed in UN literature and Benetton ads. The European vision has gifted every country that adopted it with oversized and unwieldy governments, unstable economies and no future.
The Islamists and Communists who gathered to feast on the corpse of Europe were a symptom of the problem-- and the problem was a failure of vision. And a failure of vision originates in a loss of identity.
To know what you want from the future, you must first know who you are. The High School student who has yet to develop an idea of the kind of life he would like to lead and the things he would like to accomplish is going to have trouble picking a profession. Are you a strong person? A contemplative one? Do you enjoy the company of people, are you interested in what makes things work? Or are you "United in Diversity" and have no idea who you are?
The American future was defined by an American identity. When the American identity switched to "United in Diversity" and the national goal became to heal the eternal wounds of classism and racism and address all the social problems, then there was literally no future left. If you define the future negatively, in terms of remedying ills, rather than positively in settling an entire continent, then the future can never arrive. And even if it did, you wouldn't want it to, because those ills, racism, sexism, poverty and pollution are the closest thing you have to an identity.
A nation does not have to be multicultural to suffer an identity crisis, not when it's piggybacking on someone else's identity crisis. Japan tried very hard to catch up to Western modernism, now it's racing Europe into economic and demographic decline, without ever opening up its borders or indulging in much political correctness, besides the ritual apologies to the Ainu. Israel is still on the rise economically and demographically, but culturally it has drunk deep of the poisoned wells of European academia.
America, Australia, Canada and the rest of them are busy with their own apologies to the indigenous peoples and the foreign peoples who were offended by something or by anything. Which amounts to apologizing for their existence. And nations that apologize for their own existence have lost their identity and their future.
The "United in Diversity" model is broken, globally and locally, and that model is used to sustain the national, regional and global federalization of government into one long iron chain of authority. Without that model, the illusion of functionality would begin breaking down, forcing a redistribution of power back to local authorities.
A more honest name for the First World model would be "Progress Through Central Authority", a distillation of everything that has gone wrong, consuming the energy and vitality of great nations. In the absence of a directional vision, the First World has become easy prey for reactionary utopians with their own perfect societies.
Islam has the demographics to conquer the West and a vision of a future that is the past, building on the progress of the cultures it conquers while crushing the spirit of inquiry that made that progress possible. Having subjugated Athens, Delhi, Constantinople and Jerusalem in the past, it has its eye on London, Paris and New York today. It knows to sweep in when the innovators falter, their cultures decay and become static, and then claim its prize.
Islam has lost Jerusalem, Athens and Delhi, but it is confident of being able to reclaim them, and Athens, despite the loss of Constantinople, is urging the downfall of Jerusalem. But to those who subscribe to the "United in Diversity" vision, what difference does it make who populates a city. All people are alike in that they are to be ruled by the same global authorities. What matters is the rule of law embodied in global government... not the beliefs and identities of individual peoples, except as cultural heritage fairs.
If the First World nations don't reclaim national visions of the future that are deeper than that, then they will fall into the hands of those whose vision isn't "United in Diversity", but "United in Submission" and "Enslaved Through Force".
Creative societies innovate, decaying societies quarrel over the scraps and invite in their own enemies to rule over them. It has happened before and it is happening again before our eyes. Our capacity to resist that decay emerges from our culture and its vision of the future. Only when we see the future as an adventure, rather than a progressive decline, will we be able to win that future for ourselves and our grandchildren.
From NY to Jerusalem, Daniel Greenfield Covers the Stories Behind the News