Follow Up On French Intellectualism

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This post and conversation were greatly in danger of being buried by my rantings about the finest television program the world will ever know, so I think it worthwhile to bring it back to the front page.

Stay Puft excerpted this article about the relative difference in mood between the major portions of the world. Read that and read General Gozer's commentary.

Here is my response:


You realize, of course, the Chinese were WAY ahead of us on the wall business ... I'm guessing if they had millions of people crossing over each year they'd simply mine the border (if they haven't done so already).

From my admittedly limited perspective I think the article is dead on.

Obviously, gauging the "mood" of a country or continent is a somewhat subjective undertaking: There is the risk of over generalizing. Having only really spent much time in, er, one of the areas discussed, it would be hugely presumptuous of me to contradict Moisi's observations about Europe, China or India.

But there are a couple observations we can make from our armchair of distant, exalted omniscience:

The economy of the West - particularly the U.S. - has gone like gangbusters for generations, broadly speaking. Western culture is certainly going downhill.

To some extent both the economies and cultures of India and China had nowhere to go but up. Granted, the U.S. has its problems, but being born female here is rarely a death sentence ...

... and, however one might question how we treat prisoners, at least we don't harvest them like tilapia or pigs.

Back to the point, tech jobs are going to India as we all know - here's a really good article on this.

Basically, you can take a job that paid $80,000 in the U.S., and get it done for $20,000 in India, and the U.S. guy becomes unemployed while the India guy or gal is suddenly the Donald Trump of their neighborhood. The wealth disparity was so great that the shift can literally make one person rich and the other poor while the company gets rich as well. THAT'S disparity.

Same deal in China - although I think the U.S. job lost was $30,000 a year and the China guy gets $800 a year and is the, um, guy in the neighborhood whose family never has to eat wood for dinner anymore.

So the contrasting optimism and pessimism are rational.

Regarding the abject humiliation of the Muslim countries ... yep. Considering all that's happened in the span of history from 650 A.D. till now, it makes you think the "flowering" height of Islamic culture in the 1100s - 1200s was quite the aberration. But I'm not expert on that so don't go by me. I'll take Moisi's word for it.

What is wrong with the West? Oh, crap, this could take days to spell out.

Here's a start: I'm in a Target store in Pennsylvania yesterday, and the PET SUPPLIES section is larger than the INFANT SUPPLIES section.

How do civilizations die off? That's one way. Don't even get me started on that one ...

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4 Comments

Zeitqeist is a good word to describe what is happening in each culture.

Toynbee in his history of the world wrote of the power of the Roman Catholic church to keep on keeping on (not his words) and the dynamism of Calvinism where people accomplish great things because they don't know that they can't.

Half of the US has this Christian Zeitgeist to go and do - here in America and around the world.

If there is a Christian revival in Europe they could be partners in kicking Western Civilization up for a few more centuries. If not, we - the USA - will be all alone as the standard bearer for our Civilization.

Latin America may follow if they chose the Protestant Reformation over Socialism. Likewise, Christian Africa, crippled by so many things as they are, may follow.

TBD - what happens when a third or half of China is Evangelical Christian?

Inspirational words, James! I wonder what might happen if there was a Christian revival in America.

Kevin said:

A serious inquiry: it's not that I'm pro-socialism as much as I'm not sure I understand how socialism is unchristian? Or maybe that's not what you were saying. I'm just curious the as to the arguments. Also, similarly describe communism and also Calvinism.

SPMM said:

I haven't been keeping up on this, but...

JAB: I'm not sure how it makes sense that we need some kind of Christian revival. The "reformation" isn't a factor in this 'Asian optimism' in China and India, for example.

It could also be argued that Christianity has contributed to this western culture of fear with it's grand narrative of an eternal showdown between good and evil. This is how We tend to see the world.

Compare that to the Chinese communist/humanist propaganda with a "Can Do" message, of the Hindu polytheism, in which different people worship different, yet equally valid gods. Which "mythology" seems more likely to create a society governed by fear?

Joe: are you kidding? there WAS a Christian revival, remember? What happened? George W. Bush happened.

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