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The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat Hardcover – September 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
According to noted English philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, "the principle target of al-Qa'eda," whose terroristic strike against the United States in 2001 we may take as... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Jesse Foster-Stout
In this fascinating book, British Philosopher (and former university professor) Roger Scruton looks at the West and the Islamic world, and examines what has brought on the present... Read morePublished 18 months ago by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
I thought this book was more recent; reading it, it is a post-9/11 book comparing the philosophies of government in western nations vs. muslim lands. Read morePublished on April 14, 2014 by M. Heiss
I am not sure that this book is about the West and the rest that includes China, India, Russia, Brazil. It is more about the West and Islam. Read morePublished on January 22, 2012 by Shalom Freedman
Scruton gives us a piercing concpetual analysis and deconstruction of the major qualities of Western and Islamic mindsets, motivations and goals, from political "liberal New York"... Read morePublished on November 16, 2005 by Marty
We're all asking what alienated the London suicide bombers to do what they did. This book offers some real insights into the Islamist state of mind. Read morePublished on September 3, 2005 by Anna Frobisher
In this short but illuminating book, Scruton examines the political institutions of the West as regards the relation between religion and politics, and the threat of radical Islam. Read morePublished on August 28, 2005 by Peter Uys
As an Englishman, Roger Scruton understands as no other cultural philosopher what it is like to be a member of an increasingly dominant civilisation. Read morePublished on December 15, 2004 by M. R. Bas
I consider myself a European integrationist, because I believe there is more that binds Europeans than that divides them (certainly when faced with an islamist threat). Read morePublished on October 31, 2004 by maximusone