Suicide of the West

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Western civilization has thrived more than any other civilization in the past or present - it has been much more successful in economic, military and political terms, in science and technology, in the arts, and in enhancing its citizens' health, wealth, longevity and even, probably, their happiness. A large degree of success can be traced to six principal ideas - Christianity, optimism, science, economic growth, liberalism and individualism. In 1900, most Westerners felt tremendous pride and confidence in their civilization. They knew what it stood for, and they believed in it. Today that sense has gone. And that is largely because the six ideas which underpinned Western confidence have suffered a century of sustained attack. The ideas no longer inspire or unite the West, nor do they give individuals the confidence essential for unconscious coordinated action. A drift towards collective suicide is evident; it is deeply impregnated in our history since 1914. It can be traced to the declining confidence in each of the attributes that used to inspire the West and the world. However, a careful examination of the six factors shows that they have great resilience. Much of today's hostility to the ideas is based on fashionable but flaky concepts, such as Freud's view of human nature, which scientific evidence rebuts. In theory, a more sophisticated synthesis of the six ideas could provide a way for the West to recover its nerve and integrity. But in practice? This fascinating book seeks to find the answer.