Among the international relationships, the specifically imperial relations can be distinguished through the principle of the each other guided competition or rivalry of the diverse actor-states in the framework of a paramount global cooperation. The attribute "imperial" is neither a random nor a traditional description that connects with each other phenomena of similar character timeless, without any further qualification.
„Imperial” means, in our context, a specifically new relation and condition that are somewhat described dans le Clash of Civilizations of Huntington. It can also be understood, that the globalization can today be nearly characterized and addressed not only through this relation, although its increasing importance can no longer be put into question mainly somewhat after 2000. The visible validity, let alone supremacy of the imperial discourse is also therefore an excellent perspective on the globalization, because the basic sensibilities of the globalization do not define at all its significance from the beginning, on the contrary, the relevance of the order of magnitude of the imperial discourse is itself equivalent with an attribute of the respective state of the globalization.
The imperial dimensions can of course also change through the rapid development, partly in their absolute conditions, partly in their relations to the other forms of the global discourse, i.e. to these perspectives, from which the globalization can be interpreted and understood also independently. Since the actorial dimensions, i.e. the action space of the diverse protagonists in the global processes are unchanged of high importance, this actorial freedom can also on its part increase, in a striking way, the order of magnitude of the imperial dimension amongst the other dimensions. In the context of the imperial dimension, a mixture of objective and subjective actions spaces is thus arising, which constant interweaving can be regarded as one of the leading conditions of the globalization.
The rapid changements in the imperial dimensions of the process of globalization are very characteristic of this event from the beginning. It goes so far, that in the first years after 1989, the imperial dimension has not been at all thematized publicly, the euphoria of the „end of the history” promised a world, where the traditional imperial relations have become, as for ever, obsolete. The conscious profiling of the individual virtual or real global imperial actors is joining this starting situation, for finally the potential imperial role does not only depend on the will of these actors.
Sometimes the introspection of the great global actors also means a search for identity. So, China already belonged in the first decade of the new millennium certainly to the „empires”, this appartenance revealed however as „virtual”, while it so quickly changed in the second decade, that it costs China now much effort to avert that impression, according to which the country would already be now the leading state of the globalization (or one of the states willing to lead) or intend to become as such. Other categorizations can also remain unfixed: for, somewhat the imperial major actors are by no means identical to the members of the leading international organizations, even this affirmation can be true, according to which it should be possible to enter the first leading circle of the global states (in our consciously chosen formulation: „empires”) „through invitation”.
Our thought process is concerned with this new phenomenon of the mutual competition of the global „empires”. On the one hand, it is about, we repeat it, a competition that realizes as secondary phenomenon behind the phenomenon of a multi-strata global cooperation on the first line. But this phenomenon, also as a competition of all against all, is revealing quite complex and multiple. This rivalry, and we must again also emphasize this, does not call into question the validity of the reality and the relevance of the primary global cooperation. This competition of the second line adopts often the outline of asymmetrical forms.
This competition of the second line is, in its true definitions, a quite new phenomenon. Conscious of this fact, our approach of research might be selective since, for a thorough research, neither a temporal distance nor a sufficiently specific methodology are now available.
First, we concentrate on the question, to whose expense this struggle of the second line is led. Generally, we could already now take the thesis, transmitted to us by the historical tradition: the burdens and costs of wars and crises are transferred in the rule to the „society”, it is also not different with the „risks” of the modern industrial societies, what is finally a consequence of the state and of the great economical and financial actors. We cannot be satisfied with this general answer.
This rivalry on the second line includes obviously the domain of the economy, however it belongs to the methodological hypotheses of our essay, that we include economical phenomena and facts, only in this case, in the rivalry, if it can be proved about such phenomenon or such fact, that it results from conscious strategical reflections, i.e. from a decision, which can be certainly associated with this rivalry. It goes without saying, that this decision is, for our thought process, of a crucial importance. We can only develop and interpret this rivalry through facts, which origin is secured. It follows, that we will have to deal with a huge number of facts, which we cannot decide the course of.
Do we take again the universal global cooperation as starting fact („first line), it becomes then comprehensible, why this conflict can be conceived, on the „second line” also as a war of a new type. This rivalry is not characterized by combatting armed forces or frontal clashes. This rivalry is rather determined by the idea of weakening if possible the opponent (some opponents, all opponents), would it be about his concrete, but also symbolic or virtual weakening.
If this expression has a current sense, in this new context and terrain having to be compared with no former context, we should then say, that these conflicts are oriented, in the second line, against the hinterland of the competitors. This means however, that the individual actors in competition do not attack the elites or the ruling class of the other actors, rather their „hinterland”, or the everyday life and the conditions of reproduction of those involved, also global „imperial” participants.
Would it be effectively the case (while we do not consider the designation „hinterland” as the optimal designation), then the purely theoretical question is first put, whether this phenomenon is distinguishing from the many similar phenomena of the world history, whether this phenomenon, that we have described as rivalry, concurrence in the second line, is mainly a new phenomenon.
Our answer is, that this phenomenon must be precisely also then considered, through the fact of the globalization and the also relevant fact of the universal cooperation (the „first” line), necessarily as a new phenomenon, if many of its forms remind effectively very strongly of similar phenomena from the former world history.
It is quite difficult to discuss the facticity of these conflicts. An economical success, the changements in the prices of raw materials, the movements of the stock exchange and of the markets can improve the positions of one actor at the expense of the other(s). These conflicts, we accept it now, do not disturb the global communication and the global cooperation (the „first line”), they are often not lived as conflicts, while they can cause concrete and violent damages. This asymmetrical war is thus also simultaneously a silent war, which victims or those damaged often do not know themselves, whom they fell victim to .
Would this assomption be right, the Wiki-leaks opportunities and finally the Snowden’s case would be considered as anything but exceptional phenomena or even astonishments. In reverse order, it would be precisely a surprise, if the individual involved actors would not listen to each other in this context. What is so disappointing in the public opinions following these scandals, is not necessarily the visible information on the state of the business as usual, but the indescribable lack of claim of the arguments accompagnying the declarations, that undertake no attempt to associate this conflict in the second line with that of the first member of the cooperation. In these opinions, we find nothing, where the contours of the new global world order would have become visible, what we see is only the attitudes of the potential war of all against all, which were characteristic of the pre-global world. The case Snowden underlines our hypothesis, but not only in the assumption of the „normality” of mutual listening. Also the „silent” war appears here, for it was also a fact, that we assumed, maybe Snowden would be even also kidnapped under the peaceful circumstances of the global international life.
The assomption of this mutual rivalry of the „imperial” actors can extend also to a somewhat modified vision on arms production and commerce. This leads however also further into the experience that the global circumstances and relationships are changing between the politics and the economics again in a new context. For, precisely the arms commerce (through its double rooting in the political and the economical) must not be differently interpreted than a moment of this competition in the second line, even if it is carried out from „purely economical” moments. The supposed and hypothetical role of victim of the hinterland is realizing in this context again very sharply: if these guns are needed, then this role is clear (for, no population can be today kept away from these conflicts), if not, then (and we remain now only with this single consequence), the costs of the arms are taken from other sections of the budget.
It is also similar to the concurrence of the representations! Events such as the Olympics in China, winter Olympics in Russia or a football World Cup in Brazil are certainly considered as rational steps (amongst others also) in the rivalry of global actors in the so-called second line of the international reality of the age of the globalization. It is however just as clear that the costs of these mega-events of the global representations are ascribed to the account of the populations. These examples show also that this competition of the second line is also revealing as a medium, which can appropriate to itself and instrumentalize also events, emerging totally independant on it. With a quiet conscience, we can namely assume that if in Kuwait the discontent of the civil population is growing and is also manifesting in the public declarations, this event can be admitted as a moment in the mutual struggle of the global actors of imperial rank or is also just admitted.
The problem of the energy and energy supply shows however also a type of events, in which the decisive (intentionally guided) or random (spontaneous) actions could hardly more distinguish from each other. In these domains, we can literally make no step, without having also any influence on other actors, what already alone, like autopoietically brings the state of the competition of the second member on the scene. This type is also that, which shows always publicly the everyday reality of this rivalry, which then – enhanced through the force of the digitalization and the approaches of a society of information – strengthens the impression of the mutual global rivalry at the expense of the global cooperation existing already in itself.
Peculiar sides of this mutual struggle are, if individual actors set for themselves certain coordinates, orders of magnitude and norms, that they consider them as pain threshold of the others in this universal and permanent conflict. So, we can for example read in the dron attacks, that we want to avoid to enlist in the Chinese airspace because we assume that China would not tolerate it. Another side of the same dimension consists in the support to the civil-, women’s and other social movements on the sovereign territory of other imperial actors, in which also blurred borders of influences are established. For us, this phenomenon has the above-average importance that such steps and opinions can apply as indirect confirmation of our thesis.
A very particular place is coming in this very concretely conceived conflict of the global empires of the mass communication and of the mass culture. That these be since ever already international, and can be prevented in their nature only through the force is a fundamental fact. That this rivalry of individual global protagonists be happening in them thousands of times is another important fundamental fact. The difficulty and simultaneously the theoretical interest of this domain consist in the quantitative infinity of this domain, in its confusion but also not less in the considerable asymmetry that exists under this aspect among the individual global players, while the American mass culture influences much more clearly the other great empires as it is the case in reverse order, even if this effect can also not be considered as unlimited or unilateral. An independent complex in this context is that a mass culture does not only mediate the own and the other „world”, but in several genres also „works up” and thematizes another world. On working up the essential problems of the other empire, several variations of interpretation can appear, every civilization is working on the fundamental problems of the other, like it was formerly the case in Charlie Chaplin’s and Leslie Howard’s films on the Third Reich or Andrzei Wajda’s films on the Stalinism.
In sign of the universal rivalry of the individual civilizations, multiple and very strange phenomena can also outgrow from this problematic. This signals, in an interesting way, (as one of many phenomena) a reaction on an American film presently shot about Che Guevara, in which it was affirmed, „the others relate our histories”. There are however examples for that, which one global „empire” calls into question the right to exist of the other, like it happens often, in an astonishing way, between the USA and America (for instance : America = Marx, Europe = Venus). In this communication, some individual real dimensions of this mutual conflict of individual empires are however also thematical, like for example in the matter of relationship between Europe and North-Africa, or in the discussion about to what extent the EU interventions should support the individual member-states in other places of the world.
In this analysis, a point is also visible, that would be even not noticed from another starting point. If it is really about the responsibilities of the „hinterland” (we still keep so problematically this description), it becomes then soon visible, that this concept means something quite different in Europe than in all other great global units. Europe’s „base” consists of individual nation-states that partly protect their sovereignty, partly have abandonned it. This known fact can become relevant in the new context of the competition of the global empires in the second line. If we already stay at the level of the damages, it is then already quite fundamental to expect that they can be unevenly distributed only because of this fact. Here, we want to mention briefly the European politics of education and school, where the university shows surely itself (and even totally understandable) as a terrain, on which the rivalry of the individual great player (behind the comprehensive global cooperation) is running intensely.
At this point, let us leave aside, whether the European politics of higher education is meaningful or not (for us: not). The chosen strategy in the conflict revealed however undoubtedly as a strategy, which disadvantages and losses are not distributed evenly among the individual states.
Up to now, we dealt with a new phenomenon of globalization that reminds, indeed in many trains, of the traditional competition of the great powers that must be however regarded as new phenomenon because of the new basic qualities of the globalization. Now, we put the suggested question, whether this rivalry can also not be associated with that phenomenon that we usually name as the conflict, or as the rivalry of the great philosophies of life, religions or ideologies or that has been called, just after the advent of the globalization, by Samuel S. Huntington, „clash of the civilizations”. It is obviously an attempt, and we start from the fact, that the rivalry of the global empires in the second line, as well as the clash of civilizations were originally returning to different motives and origins.
Huntington’s concept, also as self-fulfilling prophecy, plays a very big role in the fact, that we must put today this very concrete question of the relation of the rivalry of the global powers to the great ideological or civilizational struggles. At the beginning of the nineties, even other ways opened namely before the further development of the globalization! Huntington’s concept played also a well-identifiable role, while he reduced the new and very complex dimensions, the victory, even the dialectic of the Modern Age in a reactionary basic situation seeming fundamentalist.
If we think of the rivalry of the philosophies of life, religions and ideologies (pratically of all that Huntington described as clash of civilizations), we would so spontaneously think that only quite few ideologies take part in this great competition. It is however not the case. In truth, there are many more ideologies in the global world, which are fighting each other and each of these ideologies has also inwards a rich differentiation, that fights also now inside the same major ideology or religion.
The convincing impression, that Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations was a self-realizing prophecy, that influenced in its way the events, came mostly from the strange and somewhat instilling fear experience, that this „struggle” (according to Huntington or also without him) came together with that result, that every ideology or philosophy of life „fundamentalized” with consequences, i.e. in case of every individual ideology gave rise to the more fundamentalist or the most fundamentalist variation.
Thus, the fundamentalism entered a new phase of its history, with which also a new history, a new sociology and also a new sociology of the knowledge of the fundamentalism became nessary. A development occured, which in a pecular way had also moved closer to each other the individual philosophies of life or ideologies. Simultaneously, some fundamentalist thought structures became so general, that larger groups and masses, in many countries and in many sociological circles, do no longer recognize exactly the fundamentalist color of their mode of thinking and just use the fundamentalism, like they applied formerly the constructive thought structures, they use even now the fundamentalist structures to solve factual problems.
With the necessary care, we can recognize, that both universal struggles (empires + civilizations) of the great global actors are today on the way to grow together. In the duality of such two empires, the ideological and civilizational clash can show through with great ease, the difference between communism and post-communism is, for such reasons, also not made with sufficient care, while China is still classified, sometimes communist, sometimes neo-liberal in these double-level becoming confrontations (empires + ideologies). Also the eventual differences between America and Europe are looking already for „ideological” marks, where one part must always ideologically (i.e. democracy-theoretically) stand above the other, even if the criteria of this civilizational superiority are absolutely very relative and no longer show the unambiguity of the year 1989.
The imperial conflicts of second line (behind the global cooperation, that constitutes the first line) adopt in any of their constitutions always clear ideological-philosophical forms. This event reminds very clearly (as it has been declared so reluctantly in this attempt) of a state, that Huntington described in 1992 and 1993. These ideologies-philosophies of life are adopting very generally (as it has been once pointed out) a „fundamentalist” character, what has also to be explained from this competition. It is almost alarming, that this process represents the counter-movement toward the development after 1945, while formerly the individual ideologies/philosophies of life became always more differentiated and demanding. No doubt, this movement is also to explain with the rivalry of the individual global empires, in which leading ideologies are often really very close to the fundamentalism, it is however to explain also with the ever decreasing role, that the intellectuals play in the process of formation of these ideological concepts.
Of course, it is not to establish exactly, at which stage this process of common growth of the imperial and ideological-philosophical competition stands, this tendency is however today already clearly visible.
This common growth carries in itself two dangers to consider seriously. The first danger is apparently „only” of intellectual nature. The correspondence-relation of an „empire” with a „civilization/philosophy of life/religion” represents such an amazing simplification of our modern and post-modern world, which must be alone identified, through the scale of this simplification, directly as the highest danger. This simplification is somewhat as we would really think, that the Roman Empire consisted of Romans, who represented the civilization/philosophy of life/religion of the Roman Empire.
This extreme simplification operated up to now and will, most probably in the future, also work as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The concrete orientation of this prophecy is already alone a negative and self-destructive one. If one „empire” interprets the plural, multi-strata, modern reality of the other as fundamentalism, it follows then necessarily, that the own society considers itself as fundamentalism, possibly emphasizes and supports in itself the own, fundamentalist trains. From these virtual processes, a concept of the enemy occurs already each time. Two fundamentalistically colored empires can experiment the others as „enemies”, depending on the intensity of formation of the concept of the enemy of the own philosophy of life. No today politician is to blame for the fact that, in his fundamentalist basic ideology, every other philosophy of life is an enemy, he is, so to speak, constrained to experiment, at a certain stage of the self-fulfilling prophecy, the other as an enemy.
Another consequence of this danger of the link of the rivalry of the empires with the rivalry of the ideologies consists in the easily understandable fact, that on this basis the mechanisms of the positive feedback must work. The perception of this now doubled rivalry leads necessarily to the acceleration and intensification of conflicts among the individual great actors. This rapidity can, under some circumstances, be a rapidity, to which we are not prepared and that possibly can also not be perceived in the normal everyday world. This doubling (if not potentialization) of the global rivalry is obviously also motivated by many real processes. This unquestionable proportion of the real processes cannot mislead us about the fact, that at the stage, when this doubling (if not potentialization) of the rivalry is installing, the importance of the real moments to interpret rationally decisively regresses, the own dynamics of the already fundamentistically colored doubled rivalry takes excessive proportions and can highly diminish the control on this development in certain circumstances. In other words, it looks like so, that in a positive feedback of the redoubled competition (empires + „civilizations”), the chances of the universal fundamentalists are getting always bigger, for the solidarity, the emancipation, the individualization, the information or the human rights are hardly more able to compete with a fundamentalist competition of the „civilizations”, that could win for themselves at each concrete location already the majority of the own masses.
The doubled competition in the second line (always under the universal cooperation in the globalization of the first line) can go over the ideological war. The question remains put, whether this war runs today or not yet. It is however certain, that the doubling of the rivalry contains now already in itself the danger of the ideological war of a new type.
This danger exists quite concretely in the fact, that the launch of the civilizational struggle in the imperial rivalry represents a critical, if not just an irreversible changement.
The universal rivalry of the global „empires” (at a time, when the imperial dimension arrived already historically in the history of the globalization) is after all part of the real politology, is rational to interpret and might be even also addressed as trivial event. It is therefore of socio-ontological nature, even if it does not maybe please us. The truly tragic consequences of the penetration of the civilizational struggles consists in the fact, that the ideologies grant the struggle of the great empires new qualities, they make of this struggle a new reality, a no longer controllable irrational world situation can arise from a politically and socio-ontologically „normal” situation.
The mutual rivalry in the second line of the globalization can engage new „double antagonisms” through this link with the struggle of the civilizations. Since the „fundamentalization” mutatis mutandis is going forward in the inner life of every great empire, a confrontation between „fundamentalism” and „correct democracy” arises from these double positions, and sometimes also democratic elements are to be found in the „fundamentalism” and fundamentalist trains in the „correct democracy”.
Apart from these new simplifications, we must here point out the again very problematic side, in the fact that, while in the „West” the anti-communism is the opposing fundamentalism N°1, in the fundamentalist „East” (i.e. in the concrete empires, we count there), the „anti-liberalism” is the concept of enemy N°1. The juxtaposition of both these „fundamental” facts prepares considerable dangers for the further development. For, the role distribution has the common train, that neither in the „West” (in the here concerned great actors), nor in the „East” (in the here concerned great actors), the fundamentalism is the concept of enemy N°1, this contributes to another acceleration of the dynamics, if not of the dialectic of the fundamentalism.
In this relation of the „West” to the „East”, the West wanted mainly act, with the attraction force of the occidental values, on the population of the East, and also export the democratic institution. We cannot say, that the endeavours remained unsuccessful, even these efforts were however highly hindered by the arising of the clash of civilizations, because they have been just fully politicized and even the clearest values of the democracy and of the emancipation could appear as imperial interests. This concrete confrontation shows again asymmetrical trains. Thus, a double threat arises from the mutual influences (as rivalry of the second line even from a „normal” fact). The first is directed against the other „civilization”, without forgetting however also the other one, in which the other threat concerns the own population, if it does not understand how to take over, at its level, also the logic of the civilization struggle. In a „fundamentalist” empire, we may not behave „democratically” and in a „democratic” empire, we may not behave „fundamentalistically”, understanding these attitudes, as we just understand them concretely.
We came to the conclusion (temporary and in many ways quite hypothetical), that any fundamentalism is an organic component of the doubled global rivalry of the „empires”, that must act in a globalization (if not exclusively of „imperial” color). While we have described, at a place, the globalization as dialectic of the modernity, we must categorize the advance of the fundamentalism (as well vertically as also horizontally) in this doubled rivalry as dialectic of the fundamentalism. Like as if precisely this dialectic of the fundamentalism would appear on the scene also in the present events in Syria, if we read in a strongly worded article (Spiegel, 2013/22), like „iron particles on the magnetic field, how the fighting groups are organizing on the confessional line”. It seems to us, that this observation could characterize also many other situations in the processes of the today globalization. An open confessional conflict or even a war would also come together with that incalculable damage that we may think, that the world history would not exist and this (global) confessional war (which is ultimately anything but confessional or civilizational) differs in nothing from the war of the crusaders.
That we previously focused on the confrontation of the „West” and of the „East”, does not at all mean, that we had forgotten, that there are quite a lot of „imperial” and „civilizational” conflicts. The effective reality is precisely constituted of a multiplicity of these conflicts.
In this „dialectic of the fundamentalism” (which extent is, as said, temporary and hypothetical), we must sensitize, in this domain, in the direction of the „elective affinities”. In the wake of these processes, the individual empires try to find their own (old or new) civilizational ideologies, while the same movement can also start from the other end : the organizing civilizational ideologies (that can already occur at this stage also as independent institutions) also try to find their „own” empire, from which they expect, that they will play, in this concrete field, an „exclusive” role.
Has the „dialectic of the fundamentalism” effectively somewhat advanced, it is then inevitable that the democracies be disadvantaged in this competition. In the short term, it is namely questionable, that the attraction force of the democracies, in a non-democratic society, or in a state of crisis, could resist with the demagogy or the aggressiveness of the well-organized fundamentalist pressure.
It seems to us, that the assumption of Huntington’s option of a Clash of Civilizations was an historical error of the „West”, mainly of the USA, for the rapid identification with this (also intellectually very weak) conception has prevented a more constructive, more communicative and, finally, more human development in the „global” space of the globalization, already the absence of another way must be considered today as a serious mistake.
The interpretation of the terrorism is without any doubt a consequence of this politics. This vision hides, on the one hand, the reality, at least in the sense, that this phenomenon is not justified by the doubling of the imperial rivalries in the second line. Drawn from this context, the terrorism can already be multiply interpreted, even if also numerous right moments can also be easily contained in these interpretations.
So, the terrorism is on the one hand immeasurably increased. On the other hand, the transformation of such understood terrorism reveals also in a self-fulfilling prophecy, so that at the end we can just as difficultly make the distinction between the ideological phantom and the reality, such as it has been formerly the case with the Clash of Civilizations. The integration of the struggle of the civilizations in the (almost obvious) rivalry of the empires of the globalization can accelerate the conflicts in the globalization also thus unexpectedly and critically.
Thus, a dialectic of the fundamentalism realized. It is apparently the consequence, but in the reality a not necessary consequence, if not just the contrary of the globalization itself. It may no longer be called into question, that thus a true danger appeared.