Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nationalism, Cultural Superiority, and The Century of Fear; Part 1

I would like to apologize for my absence from this blog for a few weeks. It's finals time in Aggieland, and my brain feels like a puddle of mush right now. But, while I was studying for my History final tomorrow morning, an incomplete idea popped into my head and I needed to expound on it or else I think I would forget about it. This is not a fully formed idea yet, and there are sure to be mistakes in my logic. I know. Please, point out anything that doesn't make sense to you and I'll try to either explain the point further or fix it. Thanks and Gig 'Em. So, here goes.

Nationalism, Cultural Superiority, and The Century of Fear. That's a daunting title, and I hope I can live up to my own expectations for this post.

We are all well aware of those standards of "political correctness" that are so ever-present in our society. Indeed, it drives many less-evolved folks, such as myself, insane to see the way these standards so contradict common sense. We, as a society, are so worried about offending people that we bend over backwards to accommodate every possible viewpoint and end up making ourselves look like idiots to the vast majority of people. We are constantly bombarded by the message of Cultural Relativism, the less-discussed cousin of Moral Relativism, which claims that all cultures are equal. This, of course, brings about the idea that religion must be kept to yourself, a private affair, lest your public acts of devotion lead to a cultural clash. This idea, of course, is made manifest in the way that today's America insists we change to accommodate new immigrants of every race and creed and not that they assimilate. It is forced upon us under the term "multiculturalism," which along with "diversity" is lauded as the ultimate Good. And then there is the common belief that our country is not inherently better than any other country, we are just richer and more powerful but that still does not give us the right to act as the world's police force. And those great minds who impose these ideas have a name for themselves: "progressives." "Progressive," obviously derived from the word"progress," implies that these ideals are inherently better than their predecessors. That those holders of these beliefs are somehow more evolved (politically, morally, etc.) than their forebears. The term progressive implies that the holder of those ideas is destined to win the intellectual war because his belong to the future. But I believe the exact opposite is true. I posit that these "progressive" ideas stem from the most primal motivation of all: fear.

To explain, I must take us back a few centuries and to another continent.

The place: Europe. More specifically: London, England, Great Britain.
Time: 18th Century
 The late 18th Century marked the beginning of the dominance of the British Empire. Eventually, it would become the largest empire the world had ever seen, holding sway over one-fifth of the world's total population (458 million people), and laying claim to over a quarter of the Earth's total land-area. But that wouldn't come for some time. Britain's remarkable rise to dominance can be attributed mainly to two things: its Navy, and its people. I would like to focus on the latter.

In the Late 18th and 19th Centuries the British believed themselves to be the peak of human civilization. Their schools focused on turning intelligent, tough, well-educated young men under the assumption that, once they were done with school, they could go anywhere in the world and form their own version of Great Britain. And that is exactly what they did. When the British arrived, they did not avoid upsetting the natives at all costs. No, they made sure to bend the local cultures to their own. There is  a famous story of a tough-as-nails British Colonel in India, his name escapes me at the moment, who faced down the local custom of widow-burning. He told the natives no. The natives protested saying that it was their long-held custom that, upon her husband's death, the widow was to be thrown upon the funeral pyre and burned with him. The Colonel informed the locals that the British had a custom of hanging those who burned widows and that the locals were free to keep their custom so long as he could keep his custom. Bam! No more widow-burning. Much of this British culture was eventually absorbed by the Indian People and eventually they gained their independence from Great Britain. This kind of leadership is what allowed the British to rule so much of the Earth. Incidentally, this same idea (better known to us as Manifest Destiny) is also what helped America tame the West, whip the Mexicans, and the Spanish in the 19th Century.
The Empire at its Height

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