"Design for Despots"
Foreign Policy takes readers on a world tour of new wonders of the world -- rising in the least free countries in the world. They are remarkable structures built with a seemingly limitless budget. Ironically none of the lead designers is local.
Powerful governments are rarely constrained by the environmental or social considerations that would make similar projects impossible in the West. It's interesting to consider whether political correctness eventually reduces the creativity and risk-taking spirit of the societies which they colonize.
Bruce Bawer, in a City Journal article entitled "An Anatomy of Surrender", argues that Europe is slowly surrendering to Islam: "call it a cultural surrender. The House of War is slowly—or not so slowly, in Europe’s case—being absorbed into the House of Submission." The timidity which underlies this Submission -- giving up without so much as a whimper -- isn't confined to politics and religion. It's part of a wider malaise.
Many of today's "opinion leaders" positively risk-averse. They no longer look up to the skies and have become like the degenerate mandarins who pass the hours in courtly life, content in their stagnation. In Europe's heyday Tennyson wrote, "Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay." Today the situation is reversed. China is likely to land a man on the moon before Europe.
How did this happen? The real goal of the Welfare State isn't "welfare" at all, but reducing variability to its minimum. In practice it's objective is to provide everyone with the same, mediocre and predictable service. Standards proliferate. There is a rule for everything. No surprises are allowed. War, which is the ultimate example of unpredictability, becomes incomprehensible to the Welfare State. It cannot wage it. The definition of what constitutes strategic surprise in military affairs eventually approaches zero. Every conflict must have an exit plan, a budgeted number of casualties.
Like a curator in some infernal museum, the bureaucrats of politically correct society have become obsessed with keeping things the same and preventing disarrangement. Old buildings are preserved. New born babies are aborted. No mischief allowed. Like old biddies we ensure a certain mix of types for every occasion. Tokenism becomes an end in itself. But it is a decorative end, bereft of meaning. Like a museum politically correct society appears in working order, but it is all a sham. The figures are wax from which the will and the spirit have gone out.
Eventually a society that is obsessed with predictability begins to fear freedom itself. The exercise of the individuality becomes an actual social threat. A point is reached when people aren't even allowed the right to self-defense. The risk of an unforeseen outcome is too great.
Since the perfect inertness is death, the Welfare Man may feel a logical attraction to decease in itself. But the process takes decades and the body yet lingers even after the will to live dies. And if the West only attempts monumental feats any more at the behest of despots, it is simply because tyrants can infuse the last flicker of human passion in a bosom grown numb and cold.
They know time comes, not only you and I,
But the whole world shall whiten, here or there;
When those long caravans that cross the plain
With dauntless feet and sound of silver bells
Put forth no more for glory or for gain,
Take no more solace from the palm-girt wells.
When the great markets by the sea shut fast
All that calm Sunday that goes on and on:
When even lovers find their peace at last,
And Earth is but a star, that once had shone.
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