The Global Economy
Economic and environmental developments raised important challenges about Western society. The emergence of new technologies forced firms to be more flexible in rapidly changing markets by relying on outsourcing, subcontracting, or downsizing. These changes have left the worker vulnerable. Central authority has largely moved out of the hands of governments and into those of individuals and institutions. At times, their decisions can be devastating for countries. In the 1990s, the actions of currency speculators forced currencies and stock markets to collapse in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Malaysia. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two examples of institutions exercising more control that governments. Another challenge is the growing divide between North and South, which coincides with the divide between rich and poor.

The Environmental Crisis
Yet another challenge has been environmental. Various forms of environmental protection have been in effect, including forest and wetlands conservation, restrictions on endangered species, and regulations on fossil fuels. Environmental degradation, however, has continued. The burning of fossil fuels and the cutting of the rain forests has resulted in rising temperatures. Global warming threatens international economic stability. The U.S. has refused to implement Kyoto agreements to cut "greenhouse" gas emissions. U.S. actions in regards to the environment and in the 2003 Gulf War have raised concerns about the U.S. as a superpower out of control.

Conclusion: Where is the West Now?
The definition of "the West" is more complicated than ever. Many regions all over the world fulfill the economic, cultural, political, and technological characteristics of what it means to be Western. Aspects of "the West" still remain that make it quite distinct, and boundaries continue to exist between "East" and "West." There are even boundaries between "North" and...