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Oakshaft

What is the west?

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Oakshaft

So the other day in my history class we had a 75 minute debate on "What is the West?"

 

So I was just curious (and wanting to start a debate here)

 

What do you guys think the "west" is and why? (talk about which countries are part of the west, politics, economics, culture, etc... of those countries and what makes them western)

 

A big part of our debate was whether or not Japan was western.

 

The images below are what the "west" looks like according to my textbook, which one do you agree with and why? would you make any changes to it?

 

http://oi46.tinypic.com/21bswlt.jpg

 

http://oi49.tinypic.com/ntf1c.jpg

 

http://oi49.tinypic.com/syt5k1.jpg

 

http://oi50.tinypic.com/aceihd.jpg

 

Some other great questions that came up were:

 

"What is the difference between the East and West"

 

"Which country is the center of west"

 

"Which country is the center of the east"

 

"Will the west and east ever come together"

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sivispacem

The idea of "West" is a bit archaic. It's derived from the Cold War, of course, when Russia and China represented the "East" and Western Europe and the US the West. In reality, it's not a geographical determination (well, certainly not any more) but is in actual fact derived, in my view, from a combination of the following factors:

 

1) A (comparatively) liberal political system with free, fair and democratic elections, with multiple political parties.

2) A (largely) free market economy based predominantly in laissez-faire economic thinking, generally with a top-quartile GDP per capita.

3) A commitment to human rights, as part of declarations, party to international laws and conventions, or enshrined in a state's legislative apparatus.

4) The absence of a real "secret police" force, or state-sponsored persecution based on any defining characteristic. Domestic and foreign intelligence agencies do not count.

 

By the logic above, Japan would indeed be seen as a "Western" nation.

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Dingdongs

Right.... you will even hear the North Koreans group Japan in with the west in propaganda.

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MIKON8ERISBACK

The right to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

The right to keep and bear arms (United States).

A capitalist, free market economy.

A society where women cannot be stoned to death or be mutilated.

 

Every effort has been made by me to ensure that this post fulfills D&D subforum requirements.

 

Post Edited: Spelling Correction.

Edited by MIKON8ERISBACK

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sivispacem
The right to keep and bare arms

Jokes aside (you've used the wrong kind of "bare", it should be "bear"), I don't think it's reasonable to include this in a list of Western ideals. It's only the US who have constitutionally enshrined this, and many non-Western nations have no (or limited) restrictions (de factor or de jure) on firearms.

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WF the Hobgoblin

 

"What is the difference between the East and West"

 

It's called being civilized, old boy. monocle.gif Those darn eastern chaps are still stuck in the dark ages.

 

 

"Which country is the center of west"

"Which country is the center of the east"

 

No idea. USA and Russia? UK and Iran?

 

 

"Will the west and east ever come together"

 

Doubt it, unless we were all to have a common enemy, i.e. aliens.

 

We don't really get called the "west" anymore anyway, that's so 20th century. These days we are just collectively known as the "infidels".

"

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MIKON8ERISBACK

 

The right to keep and bare arms

Jokes aside (you've used the wrong kind of "bare", it should be "bear"), I don't think it's reasonable to include this in a list of Western ideals. It's only the US who have constitutionally enshrined this, and many non-Western nations have no (or limited) restrictions (de factor or de jure) on firearms.

In my opinion it should be constitutionally enshrined in every western nation, but unfortunately, it's not. sad.gif

 

I included it because I'm heavily into American politics. As for the other nations having no restrictions on gun ownership, I didn't immediately think of that.

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Robinski
The idea of "West" is a bit archaic. It's derived from the Cold War, of course, when Russia and China represented the "East" and Western Europe and the US the West. In reality, it's not a geographical determination (well, certainly not any more) but is in actual fact derived, in my view, from a combination of the following factors:

 

1) A (comparatively) liberal political system with free, fair and democratic elections, with multiple political parties.

2) A (largely) free market economy based predominantly in laissez-faire economic thinking, generally with a top-quartile GDP per capita.

3) A commitment to human rights, as part of declarations, party to international laws and conventions, or enshrined in a state's legislative apparatus.

4) The absence of a real "secret police" force, or state-sponsored persecution based on any defining characteristic. Domestic and foreign intelligence agencies do not count.

 

By the logic above, Japan would indeed be seen as a "Western" nation.

I'd say that all of these things are correct. Politics is one of the two big things that separates the "East and the "West", the other being culture. These days, Western culture is rapidly being exported to every part of the world. Eastern nations just about every continent consumes general western culture in numerous forms. Hollywood and the music industry publish nearly everything everywhere (well, everywhere they can). You can find Mickey Mouse or Michael Jackson memorabilia just about anywhere on the planet.

 

That said, the divide comes from this "exchange" of culture being pretty much a one way street, for the time being at least. When was the last time you watched a TV show that came out of Japan? Or a film made in China (that recent Christian Bale film doesn't count, he was specifically brought in to appeal to Western ideals)? Or listened to music from Korea? All big first world countries (arguably) that are producing these things, but they don't have the pushing power on the global scale for culture that Western nations, specifically English speaking ones, have.

 

Typically, the west exports culture, but does not import it. It's the reason you have American movie stars doing ads that only air in Japan, in which they speak English, and why you'll never have a geust on a British TV talk show who doesn't speak English. Personally, I think it stems from the imperialistic attitudes most European nations ahd during the past few centuries, one that bled in the american way of thinking soon after the end of national empires too.

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Mike Tequeli
The idea of "West" is a bit archaic. It's derived from the Cold War, of course, when Russia and China represented the "East" and Western Europe and the US the West. In reality, it's not a geographical determination (well, certainly not any more) but is in actual fact derived, in my view, from a combination of the following factors:

 

1) A (comparatively) liberal political system with free, fair and democratic elections, with multiple political parties.

2) A (largely) free market economy based predominantly in laissez-faire economic thinking, generally with a top-quartile GDP per capita.

3) A commitment to human rights, as part of declarations, party to international laws and conventions, or enshrined in a state's legislative apparatus.

4) The absence of a real "secret police" force, or state-sponsored persecution based on any defining characteristic. Domestic and foreign intelligence agencies do not count.

 

By the logic above, Japan would indeed be seen as a "Western" nation.

I think there is a certain cultural and historical aspect to Western civilization that would explain why Japan is typically not included in most definitions of the West. Japan may be "westernized" to some extent, and they are definitely a first world developed nation, but that does not automatically make it a western nation. By the Huntington definition Japan is its own civilization, and from a historical perspective that makes sense.

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WF the Hobgoblin

@Robinski

I agree with some of what you are saying but I'd say a lot of those issues are really more country specific rather than the east and west divide.

 

 

I'd say that all of these things are correct. Politics is one of the two big things that separates the "East and the "West", the other being culture. These days, Western culture is rapidly being exported to every part of the world. Eastern nations just about every continent consumes general western culture in numerous forms. Hollywood and the music industry publish nearly everything everywhere (well, everywhere they can). You can find Mickey Mouse or Michael Jackson memorabilia just about anywhere on the planet.

 

A lot of the western culture you talk about is really just American culture.

 

 

That said, the divide comes from this "exchange" of culture being pretty much a one way street, for the time being at least. When was the last time you watched a TV show that came out of Japan? Or a film made in China (that recent Christian Bale film doesn't count, he was specifically brought in to appeal to Western ideals)? Or listened to music from Korea? All big first world countries (arguably) that are producing these things, but they don't have the pushing power on the global scale for culture that Western nations, specifically English speaking ones, have.

 

I've seen a hell of a lot more films/tv from say China, Japan and Korea on television here in the UK than films/tv from other western nations like Germany or Italy.

 

 

Typically, the west exports culture, but does not import it. It's the reason you have American movie stars doing ads that only air in Japan, in which they speak English, and why you'll never have a geust on a British TV talk show who doesn't speak English. Personally, I think it stems from the imperialistic attitudes most European nations ahd during the past few centuries, one that bled in the american way of thinking soon after the end of national empires too.

 

That's really just down to the fact that English is one of the more dominant languages in the world isn't it?

 

 

I do agree there is an inbalance, in the sense that even we (brits) and many other countries are bombarded with so much American culture and compartively little say... chinese culture, but I wouldn't personally say that was down to an East vs West thing.

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KaRzY6

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought West and East was when the theory of the world being flat was around. It defined the different in culture from West(Europe) and East(Asia). Today, I would say "Western" countries would be Europe and the lands they colonised (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and you could say South America and Japan). Eastern countries would be Asia, Middle East and Africa).

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bluetops

Considering the world is spherical, the West extends from one point back to the same point thus the whole world is the West.

sarcasm.gif

 

-Please keep the quality of your posts up to D&D standards. I won't have pointless one-line spam in this subforum.-

Edited by sivispacem

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GTA_stu

I think what is and what isn't Western can't really be limited just to countries. The examples Sivispacem gave are good markers for what would constitute a Western nation, but it's a fluid concept which is very hard to define, and in a sense can't really be defined. Some cities in countries which wouldn't be defined as Western, may certainly resemble a Western city and on the surface appear Western. Mumbai in India, is a very modern, cosmopolitan, global city. India itself is a country which is an electoral democracy, has relatively good records of human rights and has a high degree of political and economic freedoms overall. Mumbai, the downtown area in particular, certainly looks and feels Western, and by many accounts it could be counted as a Western city. But India as a whole wouldn't be classified as a western nation.

 

Botswana is a country which would come under all 4 of the categories listed by Sivis, and in terms of it's economic development it has a higher GDP per capita than countries which many would regard as Western such as Serbia or South Africa. This doesn't necessarily mean Botswana has a higher standard of living than those 2 countries, and it doesn't, not by a long shot. But It does have a higher degree of political and economic freedom than some Eastern European countries which we would describe as being Western. So I think for a country to be described as being Western it has to be highly developed, and this more than anything could arguably be the most important factor in deciding what is and isn't "Western".

 

I think it's a case that we almost view development and an advanced society as being a Western export, as though it's our creation and belongs to us. Capitalism is certainly a Western creation. And because the West historically and indeed currently has held such an influence, which isn't far from being a monopoly, over the globe in terms of which economic ideology is the dominant one, capitalism has been by a very wide margin the main source through which development in a nation is achieved. So development, certainly over the last 50 years or so, has been heavily linked to having come out of the West and as having been a Western tool.

Edited by GTA_stu

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bobgtafan

North America excluding Mexico and Central America, Europe excluding everything east of Germany, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Basically anywhere with a high standard of living is what I consider the West.

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Mike Tequeli

Standard of living does not really define the west at all.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_civilization Here are some definitions of the West. I can't even think of any IR specialist or otherwise that equates standard of living with being Western. I think any nation that has recently risen up to a first world standard of living would be offended to be called western. Obviously the definition gets complicated at times, Latin America is undoubtedly Western in origin but is often categorized as its own thing.

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Dingdongs

 

I think any nation that has recently risen up to a first world standard of living would be offended to be called western.

 

But those nations who have risen up to western standards of living (South Korea, Singapore, some middle eastern nations (UAE, Oman) are characterized by those who have not grown to their standards as corrupted by the western devil. It's sort of funny isn't it.

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El Dildo

so this is just from my personal perspective.

it has nothing to do with military alliances or trade agreements, etc etc.

 

but it seems to me that in the 21st century, the "West" is simply slang or colloquialism for a category of society that encompasses English-speaking / European trends and attitudes.

basically if it's not Asian, Russian, African, or Middle-Eastern then it's most likely Western. sometimes this includes Hispanic or Latino countries, but sometimes not.

 

it has a lot to do with a shared sense of history and common beliefs.

for instance, Westerner's can all identify with the major European wars that occurred prior to World War 2; the wars that decided the modern boundaries for most of Europe and North America. they can also easily identify with Anglo-Saxon morals and societal values which are supposedly derived from Christianity. most of the Christ-based or Yahweh religions are considered very Western because they share a common thread (monotheism) and came into existence at about the same time. they all abandoned the old gods of ancient pagan religions which were mostly polytheistic.

 

when you say "West" nowadays, most people assume that you are referring to the Americas and Northern Europe since these societies are so similar in terms of culture and heritage. there are many families in the US who came from - or still have relatives - somewhere in Europe. and vise-versa.

Edited by El_Diablo

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Der_Don

Northern Europe? That would exclude countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece which also belong to "the west".

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El Dildo

I'm not going to sit here and name every single country that belongs to the West.

when I say Northern Europe, I'm referring to Spain and Italy and Greece (and Portugal and Poland and Sweden and Finland and Norway and The Balkans and Iceland and.......) etc etc.

 

forgive me for not being totally OCD about it tounge2.gif

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Leftcoast
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought West and East was when the theory of the world being flat was around. It defined the different in culture from West(Europe) and East(Asia). Today, I would say "Western" countries would be Europe and the lands they colonised (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and you could say South America and Japan). Eastern countries would be Asia, Middle East and Africa).

Not all European cultures thought the world was flat as I was originally taught in History class. I was taught that Christopher Columbus' sailers were criminals and that some how meant they didn't care if they fell off the edge of the world. Go figure that one.

 

I got a more accurate, updated, version in college History when I was taught that Columbus' sailors were Portuguese, not criminals, and were not afraid because they already knew the world was round and believed they could circumnavigate the globe.

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sivispacem

It's largely untrue that any of the more modern civilisations thought the world was flat, least of all defined European cultures. The world was actually first evidenced (though not conclusively demonstrated) to be flat in about the 6th Century BC, and despite the popular misconception to the contrary the idea of a spherical earth was prevalent throughout Europe even during the dark ages. It is therefore inaccurate that at any point organised civil society in Europe believed in a flat earth. I've still got no idea why the myth pervades.

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Tommy34

"The West" geographically includes North, Southwestern, Western Europe (Germany, Austria are eastern borders) with Greece (birthplace of the western civilization) and all the territories populated during European expansions starting in late 14 century. All "daughter" countries such as USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand are culturally "The West." As a matter of fact USA is today a flag barrier of the western civilization.

 

Term "The West" is also a historical term and it meant a border between early European population. Long time ago whites had been separated in three groups, Teutonic (North Europe), Mediterranean (South, Southwest) and Alpine (East). All Slavic nations (Polish, Russians, Serbs...) belong to Alpine whites and are traditionally not considered "The West". These three groups are no longer in use in modern day Europe because during centuries and numerous wars these groups have intersected. You have an example of Germany and Austria (especially) where most population is no longer "traditional" Teutonic. They border Slavic countries and population got largely mixed up.

 

 

 

 

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KaRzY6
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought West and East was when the theory of the world being flat was around. It defined the different in culture from West(Europe) and East(Asia). Today, I would say "Western" countries would be Europe and the lands they colonised (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and you could say South America and Japan). Eastern countries would be Asia, Middle East and Africa).

Not all European cultures thought the world was flat as I was originally taught in History class. I was taught that Christopher Columbus' sailers were criminals and that some how meant they didn't care if they fell off the edge of the world. Go figure that one.

 

I got a more accurate, updated, version in college History when I was taught that Columbus' sailors were Portuguese, not criminals, and were not afraid because they already knew the world was round and believed they could circumnavigate the globe.

Columbus was during (or after) the Renaissance. They discovered the world was round by then, but didn't realise the Americas were there. Columbus believed that if they travelled West, they would reach the Indies, but instead landed is the Caribbean (West Indies).

 

I was talking about the times when the known world was only Asia, Europe, Middle East and Northern Africa. Before the Middle Ages.

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sivispacem
I was talking about the times when the known world was only Asia, Europe, Middle East and Northern Africa. Before the Middle Ages.

The world was believed to be round as early as ancient Greek times. It's basically fictitious that it was ever believed on any large scale in organised societies.

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KaRzY6
I was talking about the times when the known world was only Asia, Europe, Middle East and Northern Africa. Before the Middle Ages.

The world was believed to be round as early as ancient Greek times. It's basically fictitious that it was ever believed on any large scale in organised societies.

But after the fall of Greece and Rome, the Church had all the knowledge.

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sivispacem
I was talking about the times when the known world was only Asia, Europe, Middle East and Northern Africa. Before the Middle Ages.

The world was believed to be round as early as ancient Greek times. It's basically fictitious that it was ever believed on any large scale in organised societies.

But after the fall of Greece and Rome, the Church had all the knowledge.

The church, contrary to popular belief, did not spread the belief that the earth was flat. Its a creation of Enlightenment-era tensions between the disciplines of science and faith. They did, however argue against heliocentrism.

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Leftcoast

 

I was talking about the times when the known world was only Asia, Europe, Middle East and Northern Africa. Before the Middle Ages.

The world was believed to be round as early as ancient Greek times. It's basically fictitious that it was ever believed on any large scale in organised societies.

But after the fall of Greece and Rome, the Church had all the knowledge.

The church, contrary to popular belief, did not spread the belief that the earth was flat. Its a creation of Enlightenment-era tensions between the disciplines of science and faith. They did, however argue against heliocentrism.

I am not terribly knowledgeable with maritime history, but I would assume that knowledge about the spherical nature of the Earth would be too important for sea faring cultures to simply forget since it's probably important to understand for navigators.

 

Edit:

 

docrikowski, that is pretty much what I was taught in elementary school in the early 80's. I want to say by high school they were teaching it more accurately but I can't remember.

 

Do they still teach it this way any where?

Edited by Leftcoast

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Clem Fandango
That said, the divide comes from this "exchange" of culture being pretty much a one way street, for the time being at least. When was the last time you watched a TV show that came out of Japan?

This is a bit off topic, but since you mentioned that I thought I should point out that Japan has some degree of cultural hegemony over South Korea, and Japan's culture seems quite independent from America, it seems plausible that over time this sphere of influence could spread to other parts of asia. I'm sure people in the Sinosphere would be more likely to consume entertainment from Japan than entertainment from America. Also, in my opinion, America's cultural influence was one of the biggest (if not the biggest) factor in the fall of communism, and it will be Japanese cultural influence that ends (or changes) the State in North Korea.

 

Anyways, personally I would define the Western World as the countries whose attitudes, cultures and ideologies have their roots in the Roman Empire (or the Greek city states), and who have a liberal political system, democracy and a free market as a result of the Enlightenment. Since the Imperial Restoration, I'd say that includes Japan and South Korea. Christian beliefs and morals are largely irrelevant to the distinction, in the modern world.

 

 

 

 

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Carbine23

Throughout history the "West" has been described differently. I guess Pre-Cold War times the west referred to any nations who took part in imperialism so basically North America & Europe. Another idea for the west comes from Greek ideals & democracy that largely influenced nations long after the decline of the Roman Empire. The "East" always referred to Asia & China who were advanced in their own certain way and their culture significantly different from Europeans. But when i think of the west now i basically think democracy, so basically Europe and America.

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