Western world

the term western world or the west can have different meanings depending upon context. While it was originally defined as Western Europe, it is mostly referred today to the societies of west and Central Europe. In addition also those belong genealogisch, linguistically and philosophically closely used colonies, whose ethnical identity and dominating culture were derived from Europe.

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western countries

over to define, what for the western society and culture is typical, one must understand the context. The definitions of the west (also Okzident called) differ depending upon time and context. It is not clear always, which is used definition.


the brightistic distinction between


and barbarians the separation in east and west anticipates historical organizations [work on]. One differentiated between the Greek speaking culture of the main country Greece, the ägäischen and ionischen coast as well as Magna Graecia with respect to south Italy and the surrounding non-Greek cultures of the Perserreiches, the Phönizier and Egypt. One can retrace the organization up to the Trojan war, that traditionally from 1194 - 1184 v. Chr. one dates. If it had a historical basis, the conflict between the Achaiern and the non-Greek Trojanern in the west Anatoliens was delivered. The Greeks regarded the Perserkriege early 5. Century v. Chr. as conflict between east and west.

Roman realm

that Mediterranean - area was united by the Romans, but differences between the western half of the realm remained, in which mainly latin was spoken, and which urbanized eastern half, where Greek was the Lingua franca. In the year 292 the Roman emperor Diokletian divided the Roman realm in two regions, of which everyone of a Augustus and a Caesar ( the Tetrarchie) were administered. The eastern part developed to the Byzantine realm, a Christian Theokratie, in which the emperor was also the ruler in the mirror-image-ritual life (Cäsaropapismus). At the same time the Roman rule in the western part was disturbed from the outside with the pressure and developed slowly again, but the culture was divided now between three powers: the Pope, France and in small measure of the emperors.


the distinction between the western and eastern parts of the Christian world remained existing during the Middle Ages, despite a nominal unit (the concept of the Christianity), which resulted from conquests of Christian countries by Muslim Arabs and Turks. Franconias under Karl established a western realm to the large one, which was recognized as holy Roman realm by the Pope and whom emperor von Byzanz attacked. The church after Roman rite, which was stated in west and Central Europe by the Pope ( the Patriarchen of Rome), broke during the large Schismas with the eastern, Greek speaking Patriarchen. Both churches spread during the Middle Ages. Scandinavia, Germany, Great Britain and other non-Christian countries in the northwest were converted by the western church, while Russia and large parts of Eastern Europe were affected by the eastern church. Latin and Frankish Kreuzritter conquered the Byzantine capital Konstantinopel 1204 during the fourth crusade and proceeded merciless against „the disbelieving “Muslims. Until today is derived from „Franconias the “ farang the Arab (and also Thai) expression for a stranger.

cold war

during the cold war developed a new definition. The earth was divided in three „worlds “. To the first world belonged NATO - members and other allied one of the USA. The second world was the Eastern Bloc under the influence of the Soviet Union, to which also the countries Warsaw Pact belonged. The third world consisted of the non-aligned states to arrange under it India , Yugoslavia and occasional China, although some consider it attached, last the two because of their communist ideology in the second world.

There were some states, which did not fit into this pattern, among them Switzerland, Sweden and Ireland, which decided for the neutrality. Finland stood under the influence of the USSR, remained however neutral and was neither communist nor for member Warsaw Pact or the Comecon. When Austria became 1955 an independent republic, this happened on the condition to remain neutral but as a state the iron curtain was western it under the influence of the USA. Turkey was member of NATO, however not as part of the first or western world was regarded. Spain joined only 1982, briefly before the end of the cold war and after the death of the authoritarian dictator Franco, NATO. The western world became except for the exceptions mentioned the synonym for the first world.

Greece and Portugal were like Turkey NATO members, as part of the west were however only recognized, after they had introduced the democracy and during the 1970er years their economics to the standards of the first world had adapted. Australia and New Zealand as well as late Israel and Cyprus did not become NATO members, but because of their democracy, the high standard of living and the European culture of parts of the first world.

after the cold war

after the end of the cold war, the term was used „second world “no more and „first world “did not refer now to those democratically, financially and industrially developed countries, which were allied with the USA mostly. „Third world “one called now the poor, did not industrialize developing countries. The term „west “is thus less a geographical than a cultural and economic definition.

  • African historians can of western influences by European states, which lie in the north, and which western state South Africa in the extreme south speak.
  • Australia and New Zealand are anglo-saxon, western states, which lie south of Eastern Asia.
  • International companies from the USA can be regarded as stranger of influences in Europe, but when are west designated, if their operational readiness level in Asia becomes seen (and sometimes criticized).
  • Economically the States of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan , Hong Kong and Singapore lain in the far east can be regarded as western or first world, although they remain culturally non-western.

Today humans in their definitions of the western world and the different definitions differ only partly overlap themselves. There are surely non-west industrialized countries, not all western countries is NATO members etc.

further definitions

there the term „western world “no obligatory international definition possesses, use governments for international contracts other definitions. In academic articles it is used only in the context by areas and times, which stood under the direct influence of the westRoman realm.

„Western world “is often equivalent to „first world “, in order to stress the difference to the developing countries of the third world. The expression „the north “replaced in some contexts the term „the west “, to v. A. if it of criticism and a stronger demarcation are a matter between west and east. The north supplies some geographical notes for the situation enriches states, from which most lie in the northern hemisphere. Since however generally most countries lie in this region, this distinction was regarded of some as useless.

30 states in OECD, to which the member countries of the European Union, Norway, Iceland, which Switzerland, Canada, which , is the USA , Mexico , Australia , New Zealand, which belong to Turkey , South Korea and Japan, in for instance identical to „the first world “, although some few countries do not belong like Turkey and Mexico to the industrial nations.

The existence of „the north “implies the existence of „the south “and the socio-economic border between the north and the south. Although Israel, Cyprus and Taiwan OECD members are not, they could be regarded also as western or northern states, there their standards of living as well as the social, economic and political structures those the OECD are similar.

„The west “can be referred also to the cultural and social conditions of the western society. In this connection one could understand South America because of the advanced culture and literature as part of the west.

In addition the term is pejorativ used by the critics of the western influence and the history of the imperialism and colonialism .

Ethnologi definitions refer to the western culture. The British writer Rudyard Kipling wrote over this contrast: „The east is the east and the west is the west and the two is to never meet. “(“East is East and west is west and more never the twain sound meet. ”) With the fact it suggested that someone cannot understand the asiatic culture from the west, because the differences are too large.

In approaching and the middle east (both relative to western convenient Europe) the distinction between west and Eastern Europe is less meaning; Countries, which regard west Europeans as part of Eastern Europe (z. B. ), It counts Russia in the middle east as western in the sense that they are both European and Christian.

Huntingtons definition

1993 published Samuel Phillips Huntington the article The Clash OF Civilizations? in the journal Foreign Affairs, the 1996 to a book with the title The Clash OF Civilizations and the Remaking OF World order (German: Fight of the cultures was extended).

Huntingtons thesis meant that the world consists of different civilizations and conflicts between these civilizations the primary tensions are in the world after the cold war, those the ideological conflicts (z. B. Capitalism vs. Communism) replaced. The mainly catholic and Protestant states of west and Central Europe therefore form together with the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand „the euro--Atlantic “civilization, which common value systems divide, which were formed by the historical influence of the Renaissance, the reformation and the clearing-up. Huntington and its trailers equate the term „the west “approximately with the euro--Atlantic civilization, whereby countries with roots in other civilizations such as Greece, which would know Turkey or Japan itself with the west groups, since they took up western ideas and values to their societies.

Huntingtons thesis was influential, but under any circumstances generally did not accept; their proponents say that one can explain thereby modern conflicts like those in earlier Yugoslavia, while the opponents fear that equating of values strengthens as the democracy with the western civilization racistic or xenophobische opinions over non-western societies and clearly non-western democracy (z. B. India, which covers for instance a third of all humans, who live world-wide in a democratic system,) ignores.

According to Huntington the orthodox nations of southeast and Eastern Europe form a special „euro--asiatic “civilization; these countries were coined/shaped not by the cultural influences of the Renaissance, reformation and clearing-up and are not western not in mentioned above the sense. Although the Renaissance in the orthodox Eastern Europe took place actually (also because of the osmanischen rule on the Balkans and was Mongolian dominance in Russia), the Renaissance and the reformation also in the mainly catholic Hungary not successfully. The reformation did not have influence in the orthodox Eastern Europe, since it was directed against the Roman-catholic church and lived in these areas no catholics. The clearing-up was done in Russia particularly via the reforms Peter of the large one.

Huntington regarded also Latin America as separate civilization.

western of life

western countries exhibit in the comparison to the remainder of the world a high standard of living for most citizens. They have also democratic, lay governments and are constitutional states with developed law, which certain rights grant the citizen. In addition a high education level and a like coin/shape, „modern “ Popkultur the western society. Militarily and diplomatically the western countries are allied since the end of the Second World War everything more or less with one another. Some it regard this as the fundamental definition of the western world why Japan is usually not regarded as western and Colombia .


“one mostly associates western ideas the term with the cultural tradition, which has its origins in Greek philosophy and the Christian religion. To central contents the deduction and the constitutional state belong to this tradition. The Christian religion, which has 1500 years long large influence, loses in 21. Century in many western states increasingly in meaning, while the secularization and the free philosophers become ever more important. An exception forms the Bible Belt in the south of the USA, where religion and fundamentalism are important. There are also Bible Belts in Europe and Canada.

The western society follows an evolution, which began with the Greek philosophers from Athens such as Solon and Sokrates. It continued by the Roman realm and spread - supplements by the Christianity (that its origins in the middle east had) - in Europe. During the colonial age it was introduced into America and Australasien.

In early 4. Century made emperors Konstantin the large Konstantinopel the capital of the Byzantine realm. The eastern realm covered areas east the Adria and at the edge of the eastern Mediterranean as well as parts of the black sea. This separation between the eastern and western realm was reflected in the administration of the Christian church, in Romes and Konstantinopel over it argued who the capital of the Christianity was. When the two churches spread their influence, the border between east and west moved, but it was culturally defined by the existence of the Byzantine realm and the varying power of the church in Rome. The cultural border had extensive consequences; it still existed during the cold war as approximate west border of the countries allied with the Soviet Union.

Many nevertheless question the meaning of western values and point out that societies are very different such as Japan and the USA. In addition they stress that proponents of western values proceed selectively, if they specify the extent of „west “; z. B. consider they concepts such as liberty, democracy and human rights, but neither the totalitarianism, which developed first in the west, nor the slavery, which accepted large extents in the west and whose history in the west hands back thousands of years. Therefore one can show by the selection of western values tautologically the fact that these are superior, since subordinated values are not western by definition (see. No true Scot).

Another attack on the concept of the western values comes from the proponents of Islamic or asiatic values. In their opinion there are characteristics, which define the west, but these are subordinated and become usually with moral purge, greed and Dekadenz associates. The representatives of this opinion appear anxiously over „the Verwestlichung “of the remaining world.

Since the countries of the west were generally those, which investigated and kolonialisierten the areas outside of Europe, connect some the term „west “with the European colonialism. However also different countries have colonies to establish, so that this no purely western phenomenon is.


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