Discussion time

Now you will all have to excuse me for burdening you with many posts in a day. 

Now that I am forgiven, there is an interesting discussion on Twitter that I would like to hear your responses to.

The link is here. And for those who don’t know how to use Twitter, the question is are there western values and are they worth defending. Since I like to ask questions, could someone tell me the area covered by the west.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

25 thoughts on “Discussion time

  1. Mordanicus says:

    The area covered by the “West” has shifted over time. In medievel times it was the distinction between the roman-catholic world and the eastern-orthodox one. And as late as 1914 Germany, at least some people there, did not see itself as “western” – with was associated with the UK and France, Germany’s main rivals.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Barry says:

    I can sort of recognise what is meant by the West: North America, Western Europe (especially the former colonial powers) plus a few outliers such as Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. They tend to have post industrial economies, relatively wealthy with populations where the majority are of European descent.

    Do they have shared values that can be claimed as “Western”? I’m not so sure. I suspect that the values held by a typical Kiwi will as similar to the typical American as they are to a typical Japanese or typical Kenyans. Some values will be similar. Some will be different.

    If there is such a thing as Western values then they are probably just as worthy of saving as any other set of values. But let’s have it values change over very short periods of time. Two hundred years ago in the “west”, women were little more than the property of their father or husband, and couldn’t vote in most parts of the “West” untill the twentieth century. Only 35 years ago homosexual acts were a prisonable offence in NZ, and it was only four years ago that gay couples gained all the rights of heterosexual couples.

    I see values held by younger generations that are different to those of the generation of my grand parents – some for the better and some for the worse.

    Values, from any source, need to be constantly reevaluated in the light of new knowledge. I don’t think any region of the world has a monopoly on values worthy of saving.

    Liked by 7 people

    • NeuroNotes says:

      Well said, Barry. I hadn’t read your comment before I posted mine, but we were pretty much on the same wavelength. You just explained it much better than I did.

      Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      Thank you Barry for a well reasoned answer and I don’t disagree one bit.
      I have read many times on the interwebs when people opposed to refugees from some one place or another claim they are a threat to our western values. So you understand why I would want to know what western values are and which geographic coordinates cover the west.


      • Barry says:

        It would be interesting to know what those people believe are the western values that are being threatened by refugees.

        We have a very high immigrant population – one in four Kiwis are immigrants – but very few refugees. I think it’s appalling that we accept only 1500 refugees per year. The oceans surrounding us have been a perfect barrier in keeping out illegal immigrants, but I believe we should be more proactive in providing a refuge the displaced.


  3. NeuroNotes says:

    Are there Western values and should they be defended? They are loaded questions. The values tend to be different depending on the culture, the political parties and those who fund the parties. For example, in the U.S., the two main political parties generally have different interpretations of what constitutes Western values. When Trump talked about defending Western values, he meant the “Conservative Moral Values / Hierarchy.” Cognitive scientist, George Lakoff highlights these values:

    • God above Man
    • Man above Nature
    • The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak)
    • The Rich above the Poor
    • Employers above Employees
    • Adults above Children
    • Western culture above other cultures
    • America above other countries
    • Men above Women
    • Whites above Nonwhites
    • Christians above non-Christians
    • Straights above Gays

    Liked by 9 people

  4. Western values in politics and social speech tends to be used more as a way for marking the tribe than anything else. For example, free speech is worth defending regardless of whether it’s included as a western value or not. In fact, insisting that certain values are western might cause problems with other people adopting them.

    If you wanted, you could slap every value you cherish as a southern value, and exclude everyone else who has those awful northern values. Or vice versa. You could even troll the debate by saying all the values they’re all using Middle Eastern values because writing was invented in Mesopotamia. The possibilities are endless.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. persedeplume says:

    It’s a very imprecise question. If I were forced to answer given no context or clarification, I’d have to say yes and no. Western values given a “cultural average” would include Oligarchy, Globalism, and American Hegemony. I’m not a fan of any of those things. It’s a better world without them.
    I’ll also add I really really don’t like Mr Boghossian or his views, particularly on LGTBQ. I come with pre-installed bias on things to do with him.

    Liked by 3 people

    • makagutu says:

      I haven’t read hos views on LGBTQ, so I can’t comment on those. I read his article on freewill and that was a while back.
      Maybe a more precise question would ask whether there are values that have their origin in the west, whatever you perceive the west to be

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with other comments which point out that the question is open-ended. Poll a randomly selected group of 100 people from around the world and you’ll likely get 100 different perceptions of what western values are; and, none of the values cited would be exclusively western. The so-called “Protestant work ethic” which originated in central Europe during The Reformation is widely seen as a core western value; but, does that mean all non-Calvinists are lazy? Certainly not.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Robert Nielsen wrote in that interesting article:

        “Even defining what is the West is difficult. People have a rough idea that it’s probably America and some of Europe, but it’s hard to be more precise. Does Eastern Europe count? Do the Balkans? What about Russia? They consider themselves part of the West, but other Westerners would disagree. I’m from the west of Ireland so everywhere in Europe is to the east of me. The kind of people who oppose Muslim immigration often also oppose Eastern European immigration for similar reasons. So while the leaders of Hungary and Poland believe they are defending the West from an Islamic invasion, ironically the rest of the West is as unaccepting of them as they are of Muslims.

        So what are Western Values? When asked, people would probably mention freedom and liberty in some form, perhaps also democracy. But these are relatively new developments, Western Europe has only been democratic for about a hundred years or less, depending on which part you’re talking about. The former Communist bloc has only been democratic for 20 years and it’s still shaky in some places.”


  7. Mystro says:

    The original question is inviting equivocation and fabricated controversy. ‘Western values’ could mean values that originated and were developed in the West, whether or not any cultures have them now; it could mean values that greatly influence actions in the West, regardless of their origin or if other places share those values; or it could mean values that are exclusive to the West, with or without regard of their origin. On the twitter conversation, the people against seem to assume the last definition while the people in favour are using either of the first two definitions.

    What is considered ‘the West’ depends heavily on which of those definitions you pick. Going by the ‘originated’ definition, the West could very well just mean ancient Greece.

    Going by the second definition, “the West” gets a bit hazy. Typically what is meant is the United States and most of Europe. In Europe, the Baltic and Danubian countries don’t count. South and Central American countries don’t count either. Sometimes Canada counts, and very rarely Mexico. Not that it’s fair or accurate to make these exclusions, but that’s what happens anyway.

    For values that are exclusively Western, it’s just too ridiculous a notion. I can’t think of an example of an exclusive value, whether it be for a geographical area or an individual. If one person can value something here, another person is capable of valuing it over there.

    As to whether they are worth defending, values should be scrutinized individually. Whether they are “Western Values” or not is completely separate from them being good.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. ‘Western Values” and “Western Civilization” are imperialist terms meant to distinguish us from the “barbarians” we have to pacify and defend ourselves against.

    It is not coincidental that the countries we extract wealth from are not considered ‘the West’, nor should it be shocking the reversal of terminology when it comes to terror against us/versus the terror we use against them and how it is described in our culture.

    So the question of ‘western cultural values’ and the defence thereof is quite banal, since the actual cognitive frame of ‘western values’ is in itself a defence of our cultural values and beliefs.


  9. […] Robert has written this, on the threat posed by Islam to Western values and there was a discussion here on what are these western values. Maybe it is time to resurrect the debate and hear what […]


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