A Sunday Night Aphorism for Western Culture
Friday night was my construction company’s Christmas party, and it won’t surprise Anchor Rising readers to hear that I spent most of it bantering with a twentysomething carpenter who is currently straining his daily energies to take night classes in Boston. Having vivid memories of the automotive experience that such an endeavor entails made my attitude entirely sympathetic… until I mentioned that I “read” War and Peace as a book-on-tape during my commutes and he offered that he’s listening to Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.
The conversation devolved quickly to assertions of absolutes (me) and quips about relativism (him). I held that the White Man was essentially the most successful tribe, whose success brought the world culture to the understanding of higher principles — higher civilization — from Christianity to science. He put forward the image of tribal peoples blissful in their ignorance, as if the apple by which mankind fell from the garden arrived on a European ship.
Well, anyway, we were several beers and a long workday in, by that point, having been shoulder to shoulder for two days installing a tin ceiling in somebody’s kitchen (no Sistine Chapel, that), and I’ve heard similarly heated arguments over comparative quarterbacks. But it occurred to me, while doing the Sunday night dishes, that what I’d been struggling to convey boils down to this: Western Civilization made it possible to know that some of its own actions while advancing were wrong, and then to move forward.
The wish of Zinnites and other Marxists to deconstruct that legacy is ultimately a desire to transcend by returning to ignorance and tribalism.