The Economist (5/14/05) asked: Which best captures the spirit of Europe: the “Mona Lisa”, the “Moonlight Sonata”, “Hamlet!, or “Diggi-Loo, Diggi Ley”? No contest; the last one won. Other winning songs were “Boom-Bang.a Bang” and “Ding-Dinge Dong”. For years I have been watching news on Italian television. I have never once heard mention of Dante, Michelangelo or of any of the great figures of Italian culture, Be careful of the word “culture”. It used to mean high culture, but anthropologists have changed the meaning to the way people live. So the often sordid scenes in the news are part of Italian culture. On the days when the Humanities dominated our academic curriculum, we taught high culture, which often meant that courses on Italy often became Italian cultural propaganda, ditto for France, Spain and Germany. This has been a source of sharp rivalries in language departments. The French faculty viewed with anger and scorn the rise of Spanish; I myself have been caught in that rivalry. Now the study of foreign countries has moved to the social sciences. This is reasonable, since high culture means little to the masses fighting to keep their head above water. The `problem is that countries want to be admired, not studied like laboratory specimens. Getting back to Europe, it seems that high culture has been swamped by low culture. The European anthem proclaims that “all men shall be brothers”. Change that to buddies.Read the home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/ Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.
Archive for the 'Decline of West' Category
Commenting on my piece “The Decline of the West”, Mike Dornheim writes: Right. You first see it in the skinheads beating up fairly innocent Turks, but the anti-EU votes of the French and Dutch citizens are probably a revolt against their PC masters, especially in Holland, which has a real Muslim problem culminating in the Van Gogh murder and other violence. I doubt that they were closely reading the what, 600 page?, EU constitution. The skinhead thing was interesting because it was the early alert of real trouble but was easily ignored because they’re skinheads.One distinction with the melanin-challenged European and U.S. culture is that it doesn’t react forcefully and quickly against others intruding on its turf and tends to avoid conflict. The other culture is used to much more day-to-day jostling, mostly in a sporting way, and interprets the Euro reaction as weakness and continues pushing and pushing. The reserved Brits vs. the noisy Italians. The pushy types aren’t good at reading the admittedly subtle signs coming out of the Euros nor are they good at discerning where the line is that will cause a reaction. That reaction is like flipping on a light switch, not gradual, and the next thing the pushy types know is they are all dead. To quote Popeye, “I’ve had all I can stand, I can’t stands no more!” and you know what happens after that. Of course it’s amusing that one of the reasons the Dutch are upset is that the towelheads want to get rid of legalized prostitution, homosexuality, legalized pot & other drugs—accomplishments the Dutch are apparently proud of. It’s hard to not sympathize with the Muslims on some points. So an explosion of violence is believable, particularly if it is spun that the immigrants want to take away gay bathhouses and open dope-smoking—then that gives intellectual justification to the rage that must be boiling up in much of the native European populace. The liberals are usually the worst fascists, anyway. Over here, I’m sure that a majority of Californians are still anti-illegal immigration. The disconnect with most politicians leads to the Minutemen, much more respectable than skinheads as an early warning sign, but most politicians still ignore the problem. Notable exception has been Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, though she seems to be more talk than action, and Schwarzenegger, who keeps vetoing these idiotic illegal alien driver’s license bills. And Hillary Clinton has picked up on it too. The good outcome could be massive Minutemen demonstrations (these are solid voting, tax-paying citizens) that finally catch the attention of Karl Rove, but he is in such an arrogant way now that he could easily just let them eat cake.
Jon Kofas writes: Just to address a single theme in Professor Hilton’s analysis of western civilization’s decline, it is true that the communitarian values of western societies have been gradually fading in the past half a century. But is that a manifestation of cultural and political “decline” or changing value systems arising as a result of changing material conditions? And why has the value system of the West evolved to the degree that the majority of urban Europeans will not admit in public opinion polls any religious affiliation, or attending church? Urbanization, consumerism, mass secular culture, and atomistic values are all contributing factors to the declining religiously-based communitarian way of life. The problem with the “sinking of Europe” and the end of the communitarian value system is a relative decline of compassion for humanity, and a rise of alienation which many try to cure by going to therapy, and with legal and illegal drugs. With all its problems and intrigues, and despite its obvious links to the elites, the Christian Church generally inculcated a sense of compassion among its faithful, and it accounted for a more cohesive Europe.? RH: The word compassion occurs frequently in the Bible, although St. Paul uses the word? charity. The Red Letter edition I have says “compassion: see love”.? Agape, not eros.? I hereby declare “Agape!” to be the official greeting among WAISers.? Better than “Heil Hitler!”
Western civilization has long been a mixed bag, as is clear from an excellent series of TV documentaries on Alexander called the Great. A megalomaniac who thought he was a god,? he inspired a whole line of military megalomaniacs, ending (we hope) with Napoleon and Hitler.? His cultural legacy? was the creation of Alexandria, the great center of commerce and culture.? What of Europe today? On the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, German TV shows Germans painfully accepting the truth about the Hitler regime.? At the same time, the Germany I see on Deutsche Welle has a culture ominously similar to that of the Weimar Republic. Germans talk of “swinging Berlin”, as in “swinging London”.