W.E.S.T. – The Four Reasons the West is the Best

I have a confession: I spend too much time railing against cultural Marxism rather than boasting of the West’s merits.  Western civilization is like a lion.  Just turn it...
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I have a confession: I spend too much time railing against cultural Marxism rather than boasting of the West’s merits.  Western civilization is like a lion.  Just turn it loose; it will defend itself.  Yet, there are fellow-proponents of Western civilization who speak of its success as happenstance.  Most deny genetics has anything to do with it and an increasing number also deny cultural developments.  Environmental determinism, exemplified by Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, explains everything in terms of environmental influences rather than a interplay of genes, culture and environment – what Greg Cochran and the late Henry Harpending called the ‘endless dance of biological and cultural change’, in their brilliant book, The 10,000 Year Explosion.

 

Popular historian, Neil Ferguson, is famous for presenting six ‘killer apps’ which set ‘the West apart from the rest’.  But these are presented as tick-boxes to be imposed by some state; as though, overnight, any population could suddenly become identical to white middle class people in the West.  After all, that’s what happened in Iraq, right?  No, saying that competition, science, property, modern medicine, consumerism and a strong work ethic made Westerners more successful is putting the cart before the horse.  Culture is a manifestation of the individuals interacting within a society.  It is a bottom-up, organic process; the success of the West wasn’t something created by the state but by individual Westerners, despite the rise of statism.  To explain what I mean, I present to you my four killer apps of Western civilization in a helpful acronym – WEST:

 

Waiting

The ability to defer gratification, called ‘low time-preference’, is crucial for advanced civilizations. All of these killer apps can be partially explained by the cold winters theory. As humans left Africa, they had to keep moving to avoid over-foraging and threats from competition.  Some encountered increasingly colder environments.  Like the parable of the lazy squirrel, those who were unable to forgo the pleasure of consuming food now, were unable to survive the harsher winters and so they became food for someone else.  This produced a population better able to defer gratification with each generation.  Lower time-preference produces a culture with a superior work ethic and allows the development of a capitalist class.

Earnestness

Again, cold winters favoured those stricter adherents to the group’s honour code, designed for co-operation and survival. Even the ferocious Indo-Europeans, from whom Europeans are descended, developed egalitarian and libertarian aristocracies. Their legacy was the equality of free men, bound to each other in honour, oaths, and fealty.  No man could violate the property of another without impunity and, thus, advanced, private systems of government developed in Northern Europe.  There was no state, but there was most certainly law and order to which all were accountable, even the king.  Juries of free men required one to prove a matter to their face, the laws being intuitively private property-oriented enough to be passed on by oral tradition.  Of course, as agriculture advanced our ability to store and trade food, equipment, jewellery etc., the trustworthy were more successful in business and better able to reproduce.  This too helped the development of the influential Western bourgeoisie who asserted rights and the rule of law, despite the rise of statism.

Smarts

Understandably, many suppose that the lack of writing in ancient Europe (and even later in Northern Europe) meant that the people had lower average IQ’s but this does not necessarily follow. Harsher winters required the ability to make clothes, fires and, later, to think abstractly about private property in order to optimise one’s personal resource accumulation. This would explain the higher average IQ’s of Europeans and East Asians.  In fact, the lack of writing is easily explained – there was no need for it.  There were no states requiring a large census, taxation and other systems of administration.  All matters of law, production and culture could be handled through speech.

Temperance

Do not confuse temperance with timidity! Yes, cold winters, agriculture and trade favoured those who could smile and say, ‘Thank you, come again,’ but, whereas the East Asians have very low average levels of testosterone, European levels are significantly higher. After all, Europeans, especially Northern Europeans are descended from warrior nomads from the Ukrainian steppe.  This reminds me of John Wayne’s line in McLintock: ‘You’ve got to be a man first before you can be a gentleman.’  Whilst the ideal of the stoic gentleman seems quintessentially Western, we were competitive barbarians first.  It was competition of thought which produced different schools of philosophy and eventually the scientific method.  It was competition which caused us to look inward and display greater degrees of Plato’s self-mastery.  The higher degree of psychopathy in European peoples is, arguably, what causes that dynamic and creative innovation of the new, without concern for the status quo.  The rest have been good at following sages, but the West has been good at revolutions.  This may also explain the West’s uniquely restless rationalism noted by Weber, that frustrating but fascinating quest for the truth.

 

These killer apps make Western civilization what it is – a combination of evolutionary factors, including genes and culture.  We cannot be something we are not, nor can we expect the rest of the world to be just like us.  We wouldn’t drop a Russian in the middle of the Australian desert and expect him to survive in the same way an aborigine does; likewise, we should stop dreaming of a burden on white people to make the world ‘safe for democracy’ or whatever is vogue with the political class.  The world is more interesting when there is variety and competition, and the existence of Western Civilization provides wonderful havens, full of opportunity for those who display the characteristics above and feel more akin to the West than their own culture.  The West is best, but also a rare and precious thing, formed by the people and for the people, not a set of policies for mass-production.

 

 

 

Categories
OpinionRik Storey

Richard Storey LL.M is a teacher, blogger and host of the YouTube channel, That Libertarian Chap, aimed at promoting libertarianism and Western ideals in the UK. His work focuses on the socio-biological factors which gave rise to libertarian principles and institutions in the West, considerations for the future of the West and the establishment of a private law society. He has previously contributed to Ocean Drive from the Council of European Canadians and the Libertarian Alliance, and has interviewed prominent academics in the fields of Law, Psychology and Economics.
  • Zalacain

    I think that one of the biggest differences that make some countries richer than others (especially over the last couple of centuries) is religion. Religion influences how we see ourselves, how we see others, our ability to cooperate with others, levels of hypocrisy, etc. You can see that Protestant countries have been more successful than Catholic or Orthodox and that Christian countries have been more successful than Muslim ones and so on.
    I consider Socialism and Fascism to be ideologies that are almost religions in themselves.
    I suspect that objective atheism would be the best starting point for a successful society.

    • Rik Storey

      And yet the introduction of Protestantism into many other groups around the world did not make them any more prosperous as much as the introduction to infrastructural institutions did. Also, the only reason Protestant countries had the benefit of so many capitalists towards the Reformation and beyond is because they fled the increasingly strict regulations requested by the pope. The great merchant cities were Catholic before then. England and Holland were flooded with brilliant businessmen. My answer would be the same for atheism; it takes a particular rationalistic group to overcome the natural impulses to anthropomorphise about complex phenomena. If you don’t start with those socio-biological factors, your atheist society isn’t going to last long.

      • Zalacain

        You make the point for me, that Protestantism flourished because Catholicism was too restrictive. The idea of biological factors seems a bit strange to me. Protestant countries have clearly been more successful than Catholic countries, whether in Europe or in the Americas.
        It’s not about race unless you are pushing the idea that the Chinese, historically (over most of the past 5000 years) the most successful race.

        • Rik Storey

          Well they do have a higher average IQ…

          • Zalacain

            Please don’t tell me that you think IQ is scientific or a predictor of a country’s wealth.

          • Rik Storey

            It is demonstrably the best determiner of personal success and Garret Jones has done important work on showing the relationship between individual and national IQ’s. In all the interviews I have had with psychologists, they scoff at the misconception that IQ is not an significant determinative factor re ‘success’.

          • Zalacain

            I would argue that the single biggest factor in a country’s success is the ability of its people to cooperate. I very much doubt that that has much to do with IQ. IQ maybe good for determining an individual’s likelihood of success, but not of a society’s?

          • Rik Storey

            It’s takes a high IQ to develop co-operation with an advanced, private division of labour a la ancient Greece and England/Holland at the Industrial Revolution. There are jungle tribes that co-operate well but they’re not going anywhere.

          • Zalacain

            The IQ argument seems to me to be an attempt at introducing a racist/bigoted argument through the back door. Different races, peoples and regions have been civilisation leaders throughout history. Clearly IQ hasn’t moved around the world, therefore it’s got to be other reasons for the success of different peoples.

            Take the USA, made up of the people that failed in Europe, the poor, the lower classes, those that couldn’t succeed, escaped to the US. According to your argument these would have been the class of people with least IQ and therefore the US would have been doomed from the first, yet it turned out to work quite well.

          • Rik Storey

            The country was founded by English and Germanic people seeking religious freedom, not ‘failures’. If you’re talking about later Irish and Italian immigrants, again, even that doesn’t fit your narrative. Now, to your accusation or racism, what racist argument am I proposing exactly?

          • Zalacain

            The US was populated by people that couldn’t succeed in Europe. This is a self-evident truth even though it may not be very popular in the US.
            Racism/bigotry: You are are suggesting that only peoples with a high IQ can develop a sophisticated society. This would mean that there are people/races/or nations with lower IQ’s than others.

  • The Blast Crusader

    Reasons why the west is the best:
    W=Whites
    E=Europeans
    S=Sovereignty
    T=Timeless

    • The Universal, Reciprocal, Insurance, of Sovereignty.
      I will fight for your sovereignty if you will fight for mine.
      Brothers in arms first.
      Family Second.
      Nation Third.
      That’s why the west is best.
      Trust made us develop faster than the rest.

  • Baba Yaga

    I’m sure the “Western ethos” could survive a few million non-“westerners”, right? As long as they’re chauvinists?

  • The Great White Rope

    You touch on IQ, and then fumble around environmental and social factors. You even allude to Europeans as influencing the so called “West”. Further you address the absurdity in turning other peoples into the West. Somehow after all of that you fail to acknowledge the fact that Europeans are the very foundation of the west. To put it simply, white people made the west. The west is not an ideal to be taken, and does not exist in spite of but because of whites. Fish will not take to the trees to hunt in solitary for mice, nor will eagles school together. Shall we find eagles with fish mentality and encourage them to school?

    It is not in their nature to do so. We both know why you will not come to this conclusion little fish.

    • Rik Storey

      You’ve just listed everything I concluded in this article. Where do I say that the West WASN’T created by the socio-biological factors present in Europeans, their culture and their environment?

      • The Great White Rope

        That’s not what I’m arguing. I’m saying your conclusion is wrong.

        “the existence of Western Civilization provides wonderful havens, full of
        opportunity for those who display the characteristics above and feel
        more akin to the West than their own culture”

        “Western Civilization” is European civilization. It is not a proposition or idea to be adopted and transplanted. It is not for Africans, Middle Easterners, Asians, etc. It is for Europeans, and their descendants. If you are not born of European ancestry you are not born of the people as a biological organism that generates western civilization.

        By coming to white nations they dilute them and deny their contributions to their homelands and their own people. They are effectively a traitor to their own kind. They have cast aside their ancestors in favor of lands and a people they do not belong. Time to leave libertarianism behind and embrace Nationalism for the preservation of western values.

        • Rik Storey

          I explicitly state ‘We cannot be something we are not, nor can we expect the rest of the world to be just like us…’ and I lambast the view that ‘any population could suddenly become identical to white middle class people in the West.’ I don’t see how I could be more explicity. Hopefully my next article defending homogeneity will clear things up for you. I am not saying that I want lots and lots of immigration at all; but I cannot see that small numbers who are of a benefit (i.e. genetic capital-wise) cannot immigrate to specialist positions of work. Nevertheless, they must be willing to accept the culture and to accept themselves as alien to it in terms of kinship. We can get into all sorts of discussion re law, social norms, taboos, personhood, rights etc. etc., but suffice it to say that I am not attacking homogeneity here at all and I think I was perfectly explicit on that point.

          • The Great White Rope

            Why should we deny these specialist positions to our own people by importing foreigners? Why would we deny these particular genetically wealthy individuals their contributions to their people? Where’s the love in turning our backs on our own, and where is the love in allowing others to put themselves in an environment where they will be alienated and denied a certain kinship? A kinship only available from their kin.

            I understand you’re not attacking homogeneity, but I think ours is a disagreement on the precise definition within this context. Homogeneity in this globalized world, per a libertarian viewpoint is divorced from race. I would also consider this an effect of society’s trend to place foreign kinship above that of blood. It’s the idea that those who hold viewpoints closer to our own deserve our consideration first. In essence I don’t think you are being strict enough with it, and placing genetic lineage first for the basis of morality will preserve these western values.

            Do you also realize you have proposed a sort of eugenics? I would refute this by pointing out that the European people have bred a certain disposition expressed by their DNA. This has been refined by thousands of years, to create traits unique to Europeans. Even if you were to interbreed those of other nations who might, happen to express traits similar and conducive to the European people their DNA still has the vast archive of their ancestors. Further the assumption is that their genes have something to offer.

          • Rik Storey

            If a private business is given the choice of hiring a specialist and, for whatever reason, the person they would hire would be cheaper to import and better at the position, then that would obviously be a consideration on their part. I think you are worried about mass immigration for low-skilled jobs for similar reasons. But, minus state interference in the matter (i.e. with minimum wage laws etc.), it is cheaper and preferable for smaller businesses and large businesses requiring cheap labour, to hire locally. I do not assume nor I do I propose any continuation of such state interference which makes it economically unsustainable to utilise the local population. In short, nature would ensure broad homogeneity, just as it does segregation.

          • The Great White Rope

            Half of that essay was a man arguing against Zionism without realizing it. He wonders why the many he historians he cites, who happen to be Jewish, interpret western civilization’s definitions of citizenship to not be centered on ethnic identities. He wonders why they seek to redefine ethnicity apart from genetic lineage. I’m surprised he did not firmly land on the reason why after he cited Kevin Macdonald. At first I thought he was trying to fly under the radar, but that notion was done away with by his section on Neocons. They too are a movement of Jews with a sole interest in the propagation of the Israeli state. To understand why, and how they use the language they do it must be placed within the confines of their ideologies. It is in the nature of Jews to be Jews first and anything else second. Through this lens the agenda of Neocons becomes obvious and so too we can see why those historians and sociologists would argue for broader definitions of citizenship. We can see why the deemphasis on ethnic identity for Europeans becomes an obvious choice for them. Undermining cultural and ethnic identities is in the interest of a people whose loyalty to the nation they live within always comes second to their own ethnic identity. For both you and Duchesne I recommend reading Kevin Macdonald’s “Culture of Critique”.

            “The fact that Northern Europe and, now, the West has adopted the Roman
            practice or universal citizenship has meant that rights are no longer
            based on kinship.”
            Duchesne’s essay refutes this premise. He concludes that these Roman ideas have been misinterpreted, by the very people that have a vested interest in redefining universal citizenship. The last sentence of his paper is this, “What is not consistent with rationally based research, with individual rational decision making, and with our collective kin-dispositions, are the claims that Western nations were civic in origins…”

            “The higher degree of psychopathy in European peoples is, arguably, what
            causes that dynamic and creative innovation of the new, without concern
            for the status quo.”
            This is wrong statistically and really does not make sense given the structure of European civilization. Psychopaths by definition are only detrimental to those around them to the point of being parasitic and do not advance their group as a whole. It is quite the opposite that has advanced the west. It is precisely a high trust society that enabled us to reach such heights. I bring this up because you stated a second time in a reply that psychopathy played a pivotal role. I’m curious as to your rationale behind that.

            Now my greatest contention is with your libertarian slant. “If a private business is given the choice… …But, minus state interference…” This is why I ask you to realign your moral compass. You are placing private business above the prosperity of the people. Now these aren’t mutually exclusive either. However, importing cheaper workers will depress wages whether or not they are better at the given position and will have a negative impact on society as a whole. Further you are giving employment to a foreigner over your own people. This practice effectively outsources the cost of running the business from the owner and onto the people of the nation it occupies. Indirectly this is corporate welfare. Why should we allow a business to raise a profit from our nations infrastructure in such a manner?

            To bring it full circle, this again, “…full of opportunity for those who display the characteristics above and feel more akin to the West than their own culture.” (Anybody is welcome as long as they have similar ideas.) There’s a lack in principle after addressing the varying issues behind this and still settling on such a conclusion. It suggests a bias of which I think you are even unaware of but should be most obvious.

          • Rik Storey

            I know Duchesne argued for an ethnic version of Roman citizenship, however, Christianity didn’t support this consistently. And for all practical purposes, Rome became a Christian empire and the Church spread Roman Law into Northern Europe. I didn’t have time to go into that of course, nor did I need to over-define the universal citizenship of Rome. Personhood and rights can be handled in exactly the same way as it was in ancient Northern Europe without having to resort to civic nationality.

          • Rik Storey

            In Victorian England, foreigners were technically able to occupy certain positions within businesses. Nevertheless, their being in England was no license to the same rights as kin. Of course, people have been welcome to accept foreign wives without this having anything more than a more or less positive affect long term, but the disadvantage this causes means that this is always a rare occurence.
            The real problem, I believe, is with citizenship. The fact that Northern Europe and, now, the West has adopted the Roman practice or universal citizenship has meant that rights are no longer based on kinship. Even many Romans blamed this and the consequent influx of foreigners (to prop up the heavily inflated and over-militarised economy) for the fall of Western Rome. If rights were based on kinship, due to the fact that our natural impulse is primarily towards the family but also towards the race/tribe as large-scale trouble presents itself, this would prevent the sort of damage to the homogeneity of any group and also the finer factors influenced by the long-term development of the genes, such as moderate levels of testosterone and psychopathy in the West.

  • “This produced a population better able to defer gratification with each generation.”
    Yes, the West is the best because of its portfolio of genetic capital. The environment selected for trait which makes Westerners unique in the world. What makes the West the Best is not merely ideological or institutional, it is genetic.

  • Neal Matheson

    An excellent article, Diamond is not too averse to talking about genetics when it comes to his own people, but I suspect the short shrift given to the subject by both Diamond and Fergusson is more to do with a pragmatic desire to get published/ accolades.Looking at the incredibly high techincal ability of Ice Age and Mesolithic Europeans I suspect the “smarts” thing goes back along way.

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