by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
An ancient habit of Western elites is a certain selectivity in condemnation.
Sometimes Westerners apply critical standards to the West that they would never apply to other nations.
My colleague at the Hoover Institution, historian Niall Ferguson, has pointed out that Swedish green-teen celebrity Greta Thunberg might be more effective in her advocacy for reducing carbon emissions by redirecting her animus. Instead of hectoring Europeans and Americans, who have recently achieved the planet’s most dramatic drops in the use of fossil fuels, Thunberg might instead turn her attention to China and India to offer her “how dare you” complaints to get their leaders to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
Whether the world continues to spew dangerous levels of carbon dioxide will depend largely on policies in China and India. After all, these two countries account for over a third of the global population and continue to grow their coal-based industries.
In the late 1950s, many elites in the United States bought the Soviet Union’s line that the march of global Communism would “bury” the West. Then, as Soviet power eroded in the 1980s, Japan Inc. and its ascendant model of state-sponsored industry became the preferred alternative to Western-style democratic capitalism. …
… There are many reasons for Westerners’ selective outrage and pessimism toward their own culture. Cowardice explains some of the asymmetry. Blasting tiny democratic Israel will not result in any retaliation. Taking on a powerful China or a murderous Iran could earn retribution.
Guilt also explains some of the selectivity. European nations are still blamed for 19th-century colonialism and imperialism. They will always seek absolution, as the citizens of former colonial and Third World nations act like perpetual victims — even well into the postmodern 21st century.