This event will premiere on this page at 12:00 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, July 1.
Join Hudson Institute for a discussion with Michael Kimmage on his new book, “The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy.” Hudson Senior Fellow Tod Lindberg, who recently reviewed the book in the Wall Street Journal, will moderate the event. State Department Director of Policy Planning Peter Berkowitz will join the conversation.
Reference to “the West” as a geopolitical organizing principle and to “Western civilization” as a cultural and political heritage was once common in discussions of the United States as a leading global power and as an exemplar of government dedicated to securing the liberty and rights of Americans. The publication of William H. McNeill’s “The Rise of the West” in 1963 was perhaps a high-water mark for a concept then almost unanimously promoted by American universities. It was also a time at which a powerful critique of the idea of the West and of injustice in the United States was beginning to gain a foothold. Two generations later, the critique is predominant in the universities and on the streets in a demand for “social justice.”
The principles of liberty and rights contain within themselves a basis for criticism of existing social and political practice for failure to live up to their universal promise. But are those principles strong enough to absorb and contain the criticism? In short, the West has a past—but does it have a future?