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Although nowadays it is fashionable to speak about the equality of all the nations, civilizations and ways of development or even of the inferiority of the Western Civilization in what concerns its relations with other cultures, for example, the Chinese one, to my mind, these opinions are based on either lack of knowledge on the subject or some kind of intellectual masochism that modern decadent Westerners seem to be so keen on displaying.
Western civilization is based on a number of features that have been present in this or that culture for about two thousand years by now, becoming more and more distinctly expressed each time they were inherited by a new civilization. They defined the Greek civilizations that has emerged in the first millennium BC, then were transferred to the Romans who in turn brought this way of thinking across the territory of modern Europe, which many nations accepted and went on carrying it. It characterized many countries of medieval and Renaissance Europe, specifically England, and was finally transferred to the United States of America, making it one of its most prominent heirs.
The spiritual basis of the Western Civilization lies in individualism, that presupposes that the individual is more important than the crowd, in the idea of progress and belief in it; in practical approach to existence, in the idea that reality can and ought to be changed, that history has the beginning and the end and that a human being is not a piece of paper drifting down by the stream of life, but in fact someone that is capable of changing himself and everything around him.
If we take a look on the way of development of different cultures, we’ll see that they all stopped in their progress sooner or later and never moved on until dying out or being destroyed or altered by some other civilization. Only the Western civilization is different – it progressed and developed all the time, infused its own spirit in other nations and went on, not always in the some people, but always intact. Modern amazing success of the Chinese and Japanese is explained not by the fact that they belong to some specific civilization and it makes them successful – it is explained by the fact that they both, though to different degrees, accepted Western values. Until the middle of the 19th century Japan was a backwater country that stopped to develop several centuries before – several decades after it has accepted Capitalism it managed to defeat enormous Russian Empire in a war; the same now happens in China.
All this means that Western civilization not necessarily should be connected with Europe, but with any nation that accepts its ideals.