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Is the West still the best?


Is the West still the best?

For centuries, the West was a model for the world.  While anti-imperialists condemned the West for betraying its own ideals of freedom, even black radical CLR James declared: ‘I, a man of the Caribbean, have found that it is in the study of Western literature, Western philosophy and Western history that I have found out the things that I have found out even about the underdeveloped countries’.

Today, however, there are those who question some of the most basic values of the West and, in particular, its universality – the very idea that its legacy is for everyone. As capitalism seemingly wanes in the West, and the East is on the rise, is there anything in the legacy of the West we should preserve? Speakers include Ian Morris, author and professor of history and archaeology at Stanford University, Sabine Reul, society and politics editor at NovoArgumente, Gaspar Miklos Tamas, author and visiting professor at Central European University and Tarun J. Tejpal, author and editor  at Tehelka, former editor of India Today.

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Related topics: Debates, Global

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Tulli said:

Well, to be fair the West DID figure out some things right… like improving civil rights and feminism movement.

Di said:

Insightful video.

The power dynamics of the world is changing, but it seems to be that the change is still rather slow and the world is unfortunately still so asymmetrical.

Torquil said:

Sally, it’s better to be a humanist than not to be a humanist and it’s better to have a fridge than not to have a fridge.

Sydney said:

What struck me in the debate is the fact that the West has given up on any big project that could inspire others. I know in the UK that our so called political leaders can’t lead on anything – in fact most of them argue that is not their job anymore.

Ted said:

I agree with the first comment especially after reading the other two, universalism should be fought for still – the idea that yes, we live and like different things but this doesn’t mean that we don’t share some fundamental values and that we don’t all deserve to live a life free from need and necessity.

Sally said:

And what is best anyway. It is typical of this kind of debate that tries to define what is best when we all live differently and have different ideas on what is best.

Randolph Ferry said:

DWEMs (Dead White European Males) weren’t all bad, they developed humanism, the enlightenment and drove society forwards. The achievements of democracy and industrialisation are historically immense. Trains, planes and automobiles are magnificent to say nothing of medicine and law, science and the arts. The West was clearly the best and the best needs rescuing from an army of Western postmodern eco-centrists and sustainability primitivists.

Reza said:

But surely you can see that the West has not only held back other countries if not continents so they can have it all but the West still have really bad ideas that need challenging, need a different point of views.

Imlovinit said:

Difficult points well made in some cases and I do think universalism and enlightenment ideas need sticking up for regardless of where they come from although we shouldn’t be shy of saying they are from the West. Until India and China and ideally more catch up with the west – which would be great-and go further then in development terms the west will still be best.