During a recent sit-down interview with Germany’s largest news website, Christoph Heusgen, the top foreign policy advisor to outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, declared that he has eliminated the term “the West” from his vocabulary on the basis that the word is representative of an antiquated worldview.
While speaking with journalists from Der Spiegel International, Heusgen discussed a variety of issues, including the West’s botched military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Trump administration, the outgoing chancellor’s successes and failures, and an ascendant China.
When asked if the recent events in Afghanistan constitute a defeat for the West, Heusgen replied, “I have actually eliminated the term “the West” from my vocabulary. From my point of view, it is no longer about a dispute between the West and the East today, but between states that adhere to a rules-based international order, to the United Nations Charter, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and those that do not.”
“These principles are not Western, but universal,” he said, adding, “’West’ has become a negative fighting word that the Russians and Chinese use against us, along the lines of, ‘The West is yesterday’s news’.”
It has long been debated that so-called “Western values” are in fact universal, and many would surely argue that Heusgen’s words are indicative of a liberal supremacist, neo-colonialist worldview that seeks to impose 21st-century, so-called liberal values held mainly by Western Europe and North America on the rest of the world.
An increasingly large chorus of writers, thinkers and political figures from across the world, in places like Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, India, China and Brazil, argue that the so-called values held by progressive, Western elites are by no means universal. Some go further, arguing that the values championed by today’s liberal globalist elite — values which minimize the importance of the family as well as traditional cultural and religious institutions while promoting gender ideology, LGBTQ culture with children, political correctness, radical individualism and economic growth at any cost — are not even Western, let alone universal.
One of the most prominent political figures within what is historically regarded as the geographic West — who has consistently challenged the universalist, liberal hegemonic notion of the West the most — is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
In an opinion piece written almost precisely one year ago for the daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet, Orbán describes the dichotomous worldview that Heusgen described to journalists at Der Spiegel.
“The political strategy of liberals is based on dividing the world of politics into two parts. On one side are liberals who are good, honest people and who accept that all good, honest people must come to the same political beliefs and conclusions on the basis of the rules of reason; on the other side are those who have strayed from the field of liberalism because their ignorance or primordial instinctive hatred prevents them from moving forward with the times and with history — the self-evident goal of which is to lead us to the happiness provided by liberal world values, world peace, and world governance.”
Later in the piece, the Hungarian prime minister takes aim at what he refers to as the “loopy liberal doctrine”, a belief system embraced and spread by people like Heusgen, which in its essence is dogmatic, intolerant, and bigoted — features which historically have never been associated with classical liberalism.
“Rebellion against political correctness, against the dictates of loopy liberal doctrine and modes of expression and style is flowing in an ever broader channel. More and more people are showing increasing courage in freeing themselves from the shackles of the suffocatingly restrictive, monolithic mode of speech, the only approved concept of democracy, and the only approved interpretation of Europe and the West.”
“The escape attempt itself is not simple, and the risk of punishment is high: expulsion from academic life, loss of employment, stigmatization, running the gauntlet at universities. Examples of this are almost daily occurrences. But even if we manage to escape the systematic patrols of well-paid but nonsensical liberal border guards, we must still struggle against the deeply embedded reflexes of ever so well-meaning public opinion.”
With all of this in mind, perhaps it’s fitting that Heusgen has eliminated “the West” from his vocabulary since he and people like him have not only failed to uphold its foundational civilizational values in any meaningful way but have and continue to actively work to undermine and destroy them. By the same reasoning, maybe Heusgen ought to consider eliminating the word “liberal” from his vocabulary as well.