Why Has the West Been So Successful?
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Why Has the West Been So Successful?

January 28, 2020


Western civilization. It’s been around for a while, but suddenly
everybody is talking about it. Some are anxious to save it; others are happy
to see it go. But what exactly is Western civilization? Is it the great cathedrals of Europe or the
Nazi concentration camps? Is it the freedoms secured in the US Constitution
or chattel slavery? Life-saving medicines or poison gas? The left likes to focus on the bad—genocide,
slavery, environmental destruction. But those have been present in every civilization
from time immemorial. The positives are unique to the West. Religious tolerance, abolition of slavery,
universal human rights, the development of the scientific method: these are accomplishments
of a scope and scale that only the West can claim. These aren’t the only achievements that
make the West special and uniquely successful. As Western thought evolved, it secured the
rights of women and minorities, lifted billions of people out of poverty, and invented most
of the modern world. Progress hasn’t been a straight line, of
course. But the arc of history is clear. The obvious proof is that the world is overwhelmingly
Western. And, with few exceptions, those parts of the
world that aren’t aspire to be. Why? Why has Western Civilization been so successful? There are many reasons, but the best place
to start is with the teachings and philosophies that emerged from two ancient cities: Jerusalem
and Athens. Jerusalem represents religious revelation
as manifested in the Judeo-Christian tradition: the beliefs that a good God created an ordered
universe and that this God demands moral behavior from His paramount creation, man. The other city, Athens, represents reason
and logic as expressed by the great Greek thinkers Plato and Aristotle and many others. These two ways of thinking—revelation and
reason—live in constant tension. Judeo-Christian religion posits that there
are certain fundamental truths handed down to us by a transcendent being. We didn’t invent these truths; we received
them from God. The rules He lays down for us are vital for
building a functioning, moral civilization and for leading a happy life. Greek thinking posits that we only know truth
by what we observe, test, and measure. It is not faith, but fact, that drives our
understanding and exploration of the universe. Western civilization, and only Western civilization,
has found a way to balance both religious belief and human reason. Here’s how the balance works. The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches that
God created an ordered universe, and that we have an obligation to try to make the world
better. This offers us purpose and suggests that history
moves forward. Most pagan religions taught the opposite:
that the universe is illogical and random, and that history is cyclical. History just endlessly repeats itself—in
which case, why bother to innovate or create anything new? Second, Judeo-Christian tradition teaches
that every human is created in the image of God; that is, each individual’s life is
infinitely valuable. This seems self-evident to us now, but only
because we have lived with this belief for so long. The far more natural belief is that the strong
should subjugate the weak—which is precisely what people did in nearly every society in
all of history. Only by recognizing the divine in others did
we ever move beyond this amoral thinking toward the concern for human rights, democracy and
free enterprise that characterize the West. But Judeo-Christian religion alone didn’t
build our modern civilization. We also required Greek reason to teach us
objective observation: that man has the capacity to search beyond revelation for answers. Greek reason brought us the notion of the
natural law: the idea that we could discover the natural purpose—the telos—of everything
in creation by looking to its character. Human beings were created with the unique
capacity to reason; therefore, our telos was to reason. By investing reason with so much power, Greek
thought became integral to the Western mission. Nowhere is this more perfectly expressed than
in the American Revolution in which the Founding Fathers took the best of the European Enlightenment
with its roots in Greek thought and the best of Judeo-Christian practice with its roots
in the Bible and melded them into a whole new political philosophy. Without Judeo-Christian values, we fall into
scientific materialism—the belief that physical matter is the only reality—and therefore
also fall into nihilism—the belief that life has no meaning, that we’re merely stellar
dust in a cold universe. Without Greek reason, we fall into fanaticism—the
belief that fundamentalist adherence to unprovable principles represents the only path toward
meaning. The Soviet Union, Communist China and other
socialist tyrannies rejected faith and murdered 100 million people in the 20th century. Much of the modern Muslim world has embraced
faith but rejected reason. It’s noteworthy that when the Muslim world
did embrace Greek reason from the 8th to the 14th centuries, it was a leading center for
scientific advancement. So, again, we need both. Jerusalem and Athens. Revelation and reason. And yet many want to reject both. These people call themselves “progressives.” Ironically, they want to take us backwards,
to a time when man was governed neither by reason nor faith, but by feeling, and therefore
back to a time of moral chaos and disorder, of feeling over fact. It would be a fatal mistake to follow the
“progressives.” Stick with Athens and Jerusalem. I’m Ben Shapiro, editor of The Daily Wire
and author of The Right Side of History, for Prager University.

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  1. The west is built on revelation and reason, neither of which is accepted by communists sadly. Both ussr and China suppress religous freedom unless their wills are absolutely obeyed. Also, neither of these two respect reason. scientists have to make up all kinds of facts to prove how great socilism is. China is still doing this.

  2. I always disagree with Ben Shapiro, but I reckon he is good at doing arguments, so even I think different from him I like to hear his discussion. The scientific method is not that old, greeks didn't experiment the way current scientists do. China was way more advanced in any aspect than Europe until the industrial revolution. And today, they are leaders in technology and the construction projects still massive (I'm ignoring what is going on about other aspects). The West is exceptional because of for a short period of time (less than 100 years) they have the supremacy, but today things are coming back the way they were.

  3. "Western Civilization" is another name for white people. the reason Western Civilization is more successful than others is we are mostly white people. as immigration slowly destroys us, we will be less and less successful as years go by.

  4. Why did Western civilization became great….Enlightenment…
    But this was spread through imperialistic greed….

    Modern Western civilization is heavily based on ideas of Enlightenment…
    Not Judeo-Christian principles…..

    If that Judeo-Christian principles were the reason for modern values…
    Western world should have been accepting of all kinds of people since the Christianity became dominant in 300 AD….

    But it only started adopting modern humanistic values since the enlightenment era….

  5. I like how he applauds the concept of equal right for women and minorities when it was the right wing traditionalists that were the main oppositions of those being accepted.

    100-200 years ago, mr shapiro and his base wouldve been the ones begging to keep their slaves

  6. this video only taught me why americans are stupid all advancements in civilization came from the mid-east pre industrial revolution western civilization isn't a thing without the input of the mid-east they would be living in caves greece wasn't made in a vaccum

  7. A couple of huge mistakes in the video:
    -Scientific method is not a creation of western civilization… actually science as a whole has its foundings in the eastern side of the Bizantine Empire, and mainly behind the muslim efforts.
    -Slavery abolition is not a creation of the west, actually the Bizantine Empire started it with the extension of Cristianism while in China, the slavery did not even exist.

  8. Are you kidding me??!! China and the Soviet Union abandoned reason! Mao's ideology has become a cult in Chinese mentality. It's not necessarily a religion, but it's definitely belief without any sort of questioning.

  9. This is something I’ve always wanted to hear

    An explanation of how both belief and logic can work together to make such a wonderful nation and neither one needs to be bashed for it because they both offer something needed such as purpose and ideas

  10. Islam wasn't a nation with scientific advancement, they copied the theories of indian philosophers and scientists. Also Western values comes largely from roman civilisation. They even use the structure of it somewhere. Romans were pegan, the life is circle and that's why conservatism is coming again.

  11. Yeah and tell me how Japan is so prosperous and China's gdp is booming, you guys only want to advance the reason that Christianity is amazing.

  12. Thanks for misrepresenting the left. Hey.. nice hat Ben. What happened to facts before feelings? God is real.. because I feel he is. Lol

  13. Reminder that the web posted earlier is mostly taken from other cultures. Human rights first came out of Persia with the Cyrus cylinder in 600 BC, and western leaders such as Alexander the Great took a lot of inspiration the Persians. Scientific method comes out of Middle Eastern, and India cultures, Muslims were the first to create the scientific method, while it is true they used western books, and scholars such as Aristotle and Plato, the method it self was a pure Muslim discovery, when people in Baghdad argued over the correct way to solve and equation. India played a role in our modern understanding of geometry, as well as out number system. The abolishment of slavery isn't a uniquely Western thing, other cultures did it for centuries before hand, Persian's, Indians, and East Asains all took slavery away from their civilizations.

  14. West has been successful for so long is because they create problems everywhere else (these places are called developing countries) and steal all the good resources (both natural and human) from these developing countries. Now they go around educating others about human rights but their history/countries are built on complete violence and stealing wealth. They went around the world to create division and make wealth they have been somewhat successful!

  15. I would stick with Spartan division of power any day over that travesty radical Athenian democracy… Just saying. But I guess it is too complex to cram the second Peloponesian war into to this also..

  16. Other countries are poor due to western colonisation. Asian countries wont be poor now if some european countries sucked resources dry from these countries and built their glittering town and cities back in Europe.

  17. Why has the west been so successful? Ole Ben here won't admit that it was the White settlers and immigrants that made this country. Ideology means jackshit when it's low IQ shitskins coming over that you hope to bring over to the right. They're the most violent, and yet instead of stopping them from coming in you morons want to bring more of them in and then try to get them to vote right.

    Morons.

  18. My country Australia was once part of the British empire, a vast spreading, glorious western empire which was successful through colonialism, war and the horrors of capitalism.

  19. Man received rules from god after man invented god. Slavery was brought to the western civilization by christian values. Much of judeo christian values is loaded with paganism. If biblical law were to be law of the land people would be killed for working on Sunday or Saturday depending on religion so that means being a sovereign capitalist would be a crime.

  20. None of this is really true. Saying human action that led to the world we have now are the consequences of ideas of our particular religion or our science (even though all other places have religion and science, many of them discovering and making things centuries before the west got them China, India and the Islamic World being prime examples.) is really ignorant of the wider world. The reason the west really got so far was because of the connections it had to the entire world. These connections developed during the age of exploration because Ottoman Empire locked most of Europe from trade with India and China which were much more advanced but thanks to these connections all around the world and the need to adapt, the west became rich and the rich get richer so with time they got more colonies and more control and more wealth but it collapsed after two world wars. Religious toleration was a thing in Persia since forever, in Mongolia since 1250 and in the Ottoman Empire since the 1400s while in Europe Protestants and Jews were persecuted and fought lots of wars culminating in the 30 years war which ended in 1648 so that came pretty late. Human rights weren't a thing until people fought for them, and when they were formulated they were more of a hipocrisy from Thomas Jefferson and his slaves. Also slavery died off because it wasn't profitable except for the people that it was which didn't abolish it until they were forced to and racism was persistent basically until the 1960s.

  21. Answer to your question: God promised that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. Look at every Islamic nation—–CHAOS

  22. It didn't hurt that Western Europe was the only part of Eurasia not decimated by the Mongols in the 12 century. Before then, the East is where society flourished. China and central Asia were centuries ahead of The West during the "dark ages". The Mongols set Asia and the Middle East back centuries.

  23. I disagree about western civilization collapsing without judeo-christian values. With an open mind and a clear understanding of history, politics, religions, etc. you can easily make up your own values. It's as simple as treating other people the same way you would want to be treated. I do agree that some people do need religion to be tamed and keep them from doing bad things. But nevertheless if you have an educated population like most of the western countries, the need for classic judeo-christian values become less and less. As for Western Civilizations being successful because of reason and logic, 100% agree about that one. I think that is the only pillar a civilization needs to be healthy/successful. As for values, they are different for everyone. If judeo-christian values help you become a better person then go for it! Doesn't mean that's the exact source you need to go to. There's plenty of books and other sources of information out there that can help you find better values and become a better person.

  24. TOMMAS HOW …GEOGRAPHY AND CAPITALISM….WE HAD RIVERS TO TRANSPORT …AND FOLLOWED THE BIBLE …YOU DONT WORK…YOU DONT EAT ……

  25. Progressives don't want to remove faith, they just want you to stop being faithful to your god, and start being faithful to theirs.

  26. Although Ben Shapiro is correct about the importance of both reason and faith, at the end of his video he immediately devolves into a strawman argument about progressivism, claiming that they want to put feelings over fact, which is factually incorrect. Note how this is the only part of his video he fails to support with any evidence.

  27. too bad we didn't talk about the church stealing wealth, or the church fighting against scientific facts, or the church burning people left and right in the name of love
    it's not like facts ever mattered to emotional ben, have they

  28. There is no western civilisation, there is an american civilisation which destroyed all other western societies by spreading of liberal valuables, and now to rest of world. I hope one day liberalism will be dead ideology and people will be free to organise own countries without interfering of UN, MMF, WTO and other globalistic organisations.

  29. Because they go to other third world countries and take whatever they want, and when those who fight back against having their shit stolen, are called terrorists.

  30. It had nothing to do with religion or the Greeks, its started really with first the industrial revolution but this led to the more important free market capitalist revolution, where the government instead of trying to control the economy decided to deregulate.

    Take Britain in the 18th century Britain was considered a very corrupt country loads of bribes and kick backs required, by the 19th very correct no point in trying to bribe a British official, why because most of the illegal activity in the 18th was legal there was no point, so more people got affluent, not wealthy or super rich. But the thing was they didn't depend on the government so got a much better say, the USA followed the UK in this manner.

    Socialist moan about inequality there is no greater inequality in the third world and the communist world, because the few control it all. Just like they did before.

  31. The west came up with Religous tolerance? Genghis Khan would like to have a chat.
    Also- Ben Shaprio
    Every individual's life is infinitely valuable*…. "Universal healthcare bad"

  32. The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches that God created an ordered universe, and that we have an obligation to try to make the world better. – That is true, but what you stand for is filth! 🙂

  33. Religion has not done much to promote the success of "the West" on the contrary it held the west back until the enlightment broke through. The enlightment with logic and reason in the long run gave us science, economic growth, progress, democracy and human rights. The religion fought to prevent all progress and without the enlightment "the West" would have been like Saudiarabia of today.

  34. Ben should stop going on stating gay is sin as long as he sounds like a hystetical drag queen on loads of helium!!!

  35. i agree with this mostly, but people dont need religion to find a greater purpose in this world. There are plenty of atheist who dont believe we're just microscopic space dust in an infinite universe

  36. Soviet Union and Communist China gov did not kill tens of millions because they embraced only reasons …..

    They did it because the leaders were just ruthless and short sighted. Nothing to do with their main stream socio political ideology which is not faithless.

  37. God is not exist. Western civilization was built by individuals – thinkers, intellectuals and workers, not because of some old man in the cloud, but because of people.

  38. That's why the USA have mono-wings like B2 plane or, if you see better, the plane fly better with the Athens and the Jerusalem wings (put they where you'll want).

  39. Faith/morality and reason has brought us very far but I think there's a flaw. "I should be able to do my work and there's nothing against doing it. But why is my body paralysed? Yesterday I could walk…" Not recognizing and sometimes acting on feelings made our high demanding society. Keep morality and reason but think about the place for feelings in the rotation.

  40. ''Why Has the West Been So Successful?''…he forgot to mention that the 'West' stole most of the land it occupies and proceeded to kill nearly all of the locals on those locals own land and brought in millions more as slaves to do it's work – ''success'' he says. …no wonder the world is falling apart with morals like that.

  41. I agree except the religion part. As a civilization all has been lost when we think our moral is dependant on some entity and not ourselves

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