Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Most Politically Incorrect Piece Ever Posted to the Internet

The West has nothing important to learn from the rest of the world

If you travel to India, you might learn to prepare the world's best curry.  But you will certainly not learn any proper kitchen hygiene practices.  There's nothing wrong with bringing excellent curry to the West.  But that pales in comparison to the importance of western-level hygiene and sanitation.  And we're certainly not about to take civics lessons from India.  They cannot even form an orderly line.

Let's define what we mean by the West.  It is such a limited sphere that we can define it geographically, almost by country.  It is the US and Canada, Western Europe as far east as Germany, Austria, the Adriatic Sea, and Greece.  And it is Australia and New Zealand.  And Israel.  That's it.  Yes, yes, there are some outposts (in the Caribbean, Polynesia, the Falklands, etc).  And some of these are more western than others.  But let's not get caught in the weeds here...

Because the West is not primarily a geographical construct.  It is the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Democracy, capitalism, private enterprise, free markets, common law, an independent judiciary, respect for contracts and private property, due process, civilian military control, individual rights, including equal rights for women and minorities, personal agency, free speech and a free press, etc.  Also, an appreciation for education, literature, and the arts.  The scientific method is a product of the West.

I would also argue that the West has traditionally placed a high value on truth, although this ideal is currently under attack.  But there can be no doubt that truth and integrity are western values.  If you doubt me on this, you just need to do a bit of traveling.

Now, let me add this truly controversial statement:  The success of non-western countries entirely depends on the extent of their adoption of western ideas and practices.  The more western they become, the more successful they are.  The best example here is Hong Kong.  Extremely western until 2000.  And extremely successful.  Now under the thumb of China, it is less western and less successful.  I also believe that Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore offer illustrative examples of this rule.  And look at what's happened in Eastern Europe.  Countries that have enthusiastically adopted western practices have done well.

Let's look at China.  Communism did not make it rich.  Its corrupt government did not make it rich.  Its demographics did not make it rich.  No, it became rich only once it began adopting western practices.  Now think about how rich it could be.

But it is Turkey where we find the most interesting example of this rule.  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk introduced western style reforms in the early 20th century.  Turkey thrived, joining NATO in 1952.  But more recently, and certainly under the presidency of Recep Erdogan, the country has slid back into the clutches of Islamism and authoritarianism.  It's a choice.

This rule applies to all countries, western and non-western alike.

If a society does not want to adopt western ideas and practices, fine.  But they will remain poor.  If a society tolerates a corrupt government, they will remain poor.  One thing I have learned living in the third world is that corruption is not limited to the elites.  It is a cultural phenomenon.  If a society has a culture of dishonesty, it will remain poor.  Again, fine.  They can either adopt western attitudes about corruption, and integrity, or they can remain poor.  Again yes, I am saying it is a choice.

If you doubt my thesis here, just compare the countries I include in the West, and importantly the countries I have listed as adopting western practices, with any other country.  Japan is rich.  Its neighbors not so much.  Japan is richer than China.  Why?  Because it is more western.  Likewise, China is richer than Pakistan for the same reason.

There are a handful of countries where my rule does not apply.  These are the countries that have become rich by chance alone.  Oil.  Saudi Arabia and its ilk.  But these are the exceptions that prove the rule.  These countries are completely dysfunctional.  They cannot even get their own oil out of the ground.  They have to pay westerners to do it.  Dubai may have the tallest building in the world (designed by a Chicago architect and built by a Korean firm).  But they do not have a working sewer system.  Just think about how that works exactly.

I have no time for western academics who argue that the third world is poor for reasons beyond their own control.  Guns, germs, and steel to quote the title of the most famous book on this topic.  Colonialism, they all shout.  Leftist academics will blame everything except for the one true problem:  Culture.

The leftists' motive is clear.  If they acknowledge that third world culture perpetuates poor nations, they would also be forced to acknowledge that western culture produces rich nations.  The horror; the entire leftist world view would collapse.

Finally, remember this rule applies to all countries.  It is interesting to note that as western countries import and adopt non-western values and ideas, they will become less wealthy.  In both absolute and relative terms.  Certainly as they devalue truth, they will become poorer.  Surely today we are seeing this in real time in the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Again, fine.  It's a choice.