What is 'Western Civilization'?

By John "Birdman" Bryant


A major political desideratum for an increasing number of whites in America, Europe, Australia and other white-majority areas of the world is to preserve Western civilization against the encroachment of Third-World immigration. But what precisely are we trying to preserve -- or more precisely, what are the essential elements of Western civilization? Religion? Technology? Art? Literature? Language? Schools? Physical structures? Institutions? Political boundaries? Commerce? Cultural ambience? While all of these things are either important contributors to Western culture or important products of it, I think the basic answer must be that each of the named items is either not strictly essential to Western culture (eg, art, literature, language), or else is not distinctly Western (eg, technology, schools, physical structures). Some might argue that Christianity is distinctly Western and has served as a beacon to guide our civilization, but while this may be true to a significant degree, I am loath to include Christianity as an essential element because its theological doctrines are literally false, tho they have been used to support behavioral norms which are generally wise and useful. Even the latter point could be questioned, however, at least in the sense of wondering whether the many religious wars and disputes spawned by variants of Christian doctrine were not demonstrations of a basic pathology, and that Western civilization has blossomed in spite of, rather than because of, Christian doctrine.

There are, however, at least two things which in my view are at the core of Western civilization. The first is the white race which built that civilization -- a civilization which has never been equalled by other races, tho it has been copied by the Japanese and, to a lesser extent, other races. Yes, there are other races which have achieved a high degree of civilization on their own -- the Incas, the Chinese, the Indians (of India) and the Arabs come to mind, tho it may be that the latter two should be classed as white or part white -- and there seem to have been historical periods in which the achievements of these races exceeded those of whites of the same period -- but while these civilizations lasted for long periods, they were not able at their perigee to reach a level anywhere near the level which the white has reached, and their history during the flowering of white civilization has been to stall or retreat rather than advance, suggesting not only their inability to learn, but their culture's basic incompatibility with advancing civilization generally. Beyond this, white civilization shows a robustness or tendency to recur over widely-differing white populations, including ancient Greeks, Romans, and modern Europeans, to name the most obvious examples, thus strengthening the case for race rather than environment as the primary wellspring of civilization. This conclusion is reinforced by civilizational failures: Blacks have never had a civilization (the ancient Egyptians were not black -- check the bust of Queen Nefertiti, for example), and have never been able to sustain one, even when handed to them on a silver platter, as happened during the recent European colonial period in Africa. All this of course does not mean that other races are incapable of building or sustaining a Western-like civilization; but it does suggest that the civilization-building potential of Asians may be more limited than that of whites, and that the potential of the darker races, which have rarely if ever built civilizations or even sustained those built for them by whites, may well be severely limited.

The second thing which I consider to be at the core of Western civilization is the unique nature of Western governments: First, a commitment to the rule of law rather than of men (this was a characteristic of the Roman empire which, tho ruled by kings and emperors, had an extensive system of laws which even today influence our own); second, a commitment to the security of property rights; and third, the development and sustenance of individual liberty, which may alternatively be thought of as limited government in the sense that the more 'liberty' the government has, the less its citizens do (Note: representative government and similar democratic institutions -- first developed to a high degree in ancient Greece -- constituted a limitation on rulers and hence supported individual liberty). I group these together as a single point because they are all interrelated and self-reinforcing: Each reduces the potential for caprice and whim among the ruling class, and hence reduces the uncertainty concerning the relationships of people with one another and their government, with the result that social stability is significantly increased. When people are secure, they are willing to make large investments of time and capital in long-term goals -- businesses, buildings, marriages, institutions, and the like -- and it is commitment to the long term rather than the short which creates and sustains a high level of civilization. In particular, social stability generated by property rights, the rule of law and limited government have allowed the free market and human creativity to flourish because people have been given the real possibility of a return on their investment of capital and time; and the result has been a flowering of commerce, technology, education, art, literature and all the rest of the things which we now think of as included in what we call Western civilization.

In the matter of individual liberty, there is one very special feature of Western civilization which has acted to preserve it -- possession of weapons by the people. America's Founders were very explicit on the point: The people must be armed in order to resist governmental tyranny, as well as for personal self-defense. But the connection between liberty and an armed populace actually has much deeper historical roots. As Machiavelli stated in his Art of War, "It is certain that no subjects or citizens, when legally armed and kept in due order by their masters, ever did the least mischief to any State ... Rome remained free for 400 years and Sparta for 800, altho their citizens were armed all that time; but many other States that have been disarmed have lost their liberties in less than 40 years." While Machiavelli seems here to be speaking of the liberty of state rather than the individual, in the sense of the state's avoiding domination by other states by virtue of having a populace which is ready to come to its armed defense, the lesson remains the same for states as for individuals: He who is unarmed is vulnerable, and he who is vulnerable will be taken advantage of. But the very fact that the populations of the West have had a tradition of being armed -- no matter for what purpose -- may be responsible for the development of individual liberty in the sense that an armed man is one likely to fight back, whether against foreign invaders or domestic ones, and thus is much more likely to be left alone, and hence to be free.

But if the above observations are true, then it constitutes an important clarification of what we should focus upon in our attempt to preserve our civilization. In particular, we see that most of the political systems offered up to us by society, and especially liberalism and conservatism, are the antithesis of Western civilization, because they are programs to impose a particular set of values by means of restricting liberty. Furthermore, we can see that totalitarian efforts to preserve the white race such as those of Hitler are equally misdirected -- at least in the long term -- because such efforts involve significant restriction on human liberty and thus foredoom the effort to save what is so good about that race, namely, what it produces when free.

Libertarians have been unceasing in their contention that the only way to solve the poverty and social malaise of the Third World is the introduction of liberty, but they have not addressed the possibility that races other than the white may be incapable of sustaining a system which makes possible the prosperity and happiness of free white men. That is, whites are clearly 'liberty-capable', and so most probably are Asians; but whether the darker races can sustain liberty and obtain its benefits is very much a question. Children require a dictatorship of the parents which withers away as the children become independent; and other races may require a dictatorship of an elite wiser than themselves; but whether such dictatorship can ever lead to liberty and its usufructs is a question which only future history can answer.


           * * * Back to the Home Page of John "Birdman" Bryant, the World's Most Controversial Author * * *