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La Cecla

In Praise of the West

It is said that the West (led by Europe) is in crisis. And there are plenty of reasons to support this claim by its multitude of critics, including those who want to blame it for everything bad that is happening in the world. Nevertheless, La Cecla warns us about throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because in this overwhelming disenchantment we are losing consciousness of the difference that the West represents still today and that external observers seem to grasp more than insiders. Despite capitalism, the world wars, colonialism, neo-liberalism (and the list can go on and on), the West is in fact seen by the rest of the world as the place where there is an enviable coexistence. A place where the individual and women and children can exercise their rights against all forms of religious, ethnic, clan, and familial affinity. A place where you practice a citizenry that allows you to establish free and revocable bonds, an idea born with the democracy of Pericles and then reformulated in light of the concepts of equality and fraternity. It is this extraordinary difference that we risk to throw away, when in fact, we must not only assert it but re-possess and radicalize it; unless it favors a masochistic sense of its own place in the world and an exoticism that is now completely out of place.

Franco La Cecla, anthropologist and urban planner, has taught Cultural Anthropology in Berkeley, Paris, Venice, Bologna, and Milan.
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