Does The Modernization Theories Mean Westernization Politics Essay

The battle between the east and the west still continues as ea

The issue of organization and distribution of power within the society has preoccupied political and social researches since early history. During the bourgeois revolutions as in the post revolution times the European societies have confronted different socio-political beliefs. Each socio-political scientist was concerned about defining best ways of conduction and development of each country. However, since the rise of political ideologies in the nineteenth century, the implementation for the most efficient political system is still discussed. According to Heywood (2007:5), the study of a certain political ideology means, nevertheless, to decide which political thought or set of idea can be defined as political ideology. Socialism and liberalism are two different political ideologies with the common aim of human evolution. Socialism is the political ideology that promotes the abolishment of classes within a society attempting the recognition of the community and the development of the country as a whole whilst liberalism is aiming to construct a hierarchical society in which every individual has the right to a profit of its own work. This essay will give the definition of socialism and liberalism, will present a historical background of both ideologies and will discuss the differences between the above mentioned.

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By the early nineteenth century, the most important political ideologies have appeared. Socialism, liberalism and conservatism have developed as contrasting responses to the process of modernization. Even though socialism and liberalism emerged as a result to the Enlightenment, liberalism encouraged the growth of industrial capitalism and socialism believed that capitalism is a form of injustice.

In other instance, socialism is the political ideology which consists in empowering the policies and strategies that promote the idea that wealth within a country should be uniformly distributed based on the concept that every individual within the community has equal access to resources. The history of socialism starts in the nineteenth century with the development of industrial capitalism and the evolution of urban industrial society. Consequently, socialism appeared as a moral protest contra the bourgeoisie idea.

According to Hall (1949:55), socialism differs from liberalism with the simple fact that the first is an ideology totally based on scientific grounds.

Thereby, the concept of socialism is strongly linked to the name of Karl Marx, German philosopher and economist who wrote the theory of the Scientific Socialism with Friedrich Engels in the book “The Communist Manifesto” written in 1848.

In this book, Marx argued that the Capitalism is a failing system and that Socialism should replace it in order to create a classless society of pure communism which in his opinion was:

” only possible as the act of dominant people “all at once” and simultaneously which presupposes the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse bounded with communism” Marx and Engels(1967:27)”.

During the history, socialism has been perceived in different ways and later generations of Marxists have showed greater interest in this ideology than Karl Marx himself. Consequently, Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov (Lenin) the first Soviet Union leader, has said in his book “What is to be done “([1902]1961) that the ideas of proletariat are a “socialist ideology”, this phrase coming in total contradiction to the concepts of Karl Marx.

Even though the concept of socialism has been perceived differently by each generation it has promoted the same idea that a Socialist State represents the workers class interest based on the idea that the economical system of a country should be operated with a plan of productions so that the bourgeoisie and personal profit is abolished. The best example of socialism can be represented by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics existent from 1922 to 1991. The Soviet Union foundation started with the Russian Civil War in 1917 when the Transcaucasia, Byelorussian and Ukrainian territories were unified. The Soviet countries were imposed to a socialist system while fighting for the dream of pure communism in which the resources within the country would be accessible equally to each individual and the nation would progress as a whole. On the other hand, socialism meant for these countries a social and intellectual comedown. According to Heywood (2007:5) political ideas and ideologies form the social element that incidentally creates social groups or entire societies with common beliefs and values. In this case, socialism has formed groups and societies in which individuals did not have the right and opportunity to create their own values and beliefs. However, the only concepts that unified them as a society was persuading the ideas imposed by the government, by the authorities.

In socialist countries as China, Cuba, USSR, people with innovatory ideas wanting to bring the change were persecuted making the nation to desist from a personal view and to homogenate people into a silent and complied society. The socialism has had sizeable negative impact on the populations involved both during its active existence as after its fall. People of the generation of socialism were dramatically used to the “equality” idea so that after their release from the socialist system individuals had no definition of self-determined life, how to incept, organize and work for a quality of their condition, for a profit of the own work and of social contribution. All countries on a socialist political system have a dictatorship, a form of government in which the nation is ruled by a leader, a dictator. Dictatorships may take the form of government in which the leader has the power to lead without needing the consent from those being lead.

Examples of dictatorships are: Fidel Castro in Cuba, Francisco Franco in Spain, Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union and Josip Tito in Yugoslavia. In other instances the dictatorship becomes totalitarianism, where the government rules almost every aspect of the people’s life and behavior.

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An overview on liberalism

Many attempts have been made in order to classify political ideas and ideologies and to find the common points between them. However, the traditional way to do so, remains the left-right political spectrum. This is being used in order to express the political belief of a person. Furthermore, in the left-right political spectrum, people refer to left wing, right wing or center. On an imaginary scale, communism would be placed in the far left followed by socialism consequently, fascism in the far right and liberalism in the center. The political spectrum and the imaginary scale aim to outline the contrasts between these ideologies. Thereby, left-wingers are concerned with equality and right-wingers believe in wealth and property.

Liberalism, the centre in the political spectrum, is the ideology based on the concept that each individual has the right to property and personal profit of wealth. In what concerns the function of a state, Liberalism supports and promotes the idea of democracy, fair elections and capitalism. However, the concept of liberalism divides in two subcategories: classical liberalism and social liberalism. The term of classical liberalism is meant to define the liberalism that appeared before the eighteenth century. This concept promoted the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and free market. Regarding the state, liberalism defined the belief in economic primacy and minimal government. The adepts of liberalism believed that the capitalism is the most efficient social and economic form of function of a state. The above mentioned, believed that, the society consists of individuals and each individual has the freedom to act in his personal interest and be motivated by the profit in order to produce the required products at the most appropriate cost-efficient standards. In consequence, the market and the worker would receive an expected reward and the economic system would be organized efficiently and meet consumer´s needs.

Socialism and Liberalism: the tangency

The only tangency between socialism and liberalism is that both defend the mixed economy and government regulation. However, liberalism and Socialism differ in any other aspects. The most important difference is that Liberalism has proved to be an efficient system whilst political doctrine has proved over time the total contraire about Socialism.

Not only the Socialism and Liberalism differ so much, they also fought one contra the other during history. United States and the Soviet Union continue to be in a tremendous conflict of opinions and wish of domination. Therefore, this wish of domination as the parallel critics has lead to an imaginary world division between West and East. Moreover, the conflict between these major powers of the world represented by violent attacks and competition had consequences in non-adept, neutral countries all over the globe. In consequence, countries like Vietnam and Afghanistan were unwillingly involved and suffered violent attacks due to the conflict between the Soviet Union and United States. The result of this continuous Cold War has nevertheless a colossal impact on these major powers´ capital and society.

Marxists argue that capitalism is a threat to liberty. On the contrary, there is no negation that capitalism and liberalism are strongly linked with each other and this is due to the fact that liberalism has considered capitalism an efficient way of achieving its own ends (Hall 1949:36) and the fact that liberalism finds a considerable connection between the commerce and the liberty. In addition, Marxists argue that the official freedoms of a liberal society mean to mask the hidden exploitation that can end by abolishing capitalism and creating substantive freedom.


Socialism appeared to be an illusionist ideology with impalpable motives and disappointing results as stated by O’Sullivan (1995:28) “what the socialist mid refuses to accept is that all socialism is based upon coercion”.

However, the social history and the political doctrine leave no space for doubts in what regards the differences between socialism and liberalism. For this reason, no nation or political leader can affirm the extreme right or wrong between this two. However, the history, the consequences and the impact of socialism and liberalism made nations throughout the world understand the importance of the human evolution and the matter of life as part of an entire or as individuals. In present, the fear of coercion has made nations and societies stronger and more self determined in fighting for their own freedom. But is Socialism still alive in countries that have long ago been released or is it that we are relegating ourselves in a new kind of socialism? Is the European Union a safe oasis in which European countries can maintain their freedom whilst developing at large scale or are we hiding ourselves in the strongest socialism? If it is so, what is the duration of this new retouched ideology?


ch try to preserve its culture and assert its powers. Just as the fight to be superpowers continues, the west and east continue to outdo each other in other aspects. The concept of modernization means an evolution from traditional society practices to modern social status [1] . Modernization has brought about transformation of societies which has been experienced since time in history. The term modernization however, has been mistakably been taken to mean the adoption of policies that favor other societies. The changes have been witnessed in the political, economic production and social systems. In addition, it has also been reflected in the way of thinking and behavior of the people [2] .

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In the twentieth century many transformations continues to change especially the most controversial issue of culture. Societies have remained attached to their practices and beliefs and any attempt to change them. This has remained a contentious issue when the east is approached to adopt policies from the west [3] . They view this as colonization from the west which is blocked in every possible way. This paper tackles the question: Does modernization mean Westernization? It seeks to find out whether there are ways of becoming modern that are informed by different civilization logic. In answering this question it visits the issue of modernization in China in the twentieth century.

Civilization brings about modernization; and civilization has historic start in Europe. The different civilizations such as the one rising from Tigris-Euphrates and Nile river valleys contributed a lot to the modern man [4] . The Middle East in the 4000 B.C.E. also experienced civilization revolutions through agrarian revolutions [5] . Technological innovations also characterized this period which contributed to better economic, political and social development. Consequently the changes contributed to the present day modernization.

The Chinese Situation

In China, modernization came into light during the new culture movement. In this period other terms were associated with modernization; they include westernization, electrification, mechanization, fashionable, and modern [6] . Nevertheless, it was until the 1950s and 60s that the concept of modernization became accepted and used. During this period two western centric ideas were accepted which were; the impact — response approach and the tradition — modernity approach that contributed to the Chinese transformation. The tradition — modernity approach had a direct influence to the modernization which was more known in the American society [7] .

Modernization had two practical purposes in the 1950s and 60s; they include to analyse the academic program so as to bring to an end to communism and secondly to give third world nations with a plan to achieve development of a stable, free and content world through the use of science, rationality, enlightenment, capitalist democracy and capitalistic free market [8] .

The modernization was characterized in the 1950s and 60s by the split in the development in the modern and tradition period. The traditional period was described as stagnant and static while the modern period was described as rational, fast moving and dynamic. For that reason, modernization was viewed as the elimination of tradition [9] . In those who supported modernization they saw China as incapable of transforming itself to be modern; it required an external shock which should be strong enough to initiate a modern revolution; the west had the chance to provide the enlightenment required for the transformation; and the effects of modernization in China would be to copy the west which was regarded as modern [10] .


Modernization can be traced to the historical development in Europe, since the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries there were major transformational changes. They included renaissance, scientific revolution, the age of great discovery, agrarian and industrial revolution, and enlightenment. In order to be modernized there are two preconditions involved; they are secularization and innovation [11] .

In secularization, man is required to have human value that means the satisfaction of practical needs and not accepting idealistic ideas. In adopting secularization man has stronger sense of reality, rationality, and active in social matters. Innovation on the other hand, requires casting away traditional ideologies [12] . In real meaning, modernization moves man from a spiritual or god centered society to a man centered one [13] . It turns out to be rational and scientific.

Modernization also brings the issue of enlightenment which brings about a political and social rearrangement that is based on rationality, science and development. For example, the capitalistic system, a liberal democratic system and sovereignty need to be involved.

Modernization means industrialization that is built on science and technological revolutions. Science makes man understand the world while technology gives the tools to have a better world. This means that the quality of life is improved contributing to a modern society [14] .

Western form of modernization is measured with mechanization regarding to production modes, urbanization, mass participation in public issues, affirmative action, education popularization, expansion of infrastructure i.e. transport and communication, bureaucracy and international relationships enhancement [15] . In this view modernization is gauged with the amenities and provisions in the country.

For modern transformation the country must therefore undergo economic, political, and cultural transformation. Economically, the country needs to transform from traditional agriculture practices to modern industrial practices [16] . Politically, the country must move from dictatorial and feudal autocratic practices to free and fair democratic society. Culturally, the society needs to move from uncivilized groups into conscious individualism so as to have independence.

The democratic view of modernization is the ability to restrict power by use of law, having multi-party rule, having security forces to protect the state, democratic elections, accountability of the government, decentralizing the functions and having participants of the people [17] .

The traditional Chinese culture had entrenched three bonds which were (between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife), and five relationships between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife, older brother and younger brother, and friends [18] . The society had focus on family, male domination, patriarchy, agriculture and household industry. Changing this would need great and strong force of modernization.

Does modernization mean Westernization?

Separating modernization from westernization is the issue that lies in the mind; whichever side of the debate one is then he or she can give contradicting statements to prove a point. Many will debate on the loss of culture and the imitation of the western culture as modernization while others will base their argument on the adoption of democracy and a free society [19] . The modern societies have a great deal of common aspects however they never merge into homogeneity. Some have the assumption that the modern civilization is the same as the western civilization and consequently western civilizations is the same as modern civilization. This conversely, is not true. This is due to the fact that the western has always been even before modernization [20] .

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The western culture has been seen to be based on philosophy and rationalism of the Greek, the law of the Romans, natural law, the Latin language the rift between Catholics and Protestants and social pluralism [21] . The cultures of the west have not been well accepted in the east in areas like China, Russia, and the Middle East, where centralized bureaucracy and absolutism exists [22] . To the east the adoption of such culture and values would be colonization and modern day slavery. The social and political values depicted as western civilization are therefore rebelled against.

The values view as western modernization include liberty, individualism, equality, free markets, capitalism, constitutionalism, separation of the church and state, the rule of law, human rights and democracy [23] . This creates a democracy paradox; where the Islamic world and the east in general oppose westernization.

The question at hand (i.e. Does modernization mean Westernization?) will help to separate modernization from westernization. Depending on which perspective it is either west or east the argument may last forever but to draw a line and separate the real ideologies can help solve the dilemma of whether the glass is half full or half empty. Can one modernize without being western?

As the time passes on the differences between the cultures become less and less; the gap therefore closes. But in the modern society many may resist this change seeing it as colonization. Nevertheless, change is inevitable and as technological and industrial revolutions are adopted the enlightenment period get closer with people demanding their rights [24] . This means that the society will crave for change. However the adoption does not mean a complete merger of the cultures to one global culture. There will always be real and significant differences in the modernization. For example, the democracy, communism, and fascism were modern political systems and since democracy has been adopted by the west does not mean it is westernization [25] . There is therefore need to differentiate the western influence from the modernization in the west.

Though modernization may seen by the east as aping the west; the critical part is the difference between the two areas. There are still differences even after modernization since the family values; the social obligations and the meaning of life remain different from the west. Their cultures have the various differences which are always unique to the areas and the people practicing them. This brings the cultural identity which is always maintained even after modernization.

Modernization and westernization

Societies have defied all odds to modernize despite the negative notion brought by those who oppose change. Westernizing and modernizing have already been differentiated by a clear line. While modernizing is the adoption of technology and industrial revolutions; westernization on the other hand is the adoption of the western culture and ideas. Therefore for those who modernize does not have to adopt the western cultures [26] . They just need to maintain their own culture but retain the ideologies of the modern world. The revolutionizing of people and societies is normally seen as the western culture where governments in the east want to retain the status quo and remain dictatorial [27] .

For modernization to take place there must be minimum requirements which include; industrialization, urbanization, occupational social structures that are complex and diverse, rational, effective and efficient economic groups, revolutionary decisions, education of the masses, efficient communication systems, centralization and global economic participation. Above all there must be social and political will; which might incorporate western values such as liberty, human rights, constitutionalism, secularization, democracy, equality and free markets [28] .

Citizens from the oppressed nations must therefore be able to distinguish the lies from the truth. Modern day civilization is not just a matter of aping what people want and fighting freedom; it is all about adopting the values that revolutionize society and give them a chance to discover themselves [29] . The East especially the Islamic nations has particularly remained cold in adopting the western values more specifically due to the religion factor which is seen as an overtaking of the Muslim religion and culture by the Christian practices and norms [30] .

For a global village to be achieved there is need for most nations to adopt modernization and play away all difference. On the other hand, it does not mean forgetting their culture but it means retaining it and preserving what is beneficial to the society. Every person needs to given the right to decide his or her own destiny while the state controls the nation in a democratic way. The people should have the freedom to decide in fair elections and be able to exercise their democratic rights [31] . It also tends to abolish communism and assert democracy in a society that is oppressed.


Modernization does not mean aping the law, politics, lifestyles, language, religion, and education systems. But, it entails empowering the societies to decide what they need and want at all times. It involves making their lives easier through revolutions such as industrialization which will make them change from the traditional practices to modern concepts.

The west has been viewed as very revolutionary and dynamic in the adoption of new ideas; the east on the other hand has been seen to oppose change. In view of the fact that modernization started in the west does not mean that the east should ape them. The clear separation of modernization from westernization is the only factor that will ensure the societies in the east are not lied to by their leaders.

The east can experience better economic, political and social benefits if only they embrace modernization. They should use modernization to ensure the cultural and social values are always preserved within the society. This is the unique character of modernization; it does not strive to change the individual but the means of the individual to live. It is also good since it allows individuals to discover themselves, their strengths and weaknesses which will contribute to better control of the system. The east does not have to worry on adopting the western culture rather what the modernization does to the economic, social and political norms.


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