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The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat Hardcover – September 1, 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British philosopher Scruton offers a consideration of the philosophical and political differences between the West and "the rest," in particular Islam. Without taking a "blame the West" approach, he suggests that some of our "habits, beliefs, and prejudices" need to be reexamined, among them the unrestrained multinational corporation, and "our devotion to prosperity" and consumption and the resulting dependence on oil and other raw materials. In order to take on religious fanaticism, he argues, we must offer a coherent alternative and a means of putting our beliefs into practice.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Last seen riding cheerily to the hunt (On Hunting [BKL S 1 01]), English philosopher Scruton turns to Islamic terrorism and the war against it, illuminating them by contrasting the West and Islam. The West has consisted of territorial nations, each defined by language and a legal system. Islam, however, is universal (hence, "the rest"--and more), bound together by the Arabic of the Koran and Islamic law. The West's religion, Christianity, discriminates sacred and secular realms of authority; Islam doesn't, regarding secular arrangements as conveniences, at best, and ultimately accepting no territorial state. Westerners' loyalties historically have been national-territorial; Muslim loyalty is nonterritorial--to Islam. The increasingly tolerant and multicultural West brims with evil in devout Muslims' eyes, which see Western-style globalism as sufficiently terrifying to justify such Muslims as the Ayatollah Khomeini and the destroyers of the World Trade Center in taking advantage of Western mores to mount reactive strikes against the West. Scruton concludes that U.S. retaliation against artificial, Western-created Muslim nations, and Israel's against Palestinian Muslims (and, inadvertently, Christians) supposedly controlled by Yasir Arafat, wrongly presume that borders and politicians control Islam. There is much more meat in Scruton's concentrated argument, which concludes not by suggesting how to fight terrorism successfully but by urging the West to reexamine its prejudices about immigration, multiculturalism, free trade, and religion. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; First Edition edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882926811
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882926817
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 25, 2002
Roger Scruton is one of the most extraordinary figures of our time. He is an English political philosopher who frequently appears in the British press and who has written a monumental history of modern philosophy, as well as the Oxford Past Master volumes on Kant and Spinoza, as well as seminal works on the moral philosophy of the erotic and the philosophy of music, as well as superb works of architectural and art criticism. He has even written two operas, both words and music, and two volumes of satirical pseudo-Platonic dialogues.
Perhaps the most notable characteristic of his writing is its originality or freshness. In almost all his works, you get the sense that an incredibly powerful mind is confronting a question or a topic for the first time. That quality is on display here, as Scruton thinks through with his reader the questions which arise in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He argues for the uniqueness (and, perhaps, the unrepeatability) of the Western political achievement of "territorial sovereignty." He takes us through the theological, philosophical, and cultural impediments to modernization in the Muslim world. He discusses the effects of globalization on both the West and "the Rest" (of the world).
Like many Americans, I read vociferously all the journalistic and many of the academic debates which followed after 9/11. Amazingly, there are more new insights and arguments in this single short book--it can be read in one or two sittings--than in dozens of other long articles and books. This is a marvelous work of synethesis, and it deserves to be the starting point for all future discussions of American policy in an age of terrorism.
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British philosopher, aesthetician and cultural critic Roger Scruton's new book -- unfortunately published by a press that is a bit obscure, which means that not all bookstores will carry it -- is a stunning account of the history of the similarities and differences between the West and other social and political dispensations, in an age that will (probably) be known for globalization and terrorism. Anyone looking for a spirited defence of the notion of the West, with its special (but hopefully 'exportable') emphasis on the consent of the governed, will want to have this book.
Scruton's argument is that there is something vital and special about the nexus of factors -- economic free market, extensive but not uncurbed private ownership, elected state representatives, civil society, open rather than closed parliament or legislative assembly, and independent judiciary -- that combine to creat the distinctness of Western polities (The West). What is special is that these represent an outgrowth of a long historical movement animated by the need for polities to secure the confidence and faith of its citizens. But not all states were forged in this kind of process, or tradition, which combines loyalty to a greater good (healthy patriotism and/or nationalism) with a respect for plurality, and which allows a fruitful tension between secularity and faith, and between duties and rights. Rather, some states don't have these advantages. A number of these (The Rest) are 'legitimate' states in name only (or because the UN has seen fit to include them on its roster). Here Scruton of course discusses non-Western states.
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Although relatively brief (161 pages) this volume is densely packed with careful analysis and incisive observation. Subtitled "Globalization and the Terrorist Threat," this book explores a number of related themes. A major thesis is how modern Western democracies differ from other types of societies in general, and the Islamic world in particular. His historical and philosophical investigations provide a framework in which to judge both the September 11 attacks, and the ongoing threat of Islamic terrorism.

He begins by noting that social bonding can take place by means of either religion or politics. In the pluralistic West, social cohesion is mainly found in the form of the social contract, whereas in the Islamic world, religion alone provides that basis. Roman law and the Christian religion helped provide the basis for the social contract, as well as bring about the Western conception of the demarcation of the religious and political spheres.

Islamic societies on the other hand know of no separation of religious and secular authorities, with religion the sole basis of the state. Just as the Communist party was a law onto itself, so "Islam aims to control the state without being a subject of the state". As a result, there are no political or social mediating structures between Allah and His will (Islam) and the submissive Muslim (Islamic citizen).

The freedoms of a democracy, including the freedom to oppose the state, to vote for alternative parties, and to freely express dissenting opinions are thus not to be found in Islamic states. In theocracies, such dissent is just not possible. And given that Islam means submission, the good Muslim is an obedient Muslim.

Both secular Western societies and Muslim societies have notions of membership.
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