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Essay on Occidentalism: The West in the eyes of the East

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Occidentalism

In Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit's book, Occidentalism: The West in the eyes of the East, they set out to solve the fueling force that drives the "enemies" of America and the Western world. This hatred spans back to the times of industrialization in the east, causing hatred to erupt from the peoples of Asian nationalities, and continues up to present day with Al-Qaeda and the terrorist attacks.

Buruma and Margalit trace the roots of Occidentalism back to Germany, China, Japan and Russia. Japan used Westernization to keep up with the world and then turned their backs on it. Their goal was to "overcome the West, and be modern while at the same time returning to an idealized spiritual past" (Margalit 4). Because of this conflicting view on modernization, Japans quickness to modernize backfired. This soon led to the attack on Pearl Harbor because of the hatred the backlash created. The Germans also ended up suffering from their attempts at modernization. Berlin became a cosmopolitan city and this caused people to want to `get away from Berlin' because "Berlin's modernity was `un-German'" (28). German, French, Japanese, Chinese and Russia intellectuals all contributed to the modern view of Occidentalism. Their ideas created an atmosphere of critiquing and observing that allowed for further development of occidental ideas and interaction between the intellectuals, even those that were centuries apart were able to influence each other. The defining theory of Occidentalism is that the West is less than human, that they are revolting against secularism, individualism and rationalism.

The book gives a thorough look at the history of the ideas that for Occidentalism but it does not pay as much attention to...


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...r attitude towards everything, however; I do not think that these would be helpful in our countries current state of War on Terrorism. With our country at war, I think we need to use force against force as well as other means to create peace. I agree with the authors that the peace in the Middle East should come directly from the Middle East without any outside interference.

Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit set out to provide an understanding and a guide to Occidentalism and the way that the West is viewed by the East. They did a wonderful job at providing a history of Occidental thought but they lacked substance in why they hate us and what we can do to prevent them from hating us and attacking us. Overall I thought it was an interesting book and it was very insightful, however; I wish they would have provided more on the more current issues and prevention.



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