The West Alone

Thursday's Editorial   —   Posted on January 25, 2007

(by Vasko Kohlmayer, – Perhaps at no point in history has a major civilization been vilified more virulently than the West is today. Castigated and denounced from without and within, it has been blamed for nearly every problem there is. Needless to say, the unceasing chorus of criticism has made the West suspect in the eyes of many with the result that in certain quarters it is regarded as the principal source of global tension, exploitation and oppression. There are even those who have come to view it as the world’s malefactor.

It would be difficult to think of a greater paradox than the existence of such sentiments toward a civilization that has done so much for the good of the human race. Gratitude rather than condemnation would be a far more appropriate attitude for the numerous gifts the West has bestowed on mankind. Many could be mentioned, but let us for now focus on one which truly staggers the mind – the gift of the modern world.

Whether it be democracy, capitalism, the car, the airplane, electricity, the computer, the gas stove, the hypodermic needle, the microwave, the internet, the television, the wristwatch, the flush toilet, the mobile phone or communication satellites – all this plus nearly all that is encompassed by the term ‘modern’ has been brought into being by the West.

The idea that the West has virtually single-handedly created the modern world is certain to come as a great shock to many. And rightly so, because it truly is a belief-defying fact. So much so that it mostly escapes the notice of historians and cultural commentators.

The modern world created by the West has now been transmuted into a Greater West. Japanese, Taiwanese, and South Korean versions thrive. The basic beliefs and institutions of the Cultural and Geographic West have been adopted, changing these societies forever. These peoples innovate, create wealth, and live democratically with a free press. India may well be on the way . Some call it the Anglosphere. The West and modernity are virtually the same thing today, no matter what terminology you prefer or cultures you count as members.

One of the great questions of today is whether or not China’s autocrats will succumb to democracy and free speech as China modernizes. Whatever the chance of that happening, most would probably agree that if China ever does become a democratic free society, it too would be part of the West, the free nations.

In this age of confusion and conflicting claims it is important that we become fully aware of this astounding truth. Let me, then, state it loud and clear for everyone to ponder: The modern world as we know it is a quintessentially western creation.

But this brings us face to face with another startling observation: All the other cultures have made almost no significant contribution to the modern world. This fact will also shock many, but its accuracy can be tested by a simple question: Can you think of any facet of modernity that has not originated in the West? In other words, can we point to any major modern achievement – be it in the field of science, government, human rights, medicine, economics, or technology – that has taken place outside our civilization?

Despite our best efforts, we will be hard-pressed to come up with examples. Nearly everything from rubber sole shoes to the space shuttle has indeed come from the modern West. But as remarkable as this is, it is not the end of the story. Not only have all the other cultures failed to make to make meaningful contributions to the modern era, they have all failed in it and glaringly so.

Islam is as good an illustration as any. Even though it would like to think of itself as the West’s rival, in reality it is a defunct civilization that spawns poverty, corruption, backwardness and economic hardship wherever it holds sway. Whatever tokens of modernity the Islamic world has, it has invariably received from the West. If not for the West, Muslims would still walk sandal-shod while using camels as their most potent source of motive power. Moribund and stale, Islam is a stagnating culture and has been for centuries now.

But Islam is not the only civilization that has failed so abysmally in the modern era. The same applies to all the rest, be it Indian, Chinese, African or any other. Even though some of them may have enjoyed a period of success and prosperity at some point in the past, none has succeeded in transitioning to the present era. To put it bluntly, all their attempts to erect modern societies based on their own values and ways have ended in failure.

Contrary to what some would have us believe all cultures are by no means equal. The fact is that one is clearly superior to all the others by almost any measure we may choose as a basis of comparison. All the evidence shows that the West is the only successful cultural tradition of our time while all the rest have shown themselves to be incompatible with the modern era. The claim that all cultures are intrinsically equal is thus not only patently untrue, but it is also one of the most insidious lies of our age.

Any nation that truly desires prosperity, human rights, and progress must adopt western values. Those in other traditions that have done so have been amply rewarded for their prescience. Japan, South Korea and Honk Kong are examples of those who have prospered greatly as a result of adopting those quintessentially western constructs – democracy and capitalism.

It is encouraging that in this era of ideological conflict some countries traditionally in the grip of the Islamic tradition – Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example – have seen the light and embarked on the road to westernization. The rewards of their foresight were quick to arrive and today they are the most civilized and prosperous countries in the Muslim world. It is only hoped that others will follow their example by casting away the shackles of their misguided ideology and following the only model that can bring them into the modern era.

Advancement, justice and affluence can only be attained by societies that operate along the western lines. For all their alleged wisdom and insight all the other civilizations have not only failed to achieve these ideals but have invariably produced the opposite, spawning malfunctioning and backward societies. History has clearly shown that the only viable way is the western one. It is the only one that can bring about progress and guarantee a dignified existence for man.

It is rather ironic that while progressively larger parts of the globe are in the process of transitioning to the western model, its internal enemies have managed to undermine it from within. Their weapon of choice – and one which has proven surprisingly effective – is multiculturalism, a ploy by which they seek to dilute our tradition with values of failed cultures. That this subversive doctrine has gained such prominence is remarkable given that the foreign material at its disposal is for the most part not only noticeably defunct, but – judging by the results it produces – to be avoided at all costs. The deep inroads multiculturalism has made over the years are largely a result of the decades of relentless attacks on the West which have undermined its people’s confidence in their own civilization and weakened their resolve to stand up in its defense.

We would therefore do well to reflect on the miracle of the West – the civilization responsible for the existence of the modern world and nearly all the progress and achievement that have taken place on this earth in a long time. It is crucial that we fully grasp this astonishing fact so that we can confidently defend our civilization against its enemies, both internal and foreign.

This article was first posted at on Jan. 25, 2007.  Reprinted here Jan. 25th with permission from Vasko Kohlmayer.  Email your reaction to Mr. Kohlmayer’s commentary to