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tv   [untitled]    May 16, 2011 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT

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the. rights of the few. from the stupid. stunts on t.v. don't come. eleven thirty pm in moscow these iraqi headlines international war crimes prosecutors seek the arrest of colonel gadhafi for crimes against humanity while russia calls for an immediate end to the bloodshed in libya and will need both the rebels and the government for talks and stuff. spain's economic problems showing no sign of easing chances are growing for it to be next in line for the european bailout but a possible rescue might just be too big for other e.u. member states to stomach. unprecedented arab rallies on israel's border is leave
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more than sixteen get and hundreds wounded after troops opened fire thousands of palestinians and their supporters attempt to cross into israel to protest its creation sixty three years ago an event that they call a catastrophe. up next cross talk takes a look at whether the definition of the west is a term of insult rather than endearment that's coming up on crosstalk. hungry for the full story we've got. the biggest issues get a human voice face to face with the news makers. you can. follow in welcome to cross talk i'm peter lavelle what do we mean when we use the word quest is it a place a state of mind or even a specific time in history also what is meant by the decline of the west
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particularly when so many ideas associated with it are now global. kick. start. to cross out the meaning of the word west i'm joined by all me bob he's in cambridge he's the director of the humanity center at harvard university in chicago we go to richard lee he's a professor at the department of philosophy at apollo university and in washington we cross to william burns he's a professor at george washington university all right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want there are difference of opinion here and i'd like my viewers to see it if i go to home in cambridge first when the word west is used first of all do you like its usage its application and what does it mean to you. well i don't like the word west when it's used in a kind of simple polarity with something that is not to the west because i think
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these geographical issues have really changed quite a lot but i think on the other hand one cannot ignore the fact that there are certain institutional political and financial arrangements which are very much aggress to the interests of what we would call your america in a very general sense and i think that's the entity that is often associated with the west whether it's called of washington consensus at some time or some other such me so i think there is a political financial aim to do which we associate with the west secondly however the west is also as you very rightly put it a certain kind of ideology it has always stood for technical advance whether or not this is true it stood for a certain notion of liberalism or democracy and very often the notion of the west
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is deployed by other cultures when they're in a period of transition when they don't quite know what they're happening why my germany was the typical moment where there was a lot of unsettled feeling in the country and people always somehow thought that was americanized nation you know the fathers of the west outside europe so the west is an ideology of a kind the west is a geopolitical set of interests but now very interesting we have a situation where across the world west and east form a kind of new hybrid culture and therefore it's very difficult to say this is western on this is non western because the those relationships have changed in the new global networks we have and i point out here and let me jump in and let me let me jump in here what do you think about that bill i mean when you hear the word west you think of an idea you think of a place a mentality. what can you i know you're a prolific historian what what he what he would think of when you hear that word
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today. very crazy about the concept of the west i think it's very misleading it imposes a kind of continuity over the broad sweep of european history from the greeks to whenever it played out in nato as we used to say in the kitchen in a sort of a class. and i think it's a little bit misleading in terms of world history it's no you can divide the world into west and east for most of its history really up until the sixteenth century i mean european civilization was fairly peripheral. and there were several east you know in chinese east the islamic east and so forth several east that were much more important civilizations in real development up to this relatively recent period so i have a great deal of difficulty with that and i'm also not crazy about the idea of a dignified in the west as a set of ideas of liberty i mean mussolini and hitler were men of the west. records
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really going to have a liberty i said liberalism i didn't say live at the i thought it's. already reality right now we've got to leave the point still holds i mean here was the way they were not liberals ok rick i want to go to you i mean we don't hear today we use the term west all the time you know and i use it all the time i'll be honest with you but we don't hear the work we don't say the east we don't people don't use it is it's polar opposite. well in philosophy we talk often about eastern philosophy and i'm reminded of the young innocent tirico magazine we have here in the united states that had a headline that went something like chinese student discovers western philosophy and his parents were horrified that he was into these radical western ideas. but i want to pick up on something that homey said earlier that i think there is a certain experience of the west from the outside that we who are so-called
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westerners can't ignore that is when for example the last is. protecting the airspace over libya there is an experience on the ground that there is this entity called the west that is not internally defined but acts sternly defined and so along with the economic and the political institutions that only mentioned i would add military institutions as well those are obviously related but i think there is an experience from outside or there are experiences in places of an entity that is more or less the find that they would prefer to call the west only if i could go to you i mean. rick brings up a very interesting point because it in every sense that corrosion if you could put all of it together and you mentioned finance and economics meet with its control that's what we're hearing the term the west is in deployed here do you agree with that. yes to
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a certain extent control and certain kind of coercive mechanisms because of the symmetries in between poor countries and wealthy countries but you know having said that you also got to be aware that there are elites in countries even in developing countries who are themselves collaborating and who are participating with what is known as western control so i think the world map today is much digital political map is more complicated and i very much state the point about this notion of an externally defined or sorry an internally defined sense of the west as being a kind of a military power bill you came up with something that's interesting like yours ok go ahead of it it looks to me that within the west now we're getting into trouble here because i'm using a word without really defining and that's what this program is about but we in the
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west tends to think of itself as positive as being giving to the world giving our democracy giving market economy giving civil society and a lot of people say all of those kind of things are under under pressure yet in this way it's the west really thinks collectively that way i mean the west thinking this i think is is a little bit for us and let me point out if you look at financially it's not simply the traditional western countries that are part of this dominant in who teacher pay and clearly is its culture is remarkably different from that of the west whereas there are western countries in latin america you know please speak spanish or portuguese catholicism is the dominant religion by any civilization will definition of the west these are part of the west. but they're not dogma that they're poor and they're not very effective in terms of projecting power out words so i think it . glad i didn't say i think that i really think that's
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a good point but the the point of the issue is that. there's not exercise the kind of power over the rest of the world as your america does now one might start seeing and i think there's a good point here that china and chinese relations in africa by that kind of position ok bill you are disagreeing want to you want to replay that we're going to go to. i hate to break this to you it's not your america this power it's america i mean let's not kid ourselves ok powers can only get away. with america ok rick i want to go to you i mean would you can was mentioned here when when again let's take this term of the west and then we could say defining it is part of the america's geopolitical strategy in the world and the american imbroglio because again you show japan may not be exercising the same kind
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of power but then again it doesn't have a foreign policy that it used to having them going back to before nine hundred forty one so i mean if it doesn't have a military power that it's falling under the umbrella of the united states the west . well and it seems to also have lost its economic power. and i mean they've been fairly stagnant since the eighty's and so i mean when you when this first came up about. when it when they first came out when this first came up about your pan i was thinking about china and here's the ambiguity of the last i have many colleagues in china who take up the west as a goal that they want to achieve and if you slap the label western on this become something that they think is valuable that it gets them out of the traditional culture which has been keeping them behind now i don't want to agree or disagree with that but at the moment in which a country like china feels like they can achieve the dreams of the west for us with
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a certain noblesse or bleach to collapse the whole game and say you know what the west is over we're not doing it anymore there's something there that i'm not quite comfortable with as much as i'm not comfortable with the west in the first place it's a very good for me do you want to reply that i can that's very interesting is because there's kind of this disenchantment of the west within the west and then you have countries outside of the west or east trying. trying to get to that point in time or that state of mind or whatever we however want to define the term. yeah exactly because the languages is no longer. mccambridge god. no i think this is exactly right said the there is a kind of geopolitical notion of the west but there is also a mythical illogical notion of the west so it's perfectly keeping with the fact that there is a critique of the west critique of its notions of progress and development. a
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gemini i think that's all quite appropriate but at the same time there are other places in the world where certain kinds of unfreedom as they are as they see it exist where the west is a go and so we have to get used to least very ambivalent very ambiguous very enigmatic notion but what we can do is just dump the term we have to see its complexities but we can only raise that we have we are uncomfortable with it just as we are uncomfortable with liberty where uncomfortable with freedom but we we have proceeds internal contradictions and i think now the world in a way is dominated and we have to jump right in here we're going to go to a break and after the break we'll continue our discussion on the west stay with r.t. . if you can still . see if.
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welcome back to cross talk i'm peter lavelle to remind you we're discussing what the word west. can. vilifying go to you and you thought maybe we should just jettison the word concept wes's it's kind of thrown around in and out in media certainly and maybe even academia why don't we just focus our attention on modernization because i think
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that's really what everyone's talking about because you can modernize without west . nice thing with all the baggage that is associated with it and the coercion that we have talked about associated with was because it living it i live in russia and people don't consider this a western country but it's a modernizing country and there's a great deal of and divil instead what is called the west. it has been ever since peter the great. well i think the modernization is certainly attempting and i think it is more appropriate in many cases and westernization of course modernization has its own ambiguity as in difficulties in bag which so they're true that's quite the solution either i mean it might be that you talk about people wanting to mark or see we should do what they want is democratization or if they want prosperity which of these is what they want prosperity rather than sort of wrapping it all up in these kind of baggy concepts called the west or modernization and of course you know when people want
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different things in different countries. so i'm sort of quite sure that. use a better substitute when you think about that rate is that a better substitute or is it still the same dilemma well i think it's the same dilemma not an unrelated to lemma because it seems to me that the notion of more guarantee and therefore modernization we was something particularly developed in the so-called west and so what counts as modern and modernizing i think is fundamentally related to this imaginary that is the west and here maybe i misunderstand homeys argument but i think i agree with him that we can't act as if these idiology don't have real facts on the ground and so the jettisoning jettisoning of a concept like the west in terms of modernism might rob us of the critical gaze we could have on modernizing and the tendencies toward modernization ok homie what do
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you think about that in cambridge. no i think actually ricky is right he's understood me very appropriately because you know we can talk about modernization theory and i think in some technical way and some historical sense it's actually more accurate to say we are in process is a modernization but as rick said for so long right through the imperial period to period of empire even the post colonial period westernize ation has been associated certainly in the popular mind in the mythical mind with the notion of a modernization been associated with westernized nation so people do articulate their bizarre as in their way however wrong or i waver misperceive that might be this is why i feel we can jettison the idea but we've got to we are complicating it even as we speak now we're showing the complexities of it it's very simple you know sometimes you talk when you where when i'm waiting for. you to check my flight seat
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for a reservation for instance and i talk to united airlines person in bombay i know exactly although they patted me call themselves bill or willie or something i know exactly where it's from bombay i know the guy's name is probably that age and i asked him i said look first of all the driver of the march second they tell me people you know people say that your coolies will be used for this you're being used by western companies by outsourcing companies what do you feel about it they say oh mr barber thank god that we can talk honestly about this well you know there are many things you have sitting in cambridge which we don't have and although i may be exploited in certain ways there are things i need and i want in fact i would quite like to come to an american university or a canadian university or a german university this is the best i can do i think people are there is an
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ambivalence there's a love hate relationship and people are aware of it. that complexity is something the common people are aware of that's why don't you just jettison that and get rid of the problem ok the idea will stay with us but you know if we look at the industrialized west and i put industrialized here ok its share of global g.d.p. is steadily declining everyone's looking at a year to two thousand and twenty twenty thirty twenty forty whatever the year is when china ultimately overtakes the united states we see the eurozone stagnant right now my point is that the what we call the west is easily states a geographical one it will become less and less important through time but we will still have those ideas so i mean it's going to you it's kind of like we talk about greek democracy but that greek democracy was so long ago and it just turned in into a template but where we're not you know what i'm saying is when the when the west influence that it's had for the last few centuries finally you know goes into the twilight will still have the ideas associated with little liberty civil societies
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things like that go ahead let's not forget the most successful western idea in terms of world dissemination as a political idea was communism. well it was time it is when you think about their regular course i mean as a result of that so there's a lot of modernization i sat next to bill in graduate school for years i can remember these conversations what do you think rick i mean right communism fascism those are western ideas up. i mean i would say ok that's a successful idea but the interesting thing for me is that i think we in the so-called west run very far away from thomas hobbes who i think actually is the only political theorist who describes the actual political sentiment in the west and that is we will trade all of these ideals for security and i think this is where i mean i hate to feel like homey and i are ganging up on bill or something
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but i feel like the point he made earlier is is related to this that the idea of liberty the idea of liberty is fine until my security is threatened and then there's no longer about liberty anymore we're now about something else we're about the future we're about security securing the future and so i mean part of the beauty and danger of the concept of the west is it's very mentally ability that it adapts and changes. and it's hard to get ahold of and yet sandy or bill or willie in. in any other call center this is their aspiration and i think we cannot reject that as as somehow an unworthy hope for them when you think about that bill i mean your apps. you want to lead not rejecting it isn't unworthy hope i mean certainly if people want to live more like the way i live that's fine and obviously if everybody in any in china
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lives the way i live we're going to exceed the carrying capacity of the earth but that's a whole nother problem. i just don't think the term the west as popular as it is is a very useful it's a very useful intellectual or analytic category certainly yes people do talk about it and insofar as they talk about it it's a real thing the consequences of real thing we have to talk about. refers to anything real it's interesting i mean if i go to you because in the in this part of the world i got because i like i said living in russia i mean either you people we look at it either you want something from the west or you don't want something from the ones you want their wealth but you don't want their head gemini. right and that's why i said it will represent a very fundamental axis of ambivalence in our present moment and it has done i think for a long time in india during the period of empire people wanted the medical knowledge from the west they wanted the technological logical knowledge from the west they
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wanted the financial knowledge from the west they didn't want western moreas they didn't want western customs and they didn't want western ethical and religious principles so i think we've often we've had this kind of and level and this is why in a way we can we can we enter literally might not be interesting but we cannot do without it and we cannot live with it and i think that's one of the conundrums of our times but i very much agree with what rick said in fact my new book the book one of the books i'm working on at the moment is called culture insecurity that what ever else we might see as a kind of you know the positive or negative of the west the question of security becomes absolutely central in any in the in the value system so security i think is another issue that we need to talk about because many people who start out in the western backed security everybody wants security bill go ahead go hand in
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hand not everybody wants it you know i mean everybody wants security that's absolutely right but people have felt often that their security has been in some ways destroyed by what the west suggests that they're giving the world democracy i mean the security of iraq was destroyed by the so-called desire of the bush government amongst others in europe to provide what they saw as democracy what kind of security is that ok bill go ahead jump in. i'm not here to defend the backwardness lead me i have no interest in doing so. we agreed. to disagree. i'm sure we agree on a lot of things ok if i could but i just bring up the point i mean you know in the west i mean is the west now embodied by dropping bombs on people in the name of
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freedom i mean you know that's certainly a common etiological use of the west in the west ok and you could argue people hoping for the west but you know people here talk about the values of the west are often talking about in a kind of this neo imperialistic we need to go in and change those countries we need to get to you know women out of the burka or whatever and that's to them is western values and it's very different kind of western values and what you're talking about people in the quote unquote nod wasn't getting the life of prosperity and freedom all right rick i'm going to give you the last word on this program go ahead. well i mean just on this issue of security and i agree with everything that that bill just said but i doesn't this take us back into this distinction that homey made between last the west as and idiology that could be the imaginary of aspiration versus the west as a set of social political military and economic institutions and i think these are
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different things and that's part of the very ambiguity that makes us still today even talking about the west as if it's something. all right gentlemen i thank you very very very interesting discussion we could have gone go on for a lot longer many thanks my guess again cambridge a cargo and in washington and thanks to our viewers for watching us here r.t. see you next time and remember crosstalk will. kick start. the. world. bring you the latest in science and technology from around
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