For many, the contemporary icon of the Western genre is that of the semi-nomadic wanderer or the knight errant–the pale rider. While that is a Western motif, it’s usually shown in contrast to the frontier, societal enclave from which fate has removed the rider.
The larger motifs of classic Western literature and film revolve around the local social order maintained by personal codes of honor that are strictly enforced. Abstract law is for sissies and Yankees. Westerns grow organically from the fertile soil of independence and libertarianism.
With a hoe in one hand and a rifle in the other, tough men and women etch meaningful existences from the harsh wilderness environment using their wit and fortitude. Those desiring to exploit the land for easy gain or to pillage others are the enemy. Most simply, the Western is a morality tale caked with dust and manure. And this, dear reader, is what I think Western civilization needs a bit more of presently (both morality and manure).