Cold war and how “the west” became able to hide what it was carrying.
After the second world war, the notion of « west » became a shelter and a refuge for all ideologies that should have been destroyed by the second world war. Racism, colonialism, imperialism, antisemitism, religious superiority hid themselves under the notion of « the west » until our age while the cold war will help « the west » to transform into a geographic, ideological and political reality.
During the Cold War, “the west” is together : the US alliance against communism, the old colonial power, the free market as an ideology, the cultural advance of American way (as a way to fight communism) and a neocolonial doctrine.
After the cold war the neoconservatives are going to use the “victory” over communism to establish the full supremacy of “the west” cultural hegemony. They will also in the ideology redefine the old ideologies that should have been destroyed so they can be seen in a new light and be fully integrated to “the west” with no need to hide: racism, antisemitism, colonialism, imperialism will enjoy a new momentum thanks to the new definitions neoconservatives will bring to them and the comfortable shelter of “the west” as a cultural hegemony.
First is the Fukuyama / Huntington debate that managed to hijack the historical understanding of the end of the cold war. When cold war ended, “the west” had a dire need for a new concept that will ensure it’s survival. How “the west” can survive if the eastern opponent (USSR, Communism) is no longer ?
Fukuyama would be the salvation. In his « end of history and the last man », he explains that « the west » as a civilization model would now establish its natural domination over the world because of its proven superiority. Here one find the basis for the continuation of the old themes: west as a superior civilisation which model will be naturally followed by everyone. What Fukuyama adds is the interpretation of the end of the cold war as the “victory” of “the west” and historical proof of civilisational superiority. Thanks to Fukuyama, the end of the cold war can be used to establish the natural hegemony and superiority of “the west”.
“The west” becomes now a civilization culturally superior and the US winner of the global cold war.
But Huntington was then needed with his clash of civilisation to give new borders to “the west”. If the west is to become a worldwide model, it could not be “the west”. Also “the west” center moving from old Europe to US shaked some borders that needed a redefinition frozen by the cold war. Cultural hegemony is established by Fukuyama but “the west” still needs an “other” to define itself as it always needed. So instead of the establishment of one civilisation model over the world, Huntingon theorises for a clash of civilisation. With Huntington “The west” finds it’s natural borders with the east. Huntington claims the existance of 5 or 7 different civilisation although, as Said perfectly identified in his “clash of ignorance” answer: the real thing is just between two: “the west” and “the muslims”.
In this vein all orientalism thinking would be now devoted to define “the west” as the perfect contrary of the muslim east. Orientalism offers a huge set of sterotypes “the west” can define against. Democratic (muslim are culturally suited for submission / dictatorship or islamist theocracy), progressive to women (muslim societies are oppressive to women), culturally advanced (muslims, after a great period of cultural achievements are now deep into darkness), white (muslims = arabs = not white), christian (muslims are muslims) etc. Bernard Lewis’ “roots of muslim rage” was essential for Huntingtonian clichés.
The most accurate critic of the horrific consequences of this Fukuyama / Huntington dialectic was provided by Benjamin Barber in his famous “jihad versus mac world”. But Barber himself was not able to resist the cultural hegemony: in march 2011 he was resigning from his position in a Gaddafist’s lobby think tank explaining that, despite anything, Saif al Islam was the only hope for Libyan tribal democracy.
With this development, “the west” became the ideology we know today. Racism and racial inequality have transformed into difference between civilisation and superiority of western civilisation. West is not necessarily white but white is definitely west. Antisemitism is very much alive but have become a total support for Israel in its most racist form. As proven by the incredibly antisemitic comment of Mitt Romney who dared declare Israel has more economic success because of “cultural” tradition. Because of the cultural hegemony of “the west” no one noticed how antisemitic this comment was. Imperialism is no longer aggressive nor it is the supreme stage of capitalism: it is a natural development any inferior civilization will achieve (Fukuyama) or really bad one will refuse (Huntington). Christendom and religious difference can come back in the frontline of “the west” ideology by the opposition to Islam. Opposition to Islam is also the easy way to hide racism against Arabs as now extreme right leaders can openly oppose “Islam” but a good old anti-arab racist comment can send you to trial. Oppression and domination of inferior people is legitimated by the cultural differences: Chinese are not slaves they are hard workers, Arabs are not strangled by oppression they are culturally not suited for democracy etc.