(Morocco. Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky (C) All Rights Reserved 2018).
By Joshua Tartakovsky
31 January 2018
We live at a time of a great civilizational decline, as power shifts from west to east.
Of course, claiming so places one, if he lives in the west, in the position of heresy. Excommunication is the result.
But while the politically-correct censorship is being repelled by the masses mainly in the UK (the Brexit vote), the US (the election of Donald Trump), and Germany (the victory of the Alternative for Germany party), it still dominates our minds and the public discourse.
In fact, the great tragedy of our time is that the old paradigms are collapsing but all we have is confusion and chaos, with no viable alternatives expressed.
The above statements may sound dogmatic, fanatical or inaccurate to the uninitiated. And before one makes any statement, one should study history, of which I must do far more.
I will therefore seek to explain this argument by simplifying it, pointing out what I consider to be the obvious, and asking the reader to refute what I say and to try to examine it with a peaceful mind.
Why am I saying that the west is in a civilizational decline?
What is the ideology of the west?
The current mindset operating in the United States and western Europe (and the US has been a generous home for immigrants for over a hundred years, where many could flee persecution and/or genocide), is that whatever is good or bad is measured by what makes the individual happy. Only the individual exists, and his/her needs need to be satisfied at all costs (as long as he does not infringe on others, in theory). But what kind of society does this create? Well, we have the US capitalist system, where the only motive is profit, and where every individual seeks to accumulate as much as possible. That is the only truth of modern times. Making as much as possible.
Now, the question arises, in a society, where the only value is what the individual wants, and his right for self-gratification at all costs is the only established truth, then every person will seek to maximize his profit at the expense of others and become more and more egoistic.
That is not to say, that I would want to live in a collectivist society, or in a state where my goods are confiscated. I am simply trying to point at the issue.
But in a society where the individual’s right to accumulate as much as possible and live out whatever he feels like at that moment, is the only value society believes in, then people lose any sense of cohesion or connection to anything larger then themselves, be it a relationship, their family, their community or their nation (their world is too much of an abstract notion and therefore it is not mentioned here).
Think about it. If I live only to make more money to buy a bigger house, then why should I care about any other person besides what he can give me so I can have more money and more possessions? For that matter, why should medicine seek to cure rather than create addiction to pharmaceuticals and continued dependency, why would education seek to educate rather than create more of skilled labor, why would people not be viewed as having ulterior motives when seeking to help out others in a simple gesture of humanity, and why would simple food be sold even though it creates health if the goal is profit?
Now, of course, everyone wants to have a home of his own, stability, food, a good life. But it seems to me that at some point, where there is an excess, the good things are lost. For example, how can it be that in ‘backward’ north Africa the food is healthier and more nutritious than in the UK or the US? It is absurd, but this seems to me to be the reality. Does ‘development’ always mean development?
Recently I have come under fire for making the following provocative statement:
The Arabs may be fanatical and close-minded but at least Arab women are real women and Arab men are real men. In the West, the women are men and the men are women. Sad.
Understandably, I came under fire, for I made the rightly criticized inappropriate sin, the greatest sin in the west, that of generalizing. In our secular, western, individualist, societies, there are no “Arabs,” “Jews,” or “Christians.” There are only individuals.
Understandably, and predictably, no one likes to be generalized against. Furthermore, the only way mercantile capitalist societies in 16th century Netherlands and the United Kingdom could have functioned, is if the public arena is one of mutual acceptance and of non-interference.
However, anyone who travels widely will quickly realize, that people are different in different countries. While all people are humans, different cultures produce different people with entirely different norms, beliefs, behaviors and qualities. Otherwise, we may as well abolish the field of anthropology altogether.
In other words, the human as a blank state with no history or culture that predetermines him and what he is capable of, who is a pure individual, only exists in western societies.
There are many advantages to such an individual, and the space that allows for such an individual to exist.
Such an individual, enabled only in the west, is free to live without fear and without pressures from the community. Is free to practice his or her religion or his or her sexual inclinations. Is free to work in any work he sees fit (though his time is not free, i.e. he must work to have his physical needs met).
But while the individual as a blank is the reality in western countries, it is not the reality anywhere else. In other societies, people are shaped by their environment, and have particular traits.
This is not to say that people from one country are better than people from another country. People are very complex and have various traits. Each society and culture has its advantages and disadvantages. And there are always exceptions to the norm (that prove the norm).
But it does mean that pretending the entire world works by the western paradigm or that the western paradigm should be imposed upon the world, are both erroneous, arrogant and ignorant positions.
Then we come to the question of ‘real men’ or ‘real women.’
In traditional societies of the east and global south, men and women are qualitatively different. Women are feminine, take care of their looks, are motherly, soft, generous, intuitive, kind. Men, are more assertive, proactive, aggressive, rational, decisive, rough. Women are the receivers, men are the givers, in biology as in society.
Such has been the natural order of things for thousands of years of human existence.
Now in the west, due to the demands of the workforce and the existence of post-modern capitalism, it is a given not only that men and women are equal and not different (as if different means one is better or worse, a position than can be held only in the dualistic western mindset), but that the difference itself needs to be abolished, and that traditional gender itself needs to be erased. In other words, we have only the individual, who can be a man, woman, transgender, it, or we, and everything that the individual wishes to be, can and should be manifested.
But nature has its rules, and a man can never conceive of a baby, nor can a woman impregnate a man. However, the western thinking that places the individual above everything else, believes it can impose its view on nature and create reality as it sees fit.
In many western societies nowadays, men can no longer approach women and seek their attention, nor can women act feminine. Men and women must respect each other’s space, let go of thousands of years of biological evolution, and pretend to be asexual beings. Additionally, in many post-modern capitalist countries, many women who bravely resist the pressure to let go of their sexuality, intuitive power and femininity, and hold on assertively to their identity and being, are demonized as if they are backward and there is something wrong with them. Instead they must be conformed into cold, calculating, heartless machines, who seek to dominate others. That is the inevitable logic of post-modern liberal feminism, which is the ideology of modern day capitalism. The search for profit needs people who will let go of living and being and instead will simply work countless hours producing profit.
These opinions, like the statement quoted above, may be too extreme, simplistic and ignorant. Furthermore, my ability to make a thoughtful (even if wrong) argument was made possible since I was educated in western universities where I was taught to develop my own opinions and critique. However, it seems to me that western society has gone too far, that it is in civilizational decline, that it seeks to destroy all traditional values of masculinity, femininity and nation (seeking to absorb millions of Arab and African migrants who do not seek to integrate, who can be employed only as a cheap workforce, whose absorption will not solve the problem in their home countries but will simply allow liberals to feel better about themselves), and that we have lost the positive values of western society (ethics, tradition, the search for knowledge), in our constant pursuit of profit.
Consider: is it not a symptom of our era, that humans have stopped to interact with each other in the public space and are increasingly absorbed by the smartphone? Is this not the logical outcome of a society where only the individual as an atom exists? And if everything this individual desires must be granted, than eating unhealthy food is as legitimate as eating healthy food, surfing mindlessly online is as valid as reading a book, smoking is as valid as carrying out an arduous physical exercise.
Western society had much to offer the world, despite its limits. (This is not to embrace the post-colonial views popular in some American schools at the moment that ‘everything western is wrong,’ that the west has only colonized the world and provided nothing of value, that the west must engage in a mea culpa). But if only pure individualism is the contemporary goal, that surely chaos will follow. We are living at a time of a great civilizational degradation of the west, as expressed in the election of populists in lack of a better solution, as people have been alienated by society, as people have stopped being genuine (or were they ever), as the constraints of modern life means people have little free time. And so on.
Perhaps we are moving into a more balanced world, as the non-western countries become a bit wealthier and more western, and as the western world becomes more impoverished (for a majority).
But to pretend all is fine when it is not , is to bury one’s head in the sand.
The greatest error today should not be making idiotic and ignorant statements that are not politically correct (as I may have done) but to stop using one’s brain and to stop asking difficult questions.
The value of education, a core western concept (though not only in the west, as it is found in China as well for example), the value of studying philosophy and history even though these subjects do not produce profit but enrich the mind and human existence, have been negated in the west (as funding to non-‘practical’ subjects has decreased in the neoliberal educational model).
I care about the West. I wish the 1950s and 1960s could come back (minus racist laws that defy logic). It is sad to see the west replace its civilizational grandeur for a confused asexual hesitant narcissist smartphone addict person. Of course, this places me in the backward position, but that is exactly the point, as I do not believe ‘progress’ is always progress, and I do believe that much of the west’s riches can be found in tradition and must be preserved. That which is not broken does not need to be fixed. Why the rush to fix everything?
In any rate, it seems to me that in the coming decade the economy may enter very rough waters, and times of chaos are ahead. We are now only at the beginning of the collapse of everything we have known.