West and Rest

There’s no official definition of the meaning of “the Western World“. We have defined a list of countries which we think are included when people in USA and West Europe us the term. We think they mean the following countries:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom & USA.

The habit of dividing countries into two groups, “West vs. Rest”, may lead to an illusion that the members of the two groups are of two different kinds. That members within a group have a lot in common, and those characteristics are not found in the other group. We have tried to defined the list of countries just to help people realize that such division is NOT as useful as they may think.

The term “western world” may of course be useful in some cases, when describing certain historical phases, such as: the Roman Empire, the Colonial Era and the Cold War. But even then, the definition of the groups can not be kept constant, which illustrates that a strong concept of “the western world” vs. the rest of the world, may be quite misleading.

To illustrate the problem with the concept of “the western world”, we have tried to define the smallest possible set of countries as western, based on the most narrow use of the term in Western Europe and USA. Based on our conversations with audiences, we have concluded that the narrow mindset of those “westerners” often excludes Latin America and all of the former East Block countries. Most people in Latin America, on the other hand, use a latin term Occidente which in their minds often includes Latin America. And most people of the Baltic States and Poland, and other former members of the East block, today have lots of good reasons to consider their countries “western countries”. But our purpose is to show how misleading the narrow idea of “Western World” is. But for our purpose we isolate the smallest possible set of countries, exactly to illustrate how misleading it is to believe they are completely different from all other countries. We believe their is a widespread perception among the public in these countries, that they have a destiny of “cultural supremacy” which we think is devastatingly wrong. For other purposes, other definitions of “west” may be much more relevant.