Christopher Dawson Defines the West

I will happily admit, I never understand when folks try to define the West by skin color, skin tone, ethnicity, or some other random accident of life. It’s not about race, it’s about an idea. The West is, ultimately, about human dignity, liberty, and self-sacrifice.

Here’s Dawson on the issue.

“I still profoundly convinced of the importance of the need for the defence of the West, though it is important not to understand the expression in too narrow a political and geographical sense, as is often done.  In my view the West is a cultural tradition like that of Hellenism and one which has an even wider and more universal mission.  Now if in the time of the Persian War not only Ionia and Thebes had ‘medized’ but Athens also, and Sparta had been left to stand alone, as were after Dunkirk, the Spartans would have been justified in saying that they stood for the defense of Hellenism, even though Hellenism was a far wider thing than Sparta and Spartan culture by itself was not to be identified with Hellenic culture.  And if the Scythians or the Acedonians had risen against Xerxes and attacked his rear, and the Lacedemonians could have accepted their alliance with gratitude without feeling that they had ceased to stand for the cause of Hellenism.  One can extend the parallel by recalling that just as the defence of the West is being carried on today by the Americans and the Australians in the Pacific so in the days of the Persian War, Hiero was defending Hellenism against the Etruscans and the Carthaginians in the Western Mediterranean.  These are the Wars of the Gentiles.  But we must surely admit that there were spiritual issues in the struggle between the Persians and the Greeks, and so it is today though the issues for us are not so simple as for the men who fought at Thermopylae and Plataeae.”

Christopher Dawson to Walter Zander, Gerrards Cross, Bucks, 12 May 1942