Define Western Culture Watch

Wattsy
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I keep seeing 'Western Culture' pop up in the news, on TSR, everywhere basically. I'd like to know what the blazes it consists of in a non-racist, moderately accurate way. I can deal with stereotyping because the whole concept is a stereotype. I don't appreciate the term one bit because this stereotype has such a wide remit. The Western World is seen as basically those countries which are very high or high on human development scales. They therefore include most of Europe, the USA, Canada, Brazil , Australia etc. the only real outlier which fits the human development constraint and does not belong in the Western Culture bracket is Russia; thanks to World Wars this is classed as a firmly Eastern Culture.

The question is then, is there anything which is universal to all of these places and can truly be called Western Culture. To me the term is used mainly by people outside of this perceived culture in order to inspire a victim complex or by terrorists to justify atrocities. I can't think of anything which applies exclusively to all countries with apparently Western culture without applying to some countries which fall outside of the term. Therefore the term is completely hollow and meaningless.

Do you agree or can you prove my opinion wrong?
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MostUncivilised
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I don't think Western culture can be easily defined; after all, the culture of the Anglosphere is very different from the German culture, or Italian culture.

If you want a description of the Anglosphere culture, then it's an English-speaking culture that adheres to principles of parliamentary or republican democracy and the common law, valuing freedom of expression and freedom of thought, an abhorrence of totalitarianism and authoritarianism (whether it be fascist or communist), an attachment to ideals of fair play and equality of opportunity.

What distinguishes the Anglosphere from the more general "Western" sphere is that every country outside the Anglosphere has experienced totalitarianism and dictatorship in the 20th century; Germany had the Third Reich, France had the Vichy (and even in 1968 in France there were elements who were murdering left-wing activists and dumping their body in the Seine), Italy and Spain had fascist dictatorships, all of Eastern Europe and Russia had totalitarian communist regimes.

Only the English-speaking world has enjoyed democratic governance and the rule of law (no violent revolutions, no state-sponsored pogroms or ethnic cleansing, just political peace and good order), for over 140 years (since the Glorious Revolution,1688,in England; since 1865 in the United States; and of course Canada, Australia and New Zealand's political patrimony could be considered to be a continuous unbroken extension from England's from 1688)
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SerLorasTyrell
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Yeah I'd basically say social liberalism


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imtelling
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It's just another way of saying the culture of the European derived peoples.
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felamaslen
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(Original post by imtelling)
It's just another way of saying the culture of the European derived peoples.
No it is not.

The West was originally the civilisation which invented things like liberal parliamentary democracy, capitalism, and general human liberty and prosperity, and propagated them to the world. It pioneered the first societies with free speech, regular elections with (eventually) universal suffrage, free markets and property rights. It was the civilisation which first banned the international slave trade. It was one of the first civilisations to recognise blasphemy as absurd and allow freedom of, and criticism of, religion.

Today, the West can refer to these sets of ideas, rather than the original civilisation which spawned them. Japan, to some extent, is a Westernised country, because it is a parliamentary democracy with regular elections.

The West is not specific to any racial, religious or ethnic group. It transcends borders. The West can be implemented anywhere, and should be.
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MostUncivilised
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(Original post by felamaslen)
No it is not.

The West was originally the civilisation which invented things like liberal parliamentary democracy, capitalism, and general human liberty and prosperity, and propagated them to the world. It pioneered the first societies with free speech, regular elections with (eventually) universal suffrage, free markets and property rights. It was the civilisation which first banned the international slave trade. It was one of the first civilisations to recognise blasphemy as absurd and allow freedom of, and criticism of, religion.
Tbh it wasn't so much the West as the Anglosphere that pioneered such things.
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felamaslen
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(Original post by MostUncivilised)
Tbh it wasn't so much the West as the Anglosphere that pioneered such things.
The Anglosphere is what originally pioneered Western ideas, yes. I don't associate anything else with the West, other than societies which have since adopted those ideas (or were later founded on them).
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MostUncivilised
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(Original post by felamaslen)
The Anglosphere is what originally pioneered Western ideas, yes. I don't associate anything else with the West, other than societies which have since adopted those ideas (or were later founded on them).
Fair enough. The reason I'm skeptical about giving, say, Germany credit for this Western ethic is that they were a genocidal dictatorship within living memory, a dictatorship that had to be brought to heel by the English-speaking world. To the extent that Germany was transformed into a democracy, it was by Britain and America (France too, but France was only able to do so because they'd been saved by the Anglosphere).
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felamaslen
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(Original post by MostUncivilised)
Fair enough. The reason I'm skeptical about giving, say, Germany credit for this Western ethic is that they were a genocidal dictatorship within living memory, a dictatorship that had to be brought to heel by the English-speaking world. To the extent that Germany was transformed into a democracy, it was by Britain and America (France too, but France was only able to do so because they'd been saved by the Anglosphere).
Well Germany was much more of a liberal democracy in the time of the German empire and the Weimar republic. It certainly shares a lot of the heritage of the West. But its current political system was imposed on it by the West as you say. However, Germans obviously do want to live in freedom, and they have wholeheartedly accepted the ideas of the West. This is not true of societies like Egypt and Russia. Russia had a chance of freedom in the 1990s, but Putin wasted it (I can't think of a time, ever, when Russia was a liberal democracy). And compare the Egyptian (and Libyan) "revolution" with the 1989 unification of Germany. It's also worth noting that as a country, Germany only dates back to 1871, so it wouldn't make much sense to talk about Germany founding the West anyway.
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MostUncivilised
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(Original post by felamaslen)
Well Germany was much more of a liberal democracy in the time of the German empire and the Weimar republic. It certainly shares a lot of the heritage of the West.
I personally think that's a fascinating area of debate and discussion. Pre-WW1 the German Empire had universal male suffrage, so its franchise was wider than the British franchise. However, as a society and political system it was also much more dominated by the military and Kaiser than was British society. Pre-War, the SPD was banned although its members made up the largest bloc in the legislature, they were not allowed to form a government

Despite its wider franchise, I think Britain had a much more genuine democracy and sense of political engagement and competition than did Germany. But it is certainly a contentious area in which there can be disagreements in good faith.

I agree with the other things you said (about Russia and Egypt), and the Germans have clearly embraced democracy wholeheartedly. I suppose my feeling is that the Anglosphere merely enjoys a certain superiority in that its democratic form and rule of law has been unbroken for so long.
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EllieC130
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Well for me I feel there's a sense of freedom within Western culture; I don't feel expected to do anything or act/dress a certain way as is the case in some other cultures.
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felamaslen
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(Original post by MostUncivilised)
I personally think that's a fascinating area of debate and discussion. Pre-WW1 the German Empire had universal male suffrage, so its franchise was wider than the British franchise. However, as a society and political system it was also much more dominated by the military and Kaiser than was British society. Pre-War, the SPD was banned although its members made up the largest bloc in the legislature, they were not allowed to form a government

Despite its wider franchise, I think Britain had a much more genuine democracy and sense of political engagement and competition than did Germany. But it is certainly a contentious area in which there can be disagreements in good faith.

I agree with the other things you said (about Russia and Egypt), and the Germans have clearly embraced democracy wholeheartedly. I suppose my feeling is that the Anglosphere merely enjoys a certain superiority in that its democratic form and rule of law has been unbroken for so long.
Well Britain and the US were first on the democratic scene (as it were), and were never corrupted by anti-democratic ideologies. Perhaps if there had been no first world war (which I regard as an atrocity more than anything else), then Germany could have continued to develop its own liberal form of government. (Of course that's all speculation, and I fully support Britain's war against the Nazi Germany which arose in reality). The point I was trying to make originally is that the West does not belong to anybody, but we should defend those who defend it the most. I agree that it has been the Anglosphere nations which have done this, and I definitely trust Britain and its allies more than most other nations to run the world.
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Maker
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Britain did invade and occupy the Irish Republic, India, large parts of Africa and Asia and forcibly took land from China as well as benefiting hugely from the African slave trade and supporting the Confederate government during the American Civil War.

Britain only gave up its Empire after WWII because it could no longer afford to keep enough troops in them to keep the natives from revolting and setting up their own governments.
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imtelling
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(Original post by felamaslen)
No it is not.

The West was originally the civilisation which invented things like liberal parliamentary democracy, capitalism, and general human liberty and prosperity, and propagated them to the world. It pioneered the first societies with free speech, regular elections with (eventually) universal suffrage, free markets and property rights. It was the civilisation which first banned the international slave trade. It was one of the first civilisations to recognise blasphemy as absurd and allow freedom of, and criticism of, religion.

Today, the West can refer to these sets of ideas, rather than the original civilisation which spawned them. Japan, to some extent, is a Westernised country, because it is a parliamentary democracy with regular elections.

The West is not specific to any racial, religious or ethnic group. It transcends borders. The West can be implemented anywhere, and should be.

Yeah, all those things started by Europeans. Sure, other groups have adopted this civilisation, but, the West will always be the Civilisation of the people of European descent.
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KingBradly
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Western culture = highly evolved society.
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felamaslen
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(Original post by imtelling)
Yeah, all those things started by Europeans. Sure, other groups have adopted this civilisation, but, the West will always be the Civilisation of the people of European descent.
That's not true either. The only country in Europe to retain and defend these ideas throughout the 20th century is the United Kingdom. And both Fascism and Communism - enemies of the West - find their roots in Europe too.
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mazigh
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white people
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No Man
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Tolerance and freedom.
Turkey is an Islamic country that has embraced Western culture, in my opinion, so Islam and Western Culture aren't incompatible. Islamism is incompatible with Western culture however.
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sallyjimjam
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The countries that non Whites must be allowed to flood into en masse in order to solve the "race problem" and to help with much needed "diversity"
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Three Mile Sprint
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Tolerence, Freedom, Democratic Ideals, Open Markets, Equality, Consumerism.
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