Sunday, August 25, 2002

How much of “moral relativism” is simply a desire to avoid making a stand? To leave it up to anyone else to step up and make a stand. What is it about Westerners that makes so many of them reluctant to put there hand up and say “this is the greatest civilisation that the world has ever seen; we like it and we’re going to keep it. If you like it, join us.”

The amazing part is that if you pick any group of critics of the West, and offer them free passage to another culture, none will go. Offer the same deal to the people in the other culture, and you risk being hurt in the rush. We all know this to be true. None of the critics of Western civilisation want to live anywhere else, because they recognise that unless your name is Borgia, you’ve never had it so good.

So why do we hesitate? Has our moral compass been so undermined that the ordinary citizen feels not only unable to make a stand, but not entitled? For decades, the fast way into press has been to question the very right of Western culture to assert its own values, and to insist on the right of anyone else to assert theirs.

Take a few minutes today to ask yourself a few questions about where you live, and how you live. Here are a few samples to start you off:
Do I like where I live?
Is there another place substantially different where I would prefer to live?
Do I have reasonably good access to the peaceful means of changing the laws and practices of my society?
How secular is my society? How does it treat gender differences? Sexuality? Race?
How free am I? Can I criticise the Government? The Police? Are my thoughts suppressed by government policy?
Do I have access to alternative sources of information? Can I disseminate my thoughts?
Are the processes of my Government transparent? Am I in danger of random arrest? Torture? Summary execution? Secret imprisonment?

What we’re looking for here is a kind of Aggregate Society Satisfaction Rating. There is no perfect society for all. It’s possible Mrs Kublai Khan and all the younger Kahns complained that Xanadu was too far out in the sticks. But realistic debate cannot proceed without an examination of the values that the Western Society stands for in large part, and a comparison to the alternatives of offer. Take a look at where you live, and how you live. If you wouldn’t live anywhere else, make that you starting point for any and all thought about your country, and keep it in mind before you open your mouth.

Western society is Better than other societies. Why does it feel wrong to make this statement? We all know it’s true. Is there someone in the West who will try and make the case that execution by stoning is worse that execution by lethal injection? And that no execution would be preferable to both? In the West, we hold to “one person, one vote”, and then not everyone. That is better than only men voting, or only whites/blacks/brindles, or as is often the case “as long as I am the man who has the one vote”. Note I said Better. Not perfect; not finished, not ended. Just better.

If the Western democracies looked at the international stage, and saw a country being attacked on religious grounds, or because of the conduct of their merchants. If we knew that the people of that country under attack were tolerant for the large part, and held frequent fair elections, then we would be anxious for their fate. Large slices of the public intellectual life would want to know why we were not safeguarding the cultural practices of that country. Is it too much to ask that we apply out own espoused values to ourselves? That we be willing to defend our own right to our own culture and practices?

Western civilisation is the greatest force for good that the world has ever seen. It has created more prosperity, more wealth, more freedom and more happiness for more people than at any other time in the history of history.And the truly extraordinary thing is: we’re mad keen to share it with others. Anyone can join the Club, and get rich along with us. Membership is open to all, regardless of race, creed or colour.

Here are the conditions for membership, and they are non-negotiable.
1. Free, fair and frequent elections, open to all adults to vote and contest.
2. Transparent lawmaking
3. Rule of Law, professional police, open courts
4. Free press, with no Government restrictions on starting new media
5. Free markets, internally and externally

All we ask is that if you want to join our civilisation, you do it under our rules. If you don’t like those rules, feel free to make it on you own. There are very few countries that do not possess the natural resources to deliver substantial benefits to there own people, provided they are exploited intelligently, and distributed reasonably. You can be safe within your borders to do what you like, as long as your actions are not a threat to a member of the Club. But if you want to join, we’ll make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.

From now on, the onus is on those wanting change to the policies and practices of club members to prove the benefits of their proposals before they are implemented. Anyone caught using terms that involve values from outside the club will be deducted points.

Anyone comparing Club members to non-members, and who is not willing to live in the non-Club nation, will have this inconsistency publicly pointed out. This does not preclude debate, or criticism, but the polity needs to hear about the unwillingness to practice what is preached.

I’m proud of what my country has achieved, and I want to hold on to what we have here. I will no longer sit quietly while this country’s legitimacy is questioned, and I will not allow comparisons to non-democratic countries, or to international bodies. I want my elected government to make the laws for my country, and I am willing to defend the right of other democracies to do the same. These decisions will no longer be outsourced to international bodies or opinions. Our values are better than others, our way of living is better than anything that has gone before. Citizenship in my country is a privilege that carries right to freedom, and the responsibility of maintaining it.

I am certain that other peoples of the world wish to live as I do, and where possible I will extend them that opportunity. They are free to make the choice, but I will no longer pretend their dictators speak for their people, or that those regimes have any basis of legitimacy. When unavoidable, I will do business with them, but my unswerving belief and effort will be bent to offering the people of non-democratic countries the chance to live, speak and prosper as only Western nations have ever been able.

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