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Occidentalism: A Short History of Anti-Westernism (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 18. August 2005

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"'An Important book... brilliantly done.' George Walden, Daily Mail Critics' Cholce; 'Ambitious and impressive... A fine book.' Philip Bobbitt, New York Times; 'Illuminating... Succinct, elegant and challenging.' Economist; 'Groundbreaking... It is hard to imagine the reader who will not learn something from this book.' Robert Irwin, Independent"


'Occidentalism' is an investigation into the hostile stereotypes of the Western world that fuels the hatred at the heart of movements such as Al Qaeda. A work of extraordinary range and erudition, it enlarges significantly our understanding of the world in which we live.

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84 von 97 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Under Eastern Eyes 19. September 2004
Von Izaak VanGaalen - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In this short, but insightful, book Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit argue that in many parts of the non-Western world there is such loathing of everything associated with the West - especially America - that anyone living such a lifestyle is inherently depraved and somewhat less than human. This dehumanizing view of the West, as seen by its enemies, is what the authors call Occidentalism.

It is the reverse side of the idea of Orientalim described over twenty-five years ago by Edward Said. According to Said, the Orientalists constructed accounts of the East as a place where life was cheap and inferior to that of the West. These narratives served to justify Western domination. Occidentalism, however, goes a step further: whereas, the Orientalist wished to subjugate and colonize, the Occidentalist wishes to destroy.

This is a book about ideas rather than policy. It deals more with why they hate us for what we are, rather than why they hate us for what we do. The authors describe a "constellation of images" of the West by which its enemies demonize it. They (the enemies) see the West as " a mass of soulless, decadent, money-grubbing, rootless, faithless, unfeeling parasites."

The originality of this study comes from the discovery that many of the negative images that the present-day Islamists have of the West are derived, paradoxically, the West itself. The authors see a "chain of hostility" that goes back two centuries. The anti-Western impulse begins with Herder and the German romantics as a reaction to the rationalist, universalist ideals the Enlightenment and the materialism of the budding capitalist economy. Anti-Westernism was also the driving force of the slavophiles of late nineteeth century Russia; it was a reaction to encroaching modernization coming from the West. In the twentieth century, Nazi Germany and a militant Japan railed against, not the modernization that came from the West, but the destruction of their indigenous cultures, being overrun by the decadence and depravity of the West. This anti-Westernism again rears its ugly head in the late twentieth century during the Cultural Revolution in China and, again, in the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge. These where particulary murderous attempts to root out Western influence. The Occidentalist of today is exemplified by the Islamist suicide bomber.

Buruma and Margalit discuss four images of hatred that run through these movements of the last two hundred years: 1} the cosmopolitan city with its rootless, greedy, and decadent citizens; 2) the bourgeois merchant, seeking only profit and comfort, as opposed the self-sacrificing hero of the Occidentalist; 3) the Western mind, using only the faculties of science and reason, and neglecting faith; 4) and last of all, the infidel, the unbeliever, who must be crushed to make way for the true believers.

In Occidentalism's present-day manifestation, religion plays a central role. The jihadis of today hate, not only the West, but the secular regimes - such as Syria and Egypt - of the Middle East as well. They despise even the Saudis for not being sufficiently pure. Ironically, Saudi Arabia is one of the primary sources of the Wahhabism practised by Osama bin Laden. Jihadis see the West as cowardly and fearful of death. They, themselves, love death and wish to inflict it upon as many others as possible. Their search for weapons of mass destruction makes them an extremely formidable enemy.

From this excellent little study, one can only speculate whether the Islamist Occidentalists will someday come to accomodate the modern secular world or succeed in annihilating it. It is safe to say that the struggle will not end anytime soon.
54 von 65 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Terse but Illuminating 29. April 2004
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
A terse but brilliant book tracing the various strands of anti-Western ideology, many of which originated in the West itself. These ideas eventually penetrated Asia and the Middle East, where they were incorporated into supposedly authentic Eastern thought. How ironic that the fiercest anti-Westerners in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, Japan, etc., owe such a huge intellectual debt to the very thing they hate so passionately.
Mind you, the authors are NOT claiming that all (or even most) criticisms of the West are illegitimate or the product of irrational hatred. Contrary to what some reviewers have said, Buruma and Margalit define Occidentalism fairly clearly. It is an ideology that condemns Western civilization in toto, as inherently diseased, and advocates its complete destruction. It is characterized by an implacable hatred for a whole spectrum of modern developments that (rightly or wrongly) are associated with Western civilization: democracy, technology, individualism. The fact that this ideology is muddleheaded and borrows much from what it most hates does not make Buruma and Margalit's thesis muddled: It is simply a paradoxical fact about this ideology. (By the way, it is NOT "simply conflating enemies of the past and present" to point out Islamism's heavy borrowings from European fascism. The authors are, among other things, trying to dispell certain popular misconceptions and clarify the nature of a movement that has long been mistaken, particularly by many scholars [cough, cough, John L. Esposito] in our Middle Eastern Studies departments, as a misguided but proto-democratic grassroots phenomenon; or by many Christian and Jewish bigots as an inherent, ineradicable part of authentic Islam.)
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3.0 von 5 Sternen A Good Starting Point 29. Oktober 2005
Von David Keymer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
In Occidentialism, Buruma and Margalit have produced an essay which offers a convenient starting point to an examination of why the West, and the United States in particular, is so hated by the rest of the world. They point to the debt anti-westernism owes to late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century German romanticism and to nineteenth-century slavophiliac thinkers: in particular, the despising of reason and calculation in favor of spirit and national character. But, and here they offer something of even greater value, they point out also the ways in which the current jihadism is radically different than earlier, predominantly western thought: it places westerners and western values flatly in the domain of Satan and provides jihadists with a rationale for all-out, no-holds-barred violence against the West.

The book is elegantly written from start to finish but much too short, enough too short that it is a serious weakness in an otherwise laudable book. There is little time to develop the ideas they throw out (many of themof great interest) and they rely too heavily on the products of writers and intellectuals like them. I wish Edward Said were still alive to engage in dialogue with the authors of this book: I the joining of the two viewpoints would be fruitful. Still, all in all, this is a book worth getting and keeping.

David Keymer

Modesto CA
11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A quick fun read that merely begins the thought process 24. März 2005
Von L. F Sherman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Although a foil to Said's famous book "Orientalism" in its title, "Occidentalism" is less theoretical, not fully reflecting the academic and colonialist "sociology of knowledge," nor as lengthy. It is a quick read, a worthwhile long essay really, more than a book of analysis and comparison.

Provocative, suggestive, even fun, it does provide pointers and examples of a diffuse anti-Westernism from varied sources: Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, Muslim among them. There is less study of intellectual criticism and more reminders of actions expressing contest. A Japanese subway gas attack and Kamikazes, as well as Irish terrorists (not called "Christian terrorists" of course) remind one that fanatics (if that is a valid term at all) and terrorism are not uniquely Muslim. Brief notes about Tagore, Gandhi, Iqbal, and others peak at cultural and intellectual critics of the West.

People generally, perhaps Americans more so, get historical amnesia (especially when it comes to other languages, cultures, and geography) and may enjoy reminders through many examples mentioned of striking anti modern, anti-technological, and even feminist critiques included as "Occidentalist".

For those already paranoid the list of alternatives is at once somehow amusing while being a bit scary. The many pointers should be pursued with discussion of various anti-colonial criticisms, as well as current critiques of the "Washington consensus" on Globalism and even Capitalist `triumphalism" assessed. It is not the `end of history' and we do not have all the answers. The authors can see that "Occidentalism" is more than the bemused deception of turning the blame around when non-Western countries have problems. But that would be another, and longer, more analytical book. Amused and reminded, by this book maybe we can hope others will be so inspired.
11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Too breif to be global 23. September 2005
Von Hussain Abdul-Hussain - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
It is unfair to sum up how the East views the West and coin up a term for this new hypothesis in an essay-long book. The idea of the book in itself is very interesting and deserves a long debate. The authors of this volume, however, survey bits and pieces of ideas from around the world by capturing general trends in non-Western countries while failing to offer any concrete examples material. The book is insightful but brief and very much editrialized.

When Edward Said offered his description of the way Westerners view the East, his point was focused because in the West, such an activity is mostly centralized and undertaken by academics in the anglophone world which counts less than 10 countries. Yet, reversing this trend, that is recording how the world views the West, is certainly not the same. The diverse world with more than 200 nations certainly has diverse ideas and perspectives about the West and it does not sound accurate if we summarize all of these diverse perspectives in such a brief work.

At any rate, the ideas offered in the book are valid, though not enough to put all of the non-Western nations in a single category. The style is rather dry and a reader might find him/herself struggling to keep up with the points the authors try to make.
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