Western Civilization

The dictionary defines the west as “the modern culture of western Europe and North America”. 

Wikipedia concurs, but also cites Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations in likely adding much of Latin America to “the west”. 

I do not agree with these definitions, and hold that Clash of Civilizations is an outdated concept. Most importantly, Clash of Civilizations doesn’t take into account three of the four tigers of Asia: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The fourth being Singapore, which does not exemplify Western qualities like the other ‘tigers’. 

What are those qualities? Specifically, these three nations possess democracy, free markets, independent courts, free elections, free press, human rights for women and LGBT persons, and innovation. 

Consider Taiwan. Taiwan is a reliable ally and trading partner to the United States. It has a high-functioning democracy. In May 2019, Taiwan became the first East Asian country to legalize gay marriage. Taiwan has had a female president already. In embracing western values, Taiwan is as deserving of American defense as any European country inside of NATO. 

Some people think western civilization means ‘white people’ or ‘white Christendom’. This is possibly because of nzism. The nzis thought that they were the embodiment of western civilization; that they defined it. But they lost World War 2, and with them, died their vision for the world. 

Westernism is a mindset and a series of policies, which people anywhere in the world can have, adopt and implement. 

Looking around the world, it is possible to see people in different places applying the practices of westernism to varying levels of success. You have winners like: Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Israel (which recently began beating some European countries in GDP per capita). Then you have losers, like Hungary. 

Hungary is an illiberal democracy, one which rejects many of the most critical aspects of western civilization such as freedom of the media. Further, it has a Nazi-like obsession with traditional gender rules and values. But Hungary is not a world power; it is not even a European Union power. Hungary is a symbolic country, and it symbolizes the worst that white Christendom has to offer humanity.  That’s it. 

In the 75-odd years since the nzi vision of western civilization came crashing down, humanity has been building. From Tel Aviv to Taipei, people have been standing up for the the right to vote, the right to hold government accountable, the right to continue living if you are LGBT, and the rights of women to make a career no different than a man would. 

I hope the next time you hear the phrase ‘western’ or ‘western civilization’, you will recall that anyone, anywhere, can choose to be western.

Pictured above in the South Korean National Assembly Building, that nation’s house of democracy.