Western Decline

‘Untitled 1986’ is an emulsion on canvas by Keith Piper which hangs in Manchester Art Gallery’s 'Climate Justice Gallery'. I would suggest that the purpose of this room is to cater for frustrated members of the city’s middle class, allowing them to let off steam and advertise their righteous credentials. The info sign for this picture bemoaned Western imperialism, ‘aggressive exploitation of the earth and indigenous cultures’ and the resulting ‘creating dependency on Western support leading to further control of that country's politics and extraction of its resources’. Certainly, Piper’s use of military helicopters reminiscent of Vietnam may lend itself to such an interpretation.

Although the West did and maybe does exploit poorer nations, it is also true that the world has benefited from Europe and North America’s dominance. The spread of technology, wealth, democracy and, dare I say, Christianity, could not have happened without the West’s ascendancy. The West is almost certainly now in decline; let us see what this coming century holds when it cedes global ascendancy to others, such as India and China. Technology will still develop, and there will be wealth to be gained, but what of spiritual light? Indian idolatry and Chinese godlessness are fundamentally opposed to the gospel. Yet Christ promised that He would build His church, and the gates of hell - whether manufactured in communist factories or wrought in Hindu shrines - would not prevail.