While much of this article deals with the multiculturalism in Britain, it highlights the problems we are having in the good ole USA. What is interesting and educational is the key of the article in distinguishing between culture and civilization. Whereas certain aspects of an immigrant’s culture can and should be maintained in their new country, their civilization must be left behind.
Excerpt: People who choose to live in America should be welcome to keep many of the attributes of the culture they or their ancestors left behind. It adds to the color and vibrancy that make America a wonderful and interesting place in which to live. By all means, bring your culture — your art, your songs, your literature, your food. America will take it all and integrate it into a greater and ever more distinctively American culture.
But leave your civilization behind.
Although the terms culture and civilization are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference. Within Western Europe, for instance, there are dozens of distinct cultures (Italian, French, Irish, etc.), but all of them reside within a single Western civilization. Similarly, the vast American melting pot is home to hundreds of intermingled cultures. What allows these myriad cultures to coexist on generally peaceful terms is that most of their adherents accept the basic tenets of Western civilization. When this is lost, everything else goes.
Foremost among these tenets is respect for the rights, freedoms, and property of all individuals. Although last week’s riots in Britain were not blamed on any one cultural group, they did represent a general fraying of civilization’s social compact. I am not going to try to explain what caused Britain’s riots. There are thousands of sociologists only too eager to offer explanations for the indefensible behavior of thousands of British youths. What is obvious, however, is that the spread of multiculturalism has weakened the governing classes’ ability to cope with attacks on the very underpinnings of our civilization. Convinced that no culture is superior to another, they are equally convinced that no civilization is better than any other. It is but a short step from this point to seeing nothing worth defending in the civilization that has nourished us to greatness.
In any viable civilization the state has one function that supersedes all others: to protect the rights, property, and lives of its citizens. If it cannot accomplish that task, it has no reason to exist. The British government, which spends about half of the nation’s entire GDP, appears ready to undertake every task except the one for which it was created. It now does so much of the trivial that it is incapable of accomplishing the most basic task of any government: to defend its citizens. In some regards we in America are not far behind. Our government is willing to regulate the minutest details of our daily lives, but is incapable of producing a budget that will not bankrupt the nation.
As I see it, the reason the British elites and the country’s ruling class failed to act was that too many of them are convinced that their civilization is no longer worth defending. They have made a serious mistake in accepting that an equality between cultures holds true for civilizations too. Personally, if given a choice between classic Irish pub tunes and the music of an Arab bazaar, I will pick the pub tunes. This is a matter of taste and upbringing, and I fully accept that those brought up to appreciate the music of the bazaar have every right to enjoy it. I do not, however, accept that anyone living in the United States has a right to choose between the American Constitution and sharia law. This is a matter of civilization, and it should never be the subject of serious debate within our borders.
The West has endured thousands of years of war, misrule, genocide, and a multitude of other trials. Out of these tribulations evolved a political system that places respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual at its center. It is not a perfect system, but it is far superior to what can be found anywhere else. It deserves to be defended, and must be defended. Any person choosing to come to America (or Britain, for that matter) from a non-Western country must give up the tenets of whatever civilization he was raised with. In its place must be substituted a strong belief in unfettered democracy (of the people, by the people, and for the people), human dignity, equal rights, and the freedom of the individual.
Read full National Review article here.