West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat Paperback – Jun 1 2003
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About the Author
Professor Roger Scruton is visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall Oxford and visiting Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. His other books include Sexual Desire, The West and the Rest, England: An Elegy, News from Somewhere, Gentle Regrets and I Drink Therefore I Am (all published by Continuum).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author argues that the political process in Western civilisation has made it so successful - western democracies are governed by politics while the Rest is ruled by force. In the West, the political process functions through negotiation and compromise. Religion and culture are binding principles but they do not prescribe. With the collapse of our Judeo-Christian heritage in much of the West, a vital defence of our culture is being lost. According to Scruton, the love of freedom alone is not enough for our civilization to survive. He considers the nation state as a precondition for democracy and the rule of law. Under Islam, the Sharia is the only source of law, is considered to be globally binding and provides no room for dissent.
The UN is a club of gangsters. Most UN representatives do not speak for the people of their countries but only the thuggish regimes that lord it over them. In addition, Western elites and radical Islamists both despise Western civilization. This is particularly pronounced in academia, the media and the entertainment industry. This alienation manifests also in the Muslim immigrant communities in Europe that do not want to assimilate. They enjoy all the benefits of their new society whilst at the same time despising it. There is a sick synergy between the immigrants and the elites that disparage their own heritage. This tie of hatred binds them together.
Scruton explains the modern roots of Islamic militancy with reference to Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Khomeini revolution in Iran. He rightly criticises the West's dangerous commitment to multiculturalism but I do not agree with his conclusions that globalisation fosters terrorism and that democracy is not suitable for "the rest." One need only look at successful democracies like India and Japan to see the fallacy here. Even Islamic Turkey has a somewhat flawed but functioning democracy.
But overall, and for its multiple insights, this is a most valuable and enlightening work that provides plenty food for thought. Scruton is an original thinker and a gifted writer. I highly recommend The West And The Rest for those who are interested in history, culture and politics.
Though these ideas are not new, and now a shade dated, this is essentially a potentially brilliant text that sadly suffers on three (3) accounts,
1) It is far too short and thus inconclusive.
2) It is poorly edited, it rambles in parts, has insufficient chapters.
3) It is very subjective in parts, but paraded as not being so; fiction dressed as fact. [It's important to understand Scruton is an intellectual, a thinker and not a journalist as could appear the case]
Had Scruton gone with a major press, then surely he would have received better editorial guidance and the above mentioned points would have been corrected. However he didn't, and we have what we have; a work of great promise that never reached a conclusion. One also can't help but feel that Scruton is a prolific thinker/writer and is abound with ideas, ideas which he never quite takes to a satisfactory conclusion - as clearly demonstrated here.
I think it would also be fair to say that as a man of genuine vision, Scruton's vision is somewhat narrower than the average person, and so he has a tendency to dismiss alternative ideas as non-sense. I'm thinking here of his scoffing resentment of the French public for purchasing a book on the alternative 9/11 theories. I think any intellectual would be wise to consider that what information is presented through any news media or government agency needs taking with a pinch of salt. And that a wider discourse of the facts should be welcomed. I think too that Scruton's founding argument, the 'gem' that probably lead him to conceive of this text, i.e. the 'Architectural argument' is vastly overplayed and drawn from the Tower of Babel myth, convenient 'facts' linked together to form a half-hypothesis.
To Scruton's credit, however he does present the reader with more than enough ideas to send them away pondering the society and world which we have created. Most notably of interest is his thesis on the 'Social Contract', which is an idea worthy of its own publication. It's curious though, to note how he praises the United States as a model of this social contract, yet the reality is that America is essentially a vast expanse of land partially inhabited and by numerous different groups and sub-groups, all with their own agenda (and language) - the myth of America is just that, a myth. The 'United States' being a much better and more accurate label. The idea that The U.S. was founded on a common social goal and encompasses one and all in a nation where all is possible is quite literally an American 'Dream'. The reality is that The U.S. is a very fragmented society - almost as fragmented as the terrorists that threaten its idea of 'security' where there is no real 'yard stick' no official language and very little common ground. Scruton totally fails to pick up on this and instead regurgitates the myth that 'America' is a working model, when it clearly is not. In this case Great Britain would have been a far better example to use, but that's quite literally another story.
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