What exactly are western values

Western values

The expression western values includes human rights, in particular the rule of law and democracy as well as individualism and tolerance.

It is characterized by the internal contradiction that on the one hand these values ​​are viewed as valid worldwide, but on the other hand they are identified with the expression "western" as a special feature of the West. This has to do with the fact that politicians from Asian countries question the general validity of human rights and, as an antithesis, Asian valuesi.e. essentially those in Confucianism traditional values ​​introduced into the human rights discussion.

Critics of the concept of Western values ​​often argue that, like human rights, they are only used to justify interference in the internal affairs of other states. In addition, not all Western states are democracies and they do not all guarantee human rights, as can be read, for example, in the human rights reports of Amnesty International.

Regardless of this, the term is problematic because the term West as a term for a group of states is not clearly defined.[1]


  1. ↑ Heinrich August Winkler: "With NATO, a defense alliance emerged that redefined the" West ": States that joined the North Atlantic Alliance were considered" Western "even if, like Greece and Turkey, they were never part of the NATO interpreted its claim to be an alliance of free democracies very pragmatically: The authoritarian ruled Portugal was a founding member; the undemocratic structures of Turkey did not stand in the way of its acceptance in 1952. " (Winkler: History of the west 4th volume, p.599)


  • Heinrich August Winkler: History of the west. 4 volumes. Beck, Munich 2009–2015

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