Competing operating systems
In AD 878, on Twelfth Night, pagan Danes break their truce,
and plunder, rape and burn across Wessex. Fleeing into
the winter forest with his wife and small children and a
few men, Alfred organises resistance. When he finally defeats
the Danes, he will establish a very different "operating system",
one that is based on the rule not of men but of just common law.
Over the years, this "operating system," as Herbert E. Meyer describes it, has been developed and modified in Britain, the Commonwealth countries, America and Europe:
Now, when you look at history through the prism of operating systems, you find that one operating system has triumphed above all the others: Western Civilization. Its key features are the separation of church and state, the primacy of the individual over the State, the encouragement of artistic expression and intellectual curiosity, free enterprise, and a never-ending struggle to reach equality among the races and sexes. Like all operating systems, Western Civilization has its flaws, its shortcomings and its imperfections - as will any operating system designed and run by human beings. But by any imaginable measure, Western Civilization is history's greatest achievement.
While Western Civilization developed through the centuries, another operating system also took root. Scholars argue over just what to call this operating system, but for convenience's sake let's call it Radical Islam. Its key features are the combination of church and State, the submission of individuals to this combination, the discouragement of artistic expression and intellectual curiosity, the crushing of its people's entrepreneurial talents, and the treatment of women as though they were property rather than people. Just like Western Civilization, this operating system has its flaws, its shortcomings and its imperfections. But unlike Western Civilization, Radical Islam contains a flaw that may not be correctible: it is incompatible with the modern world.
"Today", writes Meyers, "there is a significant contingent among us who do not believe that Western Civilization is worth defending, or that our operating system deserves to survive. Those who subscribe to this perception - and they include quite a few of our elected officials - are so focused on the flaws, shortcomings and imperfections of Western Civilization that they are blind to its achievements."
We are not blind to its achievements. (See our description of the remarkable operating system we call The Freedom Network.)
The question is how do we share and defend these achievements?