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Maybe Modernity is the Problem

Reader comment on item: Muslim Europe

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), May 11, 2004 at 20:00

The state of Europe says that Islam's failure to modernize is not the problem, but that Europe's modernization is. It is increasingly evident that politically, the "liberation" offered by secular scientism (as opposed to science per se) embraced by most of the Western world (the USA included) was liberation from Christianity; and it proved to be the death of a civilization. By severing its connection to the past, Europe--and increasingly the USA--is destroying its own future. Thus, the future of the depopulated West is not a re-greening of the land, but degeneration into slum.

A large part of the problem is that the ethical orientation of empirical-positivist thought is for the here and now, with the past dismissed as benighted and the future, save as a realm of fantasy, ignored. It was not some Fundamentalist preacher who told the world that the dominant philosophy of the post-Christian West was ethically sterile, but Moritz Schlick, Friederich Waisman, and Josef Schaechter of the Vienna Circle who declared that it had no way to get from the empirical "is" to the ethical "ought". Hence, as socialism relentlessly assaulted its Christian parent (and Jewish grandparent), it cut off the branch on which it sat--since the power of socialist propaganda comes from an audience trained in the biblical love of neighbor.

Frankly, the only hope for the West is the revitalization of Christianity and the religious assimilation of its immigrants. Some of that is happening--but it depends not on modernized Christianity, but on the health of its varied traditionalisms. As for the modernization of Islam, it seems that the radical Islamists have figured out that modernity is gutting the West both spiritually and biologically, and they have declared that they don't want this for their own civilization. Unfortunately for them, however, Islamic culture is so blighted that it can't analyze its own problems without adopting the West's misconceptions and follies (note Mahatir's adoption of 19th century European anti-Semitic rantings to analyze the Islamic malady).

Maybe the silver lining in the cloud of Islamic radicalism is that it will force the West to reappropriate its spiritual heritage.
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