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The question of the inevitability of the West

The question of the inevitability of the West - The...

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The question of the inevitability of the West’s decline is an unusual one given its meteoric rise to prominence over the last three centuries. Nevertheless, the question has to be asked, particularly in the face of economic recession, political uncertainty, and social anxiety. Answering this question may also help students and citizens alike to arrive at a better definition of what exactly the West is. For if we fail to define just what the West is, especially in the face of adversity, there is that risk of becoming unsure of ourselves, and therefore timid. The risk of turning inward to chase half-mythical pasts and halt - dead in its tracks - the ceaseless flow of progress and inquiry becomes an almost insatiable urge for civilizations unsure. The lesson of the 1930’s and ‘40’s comes to mind. Today, the West is again mired in economic stagnation, and the political and social situations in states of the West seem to be trending inward, while non- Western states are beginning to project their long-dormant power outward. With this being said, a quick glance at a couple of “big picture” indicators for prominence and decline seems necessary in order to gauge the issue of Western decline: life expectancy rates and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita 1 . The charge may be levied, of course, that the selection of data is biased, but the longevity of life and the purchasing power of individuals within a society are extremely telling of overall trends that deal with prominence and decline. Concerning health standards, the average life expectancy rate in the world is 67.2 2 , and the average life expectancy rate for the 34 member states of the Organization of Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD), a highly regarded, highly selective international 1 I chose GDP (PPP) per capita over nominal GDP per capita because PPP is a bit better at taking into account different price levels in different countries, and doesn’t deal with exchange rates. Using nominal GDP per capita data suggests roughly the same story, however. 2 United Nations. World Population Prospects. Population Division. “World Population Prospects The 2006 Revision”. Economic and Social Affairs . 2007. Web. 16 June 2011.
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organization comprised mostly of the West’s traditional states, is 78.69. If this does not satisfy
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