What countries are "western"?

Perhaps we can avoid controversy by recognizing several tiers of Western-ness.

First Class Western countries: Britain, France, Germany, Scandanavia, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA

Second Class Western countries: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Eastern Europe, Argentina

Third Class Western countries: most of South America, Russia

Of course it is unfair to generalize across entire countries like this. After all, most countries have diverse populations, and many of their inhabitants probably belong farther down the spectrum than the country as a whole.

Also, notice how easy it is to come up with a similar, common-sensical ranking for non-Western countries:

Japanese
Koreans
Chinese
Tibetans
north Indians
south Indians
Africans

(Notice that I didn’t even have to tell you which end is highest!)

[quote=“Screaming Jesus”]Of course it is unfair to generalize across entire countries like this. After all, most countries have diverse populations, and many of their inhabitants probably belong farther down the spectrum than the country as a whole.
[/quote]
Yep, because I can tell you that white South Africans would see themselves as western, although black South Africans wouldn’t share that sentiment and would claim an “African-ness”. It also goes with how you identify yourself.

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”…Frank Zappa

Disqualifies most Muslim countries!

[quote=“GuyInTaiwan”][quote=“Feiren”]Your version of the enlightenment is highly Anglocentric. France was not secular until the French Revolution although there was a degree of religious tolerance there. The world ‘Enlightenment’ comes to English from a German word, and as you might expect from that, Germany played an extremely important, indeed probably central role in the Enlightenment. Northern Italy was very much affected by the enlightenment as were Scandinavia, Hungary, Switzerland, and to a lesser extent Poland. As for the industrial revolution, it clearly began in and reached its first full expression in Britain, but there were also industrial revolutions in Germany, Northern Italy, and Japan.

The Latin American revolutions at the beginning of the 19th century were all very much founded on enlightenment principles.

You seem to be very close to saying that on the one hand being western has to do with certain ideas from the enlightenment but on the other that only white people of Anglo-Saxon stock really believe in or practice those ideas.[/quote]

You’re right that I should have included Switzerland in the West. I actually thought about that yesterday after I’d written this, but didn’t go back to change it.

Your last paragraph is the most important one. It’s all very well to say that other parts of Europe were affected by Enlightenment ideas, but they didn’t put them into practice until the 20th Century, often after losing a war or two.

It’s all very well to say “Latin America…” and then forget that the difference, to this day is that the words hyper-inflation, military junta and para-military hit squad are associated with Latin America and not the former British colonies of the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Even India, a former British colony without anything remotely close to a population of mainly European descent seems to be more stable politically than most of Latin America. Indeed, Argentina hasn’t had any of the above for what, five minutes now? It’s also telling that from basically Day 1 of independence, Latin America has gone about kicking the shit out of itself. Interestingly, Australia and New Zealand have never gone to war over Tasmania, the Cook Islands or Fiji (indeed, interestingly, Australia and New Zealand have never had political assassinations, military governments (or fascism or communism), the kind of economic instability that plagues Latin America, or wars of any kind on their soil, and were two of the very first places in the world to give women the vote).

As for the idea of north-western Europe vs the Mediterranean vs Middle Europe (and on a side note, at the end of the eighteenth Century, Poland was partitioned three times such that except briefly under Napoleon, it didn’t exist until the 20th Century, and Hungary was part of Austria until 1848 when they shared the crown), that is someone else’s idea. I can’t take credit for it. However, it’s largely true. From the end of the 18th Century onwards (the period I’m talking about), the Mediterranean was a backward mess. Need I remind you that Spain was still under Franco until 1976 I think? When Spain, Portugal and Greece joined the predecessor of the E.U., the West had to pour huge amounts of money into them to bring them even remotely up to speed. The Italian Lira was an extremely unstable currency, and Italians changed governments about every year on average after WW2. Middle Europe was, until the Second Reich, a backward mess (and even beyond – the Polish Army rode out to meet the Nazi Panzer divisions on horseback in WW2) except in the German speaking West of Middle Europe. The two big wacky ideologies of the 20th Century, fascism and communism, gained enormous ground in Middle and southern Europe (and also Latin America), but not in the West. Why do you think that was? Why did European nations one after the other embrace insane political ideologies, yet despite being ravaged by the Great Depression also, the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand (not to mention the other Western nations in Europe) never ended up with an insane dictator? In the 1930s, a guy with a funny moustache or hat at the top was practically the must have fashion item in much of Europe. Latin America keeps holding the torch for guys in white military uniforms with too much bling or combat fatigues to this day.

If I have a very Anglo-centric view it’s because the Anglo world got it right because it actually put Age of Englightenment principles into practice. I don’t buy into this PC-love fest that we’re all the same. This is about culture, not race, as some might think I’m trying to argue. Some cultures got it right. Some didn’t. To put an even finer point on it, some cultures were advanced and some were arse-backwards. Australia has had independence for a little over a century now. In that incredibly short period of time, it has transitioned from being a series of colonies incredibly peacefully and has built one of the most stable political and economic systems in the world to this day precisely because of the institutions it enshrined at the centre of its public life. Latin American countries have had independence for well over one hundred and fifty years in most cases and continue to be a 50-50 shot for fucked up shit within the next decade or so. Honestly, does anyone here really think Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica or any of the other current poster boys aren’t one economic crisis away from “electoral discrepancies” a.k.a. mass graves of political opponents?[/quote]
You are a breath of fresh air! :thumbsup:
I have heard older Indians saying very nice things about India under the British like “the trains always ran on time when the British were here”. I have never heard anyone from South America longing for the old colonial days to return.

It depends on what context the term ‘western’ is being used. Anyone would agree that the USA, Canada, western and northern Europe, and Australia and New Zealand are ‘the West’. In some contexts I would include eastern Europe and Russia, but not Turkey. Latin America has an imposed European language and culture, who exactly would consider Haiti, say, or Paraguay to be part of the West? Chile, or Argentina, where a large part of the population is of European ancestry, could in some cases qualify, but I think to refer to some Latin American countries as ‘western’ is actually being racist - by refusing to acknowledge their non-western cultural roots. One of Paraguay’s official languages, and the one usually used, is Guarani; most of the population is at least partly Native American. To insist that the country is more Western than Native American because of its Spanish colonial heritage is to be blind to the realities on the ground. Same with Haiti - it’s part of the francophonie, sure, but it truly seems that at its base, the culture - the food, religion, the way people act, etc. - is really West African.

fenlander: I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I’m sick of constantly hearing that one country is as good as another and one culture is as good as another. Our grandparents’ generation understood precisely what was good and right, and what wasn’t. It was called Nuremberg and it’s interesting to note that when the chips were down, Latin America was either on the fence or actively hiding Nazi war criminals post-WW2. I think the way WW2 was resolved (at Yalta and Potsdam) was a bloody disgrace and they should have gone after Stalin too, but at least Britain was willing to put its money where its mouth was to a certain extent. It could have done deals with Hitler very easily, but it took it right on the chin instead and got the shit kicked out of it, plus lost its empire in the process. It’s also interesting to note where Sweden and Switzerland both stood in all of that.

Hitler and the Nazis were not so different from similar leaders and political movements in other countries. A century ago, the military “look” was popular throughout the Western world. (In this respect, the Nazis resemble the Boy Scouts!) The first concentration camps were built by Britain, to house Boers. And everyone laments the punishment of France, the Jews, etc. by Germany, but what about the punishment of Germany by the same range of enemies during World War I? Was that okay? Was it wrong of Germany to pursue vengeance? If Hitler had played his cards a little better, he might be respected today along the lines of Napoleon or Ataturk, with foreign dignitaries laying wreaths at his mausoleum.

I thought the WEST was where the White people hung out?

I thought this was a pretty good definition.

[quote]Western world
The term Western world, the West or the Occident (Latin occidens -sunset, -west, as distinct from the Orient) can have multiple meanings dependent on its context (e.g., the time period, or the social situation). Accordingly, the basic definition of what constitutes the West will vary, expanding and contracting, in relation to various circumstances. The historic West originated in the Mediterranean (ancient Greece and ancient Rome), but it came to include Central and Western Europe, although does include the whole of Europe as well as all of Russia (except during the U.S.S.R. era when considered part of the East). Linguistically the frontier would run as far as the Indian Subcontinent.

Since Columbus the notion of the West has expanded to include the Americas, through much of Latin America’s more pre-Western cultural influence. As well Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa are cultural hubs due to colonization.

However during the Cold War the core of the West was often confined to N.A.T.O. countries. Today, in a political or economic context, perhaps the West would also include developed and fast developing countries such as Japan, Taiwan, India and South Korea, etc. In a world religious context, some would include those faiths acknowledging Abraham, however this umbrella’s Islamic countries into the category as well. Western society has survived and evolved due greatly to the efforts of the Greeks, Romans, more recently the European empires, and more notably the British Empire.

Generally speaking, the current consensus would locate the West in, at the very least, the cultures and peoples of the mainlands Europe, the two Americas, Australia, and New Zealand.[/quote]
Personally, I think certain Latin American countries could fall under that definition, but not all (pretty much the same in Eastern Europe), and whereas South Africa is western in a limited sense, the overwhelming majority of the country, it’s inhabitants and culture isn’t. Nowadays I think that South Africa (apart from the “Western” minority - White and the Coloured population) largely doesn’t identify itself as Western, but Pan-Africanist, and this is a trend that will only get stronger, I feel.

Edit: For clarity and those who don’t know, Coloured in the South African sense isn’t the same as the derogatory colored term in the States. It’s a minority mixed racial group and the government itself classifies the group as Coloured.

It’s pretty simple: if you have to ask for respect, you don’t have it/get it.

When you expand a concept too far it becomes nonsensical. The above is a good example of this. If Japan and Taiwan are in the “West”, who is in the “East”? :loco: If rapidly developing and fully developed countries is what is intended, say so, don’t write “West”. :doh:

This is not unreasonable.