Earlier this week, I excoriated the alt-right's odious claim that "white people built Western Civilization" by demonstrating that the Judeo-Christian "cult" – a system of divine precepts imparted unto humanity by Almighty God – transcended human thought above mere reason, allowing Westerners (mostly white Europeans) to create a society of widespread human flourishing; what Aristotle referred to as "Eudaimonia."
My article expressly stated that this "Eudaimonia" had nothing to do with whiteness, and everything to do with the four principles that formed the bedrock of Western Civilization when the marriage between Athens and Jerusalem occurred after the fall of the Roman Empire. I'll list them again:
- CREATIO EX NIHILO: That a monotheistic, eternal God who demands we call Him "Father" created the world and humanity out of nothing. Christianity would later define this God as Triune.
IMAGO DEI: That all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore afforded inalienable dignities.
LEX NATURALIS: That God encoded into nature an inalterable moral and natural law that mankind cannot violate.
DEI VERBUM: That God revealed these inviolable moral and natural laws to mankind: the Torah, the Gospels.
Since Richard Spencer and his merry band of elves in the com-boxes reject the Judeo-Christian "cult" in favor of pagan tribalism, they tried to obfuscate this truth by claiming that the best of Western Civilization (democracy, medicine, mathematics, theater) were of Greco-Roman origin – a sophisticated way of saying invented by white people – and that the Judeo-Christian "cult" disguised these origins to lure in pagan followers. Ironically, leftist atheists regularly make the same claim. We hear it every Christmas with snarky remarks wishing us a "Happy Solistice."
"But Aristotle was a white man!" they exclaim, along with my personal favorite: "That's like saying the Chinese didn't create Chinese civilization, Confucianism did."
Aristotle may indeed have been a white man, and Chinese people may indeed have built Chinese civilization, but that has nothing to do with either one's ethnicity. Mark my words, had the Judeo-Christian "cult" landed in China during the Han Dynasty and transformed Asia the same way it did Europe, then Asia would have advanced to become the world's supreme civilization, though with different characteristics in expression.
By touting the "whiteness" of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, the alt-righters skip 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian heritage and take Western Civilization for granted. They assert that the Judeo-Christian "cult" either halted the progress of Western Civilization until the Greco-Roman texts "reemerged" in the Renaissance or that the "cult" merely added pepperonis to an already immaculate pizza. I shall entertain this for a moment.
In my article, I noted that prior to the Judeo-Christian "cult," the Roman Empire could arguably boast itself as mankind's greatest achievement — an empire built off the backs of slave labor, that descended into decadence, and then was sacked by barbarians. Just for the sake of argument, I will grant the alt-righters that the Greco-Roman "cult" formulated by Aristotle, Plato, Democritus, Seneca, the Stoics, etc., offered the best the world had ever seen, enabling them to create efficient governments, powerful militaries, and artistic genius. With that established, would Western Civilization have developed to become the supreme civilization had it not succumb to the Judeo-Christian "cult"? Not a chance in hell.
Regarding civilization, the alt-righters take a utilitarian worldview by deducing social order, and its offspring culture, into an efficient set of mathematical equations that produce an efficient result. Society becomes a machine, with humans as its moving parts. However, as anyone who has listened to a Gregorian Chant, gazed upon a Rembrandt, or enjoyed a fine wine can attest to, the human spirit yearns for a sense of harmony, an invitation of belonging, not balance like that of a cold equation.
The point here is that efficiency, while necessary, does not create the "Eudaimonia" that Aristotle postulated. Efficiency serves as the foundation, the base to build upon, but does not form the whole structure. The equivalent would be a father that regularly disciplines his kids, routinely dishes out just punishments for their wrongdoing, but never says "I love you." I think we all know the kind of "efficient" sociopath such Nietzschean parenting would create. In short, human reason alone cannot and is incapable of building a supreme civilization. It must advance beyond mere reason and into the sense of harmony illustrated in the examples above. Only then does civilization create the "Eudaimonia" – widespread human flourishing.
The alt-righters would say the "Eudaimonia" can be achieved through mere reason, not to mention ethnic purity, and that the West's Greco-Roman origins (white people) pre-determined our inheritance. Richard Spencer calls this "the story" that white people can ponder in our modern existential crisis. They regard the four principles of the Judeo-Christian "cult" as useless foreplay, a mere notch in the West's belt of supremacy, rather than the impetus that harmonized it.
But if that is true, then how do they explain the West's recovery after the barbarians sacked Rome? How do they explain Europe's transformation from a pagan ghetto of warring tribes into Christendom? Can they honestly assert that the Western manuscripts they hold in such high-esteem would have survived if Christian monks had not copied and preserved them in their monasteries for all those centuries?
Had the Judeo-Christian "cult" not come to the West, then the West would have continued in its cycle of pagan tribalism with Empires rising and falling until something external altered its course. We can look to our Eastern brethren as examples of this: Japan, despite its rich culture of eloquent artistry, architecture, and sanitation, it never advanced to become a world superpower, and a deadly one at that, until it began trading with the West.
The alt-right is correct in saying that Westerners need a "story" to reflect upon, a story of heritage and pride, but it is a story of the West's salvation by divine grace, a gift we neither deserved nor invented, and a gift we must give back. Upon this epiphany, we fall to our knees in gratitude to Almighty God, and only in that moment of humility do we feel something transcendent within us, elevating us, harmonizing us.