Westernization, or Occidentalization, is a process whereby non-Western peoples come to adopt Western lifestyle, customs, and values. At its core, it is a process of acculturation, where one culture changes due to its contact with another. Phillip Kottak described Westernization as an attempt by Westerners “to remake the native culture within their own image, ignoring the fact that the models of culture that they have created are inappropriate for settings outside of Western civilization.”1 This description summarizes the aims of Westernization beautifully, as well as the reason why it is a failure.
At the heart of Westernization lies the idea that Western culture is to be normative for all other cultures and peoples, and therefore that others have to be uplifted to the standards and values of Western culture. This was true of many European colonial imperialists, and in particular the British, who attempted to make British people of the Africans and Indian people whom they ruled by their imperialist government policies. They tried to transplant Western culture to these non-Westerners in order to, in their opinion, make better people of them. This ignores the differences amongst mankind and the fact that what may be a good fit and work well for one people may not be the case for another people. This view is still the prevailing view today, which is now held, ironically, by two diametrically opposed ideological groups. First, this is a common view among Christian Identity groups, although they might still oppose Westernization by arguing that it might be ethically wrong to uplift people from other races, because they are in essence subhuman. Besides its denial of non-whites’ humanity, this view is rather ridiculous when one considers that (I assume) all of them would be opposed to animal cruelty and would do an awful lot to give their pets an enjoyable life. But what is really fascinating is that the second, and much more prevalent, group is comprised of the bulk of modern liberals and integrationists, who would of course deny that they have any racial supremacist views. Yet, at the same time, they insult all non-whites who have not adopted Western culture, and urge them to “become like white people” and adopt Western culture or assimilate so that they can integrate with them. They hold an implicit supremacist belief that non-whites are incomplete without accepting the white man’s culture, believing that it is their duty to Westernize and “fix” them. Firstly, this view is extremely problematic, because it is unbiblical. The Bible is very clear in its rejection of intrinsic racial or ethnic supremacy. In Acts 17:26a, it clearly states that God “has made of one blood every nation of man” (NKJV), and the prophet Jeremiah teaches that wise men should not glory in their wisdom; neither should rich men glory in their riches, or powerful men in their might. This also means that white Western peoples should not glory in their culture. The prophet then concludes by saying, “But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord” (Jer. 9:23-24). The same prophet later on writes: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). By teaching the total depravity of the heart and nature of all men, the prophet here rules out all views of intrinsic superiority, including the racial variety.
This is one of the main reasons why, during that crucial time in South African politics, the 1980s and early 90s, the paleoconservatives of the former Conservative Party and the Freedom Front could never fully work together with the cultural imperialists of the AWB and the Reconstituted National Party (HNP).
Furthermore, it is absolutely crucial to remember that cultural and racial boundaries are, according to the Bible, established by God. After creating man from one blood (Gen. 2), He separated the nations linguistically, genetically, and geographically (Gen. 10:5). It is important to note all three factors mentioned in Genesis 10:5, since these were the primary factors that originally contributed to the establishment of nations. According to the Bible, nationhood and culture is a consequence of all three these factors, while modern conservatives only regard language and geography as contributing factors, and liberals generally disregard all three. From this distorted view of nationhood and mankind comes their imperialist desire to Westernize people from all races. Furthermore, it is also biblically clear that through the ages, God has providentially preserved these distinctions (Deut. 32:8; Acts. 17:26b), and that He will once again in the eschaton be glorified by this diversity (Rev. 7:9). Thus, when it comes to Westernization and all other forms of cultural and racial integration, the question should never be about what biblical reasons there are to preserve the diversity; the question should rather be about what biblical reasons there are to destroy the diversity through integration and assimilation — which eventually leads to miscegenation, the ultimate destruction of racial boundaries. We should always remember that the racial diversity of creation is not man-made, but was rather created by God for some divine purpose. What liberals have always failed to understand is that segregation does not create boundaries between people, but merely preserves the God-given boundaries, while integration and miscegenation destroy them. Racial integration, when thoroughly examined, finds its roots in imperialism, which again found its roots in the anti-theistic ideology of Babel in Genesis 11. Furthermore, advocacy for racial integration ignores all three factors, contributing to the separation of nations as described in Genesis 10:5, by imperially enforcing Western languages (and customs) on non-Western peoples. This process ignores geographical borders by uncontrolled immigration and destroys the God-given genetic diversity in creation through miscegenation. Thus, Westernization is also an integral part to the post-WWII process of globalization, a movement that has its origins in the same sinful desires as that of the people at Babel in Genesis 11.
Now, it must be added here that doing missionary work and spreading the gospel among all nations (as we are clearly commanded in Scripture), does not require making Westerners out of non-Westerners. Christianity, although an integral part of traditional Western culture and identity, is not exclusive to Westerners. In fact, the religion predates Western civilization by nearly 3,000 years, considering that the first prophetic reference to Christ in Scripture is in Genesis 3:15, and considering the teaching of John 1 that Christ was also central in the creation-work of Genesis. The apostle Paul, himself a Jew, when spreading the gospel among Romans and Greeks, did not attempt to make Jews of them, but instead made them Roman Christians or Greek Christians. Christianity would take on a slightly different form among the different races, because of different genetic and cultural traits. While all people are inherently sinful, black people might have greater difficulty keeping the seventh commandment than whites, and white Westerners might struggle more with the false ideology of individualism instead of covenant theology. Likewise, while secular feminism might be a greater problem among white women than among blacks, the latter is in more urgent need to hear about the evils of abortion. While white men need to repent of the sin of pride, black men more urgently need to take heed against the evils of liberation theology. Likewise, Christianity among Asian people would also look very different — and this is all good, because none of this compromises the truth of the gospel. God is glorified in diversity, and Christ did indeed command his apostles to make disciples of all nations, not to amalgamate everyone into a single nation.
Furthermore, the spreading of Western technology and knowledge, and the bettering of infrastructure in the non-Western world by Westerners, do not necessitate making Westerners out of, for example, Asians and Africans. These other people not only keep their God-given genetic composition, but can also keep their traditional form of government, customs, cuisine, social structures, special holidays, folklore, and educational principles, while at the same time embracing both Christianity and Western technology.
In my personal opinion, it is because of the ethical problems of Westernization that God has providentially brought about innumerable practical problems and punishments with it. While imperialism tried to make non-Westerners into Westerners in their own homelands, the modern liberal takes the far more destructive approach of first importing non-Westerners into the West before trying to remake them in their own image. One of the best examples of this is in the Netherlands. This country was long regarded as one of the most “tolerant” nations in the world; however, the political make-up of the government has gradually shifted more to the right in recent years, and recent election results indicate that a lot of people are seeking a return to a government that enforces laws to protect more traditional Dutch values and culture.2 This is almost solely the consequence of the failures of the assimilationist policies of the government towards immigrants over the past few decades. Now that 8% of the Dutch population is non-white,3 it has finally become clear to the indigenous Dutch people, as well as many others across Europe, that their former integrationist approach has failed. To me it is clear that this failure is a punishment for their sins of rebelling against God’s created order. Calvin writes, concerning this, in his commentary on Acts 17:26: “Now, we see, as in a camp every troop and band has his appointed place, so men are placed upon the earth, that every people may be content within their bounds. . . . But though ambition have oftentimes raged, and many, being incensed with wicked lust, have past their bounds, yet the lust of men have never brought to pass , but that God has governed all events from out of his holy sanctuary.” The liberals of our day, so eagerly seeking to destroy these racial and ethnic bounds, are filled with that exact “wicked lust” to which Calvin is referring. The post-Christian West is under the just wrath and judgment of God for disregarding His ways and laws.
Westernization, as the logical consequence of the integrationist liberal’s worldview, is therefore rooted in the sinful, self-glorifying nature of man. Let us rather seek to glorify God by obeying His commandments and respecting His providentially-established created order, and, in so doing, proclaim Christ’s Lordship over His diverse creation.