Enlightenment vs. Proliferation. (Op-Ed)

By Hirsch, Steve | Free Inquiry, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Enlightenment vs. Proliferation. (Op-Ed)


Hirsch, Steve, Free Inquiry


It is fortunate that the world's timeline worked out such that Attila the Hun and his rapacious hordes were long dead prior to the dawning of an age in which they might have gained access to nuclear weapons. It is also fortunate that Albert Speer thought nuclear weapons so long-term and speculative a project that he scuttled Nazi Germany's program. It is yet fortunate again that, when the Soviet bear got its paws on the A-bomb, the United States was there to counter. For Cold War-era U.S.A. was not just a garrison of advanced weaponry; it was the world's greatest sanctuary of a set of virtues elucidated by Locke during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, virtues that all humanists should hold dear.

These virtues--individualism, freedom, and reason over collectivism, authoritarianism, and superstition-- and what Locke termed natural rights--were the basis from which America's Founding Fathers exalted "inalienable rights" and forged the new nation's plans. These virtues and rights, vital to human posterity, are in danger as never before.

The good fortune of our timeline has run out. The United States presently finds itself the primary target of Islamic fascists. Third-world fetishism and envy of the United States' affluence and power are largely to blame, but more important, what made the United States great is the essence of the Islamo-fascists' discontent. Over two centuries ago, our forefathers spoke of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and went on to create what is arguably the greatest Enlightenment document to date: the Bill of Rights. Our nation largely followed through to make this great experiment succeed. Our good life and prosperity demonstrate to the world that America's embrace of Enlightenment virtues, our fierce commitment to individual autonomy and rights, yields something far better than what those opposed to Enlightenment have to offer. When we peel back a few layers of the onion, we find that Enlightenment philosophy--and its demonstrable validation via America's incomparable success--forms the core of why the USSR hated us, and why today's Islamo-fascists hate us. America's Enlightenment values are a grave threat to the perverted values they yearn to see metastasize.

Today's enemies present a different threat than did the USSR. The Cold War's delicate counterbalance of deterrence succeeded, albeit with some close calls, for a number of reasons--not the least being that, since nuclear stockpiles existed on only two sides, neither side could strike the other anonymously.

Although the nuclear standoff is becoming a many-body problem, humanity can still arrest widespread proliferation throughout the nations opposed to Enlightenment values. But if we allow those nations to possess nuclear weapons alongside a robust community of terrorists eager to act as anonymous weapons delivery systems, we will be living amidst far greater peril than any Cold War-era game theory scenario.

"Kumbaya" campfire singers respond that we have no right to condemn North Korea, Pakistan, Iraq, et al. because of our own nuclear arsenal. What they fail to understand is the distinction between Enlightenment and anti-Enlightenment nations and the bearing that this has on whom is likely to wage indiscriminate nuclear war. Despite many differences, viable modern democracies (in other words, Enlightenment nations) have never gone to war against each other, nor even threatened to. The thought of the United States and Great Britain crossing the Channel to invade France is the stuff of late-night comedy. But Egypt has warred with Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and Iran has warred with Iraq. Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia; Syria invaded Lebanon. Red China had "border conflicts" with USSR. A few decades earlier, Nazi Germany fascist Italy, and imperialist Japan declared war on the world, and so on.

If one loves humanity and wishes for a great posterity, the difference between Enlightenment and anti-Enlightenment is not just relative. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Enlightenment vs. Proliferation. (Op-Ed)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.