The unabridged audio book version of this book is also available here
Scruton shows how the different religious and philosophical roots of Western and Islamic societies have resulted in those societies' profoundly divergent beliefs about the nature of political order. For one thing, the idea of the social contract, crucial to the self-conception of Western nations, is entirely absent in Islamic societies. Similarly, Scruton explains why the notions of territorial jurisdiction, citizenship, and the independent legitimacy of secular authority and law are both specifically Western and fundamentally antipathetic to Islamic thought.
And yet, says Scruton, for its adherents Islam provides amply for one of the most fundamental of human needs: the need for membership. In contrast, the decay of the West's own political vision, and its concomitant preoccupation with individual choice, has finally led to a "culture of repudiation" in which that need goes increasingly unfulfilled, principally because the sources of its fulfillment—patriotism, religious belief, traditional ways of life—are routinely mocked.
Globalization has made these facts an explosive mixture. Migration, modern communications, and the media have inexorably brought the formerly remote inhabitants of Islamic nations into constant contact with the images, products, and peoples of secular, liberal democracies. Scruton warns that in light of this new reality, certain Western assumptions—about consumption and prosperity, about borders and travel, about free trade and multinational corporations, and about multiculturalism—need to be thoroughly re-evaluated.
The West and the Rest is a major contribution to the West's public discourse about terrorism, civil society, and liberal democracy.
What They're Saying...
"Roger Scruton has penned a fine book of contemporary political and cultural issues."
"In one of the most cogent books on Islamic-Western relations, Scruton argues that the war on terrorism is based in a misunderstanding of Islamic identity that reflects invidious Western prejudices about immigration, multiculturalism, free trade, and religion."
"The new book by Roger Scruton, one of Britain's most prominent intellectuals, addresses the intellectual and political background to the September 11 attacks. Its eminently quotable pages, ranging from classical Islamic philosophy to architecture to current economics, offer a capsule history of the confluence of events and beliefs that led to September 11."
— New York Sun
"British philosopher Roger Scruton's The West and the Rest does a superb job of placing into context the horrendous events of September 11, 2001. His book is a marvel of clarity and concision, with an extraordinary amount of information packed into its 200 pages. … Scruton does not pretend to solve the problems he addresses, but he has framed those problems compellingly. His arguments are nuanced, and the evidence he marshals in support of them is formidable."
— Philadelphia Inquirer
"If books, like whiskey, were rated according to strength, The West and the Rest would weigh in above 100 proof. It is a brief book, but concentrated. Scruton writes with seductive clarity."
— New Criterion
"Scruton does not pretend to solve the problems he addresses, but he has framed those problems compellingly. His arguments are nuanced, and the evidence he marshals in support of them is formidable."
— Philadelphia Inquirer
"This is an intensely intelligent and stimulating essay...."
— Daily Telegraph
"[T]his book-length essay is a thoroughly engaging major contribution to the intellectual defense of one of Western civilization's greatest creations, the liberal-democratic nation-state."
— National Review