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.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

“a desire to transcend by returning to ignorance and tribalism.”
We are never more than one generation away from barbarism.
You say he was “twenty something”, he still has a way to go. He is probably without experience in “command responsibility”, life is still infinite, and he probably hasn’t had much time to try out his Marxist ideas. Unfortunately, if those ideas fail in practice, he make take the lesson that he has failed the idea.
Still, he has the desire and initiative to further his education. It takes all kinds.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Was the twentysomething carpenter like you a member of the “most successful tribe”?
Since you and he do the same work are you both paid the same?
Have you ever read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.?
If 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 why were you doing the dishes?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I once picked uo Zinn’s book at a used book sale,and I never throw books out-I resell them or just give them away,but for that book I made an exception.I couldn’t believe that ingrate’s take on our history.

rhody
rhody
11 years ago

I never took Zinn’s course in my college days, but if John Silber spent so much time and effort trying to run him off campus, I figured he had to be doing something right.
After finally reading his book 2-3 years ago, I still don’t understand the insane hostility he generates. Yes, he has a take, but he’s not any more a danger to society than Coulter (and I’ve read her, too).

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