Western Civilization’s success is unlike any other. Its lifespan has seen the destruction of hundreds of other societies, and at least six other civilizations. Each of its predecessors has followed the same life cycle, culminating in decay and destruction. (See: The Architecture Of History)
It has demonstrated an uncanny ability, unlike all others, to reform and reorganize itself, and adapt its success to each new age. Each Instrument of Expansion decays into an Institution, giving rise to an Age of Conflict as time passes.
First Instrument Of Expansion – Agriculture – Feudal farming, using serf labor. The Dark Ages were prolonged by excessive taxation and institutionalized religion.
First Age Of Conflict – Medieval Wars. The Crusades. Witch Hunts. The Spanish Inquisition.
Second Instrument Of Expansion – Trade, executed via state chartered trading companies (i.e. British East India Company). Fueled by the Renaissance, decentralization of religion (Protestantism) exploration and colonialism. Adam Smith’s classic, The Wealth of Nations documented the excesses of this era.
Second Age Of Conflict – The American Revolution, The French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812, U.S. Civil War.
Third Instrument Of Expansion – Technology, via the Industrial Revolution. The late 19th Century growth was fueled by financial capitalism, becoming an era of monopoly capitalism with the founding of the Federal Reserve in 1913. With the founding of the Global Banking System after World War I, The Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland became an institution of authority capitalism, or “wealth by decree.” It governs the global banking system even to this day. (See: One Bank To Rule Them All)
Third Age Of Conflict – World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War, The War On Terror.
Here, in 2013, we sit upon the waning days of the Third Age of Conflict. The obvious symptom of the end of this age – the global economic crisis – threatens to end in a destructive collapse. Unless…
Fourth Instrument of Expansion – Yet to come. The world waits.
The emerging, decentralized economy of the Internet, has the potential to become the Fourth Instrument – and its success would not be limited to Western Civilization. Cryptocurrency shows incredible promise for facilitating a decentralized, digital economy. The most well-known example is Bitcoin, though there are many others.
Even mainstream economists are beginning to understand that the implications of the first decentralized, borderless payment system are staggering.
Roots Of The West
So, how did the west succeed where so many other civilizations failed? What makes it different?
The foundational characteristic that made it so unique, was the underlying belief system: Christian philosophy and its values. This does not necessarily mean the Christian religion per se, but the personal values that come with it as a consequence. These have been embraced by both the secular and the religious.
Specifically, two parts were transformative:
Individual Achievement – In Christianity, unlike prior belief systems, salvation was held to be a matter of individual achievement. You saved your own soul, through your own actions. This demanded individual pursuit of success. Every entrepreneur, artist, scientist, innovator, and great leader in Western Civilization followed their path with the motivation of an individual. (See: Collective Salvation Never Lives Up To Its Name)
Humility – Believing that “We don’t yet know everything.” – To embrace human imperfection, is to acknowledge the necessity of self-improvement. To discover new things, humility is an essential tool for moving past old ideas. This enabled a continuous pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment through philosophy and science.
In Tragedy and Hope, Carroll Quigley points out that the history of Western Civilization and the history of Christian values (even if embraced for secular reasons) are one and the same. Christianity swept throughout the dying Roman Empire, becoming the dominant belief system in every corner of Europe.
It begs the question: Can the peace and prosperity of Western Civilization continue to exist without these two foundational values?
He believes the answer is “no.”
So what is the Classical Western Tradition? A union of two concepts:
Classically Liberal – civil liberties, freedom of speech, equality of the races, open education, and freedom of social conduct.
Traditionally Conservative – traditional family values, respect for gender differences, the family as a foundational unit of society, respect for individual property rights, free market competition and achievement.
In short, westerners have traditionally acted liberal in society, but conservative in their homes and personal lives.
In modern times, those with influence over the media promote a false Left/Right Paradigm which seeks to pit portions of the middle class against each other, alienating and destroying the cultural relevance of those who don’t choose a side. The Internet has begun the process of undoing this damage, by uniting many who see through this illusion…
I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Paul on two separate occasions, and his adherence to these principles is one of the reasons I hold him in high respect.
The real goal of his 2012 political campaign was not to win the Presidency, or create a stir – he believes that these values are our foundation and that we must address them as a society, before we can attack the rest of our problems.