Authors: A.L. Safonov, D.Sc. in Philosophy, PhD in Technical Sciences;
A.D. Orlov, PhD in Technical Sciences.
Yana Vasilievna Bondaryova, professor, D.Sc. in Philosophy;
Makhach Mustafaevich Vagabov, professor, D.Sc. in Historical Sciences;
Vladislav Anatolievich Pesotsky, professor, D.Sc. in Philosophy.
Institution-formation theory and principles of its construction (globalization and the main mechanisms of the development of society): A monograph // Andrey Leonidovich Safonov, Alexander Dmitrievich Orlov – Yekaterinburg: Isdatelskie resheniya, 2020. xx pages (e-book).
This monograph focuses on the study of the laws that govern the development of globalization and the establishment of the new age of post-globalization as well as the analysis of the reasons for the emergence of the crisis in the humanities, whose conceptual base failed to help predict the direction of the development of the post-industrial society or explain its changes ex post facto. The result of research presented principles of building a new socio-philosophical theory, which will help forecast, with a high degree of probability, the development of the society and explain the processes that happen inside it.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the authors.
The thirst for knowledge of the essence of things is given to humans as punishment.
No one thing appears or disappears, but all things are composed or separated from the mix of the existing things.
The main goal of social philosophy has always been to comprehend the leading tendencies of historical development that determine the destiny of society and the individual, in order to find a few key regularities. Its task has been to see the shape of the emerging world in the chaotic events of reality and to give guidance to individuals for the new era.
The key to understanding modernity is, of course, globalization, which is an increasingly multidimensional process of qualitative complication, acceleration, and integration of human development.
Globalization is, first and foremost, a system of qualitative social changes, consisting not only in the formation of a single world market but also in a global social and informational environment, devoid of spatial and political boundaries. Globalization generates unprecedented complications and acceleration of socio-historical processes. It is characterized by global information openness, and the emergence of new information technologies affects individual and mass consciousness directly and without inertia, in real time. This era is characterized by a qualitatively greater number of contacts between geographically distant local communities and individuals, including those not mediated by the state and its institutions.
In more general terms, globalization can be defined as the process of intensification of the entire system of social relations and the formation of a global interaction system. As a result, not only global but also local social phenomena are formed under the influence of distant external causes arising in different regions of our planet. This leads to a comprehensive, worldwide connection of social communities, structures, institutions, and cultures. In the process of globalization, a qualitatively new system of social relations and institutions is taking shape. Consequently, in the modern era, no phenomenon of social being on a local level can be understood outside the comprehensive system of connections with other parts of the global system. Although the world was comprised of a set of relatively closed social systems not long ago, all local social and economic systems have become open today and cannot be studied outside the global context.
In the process of integrating the economic life of individual countries, globalization is increasingly moving beyond the economy in whose terms it was originally defined. Interactions between various actors in society are beginning to take on a universal, total character, which has become impossible to describe with the help of already known particular connections. All of this generates unpredictable chaos, with diverse processes occurring in various spheres of social life. As a consequence, these processes characterize the era as a holistic, yet internally contradictory and unstable system of interrelationships. Globalization as a leading social phenomenon of modernity is the formation, development, and qualitative increase in the connectivity of the global environment. This applies, in particular, to the economic, political, informational, and social spheres. Globalization significantly intensifies interactions within society. Thus, it simultaneously strengthens both the integration and confrontation of all social actors.
The modern era, which is a qualitatively new stage of historical development, is characterized by two developmental trends. The first is that globalization, by creating a single social and economic space, activates those processes that lead to progress in the development of society. The second developmental trend is that, due to the same universal connectivity of all spheres of life of individuals, local crises are transformed into global ones, which have a fundamentally different, more intense level. These crises, because of the peculiarities of globalization, are characterized by qualitatively larger scales than similar phenomena of previous epochs. Thus, globalization manifests itself in two forms. On the one hand, it appears as an era of the emergence of a single economic, political, and social space. The emergence of this phenomenon has led to an unprecedented development of technology and technological knowledge, and, as a consequence, has raised people’s standard of living. On the other hand, globalization manifests itself, in many ways, as an increasingly less stable system of mutually reinforcing crises and disasters in all spheres of existence, leading to a decrease in the stability of all structures and communities of society.
1.1 The emergence of globalization and the unified global economic system
In addition to its functional dimensions – economic, social, political, etc. – globalization also has a temporal dimension.
Globalization as a trend is not new: interstate, inter-civilizational, and trade relations and interactions have played an essential role throughout human history, which has gone through several globalization-localization cycles.
For instance, in the era of Hellenism and the domination of the Roman Empire, the tendency toward globalization (more precisely “ecumenization”, given the isolation from the interacting areas of the New World regions of Europe, the margins of Eurasia and Africa) prevailed. Meanwhile, the Middle Ages had regionalization and fragmentation of feudal and religious enclaves as the core tendency.
The Age of the Great Geographical Discoveries was a new turn towards globalization, which included previously isolated territories of the New World, Africa, and Asia in the global historical and economic processes. However, when it comes to the degree of globalization involvement of elites and local societies, including those in Europe, the trade was no more than a few percent of domestic production up until the twentieth century. Transcontinental migratory flows also affected a negligible share of the population. The depopulation of metropolitan areas during the Spanish-Portuguese colonization of the New World and the flows of Spanish gold that poured into Europe represented a singular and exceptional phenomenon for that historical period.
The forerunner of the modern age of globalization was the age of industrialism, which began with the creation of the railway network, the steam fleet, the telegraph, etc., which qualitatively changed the artificial habitat of the homo sapiens species, such as it was created under feudalism. The whole way of life changed fundamentally.
Typically, the starting point of globalization is traditionally considered to be the struggle of colonial empires for the partition of Africa, followed by the Anglo-Boer War, which opened the period of a global struggle for the redivision of the world, including the two World Wars. Thus, by the beginning of World War I, the concept of imperialism, initially directed against the dominance of the British Empire, had been formed and had become a generally accepted political term.
Lenin’s famous work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916), which emerged from the Russian Marxist school of thought, was by no means the first attempt at constructing a “theory of imperialism”. It was created based on a polemic with the earlier work of Karl Kautsky. It also contains references to earlier works by German, French, and British authors, in particular to J.A. Hobson’s Imperialism.
Evaluating this work post factum, a century later, we can state that Lenin, as a representative of the Marxist paradigm, was indeed successful in identifying the essential signs of the new stage of the development of capitalism, which are fully manifested today. These included more than just the tendency to monopolize markets, which had replaced “free competition” a century earlier, a notion that had become an ideological construct. Another factor was the leading role of financial capital, the flow of revenues from the real economy to the financial economy, the rapid development of capital exports, the transformation of metropolises into “rentier states” (Rentnerstaat), and the new role of banks as centres of economic management. The role of joint-stock companies and subsidiaries, which form, in the contemporary vernacular language, transnational networks, was emphasized. These structures later became one of the key phenomena that determined the development of globalization as a qualitatively new stage of socio-historical development of humanity.
Lenin also noted that German capital tended to be exported to the British colonies “over the head” of the metropolis, bypassing colonial affiliation, that is, the tendency of financial capital to jointly exploit third countries, which fully manifested after World War II, at the neocolonial stage.
As we can see, the theory of imperialism created within the Marxist paradigm of the early twentieth century already contained all the features typical of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, that is, it was able to define the main features of globalization a century before it happened. Only a chain of terminological innovations prevents us from seeing behind the “globalization” of the twenty-first century a direct continuation of the “imperialism” of Cecil Rhodes’s times, which, as we are convinced today, was appropriately viewed by contemporaries from a theoretical standpoint.
However, at the end of the twentieth century, the formation of such a systemic phenomenon as globalization took place against the background of the struggle of socio-political systems. Some countries preferred capitalism. This implied that the society would develop with an emphasis on economic and social organizations, which acted separately from the state. Other countries preferred socialism, which implied the strengthening of the state and largely planned development of the national economy. Globalization as a phenomenon, which determined the further course of social development, emerged, first of all, based on the non-state economic structures of Europe, the USA, and other countries that had close economic and political ties with them. Correspondingly, the ideological support of this process emerged within the framework of the scientific and ideological paradigms of the Western world. As a consequence, the theory of imperialism, which had emerged within the ideological paradigm of Marxism, and had been quite established and quite adequate for social practice, was undeservedly forgotten. Globalization seemed something fundamentally new.
Nevertheless, despite the first manifestations of globalization, the impressive growth of international trade in terms of quantity and finance, nation states and regional blocs of the age of imperialism and industrialization generally maintained a closed-off economic, political, and informational space. In this situation, internal ties prevailed over external interactions. The state could be viewed as a closed, self-regulating system, with adjustments for foreign trade. The world, in this case, could be studied as a sum of its parts, the description of which did not require their consideration in the context of a global supersystem.
The globalization threshold was reached at the moment when the leading states of the world, preserving nominal sovereignty, de facto turned into open socio-economic systems. Their dependence on the global supra system, including international political and financial institutions, increased significantly and rose to a qualitatively new level. The influence of these structures on the economic, social, and cultural life of the population has become comparable with the influence of national governments.
However, one can legitimately talk about globalization as a leading trend in world development only starting from 1991, from the moment of the collapse of the Soviet Union. At that time, the forms of social life that were characteristic of Western civilization received an impetus for spreading globally. The crucial importance of that year lies not only in the political elimination of the USSR but also in the fact that the countries that appeared on the territory of the Soviet Union and its former allies became involved in the “global community” and the global market economy (which significantly strengthened the connectedness of the world system).
From that moment onward, a wave of similar and almost simultaneous liberal economic reforms took place both in the West and in developing and post-socialist countries. The reforms included the privatization of crucial state monopolies – railways, energy, communications, education, and medicine. That was the beginning of the crisis and the dismantling from above of the classical industrial-era bourgeois state and its social institutions. The stage of “privatization of the welfare state” and the strengthening of the role, the “revenge”, of the elites began. During this period, the state lost its role in the economic and social sphere of social life and, increasingly, became a tool that served the situational interests of large economic entities.
Up to a certain time, there was no unified socio-economic environment in the world, but only some large and, as a consequence, politically, ethnically, and culturally heterogeneous states (including empires) with comparatively closed economies. They were included in a rather limited number of local or regional trade and economic systems.
At the same time, any imperial-type state, be it the Roman Empire or Genghis Khan’s state, the Arab Caliphate or China, aimed at maximum possible spatial expansion and the acquisition of new subjects. They sought to reach the natural geographical limits of territorial growth – the seas and low-productivity mountainous and desert areas devoid of population and communication routes. Sooner or later, however, empires reached the peak of their expansion, after which there was a political crisis caused by limited internal ties, fragmented imperial elites, and growing borders in need of military protection.
The crucial change in world history came at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the age of the Great Discovery. Since then, an increasing number of western European countries (first Spain and Portugal, then England, France, and Germany) have been guided by economic considerations. As Europeans established a monopoly on direct maritime communications with other continents, a system of world trade relations began to develop, gradually embracing the whole known world of the time. The dominant positions in this global trading system were taken by those who created it, namely the Europeans. They were the ones able to extract, from trade operations with Asian, African, and American countries, not just profits but super-profits due to the non-equivalent, i.e. unequal nature of this trade exchange. Thus, a phenomenon that had never existed before in human history – the global economic system (also known as “the global capitalist system” or simply “the modern world system”) – emerged.
From the point of view of the systemic approach, the end of the modern era represents nothing less than the first signs of the emergence and development of the world (global) economic system. The most important feature of the global economic system is that, firstly, it functions precisely as a market, i.e. as a system of trade exchange, and secondly – and this is particularly important – it does not relate to any external social systems. At the same time, local economic and social systems, while continuing to retain their subjectivity, are becoming increasingly open to external factors, rather than being self-sufficient. In other words, the global economic system is a system of economic entities whose development is less and less limited by geographical, political, and legislative frameworks, and unrestrained by political regulations of the state.
Globalization differs from the earlier periods in the formation and presence of a single economic space. As a result, one of the objective trends in the development of society is the general commercialization and digitalization of the entire world, including the commercialization, mechanization (industrialization), and unification of all areas of social life that were not involved in market relations in the past.
1.2 The emergence and development of globalization
The modern stage of economic globalization is characterized by the widespread commercialization and privatization of state monopolies (housing and utilities, energy, transport, the military-industrial complex, etc.), which are carried out according to the same template across the entire world. Commercialization and privatization have also affected other initially non-commercial areas and institutions of social life (education, science, medicine, culture). At the same time, even today, at the peak of corporate globalization and “privatization of the welfare state”, the objective tendency of expansion of capital and relations that are based on commodity and currency is not absolute and is always restrained by certain limits of a non-economic order.
These limits can be physical (space and resource limitations), political (state organizations and structures, borders, etc.), technological (transport, communications, etc.), the requirements of social stability (social stratification is simply the reverse side of the concentration of capital), security, and the long-term needs of modernization and infrastructure construction, which require long-term investment.
Therefore, economic globalization with its ultra-liberal economic model should not be seen as an irreversible process, as neoliberal thinkers typically do, but as a reversible and even cyclical shift in the balance of power and interests among various elites and other social groups.
The objectivity of economic laws does not mean that restrictions of a non-economic order must be abolished since it is the non-economic limitations of law that allow human societies to exist. The presence of a permanent tendency does not mean the abolition of forces opposed to it, either objective or subjective. For example, the objectivity of the law of universal gravitation affects evolution, but by no means does it impose a ban on terrestrial life forms that exist in the constant struggle with the force of gravity.
Liberalization and commercialization cause the degradation of vital – especially in the long term – non-commercial spheres of social life (science, culture, education, marriage, and family relations), which constitute an essential part of human existence.
Probably, the crises in the world economy and the domestic politics of individual states caused by liberalization, commercialization, and deregulation will in the future lead to the opposite movement, namely to a natural deliberalization and regionalization, and the reincarnation of such social institutions as nation states and nations.
At any rate, we have the example of Roosevelt’s New Deal, which replaced the decade of post-war liberalism of the 1920s. Moreover, there are many other examples of successful deliberalization and deprivatization, most notably the creation of the European model of the “welfare state” and the construction of a range of viable models of socialism and compromise social models based on several civilizations and cultures.
In the economy, there have been global changes linked with the emergence and growth of transnational corporations (TNCs) and globalized banking and financial structures.
Manufacturing has long ceased to be only national; it is increasingly transnational as individual countries are responsible only for certain stages of producing a product, which travels a long way from raw material to being ready for use through the production cycles of many countries. This is the type of production carried out by TNCs, but they do not focus on a single industry or product.
Thus, in the 1990s, the combined sales of the world’s 500 largest TNCs accounted for more than a quarter of global GDP, more than a third of global manufacturing exports, three-quarters of trade in goods, and four-fifths of trade in technology. At the same time, about 40 per cent of world trade happened in the trade flows within TNCs.
However, these same figures show that, when taking into account national markets, including some sectors of the economy that are purely local yet quite large (housing and utilities and infrastructure) and the presence of a fairly significant natural economy, no more than 30 per cent of the economy is globalized. At the same time, its knowledge-intensive and technological part, which is not connected with the necessities, and the financial sector with its specifics are globalized.
The limited natural resources of the world have led to the formation of a vertical structure of the world system, divided into a “core” and a “periphery” both spatially and socially. This leads to the strengthening of the power of elites and desocialization of the “middle class”. Similarly, the unevenness of development increases in all spheres of life, both globally and locally. The growth of disparity, including social differentiation, is both the cause and the result of increased competition for all kinds of resources.
The global economic system consists of fundamentally unequal interacting components, which are the “core” and the “periphery”. The “core” of the global economic system consists of countries that benefit from economic interaction with other states (these are the so-called “developed countries”). The “periphery”, on the other hand, consists of states that lose out in economic cooperation with countries that are part of the “core” economic system. These components finally took shape in the twentieth century.
Over the past two centuries, the average per capita income of 20 per cent of the world’s population, i.e. for the inhabitants of the “core” or “golden billion” countries, has risen in real terms by a factor of about 50. At the same time, 80 per cent of the population saw it grow in the best case three to five times, and in some cases remain at the level of the Middle Ages or even decrease, compared with what it was before the emergence of the global economic system.
In addition to the “core” and “periphery”, the system often distinguishes a third zone, the so-called “semi-periphery”, the most mobile element. Its presence is a kind of constant, while the position of an individual state in it is a variable conditioned by the acute and continuous competitive struggle.
However, the competition for a place in the vertical structure is happening within the “core” as well. It manifests itself in the confrontation of different countries and different groups of united elites of the Western world in a bid for influence on global economic and social processes. Also, the peripheral states struggle to enter the semi-periphery as they hope eventually to join the core of the global economic system. However, for the peripheral states, this struggle is largely unpromising, because the “core” has reached its possible limits of growth, which is determined by limited resources and the structural limits of the society.
Meanwhile, another way of including the social periphery of the world system in the “core” is gaining momentum today – migratory expansion (colonization) of the global periphery into the “golden billion” states, transferring the old contradiction between the “core” and the “periphery” into qualitatively new forms.
In its initial stage, the global economic system was built as a system of control over production and exchange. The fierce struggle in the “core” was a competitive struggle not for equal access to the world market but for control over it, i.e. for the division and redistribution of spheres of influence.
Initially, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, this was expressed in the struggle for ownership of maritime communications and the most advantageous coastal trading locations in the East and the New World, which were involved in an intensive exchange of goods with Europe. Then, beginning in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, when Europe underwent the “industrial revolution”, a fierce struggle began to promote cheap European goods in eastern markets. Finally, in the last third of the nineteenth century, the “core” countries fought for the final division of the world. In this case, it was not only about markets for finished products but also about the objects of capital exports, i.e. the objects of investment.
The state and its institutions remain the most important instruments in the struggle for world domination. The western European nation state, since the beginning of modern times (i.e. the era of the global economic system), has been manifesting the interests of commercial and entrepreneurial circles. It played a decisive role in the process of the peripheralization of the whole world and the creation of different levels of wages and levels of consumption corresponding to the three main zones.
Among the “core” countries of the global economic system, there is an Asian country, Japan, which began its “ascent” in the last third of the nineteenth century. This indicates that the relationship between the core and the periphery is not reduced to the “West-East” confrontation and the “clash of civilizations”. At the same time, the “liberation” of the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America from political colonial dependence did not result in any major changes in the global economic system.
Coercion by force was necessary to lower the status of the defeated state and to incorporate the victim of expansion into the global economic system as a source of raw materials, a market, and an object of investment. By the twenty-first century, when most peripheral countries were already functioning steadily as such, the need for coercion by force had diminished considerably along with the costs of these actions, though far from “gone”, as many believe. Direct military coercion, albeit in new forms that reduce the scale of permanent military presence in peripheral countries, has persisted and will continue for the foreseeable future, as the precedents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Libya, Syria, etc. indicate.
As a result of actions to control markets, a colonial system emerged that existed from the sixteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century.
The financial and social costs of administering the dependent countries of this era, with their primitive material production, were very high. They often did not recoup the maintenance of colonial administrations and power structures. All this led to the disintegration (and, according to several reasonable opinions, to the dismantling from above) of Europe’s largest colonial empires and the transfer of former colonies to a neocolonial mode of exploitation after World War II. Notably, after the war, Great Britain, of its own volition, granted first partial autonomy and then nominal political independence to its colonies and protectorates. In doing so, it shifted the costs of administration and moral responsibility for the low standard of living of the population from the metropolis to the administrations of the new states.
Thus, the change from colonial to neocolonial dependence turned out to be not a “liberation” but a form of increasing the efficiency of the economies of the “core” countries of the world system. Social expenditures began to be borne by the newly independent states. Nevertheless, the former metropolises retained control over the financial and, in part, manufacturing sectors of the newly emerged political entities.
At the same time, the “decolonization” of countries of the world’s periphery, which took place in a historically short period from the end of World War II to the mid-60s, reduced political contradictions among countries of the capitalist “core” (which caused two world wars), giving financial, manufacturing, and trade entities relatively equal access to the markets of former colonies.
It is obvious that gaining nominal independence, i.e. changing the international legal status of a territory, does not in principle mean that it is capable of automatically changing its position in the global economic vertical. The existing global system of economic and political elites, increasingly independent of national governments, does not allow many countries to develop effectively. This allows those elites and those states that are in the “core” of the world system to maintain the efficiency of their own financial, manufacturing, and trade entities at the expense of the resources of the periphery.
It should be noted that systemic opposition plays an important role in the constant marginalization of the geopolitical periphery. It encompasses the so-called “anti-systemic movements”, i.e. mass protest social movements aimed at overcoming “backwardness” and raising the living standards of certain population groups in one way or another. These include various kinds of mass movements in the “core” countries, and communist and national-liberation political associations in the Third World (existing under a variety of slogans – from socialist and anti-globalist to national and religious fundamentalist).
The cumulative result of their existence is that by introducing local tensions into the system in the short term, they, in turn, become its stabilizing factor. To a large extent, the actions of these movements prevent the population from consolidating to counter the real causes that lead to the deterioration of their social and economic situation. In some cases, they create a legitimate pretext for building a repressive system and institutions of total control over the population. All of this is required for the effective functioning and risk reduction of the global economic vertical.
The uncertainty of global development is greatly exacerbated by the fact that new centres of civilization are beginning to compete with the countries of Europe and North America. As an example, China is moving steadily toward first place in the global economic vertical. On the one hand, it is a state with a constantly growing economy and industry. On the other hand, China is an independent civilization with a developed culture, dating back to the third millennium BC.
1.3 Globalization and the principles of its study
The phenomenon of globalization has been studied based on various views of reality. There are several ways to classify theoretical approaches. In a number of works, globalization is viewed as an objective historical trend of deepening interstate and inter-civilizational interactions and contacts. The study of this phenomenon was also carried out through the study of its geo-economic and geopolitical aspects, as well as the impact of globalization on the nation state and its structural subdivisions. In addition, attempts were made to comprehensively summarize the processes of globalization. It was implemented in the “world system” approach to the analysis of this phenomenon, which sees it as a period in the development of society characterized by increasingly multidimensional and comprehensive interactions between social subjects and entities.
One of the leading objective components of globalization is the global crisis of resources and demographics. It arose in the process of increasing global connectivity, that is, with the formation of economic, transport, and information components of globalization. Based on the analysis of this phenomenon, the resource- and environment-based approach to the assessment of global development appeared and grew in influence, and one of its offshoots was transformed into the “concept of sustainable development”. The basis of this concept is the clarification of objective natural resource limitations (“limits of growth”) that stand in the way of the material and economic activity of humankind. As a consequence, within the framework of this theory, studies have been conducted to determine the optimal size of the global population.
Philosophers who developed several concepts of stage-by-stage development of humankind toward creating a single global society can be considered the forerunners of modern globalism. Fundamental works of this socio-philosophical school of thought were created by philosophers and scientists such as I. Kant, K. Marx, P. Teilhard de Chardin, V. Vernadsky, A. Toynbee, B. Russell, K. Jaspers, etc.
Based on the scale of the transformation of society, the era of globalization is similar to the “Axial Age”. This pivotal age, singled out by Karl Jaspers, was characterized by the formation of the first local civilizations, the separation and isolation of the political sphere, and the emergence of the world’s largest religions. During this age, the basic social structures and organizations that defined world history for many centuries were created. Such changes in society lead to significant difficulties in understanding and studying such a phenomenon in the history of social development as globalization.
This phenomenon is usually described in the well-known categories of internationalization of economies and integration of states, i.e. in terms of economic determinism and the concept of world politics as the interaction of sovereign states. Most models of globalization have been created based on periodization, with its characteristic economic determinism. This approach views globalization as an objectively determined, mainly economic, process of the spread and universalization of the Western economic model in its neoliberal version. This created the impression of becoming a global “super-society” (A. Zinoviev), the proclamation of the “end of history” (F. Fukuyama), and the emergence of a global “Empire” (M. Hardt, A. Negri) with a Euro-Atlantic civilization core and several rings of the dependent and subject-less periphery.
In addition, globalization is largely considered based on the concepts of civilizational theories. Thus, these ideas helped the concept of “hybridization” of society, which enjoyed a certain popularity. It suggests that one of the significant characteristics of globalization is the process of cultural, racial, and ethnic mixing, i.e. meticization. Thus, “hybridization” is the mixing of races and peoples into a single social community, with a common culture. In this case, it should be noted that this concept reduces the emergence of a new social reality to a mechanical superposition, an overlay of already known phenomena and entities. It does not take into account, and does not presuppose, possible qualitative changes in the society as a result of convergence.
Therefore, most of the concepts describing globalization are developed within two main groups of theories. The first is represented by formational models, which base the development of society on the economy. The second group consists of civilizational theories, with their typical focus on the regional peculiarities of human development. At the same time, a significant number of hybrid theories have been created that simultaneously use the methodological basis of these two types of concepts.
As an example, we can cite the theoretical constructs of A.A. Guseinov. He believes that globalization is the transformation of historically established, quite independent cultural-civilizational and national state forms of social life into a single system that encompasses all humankind. And this new system is inevitably opposed to those forms of collective, which it is designed to remove in favour of some new synthesis, which is so broad as to be universal.
The conflict between the global and the local becomes particularly evident and enters a dramatic confrontation when globalization goes beyond the economy, capturing the cultural, political, and ideological – in the broad sense of the term (world view, mental) – sphere of life. Thus, according to V.S. Stepin, globalization is a choice between two scenarios, which are known as the concept of the “golden billion” and the concept of a “dialogue of civilizations”.
The concept of the “golden billion” arises from the perception of globalization as the domination, the triumph of the civilization of the West and Western nations, “the end of history” (Fukuyama). Everyone else should strive to emulate them under the threat that they will otherwise be doomed to a peripheral or semi-peripheral existence. Accordingly, the future global society is thought of as a similar feudal-hierarchical system with western European civilization in the centre and concentric circles of different levels located around it. The concept of a “global human anthill” as the ultimate and final variant of humanity’s integration within the framework of the Western paradigm was sociologically predicted and depicted in A.A. Zinoviev’s works.
The idea of a “dialogue of civilizations” as an extremely abstract position, deprived of clearly formulated goals and attachment to social subjects, is formulated in the preface to the Russian translation of F. Braudel’s book The Grammar of Civilizations: “Globalization is developing simultaneously with the emergence of a multipolar world. Civilizations must learn … to accept the existence of other civilizations, to recognize that they will never achieve domination over others, to be ready to see others as equal partners.” The concept of a “dialogue of civilizations” justly believes that the sociocultural sphere is not a carbon copy of the economy. It is based on the principle of “equality” of civilizations, cultures, and peoples, and sees the ideal global society as “unity in diversity”.
In fact, behind the concept of a “dialogue of civilizations”, there is the desire of the already established global periphery to resist the pressure of the West in terms of the unification of cultures and values and to develop its project of existence in a united world. From this perspective, globalization is a challenge to cultural-civilizational and national identity that applies to all development scenarios, including the concept of a “dialogue of civilizations.”
Nevertheless, it should be noted that today the process is happening in a slightly different manner: namely, the ideology of the largest community – the people of the Western world, the “golden billion” – is being formed. It is a subjective, group outlook on reality that serves the global confrontation as regards people’s material well-being. And the confrontation within the new, global community inevitably arises due to the growing struggle for natural resources due, in particular, to the exponential growth of the population.
At the same time, the idea of a “dialogue of civilizations” as an ideal and almost conflict-free development, presented as an alternative to the real practices of globalization and the real strategy of globalism, is not, in fact, a real alternative. This position is, at best, more of an ideal tendency, if not wishful thinking.
Moreover, this wish is so abstract that it fails the test not only of social practices but also of the concretization and development of a local applied model of such a “dialogue”.
Behind globalism, there are very real interests and actors involved in global events. At the same time, behind the “universal” abstract idea of a “dialogue of civilizations” we cannot see any substantial economic interests that would outweigh the benefits of globalism for elites, including local elites. Similarly, there are neither actors interested in symmetric, equal dialogue nor subjects capable of ensuring it. Nor is there an arbitrator standing above the fray interested in, and capable of, forcing the participants of globalization who have real economic and other kinds of power to join the “dialogue of civilizations”.
The absence of the actors interested in the implementation of this scenario of globalization development is explained by the fact that the life and death issues important to these actors are being resolved in the course of their interaction. The result of direct interaction between the “wolf” and the “lamb”, devoid of spatial and mechanical barriers, is obvious, regardless of the calls of the weaker side for an equal dialogue. As a result, the idea of a “dialogue of civilizations” is, at best, a form of appeal by the losing side to the mercy of the winners, a form of “incorporation” into the Western model of globalization.
Another form of appeal by local outsiders to the mercy of the leaders of global development is the idea of “preserving civilizational (cultural) diversity”, clearly repeating the slogan of “preserving the biodiversity” of the environment. The slogan of “preservation of diversity” is nothing else but a strategy of preserving the physical existence of the ethnocultural community at the cost of the loss of historical subjectivity and transformation from a subject into an object of protection – the transition of the local society into the status of a protected biological object. Nevertheless, for many primitive ethnic groups, obtaining the status of a protected object (small indigenous peoples with a traditional economy) was a relatively successful way out of the “trap of globalization”.
In general, the pressure of globalization on local societies and groups yields two types of reactions. The first one manifests in the closure and development of protective group consciousness, in the transformation of local societies into diasporas. The second type manifests in the aspiration of local and regional communities, politically formed as states, to enter globalization on their own, most favorable, conditions. A third type is also possible – the development of a separate global project. But this has the highest resource requirements and, without reservations, is available only to China.
In any case, even when criticizing, “rejecting” globalization in its Western expansionist version, it is necessary to recognize that the problem itself and the challenges associated with it remain. This happens because the foundations of globalization – the globalization of the economy, the transformation of local societies into open systems, the removal of spatial and informational barriers, the growing crisis of resources and demographics – exist and develop objectively.
Contemporary Russian studies of globalization lie within the framework of several theoretical approaches that unwittingly reflect the balance of social forces and interests in and around Russia.
The neoliberal view of globalization, which, to a large extent, has acquired the status of the official concept of reform and development of the Russian Federation, reflects the views of modern Russian elites, whose interests are largely associated with the raw material economic cycle and the global economic order. It is simply a local adaptation of the views and theoretical constructions of such classics of neoliberalism as F. Hayek, M. Friedman, and K. Popper. Accordingly, the negative consequences of total liberalization of all spheres of human existence are presented as “objectively inevitable” and, as a consequence, as an alternative-free and uncontrollable phenomenon. Any attempt to manage it threatens an even worse outcome.
In general, liberal approaches to globalization, as an extreme form of economic determinism, are characterized by the denial of the systemic complexity of social development, fundamentally irreducible to the phenomena and laws of the economic and material order.
Thus, the neoliberal concept of globalization, which has taken hold of the elites and expresses their interests in a concentrated way, acquires the character of an objective historical factor. In general, neoliberalism is not only a theoretical model describing the real processes of the modern age. Its main task is to create standard perceptions whose implementation in economic policy is one of the characteristic manifestations of globalization. In particular, neoliberalism, taken as a phenomenon of social consciousness, can be seen as a theory justifying the separation of the ruling classes from local societies and the formation of a global elite. The main provisions of this concept are based on the direct results of the vertical fragmentation of society and the crisis of post-industrial nations.
Significant scientific results, achieved in the socio-ecological fields, which consider globalization in terms of the development of the global crisis of resources, demographics, and the environment. It should be noted that this field has been controlled from the very beginning by representatives of global elites with the help of some international organizations and foundations that organize scientific research.
By manipulating the “global threats”, the adherents of the concepts of “sustainable development” and “zero growth” motivate the withdrawal of states and relevant social communities to abstain from choosing their own path of development. They advocate the creation of supranational institutions with global political power that are uncontrollable and non-transparent for the participating countries, and justify the “objective necessity” of reducing the living standards and social guarantees of the bulk of the population and even the “inevitable decline” of the world’s population.
However, the term “sustainable development” clearly reflects the interests of global financial elites who lobby for the preservation and increase of disparity between the “global core” and “global periphery”, the solution of global contradictions, which is found at the expense of economic and political outsiders of the global community.
At the same time, in Russia, the foundation in the field of fundamental sciences about nature could not fail to culminate in scientific achievements, significant not only in the applied sense but also in the general philosophical one. Firstly, this concerns the concept of physical economics of P.G. Kuznetsov and several works on globalistics and system analysis of global development, which were carried out by Russian researchers. Among the latter, we should mention the works of the world-renowned geophysicist and climatologist K.Y. Kondratyev and his associates, and the works of A.P. Fedotov and A.I. Subetto, with their focus on the noosphere.
The crisis of the formation-based approach as a form of economic determinism elicited a natural interest in the civilizational approach, which focuses on problems of a sociocultural order. Among the Russian authors who consider globalization from the standpoint of the civilizational approach, the concepts of Y.V. Yakovets and E.A. Azroyants should be highlighted.
Thus, the work “Globalization and the interaction of civilizations” puts forward the main ideas of the modern civilizational approach to globalization:
1. Human history is a periodic change of global civilizations, which assumes the form of consecutive global historical cycles.
2. Each global civilization can be conventionally represented as a five-step pyramid, where the demographic substratum with its biosocial needs and manifestations lies at the foundation. At the top of the pyramid, there are phenomena of a spiritual and cultural nature, including culture, science, education, ideology, ethics, and religion. Social transformation begins at the bottom step and gradually transforms all steps of the pyramid, leading to a change of one civilization into another one.
3. With each historical cycle, the intensity of inter-civilizational interaction increases, resulting in humanity gradually becoming a unified social system.
4. The modern age represents a transition from industrial to post-industrial global civilization.
5. Globalization transformations are typical of the establishment of modern post-industrial global civilization.
6. The main contradiction of the neoliberal-technocratic model of globalization is that it does not serve the interests of humanity but, rather, the interests of the largest transnational corporations (TNCs).
This concept explains the fact that sociocultural unification and the convergence of local societies present a threat because they reduce the viability and development potential of humanity. The answer to this challenge is the establishment of “fourth-generation” civilizations. This theory, which is based on the idea of a historically evolving structure of local civilizations, including the change of civilizational leadership, is developed in detail in various works,. This concept substantiates the fact that the tendency towards socio-cultural unification of local civilizations currently plays a major role. In other words, the convergence of local civilizations is heading towards a global one. This theory takes the neoliberal model of global convergence (“westernization”, according to A. Zinoviev’s terminology) as the basis, without seeing or proposing any alternative models of development or subjects interested in alternative development.
Meanwhile, global unification is impossible at the very least because there is a struggle of peripheral local civilizations against the currently dominant civilization of the West. This struggle will inevitably produce fundamentally different kinds of social life and fundamentally different social norms and rules, alternative values, and models of social life.
Having absorbed the whole world, the global civilization will inevitably generate new ways of forming groups and structures.
However, Y.V. Yakovets’s rejection of the formation-based approach leads to the rejection of his main achievement – the notion of conflict and group interests as the driving forces of social and historical development. It also leads to the rejection of the achievements and possibilities of sociological structuralism, which sees society as a system of objectively existing social groups and structures that include, in particular, class and ethnocultural communities.
E.A. Azroyants develops his original model of globalization as the concept of historical cycles and distinguishes three main cycles in human evolution: the emergence of humans; the establishment and development of the social community; and, ultimately, the establishment of a global megasociety as the highest “spiritual and moral” form of human existence.
Development cycles are connected with transitional periods, which contain situations where it is possible to make a history-defining choice of the future path, the crossroads, from which different historical development paths branch out. Each cycle is seen as an evolutionary niche, a transition in the course of which there is a choice of a probable way of developing the local or global society. At the same time, the current situation, which is characterized by the global crisis, does not exclude the possibility of a fatal outcome for local civilizations and humanity as a whole as one of these options.
E.A. Azroyants rightly believes that humanity is experiencing a civilizational crisis corresponding to the transition from the second cycle, i.e. the establishment of a community, to the third, the establishment of a “megasociety”. Accordingly, the current liberal model of globalization (globalization of TNCs and financial capital) does not allow a new level of development to be reached, which requires the development of a qualitatively new, “humanistic” model of global development. However, according to the author, the modern world has not formed social actors that are capable of, and interested in, “resisting TNCs and managing globalization in the interests of the entire humankind”.
At the same time, E.A. Azroyants believes that the spiritual and technological types of development of society have different goals. As a result, technological development under certain conditions objectively generates social regression, which manifests itself in the sphere of social relations. Under the conditions of neoliberal globalization, there is both cultural and civilizational unification and general degradation of culture.
However, the appeal to “network structures” with their amorphousness and lack of explicit control centres – the appeal that is popular today, in the age of artificial “social networks” – only highlights that the concept is subject-less. It has no place for real political actors and their interests.
In general, these theoretical constructions are limited to a statement regarding the factual side of globalization. They emphasize its inherent system of growing internal contradictions, but are limited to the moral condemnation of the “new world order”. In this case, declaring the civilizational approach as a methodological basis, E.A. Azroyants, under the name of “historical cycles”, de facto offers his version of the formation-based approach. He repeats the main postulate of economic reductionism (and liberal fundamentalism as its variety) about the fatal inevitability of the merger of cultures and civilizations as the global economy is being established.
Thus, the works of Y.V. Yakovets and E.A. Azroyants are typical contemporary works on the sociology and culturology of civilizations. They project and theorize the passive reflection of local social groups (including local civilizations), which are pushed by globalization to the periphery of social life together with their system of interests. Notably, the civilizational approach in these situations proceeds from a convergent and essentially staged model of development of social communities. In these concepts, the development of society is assumed to progress by merging the preceding communities until a global culturally homogeneous society (megasociety, “global humanity”, etc.) emerges. This concept ignores the obvious tendencies of modernity toward ethnocultural divergence, fragmentation, and the reinvigorated importance of ethnicity and religion.
S. Pivovarov raises the question of the current state of the formation-based and civilizational approaches as complementary. He notes, in particular, that the formation-based approach borrows key ideas from Christian thought, including the universality of history, its regularity, and the possibility of periodization.
A.I. Fursov stands out among the proponents of the formation-based approach, as he considers history to be more than a struggle of classes, social groups, and state bodies within a particular social formation. He believes that societal development is characterized by long cycles of confrontation between the elites and the grass-roots movements. They can expand so far as to reach the global level in the last cycle of history. According to A.I. Fursov, the present moment is characterized by global revenge of the elites and, as a consequence, by a global collapse of the social gains of the majority.
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