Copyright © 2007 by Jay B. Gaskill
GUNS, GERMS AND ISLAM: CONQUEROR’S REMORSE
History records the drama of competing forms of social organization, the success of some of which presage a dark age, while the success of others leads human civilization into its far better destinies.
The Islamist challenge to the West is as serious as any in our history. The outcome will be governed by our “moral confidence quotient”.
The ultimate survival of any civilization
is the product of two things: (1) its economic vitality and (2) its “moral
confidence quotient”. I am long term
optimistic because I believe that any Islamist dark age that is ushered in over
the feeble protests of an intimidated West will eventually gutter out. But I am short term worried because the
post-modern West finds itself unusually divided, ambivalent and
irresolute. The West’s moral confidence
quotient is as dangerously low as the sub-replacement birth rate in continental
It comes down to this: For the
Moral ambivalence can easily
snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, while moral confidence can make short
shrift of the challenge posed by an unstable alliance of terrorists and
West-hating neo-Medieval jihadists. The
present economic strength of the Western nations is potentially the trump card
even in the absence of a well developed and deployed military establishment.
Like any other world
I can locate no period of Chinese history to the present date when there was any measurable guilt.
I’ve concluded that Euro-guilt
is a recent development in history, and that subsequent centuries may well
regard it as a passing phase in the human story. I am personally persuaded that
achievement guilt the post-modern
Civilizations are large scale zones of social order that enable peaceful human activities to go on free from predatory interruption. At their very core, civilizations are social technologies. Some are better technologies than others.
Civilizations tend to compete in
part for the traditionally understood reasons (territory and resources) but
they also compete in the same way that technologies compete. “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond
(1999, 1997 Norton) is usually cited as a comprehensive deconstruction of
Eurocentrism. Diamond advances the theory that Europeans succeeded less because
of superior intellect than because their appropriation of
I found two subtext points in GG&S that were even more relevant to the current situation:
(1) Civilizations are technologies
(2) Conquest is what they naturally do … sometimes even without trying.
If the present demographic,
social and political trends continue unchecked,
The Islamist challenge to the West is an opportunity to reconfigure, consolidate and promote a robust new consensus. The case for a free, vigorous, creative civilization is compelling and it transcends all tribal, religious and secular boundaries within the modern world.
For a preview of what that consensus might look like – and of the scope of the problem of generating such a consensus – go to my essays “Secular Steel”, posted at http://jaygaskill.com/secular.htm ; “Summoning Our Fiercer Angels”, posted at http://jaygaskill.com/SavingDemocracy.htm ; and “The Lucifer and Lamb Project” posted at http://www.jaygaskill.com/TheLUCIFERLAMBProject.pdf .