Reading and Thinking

Is Western Civilization committing suicide by adhering to a defeatist, victimist ideology that denies its achievements?


Gerard Baker, “If Western Civilization Dies, Put It Down as a Suicide; We are in the grip of an ideology that disowns our genius, denounces our success, disdains merit, Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2023 (3:23 ET);

We often wonder where the self-defeating ideology that decries the achievements of “dead white men”, that substitutes equity of results” for “equal opportunity” as a desired social goal, that leads law students at Yale and Stanford to shout down or shut down speakers whose opinions they abhor, which subordinates the quest for excellence to the quest for equity results as determined by ascending orthodoxies, comes from.

Gerard Baker, the former Editor of the Wall Street Journal, decries these recent developments.

He is sounding the alarm, as many others have been doing in recent times. This is a useful exercise, since we need to describe what is happening before we can discern or analyze its causes and take corrective action.

It seems like many devotees of the new ideology, sometimes referred to as “wokism”, are woefully ignorant of the achievements of the civilization which, consciously or unconsciously, they are acting to untermine.

It is this ignorance of Western Civilization, not only on the part of “woke” students and ideologues but also on the part university administrators and presidents, that is the real problem.

What is truly alarming is that vocal advocates of this anti-Western cultural ideology are to be found at such elite institutions as Yale and Harvard Law Schools.

A Maxim of La Rouchefoucauld comes to mind:

There are those who rush to denounce the criminals before they know the crimes. (approximate, from memory)

What is equally alarming is that so few university presidents and administrators have had the knowledge and the courage to stand up and oppose these developments publicly.

Of course, some have stood out in their defense of Western values such as freedom of speech. Dean Jenny Martínez is one such courageous soul, who after a recent disruption at Stanford Law School wrote a powerful defense of freedom of speech and why it is of central importance in the education of a lawyer.

The Spirit of Voltaire