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The more sophisticated a culture becomes the less it is concerned with survival. Bubbles grow in its centers of government and learning within which philosophies and ideas seem more real than reality. Opposing philosophies struggle to lobotomize the culture with revisionist histories and social philosophies that place their own ideal at the center of all human striving. But ideas are sterile without a culture to carry them forward. Kill the culture and the ideas become orphans that me adopted in an altered form by some other culture– if they are lucky.
Tolerance and civil rights are worthless unless the countries and cultures where they are expressed are also defended. Any form of tolerance which leads to its own destruction is not only poisonous to a host culture, but is also literally self-destructive. All healthy entities whether biological, organizational or intellectual contain the means for their own continuance and self-perpetuation. Any entity which does not is poisonous and must be treated as such, and to defend any idea or code above the survival of the culture that carries it is a homicidal act.
When conflict comes, two questions are asked. Is the threat real and is our culture worth fighting for. The latter question is most often asked by elites against whose bubble ideals no real culture can ever measure up to, and by outsiders who have the least invested in the survival of the culture.
“If we do this how are we any better than they are?” is the question of the bubble elite whose abstract ideals exist apart from flesh and blood people, who do not measure their ideals by the culture, but measure the culture by their ideals, and always find it wanting, who think that the culture with its millions of people and centuries of history exist to shepherd their ideals and die for them– and ought to be grateful for the privilege of dying so that no Muslim is ever profiled at an airport.
The bubble elites distrust nationalism and patriotism because they center not around ideas, but the people’s sense of solidarity. The only exceptionalism that they will accept is the exceptionalism of ideals, and if the nation does not represent its ideals then it does not deserve to live.
In the face of such reasoning it is important to remember that we are not better than our enemies because we represent ideals, but because we create ideals along with skyscrapers, paintings, high powered microscopes, novels, better mousetraps, systems of philosophy, muscle cars, musical styles, theorems, charities and sandwiches. We are makers and shapers, movers and thinkers, seers and doers. We reach for the stars and find ways to keep premature babies alive. We are imperfect, dynamic and changing– and the world would be a much poorer place without us in it.
Whatever we do to protect ourselves against outside enemies in thrall to a hostile ideology, regardless of where they were born is fully justified by our accomplishments, our past, our present and our future– and even if all these things were not present by our right to individual, national and cultural survival.
It is not by becoming pacifists that we will be better than them, but by fighting for what we have and who we are. And if we do not stand up for our countries, our peoples and our cultures then we will not inherit the moral high ground, but the low killing pits of the victims of the thousand year spree of terror. There is no moral high ground to be gained in refusing to struggle to your utmost for the things that you hold dear, only through the struggle to protect our individual and national exceptionalism, can we gain the high ground and justify the assertion that we are better than them.
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