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In the course of an online discussion last Tuesday, I was asked a deceptively simple-sounding question that has since plagued my thinking. After offering an argument for the inherent superiority of the ‘West’, my competitor stumped me by requesting that I “define ‘the West'” – that is, explain what it actually consists of.
Having had a few days to ponder an answer, during which I have been staring intensely at google maps and rifling through the pages of Wikipedia, I have come up with a list of countries I consider ‘Western’. I must add beforehand the obvious point that ‘West’ and ‘Western’ in this context have no geographic meaning, but rather imply certain standards of civilisation, such as secularism, gender equality, liberal capitalism and a free press. Here then is my answer – presented in no particular order:
Great Britain and all the countries of the EU
Liberal commonwealth nations (such as Jamaica, Trinidad etc..)
The United States
Taiwan (Republic of China)
*It should be noted that India has an anti-democratic caste system, with different categories recorded by government. This must change if India is to maintain its Western character.
Now, a lot of people would say I’m being far too generous with this list. When such people think of ‘The West’, they think of things like influence, affluence, cleanliness and order, as well as the basic civilizational standards mentioned above. I understand what these people mean and would agree that there exists a ‘core’ inside of the West, without which the whole ‘Western’ construct would begin to fragment or collapse. This core is simply the Anglosphere, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Such nations are not merely of the West, but its original authors.
Needless to say, no Islamic country comes close to membership of this marvellous club. And I doubt that fact will change any time soon.