Thursday, June 9, 2016

Another Reason for Western Superiority?

Guest post by TZ:

In Asia in general there is conformity and uniformity, so the range of subsidiarity is less important. If you can imagine a nation where the localities are all similar, populated by clones, everyone would have the same answer to any problem.

In the West, the good side of diversity means that different areas of the country are not only geologically, meteorologically, and culturally different, but that subsidiarity is what moderates the differences so that we can be "One Nation, Under God", while having utterly different cities where you can move to where you match the culture.

This is a danger with the alt-Right's nationalism, if they ignore that the "nation" is still diverse even if populated by Europeans. The Red-Coats and Patriots were both "Englishmen".

One of the Libertarian/Anarchists points is valid in that the Free Market should decide, but that would also mean if I wanted to live in a gated city among my peers (however I define it) I should be allowed to.

The glory and greatness of the west is because it found a way to create an ecosystem instead of a monoculture.


Afterword by Ex-Army.

First, one thing I think he got wrong, or at least expressed wrong: He refers to Asia as if it were a culture in itself, analogous to Western Culture. That simply can't be the case. I've always accepted Spengler's notion, expressed in Decline of the West, that there have been eight "high cultures." Wikipedia says:

Spengler lists eight hochkulturen or "High Cultures" that have existed:

So of course, "Asia" is the home of not one culture, but several, including Babylonian, Indic, Sinic (Chinese) and in part, Islamic and Classical. So in discussing the characteristics of the West, it can't be compared to the whole of Asia, but to Sinic, or Indic, or whatever. With that caveat, I concur with what TZ says here.

All this reminds me of something interesting I read about Japan. Don't know if it's entirely true, but it has the ring of truth about it. It was said that if a high-school student transfers from one school to another on the other side of the country, when he gets there, each of his classes has the same textbook, and they're on the same page as in his old school. (And, of course, one would probably count Japan as a segment of Sinic culure.)

What TZ expresses here in a concise way has been remarked on elsewhere, but usually not this clearly or coherently. Now, he's replying to the Subsidiarity post here [link] in particular. And I've heard the same principle described other ways in the past:

Somebody, Oswald Spengler or somebody like him, remarked that a strength of the Western Culture is that, unlike Chinese or Classical Culture, it has always lacked a coterminous superstate. At first glance, this might be taken as a weakness, but there's never been a time in Western History that the energies of the West have been coordinated by a single authority. Great accomplishments have been made, largely, by segments of the West in competition with one another. Paris v. London v. Rome v. Berlin v. Madrid, etc.

Others have pointed out that the Reformation is what did it. It prevented any one church from dominating the West, AND is separated the power of all the churches from that of all the states, more or less, again enabling competition and preventing stagnation.

And language, of course. Classical culture had one dominant language, Latin, and a secondary one, Greek. China had one, Chinese, etc. The West has that same Latin, plus English, German, Spanish, French and several smaller ones, all of which have strong literary traditions, again, in competition with one another.

And, almost needless to say, free-market capitalism has flourished more within the West than anywhere else on earth, largely due to the absence of a central authority.

And you can probably thing of some other areas in which the West, unlike other cultures, has avoided uniformity and, deliberately or otherwise, fostered competition, economically and culturally.
Quibcag: No, technically not a quibcag, because I was intent on using the goddess Europa, and nobody seems to have done her up in anime style, oddly enough. I don't know where this art came from originally.


  1. The glory and greatness of the west is because it found a way to justified their needs and study to improve their technology.

  2. The idea is also required for trade - real trade, not the globalist or even Ricardian free trade. France makes different wines than other countries, Germans make different beer. Protectionism is too often considered in the context of identical products, but if you have a healthy diversity the products will be so different the trade will be between apples and oranges instead of building two sets of greenhouses and/or banning the import of the one you don't produce locally.

    Competition is not quite the right word to describe it. Gothe and Shakespeare? Or even the Chinese v.s. the Mexican v.s. the Italian restaurant. More like real choices.

    The evil of the Walmarts and big box stores is their very sameness, and destroying the local stores by lowering their cash flow - there are few niches for boutiques that sell only unique items, but the big boxes can sell the staple items for less. We lose jobs, but we also lose art and uniqueness. Everything is ISO-9000 consistent, but they are all mongrel products designed to be mediocre to hit some cost/price optimum. Excellence is lost, or reduced to the superficial.

    When I moved to a farm town, I have a supply of real food - where I can see the chickens or cow or field growing the vegetables. It tastes different even than the "organic" or whatever higher priced stuff. Walmart might feature "local" produce, but it is still marginal. But sugar-laden processed foods work better in the model of uniformity - 20 kinds of sugared corn products - pops, flakes, with fruit or bran, but all is unhealthy.

    I'm even thinking of Apple and the iPhone and the other devices. The UI which you see hourly is inconsistent, old, trash, but the box it comes in is really expensive and neat to provide a good experience. It is not repairable since it uses glue to make it lighter and thinner. Profitable? Quite, for now. Steve Jobs at least pushed all levels to be great, but his magic is gone and the company is adrift.

    True excellence also demands something of the consumer - to not treat them as stupid, but also not to treat them as if they are going to read a novel-length manual to figure out something.

    But when the target market is a multicultural mish-mash that has to consider the lowest common denominator, excellence can't flourish.

    Globalism, or even a national chain has no local flavor. So not just in the legal and political sphere, you need subsidiarity to flourish, and in this case especially because the different localities will produce and desire unique products because they can target a small market instead of the world - and others outside of the target market can discover something unique.