Barbarians and the Civilized

It is by now a familiar cliché, long propagated by Western thinkers and the media, that Europe and European culture are responsible for a multitude of ills. Europeans have been raised to detest themselves, certain that they have inflicted evil for which they must relentlessly atone. This evil is known by two terms: colonialism and imperialism, both driven by capitalism. Nothing today is more European than this self-hatred, this passion for cursing and lacerating ourselves. Yet, by issuing their anathemas, the high priests of defamation only signal their membership in the universe they reject. How can we fail to see that we take a strange pride in being the worst? Self-denigration is all too clearly a form of indirect self-glorification. Evil comes only from us; others are always motivated by sympathy, goodwill, and candor. Such is the paternalism of the guilty conscience: seeing ourselves as the kings of infamy is still a way of staying on the crest of history. Europe remains messianic in a minor mode, campaigning for its own weakness. Barbarism is the European’s great pride; he denies that others are ever barbarous, always finding attenuating circumstances for them, which also denies them all responsibility.

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  • People often take it for granted that just because they are nominally capable of rational thought that that is what they are doing. Its not that easy, as Bruckner points out in this great article. Progressives think that since they are so smart and highly educated they are actually thinking when they blame the very governments, writers (esp. dead white ones) and religions that have lifted them out of and protected them from savagery and ignorance for whatever anxiety and guilt they bring on themselves.

  • cdajoe

    What a spectacular essay !