Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Editorial(s) of the day

There are two editorials which, read together, make a very powerful statement. First, there is Thomas Sowell's "Cathedrals and Faith", where he makes the following point:

"In crisis, some have to put their lives on the line, as fireman, policemen and people in the military still do. But, for that, you have to believe that the institution and the society are worthy of your sacrifices.

We have now been through at least two generations of constant denigration of American society, two generations in which cheap glory could be gained by flouting rules and mocking values.

Is it surprising that we seem to have dwindling numbers of people willing to take responsibility and make sacrifices to preserve the social framework that makes our survival and advancement possible?

Second, there is Leon de Winter's "Soft Europe", where he says:

"But what does Western civilization mean in and to Europe? In the European welfare state, the system ensures that each individual can rely on maximum social security. Without doubt, the welfare state is the ultimate achievement of European civilization. But it did not come without a philosophy: the welfare state gave birth to a postmodern cultural relativism that underpins the tolerant, liberal, pacifistic and secular European societies of today.

Only the Earth is still a planet on which opposing forces collide. The welfare state, based on its provision of social services and the participation of reasonably acting civilians, is unable to respond to globalization or mass immigration. Its structures work as long as the system is closed. But because of vast changes in demographics and economics, the welfare state has become too expensive. All over Europe its fundaments are cracking.

This crisis is serious enough. The European political establishment is too preoccupied with its internal problems to even contemplate problems beyond its shores. Its philosophy holds that "soft power" alone can be brought to bear in any conflict between power blocs or ideologies or civilizations. That explains Europe's inability or unwillingness to defend the freedom of speech in one of the smallest EU member states, Denmark, during the Cartoon War. That's why there is near silence in Europe about the daily anti-Semitic provocations from Iran, which says that it'll hit Jews worldwide if Israel tries to destroy the Iranian nuclear program.

The EU does not know why it should ever sacrifice its sons in military conflict. What sacred values are worth defending at such a high cost? The EU isn't prepared to enter a conflict with Iran, with all its potentially devastating human casualties and economic hardships.

Sowell puts it best with the last line of his column:

"We still have the cathedral of freedom but how long will it last without the faith?"

In a world that is still dangerous, can Western Civilization afford the luxury of the welfare state? Can we afford to ignore the barbarians at our gate?

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