December 7, 2005

IDEAS, NOT GEOGRAPHY:

Asian, Western: Same, same? (Tawada Yoko, 12/08/05, Asia Times)

The Japanese do not like to talk about one "Asia". It sounds like Japanese imperialism. Asia is not one, and it is good that it isn't. There is neither a common religion nor a common political system, not even one common kind of rice. [...]

The term Western on the other hand contains an insidious concept. It tries to wrap up an ideology in a geographic packaging: whoever is in favor of democracy, freedom and individualism is considered Western in orientation.


The point of the West is that it is simply a group of interlocking ideas -- Grecco-Roman/Judeo-Christian in origin -- that culminate in liberal democratic, protestant, capitalist social arrangements premised on the God given dignity and free will of every individual who is in turn bound by God's moral laws. It is universally accessible and has nothing to do with geography or ethnicity. Not every nation in the West conforms to every element to Westernism to the same degree at all times, but it's easy enough to identify those that mostly do, mostly have, or are headed in a Western direction. Thus, Japan, Israel, India, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other geographically Asian nations are in fact becoming integral parts of the West.

However, various states of Europe, having destroyed the religio-cultural premises on which they were built, have drifted further and further away from Western norms. And over the past two centuries a trio of anti-Western ideologies --Marxism, Darwinism, and Freudianism -- have been especially successful in tempting folks away from Westernism. As a result, the 20th Century saw one long war between countries that were geographically Western but that pitted the West against experiments in Communism and National Socialism/Applied Darwinism occurring within Europe. While the ideologies are now pretty thoroughly discredited, little has been done to rescue these states from the corrosive effects of secularism, so it's questionable whether a place like France is even much a part of the West any more and, if we accept for the sake of argument that it is, whether it will remain one for long.

Asia is, of course, quite rapidly headed towards having just one political and economic system--democracy and capitalism--though there will be variants within those norms. Whether its states choose to become fully Western -- accepting Abrahamic monotheism and the corresponding morality -- will determine whether they thrive, like most of the Anglospheric world, or decline comfortably, like secular continental Europe and Japan.


MORE:
Find a nation's spot on this chart and you can see how well it balances morality and freedom

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 7, 2005 7:48 AM
Comments

According to the chart, you must really hate all those nations in Eastern Europe who are neither moral nor free. France is much closer to the US than they are. Canada is closer to the US than Britain. So why are you always so down on France and Canada? The chart says they aren't so bad.

Posted by: Anon at December 7, 2005 9:55 AM

Anon:

Yes, the European nations that we abandoned to Stalin had a long waty to go to liberalize their economics and politics to Western norms. They'll catch up quickly though. Whether their churches will come back from the damage is a more difficult and important questions.

Posted by: oj at December 7, 2005 10:30 AM

OJ Eastern Europeans are more secular and have fewer babies than Western Europeans. They won't catch up at all, they'll die faster.

Looking at the chart again, why aren't you praising Vietnam instead of Poland?

Posted by: Anon at December 7, 2005 10:40 AM

Anon:

Less secular but they do have too few babies. They have a lot of work to do if they're to survive.

Posted by: oj at December 7, 2005 11:29 AM
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