The word is used in Zimbabwe to refer to former colonial powers, Australia, Britain and the US. Only I use the term with my own modifications, that is not really so much as an expletive (in the Mugabe sense), and not so much to designate a category of people either, but rather to describe the intensification of a zone in which particular types of phenomena are likely to be more heightened.
When I discover that somebody is using “Western” modes of thinking and behaving, it always takes me by surprise, by sheer virtue of the otherness of this kind of thinking and acting. I’m not anticipating the behavior at all, and this is why it immediately strikes me as “other” — that is, in terms of my expectations. I am not saying that I see certain people, per se, as “other”. Rather, it is the phenomena of behaving in a certain way that seems “other” to me.
No words suggest themselves to my mind so much as “Western” because I also deduce that the reason I am being taken by surprise so much is because (I have strong reasons for thinking) of my Zimbabwean cultural heritage, which leads me to expect and anticipate behavior that would be quite different from the types of behavior that surprise me in a specific way.
So when this behavior surprises me, I defer to my Zimbabwean roots in order to find a word that can sum up the nature of my surprise, and the word that most logically suggests itself to me (on the basis of my Zimbabwean cultural heritage) is “Western”.
“Western” is, abstractly, as I have suggested, the behavior or attitudes that take me by surprise as being non-Zimbabwean. This is part of what makes it hard to define in the concrete, because it requires me to go back into my mind and to try to list all of those attitudes and behaviors that have shocked the living daylights out of me by being, for instance, the exact opposite sort of response to something from the one I would have expected in my originative culture. (Having just returned from Zimbabwe, I was extremely reassured to realize that most people there — particularly black Zimbabweans — do still think and feel in ways that I used to considered to be merely “common-sensical” before the living daylights were shocked out of me.)
So once again, what is “Western”? In the immediate (and still hard to elucidate sense) it is the manifestation of qualities that are alien, other, and defiant of my culturally based notions of common sense. It is also the manifestation of the mindset of a would-be dominator, somebody who will not take “no” for an answer, who insists on seeing things only in their way, whilst negating the validity of my perspectives. It is more specifically the attitude of one who denies my right to have a perspective that is “other” than theirs, whilst at the same time treating me almost exclusively as the other.
Speaking experientially, a “Westerner” is one who wraps me up in a double-bind by denying me the right to speak differently, from my own cultural perspective (when it suits him), whilst also treating me like someone whose differences are entirely noticeable (and punishable) when it suits him. That is to say, his words say, “You are entirely as Western as the rest of us, and will be treated as such whenever you speak as if you were actually different,” whereas his actions say, “You are entirely alien from the rest of us, and you will be punished until you are brought into line and start to make sense.”
A “Westerner”, then, is somebody whose mind and being is entirely political. He will sacrifice any sort of meaning, or friendship or experience for a political advantage. (A “Westerner” is a kind of anti-humanist, then.) He is not particularly logical but likes to make a fetish out of being seen to embrace rationality above all things. But actually, logic is more of an image game for him as well as means for political point-scoring, rather than anything like he takes to be a practical or workable ideal.