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Thursday 19 September 2002

Culture War, For Real

Steven Den Beste writes an excellent analysis of the current war, and what it will ultimately require.

This isn’t the first time that anyone (or even Den Beste) has pointed out that the culture of our enemy will have to be utterly destroyed before the war can end, but it’s the first time I’ve seen a decent analysis of where that culture’s problems have come from.

One thing that bothers me, though, is that Den Beste appeals to Ralph Peters’ seven flaws that condemn nations to failure. In an article in Parameters in Spring 1998, Peters said that these “failure factors” were:

  • Restrictions on the free flow of information.

  • The subjugation of women.

  • Inability to accept responsibility for individual or collective failure.

  • The extended family or clan as the basic unit of social organization.

  • Domination by a restrictive religion.

  • A low valuation of education.

  • Low prestige assigned to work.

I can argue with none of these, but Peters’ argument (or at least this part of it) appears to be a tautology: Unsuccessful cultures restrict information, subjugate women, etc., etc.; ergo these things make a culture unsuccessful.

It makes sense that restriction of information (etc.) leads to a stagnant culture.

It also seems logical, though, that in an unsuccessful culture, people would ascribe a low value to work and education (because you’re still from this loser culture anyway, right?); that the physically weak (women, mainly) would be marginalized so the culture’s limited resources might be had by the strong; that religion would grow to be tyrannical; etc.

Posted by tino at 11:26 19.09.02
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