18 Jul 2006

Nasty, Brutish, and Short

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Mark Steyn inveighs against popular culture’s white-washed fantasies of peaceful primitives living in harmony with Nature.

In his shrewd book Civilization And Its Enemies, Lee Harris writes:

“Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe. . . . That, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary.”

It’s worse than Harris thinks. We’re not merely “forgetful.” We’ve constructed a fantasy past in which primitive societies lived in peace and security with nary a fear that their crops would be stolen or their children enslaved. War has been the natural condition of mankind for thousands of years, and our civilization is a very fragile exception to that. What does it say about us that so many of our elites believe exactly the opposite — that we are a monstrous violent rupture with our primitive pacifist ancestors? It’s never a good idea to put reality up for grabs.

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