Ben Shapiro’s new book, The Right Side of History, has been met with both praise and criticism upon its release. Many on the left and the right have called it a masterful summary of philosophy in the last two millennia, addressing the existential crisis in the United States— a country whose people have lost meaning and purpose. What evidence do we see of this, though?
Riots, screaming matches, scandals. The calls for exclusion, division, and extinction of entire groups of people— this characterizes the modern American societal and political landscape. We are told repeatedly that Western civilization has resulted in slavery, sexism, homophobia, disease, and the deaths of millions. Judeo-Christian values are mocked openly as barbaric and scientific reasoning is seen as divisive, exclusive, and unfeeling. How, then, did these two ideas build the United States to be the bastion of freedom that ended slavery, promoted suffrage, elevated millions from poverty, and put mankind on the Moon?
The Right Side of History not only answers this question in detail, but takes readers through a two-thousand-year journey through philosophy in the West with Jerusalem Revelation and Greek Teleology, describing the importance of the tension between the two ideologies and the many tasks and trials the two have faced with alternative scholars, priests, popes, and personalities attacking the two concepts. Additionally, Shapiro spends a great deal of time investigating the alternative western philosophies as they rose to contest Judeo-Christian Revelation & Greek Reason and the consequences they bore on their respective societies.
Shapiro also addresses each idea with a concise description and their ramifications with a level of thoroughness not expected in a brief history of philosophy. These explanations aren’t boring, they’re intriguing. Every chapter connects another point in history with the ideas that shaped the people toiling to discover liberty and reason or tear it apart.
After finishing this book, it is more than clear that the combination of Greek reasoning and Judeo-Christian revelation has not only shaped political thought, but scientific and social discovery over many years. The result of a culture that casts one of these aside, Shapiro points out, is a drastic shift to animalistic hedonism or blind stoicism that erupts from a society lost without purpose or path.
We need not look far into modern society to find the animalistic hedonism of instant pleasure and materialism gone rampant, as well as the paganistic blind stoicism of unfettered evolutionary law and amoral reasoning that tries to make sense of the world’s tragedy— attempting to remedy one victim while assaulting another.
Shapiro calls again for individuals to seek the two central tenets that have taken the poor and beaten down of the world and elevated them to free and happy people.
The worship of government or self doesn’t provide purpose or anything past temporary pleasures, but comes with a price far too high to pay. He points out the reasons of great men calling against such foolishness and unsure minds looking to the rubble of the past in which people looked for shortcuts and state-given safety rather than moral virtue and altruism. His central contention of the entire book rests in what we’ve lost and what we could gain:
“We are so angry at each other right now….[and it] came from the destruction of a common vision….supported by a framework of personal virtue culled from Judeo-Christian morality. We used to see each other as brothers and sisters, not as the 1% versus the 99%, or the privileged versus the victims–we weren’t enemies. We were a community, forged in fire, and tethered together by a set of values stretching back to the garden of Eden.”
Ben Shapiro’s claim is that Western Civilization is built upon the two fundamental ideas of God-given rights and liberties. We are all created in God’s image, and, through logic and reasoning, we don’t run to tribes and groups of color or creed, but reach towards a common vision of virtue and liberty for all.
This makes the Economist’s original argument (that Shapiro is an alt-right sage) even more ridiculous than it originally was. No person preaching the tribalism of the intersectional left or the alt-right would dare make the assertion that we, as a common people, have a common purpose and that it stands not on color or borders, but upon Athens and Jerusalem for all of mankind to claim.
If you’re looking for a well-written conservative perspective on history, philosophy, and a proven cure for a lost and fragmented culture, this is a great book for you!
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.