According to a widely accepted great interpretation, globalization is a field of the most extensive problems, each of which concerns everyone, and humanity in general as well, in new, qualitative, and in their tendencies existential ways. In this sense, the legitimate fields of globalization are e.g. the issues of ecology, raw materials, migration, the global health problems of the world, the global positive or negative tendencies of population, energy, arms trading, the drug crisis, or dilemmas of integration and world economy. There is another huge interpretation as well – and that’s what we follow in our present work –, which doesn’t bind the problems and phenomena of globalization to concrete and singularly appearing ’global’ issues, but examines structural and functional connections of the whole new global situation.
The grades of the process of globalization have always manifested throughout the history of the 20th Century as radical and irrevocable transformations in history and society. The grades of globalization before the 20th century should be taken by their proper value, as for example the telegraph already fulfilled the opportunity of global action and communication, and had immeasurable effects on international politics and finance even before the 20th century. The correctly interpreted history of globalization is of extraordinary importance for every scientific and other kind of research, because it might distract scientific and everyday consciousness from the intellectual forced course according to which every generation, every decade, every world-political turn, or significant step in civilization is the proper victory of globalization(!) over a ‘not-yet-globalized’ preceding state.
The above thoughts nevertheless don’t contradict our definite starting thesis that says the world-historical turn of 1989 is a unique and outstanding stage in the evolving of globalization indeed. The primary cause of this is the fact that up to 1989, the mere existence of the two world regimes restricted the process of globalization in the centre, between concrete, down-to-earth limits.
When analysing the great mutation of globalization in 1989, we must remember that globalization and Existing Socialism have influenced one another mutually right from the beginning. For it wasn’t only that the dynamic forces of globalization shattered the Iron Curtain more and more violently, but there was an opposite tendency as well, as members of the elite of Existing Socialism became more and more anxious about the more and more triumphant achievements of globalization and they felt that they would irrevocably fall behind if they hadn’t join in these processes.
The image of globalization mainly appears both for the everyday consciousness and the intelligentsia as a new system of power and domination. This fundamental vision is right and appropriate in several aspects, and it is also not a coincidence that the ones who took the first signs of globalization with the less enthusiasm were the ones who possess some kind of concrete and real power (which of course was not considered ‘global’). Yet the real model of globalization is fundamentally different than these visions. Globalization is not a new, rigid and utopian structure of (global) power most of all, but its main point is the fact that the economical, political, cultural and social processes can only take place within the framework of global reality. The primary consequence of this is not an abstract and unintelligible new system of power and dependence, but a new world with a new kind of functioning, a world that is not simply ‘multi-polar’, but straight infinitely polarized (Kiss, 1997.b.)
Real globalization creates new social states of affairs in every aspect. The access to the ocean of globalization is at stake in the fight between subject and subject, subject and group, group and group, or smaller and larger groups (Schmied-Kowarzik, W. (ed.) 2002). The structuring power of globalization penetrates all strata of social life.
One of the most important and also the most difficult fields of the social-philosophical research of globalization is the continual way its functional and non-functional elements and moments are interconnected, like the cogs of a machinery. The more the global processes fulfil their global character, the more obviously they feature ‘clearly’ functional characteristics in their operations (Luhmann, N. 1973). For example, the more obviously ‘global’ the structure of world economy gets, the more clearly do the functional theoretical definitions prevail. From a theoretical aspect, functional and non-functional elements are heterogenic, but from a practical aspect, they fit into one another in an organic and homogeneous manner.
Globalization is therefore not a new, yet unknown centre of power, not world-government, but in principle it is a qualitatively new system of the relations of all actors. One of its specific traits is the possibility of access to global processes and networks in a rather ‘democratic’ way. It would absolutely make sense to describe the fundamental phenomenon of globalization with the criteria of access and accessibility. But this is also the field where we can find the weakest points of globalization. Globalization demolishes a whole row of particular differences and limits by ensuring in principle total accessibility. In this sense it is therefore ‘democratic’: the participation in global processes could even outline a new concept of ‘equality’. Globalization that builds from elements of discrimination in its dynamic progress would be a contradiction not only in a theoretical, but in a practical sense as well. The world-historical balance of globalization shall prevail in this connection. This balance will depend on the final proportions between the democracy moreover, the equality of accessibility, and the discriminative moments i.e. the self-destructive real social processes in the field of the forces of these two tendencies.
It is however namely only one side of the coin that globalization establishes new relations in a qualitative and manifold sense, while the qualitatively new character of relations is made up right by the fact that the mediums and strata that used to separate the individual from global affairs drop out, and the individual can access the multi-faceted communication of global networks directly, just like any other actor. But the other side of this coin is the question whether there will evolve really new resources on the side of globalization, which shall be able to fulfil the increasing demands accessibility generates. The triumphant breakthrough of globalization increases the number of resources by itself, but to a much smaller extent than the possible ‘amount of resources’ required for the world of more and more perfect accessibility. The fail of access requirements namely critically deforms the well-built system of global networks. This negative vision resembles the kind of mass-communication that offers a wide variety of TV-channels, while it fails at increasing the ‘resources’ of entertainment and culture in a qualitative sense parallel with the growing accessibility, therefore all it can offer for the increasing demand is low-standard programs.
Understanding real globalization and its functional (sub) systems is an exceptional challenge for human everyday consciousness (s. Lefebvre, H, 1972) . The representation of global reality is an immensely huge ‘extensive’ task for social actors, but secondly, it is also a new, ‘qualitative’ task of representing the new functional and abstract qualities of globalization in the per definitionem non-functional and non-abstract dimensions of the social and political communication. Globalization as a whole, as a new world order, or a system of new structural relations cannot appear in the global flow of information the same way particular global problems (e.g. the drug issue) do.
The problem of decoding the new codes also divides society by the capacity of ‘decoding’. For ‘decoding’ can be interpreted as evolving a capacity to ‘access’ the processes of globalization to some extent, i.e. a capacity to use the opportunities information systems offer. At this point, the situation of information systems is exactly like that of modern art at the time when modern functional systems appeared. Bertolt Brecht expressed this phenomenon by the example that a photo of the building of AEG says nothing about the endless various functional processes that take place inside the building.
Shaping spatial and temporal structure of globalization
Globalization is the most extended framework of the interpretation of the present. It is a high-level theoretical generalization, and at the same time also an empirical reality anyone can experience. Re-thinking the problem of historical space and time might be an objective measure of progression (Kaempfer, W. 2005.).
This new, threefold aspect also possesses a coercive discursive - logical force. For in the evolutionary systems theory, the total absence of coercive power and coherence in each particular connection and statement was really relevant. ‘Reality’, ‘future’, and ‘progress’ do not lie in the intellectually risky cognition of new and unknown facts, but simply in tautologically forcing the evolutionary systems theory upon certain facts or phenomena.
Many traits of the phenomenon of globalization, but most of its whole actorial structure are the reason why this extremely coercive and coherent theory and logic have to face the significant contingency of future processes, the strongly limited opportunities of real foresight, and the extraordinary measures of some relevant degrees of real existing actorial freedom.
The present is: a mixture of the spacetime-relations of (global) structures, and the spacetime-relations of actors. Therefore the society of globalization in its theoretical and abstract form does not fit into the heuristic space of the traditional theories of democracy or bureaucracy, or even traditional social issues any more, right for this shift in the structure of spacetime. Because for example, neither the principle, nor the representations of the liberal and democratic political structure do suffer any harm by the fact that both the urging power of the creation of simultaneities and the possibility of unlimited spatial relocation lead to a devaluation of all spatial factors, or a higher value of all factors that possesses the power of creating total simultaneity in the time or perpetual spatial movement that also converges to simultaneity. Globalization is the final, dynamic form of the (social) temporalization of (social) space.
Neither the traditional, nor the new problem of historical-social spacetime can be solved by the analogy of sciences. And beside the traditional concepts of space and time, new concepts appear as well, which are becoming more and more decisive from the aspects of globalization.
We have no intention of making an ontological judgement on the true character of reality. We would prefer to describe this new kind of reality as one of an ‘uncertain’ character (after Heisenberg), but we accept the attributes like ‘chaotic’, ‘non-linear’, or even ‘soft’ as well. Our concrete accomplishments will not be directly determined by these theoretical considerations, as the functional systems of globalization, their dynamic structures and spacetime-relations, and most of all, the measure of the latitude of the ‘actors’ gives a sufficient positive explanation in the definitions of this character of ‘uncertainty’.
Globalization raises a row of alternatives, all of which need to be interpreted, on the field of ideology as well as the state, society, and culture. From the aspect of the theory of science, the theory of globalization is a theory of society, and no matter how many unprecedented new definitions are on the phenomenon of globalization, it is neither necessary, nor possible to create a new model of theory building for any of them.
As we have seen, the real globalization is neither a new and unknown centre of power, nor a world government, but a qualitatively new system of the relation of every actor. The relationship of the East and the West changes in the globalized world-society; the roles of debtors and creditors, winners and losers get interwoven in this new world order that is based upon new interdependencies. In respect to social capital, we have to mention the tendency of a ‘downward spiral’, which was induced by globalization, and which means that the types of social capital society invest into individuals reduce both in quality and quantity. This is mainly the consequence of the crisis of the public sphere, according to which the right interpreted knowledge society could be a remedy for this problem.
The fall of Existing Socialism put the neo-liberal complex of politics and economy in a hegemonic position, and this led to the theoretically illegitimate identification of neo-liberalism and liberalism.
The structural and functional characteristics of the global world are being definitively shaped by this neo-liberal complex. In this context, Anthony Giddens’ and Tony Blair’s Third Way appears as the unequal relation between neo-liberalism and social democracy.
Globalization gets fulfilled in the universe of post-modern values (Kiss, E 2002. b.). We do not attempt to define the main characteristics of post-modernism by its contrast to modernism. We break up with the widespread contrast of modernism and post-modernism, because we firmly believe that the essence of post-modernism can be revealed alone in its relations to structuralism and neo-Marxism. These two streams were emblematic of the philosophy of the sixties. Sometimes they amplified one another, and sometimes they got polemic with each other. By the mid-seventies, neo-Marxism ceased to exist as abruptly as a natural disaster, and around that time, structuralism also recognized its failure.
As post-modernism was born on the ruins of neo-Marxism and structuralism, it took over the achievements, but at the same time it also dismissed their positive aspirations for intellectual reconstruction. Therefore, post-modernism is the use of the discourse of cognition without an intention of intellectual reconstruction.
But post-modernism is not the only hegemonic stream (now in a narrower, also philosophical sense) nowadays (Meier, H. (ed.) 1990. and Kiss, E. (ed.) 2003.). By the fall of neo-Marxism, the neo-liberal-neo-positivistic philosophical methodology that, got into a strategically decisive position in politics as well as in economy and philosophical methodology. Therefore, today’s philosophy is under the twofold hegemony of post-modernism and neo-liberalism-neo-positivism. The most important symmetry-relation between these two streams is the attempt to re-regulate the whole process of thinking by the recognition and object constitution. Their heuristic strategies are opposite to one another: neo-liberalism-neo-positivism sets reductionist verification as its chief requirement, while post-modernism makes verification legitimate. However, these two streams have one more thing in common: both the limitation of the scope of the rules of philosophical verification and its total elimination got realized not through power-free inter-subjective discourses, but in the medium of interpersonal power.
There is a simple but so far neglected, however quite decisive fact, namely that the launch of the processes of globalization and the post-communist regime change took place practically at the same time. In our opinion this is not a coincidence, but there is a manifold relation behind this simultaneity.
The socio-theoretical concept of globalization does not mean a new, rigid structure of (world) power, but a new framework and context of social action, in which economy, politics, culture, and all other actors of society are shaping their relations in a new and unprecedented global context.
The decisive processes of globalization are part of the development of modern rationalism. Rationalization, Max Weber’s ‘disenchantment of the world” (Entzauberung der Welt) or even the ‘Dialectics of Enlightenment’ must appear in a new context. All critiques of modern rationality were stated because of emancipation that had not taken place, although its necessity was increasing parallel with the progress of rationalization. The omission of emancipation might put the process of rationalization and globalization into a critical danger.
The relation to modernity in a history-philosophical sense is decisive not only from the aspect of potential enemies and enemy images. In a positive sense, it is decisive because in several important aspects, globalization, which in fact sprung out from the soil of modernity intends to eliminate the so far most important achievements of modernity as well.
The downward spiral of social capital is also a consequence of this concrete structure of globalization. And right because this phenomenon is a consequence of globalization, it is global as well. We are not trying to ignore the numerous impressive civilizing accomplishments, ‘success stories’ of globalization. But right the actually manifested structural characteristics of globalization are the cause of the fact that the upward spiral of great civilizing accomplishments and the downward spiral of social capital for social reproduction do not cross each other. The knowledge component that operates in modern production is part of a broader concept of knowledge capital, while social capital, which is being invested in successive generations does not reproduce itself on the level of human civilization. This also means that the future shall become the field of the new battle of (global) civilization and (social) barbarism, even if none of the definitions of these terms will remind of the concepts of civilization or barbarism that have occurred in history so far.
While globalization – for functional and structural reasons – pushes the less versatile and overloaded state backwards and makes the spiral of social capital move downwards, it provides real space for action to the new historical actors down to the level of the individual. Under the circumstances of globalization, the latitude and freedom of the action of actors can be extreme.
It’s not easy to reconstruct adequately the actorial side into the theory of globalization. First, because it’s seemingly extremely trivial; it is often difficult even to make it accepted that the free and seemingly contingent action of singular actors could be a legitimate part of scientific research. Second, because the importance of the actorial side is ab ovo a less theoretical element. Third, because the actorial side in its arbitrariness does not always reveal the dynamic structures and functions behind it, therefore stressing it might even seem a misinterpretation. The actorial side underlines the specific ‘uncertainty’ (in a Heisenberg’s sense) of the theories of globalization (and the future), while the functional systems of globalization, their dynamic structures and space-time relations, and most of all, the extent of the latitude of the actors might provide sufficient objective explanation for a positive and objectively founded description of this ‘uncertainty’ character.
While globalization provides enormous latitude for the action of the actors, there are hardly any global actors for the representation of social formations. The problem of missing actors is completed with the problem of missing groups of representation and competence. The task of global competence does not possess any actors, and the global actor does not possess competence. Neither traditional forecast, nor traditional consensus-building, nor traditional bureaucracy (administration), nor any traditional ‘institutions’ are appropriate or able to develop optimal global competence legitimately. This increases the possibility that global decisions might be the most irrational.
Another important element of the new order of international politics (the ‘new world order’) is the new interpretation of ‘identity’ and ‘difference’. By 1989, the logic of neo-liberal identity and difference exchanged the basic semantics of identity and difference of socialism, as well as those of Christianity. This means that neither the solidarity of socialism, nor the brotherly love of Christianity can diminish the brutal power of difference. Neo-liberal identity consists in nothing else but the unconditioned respect and guarantee of the freedom and the rights of the individual (which rights might become merely formal at a certain extent of social differences). In such cases, difference is not a mere difference, value, or ideology, but it might even become an essential feature of social existence.
The exceptionally great importance of the difference-moment is made up by the fact that in our age, a divided world has been replaced by a one polar one. While in the divided world, difference was founded by hidden identity, the concrete contents of the neo-liberal equality of human rights are ensured by unreconciled differences. eThe power of difference is the final character of difference, and its absolute measur. The power of difference over identity establishes rigid and static states of affairs. If the measure of difference exceeds a certain extent, the dimensions of mediation are eliminated, therefore the two poles of the difference-relation cannot get into interaction with each other. The total freedom of every actor and a system of rigid oppositions inapt for communication – this duality is the most important one of the problems that binds the present to the future.
The bias of self-destruction
The end of the Soviet World Regime, Gorbachev’s of the Soviet Union as a superpower and its ideology, became not only a decisive, but also an irrevocable fact of today’s universal history. As ultima ratio, it might appear in a different colour in each different interpretation of historical eras. However, its self-evident final world-historical value could hardly be traced back to any other process. Although this concrete fact of the end of history has not yet lost its universal quality, it seems like this macroscopic, Gorbachevian ‘end of history’ (Kojeve, A. 1947) itself is a part of a higher and also universal transformation process. With the end of the divided world, which took place in the blink of an eye, disappeared all ideological bias. At the same time, a new vision emerged: the vision of a self-destructive society.
The Gorbachevian ‘end of history’ blasted the ‘moment of truth’ in the society of Existing Socialism. But it is also a cosmic and colossally ironic gesture, a ruse of reason (List der Vernunft), that this moment of truth has become reality for Western societies as well. As the Great Enemy bade farewell, the self-image of Western society was also removed from its overall determining framework of bipolarity, which had provided the Western part of the world with a position of comfortable and unchallenged superiority before.
A fundamental tendency of a self-destructive society is an extent of state debt that makes it impossible for the economy to catch up with it even by the most favourable economical growth. Achilles cannot pass the turtle. The self-destructive society is therefore a society that is unable to maintain the highly developed welfare level of civilization. It is originally a question of budget and economy still it is not simply a question of economy.
Even a bankruptcy in economy is not necessarily self-destructive, while a bankruptcy of institutions that used to be supported by the state is necessarily self-destructive. Therefore the fundamental problem of the self-destructive society is not simply an economic one. The state debt is not equal with economic recession. The self-identity of the state, the society and the citizen is seriously questioned from this aspect. Therefore the state, the society, or the citizen either doesn’t have an opportunity to materialize all-human values, or they are even bound to use up, or even directly destroy these values.
On 31st March 2004, a Bolivian miner blew up himself in front of the Bolivian parliament. The direct cause of his action was that he got no pension, and his argumentation was flawless. He demanded a sum he had gradually paid as taxes for the state of Bolivia during his working decades, and he did it not without any rightful ground.
The self-destructive society is the new and extensive reality. The ‘West’, the developed part of the world should be considered as the winner of Gorbachev’s farewell and it drew profit from the global transformation of world economy. On the other hand, even this ‘West’ had to struggle against the consequences of self-destructive society, also because of the growing importance of the debt challenge. At the same historical time, the former ‘second’ world did not get the financial support it needed to establish its new political democracy and new competitive market economy. At the same period, the old or new ‘third’ world reached the bottom at mass migration and poverty (Bernard, Fr. de 2002). In this ‘post-historical’ history, a new question has arisen: can the politically hegemonic liberalism as liberalism break away from the downward-circling spiral of self-destructive society?
The double function of the post-socialistic transformation
The states and societies of the former real socialist part of the world had to solve several, not only different, but straight fundamentally antagonistic problems. First, they had to evolve a real and reliable democratic political system, with all known problems of this ‘project’. Second, these states and societies had to take successful and effective measures to reduce or even gradually bridge the critically deepening economic and humanitarian gaps between the West and the East by shaping their own competitive economy on the basis of the self-destructive society. These two, in the major aspects antagonistic tasks have been calling for an international and conscious solution right from the start. The all-time western partners have clearly stated that they did not want to think in such a solution. In the post-socialistic societies however, these two huge projects (building out a democracy that works, and handling the problem of state debt) remind of the necessity of such an international and conscious solution time after time.
This antagonistic relation fundamentally re-shapes and revaluates even the basic functions of post-socialistic democracy. Such a democracy cannot realize the ideal type of the democratic system. So it becomes the most important function of the post-socialistic democracy to bail out the economic heritage of Existing Socialism. It becomes the real function of post-socialistic democracy in the circumstances given, to manage the whole debt problem of former Existing Socialism. Post-socialistic democracy loses its privileged and singularly fortunate character of a general liberation and unveils its extraordinary character. Right after this democracy was born to success, it could get into a Weimar type crisis; a row of political crises caused by the failing bailout, or – on the contrary – huge humanitarian shocks following successful bailouts.
The two simultaneous and in many aspects antagonistic functions of post-socialistic democracy clash particularly sharply the term legitimacy. Post-socialistic democracy – as every post-totalitarian democracy – is one of the most legitimate political structures right from the beginning. But it would be foolish to think that the actual reality that follows from the bailout function of democracy would not have any influence on the legitimacy of the same democracy. In this pressing tension namely, two concepts of legitimacy outline and turn against one another, i.e. the (immaculate) classical political-theoretical concept of legitimacy and the (deficient) practical problem-solving legitimacy.
Globalization and politics as a subsystem
Every research of the actual society is starting out from totally new and unprecedented universal characteristics of globalization. On the other side, contrary to the still unmapped significance and magnitude of these unprecedented new traits stands the concrete appearance of global everyday life. This unbelievable distance of a holistic and theoretical approach and the microscopic and particular everyday practice creates a specific space of theory and practice.
In this framework, it would be necessary to analyze also the actual relationship of globalization and politics. But we are excused from this task by the fact that politics, the political subsystem, and political classes slowly seem to find their proper new places in the world of globalization (and the new world economy).
The double face of democracy becomes a fundamental issue of globalization. On one side, this is a commonly functional and lstructura moment. It is because global operation can (could) only evolve and operate on the basis of democratic liberalism or liberal democracy. In this sense, liberal democracy is the ‘modus vivendi’ of globalization. But, on the other side, its functional and structural foundation shall not make us forget the immanent and original value components of liberal democracy, which used to ensure exceptionally strong legitimacy for the political system even before the functional and structural dimensions were developed or even reflected completely. The fundamentally democratic character of the political face of globalization got expanded by a row of yet unclarified new functions. Democratic values left the realm of founding values and became pragmatic and constructive components of concrete structures and functions.
If we define liberal democracy by its aspect that the party that wins the elections controls the operation of state administration and redistribution for a cycle, we can clearly realize a new trend of modern democracies. Possessing the totality of state power means power of a smaller extent and a narrower scope of action than before globalization. The dimension of political power is smaller, yet the role it plays in answering global challenges is more important than before. A state in the hands of the ruling political party can no more possess instruments of production, neither does it produce. It redistributes the taxes of other producers and it tries to fulfil its tasks that no other player was willing to undertake. But contrary to the weakening power and competence of the state stand the (both absolutely and relatively) renewing demands and pretensions of insatiable individuals and groups.
The present model of the world should be considered the mature form of globalization. Its decisive trait is the phenomenon of state debt, which phenomenon fundamentally defines the economic and political framework of globalization for the societies and for human life. This is the general model, in which the extremely extensive process of accession to the EU is taking place. These multiple functions cause that even the lack of a theory has its own victims.
The most important characteristics of the theoretical starting situation created by globalization can be fully examined at this conflict. The demolishment of the welfare state does not basically appear as an economic or political problem in this discourse (although it might still be controversial in this context as well), but as a humanitarian, modern, cultural, and society-building factor. The context of globalization does not erase the validity (Gültigkeit) of the individual subsystems, but it positions new, general and painfully concrete ‘global’ i.e. general and universal contexts above their rationality.
Therefore is one of the great challenges of the future made up by problems of the state. The starting point is the relationship between globalization and the nation state. The great problematic dimension of the future (and the row of questions to be decided) springs from the fact that the state is not a neutral actor that can be characterized solely by functional characteristics, but since the modern state after 1945 (or even already after Louis Bonaparte or Bismarck!), it undertook social tasks and the challenges of civilization at an extreme measure totally unknown before, which tasks can only be lifted from the bonds of the indebted state shattered by the processes of globalization by destroying huge ‘areas’ in the social network. The states are the losers in this process. But there is also another tendency, which also has its first stark signs already in today’s global and European processes. There are namely also fortunate (nation) states, which could use the achievements of globalization and even integration to realize their original ends and pretensions as nation states, or even their long forgotten aspirations to expand as nation states. They use European resources for national goals. These nation states are already the winners of the expansion of the EU in multiple aspects, which can also be interpreted as a process of globalization.
The problem of the systemic difference of the political sphere (das Politische) and economy shows also the new quality of globalization. It is a question of theory of systems (Systemtheorie). If we examined the phenomena solely from the one (the political) or the other (the economical) viewpoint, we would not get to any special conclusion. In this case we would make the new complexes of present phenomena – shaped by globalization – the subject of a past, pre-globalization kind of language and reconstruction. Instead of using the language the new complexes would require, both one-sided approaches (the economical or the political discourse) would use the language of (exceeded and suspending) normality. If we used the traditional political terminology as medium of the inquiry of globalization, we would get to one of idyllic normality. It emanates the vision of the victory of liberal values, and the worldwide spreading triumph of the democratic order. But if we used the traditional economic terminology, the image of the globalizing world might no more seem so idyllic, but in any case “normal”. All details, aspects and dimensions of the economic and political qualities of globalization can be described by the language of normality – except for the fact of globalization itself. And it is so, because the philosophical difference between the self-destructive character of globalization and the affirmative character of the language of normality.
The specific problem by the reconstruction on the micro-level of globalization is the fact that while anyone can sense and understand this micro-level directly, one can only acquire models and patterns that make the well-known micro-level recognizable as the micro-level of globalization. There is a set of phenomena, which could be characterized as the micro-sphere of globalization, but its specific micro-sphere can be identified as part of globalization just after a whole interpretation of the macro- and medium levels of globalization.
It is the medium sphere that occupies a privileged position in the theoretical reconstruction of globalization. The medium sphere does not simply show a new side of the phenomenon of globalization, but it shows its most relevant new side, because globalization appears in this environment as the decisive determining factor of the whole social life. On this level do the new functional systems of globalization broadly confront with real social life. It is the virtual, but also physical area, of which system-theoretical functioning penetrates historical frameworks of non-functional nature, like values, contracts or tradition. As defined earlier, globalization is a state of exceeding a critical mass of functionally operating systems. Now we can understand, why the most dramatic confrontation takes place in the medium sphere, for here does the functional sphere overlap with the non-functional sphere.
In the philosophical tradition, the semantics of all decisive terms of political philosophy and political practice was shaped when the real existing political subsystem was far identical with the matters of social theories in general. In globalization qualified by functional operation and no more solely by (non-functional, therefore system-theoretically different) politics, the real existing political subsystem is no more identical with the matters of general social theory. What about the theory of Social Contract or the original Human Rights in a situation when the unconditioned respect towards them although remains, but at the same time, in the real conditions of global monetarism, these rights are obviously violated, while nobody can be made responsible for it either morally or politically!
On this decisive medium-level of globalization, the relative devaluation of the political subsystem leads to the revealing of so far hidden genealogical dimensions. Who on Earth knew that Marxism that started to decline critically after the 70’ – 80’s, was still carrying a considerable measure of humanitarian and utopian potential? Who on Earth knew that it was the framework of the nation state that secretly carried the functions of the welfare state? Who knew that it did it in such a self-evident way that as soon as the nation states shattered financially, the whole future of the institutional framework of social politics shattered? Thus the relative devaluation of the political subsystem has already shown that the collapse of the political sphere also means the devaluation of ‘society’ in connection of shaping the most important relations (N.N. (eds). 1998.). Moreover, there are some signs that indicate that the collapse of the political sphere might even lead to the devaluation of mankind.
The relative weakening if not decline of the system of politics – despite naïve expectations – will not liberate society from the conventional organization power and repression of the state. This is because it is right another decisive consequence of globalization-monetarism that the economy, like several other subsystems, can escape from the legal interventions of the state critically impoverished by the omnipresent networks of common debts (Ehrke, M. 2004.). On one side, the impoverished state will no more be able to control the function of the subsystems within its territory. On the other side, paradoxically, it must use all of its energies to control the functions of which existence and reproduction it can no more influence.
Globalization and modernization
The fundamental rise of modern rationality cannot be reconstructed without a historical analysis of emancipation. Rationality, ‘disenchantment’ (Entzauberung), ‘the Dialectic of Enlightenment’ must appear in a new context. Thus the phenomenon and the issue of emancipation must appear in the historical and philosophical discourse of the ‘farewell to the myths’ as well. This refers to liberalism as a political concept on a theoretical level and the concretization and manifestation of modern rationality.
Modern liberalism is the political face of modern rationality. The indifference towards various issues of emancipation was the great failure of liberal politics. As an integrating political concept, it should have integrated the immanent and necessary moments of emancipation in its modern rationality. Instead of having done that, the present neo-liberalism obviously even protests against issues of emancipation with its indifference and ignorance. The lack of emancipation might thrust the whole process of rationalization into critical dangers.
The global world represents the basic dimensions of the problem of universal values. Its political and social triumph is due to the worldwide victory of neo-liberalism that is based on human rights, and of which values it had made universal in a most evident and seemingly natural manner. The functioning new world order embodies universal real dimensions, and it does it in the trivial existentially bounded (seinsverbunden) manner of facticity.
The classically new basic situation, i.e. the ‘universality of particularities’, the process of every individual and group becoming a global actor is in a sharply antagonistic position to the rule of universal values. Without a doubt, it is a grave new contradiction of today’s globalization that this omnipresence of particular universalism makes the global pretension of particular interests a horrible near danger. This fundamental contradiction is also paradoxical: in a global world that is being constituted by a type of universal values that embody universal operation, every particular individual might evidently become an actor. But such dialectic of transformation to independent and monadic actors might become self-destructive. It is because globalization is only capable of regulating the rules of vindicating particular interests to a limited extent. There might start a new historical era of ‘wars of every man, against every man’.
Liberalism and monetarism
In the ‘70s and the ‘80s re-shaped liberal ideas had been defined by special political and ideological characteristics. Existing Socialism was in defensive, and it could not find its proper place among the co-ordinates of a new, already globalizing reality. It was the Real Socialism that shaped the whole political, social and also the hermeneutical horizon, ahead of which classical, human rights-based liberalism and monetarist restriction could and did appear as two essentially connected consequences of one and the same theory. It was namely the ‘order’ of Existing Socialism itself, in which the ‘neo-liberalism’ of the critique of state redistribution did not differ from the human rights idealism of classical liberalism! Before the horizon of Existing Socialism, the really ‘liberal’ description of modern market economy seemed to be fully isomorphic with its ‘monetarist’ description, which new isomorphism accepted an existing political and economic state (i.e. monetarist restriction) of the continually existing Western capitalism (apprehended from the embedded anti-totalitarian perspective) as ‘liberalism’. On such a hermeneutical basis, the actual politics of monetarist economy was called ‘liberalism’ as an opposite of both Existing Socialism and the Western-type redistribution.
Therefore that statement ‘liberalism = monetarism’ is not only wrong use of terminology, but it is extremely harmful and misleading as well (Kiss, E.1999). The economic policy of monetarist restriction was introduced first in England, then in the United States, actually by conservative politicians and parties, as a response to the Keynesian policy that was considered in another sense too ‘liberal’ that time. To consider Maggie Thatcher or Ronald Reagan ‘liberal’ from any real aspect of liberalism would be quite an absurd assumption indeed. By this, again, we arrive to the fact that the complex of monetarist restriction is essentially incompatible with any basic vision of liberalism.
In global context, by monetarism we mean the uniform fundamental complex of today’s political and fiscal order. It entails the international order of both inwards and outwards indebted states, in which the policy of monetarist restriction prevails both internationally and in the framework of the nation state. This is the complex we shall call ‘monetarism’ in the following, independent from the strongly different various views whether the state of indebtedness is only temporary or not. In international political and economic terminology, there is no other special term for this extensive ruling global economic system. It is an evidence for the fact that even other important actors consider today’s world economy and the system of world politics bound to it ‘normal’. While it cuts back social functions of the state (including several functions that had been taboo before), it strengthens the state’s debt-managing forced functions (what is totally anti-liberal), radically redefines politics that had been an intact and most important sphere of society for the fundamental vision of liberalism before.
Monetarism makes – in a functional and system-theoretical sense – a theatre out of the central political environment that should have been the central subsystem from the aspect of political liberalism. It thrusts the whole system of politics on a course of a programmed failure. The other reason why monetarism is not liberalism is that at certain points of the financial system, it makes regulating and conscious (state) intervention possible even into the seemingly most spontaneous processes. It is not only against its own ideology, but it even contradicts its own deeper definition as a system of a free play of free forces.
Within the framework of Existing Socialism, the indebtedness of the state meant necessarily increasing personal freedom – but it is no wonder that so many things were considered progressive in the captivity of Existing Socialism. Hungarian financial policy for example could manage to take new credits in whatever world political or world economical context, ideological course, or case of emergency. Meanwhile, the Hungarian political class was obviously less resourceful (and what is more important, less successful) at elaborating a concept to mobilize the productive powers of society. Therefore, there was a point when the row of credits as a supposed starting point of future constructive economical processes inevitably turned to a destructive phase. But even past the critical point, neither economists, nor politicians could manage to get the economy off the forced course of this vicious circle. Moreover, in the meanwhile, an insightful outsider could not escape the suspicion that neither the political class, nor the opinion-making economists were aware and conscious of the further consequences of fatal debt problems.
Globalization and its actors
The actors of globalization are often missing and it is shown clearly in comparison with the new specific global functions. The case of missing actors occurs when political or other processes of globalization create new and strong functions, but at the same time, there aren’t any equally strong, socially legitimated and responsible actors to fulfil these functions. The empty places and functions of missing actors either remain unrecognized or tricky interest groups push themselves into this vacuum (Michels, R. 1987). The basic model is simple: an interest group pushing into the vacuum can only be called an actor in one specific sense, i.e. that it follows solely its own interests. To achieve this end, it must shape the political space to some extent, but it does not do it as a legitimate and constructive actor, therefore its activity inevitably implies the destruction of political space.
The actorial aspect in general is a theoretically attractive new component of globalization. Although his term can also be used for the political and social reality of the pre-globalization era, yet globalization opens a new era in the history of this term, mainly because globalization liberates individual actors from the organizational and original interconnectedness of bigger political and social integrities, mostly organizations and it arranges the universe of the actors in a new way. We are actors both in a theoretical and in a practical sense. Unfortunately, we still identify this new side of globalization rather with the actually existing ‘caesarian’ components of the actorial dimension, than with its also actually existing democratic components. Global competence itself also lacks adequate actorial foundation. Neither traditional forecast, nor traditional consensus-making, nor traditional administration, nor any other traditional institutions are capable of shaping competence legitimately.
The relation to modernity in a history-philosophical sense is decisive not only from the aspect of potential enemies and enemy images. In a positive sense, it is decisive because lin several important aspects, globalization, which in fact sprung out from the soil of modernity intends to eliminate the so far most important achievements of modernity as wel.
Therefore, on these bases, the sensible consequences of the deeply interdependent relationship of globalization and liberalism/neo-liberalism are getting crystallized around the issue of the state. Now we can clearly see that the state as a ‘buffer’ is a central element of the battlefield of globalization, but of course, only if we consciously insist on the actual achievements of modernity and emancipation. Pointing out these criteria is not an unnecessary theoretical enterprise nowadays. It is namely not included in the expectations concerning morals, society or even good manners that beyond pursuing his own particular interests, one had any duties in order to preserve the achievements of civilization, emancipation, or modernization.
Neo-liberalism has arrived to a great change. After its worldwide victory it remained as the only regulator of globalization on the political-ideological scene. And past the acme of its exclusive hegemony it became identical with the whole of the existing social and economic world order in common political consciousness. It is a not yet achieved high-level realization of the present world order, globalization and rationalization that also amplifies the tendencies that follow from ‘bidding farewell’ to the myths. If neo-liberalism is really an outcome of such a height of rationalization in this theoretical framework, it must not pass by the developing new forms of emancipation.
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