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The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat

Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute • 2002 • 200 pages

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, many attempts at explanation have been made — but few if any have matched the analytical depth and original displayed by English philosopher and cultural commentator Roger Scruton. In “The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat,” Scruton argues that to comprehend and combat Islamic terrorism, one must understand both the unique historical evolution of the state and the dynamic of globalization. Some highlights of his argument:

  • How the different religious and philosophical roots of Western and Islamic societies have resulted in profoundly divergent beliefs about the nature of political order
  • The fundamental gulf separates those nations that are in some sense the inheritors of the Roman-Christian political tradition and those that are not
  • Why nations outside this tradition are not really “states” — which are characterized by the rule of law and representative political processes — but fiefdoms secured primarily by power
  • Why most Islamic nations are thus non-states, because Islamic jurisprudence typically rejects the notion that secular government has its own legitimate sphere of authority
  • How the idea of the social contract, crucial to the self-conception of Western nations, is entirely absent in Islamic societies
  • Why the notions of territorial jurisdiction, citizenship, and the independent legitimacy of secular authority and law are both specifically Western — and fundamentally antipathetic to Islamic thought
  • How migration, modern communications, and the media have inexorably brought the formerly remote inhabitants of Islamic nations into constant contact with the images, products, and peoples of secular, liberal democracies
  • Why, in light of this new reality, certain Western assumptions — about consumption and prosperity, about borders and travel, about free trade and multinational corporations, and about multiculturalism — need to be thoroughly re-evaluated

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