• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

The West Must Accept Eastern Values without Losing its Own

Western countries must be prepared to take in not only a large number of migrants from Eastern countries, but also the values they carry with them. In addition, one must not forget that the Eastern mentality is more stable and persistent with respect to one's own values ​​than the Western mentality. This topic was discussed during a lecture at Moscow’s Gorky Park given by famous orientalist Aleksey Maslov, who is also the Head of HSE's School of Asian Studies.

Europe is lost in regard to Asia

For centuries, the West has built a philosophy of its own economic and cultural superiority over the East. The idea that the economic model of the West is the only true way for effective development stems from the hard work of Western scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries.

But the rapid growth of countries such as China and India has forced the Western community to think about the future of world order and the relationship of the roles the East and West play in it. This happened quite late, however. ‘For a long time, the West was arrogant in regard to the East,’ Aleksey Maslov said at the lecture ‘When East Meets West: Political Trends – the Fate of Culture.’ On the one hand, Western people have always sought out inspiration in the East. ‘The East is the most powerful drug for the Western cultural consciousness. It is here where Western artists, writers, and philosophers found inspiration,’ the lecturer noted. On the other hand, the West, excluding the thin layer of orientalists, never had the desire to truly understand the East. This has resulted in the dominance of pseudo-Eastern philosophy and culture in the West.

Even more complex is the case of history. An example of this is the looms that appeared in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century and increased productivity by up to 100-fold, but had already existed in China since the 13th century. In spite of a number of similar facts, however, Western history is dominated by the idea that the West has historically always been ahead of the East.    

‘Economically, the East has always been self-sufficient, not needing the resources of the West,’ Maslov noted. Why, then, have almost all Eastern countries fallen under the colonial yoke of the West throughout history? The answer is simple. The East never owned technology effective in waging war. And it was advantageous for the West, with its limited resources and territories, to establish a system of ‘centre-periphery,’ giving the East certain technologies and receiving in return finished products. Today the Western mentality, as Maslov posits, still has some semblance of a ‘colonial’ consciousness. The situation is changing rapidly, however, and it is clear that this is not happening to the West’s advantage.

Travel not now necessary to study the East

Western scholars studied the East for many centuries, and this study, as the lecturer notes, was similar to entomology, where the entomologist is the West and the butterfly – the East. Then the situation changed dramatically. Western schools of Eastern studies began inviting Eastern scholars to their institutes as leading experts, and it turned out that the East began to study itself.

‘But over time, when there was rapid growth for the Japanese economy, it appeared that the Western understanding of the East was not enough,’ Aleksey Maslov added. Americans invested billions of dollars in updating Eastern studies program. It took at least 10-15 years, however, to revamp existing schools.

And now the West is noticing that it is no longer necessary to go to the East to study it. Sometimes it is enough to go to the next block over. But the mass migration of the Eastern population to the West and the growing economic power of Eastern countries are far from being the main threat to the West.

Core values important

It is clear that the economy distributes geopolitical roles. But as the lecturer said, China’s main weapon may not be the economy, but national culture. This applies to all of Eastern civilization in relation to the West. ‘If the East hasn’t talked about itself for a long time, that does not mean it has nothing to show,’ Maslov added. This at least confirms the fact that the popularity of the East and Eastern culture is soaring in the West.  

Nevertheless, the West still has a very weak idea as to what the East’s strength is, according to the lecturer. ‘The West has always been able to integrate Eastern cultures into itself, but now the question is not about integration, but about forming parallel cultures,’ the speaker emphasized. The East is beginning to develop in its own way in the West, bringing its own values ​​here. Western values are, of course, also being implanted in Eastern civilization. Eastern people, in contrast to Western, have a high degree of adaptability in relation to other cultures, Maslov noted, adding that the East also has the ability to simultaneously preserve national identity.

As a result, Eastern collectivism may be stronger than Western individualism, the lecturer adds. But this does not, in his opinion, concern the necessity of fighting or entering into confrontations. ‘Civilization is defined by values,’ Maslov believes. What matters now is how well the West is aware of its own values ​​and how stable the core of these values are in Western civilization.     

Marina Selina, specially for the HSE News Service


See also:

‘Developing Asian and Area Studies is a Huge Priority for the Next Decade’

Researchers and diplomats from 35 countries and eight Russian regional universities gathered at HSE University to discuss globalization in Asia and how it differs from what is taking place in Europe.

‘Bashkir Kids Know How to Use a Bow and Arrow, Imams Keep Ancient Books, and Everybody Preserves the Cultural Traditions’

For 12 days, students and teachers of the HSE School of Asian Studies travelled across the Republic of Bashkortostan. The trip was organized as part of the Rediscover Russia project. HSE News Service spoke with participants of the trip about their immersion in  Russian Islamic culture.

HSE Lyceum Student Participates in International Chinese Language Competition

HSE Lyceum senior Dmity Shcheglov was the first Lyceum student to participate in the international Chinese studies competition, which was held in Zhengzhou from October 17 to November 3. He placed among the top ten finalists from Europe.

HSE’s ‘Oriental Crazy Day’ Marks its Sixth Year

Asian board games, calligraphy, origami, fortune telling based upon the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching), and a traditional Japanese kabuki theater performance—these were just some of the activities in which students could participate on Oriental Crazy Day. Organized by students and professors of the School of Asian Studies in the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, the annual event was held this year as part of the ‘Asian and African Studies’ programme Open House Day.

Two HSE Students Win Prizes at Russia’s First Ever Arabic Language Competition

On December 13, Russia’s first ever Arabic Language Competition took place in Moscow with the support of the Qatar Embassy. Three students – two from HSE and one from MGIMO – won one-year scholarships at Qatar University for next year.

Olympiad Victory Takes Student from Vietnam to HSE

Thuy Tien Huynh, a 21-year-old from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has long been interested in Russian language and culture, classic Russian literary works, movies, and music from the Soviet era. While searching for opportunities to study abroad in Russia as a student in the faculty of Russian Linguistics and Literature at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Vietnam, she came across information on the HSE International Olympiad and decided to give it a shot.

‘The Programme Immerses its Students in the Reality of Asia’

Olga Volosyuk, Academic Supervisor of the master’s programme ‘Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia’, and the programme graduates, share their insights on what the programme teaches and why its alumni are in demand on the job market.

HSE Students Became Winners of Interuniversity Olympiad in Arabic Language

Three HSE students of the educational programme in Asian and African Studies became winners of the 10th Interuniversity Olympiad in Arabic language.

Calligraphy Workshop Participants Take a Trip Through Chinese History

‘Calligraphy and painting are two arts that have different names, but are one and the same,’ wrote Chinese art historian Zhang Yanyuan. Participants of the School of Asian Studies’ lecture and workshop ‘The Magic of Chinese Characters and the Secret of Calligraphy,’ which took place at the State Museum of Oriental Art as part of the Open University project, were able to witness this firsthand.

HSE Winter School: The Whole World in Miniature

From January 24 to February 4, HSE's Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs hosted an international winter school. Sixty students from across the globe (Korea, Japan, China, Germany, Italy, Poland, Egypt, Morocco, to name but a few) came together for 12 days and were plunged into the hustle and bustle of daily life in Russia.