Christiaan Briggs wrote:
On 27 Aug 2004, at 10:40 pm, Ray Saintonge wrote:
Western Civilization to me really relates to
Western Europe plus key
members of its former colonial empires. It does promote certain
ideals, but that does not mean that it has been uniformly successful
in implementing those ideals. This distinction is difficult for the
person who has not yet grasped the concept of irony.
Actually this distinction was part of my argument. You seem to miss
the point that the evidence (the millions who have died and suffered)
suggests these ideals to be not much more than propaganda in a system
that has historically implemented the opposite of such ideals.
This is a breathtaking oversimplification promoted by various 20th-c.
groups for their own sordid purposes. It's a really lazy approach to
history, because instead of trying to evaluate actions from a
contemporaneous perspective, we evaluate them using our much greater
body of available information and viewpoints.
For instance, it was not possible for 19th-century people to consider
ecological consequences of clearcutting forests, since there was no
science to inform them. Some writers blame Europeans for bringing
diseases to the New World - centuries before anybody even had any
idea how diseases got around.
This is all relevant to Wikipedia because there are more than a few
articles that thoughtlessly apply 20th-century standards to events
of the distant past. Leopold in the Congo can be criticized because
his actions did not conform to the standards of his own society,
but it requires much more care to identify the ideals and realities
of Columbus' time.