Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Western Civ and John Robbins

The latest Trinity Review by John Robbins is out. In it Rev. Robbins talks about the collapse of Western Culture. I find it thoroughly unconvincing and full of errors. Now I am not sure I want to argue that Western Culture is not in decline, but his proofs are awful.

The article states that one of the results of the century long collapse of Western Culture is the bloody wars of the 20th Century. He contrasts the two world wars and countless dictators with the 19th Century which he claims, "was one of the most peaceful centuries in recorded history, despite the bloody stupidity of the War of Rebellion". While, I am not disagreeing that the 20th Century was a bloody one, where is he getting the idea that the 19th was peaceful. He admits the Civil War, but let me name a few more that he forgets. The Wars of Napoleon, the Anglo-Boer War, the Tripolitan-America War, the War of 1812, the Mexican American War, the Spanish American War, the campaigns against the Indians on the frontier, all the South American countries have wars for independence, and the Crimean War are just a few of the ones he neglects. Hardly a peaceful century. Removing this foundational point to his article makes his claims about capitalism and separating church and state pointless since they too led to violence and blood shed much like the 20th century.

There is one other flaw in this argument that cannot go unnoticed. Robbins is talking about WESTERN culture, yet when he wants to point to the devastation of tyrants in the 20th century he lists Mao Tse-Tun, Pol Pot, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Nikita Khruschev. These men are arguably from countries where Western culture never firmly took hold if it ever existed there. China and Cambodia are not legitimate examples at all. Russia can be debated, but for the most part Western Culture never reached its shores either. This leaves only three examples in his list. Hitler, Mussolini, and Castro. And I think one could argue against Castro too.

I have to say that I can agree that Western Civilization is in a state of collapse because the foundation of that culture, Christianity, is being removed for one reason or another. However, I do not think John Robbins has done his historical homework to prove it in this article. Other arguments should be made because the existence of wars and dictators is no real proof at all.


Anonymous said...

How can Russia be Christianized and not be a part of Western Civilization? What about the intermarriage with the thrones of Europe, the French influence upon Catherine the Great and especially the growth of communist theory based on the foundation of the French Revolution?

Pol Pot received his degree from the University of Paris and his experiment in radical communism was actually his the thesis of his doctoral degree. Mao was also trained in communist theory by the Russians. Marx/Leninism is a distinctly "Western" political theory.

Andrew Duggan said...

I took Lee's remarks regarding the examples he cited as meaning those nations/countries, etc whose "civilization" was based on or at least heavily influenced by Christianity. Despots are always going to make an easy mark of nations without a strong Christian society. The near east is full of despots throughout its history especially since the 7th century.

I think it's also important to remember what we have in view here is civilization based on or influenced by Reformed Christianity, not its counterfeits of Romanism or Eastern Orthodoxy.

In many ways, Western Civilization as we know/knew it didn't really appear until the Protestant Reformation.

Since you mention the French via Catherine, don't we really see the principal of reaping what is sown? Is the French revolution all that surprising in light of how the protestants of France were exterminated? Marxism (Sino, Soviet or otherwise) is really just more of the same.

Anonymous said...

FYI, "Rev." Robbins is not an ordained minister. (Sorry to nitpick, particularly when it's not germaine to your point.)

Lee said...

No need to apologize for nitpicking. All criticism is welcome here, especially when I learn something new.