One year on from the landmark Charlottesville rally, one must revisit a vital question: can the West believe in its history, identity and future once again?
For if the West’s altruistic treatment of tribalist outsiders continues to be accompanied with a pernicious, unceasing shame, this shall be our ultimate death knell.
Gatestone Institute, by Guilio Meotti, July 1, 2018:
A “sense of guilt” for colonialism is debasing the West from within, according to Professor Bruce Gilley, and authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Russia, China and Turkey are profiting from this weakness.
The Romans called it damnatio memoriae: the damnation of memory that resulted in destroying the portraits and even the names of the fallen emperors. The same process is now underway in the West about its colonial past. The cultural elite in the West now seem so haunted by feelings of imperialist guilt that they are no longer confident that our civilization is something to be proud of.
A sense of guilt now seems a kind of post-Christian substitute religion that seduces many Westerners. The French scholar Shmuel Trigano suggested that this ideology is turning the Westerners into “post-colonial subjects” who no longer believe in their own civilization, but instead what will destroy it: multiculturalism. In France, for example, a manifesto was launched for “a multicultural and post racial republic”. The result would be, in the words of the anthropologist Jean-Loup Amselle, a “war of identities” and a clash between communities. Last month, the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that, if elected Prime Minister, he would order the British Museum to return to Greece the Elgin Marbles, the frieze that had surrounded the Parthenon of Athens and one of the major attractions of the British Museum. “This whole campaign is sheer lunacy,” wrote Richard Dorment. But it is a lunacy spreading all over Europe.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he wants to change the rules that make French public collections untouchable, and allow the return to Africa of dozens of historical artifacts now in the Louvre Museum. Macron has appointed two commissioners, the writer Senegalese Felwine Sarr and the art expert Bénédicte Savoy, to prepare a report.
Tanzania is asking for the return of the famous skeleton of a prehistoric Brachiosaurus, the main attraction of Natural History Museum of Berlin. New guidelines guide on restitution of “colonial objects” were recently unveiled by Germany’s Minister of Culture, Monika Grütters.
Most historians are now taking the side of the campaign for returning these objects. One is David Olusoga, a historian of Nigerian origins, who has claimed that these colonial artifacts were “thefts” committed by the colonial powers at the time. Writing in The Telegraph, Zareer Masani, a historian of Indian origins, took a different position. It was the colonialists, he said, who had a decisive role in preserving the antiquities of the civilization:
“It was their dedication, often at huge personal sacrifice, that unlocked the wonders of many lost classical civilisations… The fact is that we have no idea what would have become of the world’s ‘looted’ antiquities if they hadn’t been preserved in Western collections. Would the treasures of Beijing’s Summer palace have survived Mao’s Cultural Revolution? Would the Elgin marbles have survived Turkish tour guides chopping off chunks to sell as souvenirs? Would Daesh [ISIS] have spared those Middle Eastern artefacts that survive in European museums?”.
In 1969, the BBC aired Kenneth Clark’s “Civilization“, the series exploring Western art and culture. Then, civilization was something to be glorified. In 2018, the BBC aired the remake of Clark’s classic, “Civilizations” — note the plural. “This year, the 21st century version of the landmark show is to turn a critical eye to the history of British civilisation, questioning whether it is built on ‘looting and plunder’ and who, really, are the barbarians,” writes Hannah Furness in The Telegraph. One of the new presenters is David Olusoga, the historian who called the Elgin Marbles “a very clear case of theft“.
Thirty years ago, in a book, The Tears of the White Man, the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner wrote that, “the remorseless and self-righteous critic who endlessly denounces the deceptions of parliamentary democracy is suddenly rapt with admiration before the atrocities committed in the name of the Koran, the Vedas, the Great Helmsman…” Since then, Western elites have excused many crimes committed in the name of political Islam, as if these were the consequences of our own colonial crimes.
When Christians in Iraq were exiled, murdered or persecuted en masse by the so-called Islamic State, the West stood silent — as if these Christians were the agents of the Western colonialism and not the legitimate and oldest inhabitants of the Middle East long before the Arabs converted to Islam. When a mob destroyed the French Institute in Cairo, burning books and collections, those who now want to return the “colonial artifacts” stood silent. When Iran’s President Rouhani visited Rome, the Italian authorities covered the naked statues in the Capitoline Museums. Are we covering our own culture to please the Islamic world?
Unfortunately, what we are “returning” are not only the colonial artifacts, but our very pride in Western civilization. A new “damnation of the memory” is taking place in our own museums, academia and chattering classes — and it has deep consequences for our ability to deal with the enemies of civilization. “Postcolonial material provides an important fuel for jihadism,” stated France’s most important scholar of Islamism, Gilles Kepel.
“The Monuments Men“, a film made in 2014 by George Clooney, is about a group of Western curators and art experts who traveled to Europe to rescue the artistic masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. It was a story of Western bravery and moral clarity during the Second World War. In 2015, ISIS destroyed Palmyra, one of the most important cities of the ancient world. But the West watched this cultural destruction passively and no “Monuments Men” were dispatched to save Palmyra and other threatened sites. The Russians, profiting from the Western passivity, entered Palmyra and Russia’s most famous conductor, Valery Gergiev, on performing a triumphal concert in the Palmyra arena, said: “We protest against barbarians who destroyed wonderful monuments of world culture”. The Westerners then recreated a banal copy of the arch of Palmyra in London.
Where are our Monuments Men now?
7 thoughts on “Is Guilt Killing the West from Within?”
All to often you see European politicians touting the pro-illegal economic migrant line that these people are simply seeking a better life and it is Europe’s responsibility to give it to them, particularly touting the line that we ‘owe’ it to them because of Europe’s colonial history. This is an absolute load of bollocks.
European politicians should be focused on preserving and protecting the people they represent. Thank god the nationalist parties are steadily taking control of the political levers and booting out the pc pro-migrant luvvies who have ruled the roost for too long. The MSM will continue to attack these parties as being ‘far right’ and ‘extremist’ whereas all they are doing is representing voters’ wishes to reclaim their countries for themselves rather than continue to witness an infiltration of migrants from Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and any other country where the people are not happy with their living standards.
In my opinion, for some countries e.g. the UK and France – with a high Muslim % of the population – it may be too difficult to change course. However, for others it is not too late – Sweden has an election coming up soon and hopefully the anti-migrant SDs will boot out the left/green coalition and return the country back to normal.
Your right, we don’t owe them anything. It might be too late in the UK and France under the current immigration paradigm. However, I think the best way we can end this peacefully in the West, after stopping all immigration, is incentivising the voluntary repatriation of Muslims back to their countries of origin. Under this arrangement the dole bludgers and troublemakers would likely be the first to leave, and those left would probably be far more conducive to our national life.
Make it voluntary and very unlikely any will return. The only way will be to offer financial incentives, but even then it will be difficult.
It certainly won’t be easy. But I’ve heard some interesting ideas on it, I’ll put together a post one day outlining my repatriation vision.
Good. I think one day a government ‘with balls’ will start to enact it. She I worked in Saudi Arabia they allow non Saudis to work but do not grant them citizenship. The big mistake in the West and other countries was to grant citizenship. With entrenched Muslim communities it is going to be very difficult to try to get them to return, so the financial incentive will be the only way forward, but the West et al. have the resources.
Found this very interesting article on finance-based repatriation schemes:
Thanks for sharing, it’s good this idea is at least partially in the public consciousness. Although it’s nonsensical to allow the floodgates open while having these schemes, these policies might be the first step in a truly transformative direction.