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Thread: What is the West?

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    Copperknickers II's Avatar quaeri, si sapis
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    Default What is the West?

    The West is one of the most important cultural and political groupings in the world. Most people in the world do not live in the West, but the West dominates the world in economic terms and is culturally extremely influential. The term carries a lot of baggage due to the history of imperialism from the 'leading' Western countries, and it combines a range of different implications including ethnicity, economics, religion, and politics. Often it is used to create an 'us vs them' distinction, similar to the ancient Greek/Roman perception of 'barbarians', not just by Westerners but also by non-Westerners. And yet it's very unclear sometimes who is 'Western' and who is not.

    The West is generally identified as:

    Ethnicity: Western countries are generally of majority European origin, or at least with an influential European minority.
    Economics: Western countries are generally highly developed.
    Religion: Western countries are generally historically Christian.
    Politics: 'The West' has a lot of overlap with the 'free world' or the 'first world', i.e. NATO-aligned countries.

    Generally the heartland of 'the West' is recognised as the USA. Other universally acknowledged Western areas are the other majority white Anglosphere countries (UK, Canada, Australia etc) and EU countries. But then we get to the blurred margins of the term. Turkey is NATO-aligned and was historically considered to be part of Christendom. But it's not considered Western. South Africa and Caribbean countries like Jamaica have a strong British colonial history and are mostly Christian, but are majority non-white. And then you have Latin America and the former Soviet union. I think most people agree that although Russia has its roots in Western civilisation in the form of Medieval European Christendom, it diverged sharply from the West after its Communist revolution, and is now politically against the West, religiously increasingly different, economically far behind, and with major demographic differences when it comes to diversity (well, notwithstanding their large Central Asian Muslim minority).

    But what about Latin America? Countries such as Cuba and Venezuela have long been recognised as anti-Western, but the position of countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico is less clear. They are not very involved in global politics and suffer from major economic and stability problems, but they are Christian and quite socially liberal, and very similar to Western Europe and North America in their demography (albeit without many Muslims and with a lot of Amerindians). So they are often seen as culturally part of the West if not politically or economically.

    And then of course we have the US itself. It may be the centre of the Western world now, but can its future really be in the West? Its current president would be a pariah in meetings of Western leaders were it not for America's perennial international importance, and many liberals now see the likes of Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau as the spiritual 'leaders' of the West. In 30 years time the US will be majority non-white, depending on how you categorise Latinos. And of course much of the US is deeply conservative, with many Americans following evangelical forms of Christianity that are more similar to newly-rechristianised Russia than to post-Christian Western/Northern Europe.

    Is Trump an aberration, or is he actually a continuation of a trend started by Obama, which saw America distancing itself from its traditional allies and becoming more inward-looking on the one hand, buton the other hand pivoting closer to Asia and Russia? Of course the counter-argument to this is that liberal coastal areas of the US are much more similar to Europe and the Anglosphere, and younger Americans in those areas are often more liberal than their parents' generation, even allowing for the huge increase in Catholic Latinos and other religious immigrant groups in the newer generation. So the split may not be between America and the West, but rather a split inside America itself between the New post-Christian West, and an old Christian West which might incorporate more conservative countries in Latin America, maybe plus Russia.

    So my main questions are:

    1. For Latin American and South African TWC members, do you feel 'Western'? Do you think your region has its own identity separate to the West, or forms a subgroup of it. Do you feel closer to the US or to Europe?

    2. Where is the West headed? Will America break from Europe and will NATO fall apart? Will Eastern Europe fall back under Russian influence? Will Australia become increasingly Asian? Will Europe becoming increasingly Muslim?

    3. Now that the Cold War has ended, do you see Asia overcoming the West? Should we look to heal the divides within the West to combat this?

    4. Slightly an irrelevant question, but for Asian and Muslim forum members, what do you see in your crystal ball? Will East Asia form a new world order through the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, bringing together East Asia with South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with the Americas and Europe becoming marginalised? Or will Asia and the Middle East reject their dictatorial and fundamentalist leanings and become increasingly Westernised?
    A new mobile phone tower went up in a town in the USA, and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cellphone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health.

    A local administrator was asked to comment. He nodded sagely, and said simply: "Wow. And think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

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    hellheaven1987's Avatar Comes Domesticorum
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    The West is generally identified as:

    Ethnicity: Western countries are generally of majority European origin, or at least with an influential European minority.
    Economics: Western countries are generally highly developed.
    Religion: Western countries are generally historically Christian.
    Politics: 'The West' has a lot of overlap with the 'free world' or the 'first world', i.e. NATO-aligned countries.
    Hardly, the concept of West actually already exists in Middle Age mainly to describe the cultural Catholics and its descents. Poorly developed regions such as Ireland was never considered a non-Western region after it turned Catholics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Slightly an irrelevant question, but for Asian and Muslim forum members, what do you see in your crystal ball? Will East Asia form a new world order through the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, bringing together East Asia with South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with the Americas and Europe becoming marginalised? Or will Asia and the Middle East reject their dictatorial and fundamentalist leanings and become increasingly Westernised?
    No, unless Chinese figure out a new economic model (one that does not have bank) that is better than any Western economic model, although do have to point out Russia, the first westernized non-Western nation, still have not figure out same thing after five centuries of trying.
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; May 18, 2018 at 01:25 AM.
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    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
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    Copperknickers II's Avatar quaeri, si sapis
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Hardly, the concept of West actually already exists in Middle Age mainly to describe the cultural Catholics and its descents. Poorly developed regions such as Ireland was never considered a non-Western region after it turned Catholics.
    Assuming you mean Roman Catholics (and their Protestant descendants) as opposed to Orthodox Catholics! Although these days Greece seems to be considered as Western, even if other Orthodox countries that were behind the iron curtain are not. Ireland of course was ruled by England for most of the last 1000 years so I think it was part of the West by virtue of that, just as we might consider somewhere like Greenland part of the West today, even though it's one of the poorest parts of Europe and indeed ethnically 90% Inuit, i.e. North American. But it's owned by Denmark. There's a lot of these interesting marginal cases: I wonder if Greenland would be considered part of the West if it were to become independent? It would be the world's only majority native American country, I believe.
    A new mobile phone tower went up in a town in the USA, and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cellphone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health.

    A local administrator was asked to comment. He nodded sagely, and said simply: "Wow. And think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

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    hellheaven1987's Avatar Comes Domesticorum
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Assuming you mean Roman Catholics (and their Protestant descendants) as opposed to Orthodox Catholics! Although these days Greece seems to be considered as Western, even if other Orthodox countries that were behind the iron curtain are not.
    Greece was long considered as part of West due to its historical background with the development of church; on other hand, the other Orthodox East European states such as Serbia and Bulgaria are viewed as Eastern Oriental state which were considered as uncivilized (the chief reason why Croats and Poles wanted to stick with Hapsburg and Catholic church, as they view Catholicism is the only symbol proves they are part of civilized "West" instead like their uncivilized cousin).

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Ireland of course was ruled by England for most of the last 1000 years so I think it was part of the West by virtue of that
    Ireland was long considered as part of West before English showed up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    I wonder if Greenland would be considered part of the West if it were to become independent?
    It is not question of race, it is question of cultural value.
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; May 18, 2018 at 03:25 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    Cameron is midway between Black Rage and .. European Union ..

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    Default Re: What is the West?

    The reason Greece is considered western is because the modern concept of the west has as its primary foundation the ancient greek civilization.
    It was only after ww2 that this was eroded considerably, due to a number of reasons. Prior to that you would see very obvious aspirations and ongoing comparisons between main western countries (Britain, France, US, Germany etc) and ancient Greece.
    You also see some variation with Russia (eg 19th century and onwards). There are obvious ties to the Byzantine legacy as well.
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    The West is one of the most important cultural and political groupings in the world. Most people in the world do not live in the West, but the West dominates the world in economic terms and is culturally extremely influential. The term carries a lot of baggage due to the history of imperialism from the 'leading' Western countries, and it combines a range of different implications including ethnicity, economics, religion, and politics. Often it is used to create an 'us vs them' distinction, similar to the ancient Greek/Roman perception of 'barbarians', not just by Westerners but also by non-Westerners. And yet it's very unclear sometimes who is 'Western' and who is not.

    The West is generally identified as:

    Ethnicity: Western countries are generally of majority European origin, or at least with an influential European minority.
    Economics: Western countries are generally highly developed.
    Religion: Western countries are generally historically Christian.
    Politics: 'The West' has a lot of overlap with the 'free world' or the 'first world', i.e. NATO-aligned countries.

    Generally the heartland of 'the West' is recognised as the USA. Other universally acknowledged Western areas are the other majority white Anglosphere countries (UK, Canada, Australia etc) and EU countries. But then we get to the blurred margins of the term. Turkey is NATO-aligned and was historically considered to be part of Christendom. But it's not considered Western. South Africa and Caribbean countries like Jamaica have a strong British colonial history and are mostly Christian, but are majority non-white. And then you have Latin America and the former Soviet union. I think most people agree that although Russia has its roots in Western civilisation in the form of Medieval European Christendom, it diverged sharply from the West after its Communist revolution, and is now politically against the West, religiously increasingly different, economically far behind, and with major demographic differences when it comes to diversity (well, notwithstanding their large Central Asian Muslim minority).
    Interesting question I've been pondering quite a lot lately. I believe the West today is most strongly identified with liberal values stemming from the Enlightenment tradition and economic prosperity. Even most conservatives and traditionalist in the "West" are quite liberal by eastern standards, since most of the revered traditions are inherently liberal. With the dominance of the USA, the economic liberty has become even more pronounced.

    I think that intersections and outliers are useful in analyzing complex cultural questions. My country, Finland, by and large views itself as the "Toga wearing Gaul" of modernity. In other words a hapless if "lovable" nation of barbarians that got lucky by being Westernized. I mostly agree with this sentiment. Here, the West is synonymous to liberty and - perhaps most of all - civilization, meaning justice, education, democracy and the rule of law. There are also strong Eastern influences. Mostly stubborness, pessimistic view of other countries intentions and all forms of alliances. Turkey by contrast was civilized far before us, but is not considered Western, because they never became a proper democracy and and their secularism seems to have been a fleeting phase. And then you have a country like Poland, which very must wants to be seen as a Western country, but paradoxically is making great efforts to be seen as anything but. I think ethnicity and Religion are smaller factors. In a wider definition I'd consider Japan and South Korea "Western" countries, though I'm not sure if they'd consider that offensive, so I just call them liberal.

    In a stricter, more cultural and historical definition I think ethnicity and to some extent religion are valid identifiers, but I don't think they're justifiable when using the term "West" as a contemporary entity worth preserving and developing, as I mostly use it. I think "West" and "Western values" are much like other abstract and ideological words. There's no hard and fast rules about who or what is part of the West, but there are a wide range of identifiers - some more important than others - and the word is mostly understood to signify a certain family resemblance. By and large I think most people see the current conception of the West as countries whose main political and ideological ideals are rooted in Ancient Greece and Republican Rome, and to a far larger extent in the enlightenment period. Yes, there's much mythology in here, but myths and ideas are important.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    And then of course we have the US itself. It may be the centre of the Western world now, but can its future really be in the West? Its current president would be a pariah in meetings of Western leaders were it not for America's perennial international importance, and many liberals now see the likes of Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau as the spiritual 'leaders' of the West. In 30 years time the US will be majority non-white, depending on how you categorise Latinos. And of course much of the US is deeply conservative, with many Americans following evangelical forms of Christianity that are more similar to newly-rechristianised Russia than to post-Christian Western/Northern Europe.
    Again, I think it's worth pointing out that "conservative" in the West is (mostly) a bit different from conservatism in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. Also, while Evangelicals are still an influential force in politics, their cultural and social influence is a shadow of what it used to be. Atheism is the fastest growing (non)religion in the USA right now, surpassing Islam. I indeed hope the divide is more within America than between the U.S. and the rest. Though I'm not sure if one can truly say Trump USA has distanced itself from its older allies. A lot of the huffing and puffing is in my view a bluff to get the rest of the West to pull its own weight in terms of defense. USA has not slunk away from its NATO commitments. Some of the trade deals are not unpopular in America alone, and same could arguably be said for the Iran deal.

    I don't see Asia overcoming the West, but I do think there are divisions that should be healed, especially within Europe itself. EU seems to be making the same mistakes with Poland and Hungary that the US did with Russia.
    Last edited by Whitey McKnightey; May 18, 2018 at 04:00 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post

    So my main questions are:

    1. For Latin American and South African TWC members, do you feel 'Western'? Do you think your region has its own identity separate to the West, or forms a subgroup of it. Do you feel closer to the US or to Europe?
    Not from either, but as an Italian I legitimately have more cultural affinity towards Latin Americans than the Northern side. Especially Argentina (due to the diaspora), and Mexico (due to the heavy Spanish influence). I assume a Portuguese would feel the same about Brazil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    2. Where is the West headed? Will America break from Europe and will NATO fall apart? Will Eastern Europe fall back under Russian influence? Will Australia become increasingly Asian? Will Europe becoming increasingly Muslim?
    Eastern Europe (excluding Russia) is going to break with the Western side, the UK is going to face international isolation, due to their break up with the EU, their bad relations with Trump and their hostility against Russia; ultimately Europe is going to fragment. Before it does, it will break with the US, because the liberal leadership hates Trump, so they'll break with him and that's the last thing they'll do before completely losing control of the situation. The ongoing Iran diatribe might be the trigger for that, because Bolton wants to hurt any European company that does business with Iran and that is too far for many European leaders to tolerate. Russia isn't going to invade the V4 or the Baltics, unless the latter start killing their Russian minorities.

    Canada and Australia are likely to fall to Chinese influence due to demographics. Western Europe will also implode on that matter, especially the UK/France/Germany. The UK is the notable example where Taleb's intolerant minority rule applies: because Muslims eat only halal, then some schools order halal only menus for everyone. The intolerant minority wins. Apostasy is another example: you can leave your religion for Islam, but if you leave Islam, you risk being killed. Again, intolerant minority wins. If 4% of the population is able to achieve that by terrorizing natives, then there isn't a need to see a 50% Muslim UK in a century. Because Muslims take the streets and kill people if their religion is badmouth, Sharia May has installed the internet police to prosecute ''Islamophobia''. Thus free speech is being murdered by a coward leadership that refuses to enforce it and bows down to the intolerant minority.It takes 10-15% of the aggressive minority to impose its will on the weak willed majority. France and Germany are well on this way too. Though France has a strong patriotic movement, so civil war is an scenario.
    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    3. Now that the Cold War has ended, do you see Asia overcoming the West? Should we look to heal the divides within the West to combat this?
    That's basically inevitable and there's nothing the West can do about it. It's an exhausted civilization, consumed by self-hatred, unable to reproduce, protect its values or its economic interests.
    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    4. Slightly an irrelevant question, but for Asian and Muslim forum members, what do you see in your crystal ball? Will East Asia form a new world order through the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, bringing together East Asia with South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with the Americas and Europe becoming marginalised? Or will Asia and the Middle East reject their dictatorial and fundamentalist leanings and become increasingly Westernised?
    Good luck to them all. Good trhead as well.

    One interesting element will be Africans realizing how much contempt East Asians, especially the Chinese have for them.
    Last edited by Basil II the B.S; May 19, 2018 at 01:59 AM.

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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    just as we might consider somewhere like Greenland part of the West today, even though it's one of the poorest parts of Europe and indeed ethnically 90% Inuit, i.e. North American. But it's owned by Denmark. There's a lot of these interesting marginal cases: I wonder if Greenland would be considered part of the West if it were to become independent? It would be the world's only majority native American country, I believe.
    I was unaware that Greenland was considered at all.

    Interesting story about the Greenlanders. They're about ∼25% European in ancestry. Most of the rest of their ancestry apparently came from the Siberian Birnirk culture (6th to 7th century CE). They only arrived in Greenland about the 14th century CE. This was a near complete replacement of the Paleo-Eskimos.

    The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic

    Uncovering the Genetic History of the Present-Day Greenlandic Population

    Despite the fair amount of European ancestry, it seems to me they've retained a lot of their own culture. I get the impression that they're about as Danish as coastal Nigeria is British, which is not to say not at all, but probably not what most would consider Western.
    Quote Originally Posted by Enros View Post
    You don't seem to be familiar with how the burden of proof works in when discussing social justice. It's not like science where it lies on the one making the claim. If someone claims to be oppressed, they don't have to prove it.


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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by sumskilz View Post
    I was unaware that Greenland was considered at all.

    Interesting story about the Greenlanders. They're about ∼25% European in ancestry. Most of the rest of their ancestry apparently came from the Siberian Birnirk culture (6th to 7th century CE). They only arrived in Greenland about the 14th century CE. This was a near complete replacement of the Paleo-Eskimos.

    The genetic prehistory of the New World Arctic

    Uncovering the Genetic History of the Present-Day Greenlandic Population

    Despite the fair amount of European ancestry, it seems to me they've retained a lot of their own culture. I get the impression that they're about as Danish as coastal Nigeria is British, which is not to say not at all, but probably not what most would consider Western.
    Viking descendants?

  10. #10

    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Basil II the B.S View Post
    Viking descendants?
    Short answer, probably not. It's almost all from European males and fairly recent.

    Here's the long answer from that section of the study:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The question of whether the Inuit interbred with the Norse Vikings is more difficult to answer given that the Norse Vikings were Europeans just like the later colonizers, whom we know interbred with the Inuit. Hence, to answer this question, one has to separate the recent admixture (taking place from 1721) from any potential older European admixture, which can be difficult.

    One approach to address this question is to take advantage of the fact that most individuals in the south show no recent European gene flow. The largest Viking settlement was located in Southwest Greenland, and the ancestors of the individuals in the South villages passed this Viking settlement before settling in the south. Thus, if the Inuit and the Norse Vikings interbred in the west before the Inuit settled in the south or they interbred later in South Greenland, then we would expect individuals in the south to have some Norse Viking ancestry. On the contrary, it is very unlikely that the individuals in Qaanaaq would have any such ancestry given that they descend from Inuit who entered Greenland after the Norse Vikings left Greenland. If the Inuit interbred with the Norse Vikings, we would therefore expect to see signatures of ∼600-year-old European admixture in the Greenlanders in the South villages, but not in the Greenlanders in Qaanaaq. However, individuals in the South villages overall have less European ancestry than most other locations, including Qaanaaq (Figure 3), and importantly, more than half of the individuals from the South villages are estimated to have no European ancestry. Out of the 169 individuals from the South villages, only 40 are estimated to have more than 5% European ancestry. As the variance in admixture proportions among individuals decreases fast with time since admixture,37, 38 finding such a large proportion of individuals without admixture is unlikely if the time of admixture is old.

    Genomes with both Inuit and European ancestry can be divided into alternating “ancestry tracts” along the length of each chromosome, and the distribution of tract lengths in an admixed population carries information about the timing of admixture and the admixture proportion in a population.39, 40, 41, 42 More recent admixture results in longer admixture tracts. To investigate whether European ancestry in the individuals who are estimated to have more than 5% European ancestry can be attributed to Norse Viking admixture, we inferred the length of European ancestry tracts in admixed Greenlander genomes. This analysis showed that admixed individuals from the South villages all have at least one European ancestry tract that is longer than 39 cM. The presence of such large European admixture tracts suggests that a substantial proportion of European admixture originated from interbreeding during the time of Danish colonization, because, as shown in the Material and Methods, the chance that an individual will harbor such a long tract if the admixture time is 25 generations is ∼0.005. However, it does not exclude the possible presence of admixture tracts originating from interbreeding with Norse Viking populations. Because inferring a short ancestry tract with certainty is very difficult, especially with data from the sparse MetaboChip, we did not directly look for specific instances of short tracts expected from more ancient admixture. Instead, we compared the tract-length distributions from Qaanaaq and the South villages. If Norse Vikings are among the ancestors of the Greenlanders in the South villages and not of the Greenlanders in Qaanaaq, we would expect to see a difference in their tract-length distributions such that the South villages have more short tracts. However, when we matched the inferred global admixture proportions between the two locations, the two tract-length distributions were very similar (Figure S14). Thus, the estimated admixture tract distributions do not provide any evidence of Norse Viking admixture.
    Quote Originally Posted by Enros View Post
    You don't seem to be familiar with how the burden of proof works in when discussing social justice. It's not like science where it lies on the one making the claim. If someone claims to be oppressed, they don't have to prove it.


  11. #11

    Default Re: What is the West?

    First of all, great bunch of questions. Now, "The West" is a historical classification, and has meant different things at different times. At the outset of the "modern" age, it excluded even most of Europe (the Balkans were known as the near-East, for example), including even countries and peoples today considered almost the stereotype of "The West" i.e. the Germans, Austrians etc. From it's north Atlantic core, this amalgamation spawned it's unique Economic-Cultural contribution to the modern world, namely Industrialisation, and this spread at a fantastic rate, transforming "the West's" settler colonies and "Eastern" Europe and Russia, and also a few far flung nations, notably Japan. The core "West" however, leveraged it's lead in this new tech to suppress rivals in the non-western world, and it was only a few areas in Eurasia that were able to escape this enslavement, mostly in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe. Outside Eurasia, the entire western hemisphere, under a growing US hegemony, for a time became almost a different and new "West", distinct from the now rapidly culturally and ethnically and religiously consolidating "Western" nations of the core North Atlantic/Western Europe. And then of course, in actual terms, the "free" non "Western" core countries (Germany, USA, Russia)rapidly outstripped the core "West" to become undeniably "western" in economic-cultural matters in common with a shared ethnic ancestry. The Japanese were not, at this point considered "Western", because of their ethnicity/traditional culture/religion. Thus at the start of the 20th cent., if one talked of "The West", one meant an ethno-religio-cultural grouping, combined with an industrialised economy, which lorded over the rest of the "inferior" peoples of the world.
    This dynamic of course, collapsed in the era of the world wars and subsequent de-colonisations. In the new post WW2 consensus, political ideology began to play a role in the definition of the "West" and so once again "Eastern" Europe and Russia found themselves excluded from "The West", whereas newly independent countries, wanting to shake off the shackles of their former master's cultures, proudly called themselves "third world" (the term wasn't derisive when first coined) after the "Second World" of communist countries. The "First World" then, by consisting of the old core and it's newly spawned american "west" became by default, "the West". As their dependencies evolved, they too were included, without consideration of ethnicity, so Japan for example found itself a part of "the West". Various shades of ideology were reflected in the use of other names for this block, notably "the free world" etc. But with the collapse of the USSR and the globalised spread of capitalism, this ideological base vanished, and today we find "the West" again, to some extent, being defined culturally/ethnically/religiously. As the "core West" of old is left farther and farther behind by newly developed countries who have no intention or desire to be seen as "Western" (no matter if the processes responsible for their current rise are, indeed, "western"), this tendency to ethnically try and define "the west" will only grow. Thus, what is "the West"? Depends on what time-frame you are considering.

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    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    This is actually not a simple question at all. I'm aware that i use the word "West" rather often and i did ask myself what i actually mean by this, but it wasn't possible to discuss it separately.

    I have come to this conclusion:

    In the widest sense it is everything based on Indo-European languages.

    In a more narrow sense it is what Europe and her colonies have culturally build up until 1900.

    Everything after 1900 is when things get too intermingled with a lot of stuff that is simply to be categorized under the term "post-modernity", For example: Japan is certainly highly modern, but not Western. And? What is the problem? Not everything has to be bloody Western.

    How about we call some things "Eastern" (or whatever) without thinking any less of it? Yeah ok, that was sarcasm lol.

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    Default Re: What is the West?

    But Japan is considered part of West today.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    Cameron is midway between Black Rage and .. European Union ..

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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    But Japan is considered part of West today.
    Yes, i contradicted myself there.

    But, as i also said, i think it is too vage a term to be used for everything that comes after 1900 (very roughly). It is usually used to distinguish democracies from other kinds of governments. I think it should be dropped as a term of any meaning, tbh. Terms like "3rd world", "2nd world" have more descriptive power.

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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by swabian View Post
    In the widest sense it is everything based on Indo-European languages.
    In that case, time to welcome Iran and Pakistan into the Western fold


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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Iran is just another Russia that pretends they hate West; in reality the only groups they despise are Arabs and Turks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    Cameron is midway between Black Rage and .. European Union ..

  17. #17
    Praepositus
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Interesting debate.

    In the colonial period (I guess mostly 19th century) the "East" was divided into Near East (Ottoman Empire and its former territories, including Greece) Middle East (Iran and Afghanistan, and sometimes India) and the Far East (China, Indo China, Japan and the East Indies so Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines etc.

    It think the term "the West" comes into being in contradistinction to this "East". After WWII there's a morph into First World vs Second World (with Third World the battleground) where the term Middle East has blobbeb up the Near East (no such thing these days except in the minds of old and obdurate TW posters) but are the Balkans Western? I think not. We claim ancient Hellas for "the west" but Hellenism and above all Rome influenced Islam very strongly: we are all Big Al and slippery Gaius' heirs.

    I think the West is the remnant WAllies. The Caribbean was and is contested, IIRC third world. In the 19th century it was nearly all ruled by whites (hello Haiti) and fits the colonial definition, and in WWII they sided against Hitler, but Cuba had to go its own way and they are decidedly poor. Most territories are colonies or crypto colonies.

    Greenland is a Danish colony, part of the West as such, not in and of its own right.

    France despite its revolutionary past is definitely the core of the West, as a WAlly and as a principle font of Western Culture. We derive a lot of prejudices from our Gallic tutors, from contempt for effete "Byzantines" to contempt for cowardly Italians to contempt for constipated Englishmen. It has paid interest for them, as their performance in WWII has earned them an unfair reputation for cowardice (unfair because across the span of European history military powers have come and gone, from the English longbowmen, the Spanish tercios, the Dutch professionals, the tough Swedes, the steely Prussians and everyone at once vs Napoleon, and all of them have had to match swords with the French, the one constant at the top of the table).

    Britain, Germany (and Denmark), Italy, even Spain rank as part of "the West", and the US is a late entrant that now dominates politically and economically. They were central to the victory of "the West" (as opposed to the Ottomans or the Tsars Empire) in WWI, very surprising to all involved (I think they were seen as big babies hardly able to rule themselves) but tried to disengage again afterwards. Silly Yanks, you are one of us.

    I think the Nordic countries were First World* as they were not WAllied so not Western but Northern/Nordic, with a specific meaning as such (and for a brief period between the wars almost Baltic, but that project failed): they have cracked and joined hands with the West. Denmark straddled these identities but were (and are) a continental power more than a Scandinavian one and so Western.

    Australia is essentially still a colony, we rely on "Great and Powerful Friends" (as the saying goes here) to guide us through a dark and dangerous world. We are part of the West by virtue of our patron the US, as we once were by virtue of our metropolis London.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

  18. #18
    NosPortatArma's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Will America break from Europe and will NATO fall apart?
    probably not. nato is a vehicle for american hegemony, and europeans are seemingly content to be junior partners, unable as they are to properly unify so as to become independent of usa. both usa and europe benefits from current arrangement..

    Will Eastern Europe fall back under Russian influence?
    russia will certainly try, but their options are limited, since russia is economically and demographically declining. eastern europe will of course resist, and they can turn to usa and western europe for economic and military support. france and germany, and of course usa, does not want eastern europe to be dominated by russia again.

    Will Australia become increasingly Asian?
    yes, unless they change migration policy, but they probably wont.

    Will Europe becoming increasingly Muslim?
    western europe certainly will, no doubt about it, but not eastern europe. as it becomes more muslim, europe will be more concerned with internal affairs as social problems increase, less likely to intervene in middle east. future europe will be less relevant than it is today, its relative decline would speed up.

    3. Now that the Cold War has ended, do you see Asia overcoming the West?
    depends on what you mean by overcome. the west is not supreme and hasn't been for decades. western absolute supremacy has thus already ended. We will not be seeing a reversal of the roles: ie, china will not be supreme as the west used to be supreme. what we will see is power becomming more equal, the world moving from being dominated by one superpower, to power being shared by several great powers. USA would by virtue of geography continue to have a very privileged position though, since it has vast resources and weak neighbors and protected by two oceans, which allows the USA to project power worldwide. other major power would of course be china, but also india, and the two would compete for influence in asia. Europe, wheter eu is still around or not, would be less active due to declining population and internal problems. the biggest vaccuum would be russia though, which sits on huge amounts of resources coveted by china, even as their population shrinks and they are dangerously overstretched. future russia will have to deal with internal separatist movements, as musim population continues to grow and christian population declines.

    Should we look to heal the divides within the West to combat this?
    meh, china isn't going to conquer europe, so why should we care. china is USA's problem, not ours. we're literally on the other side of the world, we don't have contested borders. I don't see what stake europe has in this.

    4. Slightly an irrelevant question, but for Asian and Muslim forum members, what do you see in your crystal ball? Will East Asia form a new world order through the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, bringing together East Asia with South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with the Americas and Europe becoming marginalised? Or will Asia and the Middle East reject their dictatorial and fundamentalist leanings and become increasingly Westernised?
    europe, and definitely america, will never be marginalised, as they are blessed by geography and are at the centre of world affairs. europe will become less active in foreign affairs, but still economically important. USA will remain the world's leading great power, because it has an imcomparable geographic advantage. the middle east will continue to be a source of global instability, as it sectarianism and ethnic violence causes unending conflicts, even as populations grow in stagnating economies and water and other resources will become scarcer. while the chaos is happening, china will exploit the region's mineral wealth.
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