by Sean Gabb
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Something known to everyone in England connected with independent education is the Oriental takeover of the scholarship system. In all the competitive examinations for bursaries and scholarships, the top marks go increasingly to boys from the Far East. I make part of my income from helping with this takeover. Boys are sent to me when they are twelve. Within six months, they are effortlessly handling Latin subjunctives and Greek aorist participles—handling these for translation into English and for translation out of English. Some of them do this because they must. Many fall in love with the Ancient World and its languages. It is some of the most enjoyable teaching I have ever done, and I plan to do a great deal more of it yet.
There should be nothing unusual about this. For two hundred years, the lines of influence have run from the West to other civilisations—our science, our art, our music, our political and legal institutions. If Homer and Livy are now wanted as well as Bach and Mozart, we should be long past any hint of surprise. But here is something that may raise eyebrows.
I know an English schoolgirl who is now fourteen. For the past year, she has been teaching herself Japanese. She is an intelligent English schoolgirl. You can be sure that she is making good progress with her studies—and would make better progress if she had less box-ticking homework from her school. But Japanese is not something I would have considered at her age. I did consider Sanskrit for a while. But Japanese never made it onto my list of things to learn. It is on her list. And she is not alone. I have discovered that all her friends are themselves either learning Japanese or Korean or Chinese, or planning to learn one or more of these languages.
Of course, since I was a boy, the Eastern nations have grown rich, and they have developed interesting popular cultures of their own. Some influence on the West is inevitable. But the scale and suddenness and the determination of the interest that I see is unusual. I suspect it has at least as much to do with the repulsiveness of the modern West as with the lure of the East.
For at least the past fifty years, Western popular culture, which is mostly American and partly British, has been headed into the sewer. There is a gathering collapse of educational standards, and a growing celebration of moral deficiency and of intellectual degeneracy. The authorities are lying. They are lying about scientific and manifest social facts. They are lying about history. They have made education into propaganda. They ensure informal punishments, and sometimes legal persecution, of those who call the lies what they are. These people hate our civilisation, and they hate us. They hate us and they want to destroy us—and they may want to destroy us just as much physically as morally. After two generations of promoting each other, their influence has spread through every institution as dry rot spreads through an old house. They have hegemony, and the evil they have in mind may no longer be stoppable.
For people of my age, the answer is to denounce what has happened—I might add that I was denouncing it while much of it had yet to happen—and to withdraw into those few market and cultural niches still not wholly subverted. For the intelligent young, the answer is say nothing but to look East. The Eastern nations seem to have much about them that I cannot admire. At the same time, they do seem to value hard work and learning, and they seem to promote according to talent. They seem less inclined that we now are to moral panics and blind obedience. Their political and cultural rulers do not seem to hate them as ours do us, and are comfortable with true science and the progress that this enables. If I were young, I might also brave a non-Indo-European language to step from our own madhouse into a world of comparative light and reason.
Oh, but I began with an untroubled celebration of what I do. I must end with a very dark thought. The announcement of every scholarship result earns me another pat on the back. But am I not helping expose young minds to the corruption our own young are trying to escape?
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