Why Culture Matters: The Natural State of Man is One of Poverty, Scarcity and Conflict

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One of my favorite teachers in high school was Mr. Kelly. Ostensibly he was a reading teacher, but his interests were far more inclined towards history and cultures. We once got into a discussion about the great cultures throughout history. The obvious names came up… the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Romans, Aztecs, ancient China etc. Then he asked the question about what determines a great culture. My answer was something like: “A great culture leaves something tangible behind.” My reasoning was simply that whether the Parthenon, the Coliseum, various pyramids or the Great Wall of China, all of these cultures left tangible representations of their greatness. Mr. Kelly then posited that maybe that was the wrong measure. Maybe instead we should measure a culture’s greatness by the vibrancy of life enjoyed by its people during its heyday. In particular he mentioned two cultures in western Africa who left nary a trace of their existence, but apparently had a vibrant society centuries ago. He suggested that it was possible that they were every bit as great as the cultures as those we usually mention when discussing history. I was skeptical but it was an interesting discussion.

Sadly, after 30 years I don’t remember the cultures he mentioned. But I do remember the question itself of how we go about measuring great cultures. That question is very much relevant today. Since then I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard various professors or pundits or pontificators suggest something like “All cultures are equal and deserve the same level of respect”. I’m as skeptical about that today as when I first heard it. Yesterday’s New York Times provided a perfect example of that exact thing. In it was a story titled: U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies. The various Marines and soldiers who became aware of the abuse were told by higher ups that they could not intervene because it was “their culture”. Indeed, a number of American servicemembers who took steps to stop the rampant pederasty were disciplined and even kicked out of the military.

This story comes on the heels of two other events that bring up the question of cultures. Europe is being invaded by millions of Muslims. The United States is being invaded by millions of Mexicans and others from Latin Americans.

Today we find ourselves in a situation where the West, home to the greatest accomplishments of mankind, are under siege by “migrants” from cultures and nations that are abject failures. The West in general, and the United States in particular, are the home of the greatest advances in human history – or in some cases harnessing innovations from elsewhere: Computers. Man on the moon. Mapping of the Human Genome. Flight. Nuclear power. The Mechanical Reaper. Air conditioning. The automobile. Plastic. Electricity. Add to those things that are essential to Western, or at least American culture: Representative government. Limited government. The outlawing of slavery. Freedom of speech and the press. Freedom of worship. Individual rights. Private property. Together these things have allowed the West to create nations where more people have enjoyed more prosperity, more freedom, and longer lives than any people in history.

Prosperity, freedom and longevity may not be the best measures of a culture’s greatness, but they are probably pretty close. Of course that doesn’t mean that either the United State or the West are perfect. They are not, not by a long shot. But for all of their failures they are by and large exponentially better places to live than the rest of the world.

It’s thus strange then that many of the beneficiaries of these advanced cultures seek to diminish them and draw an equivalency with other cultures, regardless of the reality. In much of the Muslim world women are 2nd class citizens… at best. Homosexuals are murdered. The freedoms of speech or the press or religion are virtually nonexistent. Most of the population lives in poverty, or not far above it. And of course there is the near constant threat of terrorism or war, as more than half of the ongoing conflicts on the planet involve Muslims.

Then there is Mexico and Latin America where the economies are in constant turmoil, where corruption is a way of life, where governments know few if any limits and where drug cartels reign supreme via bribes and brutality.

None of those things create a foundation for prosperity or freedom or longevity. But somehow not only are Americans and Westerners supposed to respect these dystopian cultures as equals, at the same time we are supposed to welcome the masses escaping them into our communities. It would be one thing if the vast majority of these “migrants” were seeking to assimilate into their new locales and contribute to their prosperity. They’re not. In Europe Muslims are seeking to apply “sharia law” in enclaves across the continent – UKFrance and trying to bend the locals to their mores… including outlawing Octoberfest in Germany!.  Ninety percent of Middle Eastern “refugees” are on food stamps and “Asian” rape gangs proliferate, seemingly without fear. In the United States illegal immigrants receive government assistance at twice the rate of the native population while in some places they are responsible for over 1/3 of the murders and other violent crimes.

Unfortunately, the subject of culture is no longer simply an academic question to be discussed in Social Studies class. Today the question implies real world consequences such as poverty and death. While Muslim or African or Hispanic cultures may have positive aspects about them, and may have been great at one time long ago in history, today they are largely dysfunctional and often abject failures where the citizenry suffer great calamity both economic and physical.

Liberals in the west would have us eliminate all borders and welcome in anyone who might want to escape their failed states as we are assured that “diversity” is the key to the West thriving. As usual, they are wrong. The Judeo Christian foundations of the West, the march of limited government begun with the Magna Carta, the individual freedoms hammered out in the US Constitution are all elements of a culture that has laid the foundation for the success the West currently enjoys. While adding various elements of far less successful cultures may make liberal elites swoon, it doesn’t do much for the society as a whole, and in terms of jobs, education and quality of life it usually has a decidedly negative impact on those at the bottom of the economic spectrum… but not so much for the elites behind their walled gardens.

As this is America and liberals see racism and hate around every corner, I’ll state that this is not some clarion call for a whitebread America or West. On the contrary. It matters not whether someone’s hue is that of milk or oil. It’s the culture that matters, not the skin. Charles Napier, the British Army’s Commander-in-Chief in India in the 19th century understood this. When confronted by Hindu priests angry at the Brits prohibiting Sati – the custom of burning a widow alive on the funeral pyre of her husband – he said this:

“Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

Can anyone imagine a General in Barack Obama’s Army saying something similar and keeping his job?

Customs matter. Culture matters. The natural state of man is one of poverty, scarcity and conflict. The West has greatly succeeded in diminishing all three. Western culture is indeed imperfect and leaves much room for improvement, but there’s a difference between introspection and cultural suicide. Western elites don’t seem to know the difference. Maybe they should be forced to endure life in some of those failed states before they are allowed to diversify our culture out of existence.

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

13 Responses to “Why Culture Matters: The Natural State of Man is One of Poverty, Scarcity and Conflict”

  1. 1


    These are all the same things that nativist Amerjcans said about the Chinese the Irish the Italians and the Eastern European Jews
    Thanks Vince for continuing that less than great American tradition of hating the newcomers

  2. 4

    Nanny G

    Back after we abandoned the South Vietnamese, we ended up getting ”boat people,” from there.
    I lived in Long Beach, CA at the time.
    These people had absolutely no idea how to live in our society….why should they?
    So, our pet cats went missing as they fed themselves on them.
    Our trash was sifted through as they scrounged for free foods and recyclables.
    10 and up to 20 ex-boat people lived in 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.
    But pretty soon, and I mean within the generation, they were buying those apartment buildings, opening restaurants, jewelry shops, tailor shops.
    They assimilated because they WANTED to assimilate.

    Today’s illegals have no interest in assimilating, here or in Europe.
    That’s the difference.

  3. 5

    James Raider


    Vince, great presentation.

    There are over 7.2 billion people on earth, the majority of whom live under abusive and oppressive regimes and have done so for so long many don’t know right from wrong.

    Self-righteous hypocrites of the ‘liberal’ mind pretend all of these billions should come to America if they want to, as long as someone else pays the freight for them.

    In pitiful ignorance of foreign cultures, foreign mores, foreign customs, foreign politics, foreign economics, these liberals blindly support an Administration hell-bent on ‘changing’ America for the worse. You don’t improve a Nation by Overwhelming it with enormous numbers of people — they cannot assimilate into all fibres of society. Can’t happen.

    Never in American history have so many been so apathetic to the Nation they inherited.

  4. 6

    James Raider


    @Nanny G: #4

    Today’s illegals have no interest in assimilating, here or in Europe.
    That’s the difference.

    I think that it is more than “illegals” — If you look across the whole landscape of North America, U.S. and Canada, the past 25 years have produced massive inflows of people, which have too often overwhelmed the local population.

    This has created enormous ‘closed’ communities, very isolated and self sufficient, which have added almost Nothing to either the broader populations of U.S. or Canada.

    Canada is a good canary in the coal mine for the U.S. It’s population is now over 60% liberal/socialist. It has become completely overwhelmed by an invasion from Asia which has imposed itself of the country. Almost no Europeans, or even Australians, have emigrated to Canada over the past generation. In some large cities, such as Richmond, BC, or large suburbs of Toronto, you’d be hard pressed to find “English” language signs, . . . that is where America is going.

    Welcome to an apathetic society.

  5. 7


    Why would they have to assimilate? We feed, house them and they do not need to work. Their children are taught in their own language. We accommodate their religious laws. They are offered privilege that US citizens are denied.

  6. 8


    Spending time in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Canada, France and Holland, I learned there are all kinds of differing cultural mores and economic conditions. The striking thing is that in those places where Western-style cultural mores exist there was an obvious higher average standard of living than in places absent these cultural mores. Certainly poverty exists in western-style societies, but it is not the norm, or anywhere as prevalent as in places that do not have a basis in western ideology.

    I have been stationed from one US coast to the other, as well as multiple places in the middle, and nowhere did I see the large swaths of populations living in literal mudhuts that I have seen in the middle east. Civilizations were in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt long before the US came into existence. What, other than western cultural, economic and political structures led to the rise of the US in just 2 centuries? Europe was a feudal quagmire leading up to the Battle of Tours and beyond till the enlightenment, while the islamic caliphate was spreading out from Arabia, across North Africa and into Spain, stalling at the borders of the Byzantine Empire until 1452. Yet Europe far surpassed the islamic world, giving cultural borth to a fledgling primarily agrarian US that became the pre-eminent world power in a short 150 years. What else, other than western culture, economics and societal mores fueled such a development?

    Now we see the US floundering like a doddering old man under the self-inflicted rot of leftist-driven moral and cultural relativism. Immigrants no longer come to the US with a dream of assimilating into the cultural sustem that allows one to make a better life for themselves. Now we have enclaves sprouting up around the country that insist on maintaining the same cultural system that these new arrivals had been fleeing, no longer interested in assimilating, but demanding that “rich” Americans give them money while continuing to live as they did in their previous countries.

    The glaring fact the left will not admit is that these new arrivals left their previous countries because those cultural and economic situations were not working…they were not conducive to freedom and success, yet the western ideals upon which our great success derives is denigrated rather than praised and appreciated for what it has wrought.

    If other cultures are equal to that of Western culture, then why are so many leaving these other cultures to come to the US and Europe? If other cultures, which have been around much longer than ours, are equal to ours, then why were we able to surpass them so quickly?

  7. 9

    James Raider


    @Pete: #8

    Now we see the US floundering like a doddering old man under the self-inflicted rot of leftist-driven moral and cultural relativism

    Pete, there are many ‘pressure points’ used by the liberal mind to destroy a society.

    We are witnessing first hand the use of such instruments as ‘religion’ to slowly or quickly erode a socioeconomic system. All of it is abusive. Above I note that Canada is a good canary in the coal mine for the U.S. — it’s just a few steps ahead on the road to overwhelming socialism.

    I remember sitting in my backyard in the East Bay California some Years years ago and feeling a profound sense that North America was doomed. I had just read that the internationally recognized Historical uniform of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police – RCMP, had been adulterated by ONE religious fundamentalist who had just joined the force. The Supreme Court had granted him the right to replace the unmistakable RCMP hat, . . . . with a turban.

    It wasn’t the absurdity of the image of this goof standing out like a sore thumb in a line-up of other newly minted members of the RCMP force that was troubling. It was that the highest court in the land was succumbing to any and all pressures from various religious groups.

    It wasn’t long before even polygamy became off limits for the Canadian judicial system – permitted for Mormons living in B.C. Muslims are now well on their way to multiple- wife marriages. Why not, it’s required by their religious beliefs. Etc., etc.

    Sanity be damned.

    The Canary isn’t even breathing.

  8. 10



    @Pete: You hot upon the discussion I was trying to create with the post at the top of the page. If an outsider wants to survive or thrive he needs to assimilate.

    Now, the rule no longer applies; you can bring your Third World Cess Pool with you and expect to live in relative luxury without the slightest effort to become a productive member of a culture or society. In fact, you are encouraged not to assimilate.

    The concept can be observed in the Mexican culture. The most successful drop the barrio accent and become productive members of society. Those who play the “Hate Whitey” game live in the abject poverty of the barrio and comdemn their children to the same desultory existence.

  9. 11


    I was attacked on a Facebook entry when I stated that all cultures are NOT equal. I responded to the attack as you explained in your post. Obama is talking about bringing in maybe 100,000 refugees but as of now the refugees here are only 5% Christian. I am not of a religious bent, but I recognize that while Muslims do not generally assimilate, those with Christian values would do so much more easily. We certainly DO owe the ME Christians refuge if anyone should be so designated since Obama abandoned them.

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