Long Live the West!

DAVID BUIMOVITCH via Getty Images

It is particularly easy, at the beginning of August 2014, to be pessimistic about the future of the West. One had only to look at the state of our planet; and see the damaging role it plays in it:

It infuriates me to see civil wars spread in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, largely due to the unconsciousness of the West who felt itself capable of nurturing democracies there without providing itself with the resources to do so.

It infuriates me to see a horrifying virus spread rapidly across Africa, because the West, selfish, believes it will not be affected by the scourge and that it makes no effort to provide these countries with prevention resources.

It infuriates me to see the Government of Israel, outpost of the West, get caught up in all the traps set by Hamas extremists, fire willy-nilly on Palestinian civilians, who should be its key allies, and thereby triggering, around the world, thousands of anti-Zionist, anti-Semite and anti-West reflexes.

It infuriates me to see, in Europe itself, the return of the cold war, because Europeans are sticking to an old anti-Soviet doctrine, in order to declare against Russia, but without providing any evidence, an embargo that, as always, will only benefit a third party, in this case China, organizing the alliance against the West of authoritarian regimes.

It infuriates me to see Europe incapable of organizing itself to become finally and in practice the world's greatest power, what it has been for centuries theoretically.

Finally, it infuriates me to see the current French government, like its predecessors, continue to procrastinate facing inevitable reforms, without which everyone knows that the country will be condemned to the worst-case scenario.

Overall, it infuriates me to see Western civilization, tracing its roots back to the Judeo-Greek encounter, strengthened by the successive contributions of Christianity and Islam, transcended by the Enlightenment, wholly focused towards the conquest of freedoms, reveal itself at the moment, through its egoism, blindness and obsession with short-termism, incapable of demonstrating to the world that it is much better than the obscurantism of its opponents. And find itself in a losing situation in the great ideological warfare, that has begun between freedom and fatality, modernity and tradition, joie de vivre and terror. Reason and obscurantism.

And still, despite all this, we must not give up. Because Western values have never been more fully idealized by all young people around the world. Because the History of the world is moving forward, against all odds, with sometimes some difficult backward motions, towards freedom that the West alone is the true defender. Because it is in the West where most scientific discoveries and innovations able to overcome problems and meet future challenges are still being made. Because the West, at its best, is capable of learning from the magnificent other civilizations of the world. Lastly, incidentally, because the West is, in fact, by far the world's largest economic, technological and military power for a long time to come.

Therefore, Democrats, Republicans, both of the Left and of the Right must not leave the glorification of Western values to nationalists and populists. They are unworthy of it.

All this may seem self-evident. My intuition is that, soon, it will be necessary to have the courage to repeat it loud and clear.

j@attali.com