A CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN THE GLOBALIZATION CONTEXT: THE EURASIAN APPROACH
Candidate for a degree at the Academy of State Governance under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan).
A CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN THE GLOBALIZATION CONTEXT: THE EURASIAN APPROACH
The author looks at the cultural-civili-zational dimension of globalization and cultural transformation from the viewpoint of Eurasianism. To accomplish this, he introduces the concept of compound
entities, analyzes the views and opinions of the classics of Eurasian geopolitical and culturological doctrines, and offers a survey of different conceptions of globalization.
I n t r o d u c t i o n
In the post-Soviet expanse, the intensive quest for a new ideological paradigm coincided with intensified globalization, a process that rose to eminence from the ruins of the bipolar world. This inevitably confronted the non-Western societies with the task of preserving their cultural identity in the context of Westernization and the rapidly disappearing cultural boundaries on a global scale.
Today, these issues have become the core of all kinds of geopolitical and culturological theories being offered by the non-Western societies. Eurasianism is one such theory: I will use it to discuss the problems of the Cultural Revolution in the globalization era.
The first part of the article deals with various views and conceptions related to globalization. The second part offers an analysis of the replacement of the dichotomous system of global confrontation and introduces the conception of compound entities. The third part deals with what the ideologists of Eurasianism have to say about preserving cultural identity in the context of the global Cultural Revolution.
Globalization: An Objective Process or an Invented Phenomenon?
So far the world academic community has failed to offer a more or less unambiguous definition of globalization. V. Osherov, for example, described globalization as an attempt to place diverse cultural, political, and economic traditions in the pinching limits of neoliberalism.1 According to L. Sa-
1 V. Osherov, Globalizatsia i/ili globalizatorstvo? Novy mir, No. 1, 2001.
vin, it is the quintessence of liberalism, egotism, messianism, and aggressive expansion.2 By globalization Michael Intriligator means considerable increase of world trade and other processes of international exchange under the conditions of the consistently integrating world economy. While some academics look at globalization as an ever-expanding exchange of commodities, services, financial flows, information, etc. incorporating states and even continents,3 others believe that globalization is more than that. For them, globalization is also an ideology related, albeit indirectly, to neoliberalism and technocratic approaches to economic development and reforms.4 Some people find a similarity between globalization and the international human rights, environmental, and women equality movements. Not infrequently environmental movements act under the slogan Think globally, act locally.5
In view of the absence of a straightforward and objective definition of globalization, we can provisionally reduce the entire range of interpretations to the following:
1. Globalization is an objective process created by technological advances, the rapid development of means of information and other scientific and technological breakthroughs, as well as the mounting volumes of international trade, the greater role of transnational economic activities and the increase in the number of super-state structures with much wider roles to play, which are involved and, therefore, interested in the development of international economic and political systems.
2. Globalization is not an objective phenomenonit is an artificial process of imposing the Western economic, political, cultural, technological, and information code on all countries and states.6
3. Globalization is a paradoxical subjective-objective process; in this context, globalization is understood as an irreversibly objective phenomenon determined by history yet exploited by a narrow range of entities of international relations to pursue their own clearly stated empirical aims (due to their privileged positions and strong military-political and economic bases).
Replacement of the Dichotomous System and Compound Entities
Globalization created an urge among all kinds of communities within the non-Western ecumene to revive their ethnocultural and confessional identities. In this way, they responded to the attempts to spread the Western patterns to all corners of the world.
During political and ideological confrontation, the ethnocultural and confessional elements of the units of objective realities were dismissed as unimportant. These units, in fact, came second after political and ideological identification, since the Capitalism/Socialism dichotomy dominated in the world. The two centers of power that represented the dichotomy had their own camps. K. Jowitt said in this connection that for nearly half a century the borders in international politics and in iden-
2 L.V. Savin, Stanovlenie fenomena globalizma i kontrglobalizm, Speech at the International Scientific Conference Globalizm glazami sovremennika: blesk i nishcheta phenomena (25-26 September, 2002, Sumy), available at [http:// www.eurasia.iatp.org.ua/globalism.html].
3 See: M. Albrow, The Global Age, Stanford, 1997.
4 See: P. McMichael, Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1996; R. Robertson, Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, London, 1992.
5 M.E. Keck, K. Sikkink, Activism Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics, Ithaca, New York, 1998.
6 A.G. Dugin, Tezisy o globalizme, Internet site of the Evrazia Party, available at [www.evrazia.org/modules. php?name=News&file=print&sid=557].
tifying those involved in politics were directly determined by the presence of the Leninist regime with its center in the Soviet Union. Its disappearance was a fundamental challenge to the existing borders and identities. The disappearance of these borders caused traumas because, among other things, they were rigidly set. The world entered a period of Creation once more by moving away from centralized and inflexible state in which it guarded its impregnable borders with hysterical fervor to a new vague state in which everything is mixed up. We were living in a world that, while still preserving some of its former shape, was in a state of Creation.7
The end of the bipolar world marked the beginning of a temporary period of illusory unification under the aegis of the victorthe West as represented by the United States. Francis Fukuyamas the end of history was one of the products of this illusion. Arnold Toynbee said at one time that faith in a final victory was a double illusion.8 We have already seen how, during evolution, subjects, slogans, and ideals are changed at certain points in history while perpetual confrontation, as the essence of relations between all kinds of entities acting in empirical reality, remains the same. In other words, the socialist system that disappeared into oblivion was replaced with extremely amorphous structures. At the turning point in history, they proved unable to erect stable state pyramids in the corresponding countries, but they spoke a lot about drawing closer to the new West, acting from the platform of the states diminished role in the economy, privatization, and transition to the market.9
As if to confirm Heraclitus thesis about the war as the beginning of all things ethnic, cultural and confessional principles for identifying countries and nations emerged. They differed from the old identification principles. This explains, in particular, the renaissance of the classical East-West dichotomy that replaced the Capitalism-Socialism one. Confrontation along the East-West diagonal goes much deeper into history than the global ideological struggle. D. Terin has pointed out that the idea that West and East differed in a very fundamental way first appeared in a non-reflexive form in the European study of society of the 18th century.10 Montesquieus Lettres persanes were one of the sources of this tradition.
The above suggests the following conclusion: the end of the bipolar era ushered in a change of the dichotomous system. As Samuel Huntington has pointed out, the ideological and political slogans were replaced with ethnocultural and confessional ones. This was more confirmation of the law of dialectics about the unity and conflict of opposites. Time and again history demonstrates that perpetual opposition at any levelbe it the level of individuals or of the communities such individuals formis a perpetual mobile of evolution.
In view of the above, I have my doubts about the traditional division of all processes along the East-West diagonal, as well as about the absolutization of the very conception of the East. Modern science has already perpetuated this, while remaining indifferent to the specifics of the components of the East. Indeed, what is habitually covered by the blanket term the East includes highly varied and very specific ethnic-geocultural-confessional areas.
A division into the West and diversified non-West looks to be a happier one. The latter term covers a huge variety of specific cultures and ethnic groups and is characterized by very specific forms of social, political, and economic arrangements. In the absence of clear and commonly accepted definitions of such terms as civilization and culture and to avoid terminological and etymological ambiguities, the world as a whole, and the non-West in particular, should be divided into compound entities.11 Each of the entities is an ethnic-geocultural-confessional community with a complex or-
7 Quoted from: A.I. Utkin, Globalizatsia: protsess i osmyslenie, Logos Publishers, Moscow, 2002, p. 50.
8 Quoted from: B.S. Erasov, Sravnitelnoe izuchenie tsivilizatsiy, Aspekt Press, Moscow, 2001, p. 300.
9 A.I. Utkin, op. cit.
10 See: D.F. Terin, Zapad i Vostok v institutsionalnom podkhode k tsivilizatsii, Sotsiologicheskiy zhurnal, No. 4,
11 The compound concept was first used by R. Carneiro when discussing identities; it was used to describe the process of secondary incorporation of smaller entities (see: Process vs. Stages: A False Dichotomy in Tracing the Rise
ganization marked by specific historical traditions of its state and institutional structures, as well as the world outlooks of the individuals who make up the community. In turn, each of the compound entities is identified on the basis of individual or confessional-cultural-linguistic and geographic specifics of their sum-total.
The table given below demonstrates that the Hindu, Islamic, and Judaic entities are identified according to their religious features, while the Eurasian entity is based mainly on the geographic principle, and the Sinic and Japanese entities are identified according to their ethno-cultural and linguistic features. Today there are at least seven compound entities within the so-called East (see Table 1).
It seems that rather than comparing the West and the East, we should compare the West and the non-West. In this case, we should take into account that the non-West has a very complicated ethno-geocultural-confessional structure. In this way, it differs from practically monolith Western Europe
entities (in alphabetical order) Dominant linguistic Dominant geographic Dominant confessional
1. Buddhist Altai and Sino-Tibetan language groups, Indo-Aryan group of the Indo-European language family Eastern, Southeast Asia Buddhism (Lamaism)
2. Eurasian The Turkic group of the Altaic language family, Slavic and Iranian groups of the Indo-European language family, Finno-Ugric group of the Uralic language family, Caucasian-Iberian language family East European, West Siberian, and Turkestan plains of Eurasia Islam, Christian Orthodoxy
3. Hindu Indo-Aryan group of the Indo-European language family, Dravidian language family Hindustan, South Asia Hinduism
4. Islamic Semitic group of the Hamito-Semitic language family, Turkic group of the Altaic language family, Iranian group of the Indo-European language family Near and Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia Islam
of the State, in: Alternatives of Social Evolution, ed. by Nikolay N. Kradin, et al., FEB RAS (Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences), Vladivostok, 2000, pp. 52-58).
Table 1 (continued)
entities (in alphabetical order) Dominant linguistic Dominant geographic Dominant confessional
5. Japanese Japonic-Ryukyuan group of the Altaic language family Japanese archipelago, Asian-Pacific Region Shintoism, Buddhism
6. Judaic12 Various groups of the Hamito-Semitic language family (Hebrew), West German subgroup of the German group of the Indo-European family of languages (Yiddish) (over 20 European languages in all) Middle East, North America, Western Europe Judaism
7. Sinic Various groups of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages Southeast, Eastern Asia, Asia-Pacific Region Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism
and its branch, the United States. (Indeed, for a long time the so-called white mans burden was a consolidating racial basis of sorts that brought together Western people who found themselves in alien environments as colonialists.)
Today, when a new world order is becoming a reality, the Western compound entity and the blossoming complexity of the non-Western compound entities (the Eurasian being one of them) are two poles of the dichotomous system.
The above suggests the conclusion that today globalization (whether an objective or an artificial phenomenon) looks like a process of destruction of the infrastructural complex of spiritual, cultural, economic, political, ethnic, legal, and ethical components that took centuries to emerge in varied forms in different corners of the world and that are vitally important for traditional societies.13
Globalization, even if interpreted as an objective process, is used by the Western compound entity as an effective Westernization tool. In other words, to quote A. Zinoviev, the world process tagged with an ideologically neutral term globalization is, in fact, a new world war waged by the Western world headed by the United States. It is a war for domination over the entire planet and even mankinds social evolution. Having left behind the cold and warm stages, the war entered its hot stage, which uses the entire might of the American and NATO armed forces. The non-Western part of the planet has turned into an arena of actual and potential hostilities.14
12 There is the opinion that Israel belongs to the Western world probably because the Jews live in diasporas outside the Middle East (the area where the Jews first appeared as an ethnos), the role of the Jewish lobby in the United States and Western Europe, and Israels position on international issues. The ethno-linguistic and confessional specifics of the Jews and Judaism relate them to the Judaic compound entity of the non-West.
13 L.V. Savin, op. cit.
14 A. Zinoviev, Novy etap globalizatsii. Voyna za gospodstvo v mire pereshla v stadiu goriachey, Paper read at the International Conference on the Global Problems of World History (26-27 January, 2002), available at [http://www. pravda.ru/politics/2002/01/31/36396.html].
The Global Cultural Revolution and How to Preserve Cultural Identity: The Eurasian Approach
Culture, understood as the sum-total of specific, sometimes unique, spiritual and material specifics typical of any of the compound entities, is the linchpin, or the foundation, of this entity. For this reason the problems of the Cultural Revolution on a global scale comes to the fore every time we discuss the current clash of civilizations and the unification efforts of Pax Americana to unify the huge amount of complex ethno-geocultural-confessional communities by fitting them into the Western standard.
In the 19th century, Friedrich Nietzsche prophetically pointed out that the concept of politics would dissolve in the war of spirit, while all forms of power in the old society would be blasted. There would be wars like those the world had never beheld before, said he.15 Early in the 1990s, when the clouds of dust raised by the ruins of the bipolar world gradually settled, bringing in a new era, the outlines of which were still barely visible, Prof. Huntington was probably the first to comment on the change of the dichotomous system by saying that world politics was entering a new stage at which neither ideology nor the economy would serve the main source of conflicts.16 Culture would emerge as the great factor dividing mankind and as the primary source of conflicts.17 I. Wallerstein, the author of the World-Systems Theory, has written that we were living in a transition period from one global system of social arrangementworldwide capitalist economyto a different global system/systems. It is still unclear whether we shall profit from this; we will never know this until the new era catches up with us, probably fifty years hence. This period will be very hard for those who will live to witness it: it will abound in sharp conflicts and mounting troubles that many fear will go hand in hand with collapsed moral values.18 We can say that collapsed moral values together with global Westernization are the outline and very essence of the current worldwide Cultural Revolution.
We all know that culture, confession, and ethnos are intimately connected or even intertwined. It is next to impossible to imagine an ethnic group without certain cultural and confessional specifics, because culture and religion, together with language, make a group of people an ethnos or a compound entity. This means that the shifts in the cultural dimension, cultural globalization, as well as aggression on the cultural front may affect the entitys future, cause serious deformations, or even its death.
While commenting on the ambiguous and debatable nature of the concept of culture as used by sociology, I. Wallerstein pointed out that by adding the adjective global to the noun culture we make the latter even more vague.19
No matter what, it is an unassailable fact that, today, the global culture (which some academics recognize as a reality while others doubt its existence) is represented by a hobgoblin (to use I. Waller-steins term). It is born of the American-Western culture of the period of decadence (read decay).20 Some crassness,21 to use Z. Brzezinskis term, of American and contemporary Western culture, which under total American influence is developing into a twin of American culture, is the key to its trium-
15 See: F. Nietzsche, Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is, Penguin Classics, 1992.
16 See: S. Huntington, Voina tsivilizatsiy: pobeditel opredelitsia na kulturnom fone, available at [http://www.
17 See: Ibidem.
18 See: I. Wallerstein, Utopistics, Or Historical Choices of the Twenty-First Century, New York, 1998, p. 35.
19 See: I. Wallerstein, Global Culture(s)Salvation, Menace, or Myth? (Paper delivered at a conference on New Cultural Formations in an Era of Transnational Globalization, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, 6-7 October, 2001).
20 It should be said that contemporary Western culture and its exaggerated American variant have reached the stage
of decadence. We should distinguish between the contemporary bearers of the Coca-Cola colonization (to borrow the term from S. Huntington) of the entire planet and the representatives of the great European culture who made their inestimable
contribution to the treasure trove of arts and sciences.
21 Z. Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard. American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, Basic Books, New York, 1997, p. 24.
phal march across the world. Iu. Kagramanov has noted that in our world only coarse and primitive things are ontologically stable.22
In the context of the so-called global cultural revolution let me remind you that in his article Istinny i lozhny natsionalizm (True and False Nationalism), Nikolai Trubetskoy, a prominent Russian philologist and founder of Eurasianism, rejected outright the urge toward the culture of mankind. He believed that these words merely camouflaged either the diktat of material requirements or attempts to impose the lifestyle of one ethnos on all other ethnic groups.23
According to Eurasian culturology, unification threatens mankind: a loss of diversity deprives the system of stability. On the other hand, the collateral process leads to unstable public consciousness and mounting irrationality.24 Eurasianism understands culture as a historically changing product of collective creative efforts of the past and present generations of any given social milieu25 intended to satisfy the material or spiritual requirements of any specific social whole or the individuals comprising it. In his article Vavilonskaia bashnia i smeshenie iazykov (The Tower of Babel and Language-Mixing), Nikolai Trubetskoy tied together the so-called culture of mankind and spiritual and moral degradation. He put this in the following way: The establishment of one culture and the absence of diversity and possibility of the emergence of new cultures would have been a death toll for mankind.26
Eurasian culturology appeals to certain aspects of the theory of systems, namely the postulate that speaks of the necessary level of diversity needed to preserve the stability of the entire system. The very attempt to create a unified common culture of mankind was seen by N. Trubetskoy as sacrilegious and unnatural, since, his conception said, despite their apparent diversity, individual national cultures, while preserving their unique nature, were in their totality a harmonious single whole. Their synthesis not only contradicted the law of nature that spoke of the diversity and fragmentation of cultures and, for this reason, was deprived of a future, it was also fraught with cultural excesses and other negative repercussions.
T. Ayzatulin put the Eurasian approach within this context when he wrote: Culture is the common denominator of diverse manifestations of the historical process. In the 1920s, when E. Haeckels conception of ecology (1866) was not yet widely known, while Tansleys ecosystem concept had not been formulated, the Eurasians had already grasped and formulated the environmental principle of history, culture, and security based on diversity (today it has been more or less comprehended thanks to environmental education), succession (the continuity of cultures), and inexorable cyclicity (caused, in the final analysis, by the universal rotating motion in the cosmos).27
Nikolai Trubetskoy explained the pernicious nature of striving toward a single culture common to mankind and the prospects of moral impoverishment such a culture would bring about: Any culture levels out, within the framework of any given social whole, the individual distinctions of its members. The generally accepted cultural values erase the imprints of the excessively individual traits of their creators and the too loud voices of the requirements and tastes of the individual members of any sociocultural organism. This happens in a natural way, due to reciprocal neutralization of polar, that is, diametrically opposite, individual distinctions. Culture is thus marked by a certain average psychic type present in any social milieu. The greater the individual distinction of the members of a social-cultural whole, the vaguer, more uncertain, and more impersonal is the average type embodied in culture.28 The same author concluded: Any imaginary culture created and borne by all of mankind would inevitably have been impersonal and vague to the greatest degree. Indeed, it would have embodied only those psychic elements that are common to all people. Tastes and convictions differ,
22 See: Iu. Kagramanov, Kakoe evraziystvo nam nuzhno, Novy mir, No. 3, 2002.
23 Quoted from: A. Ashkerov, Globalizatsia i evraziystvo: N.S. Trubetskoy, available at [http://www.traditio.ru/ ashkerov/global.htm].
24 V.A. Lisichkin, L.A. Shelepin, Globalnaia imperia Zla, Moscow, 2001, p. 83.
25 N.S. Trubetskoy, Vavilonskaia bashnia i smeshenie iazykov, in: N.S. Trubetskoy, Nasledie Chingizkhana, Agraf Publishers, Moscow, 2000, p. 369.
27 T.A. Ayzatulin, Evraziskaia geopodosnova osobennoy stati Rossii, Evraziayskiy Vestnik, available at [http:// www.e-journal.ru/p_euro-st1-2.html.
28 N.S. Trubetskoy, op. cit., p. 370.
individual distinctions in this sphere are very great, but logic is common to all; material requirements for food, economy of labor, etc. are more or less similar. This means that logic, rationalist science, and material technology will always dominate religion, ethics, and aesthetics of the unified culture common to all mankind; intensive scientific and technological progress will inevitably bring about spiritual and moral degradation.29 This led the founder of the Eurasian culturological conception to the conclusion that logic and material technology deprived of spirituality leave the individual spiritually bankrupt.
Lev Gumilev demonstrated an interesting approach to Trubetskoys conception via the general systems theory: We all know that only a fairly complex system can be viable and effective. A culture common to mankind can appear if the system is simplified to the maximum extent through the destruction of national cultures. The most extreme simplification level means the systems death. By contrast, a system with a fairly large number of elements with common functions is viable and promising. The culture of an individual national organism corresponds to such a system.30 Referring to the Eurasian culturological conceptions, the author of the theory of passionarity concludes: A rainbow network united and harmonious due to its continuity and at the same time infinitely varied due to its differentiation is formed by national cultures.31
Lev Gumilev interpreted Trubetskoys rainbow network as a set of ethnoses at different stages of ethnogenesis. The sum-total of ethnoses tied together by a common historical destiny forms superethnoses that can be correlated with Trubetskoys cultural-historical zones (compound entities). Lev Gumilev believed that an ethnos that included sub-ethnoses and constantly emerging consortiums was a discrete system. It is the ethnos that makes culture differentiated and unites the bearers of this culture. A similar whole in reality is the sum-total of peoples that live in an economically autarchic local development area and are tied together not by common racial features, but by a common historical fate, collective work for the sake of one and the same culture or one and the same state.32
It is precisely a common historical fate that, together with geographic features and the specifics of economic relations within a united continental massif, is understood by the Eurasians as the basis of everything and as a prerequisite for integration in the Eurasian expanse.
C o n c l u s i o n
The Eurasian approach to the global Cultural Revolution discussed above permits the following conclusions:
1. A synthesis beyond individual specifics is impossible since the very coexistence of unique cultural-historical units presupposes their unity in diversity;
2. A culture common to mankind is a utopia;
3. Cultural cosmopolitism and the unifying globalization trends in the cultural dimension are merely tools used to achieve empirical aims;
4. The attempts to destroy the blossoming diversity of the discrete type by replacing the inherent unity of unique cultures with the mechanistic unity of a culture common to mankind and the desire of the Western compound entity to level out cultural distinctions by introducing unified forms of everyday life and social and state order contradict the natural course of things.
In light of the current attempts to culturally unify the world, Eurasianism is acquiring a unique significance as one of the possible ways to preserve the cultural identity of the Eurasian compound entity.
30 L.N. Gumilev, Istoriko-filosofskie sochinenia kniazia N.S. Trubetskogo, Nashe nasledie, No. 3, 1991.
32 N.S. Trubetskoy, Ob idee-pravitelnitse ideokraticheskogo gosudarstva, in: Nasledie Chingizkhana, p. 521.