Towards A Good Samaritan World

Saturday, November 13, 2004

SECULAR DEMOCRATIC STATES?

Nato gives two examples of secular democratic states:

[T]he closest thing we have to naturally occurring atheist states are countries
like Japan and perhaps the Netherlands. Since abandoning the ambulatory phase of
Shinto/Buddhism that gave rise to early 20th century nationalism, they've not
been particularly authoritarian, especially compared to far more religious
neighbors like Taiwan and South Korea. The Netherlands is only incrementally
more atheist (55% describe themselves as Secular Humanists as opposed to 25-40%
in the rest of Western Europe) than its neighbors, but it's also incrementally
more libertarian than its continental neighbors - especially socially, but also
economically. The UK's economy is considerably more economically libertarian, of
course, but England's entire industrial-age experience has been radically
different from the rest of Europe's.


But are post-WWII Japan and the Netherlands really independent states?

Before WWI, independent states had their own armies and took responsibility for their own defense. They enjoyed foreign-policy independence. There was no United Nations, no NATO. During the Cold War, the US blocked the advance of communism in western Europe, not only through military containment of Soviet power, but also through CIA operations that promoted moderate left-wing publications, through public diplomacy (Italian-Americans wrote to their relatives and encouraged them to vote against the Communists) and other means. Western European governments relied on the US nuclear guarantee, and followed Washington's line. Some notional sovereignty had been leaked upwards from states to the UN; some practical sovereignty had leaked west across the Atlantic.

France and Italy could easily have gone communist after WWII. Christian Democratic politicians and the Marshall Plan were crucial in preventing this.

Despite the stunning economic success of the new capitalist, pro-American order, leftist and communist-sympathetic thought flourished in Europe. One French-trained leftie, Khieu Samphan, inspired the ruralization policy of the Khmer Rouge. Khieu Samphan was not the only French leftie ready to dream up weird social experiments. Why did Latin Quarter leftism lead to social experiments in Cambodia, but not in Western Europe? Well, at least one sufficient reason is obvious enough: western Europe was occupied by American troops, who would not have allowed it.

The Iraq war inspired talk of a "declaration of independence" for Europe. From the US, that is. Interesting. If they succeed, I suppose Nato will have a better example of a "naturally occurring atheist state" to study. More of my misgivings here.

1 Comments:

  • "France and Italy could easily have gone communist after WWII."

    But France and Italy were not more secular than the US immediately post-WWII. The secularization trend observable in the polls didn't show until the 60s at the earliest. Japan *was* rather suddenly broken of the prewar from of Shinto and Buddhism that had backed Japanese nationalism, but neither was there any real inclination toward communism.

    On the other hand, France produced at least a plurality of the leading lights of postmodernism while Germany accounts for most of the rest. I don't know how I want to relate that to anything, except that the intellectual atmosphere has to be badly poisoned for those clowns to be considered serious thinkers. I have many times argued that their vaguely moralistic, self-righteous babbling amounts to crypto-fascist authoritarianism thinly veiled by the language of liberation. That Heidegger, for example, turned out to be a Nazi sympathizer did not in the least surprize me and should have shocked no one.

    If one wants to find examples of rudderless post-Christian "thought," in early 20th century Western Europe, one need look no further.

    By Blogger Nato, at 10:59 PM  

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