WESTERNIZATION, MODERNIZATION, POST-MODERNISM & THE PATH TO PROGRESS (part 1)
I want to highlight a very important topic and begin the discussion of it today.
The world today is divided by such terms as the First world, Second andThird world; there once were only Developed countries and Developing countries, then someone added a third group (Underdeveloped countries) to distinguish between those countries that are making an attempt to progress and those locked in the doldrums.
Then there are people who have mistakenly assumed that the Western countries are emblematic of Christianity and so everything done in them is an expression of this.
Then there are those who have accepted the imperialist thought that a country has to do every single thing like the West is doing it in order to become a progressive country or just to progress as a nation.
I would like to use this article to marginally point out the fallacies inherent in this type of thinking but primarily make a case for why nations that seek to progress and advance must not use the Western model as it is presently constituted as an example for emulation.
We will first begin with a brief definition of terms. I will try to make this as simple as possible so please bear with me.
Westernization is defined as a process in which societies adopt core aspects of western culture which include legislation, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, clothing, language, philosophy, and values. The process involves western influences and interests joining with parts of society and causing a metamorphosis towards a more westernized character and the attaining of Western life or some aspects of it.
Westernization can also be related to acculturation and enculturation. Acculturation is “the process of cultural and psychological change that takes place as a result of contact between cultural groups and their individual members.” After such contact, changes in cultural patterns are evident within one or both cultures. Specific to westernization and the non-Western culture, foreign societies tend to adopt changes in their own social systems relative to Western ideology, lifestyle, and physical appearance, along with numerous other aspects, and shifts in culture patterns can be seen to take root as a community becomes acculturated to Western customs and characteristics – in other words, westernized.
So this is evident in the type of music we see around the world through fora like MTV Base and the clothing we see most of our youth wear, mostly patterning themselves after the likes of gangsters, drug addicts, and entertainment based celebrities.
Modernization refers to a model of progressive transition from a ‘pre-modern’ or ‘traditional’ to a ‘modern’ society. The theory looks at the internal factors of a country while assuming that with assistance, “traditional” countries can be brought to development in the same manner more developed countries have been. Modernization theory both attempts to identify the social variables that contribute to social progress and development of societies and seeks to explain the process of social evolution. It does this by maintaining that traditional societies will develop as they adopt “more modern practices.” Some point to the fact that modern states are wealthier and more powerful and that their citizens enjoy a higher standard of living.
So, basically this means that those countries that have been classified as “modern” by reason of the attainment of certain standards and measurement by specific indices are used as the model of development, and several of the paths they have followed are held up to be the way to progress.
When not properly applied it will become imperialist thinking and will give the idea that the only path to development is the adoption of the same values (or lack thereof), ideology, culture, and lifestyles that produced it.
When properly applied and taken in context it is seen to be the truth. This is the way it was designed to be, but there are elements of perversion that were injected into the formula, these elements were not originally meant to be in the mix and have been embedded in it to derail the original purpose (I will throw further light on this later).
Post-Modernism describes both an era and a broad movement that developed in the late-20th century across philosophy, the arts, and architecture. While encompassing a broad range of ideas and projects, “postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as notions of rationality, human nature, and progress. Instead, it asserts that knowledge and truth are the product of unique systems of social, historical, and political discourse and interpretation, and are therefore contextual and constructed. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized among other things by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativism.”
Let me break this down a bit. Most Western countries have this post-modern ideology. A look at the above shows that this mindset interrogates notions of absolutism, immutable truth and anything that is not subject to empiricism. It embraces relativism and states that nothing can be known or understood completely, God either does not exist or is peripheral in the spectrum of our lives if He does, and truth is contextual.
We find this thinking prevalent in the sort of education the Western world has since adopted and is bequeathing to Africa and the developing world- the kind of education they refer to as “Liberal Education”
The premise of proper education is that God is the center of the universe and we must “orbit” around Who He is and what He requires. But this Liberal education tells us we are the center, and God (if He exists) is at the periphery.
Liberal Education has brought:-
(a) Humanism:- this is an ethical philosophy that prioritizes universal human qualities and intellect above all else
(b) Rationalism:- this is an intellectual position that rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as dependence on faith, the supernatural or divinely revealed truths
(c) Liberalism:- this is the belief that “freedom” supersedes morality. This “freedom” is essentially freedom from God
(d) Agnosticism:- this is the belief that ultimate reality is unknown and unknowable. So by implication if God exists you cannot know Him.
Having defined these terms I will now speak about how they affect advancement and genuine progress.
I have a Facebook friend who is an atheist; I saw a post he put up on what he noticed while watching a series of shows based on quizzes and mind games like “The Weakest Link”, and “Who wants to be a Millionaire”; he noticed that most of the questions that were asked about references to Scripture and Bible quotations were practically strange to the contestants. These questions on scripture were so basic that even he who had as much knowledge of God as a toddler has about quantum physics knew the answers.
I saw how he responded with incredulity to this and how he interpreted it to mean that the Caucasians sold Africans, and the rest of the world, a dummy. As far as he was concerned the white man took Christianity to Africa to exploit Africa, and having gotten what he wanted he (his descendants) has dropped that “tool” as it is no longer useful to him. The white man had thrown it so far away that he could not even remember the most basic of questions on the subject matter he was the principal purveyor of.
I thought that was an interesting line of thought because I probably would have had the same thinking if I didn’t know any better.
It’s perfectly understandable his mindset.
What else would any reasonable person think when he sees a salesman who convinces another person to buy a product he says is good for everyone without using it himself?
Only that the product is really good for everyone and has worked for all those that have ever used it with a full understanding of what it is.
I have previously asked if there is any explanation as to why practically all the countries that are First World countries today were once known as Christian countries (as we have seen some of them now call themselves Post-Modern); I think the answer does not require very much critical thinking.
At the risk of sounding biased I will still make this statement, “There is a connection between development and the lifestyle/teachings/ideology of Jesus”
The things Jesus taught were revolutionary and life transforming. There was no single people group that received His ideas and remained the same afterwards.
What we do in Africa and the developing world is copy the behavioral traits of the average, liberal Westerner in the false assumption that Westernization is synonymous with Modernization. It is not.
Westernization and Liberalism are like the chicken and the egg, one produces the other and the other in turn produces the one that produced it. Modernization is not the same thing.
The revolutionary teachings of Jesus Christ produced Modernization and what Westernization is doing today is taking us further away from Modernization, not bringing us closer to it.
Now the ideology and pattern of thought that is gaining ground on the prevailing orthodoxy is liberalism, but the people who are advancing this pattern of thought are actually truncating the same process that led to the emergence and development of the West, its countries and various people groups. Any Westerners who have imbibed this pattern of thinking and are spreading it are unwittingly retracing their steps and going back to the point at which their forebears originally were before the advent of the light that followers of Jesus brought.
Now these people criminalize righteousness and reward evil. Government is meant to legislate and enforce uprightness and righteous values but the trend now is to push for the punishment of those that are saying the things that the majority in the West once held as ideals- the things that made them worthy of emulation.
However, now they have left all of that behind and among other perversions have embraced the very things that characterized the way of life of the heathens they once delivered through Christianity.
Take a look at abortion for instance-
All across primitive, pagan and heathen civilizations there were cases of infanticide in times past and it was people like the missionary Mary Slessor who helped stop the barbaric act of killing twins, now the descendants of those who sent her and once held to the ideal of the primacy of human life in every natural consideration are the ones that have taken the murder of innocent children to another level.
The rate of abortions in the Western world indicates the tragic indifference to human beings that is fast creeping in. The bloodshed that was characteristic of Africa and some other parts of the world has become the hallmark of the West in more subtle ways.
Dr. Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute in the United States revealed some data from the latest global abortion study first published online in November 2013. Among much of what data was shared it was shown that any regard for life as a value in the Western world is increasingly rhetoric.
In Europe, around 30 per cent of pregnancies end in abortion. In North America the rate of abortions is 17 in every 1,000 women
Some might decide to start an argument as to whether aborting a foetus is the same as killing a human being, usually I would ask such people when life starts. Does it start inside the womb or does it only start after the child comes out in delivery?
Abortion is Infanticide. It is only permissible for medical reasons or when there is a choice to be made between the life of the child and the life of the mother.
The gauntlet has been picked by those that once had the light and they are now the ones exporting this vice around the world.
3,000 abortions take place everyday in the United States of America, that amounts to 1, 095,000 every year. Think about this.
And that’s not the only symptom of the regression of the West. Westernization produced Post-Modernism and this has produced its own vices chief of which is not just the attempted eradication of God from the mainstream but also His complete obliteration. Humanism is on the front burner in Post-Modernism, and the object is making man the center of the universe and the ultimate reason for the existence of everything.
It was about three years ago or so that I heard of a group of Europeans who went to the nation of Togo in West Africa to attend a voodoo festival, they got involved in Satanic chants and incantations while eating human excreta; after the sordid experience they were asked about it and some of them spoke about how thrilled they were that they were “close to nature.”
They pulled out the heads of chickens and drank their blood, some tore off their clothes while others were barking like dogs. This group who went on “spiritual tourism” went in search of spiritism and ended up adopting the same things their forebears came to deliver Africans from. They came to explore nature and alternative paths and ended up encountering and adopting what they thought was just a product of superstition.
They embraced the devil like many are unwittingly doing today-
There is no vacuum in life. Light either fills a void or darkness takes it.
Even a cursory look at those nations that have toed the paths of spiritism, the occult, and shamanism will show how backward nations that reject the light are.
I will make some statements now. They might be offensive to some people but I would suggest that all those given to rational thinking should give them a long and hard thought.
There are countries like Haiti and the aforementioned Togo that institutionalize voodoo and witchcraft; all a rational person has to do is look at all the indices of development to realize that they are making very little progress.
On another note, we have been told that Islam is the “religion of peace”, if this were true the logical thing would be that everyone of us would be heading towards the Muslim world. Even the most basic knowledge of social science shows the correlation between peace and human progress.
Nobody would be migrating to the West because the maternal mortality rate, literacy levels, Gross Domestic Product/Gross National Product, per capita income, ratio of jobs to people, and many other indices would be much more favorable in Muslim countries than in the West.
Women would not be oppressed, poverty would not be commonplace (over 90% of those that meet the United Nations assessment of living in extreme poverty are in Muslim dominated areas of the world), factional crises would not be the norm, and terrorism would not be over 95% constituted by Muslims.
In Nigeria, the quota system has been applied, among several other sectors, to education because the Muslim dominated North is said to be “educationally disadvantaged”, so cut-off marks into institutions have been dropped to preposterously low levels in order to keep up with the Christian dominated South.
Despite the fact that out of the almost 56 years since Nigeria’s independence the country has had rulers from the Southern part for just over 15 years while over 40 years have been under administrations led by people of Northern extraction the areas where Islam has been dominant are still the most backward in the country.
This is not meant to be a slight on Muslims because I know many good natured, decent, progressive and anti-violent Muslims, but the fact remains they are not developed because of Islam but in spite of it.
The ancient civilizations and Barbarians that eventually made up Europe were involved in exactly the same type of behavior Africans were involved in before the advent of Christianity. Those who once prided themselves in mythology, idolatry, demon worship as well as extremely brutal acts of savagery received the light that came from following Jesus and the result was development.
The West got ahead of Africa largely because they had a head-start that was more than 18 centuries long.
The teachings of Jesus, His ideology, and the life and community transformation that is the result of these were in Europe centuries before anyone in Africa ever heard of Jesus.
Now it is turning 180 degrees.
We know that when the sun rises in one part on the earth it sets in another. When there is light in one part of the earth there is darkness in another. Darkness is not a phenomenon, it is simply the absence of light.
Now some of the people who were once light bearers have rejected the light and the direct consequence of that is darkness. Since there is no vacuum in life the implication is that “Rejecting one is accepting the other.”
Light and Darkness are mutually exclusive. Anything that is not consistent with light is synonymous with darkness.
The Bible tells us “God is Light” (1 John 1:5), and Jesus called Himself the “Light of the World” (John 8:12)
As several in the West have turned away from the Light they have sunk deep into the mire of darkness.
There are many of such people that are reverting to tree hugging, ancestor worship, and other forms of idolatry, and the consequences are subtly creeping in on them.
I saw the unwrapping of all these once when I watched a group of “tree huggers” and followers of “Mother Nature” who were the subjects of a documentary shown on BBC once; they engaged in a mass wedding, but this was not just the average wedding, it was a wedding that was meant to reflect through them the “original” condition of man and his attachment to nature. They got buck naked in a bid to remove the “encumbrances” of civilization and civility and walked in the forests in order to maintain their soul tie to nature.
It dawned on me that they were traveling in the opposite direction from where ancient civilizations came into the path of progress into the Light.
There can be only one result for those that seek to institutionalize and nationalize homosexuality, idolatry/witchcraft, impiety, abortion, and all other such vices, and that result is not progress.
Progress and Advancement will only come as we consistently follow the Light the West initially followed. The light that got them to where they are presently.
In the second segment of this series I will point out in more definite terms how and why nations must follow this Light if they want progress.