Culture is the Key
Hugh Fitzgerald has a lengthy but worthwhile article on the administration’s inability to understand Islam and what that means. Tony Blankley contrasts the tough anti-communism of the 50s with the pathetic attempt to deal with today’s Islamic threat. Two years ago I wrote a lengthy article lamenting that very fact. It also made many of the same criticism of conservatives that Fitzgerald makes—and to his credit has been making all along.
The bottom line is that people pay short shrift to culture and the role of philosophy (in this case religion) in maintaining that culture. If the old communist notion of the infinite immutability of human nature was a utopian dream destined to be history’s greatest nightmare, the current watered-down version, that character and culture can be jettisoned upon request, blinds us to the extent that fundamental ideas have a grip on the soul of an individual or society’s culture, with dire consequences for our dealing effectively with today’s reality. A philosophy, or worldview, is such an integrating force for understanding and behaving—for connecting the vast events of the day and narrowing down the possible course of action—that to change it would be tantamount to becoming another person.
As we understand a person’s actions by understanding his/her character, we understand a culture’s unfolding by learning about its dominant philosophy or religion.