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The West’s monumental crisis The current iconoclasm of liberal democracy is a cautionary tale of civilisational collapse

Atta’s critique of modernist architecture as a symbol of Western domination. Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Atta’s critique of modernist architecture as a symbol of Western domination. Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images


June 29, 2020   7 mins

In 1998, the urban planning student Mohammed Atta handed in his masters thesis at Hamburg’s University of Technology. Examining in depth the architecture of Aleppo’s historic Bab al-Nasr district, Atta’s thesis presented a picture of the human-scale “Islamic-Oriental city,” whose winding cobbled streets, shaded souks and alleys carved from honey-coloured stone had been violated by the concrete and glass boxes of liberal modernity.

Le Corbusier’s rectangular forms, the alien importation of French colonial planners, were aped by Syrian planners after independence, Atta’s thesis observed, an architectural symbol of Islamic civilisation’s total subjection to the West. Three years later, Atta’s critique of modernist architecture as a symbol of Western domination assumed its final form when, as the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, he flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center, the glittering towers in the heart of the liberal empire standing as a symbol for Western modernity itself.

The Syrian architect Marwa al-Sabouni, a student and admirer of the late Sir Roger Scruton, likewise sees in the Middle East’s modern architecture a tragic symbol of “a region where even the application of modernism has failed,” where “we traded our close-knit neighborhoods, our modest and inward houses, our unostentatious mosques and their neighbouring churches, our collaborative and shared spaces, and our shaded courtyards and knowledge-cultivating corners, leaving us with isolated ghettos and faceless boxes.”

For al-Sabouni, the anomie of liberal modernity was built into its very architecture, bringing desolation in its wake. An opponent of Islamism, she nevertheless shares the Islamist analysis that the Middle East’s instability is not inherent, but comes from the West’s exporting the structures of liberal modernity to the somnolent peace of Islamic civilisation, setting in train chaos.

“Losing our identity in exchange for the Western idea of ‘progress’ has proved to have greater consequences than we could predict,” she claims. “This vacuum in our identity could not be filled by imported ‘middle grounds’, as was once naively thought; this vacuum was instead filled by horrors and radicalizations, by sectarianisms and corruption, by crime and devastation — in one word, by war.”

It is natural to read a culture’s attitudes to its monuments as expressions of its social health. They are the symbolic repository of any given culture, and deeply imbued with political meaning. When civilisations fall and their literature is lost to time, it is their monuments that serve as testaments to their values, to their greatest heroes and their highest aspirations. Statues, great building projects and monuments are stories we tell about ourselves, expressions in stone and bronze of the Burkean compact between generations past and those to come. As Atta’s thesis states, the architecture of the past is imbued with moral meaning: “if we think about the maintenance of urban heritage,” he wrote, “then this is a maintenance of the good values of the former generations for the benefit of today’s and future generations.”

It is only logical then, for the terminal crisis of liberal modernity to play out in culture wars over monuments, as the fate of a monument stands as a metaphor for the civilisation that erected it. It is for this reason that conquerors of a civilisation so often pull down the monuments of their predecessors and replace them with their own, a powerful act of symbolic domination.

The wave of statue-toppling spreading across the Western world from the United States is not an aesthetic act, but a political one, the disfigured monuments in bronze and stone standing for the repudiation of an entire civilisation. No longer limiting their rage to slave-owners, American mobs are pulling down and disfiguring statues of abolitionists, writers and saints in an act of revolt against the country’s European founding, now reimagined as the nation’s original sin, a moral and symbolic shift with which we Europeans will soon be forced to reckon. 

On our own continent, the symbolic, civilisational value of architectural monuments was expressed last year when the world gathered together online to watch Notre Dame in flames. The collective grief that for one evening united so many people was not just for the cathedral itself but for the civilisation that created it, a sudden jolt of loss and pain that came with the realisation the skill and self-belief it took to erect it had vanished forever.

Like Dark Age farmers tilling their crops in the crumbling ruins of a Roman city, we realise we are already squatting inside the monuments of a lost and greater civilisation, viewing the work of our forebears with the wonder and sadness of the Anglo-Saxon poet of The Ruin: 

This masonry is wondrous; fates broke it
courtyard pavements were smashed; the work of giants is decaying.
Far and wide the slain perished, days of pestilence came,
death took all the brave men away;

For many observing from outside liberalism, the current iconoclasm of the West is just such a cautionary tale of civilisational collapse. “Statues are being toppled, conditions are deplorable and there are gang wars on the beautiful streets of small towns in civilized Western European countries,” Hungary’s defiantly non-liberal leader Viktor Orban remarked in an interview last week,  “I look at the countries advising us how to conduct our lives properly and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

In contrast, in a recent speech to mark the centenary of the hated Treaty of Trianon, Orban specifically cited the historical monuments of the Carpathian region as a testament to the endurance of the Hungarian people throughout history: “the indelible evidence, churches and cathedrals, cities and town squares still stand everywhere today. They proclaim that we Hungarians are a great, culture-building and state-organising nation.”

It is notable that this speech, laden with architectural metaphors, saw Orban for the first time situate Hungary in a separate Central European civilisation outside the West, adopting the language of anti-colonialism in a marker, perhaps, of his shift towards China as a geopolitical patron. Raging against the “arrogant” French and British and “hypocritical American empire”, Orban claimed that “the West raped the thousand-year-old borders and history of Central Europe
 just as the borders of Africa and the Middle East were redrawn. We will never forget that they did this.” But these days are over, Orban exulted: “the world is changing. The changes are tectonic. The United States is no longer alone on the throne of the world, Eurasia is rebuilding with full throttle
 A new order is being born.”

It is striking, and meaningful, that the self-conscious civilisation states rising to challenge the collapsing liberal order express their neo-traditionalist value systems in reimagined forms of their pre-modernist architecture, with stone and brick giving concrete expression of the ideal.

In Budapest, Scruton’s city “full of monuments” where “in every park some bearded gentleman stands serenely on a plinth, testifying to the worth of Hungarian poetry, to the beauty of Hungarian music, to the sacrifices made in some great Hungarian cause,” Orban is engaged in an ongoing project to erase the modernist architecture of the communist era. The concrete boxes of the rejected order are now shrouded with neoclassical facades and the long-demolished monuments of the glorious past are being re-erected stone by carved stone.  

In Russia, Putin’s new Military Cathedral, an archaeofuturistic confection fusing Orthodox church and state in an intimidating expression of raw power, symbolises the country’s apartness from collapsing liberal modernity. The cathedral is a symbol of a civilisation that links its present with its past and future, expressed by Putin in overtly Burkean terms in his recent essay on the Second World War as the “shared historical memory” that foregrounds “the living connection and the blood ties between generations”. 

Erdogan’s Turkey similarly expresses its desire to return to its imperial heyday in the elaborate mosques, palaces and barracks in neo-Ottoman style springing up across Turkey itself and its former imperial dominions. In architecture as in political order, the stylings of modernity already seem old-fashioned and stripped of all vitality, the sunlit optimism of the Bauhaus degenerated over one bloody century to the vision of Grenfell Tower in flames.  

Like liberalism, the architecture of the postwar order conquered the world, for a time, and is now being rejected by the liberal order’s challengers in favour of the styles that immediately preceded modernity, a civilisational kitsch rejected by al-Sabouni as merely “mimicking the creations of our ancestors”.

In a recent essay, the influential software engineer and thinker Marc Andreesen urged the West to start building again, to recover civilisational confidence, but what should we build? What does our architecture reveal about our political order, in the greater West and here in Britain? What are the greatest recent building projects of our times? Perhaps the glass and steel skyscrapers, temples to our financialised economy, that dominate our capital? The Nightingale hospitals, hurriedly converted from conference centres to deal with the mass casualties of a disease of globalisation? 

Perhaps the airport is the fullest architectural expression of liberalism: the liminal symbol, both within the nation state and outside it, of global travel and optimism; a temple of bored consumption where the religions of the pre-liberal order were tucked away, all together, in the bland anonymity of the prayer room; until, that is, Mohammed Atta’s blowback to globalisation soured this post-historical dream, forcing the architecture of liberalism back to its early roots in Bentham’s surveilled and paranoid Panopticon.

The problem, at heart, is we can take down our monuments but have nothing to replace them with. As Scruton notes, monuments “commemorate the nation, raise it above the land on which it is planted, and express an idea of public duty and public achievement in which everyone can share. Their meaning is not ‘he’ or ‘she’ but ‘we’” — but perhaps there is no We any more, with the nihilism of the American mob an expression of a far deeper malaise. 

It is surely no accident that this is a moral panic driven by millennials, an evanescent generation without property or progeny, barred from creating a future, who now reject their own past in its entirety. This is the endpoint of liberalism, trapped in the eternal present, a shallow growth with no roots from which to draw succour, and bringing forth no seeds of future life.

For Scruton’s pupil al-Sabouni, the salvation of Islamic civilisation is to be found in an architecture rooted in its past, where, she states, “we must be sincere in our own intentions toward our own identity. We must realise the desire to regain it in order to regain peace. And in order to do so, we simply have to do exactly what any dedicated farmer does to a plant: cultivate the roots and carefully prune the branches.” 

But a civilisation that uproots itself will soon wither and die. Able to destroy but not to build, the fading civilisation of liberalism is now a grand, crumbling old edifice whose imminent collapse is wilfully ignored by its occupants, because they have too much invested in it, and can’t imagine what can possibly replace it. But as its unstable masonry keeps falling onto the streets below, the risk of a more spectacular, uncontrolled collapse gathers every day.

 


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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David Barnett
David Barnett
4 years ago

We are looking at potential civilisation collapse. This happens when the elite is takes for granted its right to rule but loses touch with the grass roots source of its vitality.

In the case of liberalism, this happened already in the late 19th century, and eventually led to the first world war. Liberalism was giving way to a resurgence of collectivism and an illiberal insistence that unity required uniformity, To some extent that may have been spurred by the metaphor of mass production and the benefits of uniform, interchangeable components.

What we witnessed during the 20th century was an increasing retreat from liberalism cloaked in liberal rhetoric. There is a great deal of confusion between the liberal concept of individual justice and the atomistic detachment that makes the individual manageable to rulers by detaching the atoms from the community matrix. That matrix is essential to human identity.

The detached individuals were reattached to new counterfeit matrices which lacked the vitality of the old ones. We are now reaping the nihilistic whirlwind.

The individual self was never located solely in one’s body, but always encompassed the whole mutual support network. That is why the dichotomy between individualism and community is a false one. It is only appears when dynamic free association is replaced by forced allegiance to a single artificial conception of communal unity.

It is the forced communal uniformity which is lurching from one unsatisfactory vision to another – rather like the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. If we are to recover, the solution is the same: the liberal recognition that uniformity is not merely unnecessary for social cohesion, but that the attempt to impose it shatters it.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
4 years ago

Excellent article, but one that implies that a civilisation is something coherent and definable and above all homogeneous. In reality, the architectural heritage of most nations testifies to the inadequacy of Orban-esque narratives of national, cultural or civilisational homogeneity. Budapest itself is fundamentally a Habsburg, not straightforwardly a Hungarian city; the same can be said, in other national contexts, of Brno, Krakow, Lviv – a whole swathe of cities across Central Europe testify fundamentally to Viennese rule. Or take Turkey, whose architectural heritage includes not only the great mosques of Sinan, but also the frescoed churches in Capadoccia and the monasteries of Syriac Mesopotamia, half the heritage of Ancient Greece, the Hittite ruins, etc, etc. Across the world, the real complexities of history, its pluralism, its disputes, its conflicts, are witnessed in bricks and mortar.

Needless to say, chauvinists hate this complexity and often do what they can to erode it. Thus, Islamists destroy pagan ruins and churches; the Chinese regime has demolished the old Muslim town of Kashgar, until 2008 among the best preserved old cities in Central Asia; pretty colonial houses are knocked down in Africa; picturesque nineteenth-century houses in Montreal were demolished in the 1970s because, as the homes of the English-speaking elite, they had no place in the history of French Canada, etc, etc.

The modern “civilisational” architecture that Mr Roussinos evokes is also an effort to simplify. The reason neo-Ottoman mosques are being erected in Turkey is to create an architectural statement that Turkey is a mere continuation of the Ottoman Empire, rather than the complex product of pagan, Christian, Muslim and modernist influences. The reason that a neo-Orthodox cathedral is being erected in Russia is to create a simplified vision of a straight, white, Orthodox nation: a Russia, in those precise terms, without Tchaikovsky, without Pushkin, and without Tolstoy.

All this must stop, if we are ever to arrive at a mature and adequate understanding of the entanglements of history and how we came to be what we are. The truest lesson that historic architecture can teach us is that we all inhabited a “middle ground” of identity.

Shane Dunworth-crompton
Shane Dunworth-crompton
4 years ago

Well stated. The complexity of human culture and society is its wealth and strength and the attempt to reduce this complexity to one single facet for political propaganda motives is to impoverish ourselves and our civilization : it’s a form of extreme political authoritarianism and is as old as any political organization

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

I beg to differ over Budapest. Most of the city was constructed post the Ausgleich of 1867, when it became an autonomous Magyar city with only a weak titular link to the misnamed Habsburg. The Parliament building owes little if anything to “Viennese rule” Additionally the grand Eastern Railway Station has the statues of two Britons on the facade, hardly the thing one would expect from a south eastern German is it?
Hungary off course had suffered the awful trauma of being occupied by Ottoman barbarians for nearly two centuries. During that time the Ottoman erased much of Hungary’s medieval architectural heritage, in particular the great ‘Royal’ Basilica at
Szekesfehervar. Budapest, however kitsch, was meant to be very Hungarian’.
Besides this minor quibble I agree with
you, this was an excellent, although provocative article.

Adrian
Adrian
4 years ago

Beautiful

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
4 years ago

10/10! How I agree with this article. I put in another comment something along the lines that we should be defending cultures in other parts of the world just as much as we are trying to defend our own. I don’t know much about the Middle East, but I have been to Aleppo’s historic Bab al-Nasr district. Aleppo is (or rather was before it was militarily destroyed in recent years) already on the forefront of “modernisation” with all the usual and worst of western influences – streets for more cars and concrete blocks of flats, crumbling as they go up. Ditto the other main towns of Syria. We should not be undermining these countries, we should be giving them confidence to rebuild their civilisations and stand against the “cocolorisation” of the world.

However, their massive population growth doesn’t help!

And as for our fight in the West? This paragraph sums it up – what a piece of writing, Aris!

“It is surely no accident that this is a moral panic driven by millennials, an evanescent generation without property or progeny, barred from creating a future, who now reject their own past in its entirety. This is the endpoint of liberalism, trapped in the eternal present, a shallow growth with no roots from which to draw succour, and bringing forth no seeds of future life.

David Barnett
David Barnett
4 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cox

It is not the “endpoint of liberalism” but the endpoint of the counterfeit liberalism which was the creeping disease of the 20th century.

It makes no difference because “liberalism” will get the blame for the sins of the counterfeit, just as the mercantilist and financialisation counterfeits of the “free-market” tarnish the reputation of laissez-faire.

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
4 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

“Counterfeit liberalism” – these days the word liberal and its derivatives can mean almost anything to anyone. Probably every time the word is used it needs a definition. But I take this to mean liberalism in the US sense – ie thoroughly anti-liberal in the UK sense.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
4 years ago

A very well written article that leaves the reader with a sense of gloom and foreboding.

In online political discussions, I have often tried to remind people – especially those contorted with rage at our failure to have created their utopia – that we are living in the most liberal and free societies the world has ever known and that this fact should not be taken for granted.

These societies, where we have more rights than any human being living previously or elsewhere could have dreamt of, are clearly not the norm in human existence. At the moment, there is no proof that they won’t simply be a short-lived blip and our species will revert to despotism of one form or another.

I never really believed that these liberal societies could become so hated despite all their evident achievements – but perhaps I’m starting to believe it now.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
4 years ago

I wonder if there is a link between Feminism and Western civilizational collapse. Eastern European countries, where feminism hasn’t made much headway, seem to be doing better than America and Western Europe.

There is much talk of toxic masculinity, but to me it seems like we are in the grip of toxic femininity. Now that sexual equality has been reached, Feminism has devolved into the worst aspects of womanhood: scolding, shaming, and control-freakery. Whereas men achieve status by physical rough-housing when young and later through hard work, toxic women do it by undermining each other’s reputation. These days, there are a million messages and platforms celebrating women and their crueler instincts, but hardly any complimenting men. In fact, more often than not, young men are bombarded by negative messaging. Although I am a staunch opponent of toppling statues and other historical artifacts, I am beginning to wonder if much of the young men involved in the recent riots feel betrayed by this society and would be happy to see it go.

Maybe Woke culture has ‘problematized’ everything that once made life bearable for young men. No longer able to channel their energies into fun or productive pursuits, it doesn’t sound too far-fetched to suggest that young men would much prefer to focus their energies on destructive purposes instead of being effete cheerleaders of feminist causes.

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
4 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

There is very likely a link. When I try to fathom what on earth has gone wrong, feminism does feature but what my conclusion (at the moment, and always open to change) is that as a society we no longer believe in sacrifice … by which I mean we won’t give up anything individually to further a higher good. So feminism insists women should not sacrifice certain benefits/rights to, for example, having families that are nurtured properly.
It’s not only feminism though. You find this everywhere in society.

cdjkovacs
cdjkovacs
4 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Great point about the feminists. It reminds me of this story I was forced to read as a young scold a long time ago where the world was once grand and harmonious but this uppity, gullible broad comes along and greedily eats something she’s been warned not to (maybe carbs, I can’t remember), and then she nags her mate into eating it too and then it’s goodbye paradise, hello civilizational collapse.

namelsss me
namelsss me
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

I think this problem is much older than ‘Woke’ culture. Writers were complaining about it at least 40 years ago, ‘The Manipulated Man’ dates from the early 1970s or earlier.

aa
aa
4 years ago

“Erdogan’s Turkey similarly expresses its desire to return to its imperial heyday….”

Erdogan may but majority of Turkish people do not! Western capitalist imperialism (under the banner of liberalism) supported and brought Erdogan to power, who in turn removed democracy turning Turkey into an autocracy behind a democratic facade, in truth a theocracy much worse than the Ottoman rule. Crisis is global and of capitalism not of the West’s only.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

Aris has pulled together a number of themes here for a fascinating article that could easily form the basis for a very important book. And he has expressed something that, I suspect, many of us have been sensing for some time now. It is fascinating to learn that al-Soubani admired Scruton.

The fact is that the financial, governing, educational, media and physical structures we have created in the West are demoralising to the spirit and the soul. Above all, they largely seem to be failing us, time and again. Perhaps we really are in a state of collapse.

Paul Melzer
Paul Melzer
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The spirit and the soul do not depend on such external structures for their compass. Blaming these things is letting ourselves off the hook.

Jeffrey Shaw
Jeffrey Shaw
4 years ago

This is as finely crafted an essay of logical thought as I have read in many months and it stands in stark contrast to the author’s previous piece regarding the new Cathedral in Russia. Now I will be forced to keep reading Mr. Roussinos’s contributions. When I was a young student in University, we were taught to recognize the “great” contributions of Mies van der Rohe and his vertical ice-cube trays. Even then, the class sharply disagreed with the lecturing professor that somehow van der Rohe’s “contributions” were a positive turn of events. It was from that point forward that I looked askance at anyone who felt the need to change his/her name or identity in order to achieve celebrity.
In conclusion – perhaps the author’s lingering insight – “….but perhaps there is no We any more, with the nihilism of the American mob an expression of a far deeper malaise.” I don’t see it as malaise, but rather cowardice. Only a handful of Americans recognize that the nation was founded on a structure of liberty and not equality. Too few to be counted and too timid to speak.

Jeremy Hummerstone
Jeremy Hummerstone
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeffrey Shaw

Not quite fair: some of van der Rohe’s ice-cube trays were horizontal.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
4 years ago

Right now, aside from Poundbury and some honourable exceptions, some of the only good new architecture in Britain are the Hindu temples constructed in London in the late 90s, early 2000s, made using wood from India, covered in all sorts of details, and as far from the modernist brutalism as is humanely possible.

Given that mass-immigration is part of the modernist program, this is highly ironic.

David J
David J
4 years ago

Interesting that you like Poundbury as I do.
But there are many differing views on buildings. For example, the hideous (to my eyes) concrete block that defaces the sweep of Margate front is actually a home to its occupants. And many of them love it for the spectacular views it affords.
I’d probably be satisfied with a repaint in ‘California colours’ even if that’s a rather un-British thought.

Otto Christensen
Otto Christensen
4 years ago

Living in Western Canada where the size of Germany or England is about one third the square kilometres of one Province that feels overcrowded with a population of 4.5 million, I have difficulty empathizing with the notion of having nothing with which to replace modernist “Liberalism”. Liberalism is all non-aboriginals have ever known here and they are not about to give it up. That said, we are inundated with globalist propaganda and in our few large cities urban dwellers feed on mainstream media and imagine themselves as anxiously awaiting Armageddon. However a street riot once every few years because a favorite sports team lost the finals suffices to quell the revolutionary spirit. Even though many neo Marxist American immigrants invaded our Universities and have done their best to instill American style iconoclasm with their talk tough sounding ideology they never get around to telling us how the average working person will have the salaries and benefits they receive and most students who pass through the halls of higher learning forget their notions and get on with it. Yes there might be a bit of iconoclasm lurking in the hallowed halls even on the street, but hardly any chance that things will change.

Gabriele
Gabriele
4 years ago

I agree that modern architecture is bad, in the sense that is mostly meaningless. However, I do not think that just copying old buildings is better. These buildings still do not represent anything about our current society. If anything they just show how even people that reject the contemporary excesses of modernity have no idea with what we should replace it. Frankly, I put myself in this category.

However, it should be also pointed out that modern architecture has very little to do with radical islam. For instance, some people look at medieval Spain as a beacon of islamic tolerance, but their tolerance lasted only one dinasty of rulers. And the same is true for pretty much any islamic kingdom: a tolerant dinasty is replaced by a radical, violent and intollerant one, which is then replaced by another tolerant one and so on…

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
4 years ago

The author is a beautiful stylist, but I am not clear exactly which ‘liberalism’ he is talking about. To simplify matters, is it the traditional liberalism that most Britons would recognise as different from, say, authoritarian or Islamic states (an essentially secular state, equality under the law, democratic institutions, lots of freedoms, not many obvious civic responsibilities) or the liberalism of the modern student activist (anti-colonial, questioning of whiteness and all authority, a clear agenda of what can be banned and what should not be said or done)? Given that architecture is rarely these days controlled by individuals, but is commissioned by public bodies and companies over which most people have no control, I also wonder just how much can be read into its representativeness of civilizational decline?

michael harris
michael harris
4 years ago

I am struck that Aris Roussinos begins with Mohammed Atta. A few months ago I was in Delhi, trying to keep my balance as I looked up 300 feet to the top of the Qutb Minar. This, begun in 1299 AD and for centuries the tallest building in the world, is the Tower of Victory put up to mark the founding of the Delhi Sultanate, the first step, as they hoped, of the Muslim conquest of India.
And I thought this. The erection of a Tower is VIctory. The destruction of the Towers is Defeat. Whatever revenge was taken by the US for 9/11 has not reversed the sense of that Defeat. And part of the reaction to that defeat is self-harm tending toward suicide.
Possibly I exaggerate. But not by much.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  michael harris

Who told you that?
The height of the Qutb Minar (QM) is only 73 metres, or nearly 240 feet high. The Great Pyramid at Giza, which predates the QM by well over three thousand years, was originally thought to be 481 feet high.
Even our own Salisbury Cathedral (completed about 1310) is 402 feet, whist Strasbourg (completed 1439) is 466 feet.
As to 9/11 I agree with you, you are exaggerating. Whatever the truth behind 9/11 defeat was not part of it. If you can answer the question that Marcus Tullius Cicero would have asked, “cui bono?”, you maybe placated.

David Jones
David Jones
4 years ago

“Their meaning is not ‘he’ or ‘she’ but ‘we'”
Isn’t the argument about which “we”? Which “we” does a statue of a slave trader or Confederate general represent? Certainly not all of us.
The article seems to recognise that the opponents of liberalism are worse than liberalism, so in what way is liberalism really collapsing? It still seems to offer better solutions.

Baz Ryan
Baz Ryan
4 years ago

Interesting points made around traditional Islamic cityscapes. Guy Eaton was saying essentially this in his King of the Castle over 30 years ago.

P NI
P NI
4 years ago

Utter nonsense. This may be a time of crisis but if you are going to critique 4 or 5 centuries of philosophical tradition try defining it first. Then be honest about what you would replace it with.

Mitch Green
Mitch Green
4 years ago
Reply to  P NI

Your weakness in imagining an alternative to the current order is only exceeded by your inability to read between the lines.