Wests, East-Wests, and divides

Niall Chithelen in Eurozine:

If we try to map out an East-West divide for the global political developments of the last decade or so, we might end up with this: the East-West divide is not exactly what it was during the Cold War. It is now a divide between liberal and ‘illiberal’ democracies, and the ideas and undemocratic impulses that have recently come to represent the East have also more recently become ascendant in parts of the West—and also parts of the South—under governments that are further rightwing or leftwing than the norm.1This has fomented a new sort of East-West divide that exists in and threatens the East and West (and South), exacerbates divides between Left and Right (not to mention class and race), and terrifies most those in the centre. This description might make intuitive sense if you read certain commentaries, but very little sense if you think only about what it actually says.

Part of the issue here is that, in Europe and the US, both sides of the supposed East-West divide envision themselves as the West. One self-definition is mostly political, with the West being a collection of liberal democracies, members of the so-called ‘liberal international order’. The other self-definition rejects this political West, instead propounding a vision based on nominal Christianity and ethno-nationalism.

More here.