Let Us Bend the Record Straight!

Duly Noted      Duly Noted

It is a triumph of propaganda that a tepid tale scores in developed countries. It is that their achievements come from the exploitation of backward societies. Due to lacking knowledge, the idea of culpability is frequently swallowed. As so often, bad history has a consequence. Call it “bad politics.” To deny what is obvious in the present and to give the future a new spin, some need to re-write history

High performance and its benefits enjoyed by a growing multitude is what the advanced West can claim for itself. The Western Model –not limited by geography for it includes all adaptive successful societies- has incrementally overcome hunger, disease, poverty and servitude. An order of liberty, supported by innovation, legal security, and earned rights has been created. Together these traits tell that history’s collectivist misery and subjugation were overcome by capitalist industrial democracy.

What has really happened? How to respond, if the score of the superior system is dismissed in the spirit of “property (achievement) is theft”?

Let us begin with a defining trait of classical civilizations –shared also by the Greco-Roman one. It was stability and therefore, stagnation on a level the standards of the time saw as the achievable limit. However, the concept’s Greek mutant had a module that we can identify as the gene from which the present’s success stems. This component searched for a reason beyond opinion and tradition, and it experimented to confirm or to disprove even accepted truth. However, Rome’s fall due to the barbarian invasions –call it “forced mass immigration”- damaged for centuries the culture within which the germ of man-made modernity existed.

The ensuing staging area of the modern world, now tagged as “Western Civilization”, sank into barbarity and put “Europe” below the level of the time’s leading “classical” civilizations. In the context of this new primitiveness, the ideal had been stability, therefore stagnation, on the level reached during the idealized past. It is the China of the Middle Kingdom that expresses this goal of perfection embedded in immobility.

The defining trait of classical civilization had been that it solved problems by teaching how to cope submissively with misfortune. The difference compared to the leading entities was that, during the Dark Ages, Europe’s practice scores on the bottom of the list of classical cultures. Europe was poorer, more unruly and more deficient in knowledge than civilizations such as India’s and China’s. Military weakness expressed that, which meant, that it suffered from the incursions of diverse peoples. Being weak among powerful neighbors, Europe was a victim. In some regions that role extended into the 20th century. None dare call that to have been the “imperialist exploitation” of the underdeveloped.

During the unfairly maligned medieval period, in slow motion, something unusual unfolded. Those with the knowledge of the privileged found their ideal in a glorified past. Regardless, albeit unintentionally, through their effort, not the resurrection of the past came about but the foundations of modernity were laid.

In this, the multi-layered ethnic, linguistic and religious composition of the continent – German tribes, Slavs, Magyars, and Roman remnants – had a role. A multitude of traditions coexisted although the elites strived to create uniformity through the use of Latin and by invoking Greco-Roman precedents; the multiplicity of the resulting states generated and institutionalized diversity.

The lack of coordinating authority was amplified by the conflict of Church and State –and the inability of either to dominate. The lack of order slowed the reconstruction of a civilization impaired by the collapse of Imperial structures. On the other hand, anarchy’s freedoms furnished opportunities to lay the foundations of an unanticipated future. The classical High Cultures produced civilizations limited by their perspectives through centralization. Europe failed at returning to that norm. As a substitute, it developed a culture of the “permanent revolution of change” achieved through an evolutionary process.

The ultimately creative anarchy institutionalized by feudalism, the connected cult of a rudimentary individuality, allowed the curious to seek un-endorsed answers. The pesteringly inquisitive found protection by competing worldly and ecclesiastical lords –Luther in the Wartburg exemplifies this. The luck of the re-established partial access to Greek knowledge, with its use of logic, observation, and experimentation, speeded up the recovery. It steered, during the Renaissance, the West in a new direction and beyond old limits. Connected to that, we detect enhancing factors.

Success that persuades its beneficiaries to stick to their way can become a handicap to nations and to businesses. That happens when left-behind competitors develop new tactics to exploit new niches. Advantages from an earlier achievement, if not paired with continuous innovation, tend to become outgrown and change into a disadvantage. China in the 19th century shows what happens when we conclude that “our old way is the best because it is our way”. The coin has a reverse side; an earlier handicap can be converted into an advantage. Her mountains made Switzerland into a poor-house. Then came tourism, high-tech, chemicals, and banking. The upshot: the highest earned global incomes.

With the West’s traditions being damaged, the resulting void, when filled, gave space to new social and material approaches. These brought new wealth and with that an appreciation of change. Discoveries expressing curiosity and disrespect for limiting traditions suggested that, man can create a new order and that, the innovatively tamed forces of nature may serve his cause.

A consequence is that, for the first time in history, a significant gap in wealth, power, knowledge and liberties separated the cultures and the countries these produced. It is this gap that gave substance to the new terms of “advanced” and “backward”

The resulting improved system, with its ability to avoid immobility, and tending to renew itself perpetually, moved, also in power-terms, ahead of other, till then dominant cultures. Better smiths’ led to better cannons and those proved to be superior to spears. This enabled the West not only to escape from its earlier military inferiority but also boosted it to global dominance. The “age of discoveries” tells the story. Not the Indians “discovered” America, not the Maoris circumnavigated the Cape, and not Malians landed in Iceland.

The critical point in our time is that, modernity institutionalized as the motor of the West, has preceded “colonialism”. Even if it is PC-etiquette to attribute the success of modern societies to their exploitation of the underdeveloped, the advance of the former was self-propelled and indigenous.

The first phase of “globalization” through system-export followed the creation of progressive societies and their order. Denying this might create a persuasive foundation for allocating generous amounts of aid money. At the same time, the guilt-ridden denial of the facts to reward victim status is ultimately to the disadvantage of the succor’s beneficiary. As long as the causes of poverty and wealth are, due to obfuscation, not understood, actions that target misery will remain misdirected. Sixty years of post-colonial  stagnation in some countries, regardless of the billions injected, prove the case.

 

 

It is a triumph of propaganda that a tepid tale scores in developed countries. It is that their achievements come from the exploitation of backward societies. Due to lacking knowledge, the idea of culpability is frequently swallowed. As so often, bad history has a consequence. Call it “bad politics.” To deny what is obvious in the present and to give the future a new spin, some need to re-write history

High performance and its benefits enjoyed by a growing multitude is what the advanced West can claim for itself. The Western Model –not limited by geography for it includes all adaptive successful societies- has incrementally overcome hunger, disease, poverty and servitude. An order of liberty, supported by innovation, legal security, and earned rights has been created. Together these traits tell that history’s collectivist misery and subjugation were overcome by capitalist industrial democracy.

What has really happened? How to respond, if the score of the superior system is dismissed in the spirit of “property (achievement) is theft”?

Let us begin with a defining trait of classical civilizations –shared also by the Greco-Roman one. It was stability and therefore, stagnation on a level the standards of the time saw as the achievable limit. However, the concept’s Greek mutant had a module that we can identify as the gene from which the present’s success stems. This component searched for a reason beyond opinion and tradition, and it experimented to confirm or to disprove even accepted truth. However, Rome’s fall due to the barbarian invasions –call it “forced mass immigration”- damaged for centuries the culture within which the germ of man-made modernity existed.

The ensuing staging area of the modern world, now tagged as “Western Civilization”, sank into barbarity and put “Europe” below the level of the time’s leading “classical” civilizations. In the context of this new primitiveness, the ideal had been stability, therefore stagnation, on the level reached during the idealized past. It is the China of the Middle Kingdom that expresses this goal of perfection embedded in immobility.

The defining trait of classical civilization had been that it solved problems by teaching how to cope submissively with misfortune. The difference compared to the leading entities was that, during the Dark Ages, Europe’s practice scores on the bottom of the list of classical cultures. Europe was poorer, more unruly and more deficient in knowledge than civilizations such as India’s and China’s. Military weakness expressed that, which meant, that it suffered from the incursions of diverse peoples. Being weak among powerful neighbors, Europe was a victim. In some regions that role extended into the 20th century. None dare call that to have been the “imperialist exploitation” of the underdeveloped.

During the unfairly maligned medieval period, in slow motion, something unusual unfolded. Those with the knowledge of the privileged found their ideal in a glorified past. Regardless, albeit unintentionally, through their effort, not the resurrection of the past came about but the foundations of modernity were laid.

In this, the multi-layered ethnic, linguistic and religious composition of the continent – German tribes, Slavs, Magyars, and Roman remnants – had a role. A multitude of traditions coexisted although the elites strived to create uniformity through the use of Latin and by invoking Greco-Roman precedents; the multiplicity of the resulting states generated and institutionalized diversity.

The lack of coordinating authority was amplified by the conflict of Church and State –and the inability of either to dominate. The lack of order slowed the reconstruction of a civilization impaired by the collapse of Imperial structures. On the other hand, anarchy’s freedoms furnished opportunities to lay the foundations of an unanticipated future. The classical High Cultures produced civilizations limited by their perspectives through centralization. Europe failed at returning to that norm. As a substitute, it developed a culture of the “permanent revolution of change” achieved through an evolutionary process.

The ultimately creative anarchy institutionalized by feudalism, the connected cult of a rudimentary individuality, allowed the curious to seek un-endorsed answers. The pesteringly inquisitive found protection by competing worldly and ecclesiastical lords –Luther in the Wartburg exemplifies this. The luck of the re-established partial access to Greek knowledge, with its use of logic, observation, and experimentation, speeded up the recovery. It steered, during the Renaissance, the West in a new direction and beyond old limits. Connected to that, we detect enhancing factors.

Success that persuades its beneficiaries to stick to their way can become a handicap to nations and to businesses. That happens when left-behind competitors develop new tactics to exploit new niches. Advantages from an earlier achievement, if not paired with continuous innovation, tend to become outgrown and change into a disadvantage. China in the 19th century shows what happens when we conclude that “our old way is the best because it is our way”. The coin has a reverse side; an earlier handicap can be converted into an advantage. Her mountains made Switzerland into a poor-house. Then came tourism, high-tech, chemicals, and banking. The upshot: the highest earned global incomes.

With the West’s traditions being damaged, the resulting void, when filled, gave space to new social and material approaches. These brought new wealth and with that an appreciation of change. Discoveries expressing curiosity and disrespect for limiting traditions suggested that, man can create a new order and that, the innovatively tamed forces of nature may serve his cause.

A consequence is that, for the first time in history, a significant gap in wealth, power, knowledge and liberties separated the cultures and the countries these produced. It is this gap that gave substance to the new terms of “advanced” and “backward”

The resulting improved system, with its ability to avoid immobility, and tending to renew itself perpetually, moved, also in power-terms, ahead of other, till then dominant cultures. Better smiths’ led to better cannons and those proved to be superior to spears. This enabled the West not only to escape from its earlier military inferiority but also boosted it to global dominance. The “age of discoveries” tells the story. Not the Indians “discovered” America, not the Maoris circumnavigated the Cape, and not Malians landed in Iceland.

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The critical point in our time is that, modernity institutionalized as the motor of the West, has preceded “colonialism”. Even if it is PC-etiquette to attribute the success of modern societies to their exploitation of the underdeveloped, the advance of the former was self-propelled and indigenous.

The first phase of “globalization” through system-export followed the creation of progressive societies and their order. Denying this might create a persuasive foundation for allocating generous amounts of aid money. At the same time, the guilt-ridden denial of the facts to reward claimants of victim status is ultimately to the disadvantage of the succor’s beneficiary. As long as the causes of poverty and wealth are, due to obfuscation, not understood, actions that target misery will remain misdirected. Sixty years of post-colonial  stagnation in some countries, regardless of the billions injected, prove the case.

 

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