Ever since Alexander the Great overthrew the Persian Empire, Western civilisation has been dominant in world politics. At the Battle of Issus in 333 BC, Alexander defeated a Persian army under King Darius III. Now, 2,356 years later, this dominant form of civilisation is crumbling before our eyes, while, in this very year, a fundamental shift is happening in geo-politics which will change the world order forever.
After the Hellenic empire established by Alexander, came the Roman Empire. While it may have been incredibly efficient, it was always brutal at its core, at times taking human degeneracy to new lows, such as can be seen in their use of blood sports as mass entertainment in the amphitheatres they built across their empire, including the famous Colosseum in Rome. The Romans were also the ones who tortured and killed Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. They wielded the cat-of-nine-tails against his back and body, at Pilate’s command, they twisted a crown of thorns onto his head and they banged in the nails to pin an innocent Messiah to a Roman cross. Whilst I can understand the deep respect accorded Ancient Greece, with its great treasures of philosophy, science and literature, I have never understood why Western culture has embedded so much reverence for Rome’s ruthless and degenerate empire. Was that all along some form of subconscious self-justification for its own aspirations of a pragmatic political and cultural hegemony?
By the time Roman rule ended, Western civilisation was widely established, while the global trade routes, which had been extended during the Roman Empire, continued to flourish. Different institutions, primarily the church and the monarchy, governed the diverse peoples of Europe. Gradually, over the following centuries, different European empires evolved, such as the French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Belgian and British empires. These were the first to use science on an increasingly industrial scale. And when the Industrial Revolution started in Britain, the race to dominate the modern world, served by Enlightenment philosophy, began.
Britain’s imperial and colonial empire became the most globally extensive in history, and it lasted for more than 300 years. I don’t need to list all the atrocities that were committed during this time, including countless wars right across the world and the truly ghastly slave trade which provided slave labour from Africa for Western markets. By the end of World War 2, the British Empire was on its last legs, financially and politically, and America emerged as the new global superpower. The so-called Pax Americana has prevailed to this day.
All these empires used coercion and violence, in various degrees, to subjugate people, take land and resources and dominate other races and cultures. It would be extremely naïve to suggest otherwise.
Nonetheless, during this period of Western dominance, from Alexander the Great to the “American Century”, it is self-evident that this form of civilisation achieved some amazing technological and social advances, in the sciences, in knowledge, in philosophy, in art, in culture, in political theory and in business. These brilliant achievements have benefitted humanity and should be applauded and celebrated.
In the end, each person will weigh up the destructive and constructive outcomes of Western civilisation over the centuries and millennia and arrive at different conclusions depending on the weighting they ascribe to a multiplicity of factors.
Today, the world is in turmoil as it witnesses the decline of Western dominance and the rise of powers in the East, especially China, Russia and India, as well as the strengthening of strategic global non-Western alliances stretching from Latin America, through Africa and the Middle East, to the far corners of Asia.
Tragically, the West seems to have turned its back on its biblical roots and has largely forsaken the Judaic-Christian ethical and religious tradition which shaped its world, especially after the fall of the Roman Empire. It no longer has a coherent ethical worldview to bind it together; it appears to have no transcendent moral values in common to underpin human behaviour in its societies, such as the timeless Ten Commandments, other than some vague, flakey political principles which change depending on which party comes to power in each nation state.
Without vision, the Bible warns, people perish.
Now that the best of the West is gone, we see the worst coming through once again. Its leaders are either whingeing, hectoring, politically correct dupes or dangerous xenophobic right-wing extremists. Corruption and deceit in political systems have become endemic. Where have all the moderates and good public servants gone? Intolerance is evident everywhere.
The West is becoming morally and spiritually sick. Even as woke extremism is practised in many Western democracies, abolishing true freedom of thought for citizens, at the very same time, nationalism, fascism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny are on the rise, too. There is much polarisation, factionalism, and civil unrest. In the extremes of capitalist economies, the divide between rich and poor has become so entrenched that even the middle class, the bedrock of any stable economy, seems to be shrinking.
At a deeper level, there is no respect for God, for others or for ethical values and the wisdom handed down over the generations. The rule of law is breaking down and even some police forces in advanced economies seem to be nurturing an alarming number of predators within their ranks, including racists and sexual offenders. There is little hope of recovery unless Western societies and leaders turn back to respecting God and the Bible. Today, the name of God is casually blasphemed as part of everyday conversations. Many seem to believe there will be no consequences for their destructive behaviour. A culture of impunity has taken root in society, from top to bottom.
As a result of our moral vacuum, many people act as though they are totally self-absorbed, entitled, and shallow, while at the cultural level, we seem to be operating on the shortest attention spans in human history, at least since the Stone Age, that is. We are ignorant of the past and oblivious to the future. Few of us care about the lost, the dispossessed, the poor and the struggling. Worse, though, is that so many have an utter disdain for even the most basic of ethical principles. They are proud and brazen about what the Bible would call sin, which is self-interested, destructive and even godless conduct. Disrespect is rampant. Toxic hatred has become prevalent on social media. In fact, hatred is quickly becoming the main currency of cultural exchange, as cultural wars spread at the behest of unstable leaders and social influencers ignorant about some of history’s most searing lessons. The news outlets themselves are mostly made up these days of dishonest fearmongers, totally subservient to their rich media baron owners who, like their sponsored, heavily biased reporters, wouldn’t know how to spell the word “truth”.
It is no wonder, then, that the non-Western world, tired of being pushed around and bullied by NATO and fed up with all the destabilising covert operations of the secret agencies of the US deep state, is rebelling against the West, threatening to dump the US dollar as the major international currency, while forming new anti-Western alliances, such as BRICS and all those nations now clamouring to join it. This is the geo-political shift that is reshaping the current world order. The truth is the world is more deeply fractured than ever before.
Western hegemony is over, never to return, after a domination lasting 2,356 years. A multi-polar world has already been born and it, ultimately, will define the future for much of humanity.
It’s not too late to recover our sanity as modern nations, or to seek peaceful co-existence for a changing world order. But I don’t see how that would be possible, so deep have the fractures of the world become and so far have we fallen from grace, without God’s help and God’s love.