13 October 2008, 15:47
The current political situation looks very much like the scene from the myth about Narcissus Speech of Vladimir Yakunin at the 6th session of the Dialogue of Civilizations World Public Forum
First of all, allow me to welcome everybody in this hall who has gathered to participate in the 6th annual session of the World Public forum!
I think, it would not be an overstatement to say that today all of us are witnessing growing uncertainty in international politics, economy and ideology.
Since the 1st session of WPF DC in 2003 we have been gibing special consideration to these processes. But never before has the subject of the world order been so pressing a question as today. At the present moment unprecedented intellectual eforets need to be made in order to shape practical prospects of the world community debelopment. From the first steps of its activity the rope of the Rhodes Forum consisted in the implementation of those tasks.
Expectations of the Forum's current session participants and observers are also great: for the last five years the Forum has been consistently bringing to light contours of change in the present day world order. Among its significant achievements of public benefit one can list the following:
Attempts to introduce into the world community, at all of its levels, ther thesis that would affirm the necessity of replacing the idea of uni-polar world by the concept of dialogical community and agreement practices characteristic of polycentric world in the state of globalization.
Working out the subject matter of the new world's human intercivilizational order" on the basis of a civilizational model aimed at integrating the world community. Which could be an alternative to the so called open society" with its tsk to secure for itself the right to dominate internationally by way of implementing democratic financial capitalism" exclusively in the US version;
Formulatin ways of developing the new world human order" with the aim of creating society, where not only socio-economic rights are taken into consideration, but also people's dignity, which is degined by their civilizational belonging or identity.
For a number of years now WPF has been involved in practical activity as a public initiator of the dialogue of civilizations. It allows us to confidently assert that working out legitimate grounds ot the world order and defining principles of the world's cultures co-existence are impossible to be made visible, unless there is a framework for open and permanently functioning public dialogue of civilizations.
Already in the first Rhodes resolution in 2003 it was said that the time came to think over and give shape to the principles of the future civilizational development of our world.
I regret to say, that the current political and economic situation in the world should be characterized as a whole complex of multi-version crises leading to the increase of civilizational tension.
Of all such crises the international law crisis, accompanied by the growing mutual alienation and conflicting polarization of elites, seems to be of crucial importance. In confirmation it would be enough to list just a few especially known geographic points, such as: former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Caucasus etc., to say nothing of a multitude of other frozen" and smoldering conflicts waiting, in response to a signal or spontaneously, to transit into a hot" phase with all the ensuring,often dramatic, consequences.
All throughout the 20th century we had seen, probably, the most radical attempts to construct a unified world order based on different and differing positions. It is World War II that gives us an example of the world community fight against one of the claimants upon the world supremacy.
Following the end of the War the US made a hasty move on to profit by both: post-war weakness of Europe and collapse of the colonial system. Their aim was to organize a broad political and economic infrastructure of the world order. In the main. It was creating international American dollar based financial institutions.
In the course of time this doctrinal line was being actively implemented against a background of the general shock caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which resulted de facto in virtual ratification of the unidirectional world". Designers of the unified world ideology started with a military aggression in the Balkans justifying it by the necessity to urgently and democratically bring the new Europe into a healthy state". Then they proceeded with Iraq, where, under an imaginary pretext of eliminating WMD - which is nowhere to be found in Iraq till today, US and the NATO countries did their best to approve total hegemony of the USA in the world till the end of times. As everybode knows, the process is still in progress.
What would conceptual basis of such politics look like with regard for the position of the dialogue of civilizations?
Firstly, the actions in question might be stimulated by knowing that the world order, still functioning though, is coming to a close. Its background was rooted in the deep-seated confrontation that arose in 1917 between two ideologies: communist, active at that time, and capitalist operating in self-defense. A change, that followed, in the quality and contents of the two opposed socio-political systems was brought about be the results of World War II and acquired an institutional character since the new economic paradigm was based on the dominance of American currency, which tied global interests of the West together in its struggle for the exhaustible energy resources, minerals and cheap labour force of the developing world.
Secondly, the basis of this politics is related to an attempt to morally justify theories of spiritual dominance and economic plunder of the third world countries with a view to guarantee economic interests of the golden milliard" and those clients who serve it.
Thirdly, this kind of targeting required to form a consumerist ideology as a surrogate basis of values for the society of today, which goal could be achieved by way of total subordination of individual human interests to the interests of the so called democratic society", always ready to vote in favor of aggressive consumer-ism".
Meanwhile, there is a lot of evidence that the ideas, practices and results of initial modernization processes and then globalization turned out to be not as convincing and long-living as their creators would like them to be. It is not yesterday, that a significant part of the world community began to quite adequately state the value of obvious costs and dangers of forced standardizing implement in accordance with the recipes of self-appointed rulers of the world. As a result, today one can speak about the crash of the myth of globalized society governed from one center. The world community does not seem to be willing to accept the present day world order as an unsurpassed value.
The truth is that the idea of globalism is one of the instruments to establish the world order, which would primarily answer utilitarian perposes of a closed group of its organizers. The corner stone of the conception is universalization in its worst version - standardizing as the basis of progress and prosperity paralleled, at the same time, by total negation of vitally important things like being special, another - different from strict imposed cliches and unmarching the mainstream which is being strongly recommended to follow.
Absence of any serious and sensible opposing responses to the doctrine stimulated the process of replacing the globalism in question by some quasi-reality. Economic, political, military, socio-psychological aspects of porting this quasi-reality personify, unfortunately, coercive American style in international politics. Realization of the mentioned line generated a chain of interconnected crises in civilizational interaction.
At the present moment this sort of civilizational egoism acts as the most dangerous source of crises that take shape of aggressively competitive behaviour, when a civilization claiming to be totally domineering forcibly imposes its values on others as a unified model for everybody.
Another source of the current crisis consists in weakening, often deliberate, basis principles and norms of the existing world order. Here, frequently, to battle for one's own interests one uses a mastery elaborated practice of double standards. And what is a double standard? What do double standards mean? Thir meaning is in trying to screen one's burning self-seeking interest by cold elastic conscience.
Consequently, freedom from principles allows the so called politicians to act by the rule brilliantly described by a well-known Russian satirist of the 19th century: (act) ...at first with reference to the circumstances, and then in conformity with meanness".
We have pointed out here to just a few crises causes. A detailed situation analysis would give us a huge amount of specific material to help understand the reason why the world today is so vulnerable and fragile confronted with historically meaningless, but proven to be immortal doctrines and prejudice is the so called democratic financial capitalism" practiced in the US.
Now it seems obvious that the world found itself amid the process of violently growing financial crisis in the phase of gigantic shocks. Everybody is aware of the fact that the crisis is already at its peak, but needs to say it is still far from completion yet, and, I would say, form its culmination, as well. Besides, no complex internationally approved measures aimed at softening its consequences have been found yet.
As a matter of fact, the whole of the world turned out to be held hostage of the artificial virtual economy", designed by neo-liberal theory makers and practical workers. Today anyone would accuse the US of irresponsible financial strategy. However, in justice, one should note that elite groups of many countries include creators, participators and sharers of fictious economics, as ling as many would eagerly like to make easy money and enjoy the fruit of swiftly growing financial balloons". Now they would also wish to lay all the blame for reckless economic schemes on the US.
At the moment all of the world seems to be involved in the world-wide financial crisis, and this is exactly the reason why the way out is to be found by taking joint actions. At the beginning of July in Modena (Italy), with the support of WPF Dialogue of civilizations", there was held International Economic Forum Dialogue West-East: integration and development", which convoked experts from Russia and Italy.
The Forum resulted in launching Modena initiative", which particulars states that the crisis bears a system character. Violently growing fictious capital together with floating currency rates led to the separation of the financial system, mainly speculative, from real economy.
Modena initiative" offers specific recommendations, urgent measures that need to be taken in order to soften the collapse consequences. The text is available in the materials of Modena initiative" workshop of the present Forum, so one is welcome to discuss the materials and, if there is a wish to, join the initiative.
It seems that deeply-rooted grounds of today's almost chaotic state of the world order lie in the sphere of paradoxical, at first sight, interconnection of two outwardly opposite ideological matrices, that used to keep the world throughout the 20th century in the strained bipolar balance. It was a balance on the verge of a conflict, thanks to which though, both competing systems managed to about fatal clashes. Both sides elaborately regulated this balance-competition-confrontation preloss, which nevertheless accounts for the positive effects of the situation; to mention just a few: decades of world peace and outstanding results of scientific, technological and socio-political progress (cosmic exploration, disarmament schemes, non-proliferation treaty, etc.) At the time the so called third world" formed an integral part of the practical opportunities to modernize their economies and articulate their interests after centuries of colonial subordination.
Still, as it turned out, the interests of the majority of such countries and nations could not be actually protected in the environment of one-polar globalization.
Moreover, the world cannot be endlessly kept in the state of a strained balance fraught with aggravation and conflicts. It needs more certainty and predictability of the future and a more fundamental basis for long-term relations, that could be built up not only on pragmatic interests but also on deep spiritual aspirations.
The decline of the bipolar system, caused by the collapse of one of the two political systems duly led to the unstable position of the opposite ideological matrix, which had lost the source of opponent significance.
Destruction of the world order created by the two confronting political systems factually transferred all the problems of the world community into the transit space of inter-civilizational relationships. Within this space" every thing would acquire specifically involutional and regressive evaluative features of civilizational identity, which got manifested in the appearance of archaic slogans and appeals urging to fight with axes of evil", the so called Islamic fundamentalism", Iranian nuclear threat, suppression of democracy in Russia, etc.
Under the pressure of biased and politically programmed mass media special attempts have been made to provoke nationalistic confrontations in Russia, India, China, in Europe and Latin America. That is how the doctrine of controlled chaos" is being built up to get form and substance by those who proclaim themselves winners" in the Cold war.
We believe that coming out of deadlocks caused by the degrading ideology of globalism", alongside with abstaining the meaning of integrative processes of the world wide developments, mainly consists in the recognition of the primacy of international law in the polycentric (multipolar) world. In which precisely form it is going to happen is a problematic question, that might find a solution in the course based on the recognition of the originality of historic and cultural peculiarities of one of another civilizational vision of the world.
Allow me to conclude by saying that recognition of the necessity to create a paradigm of the dialogue of civilizations in response to the Anglo-Saxon nationalistic and cultural egoism called into being a powerful growth of civilizational self-identification processes in the world.
Unfortunately, mechanisms of intergovernmental interaction, presented in the first-rate international organizations, fall behind the reality of growing inter-civilizational contradictions. Here there continue to function principles of the outgoing epoch - the period of the balance on the verge of a conflict". Obviously, this kind of balance, no matter how well it might have been constructed, would not be long-lived. It has never guaranteed anybody a reliable and predictable future, so therefore it should be replaced by the balance based on the peaceful and open to everybody inter-civilizational dialogue, which is able to take proper and full account of all the variety of the polycentric world.
We are witnessing today how illusions of the unipolar world are breaking down in front of our eyes. In this situation is is important to understand taht the transit to the reality of the multipolar world would not occur by itself, because with the illusions lost there are sill many who would wish to keep their exclusive influence in the world. For instance there has already appeared an idea of creating the so called League of Democratic States", quite recently launched as a trial balloon.
It is also important to realize that the transition to the multipolar world would be made impossible against the background of unstable economic, political and ideological bases, which is going to drag the world community from crisis in all the spheres of international activity.
Overcoming existing and potential conflicts on the intercivilizational basis requires consideration and solution of rather complicated, multi-level and complex tasks. But one can say with certainty that the problems presented and a high intellectual level of our Forum participants will provide for the unbiased and substantial discussion of the crucial issues of the world's current agenda.
The 6th session includes a wide range of questions: from theoretical aspects of the dialogue of cultures and civilizations, problems of creating a new world system up to different features of the present day crisis of the world financial system, and also problems relating to monitoring migration processes, that might threaten to overturn existing national border lines in the near future.
Finishing my speech I would like to draw your attention to one indicative analogy.
Greek mythology tells us of a well-known character - a proud and self-loving Narcissus. As the myth says, Narcissus, being enchanted with his own reflection in the waters of the river, fell in love with the reflection. Unable to part with the image of himself he had to eventually say goodbye to his own wife.
The current political situation looks very much like the scene in this Greek myth: we can see how leading political actors and characters copying them are pressing towards self-assertion on any occasion, never making notice of any other prospects of their existence outside blind and aggressive imposing their own way of life and their outlook on the world's community without a moment's thought that narcissism might dangerously lead to self-destruction.
President of World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations
Rhodes, 11th October 2008