The Origins of Occidentalism

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To answer the question posed it necessary to first consider the development of, and what constitutes the West. Once this is achieved, we are than able to discuss occidentalism. However, the concept of orientalism, and what constitutes the orient, will first be considered as, arguably, orientalism provoked occidentalism. Thereafter, the four key features of occidentalism, identified by Buruma and Margalit (2004) will be discussed. Contemporary notions of ociddentalism, more specifically Islamic extremism will also be studied; of must importance here is if, or how, Buruma’s and Margalit’s (2004) theory of occidentalism aids our understanding of the perspective of those in resistance to the west. From 1815 to 1914 the European…show more content…
There has always been opposition to the development of the west. Occidentalism creates a dehumanising picture of the west, painted by its’ enemies. Buruma and Margalit (2004) state, Occidentalism has its’ origins in the West. Buruma (2004) argues, contemporary Islamic occidentalists are not fully foreign to the West they despise; many Islamic radicals borrow their anti-western concepts from Russian and German philosophy. “People with little history and even less intellectual capacity would have no idea why the hate-and should hate-the west, let alone understand the complex, pluralistic nature of western societies and culture.” (Buruma and Margalit 2004:48) To argue that the main roots of anti-western attitudes lie in the West is to belittle and underestimate the histories, traditions and cultures of non-western societies. Anti-westernism has been rising over the past two or three decades, it is currently closely associated with Islamic extremism. The Islamic contribution to Occidentalism is a religious vision of purity in which the idolatrous west has to be destroyed (Buruma 2004). Buruma and Margalit (2004) argue there are four hostile aspects of the occidental view of the West: a hatred of the city, rationality or the loss of the soul, an anti-bourgeois attitude and anti-feminism. Those who dislike the west see it in similar terms as ‘a machine like society without a soul’ (Buruma and
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