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Multiculturalism and Immigration

Andrew's Major Writings

For a list of Andrew's Writings on Multiculturalism, Immigration and Refugees, see the webpage headed Personal Biography. See also documents in the Webpage Andrew's Strong Support for a Fairer Immigration System and for Refuge

Image : The Melbourne AGE cartoon by Spooner following the election and maiden speech of Dr Andrew Theophanous in 1980

Andrew's key book on this topic was published at the end of 1995:


This book was launched by Prime Minister Keating in December 1995. In his Speech at the launch, the Prime Minister said, amongst many other things:

This book became an important text used in universities and other institutions in the study of the philosophy and practice of Multiculturalism.

As Prof Dr James Jupp of the ANU said of the book: "There is no other definitive book on Australian multiculturalism"

**Excerpts from two of the 14 chapters of this book are given below.

In addition on this Web page there is one additional paper

Extracts from a paper on "Multiculturalism, Social Justice and Active Citizenship"

by Dr Andrew Theophanous presented to Globalisation and Citizenship Conference :

A lot of Andrew's work on these issues was through the National Multicultural Support Group, founded by Andrew in 1999. See Web Page of this name.

There were many important meetings and the production of 9 Newsletters over two years. Membership grew to more than 500 people nationally. There were several important Public Meetings such as the one pictured here held in Melbourne:


From Chapter 9, Part C.



The question as to whether there is any universality in anthropology is critical to the project of genuine multiculturalism. As we have seen throughout this book, multiculturalism is not just a question of respecting diversity, but also of establishing unity in that diversity. Indeed, I have argued that the principles which are the basis of such unity, also act as limits to cultural diversity in the sense that they help us to select certain features of some cultures which become morally and politically unacceptable in a multicultural society.

Such a project, however, requires an argument in favour of those elements that do unite us as human beings. In the previous chapter, we saw that Rawls had maintained that we could establish such elements in an 'overlapping consensus' of the belief systems of different cultures. In particular, he argued that the 'comprehensive doctrines' of different cultures, while they may be philosophically incompatible, nevertheless contained important elements which overlap. It was noted, at that juncture, that this was to some extent the claim of philosophical anthropology. After all, why should we suppose that these comprehensive doctrines are likely to have such overlapping features? The answer must be that there is something in the situation of all human beings which leads them to refer to these universal features in their metaphysical and religious systems. But what are these features? And how can we establish their universal validity by reference to the evidence of anthropology?

Multiculturalism and the Universal Features of Humanity

Let me begin with the following assertion: while there is much debate as to what is universal and what is not, there are certain key features of human existence which are indisputably universal and common, and which are therefore referred to in all such belief systems. Consequently, human beings recognise several universal features which partly constitute the meaning of humanity These are:

1. Human beings see themselves as entities which are conscious and able to think and act in the world.

2. Human beings find themselves in a material environment in which there is a diversity of things (that is, objects) with which they can interact.

3. Human beings find themselves in an environment in which they recognise the existence of other persons with whom they can, and do, communicate, especially in the medium of the spoken language.

The above three features of human life, have been referred to by philosophers as transcendental, in the sense that they are necessary features of any world in which persons, considered in the abstract, can exist. Following the work of the philosopher, Immanuel Kant, much abstract and theoretical thinking has been directed towards establishing certain essential features of human beings, and hence of all societies, by appealing to such transcendental arguments. An example of this is the argument of Habermas, considered in the previous chapter, which seeks to establish certain fundamental principles of human rights and social justice by first establishing the necessary conditions for communication between persons to take place.

In general, I agree with the thrust of Habermas's argument and reject the views held by his critics, the post-structuralists. Nevertheless, we recognise the need to supplement the argument by reference to a more concrete analysis of the human experience. In order to do so, I shall refer to certain elements of human life which are universal, but which are not established by transcendental arguments, but rather are based on generalizations and observations of Anthropology.

The most important universal, yet concrete, features of human life, stem from the fact that human beings are a part of a specific system of nature. As a result, human beings from all cultures find themselves in a world of living things, specifically a world of plants, animals and other humans. As a consequence of this, there are a number of universal statements that can be made about the human condition. The most important of these are:

(a) like all other biological entities, human beings have certain physical and physiological needs, e.g. the need for food, the need for sleep and the avoidance of physical pain;

(b) like many other biological creatures, human beings are divided into male and female sexes; and

(c) like most other biological creatures, human beings go through a life-cycle; they are born, grow to physical maturity and, most importantly, they die.

The importance of these empirical, yet universal, facts about human beings cannot be sufficiently stressed. A man or a woman is a person in a biological environment, who recognises his or her own biological needs and limitations. The abstract transcendental features of persons must be considered, when referring to the general features of human life, in the light of these universal biological facts. There are other universal facts about human persons; in particular, the existence of specific human emotions such as anger, fear and affection.

Given these contingencies of human life, which are universal, the question arises: can we draw on this universality to establish an argument that there are features in common, or overlapping, in all cultures, such as would permit us to develop a universally valid theory of social justice and human rights?

This issue can be approached as follows: is there any reason to suppose that the belief systems of different societies will contain certain fundamental ideas and principles (the so-called comprehensive doctrines identified by John Rawls) such that we can make any universal generalisations about them? I believe that philosophical anthropology is the key here. I shall begin by considering the impact of the fact that human beings find themselves grounded as biological creatures in a biological environment. This fact causally results in two consequences:

1. The scope for the expression of their recognition capacities is much increased - for they have an abundance of diverse species of plants and animals to differentiate in their environment;

2. Their recognition of the biological facts specified above, particularly the fact that they are a part of life and the fact that they die, leads to certain fundamental questions about their existence which require solution.

I shall consider the first consequence by examining some of the data collected by anthropologists. It is beyond question that every society of the so-called primitive kind has developed systems of classification of the plants and animals, and of the geological and astronomical phenomena of the universe. The anthropologists Durkheim and Mauss in their work Primitive Classification give overwhelming evidence for the view that 'primitive' peoples exercise their powers of recognition by directing them at their natural environment in such ways that they are capable of making distinctions between flora and fauna, of which the inhabitants of so-called 'advanced' societies are quite incapable.0 Levi-Strauss rightly stresses this fact; for the distinctions made by these people are not only aimed at achieving practical results, nor are they merely for intellectual satisfaction (although this element is prominent).0 They are, I shall argue, attempts to gain more knowledge so as to be in a position to answer, or elaborate, or verify the solution to the fundamental questions facing humans.

Of course, the evidence of anthropology shows that, although it is a universal feature of human beings that they are able to differentiate things in the world, and so have some conception of space, time and causality, there are significant differences in these conceptions depending on other metaphysical beliefs regarding nature, the world and humanity. These differences are clearly important in understanding how the plurality of meanings arises in the diversity of culture Our task is, however, a search for unity in this diversity.

Can we say anything general and universal about such metaphysical frameworks in respect of their content? The most serious thesis which arises here is the view that all such frameworks seek to provide the basis for a solution of certain fundamental problems and questions facing human beings, notwithstanding the cultural milieu in which they exist. In other words, these frameworks have universal features in that they are all directed, at least, to the explanation of the questions which arise from the universal biological and other features of human life.

Death and the Nature of Human Existence

We can now proceed to consider whether we can say anything universal about the content of different metaphysical frameworks in different societies. My thesis is that all human metaphysical frameworks are concerned with solving certain mysteries which arise from the very situation of human beings, in particular the fact of death and the mystery of human existence. This is not to deny that many metaphysical frameworks may not also be concerned with other issues, such as the conflict between good and evil and whether human action is free or determined.

I believe, that all metaphysical frameworks are concerned with two fundamental dilemmas facing human beings:

1. It is a universal, but extremely contingent fact, of human beings that they die. Yet we can easily imagine persons who live in a universe without dying. That persons should endure ad infinitum is not an impossible conception - on the contrary, it is precisely because it is a conception held by all societies that the mystery is intensified. The intense agony raised by the recognition of the inevitability of death is documented in the mythology, literature, religion and other symbolic activities of very disparate human societies.

2. The problem of death cannot be solved without tackling the problem of the nature of humanity. These two questions are inextricably intertwined. Any attempt to answer the first question requires the ascription of some nature to humankind. Thus if humanity is conceived as a complex entity consisting of body, soul, spirit, etc., then one part of it may survive death while another perishes. No matter what answer to the problem of life and death is given, it is necessarily associated with some view as to ultimate human nature.

This relation of the two problems and their solution is found in all the great religions of the world and, I shall claim, in all the metaphysical frameworks of primitive peoples.

If this thesis is correct, we can see why such frameworks are held so tenaciously, even when what we would call 'facts' seem to contradict them. For these frameworks provide meaning and purpose to the life of that people. More importantly, they provide hope. The hopelessness which arises when one abandons such beliefs emphasises our lack of knowledge in this matter. This is well illustrated by the work of Albert Camus, who sees us trapped by our essential ignorance of the meaning of life and the possibility of immortality.

To defend my claim that all human societies are concerned with the solution to the problem of death, or at least to its overcoming, I refer to Paul Radin's excellent book Primitive Man as Philosopher, where he explains: 'The theme of the inevitability of death pervades the proverbs and poetry of every tribe.'0 Consider three examples:

1. O how it strikes us full in the face Death!

O how completely does it crush us

O what pain!

( Ba Bonga, Southern Africa)

2. Death has been with us from all time,

The heavy burden long ago began.

Not I can loose the bonds

Water does not refuse to dissolve

Even large crystals of salt.

And so to the world of the dead

The good too must descend.

( Ewe, Eastern Africa )

3. The tide of life glides swiftly past

And mingles all in one great eddying foam

O heaven now sleeping! Rouse thee, rise to power

And thou, O earth, awake, exert thy might for me

And open wide the door to my last home,

Where calm and quiet rest awaits me in the sky.

( Maori, New Zealand )

The first poem reflects the fear and sense of being overwhelmed which death can bring. The second is an expression of the inevitability of death with a note of regret. The third is a resignation to death, coupled with a quiet confidence in the afterlife to come. These three attitudes to death themselves are conditioned by the extent of commitment to the actuality of immortality or even to its possibility.

Compare this with an assertion from Goethe: The thought of death leaves me in perfect peace, for I have a firm conviction that our spirit is a being of indestructible nature; it works on from eternity to eternity: it is like the sun, which though it seems to set to our mortal eyes, does not really set, but shines on perpetually.

The most important conceptual distinction for metaphysics is the appearance/reality distinction. This distinction is absolutely necessary to any attempt to solve the problem of death. The dilemma is really this: if reality is mere appearance, then it seems that life, despite all striving and achievement, is abruptly terminated by death. But such death seems to negate the ascription of meaning to life itself - for how can life have any purpose, any meaning if there is nothing further than the grave, if man is nothing but an entity which perishes with all other biological entities? The strength of these questions is illustrated even in our own time; the restless search for the answers is as prevalent today as ever. I am not saying that no significance can, in principle, be ascribed to life without positing a reality/appearance distinction. Rather, I am saying that even if this distinction is finally rejected, that even then the distinction has to be contemplated.

Positive Theories on the Nature ofHuman Existence

The question we have raised as to the context of these explanatory frameworks can be explain further. As we have seen, the concern with the issue of death leads to a variety of answers with respect to the nature of human existence. These answers can be classified in terms of four basic categories, using a structuralist method. they constitute the four ways in which we can logically think about the relation between human life and the fact of death.

(1) (a) All, or (b) part of life is conceived as transcending, and extending beyond death;

(2) Death is the absolute end of life;

(3) Life and death are both appearances and not absolute occurrences; and

(4) We can never know whether there is a life after death and must live our life on the supposition that (a) there is such an afterlife, or (b) there is no such afterlife.

There is usually a correspondence between a society's answer to the problem of death and its account of the nature of humanity. Hence for each of the above views of death, there has developed a corresponding viw of human beings as follows:

(1) (a) The self as a 'spiritual substance' or spiritual essence,

(b) The self as several 'substances' or 'essences', one of which survives;

(2) The self as physical and perishable substance;

(3) The self as part of God or some universal consciousness, spirit, etc;

(4) Cannot have knowledge of true essence of self, hence

(a) must have faith in the absolute reality of self, or

(b) must proceed as if there is no essence that transcends earthly existence.

In listing these solutions to the problems of death and the nature of man, I am proposing a methodology in the spirit of the social structuralists. The procedure is to list all the possibilities which can be consistently maintained and then to survey each homogeneous society to see which of the possible solutions have been adopted.

In this section, I have been concerned with what I consider to be two of the central and universal concerns of religion and mythology. The common elements which have been found to occur in widely divergent cultures and geographically distant communities adds further weight to my claim that human beings are concerned with the resolution of these fundamental issues. Indeed, some social theorists who have detected these similarities have claimed that there are universal structures in the human mind which are repeated in various ways in different societies and historical periods. Whether this structural explanation is correct or not, I do not rely on it for my claim about the universality of certain key concepts and principles which have deep and pervasive roots in all of humanity. All that I claim is that philosophical anthropology strongly supports the thesis that there are certain fundamental elements of human existence which will give rise to similar questions and a similar set of possible answers. When this occurs, human beings will come to reflect on principles of respect for persons and social justice.

Human Frailty, Human Rights and Social Justice

My general thesis to this point has been that, notwithstanding the variety of functions and substantial content of such philosophical frameworks, they have at least one thing in common: the concern with the problem of death and the nature of humanity. But assuming that this point is accepted, it can still be argued that this is insufficient to provide any common features which can serve as the basis of an overlapping consensus on social justice and human rights. Thus, even if we accept the logical structural classification of the different possible answers to the metaphysical questions (as I have expounded them above), it could be argued that nothing much follows about the principles of social justice. Hence, the mere fact that these frameworks are concerned with the same issues, does not in itself provide us with a sufficient basis for an overlapping consensus.

I accept this point; we will need to supplement the argument. However, there are two positive outcomes from this exercise to this juncture. First, if we are to develop our multicultural theory on the basis of equal respect for certain fundamental features of all cultures, then a key issue is that we must respect the general metaphysical framework of those cultures. Given that human beings have no infallible answers to the problems of the death and the nature of man, it follows that prima facie, at least, we should respect the diversity of metaphysical frameworks which different cultures have thrown up in an attempt to answer these questions. Hence, one of the most important aspects of multiculturalism is the respect for the general metaphysical views of a particular cultural tradition, in particular the views on God, the nature of humankind and the nature of life and death.

There is a second important point which arises from our discussion of philosophical anthropology, namely, that there are certain fundamental things which we share in common in virtue of our humanity. These fundamental unifying elements of human existence include our recognition of the inevitability of death and our recognition of the frailty of the human condition, evidenced by a number of fundamental needs, including the need for food, shelter and the avoidance of ill health and physical pain.

These common elements of the human condition, it can be argued, could form the foundation from which we can derive principles of unity among different cultures and within a culturally diverse society. In other words, it should be possible to develop an argument for human rights and a concept of social justice on the basis of the fact of our sharing in the same human frailty and facing the same general problems of human existence.

The social theorist Bryan Turner has outlined the elements of a theory of human rights in which he specifically draws on the tradition of philosophical anthropology, and on the theory of sympathy or empathy.

Unlike the theories of Hobbes, as argued in his 'Leviathan', Turner's theory is that this situation of frailty does not arise from the aggressive conflict between individuals, but rather from the very circumstances of the human biological situation: 'Human beings are frail, because their lives are finite, because they typically exist under conditions of scarcity, disease and danger, and because they are constrained by physical processes of ageing and decay.'0 (p.501)

At this point, Turner identifies a problem:

. . . while all human beings are frail, some are more frail than others. My argument, rather than providing a defence of universal human rights, could justify the principle of the survival of the fittest. In a society where many social groups (the elderly, the sick and children) are frail, it is in the interests of the survival of the strong (or the less frail) to maximise their advantages (by genocide, for example). How can the frailty argument get round the problem of human nastiness? As we have seen, the Hobbesian solution (and generally all solutions which depend on some appeal to human rationality) is to suggest that rational actors will have an interest in security.

Turner, however, rejects any solution which involves a social contract approach. He also rejects any appeal to universal principles of rationality, as in the Kantian philosophy. He introduces another element to his theory: namely, that all human beings have an inherent sympathy for the plight of others. Turner considers this sympathy to be, a 'consequence of, or supplement to human frailty'. His thesis is, therefore, that human beings will want their rights to be recognised because they see in the plight of others their own possible misery; for example, the strong can empathise with the weak, because their own ontological condition prepares them for old age and death. (Note the similarity between this argument and Rawls' argument for the Second Principle of justice).

Turner's approach differs from social contract theories in that he wishes to emphasise the affective and emotional characteristics of human beings, which create in all of us, the basic capacity for sympathy. Part of this capacity is based on fundamental human activities, including parenting.

Turner's approach is one example of how philosophical anthropology may be used to derive a theory of the universal appreciation which all cultures have for the frailty of the human condition and the fundamental empathy and compassion which human beings may develop for each other as a result of this appreciation. Such an approach is positive and worthwhile, in that it is directed towards developing a theory of social justice based on human rights. However, there are number of philosophical problems with any such approach. First, it is clear that this positive view of philosophical anthropology is likely to be rejected by those who claim that human beings are essentially selfish and aggressive. For, if the view that human beings are sympathetic, and concerned with the welfare of others, is to have some validity, then how do we explain the negative aspects of human history, and society? It is not enough simply to assert a positive view of philosophical anthropology which allows us to develop a theory of social justice. We will need to back that theory further, a challenge I take up in Chapter 14.

This leads to the second question: why should we assume that there is a propensity in history, or even in modern society, towards such positive aspects of human behaviour? In other words, why should we make the assumption that history is progressing towards greater recognition and embodiment of social justice, rather than the opposite? Again, I consider this question in Chapter 14.

What I am claiming to this point, is that there are three important philosophical traditions which independently, and in a stronger sense, collectively, support the general proposition that there can be universal principles of social justice, and that these principles apply in a diversity of human societies or in a diversity of cultures within a multicultural society. The insights provided by these three traditions also provide much hope for the future of such multicultural societies based on social justice.

I now turn to the question: How viable is this synthesis of social justice and multicultural principles when applied to the modern nation state, and in particular to the Australian nation?


.. C. Taylor, 'The Politics of Recognition', Op. Cit., p.72. . Ibid., p.64. .Ibid., p. 67. . C. Mouffe, 'Democratic Citizenship and the Political Community', in Dimensions of Radical Democracy, C. Mouffe, (ed), Verso, London, 1992, pp.225-239. .Ibid., pp.230-231. .Ibid., p.233. . J. Rawls, Political Liberalism, Colombia University Press, New York, 1993. Ibid., pp.140-141 See J. Rawls, Lecture IV, 'The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus', Ibid, pp.133-172. Ibid., p.180. Ibid. . J. Rawls, 1972, Op. Cit. J. Rawls, 1992, Op. Cit. . J. Habermas, Legitimation Crisis, Beacon Press, Boston, 1975. . J. Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Vols 1&2, Beacon Press Boston, 1984. . Ibid. . E. Durkheim and Mauss, Primitive Classification, University of Chicago, Chicago, 1963. . C. Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, Weidenfield and Nicholson, London, 1962. . P. Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher, Appleton, New York, 1927. . B. Turner, 'Outline of a Theory of Human rights, Sociology, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp.489-512. . Ibid., p.501. . Ibid., pp 506-507.

From Chapter 10 Part A and Part B.


In the introduction to this book, I raised a number of questions as to what constitutes Australian identity. This is, as we shall see, a complicated question. For, as a number of commentators and historians have indicated, defining the Australian identity - even prior to the mass immigration program and the development of multiculturalism - has not been easy. Indeed, there has been more discussion of the need to define Australian identity, than an actual determination of its character.

In his book Inventing Australia, Richard White maintains, 'there has been a national obsession in Australia on the whole question of who we are, and what our identity is'. He says for example that 'most new nations go through the formality of inventing a national identity, but Australia has long supported a whole industry of image makers to tell us what we are.'1

A number of social theorists have claimed that this obsession with trying to find the elusive Australian identity stems from the fact that Australians have not had any significant defining events in their history, such as the Declaration of Independence in the United States or the French revolution, or even a long tradition, such as that of English the common law and parliamentary system, to significantly define who they are as a people. According to these theorists, the 'Australian identity' is a concept which has been created artificially.

In the introduction, I argued that, prior to the development of multiculturalism, Australian identity consisted of two strands: one that emphasised our British heritage, and one that emphasised a limited form of egalitarianism and commitment to social justice. I suggested that many social observers tended to emphasise only one of these strands - the British heritage - and ignored the other important element of traditional Australian identity: the egalitarian tradition that arose in Australia in the Nineteenth Century, and which became dominant in the Twentieth Century.

The nature of this tradition has been the subject of intense debate; essentially, it was a tradition based on some principles of social justice. I do not mean the principles of social justice in the universal sense in which we understand them today; on the contrary, they were very limited concepts. Indeed, at that time, Australian leaders saw no contradiction in asserting, for example, that all people were equal, while simultaneously espousing doctrines of racial and cultural superiority. Specifically, egalitarianism did not mean an equality with the indigenous peoples of this nation, or with the 'coloured' immigrants. It was, therefore, no surprise to find that, in the late 1800s, the Chinese, Indians and Pacific Islanders, all of whom had been brought in or had come in as laborers to Australia, were denied the status of citizenship. Thus, Charles Pearson, in his 1891 book National Life and Character declared that 'if national existence is sacrificed to the working of a few mines and sugar plantations, it is not Australia alone, but the whole civilised world that will be the losers...We are guarding the last part of the world in which the higher races can live and increase freely for the higher civilisation'. (P 41)

These views were found across the political spectrum, including in the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party. In particular, the vast majority of Australians saw no contradiction between the expressed egalitarianism and the view that Australia should be a 'white society', one which remained permanently separated from other races.

So the criticism that many of today's Australians make of Australia prior to the 1940s is valid; unlike the situation in the United States, the White Australia policy led to a virtual closing of the migration program in Australia from the 1890s to the 1940s for people of many cultures and races. This phenomenon was clearly in contradiction with the ideals of egalitarianism and was arguably very damaging to Australia's economic and social development prior to World War II.

Because of statements such as Pearson's, some historians have claimed that Australian egalitarianism is a myth, which ignores the actual inequality that existed. The myth is also said to have been useful in creating a false cultural tradition to fill in for the absence of any genuine cultural identity among Australians. One such view is presented by Patrick O'Farrell, when he says: 'Australia's dominant myths and legends, be they of bushman or bushranger, digger or trade unionist, blokes, mates and ockers are self-induced deceits and evasions. These frauds have been enormously important in determining our self-image and have taken on their own reality.'2

I believe this to be an extreme view; I do not concur that Australia's early commitment to social justice and egalitarianism amounts to nothing. I believe that the tradition does have a lot more substance to it than critics would concede. Indeed, I shall argue that there is a lot of continuity between the pre-war egalitarian tradition and the postwar social justice tradition in Australia. This is especially true if we consider the history of the Australian Labor Party and the labor movement generally.

These two strands in the Australian identity were also, to some degree, in conflict with each other. Thus, although there is no doubt that British traditions had a very significant and obviously dominant influence on Australian culture, especially before World War II, the attitudes of Australians to Britain have been ambivalent, and even (in some cases) hostile, as with the Irish descendants.

Indeed, a number of significant Australian writers, such as Henry Lawson, have made a point of emphasising their contempt for the contemporary British culture of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries: in particular, they have shown contempt for leaders in Australia who were too eager to be subservient to British traditions, and especially the British leadership. Notwithstanding such views, popular opinion focused on the importance of British culture to Australian culture, especially in the formation of the Australian identity. The complex nature of this influence is very well summarised by Nicholas Jose in his chapter on 'Cultural Identity' in Australia: The Daedalus Symposium:

Such complexes of feeling are a remote legacy of Australia's colonial past. From the first stirrings of national sentiment in the late Nineteenth Century to the tentative emergence of nationhood at Gallipoli, according to some historians, or after the Second World War, according to others, Australia developed in a provincial relationship with the mother country. Fledging nationhood did not mean automatic cultural independence, despite the fervent hopes of nationalists. It merely institutionalised the cultural dominance of distant Britain, against which Australians had to define themselves and struggle for existence. Even when her power declined, Britain continued to be at the centre of the cultural and political empire that gave Australia a place in the world . . . Their allegiances were divided between the stimulating peculiarities of their local world and the unassailably indifferent metropolis. They were spurred on, and daunted, by conflicting challenges: to find a voice for their new land, and to attain the highest standards of the old. Some stayed at home to forge a defiant vernacular.3

Those who have claimed that there is a conflict between the development of multiculturalism and Australian identity, have generally referred only to this one strand in that identity. They have ignored the egalitarian and social justice tradition. Indeed, as was shown in Part 1 of this book, the development of multiculturalism was constantly under attack by those who held that Australian identity was 'Anglomorph, essentially British, monocultural'. One such critic, John Hirst, maintained that it is acceptable for multiculturalism to be based on certain aspects of Anglo-Celtic culture, such as English language, parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, tolerance and the 'fair go' tradition; but he then makes the following comment:

Multiculturalism interpreted in this way - a diverse society united by core institutions and values - is unexceptional. But the institutional legacy of a more separatist multiculturalism is still with us: the public funding of migrant organisations to enable them to maintain their own cultures. This has two dangers. First, the obvious one that migrant cultures contain elements antagonistic to the core values. The second, indirect danger is that the support of migrant culture smacks of official favouritism. Nothing could more endanger the standing of migrants in this society. It is offensive to the liberal and egalitarian elements in our culture, the same elements which are so important hitherto in the success of the migration program.4

Critics like Hirst are mistaken; multiculturalism in Australia does not, and has not, threatened the British-based institutions or the centrality of English as the national language of Australia, and no sensible multicultural philosophy would do so, given our historical tradition. However, Hirst and others ignore the egalitarian and social justice tradition and therefore, ignore the historical continuity between multiculturalism as properly understood, and the second strand in Australian identity.

As Manning Clark shows in A History of Australia, this second strand in Australian identity is most important in positively affirming those things in Australian history which have made some contribution, not only to our own development, but to the development of progressive ideas and trends throughout the world.

***Multiculturalism and the Changing Australian Identity

As we have seen throughout this book, the face of Australia has been transformed by the postwar immigration program and the policy of multiculturalism has evolved as a response to this diversity. The question now arises: to what extent has multiculturalism transformed the Australian identity?
As I have discussed above, traditionally there have been two strands to our national identity. The first is the British legacy and the second is the commitment to a limited form of egalitarianism. I have made the point that both these strands of our identity were unfortunately intertwined with an emphasis on cultural, even racial, superiority. Obviously, multiculturalism challenged this negative feature of our earlier Australian identity. The idea of the superiority of constructed Australian culture, and of the British heritage on which it was supposedly based, clearly could not be maintained perpetually after the arrival of people from so many other cultural backgrounds.
However, there were also some very positive outcomes from the impact of multiculturalism on Australian identity, even though these are not commonly referred to. Indeed, as far back as 1977, Dennis Cahill observed that: the more positive and functional aspects of the migration phenomenon such as cross-cultural fertilisation, intercultural consciousness, integration and cultural development, have been neglected as too vague and abstract for serious research, and in particular, little attention has been directed towards the changes in consciousness within the host culture.5
This failure to examine the positive effect of migration on the host culture has been somewhat redressed in the eighteen years since Cahill made his observation. Indeed, in a post-modern era, where scholars are deconstructing everything from gender to the nation-state, immigration history and multicultural studies are areas of burgeoning interest.
If we approach the issue from this positive point of view, we can see that, over the past fifty years, Australian culture has absorbed and expressed the presence of migrants from around the world in various ways. Most notable and celebrated among these is the revolution in the nation's cuisine. In addition, we are enjoying more cosmopolitan literature, theatre and film, though progress in presenting our multicultural face in the television media is disappointingly slow. Names that are conspicuously of non-English origin are appearing in cricket and football teams at the highest levels. The level of inter-cultural marriage is high and the level of blatant racial discrimination is decreasing.
The popular icons of Geoffrey Blainey's 'Old Australia' may be transforming themselves in the image of multiculturalism, but the less visible vestiges of institutionalised power are proving more intractable to change. Commonwealth and State parliaments, the upper echelons of the Public Service and the senior levels of business have disproportionately few people from non-English speaking (NESB) backgrounds. It is apparent that the levers of power will not be surrendered easily and it may also be true that the accoutrements of multiculturalism are a small price to pay for the retention of real power. This issue of removing the barriers to NESB people's access to the halls of power is closely connected to the other principal means by which multiculturalism is changing the Australian identity. In addition to shifting our identity from its British base to a more cosmopolitan one, multiculturalism is transforming the meaning of the 'fair go'.
As I have discussed earlier, the commitment to social justice in Australian history has always been exclusive. Multiculturalism is both broadening and deepening the concept of social justice in Australia.
A raft of government programs and policies seeks to provide NESB people with the same opportunities as other Australians. The Access and Equity Strategy requires Commonwealth departments to adjust their services, if necessary, to ensure that NESB people get equitable outcomes. The Racial Discrimination Act and the Racial Hatred Act are legislative expressions of the political and bureaucratic stance against discrimination on the grounds of race, culture, religion or ethnicity.
As well as bringing about the development of a broader, more authentic version of the 'fair go', multiculturalism has deepened our understanding of social justice. Our understanding has been deepened, because of the alternative understandings of social justice that people from around the world have brought to Australia.
Those who wish to assert that Australian identity is monocultural - that it is tied to specific cultural practices and one specific sociocultural tradition - have had problems dealing with Australia's cultural diversity. Their general approach has been that, although cultural diversity may be tolerated, it is only tolerated to the extent that, at some point in the future, migrants will come to accept and assimilate to an ideal of Australian identity and culture.

Does the 'Australian Identity' Exist?

At this point a difficult question arises: does the idea of an Australian identity have any meaning in the modern world? Leaving aside the development of Australia as a culturally diverse society, it can be argued that the whole idea of an 'Australian identity' makes very little sense, given the developments of the modern age. In other words, even in the absence of Australia's own cultural diversity, there are so many changes taking place in the world, and their impact on Australia and the modern way of life is so great, that our identities would be changing anyway.
This is the thesis put forward by Hugh McKay in his book Reinventing Australia. In the introductory chapter, entitled 'The Big Angst', he raises the following issues.
For individuals, then, there is no mystery about the primary source of stress and anxiety: it is the result of having to adapt to changes in our lives which are so significant that we are required to re-think who we are.
For Australian society at large, the last 20 years have been just like that, the so called Age of Anxiety is in reality nothing more than a symptom of the fact what we are really living in is the Age of Redefinition. Since the early 1970s, there is hardly an institution or a convention of Australian life which has not been subjected either to serious challenge or radical change. The social, cultural, political and economic landmarks which were traditionally used as reference points for defining the Australian way of life have either vanished, been eroded or shifted.6
Furthermore, he says: 'the Australian way of life is now being challenged and redefined to such an extent that growing numbers of Australians feel that their personal identities are under threat as well. 'Who are we?' soon leads to the question: 'Who am I?'7
In this context multiculturalism is easily attacked; it is convenient to blame multiculturalism for these modern dilemmas of identity. Indeed, as saw in the first part of this book, multiculturalism is a scapegoat for many who feel their identity is threatened from a number of sources.
The question of whether there is such a thing as Australian identity leads to the theoretical questions: what do we mean by a social or cultural identity in this sense, and why is it important to have such an identity?
An initial response to the second question is that without such a sociocultural identity, we lose all sense of ourselves and dramatically reduce the meaning of our existence as human beings. There is a whole tradition of social theory to support this view. The fundamental claim is that an individual's self-understanding is inextricably linked to membership of a particular community.
According to this view, each member of society has a social identity, a set of social roles (teacher, mother, sportswoman . . . ) or as having a certain status within the community. These different roles form a complex entity which constitutes social identity.
Each social role usually involves specific rules; for example, there are rules that a bride in our culture must follow. Yet there are many cases where we adopt roles in which we do not make conscious reference to the rules; we have already accepted those rules and internalised them in our own being. The way one behaves towards parents, teachers, or - if one is a teacher - towards one's students, are common cases of internalised rules.
What is the nature of social identity and the social roles connected with it? Why do sociologists and social theorists talk about these as intricate parts of the social system?


The Development of the Nation-state

The model of social organisation adopted by the Australian colonies in 1901 mirrored that which had developed in Europe and North America in the late Eighteenth Century. The nation-state was inspired by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Science was rolling back the frontiers of nature and human beings had a Promethean faith in their ability to unlock the perennial mysteries of existence. The nation-states, and the Enlightenment-inspired concepts of liberal rights that accompanied them, lacked the divine legitimacy of the kingdoms that had preceded them. Monarchs had simply pointed to the heavens and claimed to rule by the grace of God, but the rulers of these emerging democracies were making new claims to reason and rationality.
Nationalism came to fill the void left by the decline of the monarchy and the church. National identity emerged as a serious alternative to spiritual identity, and civic life challenged religious life as the ultimate expression of meaning. The architectural wonder of town halls and public spaces where citizens gathered, eclipsed that of the cathedral spires and palaces in the great cities of Europe. One of the most important historical events that symbolised the eclipse of the old order and the beginning of the new was the French Revolution, with its call for liberté, egalité et fraternité.
And yet, despite its appeals to rationality and its belief in the inherent logic of human existence, the Enlightenment spawned its own powerful myth - that of the nation-state. I use the word 'myth' because it is not clear what the substance of this entity, the 'nation', consists of. Much of the philosophy of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries went into the construction of the essential character of the nation-state.
In addition, a band of historians, led by Michelet in France, Seeley in Great Britain and Mazzini in Italy, finessed the line between fiction and history, and embellished their nations' pasts with tales of heroic deeds and bold victories. Scattered, diverse, and frequently disunited populations became unified nations with glorious destinies beneath the pens of these myth-makers.
But what does the term the nation-state really refer to? Anthony Smith, in attempting to define the nation-state, sets out some primary assumptions and beliefs common to nationalism. On the basis of these assumptions, he defines the 'nation' as:
. . . a named human population sharing a historical territory, common memories and myths of origin, a mass, standardised public culture, a common economy and territorial mobility, and common legal rights and duties for all members of the collectivity. 12
Smith goes on to argue that the 'appeal to national identity has become the main legitimation for social order and social solidarity today.' This all-embracing definition is misleading, since there are many nation-states that have only some of these elements and not others.
Liah Greenfeld in her book, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, warns us against the attempt to reduce the different types of nationalism to one idea. Nor should we identify the nation simply with a particular religious, linguistic or ethnic human grouping, although there often is an interrelationship between the nation and such groupings: Nationalism is not related to membership in all human communities, but only in communities defined as 'nations'. National identity is different from an exclusively religious or a class identity. Nor is it a synonym for an exclusively or primarily linguistic or territorial identity, or a political identity of a certain kind (such, for instance, as an identity derived from being a single subject of a particular dynasty), or even a unique identity, that is, a sense of Frenchness, Englishness, or Germanity, all of which are commonly associated with national identity.13
It is important to recognise that two models of the nation-state emerged in the Nineteenth Century. The first model, which I call the liberal democratic model, used the provision of a certain, limited set of civil and political rights as its unifying principle. Loyalty to the nation-state earned such rights as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the protection of the rule of law. The principle of unity within the nation-state was maintained through commitment to the constitution of the nation-state and agreement to abide by the laws, as democratically determined.
The second model of the nation-state is called essentialist. According to this model, national unity is achieved through an appeal to the idea of the nation as an essential entity, whose existence is not dependent on the whims of individuals. For example, in the philosophy of Hegel, the nation-state is referred to as a quasi-metaphysical being:
All the value man has, all spiritual reality, he has only through the state. For his spirituality is the knowing presence to him of his own essence, of rationality, of its objective, immediate actuality present in and for him . . . The State, thus, is the foundation and centre of the other concrete aspects of national life, of art, law, morality, religion, science. All spiritual activity, then, has the aim of becoming conscious of this union, that is, of its freedom . . . the universal which appears and becomes known within the state, the form into which is cast all reality, constitutes what is generally called the culture of a nation. The definite content, however, which received the form of universality and is contained in the concrete reality of the State, is the spirit of the people.14
The ideas of Hegel were similar to those of other German thinkers, such as Herder and Fichte. They were responsible for the often repeated claim that Germany as a nation-state was based on a quasi-metaphysical model. Fichte, for example, claimed: But to whom a fatherland has been handed down, and in whose soul heaven and earth, visible and invisible, meet and mingle, and thus, and only thus, create a true and enduring heaven - such a man fights to the last drop of his blood to hand on the precious possession unimpaired to his posterity.15
According to this approach, the nation takes on qualities ranging from the personal to the god-like. Jules Michelet, the great French historian of the nineteenth century, described France in the language of the lover: 'herself a woman (like Joan), she had the feminine nobility, but also a woman's charming sweetness'.16 Michelet was but one of a band of myth-makers (typically historians) sponsored by the state to invent and sustain a national mythology.

The Nation State and Ethnicity

It has been argued that the most important feature of the nation-state, irrespective of whether one adopts the liberal-democratic model or the essentialist model, has been the commitment to one ethnicity and one public culture. According to this view, states that consist of more than one ethnicity, or that are multicultural and multi-ethnic, are considered to be unstable. If one accepts this view, then the price to be paid for solidarity of the nation-state, is the death of cultural diversity.
In this sense, nationalism becomes a homogenising ideology. The nation-state exists by virtue of those who are allowed within its ethnic and cultural boundaries and those who are outside. But this insistence on cultural homogeneity is a false basis for social solidarity. As Anthony Birch points out in his book, Nationalism and National Integration:
Humanity is not naturally divided into nations. For most of human history, for at least 60,000 years and possibly for twice that period, humanity was divided into small tribes. As populations increased and communications improved, these tribes merged into larger social groupings, but nations are relatively recent and relatively artificial creations. Very few of the national societies that now exist are completely homogenous in a social and cultural sense. With a handful of exceptions, modern nations are an amalgam of historical communities which possessed a fairly clear sense of separate identity in the past but have been brought together by various economic, social and political developments.0
It is ironic that the nation-state conceived in this way should arise from the humanism of the Enlightenment. For this very principle of the one ethnicity is contrary to universal principles of one humanity as put forward by the Enlightenment thinkers and by philosophers such as Kant. Indeed, in some of its forms, this nationalism became the worship of the nation-state and the irrational exclusion of other peoples, other cultures, other races. It was no wonder then that the Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century saw an explosion of wars based on excessive emphasis on nationalism and the inability to resolve differences between people.
The two models of the state outlined above, can be combined with a reference to the question of ethnic and/or cultural identity. Hence, there have been nation-states that have focused almost exclusively on one ethnicity, some that have incorporated two or more distinct ethnicities and some nation-states that have been multi-ethnic with significant cultural diversity. Thus, the United States is a multi-ethnic liberal state and Britain was, until recently, a liberal, mono-ethnic state. On the other hand, Hitler's Germany was an extreme example of a mono-ethnic, essentialist state, while the Soviet Union, under its version of communism, was a multi-ethnic, essentialist state.
However, there is a major criticism of such multi-ethnic models; that is, they are inherently unstable and do not contain sufficient solidarity. Thus, the liberal-democratic, multi-ethnic United States is seen to be unstable, especially since large sections of its citizens, such as blacks, indigenous Indians and certain ethnic groups - including the Spanish Americans - often consider themselves to be alienated from the main body of the nation and to be, in some sense, second-class citizens.

Similarly, the essentialist, multi-ethnic model that underlay the Soviet Union was also an unstable nation. The grandiose idea on which it was based soon collapsed when the totalitarian apparatus of the Communist Party was removed by a democratic revolution. As a result, the Soviet system collapsed into a number of separate nations, each of which was based essentially on one dominant ethnicity. A similar, but more violent fate, befell the former Yugoslavia.
Although these societies were a combination of culturally diverse groupings, both multi-ethnic models effectively relied on a myth based on a set of values that defined 'the nation'. In the American nation, this set of values centred around the idea of the 'American dream' which was the idea that through the market-based economic system, each individual had the potential to become wealthy and to pursue happiness. In the Soviet style system, this myth was based on the Utopian vision of a socialist society as progressed by the Communist Party. In neither case was there a genuine attempt actually to come to terms with the relationship between the idea of the nation and cultural diversity.

It would appear that we have reached a serious dilemma from the point of view of defining a national identity. On the one hand, the monocultural, mono-ethnic model provides a basis for solidarity and stability in the short term. However, it is of no use in today's increasingly itinerant, cosmopolitan world, and in a culturally diverse society like Australia. On the other hand, we have seen that several so-called multi-ethnic models of the nation-state have been based on a unifying mythology, a constructed rather than genuine principle of unity.
One way out of this dilemma is to reject the idea of the nation-state altogether as an outdated concept. Thus, while we can accept that the 'imagined community'18 of the nation has proved to be an effective vehicle for developments such as industrialisation over the past two centuries, it could be argued that it has now outlived its usefulness. This is because the nation-state has also been a powerful force for democratisation and, in the late Twentieth Century, the democratic forces unleashed by the nation-state now challenge its legitimacy.

Furthermore, the information age has superseded the industrial age and the exchange of information makes the idea of a nation-state based on the one culture unsustainable. Added to this, the mobility of the world's population undermines efforts to create such a homogenous, monocultural 'nation'.
In Nations and Nationalism since 1780, E. J. Hobsbawn extends this idea further:
The characteristic nationalist movements of the late Twentieth Century are essentially negative, or rather divisive. Hence the insistence on 'ethnicity' and linguistic differences, each or both sometimes combined with religion. In one sense they may be regarded as successors to, sometimes the heirs of, the small nationality movements directed against the Habsburg, Tsarist and Ottoman Empires, that is to say against what were considered historically obsolete modes of political organisation, in the name of a (perhaps misconceived) model of political modernity, the nation-state. In another sense most of them are quite the opposite, namely rejections of modern modes of political organisation, both national and supranational. 19
If the idea of the nation-state is to survive, it must be redefined so as to address the issues raised above.

The forces leading to the decline of the nation-state have also had an impact in Australia. Indeed, Australia has been a good example of the changes that have undermined the traditional nation-state. As we have seen, for half a century now, the so-called Australian national identity - premised upon a belief in a monocultural society - has been transformed because of the arrival of people from all over the world; the Australian continent now plays host to a myriad of cultures. We can no longer sustain an Australian 'identity' based on 'cultural' homogeneity in the face of the country's ethnic heterogeneity and cultural diversity.


R. White, Inventing Australia, George Allen and Unwin, North Sydney, 1981, p viii. .E. Thompson, Fair Enough: Egalitarianism in Australia, UNSW Press, NSW, 1994, p. 250. .. N. Jose, 'Cultural Identity', in Stephen Graubard, (ed.), Australia: The Daedalus Symposium, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde, 1985, p. 312. .. J. Hirst, 'Australia's Absurd History' in J. Carroll (ed), Intruders in the Bush, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992, pp. 206-207. .. Dennis Cahill, 'Dialectical Poly-Ethnicity: a Contemporary Model to Understand Ethnic Interaction and Cultural Contact', Ethnic Studies, vol. 1, no. 3, 1977, p. 1, from Paul Carter, 'Baroque Identities: Migration and Mimicry', in Livio Dobrez, (ed), Identifying Australia in Post-Modern times, Bibliotech: Canberra, 1994, p. 10. .. K. Mackay, Reinventing Australia, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde, 1993, p. 17. .. Ibid., p. 19.

Copyright © 2007 Dr Andrew Theophanous

Recently, Andrew has publicised a revised version of a paper he delivered in 2005 at a special seminar at the Hellenic Centre of La Trobe University - entitled ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY. This paper has received more than 300 views on Andrew welcomes any comment on this recent paper. Click on the link below to view the full paper:


More of Philosophy & Metaphysics by Dr. Andrew

As indicated under Globalization, during 2004 and 2005, Andrew Theophanous has managed to write extensively additional material on multiculturalism,  globalization and international politics. Some of these have been presented at Special Public Seminars at Latrobe University. Recently, Andrew has turned to writing on Metaphysics, one of his first loves. In late 2005 ,  he presented a Seminar to the Hellenic Centre at Latrobe entitled Ancient Greek philosophy and the Foundations of Christianity. This has created a great deal of interest. Andrew has recently produced a revised version of this paper - see above.

Now living in Sydney, Andrew has been tutoring a number of university students in a nymber of metaphysical areas, including works on Plato, Parmenides, Philo of Alexandria, the Gnostics, the Early Christgian Fathers, Plotinus, Descartes, Liebnitz, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Sartre.

Andrew has also presented several courses inrtroducing adults to philosophy through the auspices of Sydney Community College. There are three courses being presented;

Philosophy 101 - The Great Philosophers

Course highlight : Philosophy means the love of wisdom. It is the search for the best knowledge that the human being can have concerning all the fundamental questions of our existence. Philosophy concerns itself with the nature of the universe as a whole, the nature of consciousness or mind and its relation to the human body, the nature of the material and biological universe, whether human beings have a soul, whether there is life after death, whether God exists and if so, what is the relationship between God and humanity. All the above are subjects in metaphysics, which is the foundation of philosophy.
However philosophy also deals with ethics, which concerns questions on the nature of good and evil, and how human beings should behave given the contrasting demands of desire, conscience and society.
In this course, we cover these topics by surveying the major theories of the great philosophers, primarily in the western tradition (beginning with Pythagoras and Plato) - however, we shall also discuss the philosophies of the east. The course aims to make philosophy understandable to students, in such a way that they can apply its insights to the meaning of their own lives. Discussion and debate will be encouraged in all classes.

Philosophy 102 - The Great Modern Philosophers

Course highlight : Over five weeks this course will give students a good background of the major ideas of the key modern philosophers. All these thinkers have had a major impact, not only on philosophy, but also on the social sciences, and on the intellectual development of western society generally. Although their theories are often complex, this course will present them in such a way that they are understandable to people who have no prior knowledge of philosophy.

Philosophy 103 - Mind, Body, Life and Death

Course highlight : This seven-week course deals with some of the most fundamental problems of Philosophy, especially on the topic of the nature of human existence. The course focuses on the key features of the human mind and its relation to the human body. It considers the nature of mind in its relationship to consciousness, the unconscious and the free will. It then explains how the characteristics and powers of the mind and body contribute to our general concept of the human being. The course will also deal with the question of whether human beings are ultimately nothing but bodies, or whether the mind is part of a non–physical aspect of being human, such as the soul.
We then turn to an examination of the nature of life itself, especially human life. This leads to an examination of the nature of death and the meaning that death has in philosophical literature. Finally we confront the question whether there is life after death and what this can mean. This includes the question of immortality and rebirth.
This course does not presuppose any previous knowledge or coursework in Philosophy. The presentation of the material aims to encourage deeper thought and class discussion about these issues.

Recent work on Globalization


A Paper presented at a Special Semuinar at La Trobe Unversioty

By Dr Andrew Theophanous  2004


As we enter the twenty-first century, it becomes increasingly clear that much of our traditional and contemporary political theory needs to be reconsidered and reinterpreted in the light of two dramatic developments in the modern world. The first is the rise of religious conflicts, which many have interpreted ads a clash of civilizations. The second has been the rise of globalisation, with its various positive and negative dimensions and consequences. This paper seeks to consider how these developments fit together, especially in the context of an understanding of events in international relations and the search for a way forward.

The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the rise of terrorism allegedly based on religious fundamentalism have been seen as pointers to a big rise in religious conflicts,. In the last decade there has been a rise in religious fundamentalism, with its dogmatic views on unexamined belief an any kind of real or lasting answer to the spiritual problems of humanity. Overt conflict over religious ideology is on the increase - as fundamentalists try to fill the vacuum created by the increasing spiritual poverty of modern life. Part of the rise in religious fundamentalism can be attributed to the crisis, which has arisen through the increase in alienation in the modern world, ESPECIALLY AS A RESULT OF GLOBALIZATION.

Does this mean that we are now in  a period in human history where different cultures based on  religious ideology will replace the tradition of political ideologies that have been relevant for the last two to three hundred years especially in Western society?  Some people believe this to be the case, especially with the conflicts between fundamentalist sections of  Islam, e Christianity, Judaism and even parts of Hinduism in India.

These developments have brought into sharp relief the views of Samuel Huntington in his book The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of the World Order.   For him, the rise of ethnic chauvinism and religious fundamentalism in different countries of the world is not merely an ad hoc response to globalisation, it is in fact a natural and predictable development following the end of the Cold War.

It has often been stated that the philosophy behind the foreign policy of the current George Bush administration in America is that of Huntington. Certainly many believe that this general thesis is the basis of US policy - even though the President has denied that Huntington's theory is his motivation - in the State of the Union Address 2004 and in a recent speech in Turkey.  Nevertheless, many opponents of Bush, especially in the Islamic world, believe that his policy is t actively provoke the conflict of civilizations.

An adviser to the previous US President,  Jack Miles has summed a general view in many parts of the US establishment regarding Huntington:

In the 1990s, the most important foreign policy intellectual in the United

States may yet prove to have been Samuel P. Huntington. The second-most-popular article in the history of Foreign Affairs has been his

controversial 1993 "The Clash of Civilizations," an attempt to see what lay

beyond the end of Kennan's Cold War. What Huntington saw was, on the one  hand, economic and cultural globalization and, on the other, resistance to it by those who saw it as merely the latest form of Western, historically

Christian, and at this late date specifically American imperialism. Though

Huntington noted that many non-Western powers had cast their lot with the

emerging global order, it seemed equally clear to him that China and world

Islam had not done so, might never do so, and might even join forces in a

joint counteroffensive against the West.

I shall return to a detailed examination of Huntington's view shortly - but it is important for us to gain an understanding as to what is meant by globalisation and what its impact has been. Many books have been written on this topic. An initial approach is to see globalisation as the phenomenon where society in all its forms now extends beyond the borders of the nation state, and takes us into the nternational arena, even entering the realm of humanity considered as a whole. In this paper, I shall speak of three dimensions of GLOBALISATION.

The first dimension is the development and internationalisation of the capitalist, or private enterprise, market economy. This situation has been accelerated in the last thirty years, especially through the vast expansion of the multinational corporations and the big increase in the number of nations which have adopted the model of private enterprise economy. A further aspect of this economic globalisation has been the huge expansion of world trade.

This economic dimension of globalization has, however, created many problems. Large multinational corporations now dominate world trade and operate in an environment, which is both competitive on one level and controlled on another. These corporations often operate irrespective of the wishes of individual governments with the possible exception of the major and most powerful nations such as Germany, Japan and the United States.

As a result, we now have a situation where these massive international economic forces have significantly curtailed the power of the nation-state. At the same time, there is also huge pressure on the state from its own citizens to deal with the negative consequences of economic globalisation.

However globalisation is not merely an economic phenomenon. There is a second dimension to globalisation: the huge and continuing expansion of mass media and communications systems throughout the world. As a result people are in much greater contact at an international level are increasingly aware of global developments. Citizens understand that they no longer live in a closed society, in the sense of a closed nation-statewhich has its ideas, culture and economy unconnected with those from other societies and other nations. Increasingly, therefore, there has been the creation of a global village in which people from all over the world are able to interact with each other. This is transforming the socio-cultural systems on the world, so that there is much greater appreciation of the diversity of cultures, but also threats to the survival of many cultural forms.

There is also a third dimension to globalisation: as human beings become more interconnected through the internationalisation of the economy and the globalisation of culture, the ideal of one united humanity becomes more real. This is manifested in the greater respect for universal human rights and in pressures on nation-states to co-operate with each other to achieve common goals. Increasingly, people embrace the ideal of an international system of economic, political and socio-cultural structures and processes linking together the people of the world, thereby giving substance to the idea of one humanity.

The negative impacts of globalisation are usually associated with the first dimension:  the internationalisation of the world economy. So many societies now depend on trading their commodities, their modes of production, their services with those of other nations, that they would be severely impoverished if it were not for this trade.

However, in the rush to increase export trade with other nations, many countries have resorted to an accelerated development of their natural resources. This development has often led to the plundering of scarce resources, without much attention to the consequences on the environment, in particular, a number of Third World countries have allowed severe depletion of their natural resources because this has been the only substantial basis of trade and the only way in which they are able to participate in the international market place.

With Globalization, governments have lost control of their financial system. The value of the currencies of different countries has itself been placed in the international market place and has been subjected to the whims and behaviour of financial dealers.

We are therefore left with a situation in which the major international banks and other lending institutions are able to have a dramatic impact on economic activity in different countries. The very existence of this power can now be used to discipline governments which stray too far from the perceptions of the "international markets" and what  is perceived as acceptable levels of taxation, redistribution wages and even the level of social services, such as health and education.

PART I : Huntington and the Clash of Civilisations

Huntington's view is that this globalization has provided a fertle ground for the clash of civilizations. His thesis is that, during the period of the Cold War, older ethnic cultural forms and religious world views were repressed by the United States and the Soviet Union, exercising their superpower status. These earlier differences between civilisations were not however, destroyed during that period; they were merely repressed. He claims that these 'civilisations' reasserted themselves with a greater emphasis on fundamentalism and nationalism, after they were freed from the restrictions imposed by the super-powers during the Cold War.

Huntington thus believes in the importance of the cultural and spiritual dimension of social lidentity. He says:

In the late 1980s the communist world collapsed, and the Cold War international system became history. In the post--Cold War world, the most important distinctions among peoples are not ideological, political, or economic. They are cultural. Peoples and nations are attempting to answer the most basic question humans can face: Who are we? And they are answering that question in the traditional way human beings have answered it, by reference to the things that mean most to them. People define themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions. They identify with cultural groups: tribes, ethnic groups, religious communities, nations, and, at the broadest level, civilizations. People use politics not just to advance their interests but also to define their identity. We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against.

These civilisations will have various clashes between them; the most fundamental conflict will be that between western culture and the non-western civilisations, especially Islam. The significant aspect of this is that,  rather than the New World Order signifying a period of peace and harmony, great conflicts will arise, as many societies place a greater focus on fundamentalism and ethnic identity.

Huntington states:

In the post--Cold War world, states increasingly define their interests in civilizational terms. They cooperate with and ally themselves with states with similar or common culture and are more often in conflict with countries of different culture. States define threats in terms of the intentions of other states, and those intentions and how they are perceived are powerfully shaped by cultural considerations. Publics and statesmen are less likely to see threats emerging from people they feel they understand and can trust because of shared language, religion, values, institutions, and culture. They are much more likely to see threats coming from states whose societies have different cultures and hence which they do not understand and feel they cannot trust.

Hence, for Huntington, civilization, religion and culture are strongly interlinked. He defines 'Civilization' as "the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity . . . defined by . . . language, history, religion, customs, institutions, and by the subjective self-identification of people."2 Huntington goes on to assert that we define ourselves in opposition to other cultures:

One grim Weltanschauung for this new era was well expressed by the Venetian nationalist demagogue in Michael Dibdin's novel, Dead Lagoon: "There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven." The unfortunate truth in these old truths cannot be ignored by statesmen and scholars. For peoples seeking identity and reinventing ethnicity, enemies are essential, and the potentially most dangerous enmities occur across the fault lines between the world's major civilizations.

The five parts of his book elaborate  this thesis in the following way:

Part I: For the first time in history global politics is both multipolar and multicivilizational; modernization is distinct from Westernisation and is producing neither a universal civilization in any meaningful sense nor the Westernisation of non-Western societies.

Part II: The balance of power among civilizations is shifting: the West is declining in relative influence; Asian civilizations are expanding their economic, military, and political strength; Islam is exploding demographically with destabilizing consequences for Muslim countries and their neighbors; and non-Western civilizations generally are reaffirming the value of their own cultures.

Part III: A civilization-based world order is emerging: societies sharing cultural affinities cooperate with each other; efforts to shift societies from one civilization to another are unsuccessful; and countries group themselves around the lead or core states of their civilization.

Part IV: The West's universalist pretensions increasingly bring it into conflict with other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China; at the local level fault line wars, largely between Muslims and non-Muslims, generate "kin-country rallying," the threat of broader escalation, and hence efforts by core states to halt these wars.

Part V: The survival of the West depends on Americans reaffirming their Western identity and Westerners accepting their civilization as unique not universal and uniting to renew and preserve it against challenges from non-Western societies. Avoidance of a global war of civilizations depends on world leaders accepting and cooperating to maintain the multicivilizational character of global politics.

Huntington sums up trhe international situation so:

The most important groupings of states are no longer the three blocs of the Cold War but rather the world's seven or eight major civilizations (Map 1.3). Non-Western societies, particularly in East Asia, are developing their economic wealth and creating the basis for enhanced military power and political influence. As their power and self-confidence increase, non-Western societies increasingly assert their own cultural values and reject those "imposed" on them by the West… In this new world, local politics is the politics of ethnicity; global politics is the politics of civilizations. The rivalry of the superpowers is replaced by the clash of civilizations.

In this new world the most pervasive, important, and dangerous conflicts will not be between social classes, rich and poor, or other economically defined groups, but between peoples belonging to different cultural entities. In the Yugoslav conflicts, Russia provided diplomatic support to the Serbs, and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, and Libya provided funds and arms to the Bosnians, not for reasons of ideology or power politics or economic interest but because of cultural kinship. "Cultural conflicts," Vaclav Havel has observed, "are increasing and are more dangerous today than at any time in history," and Jacques Delors agreed that "future conflicts will be sparked by cultural factors rather than economics or ideology." And the most dangerous cultural conflicts are those along the fault lines between civilizations.

In the post--Cold War world, culture is both a divisive and a unifying force. People separated by ideology but united by culture come together, as the two Germanys did and as the two Koreas and the several Chinas are beginning to. Societies united by ideology or historical circumstance but divided by civilization either come apart, as did the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Bosnia, or are subjected to intense strain, as is the case with Ukraine, Nigeria, Sudan, India, Sri Lanka, and many others.

Countries with cultural affinities cooperate economically and politically. International organizations based on states with cultural commonality, such as the European Union, are far more successful than those that attempt to transcend cultures.

Huntington identifies eight existent or potential civilizational groups. Of these , six are existent major civilizational groups:

1. Western civilization based on Catholicism and Protestantism (Western Europe and North America);

2.the Islamic civilization (no single dominant state ; several states acting together, especially Iran, Pakistan and the Arab world)

3.the Chinese civilization (China) ;

4. the civilization based on the Orthodox Church (Russia and Eastern Europe);

5.the Hindu civilization  (India) ; and

6. the Japanese civilization (Japan) .

There are two other  "candidates for civilization," with the  potential to become distinct civilizations of their own:

7.Latin America (led by Brazil and Argentina), and

8. sub-Saharan Africa (led by South Africa and Nigeria).

The most important distinctions between these civilizations is that they are based on the great world  religions- Christianity, Islam,Buddhism, Hinduism,and  Confucianism,.  (Judaism is ignored as a basis for a civilization;this seems wrong in the light of the critical importance of Israel and the Jewish diaspora) '

Huntington states:

The philosophical assumptions, underlying values, social relations, customs, and overall outlooks on life differ significantly among civilizations. The revitalization of religion throughout much of the world is reinforcing these cultural differences…Islamic culture explains in large part the failure of democracy to emerge in much of the Muslim world.

The West is and will remain for years to come the most powerful civilization. Yet its power relative to that of other civilizations is declining. As the West attempts to assert its values and to protect its interests, non-Western societies confront a choice. Some attempt to emulate the West and to join or to "bandwagon" with the West. Other Confucian and Islamic societies attempt to expand their own economic and military power to resist and to "balance" against the West. A central axis of post--Cold War world politics is thus the interaction of Western power and culture with the power and culture of non-Western civilizations.

In sum, the post--Cold War world is a world of seven or eight major civilizations. Cultural commonalities and differences shape the interests, antagonisms, and associations of states. The most important countries in the world come overwhelmingly from different civilizations. The local conflicts most likely to escalate into broader wars are those between groups and states from different civilizations. The predominant patterns of political and economic development differ from civilization to civilization. The key issues on the international agenda involve differences among civilizations.

Huntington believes that  the Chinese and the Islamic civilizations present the most dangerous challenges to Western civilization. The conflict with the  Islamic civilization is the most dangerous- because it is represented as being based on fundamental religious differences. David Gergen, editor at large of U.S. News & World Report, engaged Huntington,who is  professor of international relations at Harvard University, in a critical interview on hese questions on January 9, 1997.

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON: And then there's a question of Islam where the challenge is somewhat different because it stems primarily from the demographic dynamism of Islam, the very high birth rates that have existed in most Muslim countries, and the fact that this has generated an immense youth bulge in most Muslim countries, where the proportion of the population between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five exceeds 20 percent of the total. And when that happens, sociologists and historians have pointed out, there's usually trouble of some sort. And this is the reason for both the trouble within Islam and for the troubles between Muslims and their neighbors in large part, including what has happened in Yugoslavia.

DAVID GERGEN: The clear warning of your book is that the clashes we should be most concerned about are low intensity clashes with the Islamic civilization and the possibility of a big war with China.


DAVID GERGEN: What are the implications of your argument about clashes coming between civilization? What are the implications for United States foreign policy?

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON: Well, I think the United States first of all has to recognize the world for what it is. And I think we've been in something of a denial mode, and we are carried away by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of history, which hasn't happened, and hence have not been very quick at adjusting to this terribly complex world where's there's ethnic rivalry of all sorts, and ethnic rivalry becomes most dangerous, of course, when it is between groups from different civilizations because then, as in former Yugoslavia, or the Caucasus or Central Asia or the subcontinent, not to mention the Middle East, there's always the danger of escalation. And so I think American foreign policy clearly has to focus on the intercivilizational conflicts that will challenge us, and we also have to keep our guard up and I think try to reinvigorize relations with our European allies, which I think this administration has rather neglected.

DAVID GERGEN: So pull closer to Europe?

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON: Yes. Promote the unity of the West.

DAVID GERGEN: Strengthen the western civilization, itself.

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON: Right. Which means not just in military and economic terms but in, also in moral terms and in commitment to western values.

Huntington believes that :

Many important developments after the end of the Cold War were compatible with the civilizational paradigm and could have been predicted from it. These include: the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia; the wars going on in their former territories; the rise of religious fundamentalism throughout the world; the struggles within Russia, Turkey, and Mexico over their identity; the intensity of the trade conflicts between the United States and Japan; the resistance of Islamic states to Western pressure on Iraq and Libya; the efforts of Islamic and Confucian states to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them; China's continuing role as an "outsider" great power; the consolidation of new democratic regimes in some countries and not in others; and the developing arms competition in East Asia.

"[A]s far as anyone interested in the contemporary world is concerned," Fernand Braudel has sagely warned, "and even more so with regard to anyone wishing to act within it, it `pays' to know how to make out, on a map of the world, which civilizations exist today, to be able to define their borders, their centers and peripheries, their provinces and the air one breathes there, the general and particular `forms' existing and associating within them. Otherwise, what catastrophic blunders of perspective could ensue!"

Given Huntington's belief that nation-states were aligned to different civilisations, he argued that peace could only be best guaranteed by "understanding and cooperation among the political, spiritual, and intellectual leaders of the world's major civilizations".  However, this has been made much more difficult with the rise of fundamentalism.


Naturally  enough, the controversial views of Huntington have generated an enormous amount of debate. We can consider these in two groupings:

A.  Views which Accept and Extend Huntington

Consider for example the views of  LOUIS RENE BERES, Professor of International Law Department of Political Science Purdue University and  author of many books and articles dealing with terrorism and war:

"Terrorism, to be sure, is America's overriding problem for the immediate future. But terrorism is not really our underlying problem. It is rather the palpably barbarous tactic of a methodically planned and determinedly apocalyptic war. Directed initially against Israel and the United States, this fevered attack will soon spread - perhaps uncontrollably - to large cities in Europe and possibly even to various parts of Asia.

This war is a sustained and forseeably catastrophic Arab/Islamic assault against the West, a civilizational struggle in which a resurgent medievalism now seeks to bring fear, paralysis and death to "unbelievers."

Even if Bin Laden and every other identifiably major terrorist were apprehended and prosecuted in authoritative courts of justice, millions of others in the Arab/Islamic world would not cease their impassioned destruction of "infidels." These millions, like the monsters who destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon, would not intend to do evil. On the contrary, they would mete out death to innocents for the sake of a presumed divine expectation, prodding the killing of Israelis, Americans and Europeans with utter conviction and complete purity of heart. Sanctified killers, these millions would generate an incessant search for more "Godless" victims.

This is the truest meaning of Arab/Islamic terrorism against our country. It is a form of sacred violence oriented toward the sacrifice of both enemies and martyrs. It is through the purposeful killing of Americans, any Americans, that the Holy Warrior embarked upon Jihad can buy himself free from the penalty of dying. It is only through such cowardly killing, and not through diplomacy, that "Allah's" will may be done.

Our only hope is to acknowledge the true source of our now existential danger, and proceed to fight the real war from there."

Huntington has generally been criticized by Western media reluctant to accept his thesis. But in some quarters, his views have been enthusiastically accepted. For example , an article in the  ASIA Times headed : It IS a "clash of civilizations" states:

The "clash of civilizations" posited by Huntington is real. Various interpretations of Islam aside, the fact is that it is self-proclaimed ISLAMIC holy warriors who committed the September 11 and numerous prior atrocities, that jihad against the West and the US in particular is tacitly subscribed to even by many "moderate" Arabs and that - to the best of this writer's knowledge but not surprise - no fatwa (religious ruling) has yet been issued by a respected Muslim cleric branding the jihadist terrorists the tools and their despicable acts the work of Satan.

Huntington surmises - and to all appearances rightly so - that Islamic fundamentalism came to be subscribed to and embraced by many often young, well-to-do, well-educated Arabs in reaction to their sense of weakening identity in face of the march of globalism, the advance of Western political, social and economic values.

There are many examples of  Religious  and Political Extremists, of Islamic, Christian and Judaic persuasion , who have accepted and extended Huntington's views to suit their own purposes.  EXAMPLES  of Pat Buchanan in America and a host of Islamic writers on the Internet .

B. Views which Reject Huntington

These views rejecting Huntington have appeared in philosophical , media and  political circles. An important  academic assessment has been given in The Clash of Civilizations: A View from Japan by Prof. Seizaburo Sato, Professor of Political Science, Tokyo University.

Huntington is not only inaccurate or wrong in some of the historical facts he presents in his analysis, but his thesis has the potential to be extremely dangerous if taken as a prescription for making policy. If the leadership of a major power--particularly of the United States, the only remaining superpower--were to accept this world-view and systematically adopt and implement policies based upon it, countries belonging to other civilizational spheres would be forced to take counter-measures, and this would in turn cause a series of interactions that would turn Huntington's propositions into self-fulfilled reality.

One serious fault of Huntington's analysis is that he ignores the possibility that while different civilizations that come into contact may clash with each other, they can also learn from each other, and may thereby revitalize themselves. Even in the case of encounters between the classic civilizations of the pre-modern era, there have been divergent outcomes and different consequences for history depending on the levels of maturity of the cultures in question as well as the intensity of the encounters.

Professor Sato concludes:

For all the reasons given in the foregoing pages, it is the opinion of this author that Huntington's assertion that the post-Cold War world will be the stage for confrontations among civilizations is a concept fundamentally in error.

Although Western media has shown some respect for Huntington's views as interesting, tghey have generally been heftily criticized. An example is the Washington Post review 'When Cultures Collide' by Michael Elliott on  December 1, 1996.

Huntington is surely right to argue that the world cannot be seen solely through Western eyes and to suggest that the "triumph of the West" is neither complete nor uncontroversial. On the contrary, it is very often resented both in the Islamic nations and in Asian ones.The world, Huntington says, is not becoming homogeneous;

So far so good. And yet the book begs so many questions that its central tenet must be in doubt.

Here are three of them. First, are civilizations as cohesive as Huntington seems to think? On my little trip I visited Singapore and Bangkok. Both Asian, both cities in "miracle" economies, a short hop from each other; but in their social arrangements, their culture, their attitude (say) to sex, they are on different planets.

Second, if culture is such a strong determinant of social behavior, why is Huntington so dead set against multiculturalism within a society (say, the United States)? If transnational efforts to impose one culture on another invite strife, as Huntington contends, why should such efforts have harmonious results if attempted within a single nation-state?

Third: Accept, for the sake of argument, that civilizations can cohere and can be rivals. Is it not still possible for countries to have allies across the civilizational divide? "In the coming era," says Huntington, "the avoidance of major civilizational wars requires core states to refrain from intervening in conflicts in other civilizations."…

All civilizations, he argues, are threatened by barbarism -- drug smugglers, international criminals, you name it. So challenged, the "great civilizations" must "hang together or hang separately." Bit of a stretch, that, at the end of a book which has sought to convince the reader that those civilizations are bound soon to clash.

Of course, . Huntington  replies to all these arguments, as we shall see. He makes a distinction between the pious pronouncements of leaders, who deny civilizational conflict and their actual practice in  International Relations.  For example, in his 1999 book, The Lonely Superpower,  he  sets out what he sees as the real agenda of the U.S:

American officials quite naturally tend to act as if the world were unipolar. They boast of American power and American virtue, hailing the United States as a benevolent hegemon. They lecture other countries on the universal validity of American principles, practices, and institutions. At the 1997 G-7 summit in Denver, President Clinton boasted about the success of the American economy as a model for others. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright has called the United States "the indispensable nation" and said that "we stand tall and hence see further than other nations." This statement is true in the narrow sense that the United States is an indispensable participant in any effort to tackle major global problems. It is false in also implying that other nations are dispensable -- the United States needs the cooperation of some major countries in handling any issue -- and that American indispensability is the source of wisdom.

According to Huntington,  America is simply pushing to the limit its version of Western civilization to the whole world:

In the past few years the United States has, among other things, attempted or been perceived as attempting more or less unilaterally to do the following: pressure other countries to adopt American values and practices regarding human rights and democracy; prevent other countries from acquiring military capabilities that could counter American conventional superiority; enforce American law extraterritorially in other societies; grade countries according to their adherence to American standards on human rights, drugs, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, missile proliferation, and now religious freedom; apply sanctions against countries that do not meet American standards on these issues; promote American corporate interests under the slogans of free trade and open markets; shape World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies to serve those same corporate interests; intervene in local conflicts in which it has relatively little direct interest; bludgeon other countries to adopt economic policies and social policies that will benefit American economic interests; promote American arms sales abroad while attempting to prevent comparable sales by other countries…; and categorize certain countries as "rogue states," excluding them from global institutions because they refuse to kowtow to American wishes

Of course, since he wrote this, we have also had military action against Afghanistan and Iraq . However, Huntington predicted that these would not be successful strategies. An alternative approach to civilizational conflict is required. I shall return to this.


But for the moment I need to consider a fundamental question: Is Huntington right when he says that people are now conglomerating around their "civilization"? And why has there been a rise in religious conflict and fundamentalism?

The Rise of cultural and spiritual alienation

One of the causes of the problems referred to by Huntington is that in the Western world, there has developed a cultural and spiritual alienation, that is,  the general phenomenon of the increasing meaninglessness in people's lives. This form of alienation can be even more devastating than economic deprivation; furthermore it can exist even in circumstances of relative economic affluence. It is not an accident or a coincidence that modern western societies with their sophistication, with their consumerism, with their high level of material achievement, nevertheless contain huge numbers of unhappy individuals, individuals who often resort to means of escaping their unhappiness through acts of violence against other persons or through acts of violence against themselves in the form of drug taking and suicide.

I believe that this alienation arises firstly because modern Western societies are  unable to deal with the fundamental questions with which traditional religions were engaged and secondly  because society is unable to provide alternative structures of meaning for people's lives.  Materialism - as the indefinite pursuit of  goods and material pleasures has not been sufficient to provide either social identity or solidarity.  Modern political democracy, with  its notions of civil and political rights , have not in themselves been sufficient to provide the kind of meaning required to overcome the spiritual poverty which has engulfed the modern world including Australia.

2. The role of Religion in the 21st Century

The need of the human being to feel that there is some kind of genuine, deeper or transcendental meaning to their life has existed since the dawn of civilization.

Notwithstanding their imperfections, the traditional religions did provide  a socially  accepted set of answers for the big metaphysical questions of life. These metaphysical frameworks - whether mythological, religious or philosophical - are concerned with solving certain mysteries which arise from the very situation of human beings, in particular the fact of death and the mystery of human existence. These questions are often entangled with two other fundamental concerns: the conflict between good and evil and whether human action is free or determined through some kind of fate.

       . Although it is a universal fact of all human beings that they face physical death, it is also universally the case that humans can conceive of the idea of immortality. It is precisely because this conception  is held by all societies that the mystery of life is intensified. The agony raised by the recognition of the inevitability of death and the hope of some form of immortality  is documented in the mythology, literature, religion and other symbolic activities of virtually all human societies.

        This mystery of death cannot be solved without tackling the problem of human nature.  These two questions are inextricably intertwined. Thus if the human being is conceived as a complex entity consisting of body, soul, spirit, etc., then one part of it may survive death while another perishes.  No matter what answer to the problem of life and death is given, it is necessarily associated with some view as to ultimate human nature.  This relation of the two problems and their solution is found in all the great religions of the world and, I believe, in all the metaphysical frameworks of primitive peoples.

       If this thesis is correct, we can see why such belief systems  are held so tenaciously, even when what we would call 'facts' seem to contradict them. For these frameworks provide meaning and purpose to the life of that people. More importantly, they provide hope.  The hopelessness, which arises when one abandons such beliefs, emphasises our lack of knowledge in this matter. This is well illustrated by the work of Albert Camus, who sees us trapped by our essential ignorance of the meaning of life and the possibility of immortality.

       In contrast to modern experiences of personal and social alienation, the traditional world-views provided a social (as well as 'spiritual') sense of moral worth and membership or 'belongingness'.  World-religions frequently provided the social cement necessary for the formation of particular historical communities.  They supplied the individual with not only a sense of  destiny or direction but a kind of meaningfulness; the meaning of life , suffering  and death were provided and  often reinforced through rituals and coercive practices.  Such  understandings of the self and world gave individuals vitality or 'strength'  to withstand natural and human calamities and sufferings.

With the onset of modern science and its understanding of  the order of  things, recourse to (absolute) religious authority,  doctrine or principles increasingly became under challenge. The belief foundations, which held together society were replaced with ideas which did not depend on religions.  The cycle has turned again. People are reverting to the traditional religions, or modifications of them which are often fundamentalist. As Prof. Satro says:

Modern industrial civilization is built upon faith in man's rational capacity, and aims at improving his ability to control the environment. Therefore, its character is fundamentally secular, lacking an ideology of its own to give spiritual meaning to life. This is the reason why the values nurtured under the classic civilizations still live on tenaciously, even if in fragmented forms. They continue to function as the fundamental framework of thought in the modern world despite the fact that industrial civilization prevails everywhere and relentlessly continues to encroach upon the established forms of classic civilization.

3. Fundamentalism and Religious Conflict

All this is leading to a rise in fundamentalism and  religious conflict. It uis often claimed that Islam is especially vulnerable to these interpretations. As Jack Miles says:

But what of world Islam? The border separating what Muslims call dar

al-islam, the "House of Submission (Islam)," from dar al-harb, the "House of

Warfare" seems increasingly to define a long irregular battlefront, one that

as of September 11, 2001, stretches across four continents. With striking

frequency, those post-Cold War conflicts typically termed "local" or

"parochial" or at most "sectarian" turn out to be battles between

historically Muslim and historically non-Muslim populations.

Miles sets out an incomplete list of 18 areas in the world of such conflicts. He  then explains:

My point in drawing up this list is to suggest that for the umma -- an

ancient Arabic term that has come to denote the totality of Muslims in the

world at any given time -- the House of Islam must surely seem a

civilization under siege. I use the word civilization, as Huntington did,

because umma refers to so much more than our word religion comprehends.

In the formulation of one contemporary scholar, it refers to "religion, shared values, and common concerns" yet "does not denote nationality, kinship, orethnicity." The umma is Islam's version of what secular diplomacy likes tocall the international community, and there is no third contender.

Only the umma matches the international community in internal variety,

geographical dispersion, and potentially global ambition.

Because of the secularisation of the state in the West and the concomitant

privatisation of religion, Western governments, when dealing with one

another, do not expect to be required to deal with one another's religious

beliefs or religious leaders. But in the House of Islam, religious leaders

typically have a far greater claim on the public than do civilian leaders,

and it is a fatal mistake to leave the Muslim public -- the umma -- out of

the equation.

After 1956, when the United States became the dominant power in the Middle East, it made the same mistake -- vastly overestimating Iranian nationalism as represented by the Shah and correspondingly underestimating Muslim religion as represented by Ayatollah Khomeini. It was as if the UnitedStates had to find someone like the Shah to deal with because, well, howcould a self-respecting secretary of state possibly do business with anayatollah? What would they discuss? Theology?

Miles argues that we need to understand and accept the religious basis of the Islamic civilization:

The development of such an alternative vision, however, will require a major

paradigm shift in Western diplomacy. It will no longer suffice to treat

religion as a mere happenstance ("I happen to be Jewish," "I happen to be

Muslim"), and therefore as a political irrelevancy. This method of dealing

with religion politically may have served us well enough in overcoming

Christianity's own hideous wars of religion. But the old way will not meet

this new challenge, for it takes off the table just the topic that militant

Islam finds most compelling. One can no more discuss that topic without

discussing theology than one can discuss communism without discussing

ideology. Theology is the ideological element in religion, and nothing at

this moment could be more tragically evident than that we have ignored it to

our peril.


The Dimensions of Globalization

There are many theories, most currently in sociology, politics, economics and philosophy, which seek to give an account of the phenomenon of globalisation and what it entails. I cannot here present a comprehensive account, but merely to make some brief comments about my own analysis of globalisation which is based on the three dimensions mentioned above. I believe that they constitute the key features of the globalisation phenomenon and are all constituent parts of a unified theory of globalisation.

Dimension I        . Globalisation as the internationalisation of the modern capitalist economic system.

Here globalisation is seen as the accelerated development and internationalisation of the market economy. The development of market capitalism in its various forms is now seen as possibly the major driving force of modern world history. This claim is based on the phenomenal growth of the capitalist system throughout the world in the last twenty-five years.

Firstly, there has been the increasing internationalisation of the economy itself, through the rapid growth in the development of monopolies and multinational corporations. Secondly, there has been a large increase in the number of nations which have adopted the model of the market capitalist system, especially following the breakdown of the so-called Soviet Communist systems, and the acceptance and the implementation of market capitalist models in the so-called third world countries. These phenomena have led to such a massive growth in the world capitalist economic system.

I have mentioned that economic globalisation brings many problems. Some of them are:

(i)        Huge multinational corporations now control a large amount of world trade and operate in the context of an environment, which is independent of the borders of individual nation-states. They often control the bulk of production of specific goods and services in a range of countries throughout the world. They have developed methods by which they to monopolise power, where they seek to reduce competition and to dominate the market place.

(ii) A further feature of this economic globalisation has been that the major international banks and other lending institutions are able to have a dramatic impact on economic activity in different countries by changing the value of the currency. An aspect of the power of the globalised economy is thus the impact of the international monetary system. Pressure can be brought to bear directly through action, which marks down currencies or through public comments by bankers, financial dealers and economic experts. A dramatic contemporary example is the fate of the Asian economies in 1998, especially the huge three hundred percent devaluation of the Indonesian economy.

(iii) many individuals and companies seeking super profits have been prepared to take the risks involved in investing in third world societies to further exploit the cheap labour and cheap raw materials that are available in those societies. This, in turn, has often led to intense competition between many of the poorer national governments in seeking to attract investment capital to their countries. There have been attempts to impose very low  wages and reduce other costs to employers, by doing away with normal requirements such as employer contributions to health, superannuation and training arrangements.

(iv) In the rush to increase exports and attract foreign investment, many poorer countries have resorted to an accelerated development of their natural resources. This development has often lead to the plundering of scarce resources, without much attention to the consequences for the environment.

(v) Massive new technological developments, when combined with the intense competition involved in the internationalisation of the economy has led to an acceleration of the replacement of workers by machines.  While this has resulted in some increase in productivity - fewer workers producing a greater output - it has also contributed significantly to the creation of structural unemployment, even in the modern societies of the western world. This unemployment in the western world totals at least thirty million people. In the rest of the globe, it is now much higher.

It is safe to conclude that this dimension of globalisation, based on the internationalisation of the economy, is clearly a major feature of our modern history. However, are we to accept that it is inevitable that the forces of international economy and economic rationalism will dominate all aspects of our future development? Are we to assume that the nation-state is doomed to a continuing reduction in its power? In that case, are we to assume that the political democracy is to become nothing more than a selection about which group of people is to steer the economy in the interests of international economic forces, including financial speculators? Citizens in modern society, even if they do not perceive the questions in this way, are generally concerned at the trend of events -- we see constant outbursts against economic globalization and some of its impacts.

Dimension 2 - Globalisation and the Compression of Time, Space and Culture Bringing the People of the World Closer Together.

The development of modern society has not been limited to changes in the economic and political structures. The fundamental structure of the cultural systems of society has also changed with the pressures of globalisation. Paradoxically, while the number of people in the world has dramatically increased in the last three decades, the world is becoming more united, and a global village, through these processes of globalisation. I believe this is a second and generally positive dimension to globalisation which is leading to a revolution in the world's socio-cultural systems.

This dimension of globalisation has arisen primarily because of the massive expansion of communications technology and computerisation. This expansion creates an enormous increase in the ability of people from different countries of the world to communicate with each other through means such as super telephones, video systems, facsimiles, and the Internet. There has also been an enormous expansion of the mass media, especially with satellite systems providing television and radio on an international scale.

The idea that there will be a globalisation of culture as a result of the development of electronic technologies was put forward perceptively by Marshall McLuhan in his popular works such as The Medium is the Message. McLuhan argued that there would be a total transformation of the consciousness of human beings in all aspects of their lives as a result of the dramatic impact of electronic communication, especially the activities of the mass media.

All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the message. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.

McLuhan introduced the term the global village to describe the way people would be interacting with each other. Vast distances would be compressed through the medium of the media:

Electric circuitry has overthrown the regime of time and space and pours upon us instantly and continuously the concerns of all other men. It has reconstituted dialogue on a global scale. Its message is Total Change, ending psychic, social, economic, and political parochialism. The old civic, state, and national groupings have become unworkable. Nothing can be further from the spirit of the new technology than "a place for everything and everything in its place". You can't go home again.

The social philosopher Anthony Giddens has taken up much of McLuhan's thinking; he accurately describes this dimension of globalisation as the liberation of time and space. Giddens believes that, in pre-modern societies, the individual was generally restricted by limitations in the possibilities of travel and communication. This situation has been completely transformed in the modern society with the vast expansion of travel and the impact of new forms of electronic communications.

On the other hand, however, there are important and important positive outcomes when globalisation is combined with the new,  rapid technological development.  For example, there is now a massive extension of the ability of people from different countries of the world to communicate with each other through modern technology, such as super telephones, video systems and fax machines.  There has also been a massive extension in the public communications area with satellite systems providing television and radio on an international scale.  These developments certainly have positive consequences from the point of view of bringing together a greater common understanding of humanity and of the common threads of social justice which exist in the different nations of the world.  On the other hand, it can also be misused since different elites can vie for control of the major communications networks by elite groups.

As a result of this, we have the new phenomenon Giddens calls time-space distenciation. This refers to the fact that it is possible in the modern world to compress the importance of geographical distances and to reduce the amount of time which is involved in social relations and communication. So, for example, it is possible through electronic techniques to immediately contact people from the other side of the planet and to exchange not only economic information, but indeed to lift out whole aspects of their social system and to transplant it into another society.

This process of course becomes even more dramatic with the development of even more sophisticated communications. Indeed, the development of the Internet has vastly increased the ability to send detailed information from one part of the world to another. Thus the mass transfer of knowledge is now not limited merely to media owners or to major corporations; individuals in many countries gain the ability to do so at a relatively cheap price.

This dimension of globalisation can certainly have positive consequences from the point of view of bringing together a greater common understanding of humanity and of the common threads of social justice which exist in the different nations of the world. As we can glean from the downfall of apartheid in South Africa and the Berlin Wall in Europe, the struggle for universal human rights and social justice is no longer the sole preserve of national members (citizens) of political nation-states but, as the philosopher Immanuel Kant held, becomes the concern of all of humankind.

On the other hand, it raises the possibility of more fearsome concentrations of power, as the new international elites vie for control of the major global communications and media networks. One problem which arises from this is that such elites can use their power to try to promote one particular cultural mode as the preferred model throughout the world (for example American popular culture). This can run counter to the promotion of a more multicultural understanding in the international community. Fundamentalism is clear one negative response to the attempted internationalisation of  culture by the West -  especially American culture.  President Bush was led to make the following comments in relation to the domination of American culture and the way in which other societies have felt intimidated by this culture:

In some parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, there is wariness toward democracy, often based on misunderstanding. Some people in Muslim cultures identify democracy with the worst of Western popular culture, and want no part of it. And I assure them, when I speak about the blessings of liberty, coarse videos and crass commercialism are not what I have in mind. There is nothing incompatible between democratic values and high standards of decency. For the sake of their families and their culture, citizens of a free society have every right to strive peacefully for a moral society.

Democratic values also do not require citizens to abandon their faith. No democracy can allow religious people to impose their own view of perfection on others, because this invites cruelty and arrogance that are foreign to every faith. And all people in a democracy have the right to their own religious beliefs. But all democracies are made stronger when religious people teach and demonstrate upright conduct - family commitment, respect for the law, and compassion for the weak. Democratic societies should welcome, not fear, the participation of the faithful.

Dimension 3 - Globalisation as the Ideal of an International System of Economic, Political and Socio-Cultural Structures and Processes Linking All Societies Throughout the World, Thereby Giving Substance to the Idea of the One Humanity.

The idea that all human beings have many things in common that potentially allows them to come together as the one humanity has probably been around since the dawn of civilisation. This idea is critical for the promulgation of the view that all human beings are equal in terms of their fundamental rights irrespective of race, class, gender, and religious beliefs.

This idea of humanity is also a keystone of the modern theories of globalisation, such as that of the Australian sociologist, J. Robertson. In his book, Globalisation he argues that in the globalising process, the individual person thus becomes defined both by the specific place, time and culture to which he/she belongs, and by the general idea that he/she is part of humanity as a whole - as well as belonging to a specific nation-state. From this point of view, globalisation is an experience, it is a changing of the meaning of citizenship, and of the way in which we think about and live our lives in the modern world. Robertson is therefore optimistic about the process of globalisation. His theory outlines the possibility of a new world in which the systems of society are moving inevitably towards much greater unity in the spheres of economic, political and socio-cultural life.

In the optimistic advocates of positive globalization believe that increasingly, we will think of ourselves as belonging to the one humanity. We can thus conceive of an ideal situation in which the economic, political and socio-cultural structures of our societies are moving in great co-operation and harmony. This ideal is inherent in the logic of the processes of globalisation. The more we move towards it, the more we give substance to the general idea of humanity as a whole. For them, civilizational conflict can be stopped in its tracts and overcome.

PART V: Is a Synthesis Possible? Globalization Theory and the Insights of  Huntington.

Huntington and other theorists see the advocates of positive globalization as having an excessively optimistic view. The advocates of globalisation respond by another interpretation of many of the same phenomena that Huntington points to. For  these advocates,  the world is not heading to a disaster, but to a brighter future.  Let us consider their alternative views of the following phenomena:

   The End of the Cold War and Increasing Democracy.

The end of the Cold War saw the progressive introduction of market capitalism and political democracy in many more countries. All agree that one of the most dramatic changes in world history has occurred with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of Soviet-style Communism in nearly all the countries where it held sway in the past. An important feature of this situation was the fact that most of these societies chose to adopt a multi-party democratic political system and further chose to introduce reforms to establish a market capitalist economy. However the pace of the economic change was so dramatic that it often resulted in chaotic developments in which some former Communist nations became enormously rich very quickly, while large sections of the populations of these nations became even poorer than they had been under the previous regimes.  Naturally enough, there have been rapid changes of government in these societies as they have struggled to adjust their social structures and their cultures to the new economic realities.

With the end of the Cold War, globalisation advocates believed that the need for massive armaments would be significantly reduced and the level of so-called defence spending questioned throughout the western world and in the newly emerging democracies.  Certainly there has been a re-evaluation of the nature and direction of international relations in the twenty-first century. With the conflict between the ideology of soviet communism and liberal democratic capitalism no longer a viable basis for determining relations between nations, there arose much discussion of the so-called New World Order. However, because of disagreements on what principles of international relations, if any, this New World Order should be based, the optimistic claims had not come true.

Some people predicted that globalisation and the end of the Cold War would lead to a new era, the end of ideology. They emphasised the fact that, throughout most of the twentieth century, many people have lived and died on the basis of the adherence to fundamental political ideologies such as Nazism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Communism and Socialism.

These traditional ideologies have now become less relevant to the operation of governments, of political parties and of societies throughout the world. This view was developed in an important book by Francis Fukuyama, entitled The End of History and the Last Man. He claims that if one looks at both the changes that have taken place which led to the end of the Cold War. one can see that the basis on which traditional political ideologies have rested is now gone and that these ideologies are no longer relevant.

Fukuyama argues that the development of societies and political systems has reached a peak in human history--with the best practical model of society having been achieved in Western countries, especially the United States and Britain. Fukuyama draws on the historical fact referred to earlier, namely, that the societies of the former Soviet system all chose to institute political democracy and a capitalist market place.  According to Fukuyama, this is not an accident of history, but the natural development of the essential character of human political society itself.

To support this view, Fukuyama draws on the philosopher Hegel, who believed that human history was moving in a particular direction towards the development of the best form of society and the state.  This Hegelian theory was based essentially on the view that all previous human societies would dissolve in the face of their internal contradictions.  Fukuyama argues that, "totalitarian societies" must necessarily give way to democratic ones, because it is only in the latter type of society that human beings can find genuine fulfilment and self realisation.

One can of course accept that, history has a direction without accepting Fukuyama's view that the ultimate society is the modern democratic capitalist representative democracy. We may not have come to the end of history as conceded by Fukuyama, but it seems clear that we  have come to the point where traditionally politically  ideology is increasingly less relevant.

Huntington agrees with this of course, but for him - as we have seen - ideological conflict is being replaced by the conflict of civilizations. His picture after the Cold War is thus quite different, as we have seen.

2. Culture Diversity or Civilizational Conflict

One of the major criticisms of Huntington's theory is that it appears to apply more coherently to closed monocultural societies that to cultural diverse nations, like the United States, Canada and Australia. Much of his theory is based on the belief that there is an identifiable culturally specific entity called 'western civilisation' which is supposedly in conflict with all the others. But can this claim be sustained? Advocates of globalisation would argue that it cannot be. They point to the evidence of an increasing appreciation of cultural diversity and multicultural policies throughout the world. Clearly, in the world today, many societies have had to confront the issue of the increasing cultural diversity due to patterns of immigration, extensive tourism and the flow of displaced persons from many countries of the world. Of even more importance has been the huge increase in cultural exchanges through the internationalisation of  communications and media outlets: Globalisation has thus opened up a range of fundamental questions about human beings - questions which relate to their culture, their ethnicity and to how they are able to retain security in their cultural identity.

These advocates of globalisation do agree with Huntington that questions about the importance of ethnic and cultural identity and its impact on the consciousness of the individual have  become more critical. However, they claim that, whereas earlier in the twentieth century, pressure on cultural identity was extremely reactionary  ( it involved an attempt to impose a monocultural ideal upon the diversity of peoples and cultures, especially when they lived in the one nation-state), the situation is now different. It  is accepted that throughout most of the twentieth century, there were many unhappy situations arising from the failure to come to grips with cultural diversity and ethnic difference. A brief reflection on that history reveals hundreds of examples of ethnic and cultural conflict. It also displays the inability of nations to deal with these conflicts, both within their own borders and as actors on the international stage.

However, Huntington would point out here that, even after the development of  modern globalisation, there has not been a reduction in cultural/ethnic conflicts.

Behaviour directed at limiting, negating and attacking the culture and ethnicity of others continues and even increases. In contrast, proponents of positive globalisation claim that the desire for cultural identity does not necessarily lead to cultural conflict. They believe that the phenomenon of globalisation has led to the increasing acceptance of cultural diversity as a way of resolving these issues. They see the development of the philosophy of multiculturalism has been critical in this matter. This philosophy is based, firstly, on accepting the fact that a person's cultural background and first language are central to that person's beliefs, lifestyles and self-understanding; secondly recognising that modern society requires a form of cultural pluralism, according to which a plethora of culturally different groups are given the freedom to express themselves, through the language and practices associated with their own culture, and thirdly, that this cultural diversity should be respected, maintained and nurtured as an integral part of the national community. According to this definition of multiculturalism, unity in cultural diversity is achieved when individuals and groups have the freedom to identify with certain values, principles and practices which give meaning to their existence, irrespective of the sources of these cultural traditions. This is a specific freedom that is an essential feature of a multicultural society.

Huntington of course objects to all this. He believes that a substantial level of cultural homogeneity is an essential feature of the nation-state and that national identity requires commitment to one cultural form. He is thus opposed to multiculturalism which he sees as mudding the waters.

However the idea of a state based on a single civilization has not always been the norm in human history, as Anthony Birch points out in his book, Nationalism and National Integration

Humanity is not naturally divided into nations. For most of human history, for at least 60,000 years and possibly for twice that period, humanity was divided into small tribes. As populations increased and communications improved, these tribes merged into larger social groupings, but nations are relatively recent and relatively artificial creations. Very few of the national societies that now exist are completely homogenous in a social and cultural sense. With a handful of exceptions, modern nations are an amalgam of historical communities which possessed a fairly clear sense of separate identity in the past but have been brought together by various economic, social and political developments.

Huntington's general approach can thus be attacked on a number of grounds and many theorists have done so. However, he has thrown out a very important challenge. How can we demonstrate that ethnic and cultural diversity will not continue to create massive conflicts in the world community? In his terms, how can we demonstrate that the various civilisations can, and will, be subordinated to the idea of humanity as a whole and hence come to the respect for fundamental human rights and social justice principles. This challenge needs to be taken up in any comprehensive theory of globalisation.

3. A new political World Order or a Multipolar Conflicting System

As we have seen, advocates of positive Globalisation believe that it has strengthened developments in international relations following the end of the Cold War. I have already referred to the re-thinking taking place with the respect to the role of the modern state. This re-thinking also applies to the multinational and international focus of states activities. While Huntington agrees that rethinking is required, he has a different view as tto what is happening and what needs to be done.

Both sides agree that, in the earlier part of this century, before the recent acceleration of globalisation, the Nation State was more powerful. At that time, international issues were considered to be the realm of the sub-discipline entitled variously as International Relations or as Relations between States. Economic and social policy focused on the role of the state in its relation to internal structures; discussion of external structures impacting on states (whether these relations are of a military nature, diplomacy, trade, cultural, legal or other issues and dimensions) was seen as a secondary discipline. In all of this, the sovereignty of the state was rarely questioned.

The advocates of positive globalisation believe that , with the increasing development of international bodies such as the United Nations, we began to see a process of reduction in the absolute power of the nation-state. The view arose that a world organization could achieve its goals simply through a system of principles and regulations, which were intended to apply to the relations between nation-states, but could not be enforced. The sovereign powers of governments and governmental bureaucracies in the nation-states themselves were considered to be the most important factor in sustaining these international relations. According to this model of international relations, the determination of what principles and regulations are adopted in the relations between states, then becomes a matter entirely of the business of the governments of the various states.

However, as we have seen, the rapid development of economic globalisation has significantly eroded the powers of the modern state, especially in relation to economic matters. The need for a more rational and effective response to economic globalisation has intensified the search for common approaches and greater coordination between states. In some cases, multinational bodies (consisting of groups or blocks of nations) were already in existence and were able to be strengthened to deal with economic crises. In other cases, new bodies have been created to deal with the issues at a multinational or international level.

The most dramatic example of these developments is the strengthening of the European Union. In recent times the members of the EU have developed greater economic coordination to deal with the pressures from the international capital markets and the threat of imports from outside of the EU. To be effective, many of the powers who previously belonged to national governments, have now been handed over to political and bureaucratic bodies cantered in Strassburg and Brussels. In the last decade of the twentieth century, there have been attempts to imitate this coordinated multinational approach of the EU with the formation regional economic cooperative arrangements in other parts of the world. The new bodies, such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the North-Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA) have, however, not had the same powers, functions and targets as the EU. Indeed there is considerable opposition to these bodies even adopting the dramatic unifying approaches of Europe and its Union.

On this model, the development of much greater cooperation and coordination in international relations has given impetus to globalisation as an ideal. It is possible to envisage a world in which all governments are working together to achieve certain basic goals for humanity as a whole. But why should we believe that this is likely to take place, given the large differences in the nature of the different cultures of the nation states of the world?

Huntington opposes this model.  He sees globalization of at the political level as having weakened the state and therefore it is has some dangerous dimensions:

The weakening of states and the appearance of "failed states" contribute to a fourth image of a world in anarchy. This paradigm stresses: the breakdown of governmental authority; the breakup of states; the intensification of tribal, ethnic, and religious conflict; the emergence of international criminal mafias; refugees multiplying into the tens of millions; the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction; the spread of terrorism; the prevalence of massacres and ethnic cleansing. This picture of a world in chaos was convincingly set forth and summed up in the titles of two penetrating works published in 1993: Out of Control by Zbignew Brzezinski and Pandaemonium by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Unquestionably, an important aspect of economic globalisation concerns its effect upon the cultural identity of nation-states.  As many commentators have noted, increased economic and cultural interaction has led many individuals around the world to adopt the lifestyle and consumption patterns evident within other nations. Each culture has also been put under pressure because of contact with other cultures through new communications and media outlets.   All societies (to differing degrees) must try to reach a balance between the need for social cohesion in the nation and the increasing diversity of cultural expression.

Huntington believes that this is only a short-term phenomenon -- that the more we understand the existence of other cultures, the more we seek to reinforce our and cultural ideals and identity.  The model of the world that he builds is different.  He would say it is based on a greater recognition of the realities of power and the true course of events. Furthermore Huntington objects to the development of the ideal for New World Order which he sees as a smokescreen for the United States to pursue its own civilizational goals against other civilizations. He says:

In each of these systems, the most powerful actors had an interest in maintaining the system. In a uni-multipolar system, this is less true. The United States would clearly prefer a unipolar system in which it would be the hegemon and often acts as if such a system existed. The major powers, on the other hand, would prefer a multipolar system in which they could pursue their interests, unilaterally and collectively, without being subject to constraints, coercion, and pressure by the stronger superpower. They feel threatened by what they see as the American pursuit of global hegemony. American officials feel frustrated by their failure to achieve that hegemony. None of the principal power-wielders in world affairs is happy with the status quo.


In acting as if this were a unipolar world, the United States is also becoming increasingly alone in the world. American leaders constantly claim to be speaking on behalf of "the international community." But whom do they have in mind? China? Russia? India? Pakistan? Iran? The Arab world? The Association of Southeast Asian Nations? Africa? Latin America? France? Do any of these countries or regions see the United States as the spokesman for a community of which they are a part? The community for which the United States speaks includes, at best, its Anglo-Saxon cousins (Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) on most issues, Germany and some smaller European democracies on many issues, Israel on some Middle Eastern questions, and Japan on the implementation of U.N. resolutions. These are important states, but they fall far short of being the global international community.

On issue after issue, the United States has found itself increasingly alone, with one or a few partners, opposing most of the rest of the world's states and peoples. These issues include U.N. dues; sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and Libya; the land mines treaty; global warming; an international war crimes tribunal; the Middle East; the use of force against Iraq and Yugoslavia; and the targeting of 35 countries with new economic sanctions between 1993 and 1996. On these and other issues, much of the international community is on one side and the United States is on the other.

Now it is pursuing a policy of "global unilateralism," promoting its own particular interests with little reference to those of others. The United States is unlikely to become an isolationist country, withdrawing from the world. But it could become an isolated country, out of step with much of the world.

In the opinion of Prof  Sado, the so-called "Islamic Threat" will disappear naturally if the countries of the Islamic world succeed in the process of industrialization. He states:

This raises a question: Will Islamic civilization prove to be compatible with modern industrial civilization?.. It is true that Islamic civilization as manifested in Middle Eastern countries has a much more constrained attitude toward the people's lifestyle and the organization of social order in general than in Indonesia or Malaysia, and for this reason industrialization may perhaps take longer to achieve. However, this does not mean that Islamic civilization is in fundamental conflict with industrialization per se. Every classic civilization has some aspects which conflict with aspects of modern industrial civilization, and each faces the threat of disintegration caused by the relentless progress of industrialization.

       Solutions? Can there be a Way Forward

It appears at this stage that the theories of the positive globalization  and of Huntington are incompatible - even though both seem to have elements of truth and wisdom. Are they necessarily incompatible?  Or is a synthesis possible?

I believe that such a synthesis can be achieved.  I believe the problem here is that each theory seeks to be universally explanatory, that is, it seeks to explain the totality of international relations. In this they are not successful. However we can separate the theories in the following way. We can begin by seeing world as consisting off contradictory pressures and movements.  Thus, we have all the one hand, movement towards the globalized world based on greater cooperation between states and leading towards the formation of the one humanity.  Globalization theory best captures this movement and is best applied when we seek to understand it.

On the other hand it is foolish to deny that there are significant elements off conflicts between civilizations in the post Cold War.  Fujiyama is wrong to suggest that the end of the Cold War has brought an end to the conflict on ideas and beliefs -  even though the role of traditional political ideologies has been reduced.  Huntington seems right in focusing on the importance of culture,  religion and civilization as the basis of the new conflicts.  This seems to be confirmed by recent  events involving religious fundamentalists in the various regions of the world. They have been active in promoting conflict of civilizations. Here Huntington's theory clearly has some considerable explanatory value.

What we need is to combine the two theories; to apply each of them to the area of phenomena to which they are most relevant . Thus globalization theory tells us about the forces leading to a united world ; Huntington's theory  tells us about the forces leading to civilizational conflict.

Of course the development of a comprehensive theoretical framework is still possible; however, that this is the issue  which can be taken up at another time. Such a framework would, however, have to take into account both theories that we have discussed.

What we really need to address at this point is: how it can we proceed at a practical level to avoid the worst clashes of civilizations (which Huntington foresees) and also avoid the negative impacts of globalization, especially its economic dimension. I can only make some brief remarks about this now; but I wish to take the matter up in the next lecture\ seminar.

We return to the  fact that globalisation means that modern  society now extends beyond the borders of the nation state, and takes us into the globalised international situation, even into the realm of humanity considered as a whole; this is a positive thing. At the same time, economic globalisation, combined with the development of technology, leads to a whole series of problems for humanity in the 21st century. Globalisation also limits the power of the nation state.

We need to address these issues in the context of globalisation theory. ? We need to ask critical questions about the multinational corporations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and other bodies that control international finance, and  the United Nations itself, and many other bodies.

Some have suggested that we try to stop the march of globalisation. While action is required on economic globalisation, it is not a  viable alternative to try to reverse developments such as the new means of communication. What is needed, looking through the lenses of active citizenship, is more democratic control of them so that small elites do not determine what we come to think and feel through our participation in global media.

Globalisation theory suggests some things we can do at the international level. Its supporters believe that we must  seek unprecedented cooperation between nation-states if humanity is to ensure that the processes associated with globalisation do not continue to lead towards increasing economic inequality.  Forget the argument that economic globalisation cannot be blamed for their economic woes.  As this book has sought to demonstrate, whether or not poor and developing nations have been affected by trade and economic interdependence, wealthy countries have a responsibility to address the needs and sufferings of all nations which have been increasingly exposed to a lifestyle that is mostly out of their reach.

Furthermore they argue that a new framework of international relations is possible. The West has used military force to intervene in troublesome spots such as the former Yugoslavia to ensure stability in the European region, and in Iraq for a variety of reasons, including to protect their obvious self-interest of stable and adequate oil supplies.  However,  international leadership requires a different approach.  It requires increased discussion between states and a willingness by the dominant states to create a fairer and more equitable international political and economic environment.  Not to act positively would mean that the forecasts of a clash of civilizations will become an increasing reality. In fact, present international economic and environmental trends have provided the ultimate test for the powerful liberal democratic states that control today's world order.  Only if the rules of the game are to be changed (or at least regulated), in order to address economic inequality and environmental degradation, will the period of civilizational conflicts be overcome.

Positive features of globalisation can then come to the fore in resolving the modern crisis. As the anthropologist Grant Evans noted in 1993:

The idea of spatially fixed unified cultures was…a direct outgrowth of modern nationalism.  Separate states legitimised themselves by making claims to integrated cultures.  The idea of discrete cultures struck a deep chord among the populace of modernising societies, and in that peculiarly modern specialism, anthropology. It continues to do so, as can be seen in the myriad nationalist and micro-nationalist movements in the world today. But now when all nations on earth are becoming increasingly integrated economically, politically and culturally, the idea of a Global village…with a Global Culture has also emerged.  Thus cultural integrity and cultural universalism vie with another for the hearts and minds of the peoples of the world.

In looking at the situation which has arisen with the new emerging globalised power structures, questions arise about the individual's capacity to achieve his or her potential, and the ability to achieve reasonable levels of happiness and self-fulfilment.

It can be argued that globalisation has created new potentialities for human beings to experience and achieve, but they have also created the possibilities for deeper, and perhaps more dreadful, forms of alienation than those which existed earlier in human history.

Supporters ofv Huntington take a different view of the issue of alienation. These people, who promote the idea of the clash of civilizations, often believe that modern alienation indicates that we have been heading towards the breakdown of the very structures of society and that social solidarity needs to be guaranteed. They see human history as leading towards a new set of developments which has increased the alienation of people and has made life more and more unbearable for human beings. It is this that encourages religious fundamentalism. The question is: Even if this is a real propensity, can anything be done about it?   Can we find political ideals to overcome these forms of alienation and thus prevent the clash of civilizations? Huntington suggests that there may be some political solutions. He argues that the USA should act differently in its international; relations, to avoid civilizational clashes:

First, it would behove Americans to stop acting and talking as if this were a unipolar world. It is not. To deal with any major global issue, the United States needs the cooperation of at least some major powers. Unilateral sanctions and interventions are recipes for foreign policy disasters. Second, American leaders should abandon the benign-hegemon illusion that a natural congruity exists between their interests and values and those of the rest of the world. It does not. At times, American actions may promote public goods and serve more widely accepted ends. But often they will not, in part because of the unique moralistic component in American policy but also simply because America is the only superpower, and hence its interests necessarily differ from those of other countries. This makes America unique but not benign in the eyes of those countries.

Richard N. Haass has argued that the United States should act as a global sheriff, rounding up "posses" of other states to handle major international issues as they arise.  (however) Most of the world, as Mandela said, does not want the United States to be its policeman.

As a multipolar system emerges, the appropriate replacement for a global sheriff is community policing, with the major regional powers assuming primary responsibility for order in their own regions…There is no reason why Americans should take responsibility for maintaining order if it can be done locally.

Clearly, the major way forward is to overcome the crisis created by modern spiritual impoverishment. However, in the short term, it is likely that fundamentalism  will spread and become a serious threat. This may lead to significant international conflicts, lasting more than a decade, which could be similar to the conflict between civilizations described by Huntington. The major problem will be: how is modern culture going to provide  sufficient meaning to overcome the poverty of the spirit and to be able to avoid the devastating consequences of the conflicts within and between the  fundamentalists in different  societies.

However, I do not believe that , in the medium term,  a  return to the dogmatic fundamentalist religious beliefs of the past will appeal to the majority of people around the world. Nevertheless, even if we can defeat the various forms of fundamentalism, life under the  current traditional political ideology will continue to be  exposed as insufficient: the problems of meaninglessness will remain entrenched. Neither liberal-democratic political ideology nor fundamentalist religions will be able to deal with the modern rational human being's attempts to find meaning in life.

The general problem thus remains with us: in the face of the inadequacy of traditional liberal-democratic political ideology and the reduced influence of traditional religious beliefs, a vacuum will continue to exist for many human beings in terms of the search of the meaning of their lives. There is  thus  a crucial need lead to recognize the special problem of spiritual poverty and to focus on  new ideas and in philosophy, religion and and political practice which would allow us to at least ameliorate its impact.

A new comprehensive philosophical framework which serves the role of providing ideas, a sense of greater  direction and greater personal meaningfulness for many human beings  is drastically required. Such a framework will need to deal with the religious/metaphysical issues - rather than avoid them. Only in this way can we bring society much closer together - to create a greater sense of solidarity and to provide a more meaning for all the individual citizens within society.  I believe that this is the major challenge of the 21st century.

Even without the resolution of the fundamental metaphysical questions, I believe that there are some possible ways forward here. Part of this involves developing a commitment to a Multicultural World  - a topic I shall take up in the next Public Seminar.

Copyright: Andrew Theophanous