A Failure to Integrate Values
The only region in the world that has proactively tried to incorporate western culture in its societies is East Asia — Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. China, which was a grotesquely oppressed, poor, Third World country not too far in the past, notwithstanding its many struggles today, has furiously tried to copy the West.
Western culture, which developed organically over at least the two and half millennia, starting from Greco-Roman philosophers, is not easy to duplicate. This culture requires thrift, honesty, hard work, liberty, individuality, dispassionate reason, objective justice, loyalty, honor, stoicism, a desire to rise above oneself, and many other factors that perhaps cannot be seen or isolated but must be absorbed subliminally in all their complex interactions. These are reflected in social, religious, and political structures of the West — the three independent branches of government, the rule of law, compassion for others, charity, family system, etc.
The West and East Asia, including China, comprise a mere 2.5 billion people.
“The Rest,” the Third World, comprises 5 billion out of 7.5 billion people on the planet. The cultural factors underpinning the West sound like clichés until one who gives up political correctness for the truth starts to see that the Third World, despite its several centuries of interactions with the West, simply fails to understand them.
The Third World is blind to what makes the West a civilization. It is as if the Third World cannot rise above animal instincts — craving for food, power over others, sex, and for the material.
Over several centuries of western colonization and missionary activities, an attempt was made to infuse Western cultural factors into the Third World. It was only a marginal success. Since the third world countries achieved political independence, without constant Western involvement, all has been lost. Christianity became voodoo, and the political system became a tool for tribalism and tyranny.
Focus on Materialism
The Third World is tempted by only the physical products of Western society. They are pleasure-centric. When they look at the West, all they see is entertainment, an easy-going lifestyle, freedom from responsibility, liberal governments, free health-care, consumerism, social welfare, and good salaries. They either want to be economic migrants to the West or copy the Western lifestyle, without an iota of an understanding that they must have wealth-generating capabilities first and that there is something at the foundations of Western culture.
There is a virtual absence of reading habits in the Third World. If they end up reading Ayn Rand, all they see in it is a drama. They fail to see a non-collectivist philosophy embedded in it. If they watch movies like the Matrix, all they see is a sci-fi movie. They fail to see any suggestion that they might be getting indoctrinated by their leaders.
What they see as the culture of the West from their narrow worldview is primarily the culture of its lower-class and the entertainment industry.
European colonization and technology were a massive relief for the Third World, but merely temporary, for they never learned or even saw the principles that made such prosperity possible. All the advantages, given the mindset of expediency, have been frittered away, through wars, excessive consumption, malinvestment, an increase in population, etc. The Third World’s craving for the material, unconnected with morality or reason, means that it forever wallows in poverty, oppression, and at the edge of a Malthusian crisis.
Nothing it has is sustainable, neither capital nor institutions. All surplus gets consumed or frittered away — it takes a higher calling to invest and preserve the surplus. Everything has a pull towards decay, disintegration, and degradation.
European colonization provided a rational system for the Third World to operate in. Christian Missionaries tried to infuse reason among the inhabitants. In desperation, they sometimes even removed children from their families. All these attempts made only a marginal difference.
Departing European colonizers transferred Western tools — technology, institutions, etc. — to the democratically elected bodies of the Third World. The tools were subverted and used for tribalistic purposes. And democracy enabled the most irrational, base elements to rise to power.
Ease of travel made the situation worse by enabling the emigration of the best people from the Third World.
Since the departure of European colonizers, the Third World has been culturally and institutionally regressing to its pre-European dark ages. None of these societies are sane, stable, or sustainable by themselves. It is the fear of America that keeps their tyrants behaving better than they otherwise would and their nations from falling into forever wars between their tribal units.
Despite this cultural and institutional regression, the free-gift of Western technology and the green revolution, and peace imparted by America still enabled economic growth, which alas has allowed more cultural problems to accumulate before Malthusian equilibrium kicks in again.
Marxist and Keynesian economics has a toehold in the Third World not because those works corrupted them, but because these pseudo-economics match their expectations for free stuff. Every single major leader of the Third World who studied in the UK during the British colonization became a socialist — socialism is all that they saw during their life in the UK.
The contribution the West has made to Africa — which for all practical purposes did not have a written language, technology of farming, or tools before the arrival of Europeans — is immense. Unfortunately, these gifts have mostly gone unused.
In the Third World, girls in school-uniforms carry water buckets on their heads. Despite the concept of the wheel having been offered on a platter, they haven’t figured out its use. They have been taught English for centuries by now, but what they have is pidgin, a simple, non-nuanced, lacking-in-grammar language. This predicament had to happen for complex language can only be retained if the society has an interest in ideas, planning, and issues outside immediate needs.
For most in the Third World, “tomorrow” is too far in the future. Their communication needs are limited to teasing each other, consumption needs, activism, and discussing celebrities.
Christianity was spread in the Third World, but it ended up becoming voodoo, heavily mixed with superstitions. Formal education, seen as a magic wand that enables a good life, has turned into at best rote-learning, and its purpose is only to get a certificate at the end. Education without core western values sits unassimilated in superstitious minds. It merely increases stress levels, leading to the spread of ritualistic, superstitious, and materialistic religion.
The tools of Western technology have been corrupted for tribal purposes — steel instead of being used for constructing bridges and factories has been more commonly used for making machetes in Africa. The internet was expected to rapidly spread truth, knowledge, and awakening to the poorest in the Third World. Instead, if they are not watching pornography, they circulate superstitions, rumors and political activism.
Absence of Rationality
Tools for development and growth in the West have failed in the Third World, and often had the opposite effects. The question is, why is it that the Third World has failed to absorb and even notice the cultural qualities of the West? What went wrong? Why did the Third World fail to maintain the benefits offered?
The fundamental problem of the Third World is that the concept of reason is conspicuous by its absence. Without “reason,” intellectual and financial capital is not accumulated. The operating system in their minds is tribalism, superstition, magical thinking, and irrationality. This operating system makes them impervious to absorbing Western intellectual capital.
Without the rationality, civilization is not possible. Irrational societies must vacillate between dogma, hedonism, and savagery, never stumbling on another dimension, rationality.
A society of irrational people, particularly in a democratic system, where the most tribal, least-competent 50% people decide on who rules, eventually has to disintegrate into tribal units, who will then enter into never-ending wars. This is what will happen to 5 billion people living in the Third World, a humanitarian catastrophe never seen before. 100s of millions, perhaps billions will perish, once their problems have become too large for the West to contain.