The West and universal values
The West and universal values
The term “universal values” is one of the most popular and glossy terms, and the most consumed by a group of contemporary politicians, intellectuals, peace advocates, and by human rights and cultural organizations in general.
Rather, the phrase “universal values” has become a representation of a supreme, Muslim and sacred reference.
Although the term “universal values” has come to refer to a number of positive, excellent, and absolute meanings in their entirety, one who meditates on it and critically reflects on its contents reveals a number of problems and gaps that still exist in this term and in its contents, which allows for its misuse and misuse.
What is meant by universal values is what was accepted and followed by all peoples of the Earth without exception.
Universal values are those that unite all nations and peoples in believing in them and acting in accordance with them.
The universal values in its political sphere are those related to human rights, justice, spreading democracy, good governance, and fighting financial corruption and political tyranny, in addition to the declared quest for the liberation of peoples and empowering them to determine their fate in order to recover their stolen freedom, whether from occupation or from the oppression of local tyrants.
The West has sung these values and shown its keenness to spread them as universal values and standards by which others are measured, close to and far from the Western ideal, and on the basis of which certificates of good conduct and conduct are granted to countries and organizations. However, that keenness has not been translated into practical form in supporting the movement of peoples eager to live in the shadow of those values as they are. It is lived and practiced by the peoples of the West itself. Rather, this talk has remained closer to the blackmail of tyrants to facilitate the plundering of wealth and the depletion of capabilities than to actual and practical support for oppressed peoples. Therefore, Western efforts over the years have not gone beyond issuing periodic reports and statements on the state of rights and freedoms in what it calls developing countries, accompanied by repeated, cold, and unrelenting condemnation. He supports the oppressed, but these reports are subject to interests
In fact, the greatest moral dilemma that the West has faced is the double standards in applying these values. While it is agitated and mobilizes to support some political and human rights opponents in the Arab world and elsewhere, especially those who agree with it in its liberal orientation or hold Western nationalities, it does not move a finger when it comes to… The matter is for those who embrace opposition from a political and intellectual perspective that conflicts with the Western vision, even if this type of opposition is persecuted and exterminated in a horrific manner. The matter applies to peoples and countries. If countries and peoples are subject to the Western vision, then everything is permissible for them. It is permissible for them to kill and exterminate other peoples, and killing turns into a universal act.
Is the universality of values measured by people’s acceptance, beliefs, and cultures of those values and their emergence from them, or by the positions and commitments of governments, national and international, or by the number of individuals and the percentage of them who voluntarily believe in those values called universal? Then what is that percentage: is it an absolute majority, or is there necessarily an “overwhelming” majority?
On this basis, whoever wants to crush the will of the people and obliterate their entities will raise the banner of universal values over them, and whoever wants to fight virtues and morals that he does not like will brandish the sword of universal values against us, and whoever wants to defend his desires and whims will cling to universal values. Whoever wants to spread moral corruption will cling to the philosophy of universal values, and whoever wants to dilute faith and religiosity will raise the banner “Universal believers without borders.”
This is not a disparagement or confusion about the idea of “universal values.” I am one of the proud advocates of these values and this path of human thought and the human community.
Universal values such as dignity, freedom, justice, and equality are beautiful, venerable values that are accepted and respected by all nations and peoples… But are they the only universal values? Is the Western interpretation of these values alone the universal interpretation that must be followed? Is the Western application of these values the only reference model for their application throughout the world?
The truth is that the Western point of weakness lies in the moral dilemma it is experiencing and the contradiction between the lessons and lectures it offers about values and its actual practices. The truth is that the Western weakness lies in the moral dilemma it is experiencing and the contradiction between the lessons and lectures it offers about values and its actual practices. This is a predicament that is getting worse day by day and is being revealed to an increasing number of people who are deceived and fascinated by the West and its values that it has long monopolized for itself, values that it does not transfer outside its land.
Although this talk is not new, it emerged remarkably after the end of the Cold War, and this was embodied in the sayings of the clash of civilizations, the end of history, and the victory of the Western civilizational model, as imagined by Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, and other Western writers in a moment of euphoria over the fall of the eastern side of Christian civilization, which the camp represented. Communist at the time, an illusion whose reality became clear after the rise of new poles on the international stage competing with the West, such as China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and even Russia, which became a troublesome player again after the West thought it had dismantled and subjugated them.
It is noteworthy that the writings of Western elites and the speeches of politicians there often focused on the moral and ethical dimension of their attack on Islam in particular, and on non-Western nations in general. Indeed, the brutal Western raid on the peoples of Asia and Africa, which was falsely and deceptively called colonialism, was launched under the pretext of Morality is the pursuit of civilizing peoples, lifting them out of conditions of savagery and backwardness, and putting them on the path to progress and reconstruction.
These are some of the manifestations of the West’s contradiction in its foreign policies that have been revealed over the years. But internally, the matter may be no less bad, even if the stereotypical image of a just West that races to the rescue of the oppressed and seeks to spread the values of democracy and human rights remains dominant in the imagination of the world due to the strength that the internal structure of the West still enjoys. And its various countries, but the Covid-19 crisis, the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the attempt to exterminate the Palestinian people demonstrated the fragility of one of the most important values that have long enabled Europeans in particular to subjugate others. That value is unity, cohesion, and consideration of the interests of all Europeans, as people still remember the first days of the outbreak of the epidemic and how it subsided. Each country turned against itself and refrained from providing assistance to the member states most affected by the crisis, such as Italy and Spain, until the voices of the peoples of these two countries rose in demanding withdrawal from the European Union, whose countries failed them at the first juncture in which they needed help and support, something that constituted for the first time a challenge to the stable model image. On European unity, it raised the question of the continuation of the European Union as a cohesive and solidary force, at the level of the relations between countries. As for the crisis of values within each individual country, it may be more severe. Perhaps the phenomenon of racism, xenophobia, and inhumane treatment of immigrants and refugees are among the most prominent examples of this.
The distinction between refugees is evident in terms of allowing them to enter the continent based on the priority of the criterion of competence and the benefit that will accrue to the state in question. In doing so, they bypass the right of entry of the refugee on the basis of his humanitarian condition and the duty to accommodate him, regardless of his competence. This emerges as a blatant example of a moral dilemma that is undoubtedly reprehensible. The sensitive European moral conscience!
The West and its politicians have the right, of course, to seek to achieve its interests, establish its superiority, and maintain its continuity as a reference for the world. However, it is provocative that this West is behind all the problems and disasters that the peoples of the Earth have been exposed to for a century and that it obstructs any movement by its peoples to regain their independence and freedom. It is shameful for it to continue giving lessons. Lectures on values, morals, and concepts practice the exact opposite!
About the Writer, Abdallah Gasmi:-
Poet, novelist, critic and translator from Tunisia, works as a professor, holds a master’s degree in modern poetry, and a master’s degree in Islamic philosophy, holds many cultural responsibilities, and is the president of the International Cultural Salon in Tunisia
He published 20 books on poetry, novel, criticism, and theater
He won many international honors.
He received many international poetry awards, and was honored in many countries.