- Hardcover: 165 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press (March 30, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594200084
- ISBN-13: 978-1594200083
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies Hardcover – March 25, 2004
Four characterizations of the West contribute to the anti-Western stance Buruma and Margalit call Occidentalism and are used to justify attacking individual Westerners as less-than-human beings. The West prefers the sinful city to the virtuous countryside; the West destroys heroism and replaces it with trading; the West thinks only of matter and not of spirit; the West worships evil. Buruma and Margalit argue that the first two of those conceptions, typical of secular Occidentalism, are themselves Western, products of European romanticism that early-twentieth-century Japan and Germany exploited to their own ruin. The third idea informs Russia's long struggle with the West but stems from German romanticism, in particular, with its sense of the wounded national soul. The fourth, peculiar to religious Occidentalism, animates radical Islamism but derives from the good-evil polarities of Persian Manichaeism that the young Augustine embraced. Buruma and Margalit conclude that these ideas' lives are "a tale of cross-contamination" that cannot be ended by answering anti-Western intolerance with more intolerance. A timely tract, brilliantly though broadly argued. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
...an important book on a topic that deserves to be treated seriously by scholars and concerned citizens alike. -- Library Journal, March 15, 2004
Top Customer Reviews
It is the reverse side of the idea of Orientalim described over twenty-five years ago by Edward Said. According to Said, the Orientalists constructed accounts of the East as a place where life was cheap and inferior to that of the West. These narratives served to justify Western domination. Occidentalism, however, goes a step further: whereas, the Orientalist wished to subjugate and colonize, the Occidentalist wishes to destroy.
This is a book about ideas rather than policy. It deals more with why they hate us for what we are, rather than why they hate us for what we do. The authors describe a "constellation of images" of the West by which its enemies demonize it. They (the enemies) see the West as " a mass of soulless, decadent, money-grubbing, rootless, faithless, unfeeling parasites."
The originality of this study comes from the discovery that many of the negative images that the present-day Islamists have of the West are derived, paradoxically, the West itself. The authors see a "chain of hostility" that goes back two centuries. The anti-Western impulse begins with Herder and the German romantics as a reaction to the rationalist, universalist ideals the Enlightenment and the materialism of the budding capitalist economy.Read more ›
Mind you, the authors are NOT claiming that all (or even most) criticisms of the West are illegitimate or the product of irrational hatred. Contrary to what some reviewers have said, Buruma and Margalit define Occidentalism fairly clearly. It is an ideology that condemns Western civilization in toto, as inherently diseased, and advocates its complete destruction. It is characterized by an implacable hatred for a whole spectrum of modern developments that (rightly or wrongly) are associated with Western civilization: democracy, technology, individualism. The fact that this ideology is muddleheaded and borrows much from what it most hates does not make Buruma and Margalit's thesis muddled: It is simply a paradoxical fact about this ideology. (By the way, it is NOT "simply conflating enemies of the past and present" to point out Islamism's heavy borrowings from European fascism. The authors are, among other things, trying to dispell certain popular misconceptions and clarify the nature of a movement that has long been mistaken, particularly by many scholars [cough, cough, John L. Esposito] in our Middle Eastern Studies departments, as a misguided but proto-democratic grassroots phenomenon; or by many Christian and Jewish bigots as an inherent, ineradicable part of authentic Islam.)
The book is elegantly written from start to finish but much too short, enough too short that it is a serious weakness in an otherwise laudable book. There is little time to develop the ideas they throw out (many of themof great interest) and they rely too heavily on the products of writers and intellectuals like them. I wish Edward Said were still alive to engage in dialogue with the authors of this book: I the joining of the two viewpoints would be fruitful. Still, all in all, this is a book worth getting and keeping.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite a rant. Well written, interesting, but essentially a very long flowing monologue of accusations and assertions. Read morePublished 6 months ago by L. King
In Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies, Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit trace the intellectual history of “the dehumanizing picture of the West painted by its... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mal Warwick
I'm already having the same problem with this as with Pascal Bruckner's 'Tyranny of Guilt.' Perhaps slightly unfair as I have not finished either, but am irritated by the sweeping... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Margaret Haag
Great, fast and in good shape -- lot's of smileys on the package, too :)Published 21 months ago by Victoria
I needed to buy &read this book for a class that I took. I looked for a while because I wanted to save money obviously. This was the cheapest seller, cheaper than the book store. Read morePublished on May 7, 2014 by ruben bejarano
This is the second book by Ian Buruma that I read, after Murder in Amsterdam. Both are provocative and well researched books. Read morePublished on February 1, 2013 by Kindle fan
We need to see how others look at the U.S. in order to clear our own self image long enough to listen to others.Published on January 26, 2013 by David C. Prinz
I have started reading this book and I will say the first thing that caught my attention is the title " The west in the eyes of its enemies"
Immediately I have begun to... Read more
This short book tries to explore the hatred of the West (of its cities, of its sexual freedom, of its amoral trade, of its religious pluralism, of its materialism and consumerism)... Read morePublished on November 12, 2010 by Ilya