I was called out by a punk — a smart young Ph.D. student, actually — for referring to “the West” during a discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
She called it a dated concept that had little meaning in today’s geopolitics. She was right. “The West” has aged poorly. It lacks contours and credibility. We need a new construct to describe the ideas and the polities that can hold the international order together. I vote for ROPES, which stands for rules-oriented, process-embracing societies. I am claiming the trademark here and now.
“The West” has been with us for awhile. Derived from the Latin word “occidens,” meaning setting down or sunset, it was opposed to the “orient,” where the sun rose. Those distinctions assumed institutional significance with the split of the Catholic Church into the Western Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches. The two compass points took on an ideological tinge with the association of the West with ideas like democracy and market capitalism, while the East was tarred with the brush of despotism and similar concepts. (Writing history has its advantages.)