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Thread: What is the West?

  1. #21
    Copperknickers II's Avatar quaeri, si sapis
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by swabian View Post
    I think the terms "West" and "East" weren't even used in mass media before ww2. It's probably just the result of language as used by the Anglos during the cold war (oh well, it's English after all). It doesn't explain why Japan for example is supposed to be within the Western hemisphere. It isn't.
    I don't think that's entirely accurate, the Romans often separated themselves from the 'Easterners' thus by implication placing themselves as 'Westerners'. Although their conception of the East was not of poor and backward countries, but rather the opposite: of overly wealthy and profligate peoples who had complex and corrupt societies and effeminate and morally questionable habits, as contrasted with the simple and virtuous Romans who saw themselves as a hardy rustic folk. This obviously shifted very dramatically since the arrival of modernity but I think given the importance of the Roman Empire in Christian history the separation between East and West traces itself back to the Romans vs the 'civilised' barbarians. Which as you say, is actually what the East/West distinction mainly referred to in the 20th century Anglosphere: not the 21st century idea of the civilised world vs the developing world, but the free world vs the Communist world, with the third world a whole separate category more comparable to the Germans and Britons in the Roman mindset. So in fact you have always had this distinction between the West, the East and the Rest. In America I believe they sometimes refer to the 'Global South' which seems to exclude some of the wealthier BRIC countries such as Russia and China.
    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."

  2. #22
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by swabian View Post
    I think the terms "West" and "East" weren't even used in mass media before ww2. It's probably just the result of language as used by the Anglos during the cold war (oh well, it's English after all). It doesn't explain why Japan for example is supposed to be within the Western hemisphere. It isn't.
    In English it has been a figure of speech since at least the 1880's.

    Originally posted by Rudyard Kipling:
    OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet
    http://www.bartleby.com/246/1129.html
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

  3. #23
    Kyriakos's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Romans weren't a paradigm of being civilized either, unless you mean the byzantines, of course ^_^

    There is a nice quote by Fernando Pessoa, that Rome was the USA of ancient Greece, and thus its misinterpretation.

    The distinction between civilization and barbarism rather had anything to the north and to the west of Greece be the most obvious example of such barbarism, though any non-greek people were termed barbarians; the term just means 'non greek', and apparently the word is onomatopoetic, from the uncouth sounds of the foreign languages (bar-bar-bar; something like modern german ).

    Since Pessoa was mentioned, here is another equally elegant ( ) poet from the same period, Constantin Cavafy and a poem of his on this:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Ποσειδωνιάται



    Την γλώσσα την ελληνική οι Ποσειδωνιάται
    εξέχασαν τόσους αιώνας ανακατευμένοι
    με Τυρρηνούς, και με Λατίνους, κι άλλους ξένους.
    Το μόνο που τους έμενε προγονικό
    ήταν μια ελληνική γιορτή, με τελετές ωραίες,
    με λύρες και με αυλούς, με αγώνας και στεφάνους.
    Κ’ είχαν συνήθειο προς το τέλος της γιορτής
    τα παλαιά τους έθιμα να διηγούνται,
    και τα ελληνικά ονόματα να ξαναλένε,
    που μόλις πια τα καταλάμβαναν ολίγοι.
    Και πάντα μελαγχολικά τελείων’ η γιορτή τους.
    Γιατί θυμούνταν που κι αυτοί ήσαν Έλληνες —
    Ιταλιώται έναν καιρό κι αυτοί·
    και τώρα πώς εξέπεσαν, πώς έγιναν,
    να ζουν και να ομιλούν βαρβαρικά
    βγαλμένοι — ω συμφορά! — απ’ τον Ελληνισμό.


    (my translation follows)


    Poseidonians*


    "The greek language was forgotten by the Poseidonians
    as they were for so many centuries mingled

    with Tyrrenians, and Latins, and other foreigners.
    The only thing they had left from the forefathers
    was a greek festival, with beautiful rites,
    lyres and flutes, games and wreaths.
    And they were of the habit, each time the festival was reaching the end,
    to narrate their old customs,
    and to speak once again the greek names,
    those names that by now only few could understand.
    And their festival would always end with melancholy.
    For they recalled that they too had been Greeks --
    Colonists at Italy at some point;
    and how had they fallen now, how did they become this,
    living and speaking barbarically
    displaced -- the disaster! -- from Hellenism."


    *Poseidonia was the old, greek name, replaced with "Paestum" when the city was incorporated into non-greek dominions.
    Last edited by Kyriakos; June 03, 2018 at 10:48 PM.
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  4. #24

    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Western countries are generally of majority European origin, or at least with an influential European minority...For Latin American and South African TWC members, do you feel 'Western'?
    Latin America is a group of countries where Spanish/Portuguese/French are are spoken, and they are generally of majority European origin (eg Brazil or Argentina);the same applies to the US.
    --------
    The notion of something called "western culture" is a modern invention. R.Kipling,the great poet and propagandist of the British Imperialism,wrote,"Oh, east is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet", contrasting Europe and Asia- and nothing more.
    Edit,
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Originally posted by Rudyard Kipling:
    OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet
    This. I missed your post.

    During the cold war, the west and the east were the opposite sides of the iron curtain.
    More recently, "the west" means the north Atlantic: Europe, US and Canada. South America is called/dubbed the "global south", sot the opposite to "the western" world is the "non-western world" in Africa, Asia and...Latin America (God knows why). This means that South Africa (the western notion is, in some aspects, an euphemism for white?), New Zealand and Australia are non-western countries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Christians... Europeans...Muslims
    From an historical point of view, the concept/idea of a "European" was first used to contrast Christians and Muslims, and it appears in a Latin chronicle, written in 754 in Spain. It's about the Battle of Tours/Poitiers, and the author refers to the victors of the battle as as "Europenses".Curiously, in the 8th century,much of Europe was not yet Christian: Battle of Poitiers and the invention of Europeans « The Global
    The contrast was not between Islam and the "West", but between Christendom and Islam.

    The fight between Christian infidels and Muslim infidels goes on until the battle of Vienna, the beginning of the Christian reconquest of eastern Europe- a very slow process, let's keep in mind that Greece became independent only in the early 19th century, and Bulgaria even later, in 1878. So, what we have is a sense of a Christian Europe, not a sense of western culture.

    In the12th century, the idea that the best of the Greek culture was passed by way of Rome is already explicit in in the writings of the Chrétien de Troyes, translatio studii et imperii: Chrétien de Troyes' Ovidian Cligès

    As you can see, the process is called translatio studii, the transfer of learning,

    "Ancient books tell us all
    We know of ancient history
    And what life was like, back then.
    And we’ve learned from those books that in Greece
    Knighthood and learning ranked
    Above all other things.
    Ancient learning, like knighthood,
    Passed from Greece to Rome,
    and has reappeared, now,
    In France"

    And then, gradually,this became a persistent idea. Hegel, some centuries later, writes, in "early Theological Writings," Early Theological Writings

    "Are we not entitled to assume that the achievements of modern times, our illumination and progress of all arts and sciences, have worn out the Greek and Roman garments of their childhood and outgrown the ir leading-strings, so that we can now advance on their own territory without hindrance?"

    The problem with this vision is that the classical inheritance was shared with the Muslim learning in Baghdad, particularly when Greek works/texts were lost during the Dark ages and preserved by Muslim scholars. Many of those texts were recovered from the Arabs during the Renaissance. The western culture was not a common essence that has passed unchanged from hand to hand. The French man or the English man for 500 years ago is not the same French or English today. The actual concept/idea of "West" only appears /emerge in the 1890's, at the apex of British Imperialism (1890-1922)

    And then came Oswald Spengler 1922, Oswald Spengler's The Decline of The West - Internet Archive full text - with a very low opinion of civilizations, attempted to tie race and culture together; he doesn't recognize the notion that there were continuities between western culture and the classical world and recognizes 8 cultures, Babylonian Egyptian Chinese Indian Classical (Greek / Roman) Arabian , Mexican (Aztec / Mayan - and Western Faustian spirit, first visible in medieval Europe, starting with Romanesque art, in the Gothic cathedrals, the Arthurian and Siegfried sagas, the Crusades, including the Hohenstaufen in the Slavonic east, the Portuguese in the east, The Spanish in America.

    Sprengler doesn't give a privileged place to the Classical or Western culture as against the cultures of India, Babylon, Egypt, or other non-western civilizations. In some aspects, the contrary was true. according to Sprengler, the ultimate original ground of the western Faustian spirit? He says:
    "the primordial forces of Western culture reflect the primary emotions of an energetic human existence, the cruelty, the joy of excitement, danger, the violent act, victory, crime, the thrill of a conqueror and destroyer"
    Our present day western culture took shape during the Cold war. The so called traditions of “the west” (above all liberty, tolerance, rational inquiry) are a personal choice, not a Western destiny. These values belong to those who really care about them, in the geographical west or the geographical east, in the North Pole or South Pole.

    --
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyriakos View Post
    There is a nice quote by Fernando Pessoa, that Rome was the USA of ancient Greece, and thus its misinterpretation.
    On a side note, Pessoa was a great admirer of the Greek language: "if Greek were easy to learn, we would all have Greek to-day as a second language"
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Problem of Languages.
    If the possession of a great literature were in itself sufficient to establish, not the mere survival, but the widespread survival of a language, ancient Greek would to-day be the second language of civilization. But even Latin, which was once this, has been able to continue being this. To have a hold on a quantitative future, a language must possess something more than a great literature: the possession of a great literature is an advantage more real than actual, it will save a language from death but will nor promote it to life.
    The primary condition for a large hold on a future is, in a language, its natural widespreadness, and this depends on the mere physical fact of the number of people who speak it naturally. The secondary condition is its ease in being learnt; if Greek were easy to learn, we would all have Greek to-day as a second language. The tertiary condition is that the language be as pliant as possible, so that there be in it as full a capacity for expression of all moods as can be, and a consequent capacity to admit, by translation, the reflex of other languages and thus dispense, from the literary standpoint, with the learning of them.
    Now, taking not only the present but immediate future, in so far as it may be considered as developing on the embryo conditions of our time, there are only three languages with a popular future — English (which has already a widespread hold), Spanish and Portuguese. They are the languages spoken in America, and in so far as Europe means European civilization, Europe is becoming more and more settled in the Western continent. Such languages as French, German and Italian are never anything but European: they have no imperial power. So long as Europe was the world, they held their own, and even triumphed over the other three, for English was insular and Spanish and Portuguese right at the end. But when the world became the earth, the scene shifted.
    It is therefore among these three languages that the future of the future will lie.
    Last edited by Ludicus; June 11, 2018 at 05:41 PM.
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  5. #25
    Diocle's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ludicus View Post
    .. And then came Oswald Spengler 1922, Oswald Spengler's The Decline of The West - Internet Archive full text - with a very low opinion of civilizations, attempted to tie race and culture together; he doesn't recognize the notion that there were continuities between western culture and the classical world and recognizes 8 cultures, Babylonian Egyptian Chinese Indian Classical (Greek / Roman) Arabian , Mexican (Aztec / Mayan - and Western Faustian spirit, first visible in medieval Europe, starting with Romanesque art, in the Gothic cathedrals, the Arthurian and Siegfried sagas, the Crusades, including the Hohenstaufen in the Slavonic east, the Portuguese in the east, The Spanish in America.

    Sprengler doesn't give a privileged place to the Classical or Western culture as against the cultures of India, Babylon, Egypt, or other non-western civilizations. In some aspects, the contrary was true. according to Sprengler, the ultimate original ground of the western Faustian spirit? He says:
    "the primordial forces of Western culture reflect the primary emotions of an energetic human existence, the cruelty, the joy of excitement, danger, the violent act, victory, crime, the thrill of a conqueror and destroyer"
    Our present day western culture took shape during the Cold war. The so called traditions of “the west” (above all liberty, tolerance, rational inquiry) are a personal choice, not a Western destiny. These values belong to those who really care about them, in the geographical west or the geographical east, in the North Pole or South Pole.

    --


    On a side note, Pessoa was a great admirer of the Greek language: "if Greek were easy to learn, we would all have Greek to-day as a second language"
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Problem of Languages.
    If the possession of a great literature were in itself sufficient to establish, not the mere survival, but the widespread survival of a language, ancient Greek would to-day be the second language of civilization. But even Latin, which was once this, has been able to continue being this. To have a hold on a quantitative future, a language must possess something more than a great literature: the possession of a great literature is an advantage more real than actual, it will save a language from death but will nor promote it to life.
    The primary condition for a large hold on a future is, in a language, its natural widespreadness, and this depends on the mere physical fact of the number of people who speak it naturally. The secondary condition is its ease in being learnt; if Greek were easy to learn, we would all have Greek to-day as a second language. The tertiary condition is that the language be as pliant as possible, so that there be in it as full a capacity for expression of all moods as can be, and a consequent capacity to admit, by translation, the reflex of other languages and thus dispense, from the literary standpoint, with the learning of them.
    Now, taking not only the present but immediate future, in so far as it may be considered as developing on the embryo conditions of our time, there are only three languages with a popular future — English (which has already a widespread hold), Spanish and Portuguese. They are the languages spoken in America, and in so far as Europe means European civilization, Europe is becoming more and more settled in the Western continent. Such languages as French, German and Italian are never anything but European: they have no imperial power. So long as Europe was the world, they held their own, and even triumphed over the other three, for English was insular and Spanish and Portuguese right at the end. But when the world became the earth, the scene shifted.
    It is therefore among these three languages that the future of the future will lie.
    The old comrade Spengler! Wow Ludicus, you're always a great (and good) surprise for me!

    I'm here just because I feel the need to remind in this place that Oswald Spengler, in the election of 1932, voted for Adolf Hitler, I write this not to be critic, I would have done exactly the same choice, but just to remind to the readers that Spengler, even though being an extremely interesting reading, may be in some way an indigestible food for many snowflakes around here (Internet). So, be cautious boys, Spengler has to be handled with extreme caution, consider just this: the Italian edition of "The Decline Of The West" has been introduced and translated by Julius Evola, and .. you all know who was Julius Evola, don't you?
    (the first who thinks: 'Evola? Ah, the guy quoted by Steve Bannon!' will be shoot on the spot!)


  6. #26

    Default Re: What is the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    Spengler has to be handled with extreme caution
    Well, thanks my friend.
    I know, Spengler is an author who is widely known and discussed in Italy, more than in other countries ( the Spengler and Mussolini "connection" still reverberates,right?) but Spengler, like Benedetto Croce, he is both implicated and distanced from the official regime.
    In 1925, Benedetto mounted a campaign against the far-right with a manifesto to counter G.Gentil's "Manifesto degli intellectually del fascismo"
    It's also true that 1933, the Nazis condemned Spengler to ostracism.Spengler disagreed with their biological ideology and antisemitism. Spengler was hostile to the Weimar, he even paved the way for the national socialism,but he had no use for Hitler. He courageously refused to contribute to Nazi electoral propaganda, so Spengler was "caput" by the end of 1933.
    Last edited by Ludicus; June 18, 2018 at 03:22 PM.
    Il y a quelque chose de pire que d'avoir une âme perverse. C’est d'avoir une âme habituée
    Charles Péguy

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