There are three types of alternatives to western civilization: scientism, sentimentalized “religion of humanity,” and Islam. Each of these competitors undermines liberty. The first two are internal and damaging to the West. The last is external and utterly incompatible. The common element among them is faith.
“Scientism” is the various forms of socialist ideology with Marxist derivation. It seeks to apply the scientific method to social issues. In all its forms, scientism has roots in an excessive faith in a methodology of trial and error. Following this path brings with it determinism.
Determinism denies human dignity and free will. It fosters a delusion that those with the right knowledge may change not only the world but also human nature. Misplaced scientism produces totalitarianism. Its adherents seek to make the person fit into irrational and essentially religious dreams of a utopian future. Its results are always misery for the masses and unlimited power and bounty for a very small elite.
The religion of humanity traces its origin to Auguste Comte. It has importance in shaping the thought and work of more secular figures such as John Stuart Mill. In the religion of humanity, there is denial of dignity and free will in favor of mechanisms of the state.
What’s the difference?
The difference between the religion of humanity and scientism comes down to religion’s irrational insistence that love for one’s fellow man requires state control over his life. Such control actually undermines men’s capacity to lead good lives. It denies the existence of objective truth about human nature.
The result is an insistence on massive government programs. They aim at “helping” individual persons by taking away their autonomy. The taking is done in the name of a kinder, gentler society and personal character. Underlying this argument is classical liberalism. Classical liberalism uses rational engagement with markets to provide the discipline necessary for proper character development.
Criticism of Islam comes in two areas. First, the extent to which revelation takes precedence over reason within Islamic theology. Second, the extent to which Islam demands that its revelatory injunctions be transformed specifically and directly into law rather than merely into social practice. This influences politics as soon as there is a sufficient Muslim majority. Until that time Muslims will remain submissive to civil authority while rejecting in private its right to exist.
Combined these elements make Islam particularly hostile to Western civilization. It is hostile to the kind of public reason we deem essential to the maintenance of ordered liberty. Those who value Western civilization must put their house and mind in order. Fail to do so and western civilization will fall before Islam’s irrational but powerful claim to a divine right of conquest. We do well to understand the alternatives to western civilization.