10 things about the West we don’t like admitting.

Go on the West!

Go on the West!

1. Oil isn’t evil, and even the wars about oil aren’t as much about profit as about keeping the energy supply to the whole planet open.

2. In the west, more poor people use oil than rich people. The rich can afford solar panels and turbines and hybrid cars. The poor for the most part can’t.

3. Sometimes good people have to kill bad people first, before they kill us.

4. No. We can’t all just get along. There are large sections of the human populace who are offended that women are treated as equals in the west, or that homosexuals are not put to death. They believe that we are at best misguided and and worst wicked for believing in equality. They are wrong. We are right.

5. The western system of organising society and government is superior. Just ask the millions who try to come live in the west every year, and the millions of westerners who don’t leave. To paraphrase President Kennedy: “We’ve never had to build a wall to keep our people in”.

6. The west sometimes kills civilians. The west also makes a far greater effort to avoid civilian deaths than any other major power in human history. 

7. The evil capitalist west contributes more of its treasure to helping the poor of the world than any other major power.

8. After eight years in office, to the day, George W. Bush, one of the most powerful and hated men in the world, ceded that power voluntarily and without violence to a man openly opposed to most of his fundamental beliefs. Try and get the Castro or Kim or Assad or Ghaddafi families to do that.

9. The west is filled with thousands of people who freely write and march and speak about the flaws of western government and society, without systematic abuse or supression. They have few equals outside the west. How many Richard Boyd Barretts or George Galloways or Michael Moores are there in the parliament of North Korea? Plenty in the People’s Re-Education Camps, one suspects.

10. It’s not a coincidence that the people with the highest quality of life in the world come, for the most part, from countries that adhere to western values. 

4 thoughts on “10 things about the West we don’t like admitting.

  1. I absolutely agree with all points from first to last. And I admire that you have no problem in stating these facts.


  2. That everywhere it isn’t. The are parts of the West where we whinge constantly about how we are always the bad guys.

  3. What’s to “admit'”? To most of us in the west, these are simply self-evident truths.

  4. Thought provoking post!

    1. True, and I agree somewhat. That whole “war for oil” thing seems a little too simplistic. But there’s little difference in the profit motive and “keeping the oil supply open”.

    2. That’s factually incorrect (if I’m reading it right). Higher income people certainly have the ability to mitigate, reduce or offset their fossil fuel use, but that doesn’t mean that they do so. Being able to afford solar panels (without govt subsidy) shouldn’t be conflated with actually buying them.

    3. Again, I agree, but don’t think it applies to bin Laden, if that’s what you’re referring to. “Good people have to capture bad people, before they kill us” works almost as well.

    4. I wouldn’t quite say that “we are right” (twenty years ago, I imagine we would’ve said the same thing, even though we banned sex between two consenting men). But yeah, generally, I agree.

    5. Superior? For us, certainly. I honestly don’t know how well such a system can work in places which aren’t really nation-states like in Europe. Can a European nation/state system (very much a product of history) be easily applied to a territory containing various parts of various different tribes? I’m honestly not sure if it can. It’s also worth pointing out that Kennedy was referring to a Western system of governance too.

    6. I don’t think that people’s objections are that it’s better or worse than in history, merely that it’s just not good enough. The military ethics of a 19th century colonial superpower are particularly low standards by which to judge current powers. Big countries still indiscriminately bomb civilian areas in small countries. Rich countries still use things like white phosphorous on poor countries and people. The bar just ain’t that high, if you’re comparing it with history. “We” only look good by comparison.

    7. Sure, in terms of aid. But I think everyone would have to admit that it’s a pretty mixed bag when you factor in corporate behaviour in the developing world, the US’ record with democracy (particularly in South America) and so on. Hit and miss.

    8. True dat. Again, a pretty low bar. George Bush: better domestically than a dictator – four more years!

    9. Indeed. One of the best strengths of the West, and one of the worst arguments used by others (not you or folks I know, though) to try and shut them up.

    10. Of course not. But in terms of government (as opposed to values), the highest quality of life in the world still existed in Europe during absolute monarchies. I agree with the idea that the kind of political/social systems in the West can lead to greater economic growth (even excluding the moral arguments for such systems), but I think people can overrate it.

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