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The Western world is a loose geopolitical or geocultural concept relating (ultimately) to western Eurasia (or Europe) and/or North America.
The definition of "Western" depends on the context. In geopolitical terms a Western nation usually implies a reasonably stable and prosperous capitalist liberal democracy. In cultural and artistic terms, being Western implies adherence to forms developed in Europe and nations settled by European emigrants. In neither of these cases does the descriptor have anything to do with geographical location. For example, Australia is regarded a Western nation in both respects. China, at the same longitude, is Western in neither geopolitical nor cultural terms. Japan, in turn, is within the Western sphere in geopolitical terms but its social structure and cultural outlook are non-Western. Russia, on the contrary, is a Western country in cultural terms, but has yet to become a liberal democracy.
In yet another sense the Western world can be defined as the nations that have traditionally been either Protestant or Catholic, with a wider definition that includes all Christians.
Some people erroneously use it synonymously with white people or Christians. Memey scumbag extraordinaire Richard Spencer has a laughably misguided "understanding" on what exactly Western Civilization is. To him, Western Culture refers to anything from [Western] Europe that he happens to find cool. In his mind, in order to be a true Westerner, you have to be white, preferably the descendant of a Viking or something. He doesn't even consider Hispanic people Westerners, even though Latin American culture is just as derivative of European tradition as countries like the United States or Canada, perhaps even more so. Spencer's stupidity is even further evident by the fact that he envisions a white ethnostate that will resemble, in his own words, a "reconstituted Roman Empire." While metaphorically restoring the Roman Empire sounds neat and all (after all, who doesn't love the Romans?), Spencer's words make no sense. One of the niches of the Roman Empire was literally the fact that identity had absolutely nothing to do with race, with people of many ethnicities holding citizenship; a number of emperors were neither from Rome nor were European, instead hailing from places like modern-day Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Northern Africa. The sad part is that Spencer was a history major.
The good and the bad
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Over the past two-thousand years, various Western cultures have been responsible for producing a lot of things that we take for granted today in the realms of philosophy, government, and technology specifically. Liberal democracy is one such invention, along with most modern economic models, the concept of the nation state, and the modern foundation of law (although many elements of such can also be traced back as far as Hammurabi). Enlightenment philosophy paved the way for advances in civil rights, gender equality, secularism, humanist thought, industrialization, and the world's modern political framework. Modern Western identity is also interesting in how it differs greatly from that of other non-Western cultures. Identity in places like China, India, and many Middle Eastern countries is primarily determined by race and religion. However, the Western notion of identity is unique in the sense that it is determined simply by cultural traditions and the democracy. That being said, the ethos of liberalism has made it so that ethnicity is, more or less, not generally a variable in determining identity. For instance, men and women of various races and ethnicities have contributed to helping shape Western cultural traditions in many respects, such as science, music, literature, and philosophy. Western countries also see the largest influx of immigrants as opposed to nations in other regions around the world, primarily due to the appeal of liberalism and the opportunity that it allows. This level of diversity and cultural integration is a phenomenon not often seen in other non-Western societies that have specific criteria as it relates to cultural membership. For instance, if a Hispanic person moves to China, somehow obtains citizenship, and starts observing the country's traditions, society would most likely never consider him or her as being truly Chinese due to ethnicity being a key component of identity. However, if somebody from China immigrates to the U.S., integrates into the society of his or her new home, and obtains citizenship, he or she would be, as per modern ethos, as much an American or a Westerner as someone born in a Western country, since society has since been shaped in such a way where assimilation is encouraged, and, by extension, an easier process. This is how it is in many (but not all) Western nations. However, despite diversity being an integral part of Western liberalism's ethos, that does not mean that there are not elements of society that oppose diversity, immigration, and integration due to their erroneous beliefs that race is still a factor that determines cultural identity, which has simply proven not to be the case on a greater scale. Though some foreign traditions may be incompatible with Western liberalism due to the vast amount of cultures that exist, that does not, by any means whatsoever, make it impossible for one of a different cultural background to adjust as many bigoted people would have others believe. Unfortunately, these racist elements of society often make it more difficult for immigrants to acculturate due to such discouragement. Despite that, multi-ethnic populations throughout the citizenry of Western countries have come to redefine society's very understanding of both national and cultural identity. To that end, the West is wholly unique because, as a definitive cultural characteristic on its own, Western society is currently the only civilization whose identity more or less transcends race, instead determined by common culture, secularism, liberalism, and the existence of diversity itself. However, that does not, by any means imaginable, mean that the West is absent of racism or xenophobia, as that is most certainly not the case; the ethos of liberalism is simply one that promotes freedom and equality as a core principle.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Western society is that its nations were the first ever in history to legally abolish the institution of slavery, due to its incompatibility with liberalism and its impracticality due to the advent of industry. Although Western countries spearheaded worldwide abolition, those very same countries, ironically, built the most brutal slave trade in world history. For all of the technological, philosophical, and humanitarian advancements through which the West has helped make the world a better place, its cultural institutions have also had many negative effects as well, such as climate change, weapons of mass destruction, imperialism, colonialism, Michael Bay movies, and arguably the worst genocides in human history. Today, however, by comparison to pretty much everywhere else, nations governed by the principles of western democracy are pretty much the closest thing there is to a prosperous and free society, due to the common ethos of liberalism that has since imbedded itself into the culture.
Preserving western culture
"Preserving western culture" is a dogwhistle used in right wing circles to refer to either white nationalism or fighting angrily against whatever cultural artifacts western countries are currently making.
- Western medicine
- Civic Nationalism
- Western philosophy
- Roman Empire
- Industrial Revolution
- the Reagan Administration
- Shitty Beer
- Trashy pop culture magazines