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(41) – Down with ‘Western Values’ (30 Nov 2012)

While China remains the great potential adversary in the eyes of a Washington that says it is pivoting toward East Asia as it considers policies for healthy international relations, and while West Asia continues to be wracked by strife, you may expect world news to be littered with references to ‘Western values’ as a legitimizing excuse for all manner of initiatives and interference. The term should be thrown out of political analysis and discussion. Its absence will improve political hygiene for the entire world. As a source of confusion, hostility and even hatred, its use is by itself a harmful complication. It is used for priming the emotions with easy indignation. And in daily usage it means almost nothing. ‘Values’ in its current common usage, has always been something vague. It was popularized by sociologists in the middle of the twentieth century, who needed a standard unit of account as they believed they were introducing scientific method to what they were doing. It simplified a huge complexity. The ‘values’ concept is a repository for all manner of things – principles, beliefs, likes, dislikes, prejudice, sentiments, distaste, hobbies, morals, ethics, and more – that may direct our conduct....

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