On the Brink of a New Dark Age: The Clash of Two Western Civilizations
Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.”
In his poem, Kipling was expressing his belief that cultures of the east and west were so intrinsically different that any hope for harmony or mutual interest was little more than a delusion.
As an unrepentant racist and British imperialist, Kipling was quite certain that he exemplified the best of western civilization, founded as it was upon global submission of the dark-skinned races to a British hegemon which was mandated to rule the world as overlords. This imperial view was founded upon a ‘master-slave’ ordering of society, an intense racism and a tendency to treat the individual members of society like hedonistic pleasure-seeking creatures incapable of acting upon any higher principles of justice, or goodness beyond their local immediate concerns.
None other than arch priest of British free trade, Adam Smith had laid out this view in his 1759 ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’:
“The care of the universal happiness of all rational and sensible beings, is the business of God and not of man. To man is allotted a much humbler department, but one much more suitable to the weakness of his powers, and to the narrowness of his comprehension: the care of his own happiness… Nature has directed us to the greater part of these by original and immediate instincts. Hunger, thirst, the passion which unites the two sexes, the love of pleasure, and the dread of pain, prompt us to apply those means for their own sakes, and without any consideration of their tendency to those beneficent ends which the great Director of nature intended to produce them.”
How could such a worldview possibly mesh with the cultures of orthodox Russia, Confucian China, or the Arab world? To the degree that those cultures maintained their ancient traditions and values, it obviously could not, as only total submission to a hegemon could resolve the conflict.
This poisonous worldview was popular among many of the elites of Kipling’s day, just as it is in today’s ‘rules based international order’ driving the world towards total war.
Thankfully, this toxic worldview was never a true representative of ‘western culture’ as its advocates wished to believe.
On closer inspection of history, one finds not one, but two competing philosophies of natural law and self-interest operating under the banner of “western civilization”. And while the imperialists would wish theirs were the only option, the fact remains that the greatest developments such as the progress experienced during the 15th century Golden Renaissance, 1648 Peace of Westphalia and even the 1776 American Revolution were not animated by this worldview but something much more dignified. Where the imperial outlook rules by divide-to-conquer strategies of war, the anti-imperial outlook represents true Christian values by striving for peaceful resolutions and diplomatic solutions to conflict.
Where the imperial view demands that a total wall be placed between the interests of individuals and the welfare of the whole nation, the better renaissance traditions strive to harmonize the sense of personal freedom with the wellbeing of the nation, as echoed in America’s founding documents and Kennedy’s famous speech compelling Americans to ‘ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for the country”.
Unfortunately, it has been many years since JFK and his brother died, and the better traditions of the republic which they died defending have been nearly forgotten.
With their deaths, America drifted ever more into a disastrous enmeshment of forever wars and ‘greed-is-good’ deregulation, and consumerism that saw vital industries outsourced to cheap labor markets. During the Cold War with the Soviets; wars, assassinations, coups and other horrors were justified by both sides of this artificial Manichean clash in a race for total global dominance.
After decades of living in terror of nuclear annihilation, the world found hope in the early 1990s as the Soviet Empire, weakened under their own stagnation and lack of creative vitality, wilfully dissolved under the figure of Mikhail Gorbachev.
A new age was blossoming, as the Soviets were promised the best that western civilization had to offer with billions of dollars promised to be invested in projects across all former Soviet nations in exchange for the independence of Warsaw Pact states and an embrace of capitalism.
Of course, NATO was recognized as obsolete by many, and so the vocal promises made by James Baker and other leading American officials that the bloc would not encroach one inch upon the Russian Federation was assumed to have been made in good faith.
It did not take long for the former Soviet states to realize what lies had befallen them. Within a short time, Russia was hollowed out under the dark age of Perestroika looting overseen by the administration of Bill Clinton, Strobe Talbott and Talbott’s Russophobic assistant Victoria Nuland. The IMF regime imposed onto the former Soviet states ensured that industries were crushed, new oligarchs were built up on the riches of privatized state assets, energy prices increased, wages frozen and Balkanization permitted with a devastating illegal war launched by NATO onto Yugoslavia in 1998. NATO also continued to grow from 16 to 30 members with a broader ‘full spectrum dominance’ agenda encircling Russia with a missile shield that countless experts have warned can be made offensive in short notice.
Nowhere was this destruction most visible than in Ukraine which has today become the sparkplug for a potential thermonuclear WW3.
Enjoying one of the highest per capita economies of Europe in 1990, today’s Ukraine has fallen to the bottom of the list, ranking among the most corrupt states on Earth. Despites billions in IMF loans spent over 30 years, Ukraine’s economy is 2/3 what it was in 1990 and has lost its once powerful rocket/aviation and space industry that was once the most productive on Earth. Even its automotive industry has disappeared and the vast coal and hydrocarbon resources under her soil are inaccessible due to years of IMF conditionalities.
Energy prices have skyrocketed 1079% between the Maidan coup in 2014 and 2021, while overall use of energy has collapsed from 298.8 billion kW hours in 1990 to a dismal 148.8 billion kW hours today. Along with the destruction of industry and energy came the destruction of the people whose longevity has fallen with birthrates. Infant mortality has risen to 7 deaths per 1000, and the population has fallen from 52 million in 1990 to 37.3 million today. There is not one single demographic factor which does not indicate either the highest degree of incompetence by western technicians spread out over 30 years or the systemic intention to destroy a once great people for purely geopolitical ends.
These are the gifts of the ugly counterfeit of ‘western values’ which proclaimed absolute victory over the world in 1992 as ‘an end of history’. Then-senator Joe Biden displayed this dishonest agenda in his 1992 ‘How I learned to love the New World Order’ saying: “Having contained Soviet Communism until it dissolved, we need a new strategy of ‘containment’ based, like NATO, on collective action”.
The fact is that those advancing this paradigm were never the representatives of true western values, but were like Kipling, merely romantic Utopians ideologically committed to an age of total domination of the weak under a rule by the strong. This ideology underlies the downfall of every major empire throughout history, as it is only capable of destroying the diversity, and creative vitality so necessary for humanity to thrive and progress. It is a culture of dark ages, war and ignorance and it is everything that those leading figures of the renaissance and American revolution sought to extinguish forever from the face of the Earth.
Sitting as he was upon a world caught between two competing systems and two competing views of “western values”, Lincoln’s economic advisor Henry C. Carey laid out the terms of today’s conflict in his 1851 Harmony of Interests:
“Two systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labour of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving the labourer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits. One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level. One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of ELEVATING while EQUALIZING the condition of man throughout the world.”
As the threat of a total war of annihilation presses upon our future along with the threat of a long dark age, it is worth asking if the west has lost the moral fitness to survive, or is there even now, the power to restore the true heritage of 1776 with a look towards cooperating with nations of Eurasia before we light the world on fire.
Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , and Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow. He is author of the ‘Untold History of Canada’ book series and Clash of the Two Americas trilogy. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation .