Is it possible to praise other civilizations without denigrating the West?

Fred Reed at The Unz Review wrote an interesting article on the intellectual achievements of the Mayan civilization.  The punchline:

It is interesting that Europe invented neither writing, zero, nor its number system, but the Mesoamericans did all three. Perhaps the Indians were enstupidated by the admixture of Spanish blood.

Usually essays about the admirable qualities of Native American societies are at least as much about the immorality of the West, but this actually read more like an essay on medieval Islamic civilization.  I’m sure you’ve encountered the type.  I have no problem with Muslims having things to be proud of, and it actually fits best with my worldview if our great rival monotheists created one of the more accomplished civilizations, but I cringe every time I start reading about the greatness of Islamic civilization.  I know that what I’m about to read will take a great deal of space belaboring the barbarism, illiteracy, and stupidity of Europe.  And it does, every time.

Can we just lay off the shortcomings of the West for a while, dammit?  After all, writing had already been invented before our civilization started, so we couldn’t have invented it no matter how ingenious we were.  As for zero, that’s a rare accomplishment.  Not having come up with it on our own doesn’t make the West stand out negatively among the dozen or so civilizations of world history.  Pick any breakthrough, and most of the world’s civilizations will not have developed it independently.

I’ll repeat what I said before:  the most astounding accomplishment of any civilization is its very existence, the fact that it created a distinct way of human life.  We should never let ourselves think that our worth as a people depends on these silly accomplishment competitions.

7 Responses

  1. Observing today’s descendents of the Maya, they could not possibly create, maintain, or operate, a civilization that did what their ancestors did.

    Therefore the Maya devolved, or suffered dysgenics – leading to the permanent and total collapse of their civilization. If it was just something like famine or war, they would have rebuilt. Instead, they reverted to an animal like existence in the jungle. Obvious devolution. They became racially inferior to their ancestors, conspicuously and obviously racially inferior to their ancestors.

    The same will happen to us if we continue to prevent high IQ women from breeding. Eventually there just will not be enough people who understand how to wire up the electrical grid. Indeed, it is already starting to happen. We can no longer make plutonium batteries, it is doubtful that our nuclear weapons are still operable, and the people who keep the electrical grid working are getting long in the tooth.

  2. There was a time where, if you literate you were a cleric, and if you were a cleric you were literate, and if you were a cleric, you were forbidden to reproduce. Obviously this tended to discourage the smart people from reproducing. Our current education system is basically religious, mostly what you learn is how to hate whites and males, requires unreasonably long attendance at university as a basically religious observance. This reduces high IQ fertility, especially that of women because their fertile period is shorter than that of men.

  3. “The superiority of the Tutsis can be seen in their similarity to Europeans”

    It’s clearly possible, but what you forget is that no one cares about lifting up other civilizations. They care about taking down ours.

  4. Is it possible to compliment another woman’s cooking without denigrating one’s wife? Obviously, yes. Just as obviously, one can compliment another woman’s cooking in such a way that the cooking of one’s wife is denigrated.

    Presumably one can find something to praise in just about any civilization, just as one can find something to praise in just about any book. Mayan civilization strikes me as a really bad book with a few brilliant passages.

  5. “Obviously this tended to discourage the smart people from reproducing.”

    That’s far from clear. The priesthood and monastic life presented a path for surplus upper class types to die off and maybe reproduce without causing much trouble. In addition, it presented a path for surplus smart lower class types to advance and reproduce without causing much trouble. Whether these things are net eugenic or dysgenic depends on their effects on the larger society. It’s not really convenient for your sons to fight over your inheritance. You might want to *do* something about that before you die.

    The insanity breaks out in Europe right after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. If you are me, you are constantly noticing that the most demented SJWs are that way because they have been denied their true calling as contemplatives/hermits by modernity.

  6. The writings of Guenon in particular have given me a higher appreciation of other cultures. But often this is framed in terms of things that they still have which Occidental peoples have lost. There is no denigration, but instead a sorrowful lament.

  7. Most of the first 6 civilizations are now located in areas that are decidedly poor and unpleasant–Egypt, Iraq, the Peruvian desert, Mexico, and even the IVC is located largely in Pakistan (though India would like to point out that there are a lot of IVC sites in India.) It’s almost as if centers of power and innovation shift over time!

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