In his article, Reasons for honour in a godless society, Malcolm Knox writes:

We live in a pluralistic Australia and a pluralistic globe, in which honour-and-shame communities co-exist with the pragmatic children of the Enlightenment. We see them as barbaric, for the weight they place on honour. They see us as corrupt, with our misplaced faith in a secular, individual, relativistic idea of personal integrity.

The Western world may believe it has shed the ancient codes of honour. But the Western world is not the Western world anymore. Cultures of honour and shame are marching through our doors every day, with all that they bring, and are our partners on the international stage. We dismiss or mock them at our peril. We have only one way forward – and that is backwards, into our own collective and individual histories, when we, too, were governed by codes of honour rather than the rule of law.

Although I laugh at Australia being a godless society, and would caution rationalists to read the research before launching into such rhetoric, I agree that the West is increasing global and honour and shame communities now exist within it. We do need to see that this too is post-modernity.

3 thoughts on “Has the West no Honour?

  1. I suspect that the West is lacking in honour, and is embeded in a code of shame, shame drives us to wear masks and to hide in other ways, therefore we do not realise that honour is lacking in our culture… interesting quote!

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  2. Well you know Sally I would argue that many within the west have absolutely no shame. Big Brother … need I say more?
    Cross cultural anthropologists recognise three basic cultural concerns: shame-honour, guilt-innocence, fear-power. Historically shame-honour has been associated with the east, guilt-innocence with the west (note the popularity of gospel of guilt management amongst modernist evangelicals), and fear-power with primal cultures.
    But its shifting. If anything I would say many postmoderns these days lean towards fear-power (observe the emphasis on anxiety and empowerment at MBS festivals).
    At the very least the focus of guilt-innocence has changed. The greatest sins today are adding to the waist line and seeking privacy. Hense why the prosperity gospel sells.

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