Saturday, April 23, 2005

Obscuring Our Greatness

Culture – the dominant philosophy operative in a society – is the key to understanding the success of failure of a nation. This philosophy may be held explicitly and consciously or it may be implicit in a general sense that lingers from a sound tradition that at one time fully explicated and examined those principles.

This is now a minority viewpoint. We live in an age where no one is seen responsible for their actions or character. Ideas are seen as a cover for more potent forces. The left has a whole litany of such sinister subterranean causes to explain our evil. The classic leftist suspect is economic – greed. Modern variations include male hormones, sexual fears, poverty, class, race – you name it.

Even our achievements are trivialized as mere fortune and totally undeserving. The latest explanation for our greatness is the environment. Rather than being masters of our environment we are now seen as pawns that benefit by small environmentally fortuitous accidents. Victor Davis Hanson refutes this notion with a few rhetorical questions:

“For example, how did the Ptolemies create an even more dynamic civilization than that of the earlier dynastic pharaohs, when they inherited from them a supposedly exhausted and increasingly salinized landscape? Or why did the palatial culture of Mycenae prove to be a dead-end society, and yet the radically different Greek city-state centuries later blossomed in the exact same environment? More immediately, are we to suppose that there are underappreciated micro-climates that separate Tijuana from San Diego, strangely different soils on the two immediate sides of the Korean DMZ, and something about those ever-changing lagoons of Venice that made it irrelevant in late Roman times, a world power in 1500, and once again a backwater by 1850? Did the environment of Britain improve from A.D. 400 to 1700 while Rome’s declined, thus explaining why the former outpost of the Western world became its new center and vice versa?”

You’ll want to read the rest.


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