Not learning from one’s mistakes

Joaquina Pires-O’Brien

The existing link between liberal democracy and a strong middle class and the likely consequences of the squeeze on the American middle classes for its liberal democracy are examined in our leading article by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama. Although Fukuyama recognises the need to save the American middle class in order to save American liberal democracy, he doesn’t think that the government policies of the past two generations have steered the country in this direction. For him, they simply created a model that has exhausted itself with the welfare state becoming big, bureaucratic, and inflexible. The reluctance of letting go of the expectations of the past two generations is the biggest internal threat to American liberal democracy for it will create the scenario for a new ideology to capture the masses, just like the one that promised the perfect society and instead delivered Hell. Outside the US, the main perceived threat to liberal democracy comes from China, a country which is about to displace the US as the world’s largest economy and whose system is being presented as an alternative to liberal democracy. However, according to Fukuyama, the Chinese model is so culturally specific that few developing countries can hope to emulate it. Furthermore, it is likely to collapse once China has a strong middle class interested in protecting their property and position.

The second article in this edition of PortVitoria, The Green and the Blue, by British philosopher and polymath, Roger Scruton, outlines his vision for the environment and is a synthesis of his latest book Green Philosophy. How to Think Seriously About the Planet. In it, Scruton argues how the left-wing radicals highjacked the environmental agenda during the twentieth century and that some of their policies added to the environmental problems instead of solving them. According to Scruton, the solution to the environmental problems requires a moral mindset centred on the virtue of loving one’s home, where ‘home’ includes not just house but our community and our larger society. For it is this love of home, or oikophilia, which will motivate people to look after their environmental resources instead of squandering them.

The third article “Occidente, libre de deudas culturales” by Fernando Rodríguez Genovés is an essay-review on two books which debunk some fallacies about Western Civilization. They are The fall of the West: the death of the Roman superpower, 2010, by Adrian Goldsworthy, and Aristóteles y el Islam: las raíces griegas de la Europa cristiana (Aristotle and Islam: the Greek roots of Christian Europe, unpublished in English), 2008, by Sylvain Gouguenheim. Goldsworthy’s book criticises a number of false perceptions such as the existence of a parallel between Ancient Rome and the United States.

All three authors in this edition of PortVitoria are world experts in Western culture and civilization and are critical of Westerners’ mistakes regarding their political societies, environment and culture. Fukuyama does not rule out the possibility that Americans have not learned the lessons of the 20th century. The rest of us can take this as a remider that the lessons from history are not just for the United States but for the entire world. Otherwise, peace in the 21st century won’t stand a chance.
July 2012

Pires-O`Brien, J. Not learning from one’s mistakes. Editorial. PortVitoria, UK, v. 5, Jul-Dec, 2012. ISSN 2044-8236