Western Superiority

 Posted by on 22 March 2003 at 9:18 am  Uncategorized
Mar 222003

Reporting a story on Iraqi officers stealing their soldiers’ pay, Instapundit makes fun of this ridiculous Samuel Huntington quote permanently displayed on Salam Pax’s blog:

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.

Instapundit responds:

But having officers who don’t abscond with their troops’ pay is, in fact, one example of the superiority of Western ideas, and it’s one that translates rather directly into superiority where organized violence is concerned. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Dictatorships like Saddam’s — which based on history and prevalence might be regarded as the “natural” form of human governance — turn out to be lousy at war. Democracies embodying Western ideas turn out to be a lot better. That’s not a coincidence, however much non-Westerners might wish to believe that it is.

I would add that the military might of Western culture is a direct outgrowth of our scientific progress over the past three centuries or so, progress that was only made possible though the philosophical achievements of the Enlightenment. The West’s skills in “applying organized violence” are not some bizarre primary feature, but rather a direct consequence of “the superiority of its ideas or values or religion.” We are fascinated with science. We value truth and progress. We are willing to set aside the superstitions of religion in the face of scientific fact. These ideas and values are never found in abundance in primitive cultures… and they make all the difference in the world.

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