A Beer Night Essay: Civilization
Civilization is fragile. I think that’s a hard thing for modern folks to grasp, particularly modern Europeans, and to a somewhat lesser extent Americans. We have become so accustomed to the trappings of a civilized society that it becomes a bit difficult to imagine that it may not be there some day.
I got started on this train of thought when my brother posted this the other day. James Carrol does a respectable job of putting suicide/homicide bombings (I am still looking for a more fitting expression- suggestions are welcome) in to a perspective that Modern folks can grasp, but he fails to comprehend the fundamental thrust of it all. The folks who are blowing themselves up in order to kill those they see as the enemy are not trying to erode our trust in our fellow man. No, they are trying to bring our Civilization crashing down around our ears.
Imagine the following, and try to be honest about your reactions:
Erase everything that has happened in Israel the past decade or so and imagine instead that the Intifada consisted of Muslim extremists marching in to public spaces in Israel, dousing themselves in gasoline, and setting themselves on fire.
Imagine that they did this regularly. Every month… every week… every day. Imagine what your opinion would be today. I’ll give you a hint: we would all have a Hell of a lot more respect for these folks than we do today, in the real world.
In my view this all points to a division between what is civilized and what is barbaric. Buddhist monks immolated themselves in Vietnam and everyone took notice. There were American Quakers who did the same. They sacrificed their lives to show the world that there were people who cared so much about what was happening that they would do anything to get Joe and Jane Six Pack to pay attention. Civilized people seek to draw attention to wrongs by dramatic demonstration. Barbarians seek to glorify themselves in the destruction of those they despise.
Civilization is fragile. Suicide bombers are a seemingly small, yet profound dent in what we consider to be civilized behavior. It is in these small increments that civilizations can be destroyed. Death by inches. Rome did not fall in a day, it fell a step at a time. Western Civilization is not immune from such creeping destruction. What makes the difference is the recognition of the threat and a determination to fight it.
Darwin is a merciless master, whether dealing with species or cultures (spare me your protestations, in this narrow description Cultural Darwinism fits the bill quite nicely, thank-you very much). We as a civilized nation are faced with annihilation. This is not hyperbole, or extremism, or fear-mongering- it is cold, hard fact. Fail to defend ourselves and in two or three generation, perhaps less, everything Modern Western Civilization holds to be Self Evident Truths could be crushed under the heel of militant reactionary/religious fervor.
Cato the Elder put it succinctly: “delenda est Carthago.” “Carthage must be utterly destroyed.” Our Carthage is Militant Fundamentalist Islamofascism. The dead hand of Darwin is watching, and its verdict will not be swayed by good intentions or political correctness. We know what is required. Have we the courage?