13 September, 2006

Western Civilisation, An Open Letter To, Uh, Everybody I Guess

Pardon me for lacking the diligence and wherewithall to track down the other ninety-two letters from various people that have led to this post. But today, reading Aunt B.'s open letter to Roger Abramson, I'm compelled to say something.

I'll keep it brief.

I can't speak fully for Roger or Kleinheider or even Mark Rose (who appears to have started this whole thing), but I can speak for myself.

Women talk about women's rights a lot. Women don't have as many rights as men or as many opportunities. It's better for us here in WC than in, say, Egypt--a country long ruled ably by women, ironically.

When various people talk about women having it better in Western Civilisation than other places that is in no way an acknowledgment that women have achieved the culmination of their status. It is merely said to acknowledge that the entire multimillenial process of defining the nature of personhood has now reached a point in its development where women are treated far better than in other places. For that matter, men are treated far better as well.

Before the rise of Western Civilisation, you were either a diety--and ruled over men--or a lowly serf/villein/whathaveyou who lived and served at the pleasure of the earthbound gods. The point of WC was a long course of philosophical flowering that slowly acknowledged the humanity of everyone, the right to self-governance and the rights of free association.

For all the bad that women have it, there is still the stark fact that until a few men put their names to paper and a few more men took minie balls in the flesh that these very concepts of equality, self-governance and freedom were unheard of. For anyone. I don't think it's a bad thing to acknowledge the great debts we all have toward Jefferson, Paine, Avicenna, Marx, Hegel, Plato, Socrates, et. al. In saying that I acknowledge the superiority of Western Civilisation I am in no way pronouncing it "Complete!" We've a long way to go for a great many people. But we do have here all of the ingredients to get there.


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