John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright
johncwright

Material Prosperity Breeds Civility and Law? Or Visa Versa?

Part of an ongoing conversation: 

"What I did say though, was that man's social conditions change and evolve into at least better material circumstances due to the increasing demands of maintaining a rising capital base and the needs of a growing diversification of labor network."

This is exactly where we disagree. I let my sense of humor escape its kennel, and so I spoke sarcastically when I should have spoken soberly. Forgive me, let us put my glib comment to one side, and actually address the issue:

I propose a radically different reading of history from yours. I propose that Christ introduced a view of man so remarkably different from that known in the ancient world, or in the East, as to be without compare or parallel. The change wrought in the moral sentiments of Christendom was so significant and widespread that you and every other scion of Christian philosophy have not even any awareness of it.

The Greeks with their infanticide, divorce, and slavery, held men to be innately unequal. Barbarians were fit only for servitude. The Romans, even worse, held it to be noble to condemn gladiators to fight to death for the amusement of idle crowds. Lavish executions by slow torture were commonplace. The idea of killing a man quickly, painlessly, even offering him a blindfold and cigarette so that he will not die without dignity is as alien to the ancient mind as non-Euclidean geometry. It is literally something from another universe.

The Indians with their caste system and the Chinese with their Confucianism and Legalism held the same view of man. Rulers rule. Servants serve. Slaves slave. Women bear children, which, when unwanted, are killed.

Imagine the scene of Jesus, a man of a conquered people, standing in chains before Pilot, the epitome of Roman power, law, and dignity. In the eyes of the ancient world, by the philosophy of the greatest and noblest sages of East and West, that scene would look like a clown confronting a demigod, with Jesus, the slave, in the role of the slapstick clown, someone whose role was to be hit with a pie or blown up by dynamite, and Pilot, speaking with the divine authority of Caesar, as the voice of heaven. The idea that the slapstick clown, whose mission in life was to die in torment for the amusement of the mob, was somehow greater than the voice of Caesar was inconceivable, radical, paradoxical, and backward by every ancient standard.

The Jewish notion that God was good is radically different from the Greek notion -- in Greek myth, after all, Cyclopes is the child of Neptune, and the gods are not always on the side of humanity -- just ask Ulysses. The Jewish notion that creation is GOOD is a radical defiance of the Greek notion that the world arose from chaos without purpose.

The adoption of the Christian world-view is what led to notions like the separation of church and state, the subordination of kings to the laws they make, the equality of men in the eyes of God, and so on. Without these ideas, the additional ideas of the security of property and the equality of slaves and women could not have surfaced. They are not natural ideas; they are not even rational ideas; they are mystical ideas having roots nowhere but Christendom.

The industrial revolution, the rising capital base, the specialization of labor, the rule of law and all other things you name or might name as sources of the increased felicity of man are products of nothing but Christendom.

Why did the industrial revolution happen in Europe, and nowhere else?

Why did modern science arise in the so called Dark Ages, and not earlier?

Why did the modern university system, with the notions of free inquiry and academic freedom, arise in Christian countries, and no where else?

Why did no one, no one, no one except the Christians ever free slaves, and why does slavery reappear within a few years in any land where Christians powers once ruled and now have withdrawn?

Why is Monogamy the rule, rather than the exception, in Christian lands, and why does the ruthless exploitation of women reappear within a few years in any land where Christians powers once ruled and now have withdrawn? -- We have God Damned HONOR KILLINGS happening in the United Kingdom these days. Is that just a coincidence or happenstance that this arose just when England moved sharply and clearly away from Christianity?

I humbly submit that you are conflating cause and effect. The cause of the improvement of man is the rise of highminded moral sentiments informing the laws and customs of man, producing such minor side effects as respect for reason, rights, and property, and which do not long last in the absence of the underlying moral sentiments.

"Twentieth Century Man has spilled a volume of blood that would have awed, or perhaps even made blanche, even Ghengis Khan, Atilla the Hun, or the ancient Aztecs."

This blood was spilled by National Socialists seeking material wealth, who turned away from Christianity and bowed to ancient gods of blood and soil; and this blood was spilled by International Socialists seeking material wealth, who turned away from Christianity and bowed to the Marxist goddess of Historical Necessity whom our ancestors called that strumpet Fortune.

The blood of all the children slain in abortion mills was shed in direct contradiction to Church teaching on the matter, and in a fashion that shocks the conscience of every honest Christian.

"As mankind's civilization advances materially, some forms of evil are effectively priced out of the market."

This claim is not merely atrociously false, it is an insult to every person killed in the cruel and pointless world wars and genocides of the Twentieth Century. For shame! How dare you say such a stupid and callous thing! Are you still deceived by the pompous Victorian optimism of HG Wells? The rise of education and wealth among the Mohammedans after the Second World War is what gives them the means to carry on the Global Terror War you so studiously avoid believing exists, or believe is due to us, and not due to the utterly unambiguous stated goals and policies of its public spokesmen.

Pardon my anger. Let us, I pray you, neither of us dare to claim that the material advancement of man has lead us away from barbarism and bloodshed -- no man surviving the Twentieth Century can speak of such things without weeping.
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic
  • 13 comments