News & Politics

There's No Reason to Feel Guilty About Prosperity

(©dark souls 1 released under a Creative Commons license.)

Recently a friend of mine wrote a post on how the West is dying of self-hatred, and how he can’t understand how people are infused with so much self-hatred for no reason, or how we – since no other civilization has done this — are managing to kill ourselves through self-flagellation.

At which point I realized I knew how this came about.  I knew it perfectly well.

You see, it’s like this: I was there when Portugal flipped from national socialist to international socialist. I was in elementary school. I know how the teaching changed.

The national socialists were, for all their faults… well… nationalists. They might pound the drum of national glory and the “Portuguese race” (mutt.  No, seriously, mutt.) but they didn’t try to make you feel ashamed of things you’ve never done.

Being proud of things you’ve never done because your ancestors did them is different.  It’s the sort of thing that both boosts your self-esteem and puts a floor under how badly behaved you’re willing to get. That is, it tells you that a certain level of behavior is owed to those unknown ancestors. Old form of bringing the youth into the pack, as it were.

International socialism, which in practicality meant Russian nationalism, since the Soviet Union/Russia was held as the model of things to be by its practitioners, sought to run down the love of individual country. This is known as psychological warfare and a way to soften countries for invasion.

As for why it took up in Western culture? There are many reasons.

First of all, there is “Western Culture.”  It exists, of course, but when we refer to it, mostly we refer to the bourgeois values of thrift, self-control, and respect for individuals which are not very old at all in the West. They have their roots in the English Enlightenment, a young philosophy.

Some date it from 1650.

Yes, that in turn had roots in Judeo Christian belief and that current was always present in the West, but keep that in mind.

The “old Western Civilization” as we see it is not very old at all, and beneath it lay the roots of an older culture of those who were born rulers and those who were born ruled, which is far more normal in the world at large and might be one of those fundamentals of human nature.

The fact that the West also changed so quickly and profoundly and that the Industrial Revolution replaced a mostly agrarian society means that we’re a culture that changes rapidly.  Cultures aren’t designed to change rapidly – says she who still grew up with slang that was the result of some Roman legionnaire’s dirty joke.  (Ask me sometime if you catch me tipsy). And since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve changed very quickly indeed.  This leaves fractures and a sense of doom and gloom.  There’s also the way we’ve changed, by becoming more prosperous than any other culture in the world ever.  Remember that, it’s important.

That rapid change mostly manifests itself in bloodbaths.  The French Revolution, of course, but more proximate to “why the West hates itself” is WWI, which shattered the West’s image of itself, tied in with the pastoralist romantics in a rejection of industrial civilization as a good thing (even while, of course, everyone worked in it, etc.).

The abattoirs of WWI made Europe question itself.  WWII put the cap on it, because if the most industrialized nation in Europe could descend into ululating madness, who was safe?

Note, in all this, they never, ever, ever compared themselves to other nations or civilizations except in the sense of “those other people are noble savages.” Which mostly consisted of a lot of romanticization.

And meanwhile there was Soviet propaganda.  Always there was Soviet propaganda, usually subtly playing on the fears and interests of Western intellectuals.

There were invidious images of capitalism as a society where only money, not people, mattered; characterizations of war as brought on by the greed of merchants and weapons manufacturers, all of it contrasted to the “peaceful” socialist state of the USSR that was seen through what that totalitarian state allowed to be disseminated.

This made intellectuals, in a very rich civilization, who felt that they were undervalued in a society that cared only for “vile lucre,” fall for it.  It was a neat poison pill that simultaneously made them feel smarter than all those other people around them and made them repeat the propaganda of a murderous regime.

Then there was the fear.  I got a lot of this in school.  Not only were we all going to die of overpopulation (bah) but the “darker races,” the non-Western races, were outpacing us in reproduction.  That meant the future and the world was theirs.  (This is, by the way, absolute bunk. Sure, most of the world is not Northern European, but most of the world considers itself “white” even when they obviously aren’t.  “White” is the term for “normal for this country.”  And even those who don’t are more likely to consider themselves either members of a tribe or to consider themselves a race covalent with their country.  See the “Portuguese Race.” No one who can tan is going to march “shoulder to shoulder” with other people who can tan. That’s a Marxist fantasy.)  And then they hit us with the second part of the propaganda, which might actually have been just their stupidity.

Because what Marxists know about how real economics works could be written on the head of a pin in really large letters, they never could figure out that value is neither “raw materials” nor “labor” (though they both go into it) and like their prophet, Marx, they insist on thinking the economy is a closed pie.

This leads them to believe that for the West to be unimaginably rich it must have stolen from everyone else on a spectacular scale.

(Obama btw, subscribed to this idea. If you listen to his sermons speeches and interviews, you quickly realize he wanted us to become poorer so the world would be richer.  Of course what happens is almost the complete opposite, but again, the Marxist understanding of economics means he could never get that.)

The Marxists (most of whom didn’t even know they were such) who taught me always insisted on how our prosperity was responsible for how poor people were.  And if you were a colonial power, as most of the West was, you’d stolen all the natural resources and destroyed these people’s cultures, which is why they weren’t rich. I was halfway between amused and furious that my sons’ high school and college books – from geography to history – said basically the same.

Never mind that these people had centuries before colonization (and during which many of them colonized) to get rich. Never mind that they now, by and large, even in relative sh*tholes live much better than their ancestors did before colonization.  It’s all the fault of the West.  Without us, all would be peace and prosperity. Most people don’t know that because they were never taught it.  They’re simply taught we’re rich because we stole the world’s wealth.

This falls on fertile ears because we are rich.  Even casual observation tells people we are much wealthier than anyone has been in history.

Unearned wealth works to destroy cultures as well as to destroy individuals, particularly when the envious whisper scathing things.

So, you know, those people who win the lottery and squander it all, partly because everyone wants a piece of them, everyone talks about how poor they are, everyone makes them feel guilty?  That’s us.

Western Civilization is dying of altruism. We are berated for being evil rich, and we are rich, beyond the dreams of past centuries, and we, in the present time, did Jack Diddly to deserve it, so we feel guilty and think it must be true.

Our youth who volunteer abroad always come back with a dazed look, particularly when they go to Africa.  I’ve heard the ones I know say things like, “We’re so rich, and they’re so poor” as though this were cause and effect.  And a lot of them turn hard left as a consequence.

Which is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Rejecting the values of the West and making ourselves paupers for socialism might scratch the self-flagellation itch of our intellectuals.

It does nothing for the rest of the world but make them poorer.

Instead we need to imbue people with the virtues of the West — self control, thrift, bourgeois living — and encourage them to communicate those values to every culture they come in contact with, by example more than by preaching.  (Who was the preacher who said “Preach constantly.  If needed, use words?”?).

Then the rest of the world can climb out of their hurdle of “traditional culture” and embrace the prosperity that results.

Because the best thing about reality – as opposed to Marxism – is that wealth is not a closed pie.  There are more riches in the world now than could be imagined by our historical ancestors. And the more hands that turn to civilization and creation, instead of envy the destruction, the more prosperous we all will be.

Prosperity begets prosperity, world without end.

There is no reason to feel guilty about it.  And the way to share it is not to divest yourself but to grow the wealth and pass on the culture.