Ref. :  000023301
Date :  2003-12-15
Language :  English
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Evolving a System of International Politics in the Age of Globalization (Iraq as a Case Study)

Author :  Endre Kiss


It’s difficult to talk – and this statement wasn’t meant to hint at the title of a former linguistic series of Hungarian Radio. It’s difficult to articulate international relations of our present world; it’s difficult to fulfil the demanding expectations of political correctness, and at the same time not only to fulfil the demands of our subjective sense of justice, but also those of our sense of responsibility and of course our rational analyses. But we can hardly touch upon the reasons of the difficulties of talking, as that would be at the level of reflection of present international politics, and meta-language shouldn’t anticipate the explication of an actual language dealing with a given subject. Nevertheless, Bertolt Brecht’s reasoning upon “the seven difficulties of pronouncing the truth” in this case (and of course, as we mean, not only in this case) prove to be quite real difficulties.

A group of difficulties of talking about contemporary international politics is obviously connected to the world-historical turn of 1989. A historical moment of that time quite necessarily – and reminding of other earlier world-historical turns (like e.g. Wilson’s resumption in 1918) – had the consequence of the great historical turn ’solving’ everything, including the international political situation in principle, no wonder that the great theoretical opening of the historical moment was right a theory about the “end of history”. The defining historical perspective of the nineties followed from the structure-making logic of neo-liberalism and its worldwide victory upon communism. This meant ’everything was clear’, ’everything was solved’, and the era of the ’end of history’ – not in a theoretical sense – had come. All this may seem more than strange after 11 September and the Iraq War, not mentioning the probable future astoundedness of historical posterity when seeing the hegemony of this attitude.
It’s also difficult to talk about the principal bases of contemporary worldwide politics because changes reaching a historical magnitude each and in their variously interwoven mutual functional dependences can neither be arranged to familiar, in a Kuhnian sense “normal” paradigms of political science nor to those of political philosophy. These questions (as we’ve mentioned, independently and also in their mutual connections becoming more and more complex) are all questions of philosophical politics, what means most of all, during their analysis and reconstruction we directly face new theoretical problems which might be considered undisclosed in their present form so far. Moreover, it’s not only about the necessity of philosophical politics coming up in general, but suddenly, a global version of philosophical politics must emerge. It’s a situation
not ordinary even in the history of philosophical politics, when simultaneously a great number of equally theoretical challenges emerge, which can’t be solved by traditional political paradigms. The philosophical politics of Karl Jaspers and Hannah Arendt have never stood before this problem. New theoretical questions generate new explanations, but this needs time, and using a theoretical discourse not in one aspect extremely difficult is not only for theoreticians; organizations, institutes, ‘actors’ are waiting for these explanations, they use them in a legitimate or straightly in an illegitimate way, or they act without working out new theoretical insights or even in a way opposed to them.

The dominant language of 2003 is in an almost ironic contrast with the emancipative and democratic vision of 1989. A lady minister of the US Government draws public attention from “a lot of little Davids” to the one giant “Goliath” (typically forgetting about the significance of the David-Goliath symbolism and metaphor for Israel, a country strongly interested in present world-political connections). A representative of present descendant regions of the former Third World, Edward Said uses the label “Gulliver and the gnomes” for the relationship of the United States and the Near East without any irony, while American journalist Moishe Kagan puts the difference between the US and Europe in military force sometimes gallantly and politely (“Europeans are come from Venus, Americans from Mars”), but sometimes even with a sharpness exceeding the boundaries of rudeness (“the thesis of the Anglo-Saxon Hobbes, “everyone’s fight against everyone” must replace the “Eternal Peace” – concept of the European Kant”). There are also other expressions in contemporary language referring to such an unexpected and even brutal articulation of ‘difference’ (like for example the distinction between ‘main characters’ and ‘walk-ons’, or a classical turn of the US defense secretary about the distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe). Representatives of philosophical language-critic (for whom the enduring memory of Karl Kraus’s view of language may still be vivid) have the courage to draw up an image of the present state of international politics even from this (especially from the memories of the extraordinarily positive preconditions of the 1989 re-start, the “end of history”). Political language draws up this –in historical measures final– duality of power of big and small, mighty and powerless.

But this formulation is – as we have previously referred to this – totally opposed to the spirit of 1989, of which a world-wide victory of human rights, a world-wide glory of the neo-liberal concept of freedom, moreover, in this context more important than anything else, the cessation of the imperial conflict was mainly characteristic. However, the second problem is not less important or crucial either, and this one is not only opposed to the spirit of 1989, but also to the essence of consenses deeper than this. A formulation of such an inequality in power is in fact based on nothing else but a momentary state of armament–this is the only criterion. We beware to draw historical or philosophical analogies to this thesis; inasmuch as we look at it in its clear form, we may remember Plato’s Melos-dialogue, of which essence even dictatures haven’t dared to include among their basic principles in its explicit form so far. By the way, the spirit of 1989 (even if – like every collective consciousness –‘global’ collective consciousness forgets a great deal as well) somehow excluded a greater probability of big future power conflicts even unexplicated, that is, it diametrically worked against a possibility of the principal basis of international political order being in the balance of forces of actual differences in armament at any time. In a certain sense, this extremely bare (not bare-laid) interpretation is a step-back, even compared to the basic formula of the Divided World, as in that case, faded and already hardly interpretable ideologies and values were bound to the ground of the friend-foe relation – a definition of terrorism based on values is not without any basis, but it can’t serve as a basis for building up a new polarization measurable to the Iron Curtain.

The Iraq War (and international political phenomena of a similar kind) directly mean the world-politics and world-history of our present days, and therefore (to this question we shall go back later, of course in more than one aspect) they don’t acquire totally sufficient legitimation. All this doesn’t only appear as a mere deficiency, but also as an inexhaustible and eternal source of new questions. Of course we can scornfully smile about those who are firmly positive and confident about the Iraq War being actually motivated by oil, but oil (and a huge row of more or less rational explanations) becomes important right when experiencing a lack of a total legitimation, and no irony – no matter how ‘insider’ it might be – shall be able to cut the inexhaustible flow of ‘rational’ explanations. A lack of entire legitimation sheds evidences of uncertainty, perpetual change in shapes of values; from behind terrorism, oil grins at us, but that’s not all yet, maybe there are some hidden real values and priorities lying behind the oil, behind a ‘real’ explanation an ‘even more real’ one.

In the global connection of nowadays, talking about final principles of international politics is however dependent on new dilemmas of a new kind as well. This is a historical moment when an elementary vacuum in competence rises necessarily. Politicians, as everybody knows, can’t possess an individual, elaborated and lived-through image about a system of connections, of which a lot of details are still unrevealed today. Similar thing goes for experts themselves, not mentioning so-called background-apparates. Such speaking-vacuums themselves are never without any danger as accompanying phenomena of great historical turns; vacuum produces groups of interest with persistent consistence, which, thoroughly learning the nature of vacuum itself, try to get control over the discussion and – relying on the principle “The flood behind us!” – attempt to fulfil their original interests as far as possible, at the era of short-term power they possibly caught.

Among several new problems of scientific or even theoretical analysis we only emphasize a measure raised to an issue from many ways and widely felt ’post-modern’, which is usually being summarized under the keywords ‘virtuality’ or ‘post-modern empirism’. Virtual war is not virtual because it’s being broadcasted on TV, but because in the ‘actors’ ’ way of perception, in the mediation of their acts, in evaluating the consequences of their acts, ‘actual’ and ‘virtual’ elements get mixed up; not once, the language of analysis and evaluation appears as a primary objective language in the description of each objective complex.

Our first starting thesis in the interpretation of the Iraq War is the insight that even an event seeming extraordinary, isn’t unforeseeable in such a sense as if it wouldn’t have been included in the nineties’ possible alternatives in a well identifiable way.

Namely, the Iraq War (and 11 September, as we shall touch upon it soon), even if they couldn’t be called ordinary or typical events, they were by no means metaphysical, or – in their apocalyptical way – arbitrary occurrences. There wasn’t shaped a new world in September 2001 – a variant of possible directions became reality, in the process of a political era beginning with 1989 and of globalization rapidly coming to its full. This possibility becoming reality is at the same time of an outstanding theoretical and practical importance.

The 11 September and the Iraq War are actualizations of possible political arrangements of the global world beginning with 1989, a special structuring, if not “shaping”. After 11 September, the fight against terrorism became a basic ideological fundament of the whole new world order. The concrete ‘shaping’ of the whole new world order, of a new international political structure, the alliance against terror is the new order itself. It’s the new order, which should have begun from 1989 gradually, cautiously, and not the least, derived from the spirit of 1989. The fight against terrorism thus became a whole political verticum waiting for its horizontal expansion. Namely, the fact that after the Divided World there was a need of a new world order, which was not only a trivial principal and theoretical idea, but it had been raised from the beginning of the nineties already.

This new international political situation that has been experimented multiple times, and then supposed to be found in the interpretation of 11 September and the Iraq War, the long expected New World Order namely did acquire a row of problems not only from practical aspects, but from a theoretical aspect as well (which phenomenon just called the actual lack of competence of responsible opinion-makers indicated before, and the uproarious forging of particular groups of interest pushing into the vacuum of opinion-making and pursuing the fulfillment of their short-term interests to being).

The order of international politics, the new world order is obviously the most urgent practical question, but at the same time, just in its huge, comprehensive, and macro-sized practical art it’s also a part of a new theoretical question. Step by step, globalization is becoming a describable phenomenon by our days, and even in its incomparable interpretative richness, it can be described indeed. From globalization itself – and this is the core of the theoretical question indicated above – doesn’t automatically follow a concrete structure or set-up of international order or international politics at all. Therefore, there’s no necessary, mechanic, maybe metaphysical link between the right interpretation of globalization and a concrete, alone possible or alone optimal structure of international politics, i.e. “world order”. So, when there is a talk in the press or in common language about “global politics” or “the globality of politics”, this is though not objectionable at all, in the formulation and communicational function of common language, but it cannot be called an exact terminology. The establishing of political world order therefore should have been anticipated by concrete efforts aimed at this from 1989 already. The surprising thing about the expectations during the nineties was right that the shaping of the new political structures still hasn’t been worked on with sufficiently great force, and before the eyes of the immaculate democratic publicity. While there wasn’t any preventive activity of this kind in progress, historical events took place, of which precedent-status was to be estimated already at the moment they happened. Thus, instead of public, common, and communicative prevention, the silent line-up of precedents drew up the shapes of possible alternatives of the new world order. And it’s exactly this horizon in front of which 11 September, as well as the Iraq War had to appear as events which didn’t fall outside of the boundaries of any strategically professional expectations. And at this point, to the phenomenon of the silently raised number of precedent-cases there’s only one remark to be added: in these years more interventions took place, more international conflicts broke out than in the average of the previous forty years (which can be considered anything but surprising, looking at the lack of a new political world order as well as of the effort aiming it). If the silently raising number of precedent-cases took place at an era at all, when there weren’t any significant efforts to establish the necessary international order of the world after 1989. But this era passed implicitly in the sense of the tacit neo-liberal extension of human rights to international law, and although we’re sure this connection can’t yet be recognized by everyone today, the fight against terrorism itself finds its principal justification and legitimation in this extension.

In the flow of the nineties or of post-socialist transition, in the process of the swift build-up of globalization, it became more and more inevitable to make a distinction between actual (actually existing), virtual and future states. This state should still be called a ‘nation-state’, and this increases the difficulties of definition even more, mainly but not only by mixing up the sense of everyday consciousness and language with the similar one of theoretical analysis in a hybrid semantics about nation-states.

The idea-system of human rights also works mainly between these frames of nation-states. The control of its work and functioning is also evidently unquestionable in this sphere. The global extension of human rights in its logic includes originally the possibility of implementing human rights into international law. Transforming human rights into the international law generally is a basic neo-liberal imperative, and as such it’s a basic new connection of today’s still tacit neo-liberal world order.

Expanding the philosophy of human rights to the sphere of international law in general is in principle a legitimate effort. First, as the problem of human rights is a basis of neo-liberalism, its final value is being supported by a fundamental consensus. It would be difficult to bring up any argument against the extension of this principle. Second, it’s the field of human rights itself, on which the principles of law and justice are the closest to each other. All this means, the principles of human rights are being legitimated not only by a fundamental consensus, but also by their extraordinary closeness to the universal principle of justice.

But the extension of the philosophy of human rights to international law was raised in a political space new from every aspect. This new political space is being defined by globalization. In its new structure is ‘the devaluation of the sui generis political sub-system’ one of the most powerful processes. Therefore, the neo-liberal transformation of international law also takes place in the weakened space of the sui generis political sub-system. This is a paradox and a contradiction at the same time – the impregnation of international law with human rights should be carried out within an – in actual political power structurally weakened nation-state. We must indicate that the excessive inequality in political power is a direct structural consequence of the relative or absolute weakening of the political sub-system in comparison with other sub-systems. A neo-liberal extension of human rights to international law tries to transfer licenses from nation-states acquiring power divided unequally, to the supranational sphere. The conflicts of this cast their shadows forward indeed.

The fact that international law is a product of the era preceding globalization is self-evident, even if all-time ‘globalization’ has articulated right at this field because of its ‘international character’. Therefore, the transformation of international law to human rights is not a result of a new quality of globalization directly and in itself. It follows from the neo-liberal basic structure, determining the real existing globalization. All evolving qualities – if we like, development stages – of globalization can in principle go with not one, but more forms of international world order. Therefore, it is of huge theoretical significance that the possible human right–reform of international law is not directly a result of globalization, but of the political form of present globalization, of neo-liberal international world order. Looking from this point, a neo-liberal transformation of international law could turn out to be a simple political aspiration as well.

A neo-liberal extension of human rights to international law merits special attention from political philosophy also because neo-liberal hegemony is based first of all on the world-wide victory of neo-liberal economy; concerning big processes, its political articulation has been content with an anti-communist theory of democracy so far, which has also come to victory over the political structure of the states of existing socialism, as well as over the intellectual hegemony of the so-called Western Left-Wing. In this sense therefore, it’s not an everyday phenomenon that the neo-liberal complex is trying to actualize itself directly in the political sphere. The devaluation of political sub-system mentioned above is also connected to this phenomenon, as it’s right the economical orientation of the neo-liberal complex what forces political sub-system to this peculiar, secondary role. The theoretical significance of this – by no means self-evident – turn is also increased by the fact that the sphere of international law is a ‘conservative’ field even in a value-free sense, most of which basic principles have already been evolved centuries ago, and in which even the processes of the last two centuries of modernity have not lead to any decisive transformation.

If we consider that the neo-liberal complex could have already achieved some kind of actual globality in economy – for example, it has made the stock market global – an extension of human rights to international law seems a logical step on the way of the further completion of the specific neo-liberal world-model.

The extension of the ideology of human rights to a complete system of international law doesn’t mean a new logic compared to the extension of this concept at other spheres. The difference – at the higher level of logistic generalization – is only as much, that each structure and function being built upon the bases of human rights, or functions and activities fulfilling the expectations of human rights, have already become decisive criteria of the procedures of international politics. The world is now being considered one big state from this aspect. This means, the violation of human rights in any state is being considered, interpreted, and responded as it had happened in a one-time own state.

The extension of human rights to international law – as an aimed basis of a new world order – is not a totally new phenomenon in history. A somehow arranged consideration of these antecedents can even be surprising, as this intention and ideology of extension is being formulated almost with a hidden continuity in the re-starts following great world-historical rearrangements. Going back only to the new beginning following World War One, US President Woodrow Wilson’s principles of arrangement based upon autonomy and human rights are well-known. In the thirties and forties, Austrian author-philosopher Hermann Broch built up the outlines of a new international political and legal system based upon human rights interpreted as a this-worldly (diesseitig) absolutum in the universe of victorious totalitarian states. Former US president Jimmy Carters human right-based international political offensive in the second half of the seventies, which had already anticipated the extension of human rights to international law in an unconventional and unprecedented form, strongly recalled this concept.

This schematic history, especially in a completely elaborated and thoroughly analyzed form, is not only of an exceptional importance for our concept, but it also shows that although this initiative has not necessarily been bound to a liberal or neo-liberal starting point, there exists some essential correlation between liberal thought-material and such an instrumentalization of human rights-thinking.

A tight interweaving of neo-liberal ideology and human rights-thinking from the eighties is therefore absolutely not without any antecedent, in which, by the way, extending international law into this direction has been working as a presupposed evidence, and despite the lack of suitable sanctions, it proved to be a strong historical factor. The smashing victory of this neo-liberal complex lead to aspirations also being discussed by our paper, i.e. building human rights institutionally into international law.

The first great issue connected to the extension of human rights to international law is not yet connected to the objective details of the extension itself, but rather to the extension as a possible precedent. If namely, it’s possible to change international law on a ground like this, in principle it should be possible to do the same by other occasions. By the same logic could the states of former existing socialism aspire for e.g. building some concrete interpretation of ‘the abolishment of exploitation’ into international law. But the problem of precedents has a most essential role in international law even independently from concrete contents, for – as we have mentioned – it’s an extraordinarily coherent and conservative system, of which extension into any direction comes together with immense moral, intellectual, and later practical responsibility (as international law can provide a ground for intervention into internal affairs of other states). Therefore, the fact that human rights are actual final value, and should acquire a consensus as broad as possible, doesn’t make us forget that this precedent may open up the way for extensions of any different contents as well.

But in principle, even now it wouldn’t be possible to raise objections against the extension of human rights to international law. Still, besides the argument of precedent-making, there could rise some other serious arguments at the sight of this extension.

The first great group of problems summarizes the various conflicts as reactions to the extension of human rights to international law. When anticipating them, we must consider that in a certain socio-ontological frame, the thinking of human rights has always been a defensive, law-demanding thought, some kind of ‘reclamation of justice’. In other words, it has practically never been of such an exclusively offensive character, which we have to debate nowadays.

Therefore, this extension of human rights to international law takes – or would take place in a voluntaristic, decisive and offensive way. It’s exactly these measures, which generate conflicts, as conflicts can’t come from human rights themselves. The voluntaristic element differs from the defensive one at the point that a defensive use of human rights can only be legitimate. However, the legitimacy of offensive, voluntaristic use also depends on the legitimacy of each detail of the actual pragmatic components. If namely, the legitimacy of any pragmatic component is incomplete, this deficiency of practice inescapably eliminates the legitimacy of principles themselves. International law based on human rights must not support any action, in which repressive or in other way illegitimate elements appear. Such an action must not violate human rights even for the sake of a good case, as in this case it would violate and contradict itself.

A pragmatic self-extermination of acting on the basis of human rights can be of a formal or of a substantial nature. Formal can be a violation of the logical coherence of action-orientation. Substantially self-exterminating can be taking concrete measures which definitely lack legitimacy. But this is still not all: illegitimate elements of actions referring to human rights immediately deprive the action itself of its legitimacy utterly and right away, and what might be even more important: they make impossible further actions of similar bases in a given space and time. Not only the demands are incomparably higher in case of international actions based on human rights, but the precedent-nature of the violation of these principles also works much faster and more radically than in other cases. And even this can be enhanced: the mere fact namely, that in a given space and time an international action based on human rights uses illegitimate means and thus loses its legitimacy, of which precedent-nature shows up with a sweeping unambiguity indicated above, even encourages actions which ignore human rights openly. The loss of legitimacy is being followed by its wildfire-like instrumentalization as a precedent, and this latter one works as an invitation for ignoring human rights.

Among the pragmatic components of human rights-based interventions characterized by decisive features, the next problematic issue is the question of players who undertake such interventions. These interventions namely – we may summarize previous aspects of the pragmatic dimension – require a basis of legitimation as broad as possible, such a broad basis which just can cope with the breadth of the legitimation of the basis of human rights. One huge problem is, that there’s hardly any concrete world-political ‘actor’ of which natural legitimation at carrying out a particular action could be measured to the limitless legitimation of the human rights. This difficulty could be avoided only in one way, namely in a way that an extension of human rights to international law could be fulfilled only according to a broadest international consensus. But again, even the broadest international (practically: nation-state) consensus could hardly rise above the peculiar interests of each ‘actor’; how many times do we witness governments possessing the most progressive standpoints concerning human rights being unwilling to support some international actions which declare themselves sincerely as extensions of human rights to international law. And then we still haven’t even touched upon complicated client-relations of international politics, which survive waves of human rights’ extension energetically renewing themselves from time to time, without any difficulties.

At the narrow path of implementing principles of human rights into international law we may propose three principles which can be considered comprehensive, by which the problematic sides of the contradiction (the unlimited legitimation of human rights and the relativity of each particular political actor) hiding in the subject could be reduced.

The claim of homogenity means, international events and processes should not only be judged, but also interpreted in a unified way, from which follows that an action taking place on the basis of human rights should also be unified to the greatest extent. This principal maximum of homogenity is necessary to the greatest extent. Every exception carries a danger of the human rights-based action losing fundamentally its legitimacy, and as we’ve mentioned it previously, it even recalls the danger that the legitimation of every action based on human rights would generally suffer damage.

The second right basic principle is the synchronization. This means, an action of international law based on human rights should be not only judged, interpreted and responded in a homogenous way, but these acts should be harmonized with one another, as well as the target audiences in question. According to this logic, it shouldn’t occur that there are states where human rights are being repressed for decades, and the international community responds only formally, while elsewhere a similar response can take place immediately. The differences between each element of a non-synchronized chain of actions critically diminish the legitimacy of the action.

Besides claims of homogenity and synchronization, as third we shall put the principle of the broadest possible consensus. A lack of a broadest possible consensus namely indicates suspicion concerning deficiencies in the human rights-basis. But if we can’t doubt the credibility of a basic representation of human rights, yet the broadest possible consensus doesn’t occur, peculiar interests, a representation of some actors appears as a final explanation. Well, however legitimate it might be from the side of any existing political participant to have peculiar interests, their representation cannot be undertaken by the articulation of the standpoint of human rights. The reason of this we have touched upon several times: each appearance of particularism effectively erodes the unsurpassable legitimacy of human rights.

Well, we could finish our argumentation at this point already, because the Iraq War and its preparation obviously didn’t fulfill our three basic principles of homogenity, synchronization, and the broadest possible consensus, and – even if it hasn’t been articulated each time – the resistance towards the war evolved exactly because of the consequent and spectacular violation of these three principles. This is so even if the moderators of the war contested almost all principal and rational legitimacy of their opposition, not realizing for our surprise, how much they were unmasking the distance of their own standpoint from the only legitimate basic principles of the neo-liberal extension of international law. Namely, the most important events of international politics after the first Iraq War still took place in the ideological frame of neo-liberalism, while they failed to build up new explicit frames of international politics around political actions conducted in this frame, what they couldn’t have done otherwise than with the help of legitimate principles of the neo-liberal extension of human rights to international law.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any new system of international politics and new international law built up around the fight between neo-liberalism and terrorism, while consecutive particular events in this connection continuously took up the character of a precedent, whether intended or not. The failure of the adequate neo-liberal extension of human rights to the international law in the decisive hours of history was replaced by 11 September and its ideology. 11 September became therefore an event, which was destined to give a shape to the preceding processes of the nineties and tacitly to take over an indispensable function of the neo-liberal extension of human rights to international law.

But is it possible for 11 September to be the starting fact of the evolving of a “New World Order”? This question shall not be answered in comparison with the above basic claims of the neo-liberal extension of human rights to international law, but by itself, set up on its own bases. Our answer to this question can only be ‘No’, even if the 11 September assassination itself was incomparably jarring and enduring of its kind. But even despite all this, this event can’t substitute a legitimate build-up of international law and international politics.

11 September is not a beginning of a new historical era, as it doesn’t acquire the exceptional singularity it should possess for this function. The great example and the only chance for a parallel could be the Holocaust. It’s clear already, that 11 September is a symbolic event, which doesn’t acquire a charismatic content of evidence which alone could make any activity directly aiming the evolving of a complete new order of international politics unnecessary for ever. It’s clear that as globalization is globalization of great functional systems, and politics is not a functional system, therefore a new political world order can be evolved just by means of politics. Globalization itself has therefore nothing to do directly with the principles of evolving a new political order. The functional elements of globalization are therefore not capable of shaping a non-functional political world order. A political world order can only be evolved by means of politics, even in the era of globalization.

11 September is not suitable for a defining structural transformation of new international politics, even because the political cast of globalization should be preceded by an interpretation of roles. The ‘actors’ of the global world are no passive marionettes of a non-existent political stage. All this also means that it’s not possible for us to agree with each role-interpretation of each ‘actor’. In a given situation, the role-interpretation of the United States cannot be considered as one that could be suitable for grounding a new international order. Therefore, while from one side, from the fact of globalization doesn’t follow a concretely defined form of a new international order, the role-interpretations of each ‘actor’ can’t play the role of this final basic fact and connection either. The United States is a global nation-state, and as such, the only one in this genre. This is of course not a role-interpretation yet, but it’s undoubtedly an endowment, and at the same time an exceptional state, which straightly means a dual status concerning present political structures. The inescapable task of role-interpretation starts here; the United States, as the only global nation-state of the world should define how, by what contents it interprets this role. There are two basic facts getting thus into a special conflict with one another: first, a new political world order can only be evolved by means of politics. Second, the United States is the only state in the world with a dual status, which is in the present capable of shaping a new world order even by itself.

From all this follows of course, that the new political world order definitely depends on the attitude of the United States in the present. What would be ideal? If the United States restricted its superiority coming from its dual status and stepped on the principally arranged and regulated path of the neo-liberal extension of human rights to international law. And what was happening? The United States was shaping a new world order by itself. It’s actually deriving its legitimacy from simplifying neo-liberal ideology to a fight against terrorism, and then, from 11 September, wishing to make this interpretation a final fact, if not a cathartic evidence.

We think, by this role-interpretation the United States has transformed three asymmetrical situations, which were originally beneficial for it, into three asymmetrical situations disadvantageous in their tendencies.

It was a beneficial asymmetry for the United States first, to confront the new – for the first sight lightweight – political and military conglomeration of terrorism after a huge superpower of endless military force. It was a beneficial asymmetry second, for the extent of military superiority over terrorist groups, and third, for the structural superiority the status of ‘the only global nation-state’ or – as global media labelled it – ‘the only superpower of the world’ meant. The process of these three beneficial asymmetries turning disadvantageous can be outlined as follows: a lack of an enemy comparable to it in power lead to the virtual necessity of ‘fighting everyone’. The extent of military superiority, even because of the motivation of inescapable political fear of being overtaken, carries an escalation of conflicts in itself. The new status of the only global nation-state remaining un-differentiated, by the lack of building up new and legitimate structures also lead to a ‘cold’ – style system of relations, latent and coming from all sides.

The tragedy of 11 September is not able to constitute the foundations of a new world order. This can be satisfactorily proved by contrasting the foreground and the background of the event. This duality goes not only for the event itself, or the interpretation of the event, but also for all projections of its social, moreover, global-social elaboration.

Before we could detachedly analyze it, this discussion has already been loaded with an expectation, that is, this event is so self-evident and singular that it’s impossible that it has a background. It can be felt, and later, for the latter generations, the pressure is immense not to make this event an object of rational analysis. This logic didn’t only require judging the background by the foreground, but also that it should be an event of which content, symbolically concentrating power, exemplary demonstrative force is a perspective, in which focus foreground and background overlap. This – as we’ve mentioned – quite exceptional situation really had a hidden, still perceivable world-historical and at the same time theoretical aspect. It’s the smashing evidence of the Holocaust that plays such an outstanding role in this foreground – background aspect. Namely, this special and singular relation of foreground and background has only been – and remained ever since – verifiable in the case of the Holocaust. This doesn’t mean the Holocaust wouldn’t have several analytic, causal or other background dimensions, that is, it couldn’t be an object of rational analysis or scientific research. But it does mean, that despite all this, there couldn’t be imagined any background-analytics, starting from which we should withdraw our basic evidences concerning the Holocaust. So we may exclude the possibility of any research result or analysis that could raise the Holocaust out of its tragic singularity or could alter the tragic evidence of this event. Staying at our metaphor: we couldn’t imagine a background which could annihilate the definition of the foreground; in this sense become foreground and background ‘identical’ in the case of the Holocaust. The terrorist attack of 11 September, despite all of its apocalyptic horrors, can’t be compared to the Holocaust in any way. Foreground and background didn’t entirely become identical in it, unlike the single case of the Holocaust. It wasn’t the background that should have been directly brought in connection with the foreground, but the task is to entirely explore the background itself – and then refer this entirely explored background to the foreground again. Contrariwise, the 2001 suggestion was, there wasn’t any Background in the sense of the Holocaust-analogy, therefore the Foreground itself was the entire phenomenon; this event alone acquired a charismatic evidence which required no further explanation. It meant itself, there was nothing about it to interpret or explain.

But the interpretation of 11 September sharply shows the difficulties of the arrangement of international politics, and the actual and hidden dimensions of the new world order also in another dimension. 11 September, in its irretrievable apocalyptic gesture gave an example for the fact that in today’s world (of which functional globalization and the failure of evolving an order of international politics is characteristic) the sense and meaning of the dimensions of close and far have transformed radically. While we would tend to see naturally: functional globalization brings ‘close’ to each other all the things that have been hitherto ‘far’ from each other (what the press and common language have also recorded exhaustively by numerous new linguistic turns), the whole history of the nineties has been moving into a completely opposite direction.
Surely not independent from the role-interpretation of the United States and Western Europe defined above, the history of the nineties has been been lived in the undertaken duality of far and close, moreover, in the enchantment of the final geopolitical, political, intellectual, and civilisational christallization of the far – close duality. It’s not only it didn’t consider far close any more, but it even discovered, moreover, confidently ‘arranged’ far in close. The ‘guarded-and-protected’ division of space turned the ‘close-to-each-other’ geographical spaces of big cities into ‘far’ social spaces.
A town of a Lima-type can be an emblem of the newly based spatial division of the whole world, of protected and safe, or unprotected and chaotic areas. Let’s summarize this not the least unbelievable contradictory motion! While globalization (with all of its detail connections) brought ‘close’ all the things that have been, and are ‘far’, the ruling trend of the nineties didn’t only place socially ‘far’ what was ‘close’ in space, but it was also living in a belief actually and with a total conviction, that this distance was final and unchangeable. By the way, it has been living in this belief without being made consider the actual connection of ‘far’ and ‘close’ e.g. by the every day perceivable phenomenon of migration.
Nonetheless, looking from a theoretical distance needed, this would have been exactly the real message of 11 September, this was what every ‘actor’ should have understood well. The real message of 11 September is right that, there can’t be islands of well-being built up in a world of poverty; a political build-up of a new world order according to the basic principles of the political sub-system can’t be missed. These basic principles are of course not primarily and directly ethical, but system-theoretical basic principles.

An essential element of the new order of international politics, ‘new world order’ if we like, would be a new interpretation of the relation of ‘identity’ and ‘difference’. The fact that a political kind of evolving a new world order suffers delay, proves already that ‘difference’- thinking lacks the moderating correction of ‘identity’, and the indicated interpretation of 11 September also came to being entirely in terms of difference and by no means only of identity. A grounding condition for all this is, that by 1989, the neo-liberal logics of identity and difference took over the Socialist, as well as the Christian basic notions of identity and difference. This means, neither Socialist solidarity nor Christian love for brethren eases the brutal power of difference, and neo-liberal identity consists of nothing else but the unconditioned respect of individual freedom and human rights, and their assurance, which rights become almost totally formal in case of the existence of a certain magnitude of social differences. In such cases, difference is not a simple difference, value, or ideology any more, but ontology, moreover, it acquires logical character (while such an ontologization of conceptual variants is right to be contrasted with similar eras of philosophical tradition, thus even with Hegel’s logic, while this, despite appearance is not a speculative measure at all, but a practical one). The heavy weight of the difference-measure can’t be independent from the fact that we are living in an era in which a world of division has been taken over by a world of one pole. While in the divided world difference was based on hidden identity, now neo-liberal – human-rights identity is being filled with concrete contents by an unreconcilable difference. The power of difference is the final state of being different, its absolute degree and measure. That’s what we may find when evaluating 11 September, as well as in the failure of evolving a new order of international politics, a ‘new world order’ by means of politics. This is what appears in the parallel of America and Rome, where everyone is a colony compared to Rome – or at least can be approached only by the principle of ‘difference’. At the same time, the power of difference above identity results in rigid and static relations; the measure of difference exceeding a certain magnitude kills the dimensions of mediation (of communication), the two poles of the difference-relation can’t get into interaction with one another.

This domination of the difference – logic (which by the way manifests in turning asymmetries beneficial for the United States into disadvantageous asymmetries, as well as in the transformation of foreground – background and close – far dimensions described above) comes together with two elemental, moreover seemingly self-evident consequences. First, it becomes a classically self-fulfilling oracle; difference becomes a difference even sharper and stronger, the work of identity, of mediation is going to be more and more difficult to take up again later. Second, difference operating as a self-fulfilling oracle creates the relations of a positive feedback. Differing shows to be a foe more and more directly, foreground becomes more and more identical with background, just as far with close. In the language of politics, this leads to the escalation of foe – relations. Such a forging ahead of difference – logic is a danger great enough by itself. But it becomes a danger especially great, because of the specific, new sociological structures of the global world. Particular groups of interest unexpectedly getting into position in the relations of globalization can accumulate immense power without any obstacle. The brutal power of global particularism and difference – logic together carry serious dangers for societies. When perceiving the present hegemony of difference – logic, it’s not without any use to remind at the fact that for the first sight, the divided world was of course the world of difference itself, as everything was literally submitted to the power of division, and as we know, the “international situation was rising“. But it’s not only that this world of difference couldn’t abolish the deep identity of historical and social consciousness, but it couldn’t even think of it, as even in the depths of this most sharp and developed difference, the feeling and evidence of identity was living in societies almost untouched. It was like this so much, that the identity standing behind difference even became an organic part of ideological argumentation against everyone’s will. In mirror-reverse, moreover symmetrical relations did this appear; the starting point dictated by identity – logic according to which the ‘actual’ Western proletariat also wanted socialism, but it was made impossible by the violence-organizations of burgeoisie (that is, difference is ‘actually’ a suppression of originally existing identity) was an organic part of the argumentation of the propaganda of existing socialism.
This same thing from the West, in a mirror-reverse way looked like ‘actual’ Eastern working-class people wanted to live in the same way as the Western, they were only obstructed in it by communist suppression.
In the relations of the present, the logic of identity doesn’t simply dominate, but it seems to be a higher, maybe straight unexceedably final variant of identity – we are not simply identical with one another, but as a result of the grounding on human rights we are identical in our most dignified nature. But in actual fact, political and social spaces show a row of mutations differing from this. The identity in human rights has become the only concretization of the logic of identity. This doesn’t mean the ideology of identity would have got unveiled, but that identity – logic has become selective in a new way. While the identity – logic is working in the foreground, in the background, a difference – logic stronger than ever before, is operating ruthlessly.

It’s a typical fact of the domination of difference-logic that to all appearances, the enemy-image of terrorism hating the free world is not held sufficient for grounding it any more, but it’s radically and openly being grounded on Huntington’s theory about the fight of civilizations. We have already uttered strong reservations against this theory quite early, to which we have no reason to add anything. But besides considering this theory unacceptable, moreover, straight dangerous in connection of grounding international relations (as this theory is the explication of difference-logic itself, while international politics should be built upon cooperation), we need to refer to the fact that the utterance of the Huntington-kind of civilizational differences doesn’t only obstruct development because the conception is insupportable, but also because it distracts attention from differences which are though real, but could be overcome without any particular difficulties. At this point, Huntington is straightly a living obstacle of constructive thinking, as a living evidence of the fact that one can’t think wrong unpunished.


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