Qu’est-ce que l’Occident ?

PARIS – Qui n’a entendu parler du « choc des civilisations ? ». Inventé par Samuel Huntington, l’expression est vite devenue universelle. Dans les années 50, l’économiste français Alfred Sauvy avait rencontré un succès comparable avec le terme de « tiers-monde. L’une des raisons pour lesquelles ces expressions sont facilement acceptées est qu’elles n’obéissent à aucune définition claire. Le « choc des civilisations », en d’autres termes moins élégants, l’Occident face au reste du monde, est censé décrire la réalité. Mais, « Occident » est assez vague pour inclure une vaste gamme de nations et de cultures sans décrire leurs caractéristiques communes.

Mais, qu’est-ce que l’Occident ? Que signifie occidentalisation ? Pourquoi le Japon est-il considéré plutôt comme occidental et non la Chine ? Où situera-t-on Shanghai ? La Russie fait-elle partie de l’Occident ?

De ces incertitudes, il est évident que l’Occident n’est pas une entité géographique. Probablement, est-il né d’emblée, instauré comme état d’esprit lorsque les Grecs, il y a 25 siècles, se perçurent comme d’Occident face aux Perses d’Orient. Ayant perdu toute base territoriale simple depuis lors, « l’Occident » a toujours été un concept universel plus qu’une notion géographique.

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