Summary: The world is wracked by a clash of civilizations. America is the aggressor. Those who oppose us are on the defensive. America is winning, with eventual victory almost certain. Second in a series, an updated version of posts from June 2008.
- A spectre haunts the world.
- Islam vs. America.
- Long ago some saw the threat.
- For more information.
(1) A spectre haunts the world.
A threat overshadows the world, an apocalyptic power in American hands, a weapon of total annihilation that nobody trusts America to use wisely. The most likely outcome: we will blot out our enemies, leaving little behind for anyone but historians. A few nations have tried to build defenses. Although possible in theory, most experts consider such efforts a waste of money and effort.
The weapon is western culture, which America has refined to peak intensity. It acts as a virulent and lethal virus (or meme). In Silicon Valley they speak of “mindspace.” America exports our ways to fill the minds of the world’s people — crowding out their native culture. Martin van Creveld describes this as “colonizing the future.”
European nations colonized the world, culminating in the 20th centuries wars dominated the 20th century, fought by Europeans to obtain colonies and everybody else to free themselves. The 21st century might see equally vicious wars as other peoples fight to control their futures.
We are like the Borg (from Star Trek).
- The world watches our movies and listens to our music.
- Our values are “human rights”, which become the universal standard before which all must genuflect.
- Our political system, which we call “democracy”, becomes the sole legitimate form, to which even tyrants must pay tribute via sham elections.
- Nations must adopt our economic system, which we call “capitalism”; the alternative is autarky and poverty.
We attack other societies at their most vulnerable point: their children. Like the Pied Piper, stealing away their young by offering a different vision of life’s highest values. To gays we say come out of the closet. To women we say throw off the shackles of male domination. To atheists, heretics, and agnostics we say glory in your independence of thought. We offer sexual freedom, liberation from the domination of their elders, and opportunities to obtain wealth in non-traditional ways.
We should not expect the people of other societies to like the challenges we force upon them. After all, most Americans despise some aspects of our culture. Nor will the elites of other lands obligingly and quietly die to ease their societies’ adoption of western ways, as did King Mongkut of Siam in the musical “The King and I” (Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1951).
Even our fellow westerners find our culture oppressive. The French government legislates to de-Americanize their language and support their native arts. The Canadian government erects barriers to American media.
Some societies can adapt, borrowing from foreigners but retaining their essential soul. Japan has done so skillfully for millennia. For some, including societies recently thrown from pre-technological forms into the modern world, cultural extinction might be their only future. Extinction is the fate of most cultures, as it for most species. The Hittites, the Scythians, the Etruscans are only notes on the scroll of societies that contributed to humanity’s store of knowledge and art — then faded away.
Some cultures react violently to our invasion.
(2) Islam vs. America.
There is a gulf between French legal actions to protect their culture and Islamic fatwas. Perhaps most important is that the latter is another chapter in a millennial-long conflict between Christianity and Islam.
Some, like Charles Allen (author of God’s Terrorists: the Wahhabi Cult and The Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad), have sympathy for the defenders of Islam. He blames Hollywood and the Left for the enmity so many Muslim people feel towards us. He believes America has polluted the world with its combination of degeneracy, pornography, and radical feminism. He sees Jihad as a natural if regrettable response.
Consider how this conflict look from their side. See the difference between the roles of women in western states vs., for example, Saudi Arabia. Western women are full citizens: voting, owning property, choosing not just their husbands but even their sexual partners. Saudi women must be escorted by a close male relative in order to travel abroad; they inherit a half the portion to their male siblings; and their testimony is worth only half that of any man.
Even more powerful than our ideology, our technology “defeats” biology by freeing gender from sex. Control of contraception for both men and women, especially women, is devastating for cultures based on highly differentiated gender roles – as is true of many cultures in the Middle East.
(3) Long ago some saw this threat and sounded the alarm
The impact of western culture on Islam was clearly foreseen by Sayyid Qutb, Egyptian intellectual and Islamist (1906 – 1966) when studying in 1949 at the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley, Colorado. Established as a utopian community in 1870, the city proudly maintained in the 1940’s the moral rigour, temperance, and civil-mindedness that were the hallmarks of its founding fathers. Greeley’s highly touted civic virtue, however, made very little impression on Qutb. In his mind, the inhabitants of Greeley, far from representing a kinder and gentler population of Americans, carried within themselves the same moral flaws of materialism and degeneracy that were characteristic of Occidental civilization in general.
He recounted how he once attended a church dance and was scandalized by the occasion’s “seductive atmosphere”. As Qutb wrote, “the dancing intensified,” and the “hall swarmed with legs”. … Qutb’s American writings are laced with such anecdotes, which reveal a strong concern with moral issues, especially concerning matters of sexuality.
— “Sayyid Qutb in America,” ISIM Review, newsletter of the International Institute for the Study of Islam, March 2001 (PDF here).
(4) For More Information
(a) Other articles
- Where it ll began: “The clash of civilizations?“, Samuel P. Huntington, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993 — Large pdf.
- “Laptop Jihadi” by Adam Shatz, London Review of Books, 20 March 2008 — Review of Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of al-Qaida Strategist Abu Musab al-Suri by Brynjar Lia.
- The Fight for Islamic Hearts and Minds.
- A look at al Qaeda, the long war — and us.
- How I learned to stop worrying and love Fourth Generation War. We can win at this game.
- We are the attackers in the Clash of Civilizations. We’re winning.
- Handicapping the clash of civilizations: bet on America to win