Several politicians, as well as media, have recently referred to the conflict between East and West as a “clash of civilizations.” Every westerner of average intellect and historical awareness knows about the Persian expansion from Marathon and Thermopylae to the siege of Vienna two thousand years later. Nonetheless, some notable academicians and students of the “liberal arts” shy from this term as either obsolete, overcome, or inappropriate. Their solution lies in a “social funnel” of absolute tolerance in the system of democratic socialism.
Had President Obama been correct in his assessment of ISIS as “JV team,” the term “clash of civilizations” would be inappropriate. After all, what kind of “civilization” does a bunch of hooligan mass murderers and suicide bombers represent? However, he meant this as a comparison to Al-Qaida, not as an absolute measure of the degree of evil. All terrorist organizations that currently threaten us are united under the banner of Islam, which makes them part of Islamic world, culture, civilization. They are ultimately destructive of the civilization which gave them birth, as I elucidate below.
President Obama’s statement is supported by the liberal rationale that we can absorb that which aims to destroy us, because “there is room for everybody.” Well, there is not. The world is growing smaller in proportion to the growth of global population. Evil, much like anti-matter, is omnipresent and hard to see – until it strikes us.
Liberalism also stands on the shaky, feeble feet of self-deceiving viewpoint that Europe is the most advanced of cultures because it has successfully assimilated all cultures, habits, traditions, religions, languages and peoples. This is clearly false. Not only is there an internal struggle and constant splintering (so-called “Balkanization”) present on different levels across the EU, but European communities are as little tolerant and capable of assimilation as Harlem is of white collar Wall Street “wasps.” There are still nations that are 99% Caucasian (e.g. Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia…) and even those that are endeavoring to be “politically correct” will not assimilate someone who is simply the “odd one out” (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, rural Austria and Germany).
Another error of judgment (and knowledge) must be attributed to the New Left and their socialist followers: the political organization across EU is not that of “democratic socialism” but either a multi-party social democracy or parliamentarian system and hereditary monarchy – or all of the three combined. Linguistic differences project cultural differences and contribute to the lack of overall cohesion, which is forced upon Europeans by politicians as a market and survival necessity. Europe is thus moving from a free market economy ever more to a planned, centralized system, which most Europeans abhor and detest.
It follows that Europe is not a cultural entity: Italian cities are different from village areas, north of Italy completely different from the south, both are different from French cities and villages, and the differences between those and British “splendid insulation” cannot be overemphasized. How can it be a political entity if it is not a cultural one? Spliced, stapled, and Band-aided together, European states keep professing their independence and not a year passes by without some referendum somewhere about independence (England, Greece, Czech Republic…).
European history is that of constant struggle and political machinations among the “powers” in order to preserve a “balance.” Nations have always proudly asserted their independence by borders, language, political system, currency… With the rise of EU, all these fall like a deck of cards. What remains? What remains indeed if we cannot call Europe one “culture?” It is arguable whether we can call it one “civilization.” Does such a reference even make sense in the context of the constant flow of information, assimilation of terms, language and custom exchange etc.?
Yet, in the United States, we seem to look up to Europe as if it were in possession of some political balm on the modern ailments of cultural and racial divisiveness. Of course, we are blithely unawares that Europe is looking up to us, trying to copy our solutions. After all, “United States of Europe” was something Napoleon had dreamt up when he saw how our forefathers dealt with the British – by unity and resolve. In unity lies strength; division precedes fall!
We had had our fundamental struggle (the Civil War) five or six generations ago. However, that fight was not “civilizational” – not in the way the Greeks had fought the Persians or the Habsburgs tried to resist and curb the Ottoman expansion in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Had the South won, our existence would not have been fundamentally different. Slavery would have been abolished later, under economic and evolutionary pressure, and all would be well again – because we belong to the same civilization.
What defines a civilization? Religion. Currently, we have the following major civilizations: Western, Slavic-Orthodox, Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, and a developing African civilization. If Catholicism prevails in Africa, the whole continent will join western democracies and develop accordingly; if Islam prevails, Africa will continue as a mishmash of totalitarian regimes (unless Islam undergoes a reform and separates the Church from the State).
Naturally, all states and nations we conceive of as one “civilization” also have similar customs, habits, mythology – and belong to akin language families. It is only natural that French, Spanish, and Italian are similar (Romanesque, Latin cognates) as well as that German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and intersecting dialects are similar. The Fins and Hungarians are odd ducks out. There will always be some. In order to belong to the same civilization, small nations must be culturally subjected to the large ones, e.g. Czech Republic and Austria to Germany, Portugal to Spain, Ireland to England, Finland to Norway and Sweden. What choice do they have? We have seen that in World War II.
English has assimilated every language it encountered during its existence: Romanesque, Germanic, even Arabic to a small degree. Thus, English has become the most successful modern language, substituting Latin in science and French in diplomacy. No wonder we feel so personal about political correctness and people who are unwilling to learn English, presenting us with incorrigible, incomprehensible foreign accents. It is not their accents that bother us – it is their invasion of our culture and the fact that we are being forced into submission. English language does not merely represent a state or a nation, and it is not merely a means of communication. English language is a way of life! It represents our culture, our personal identity!
Customs, traditions, legends, myths, superstitions, even language usage (idioms, proverbs etc.) are all related to the religion of the particular civilization. We cannot limit our focus here to one state or nation here. Have you ever wondered how come immigrants from western Europe find it easy to assimilate and become American? We have the same roots, of course. The further east you go, the more difficult it will be for the immigrants to assimilate.
There exist exceptions, but these were created by history and evolution. For instance, many Russians have French and German roots and are much more “westernized” than their orthodox counterparts or even some nation-states which had purposefully and with great verve separated themselves from “Mother Russia” after the fall of communism. For instance, the people of Ukraine feel more “European” than Russian because of their geographic and historical position. They are comparable to Poland in that Ukraine also functioned as a “buffer zone” between Russia and western Europe in the past. Western Ukraine also used to be part of Czechoslovakia…
Whenever assimilation becomes forced “from above” and thus destructive of the religion (habits and customs, eventually also language) of the community, it will be resisted, because the community is in fear for its very survival. Rightfully so. It is the same with every individual: when you take my privacy, my beliefs, my freedoms – I am going to fight back! When you take the community’s religion, its distinct identity, its constitution – the community will fight back! Borders are only lines in the sand compared to the borders that define us as belonging to the Judeo-Christian tradition.
In evolutionary terms, phylogeny mimics ontogeny: the development of the species corresponds to that of the individual and vice versa. Civilizations and nations are born, grow up, develop, reach retirement and fall apart just like each individual member of the given civilization does. While our nation, the United States of America, is still a young, beautiful girl, she is much older and stronger than she looks, because she is part of the Western Civilization. We feel very personal about our customs, religion, and language because they define us and make us who we are. “Make America Great again” or “Take our Country Back” represent how we feel as members of our civilization, the civilization which is under assault. Anyone who invades our privacy and wants to take away our religion, our guns, mutilates our language and rapes our Lady Justice is our enemy! The enemy cannot be “assimilated.” The enemy must be destroyed in order for our civilization to survive.