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The Transposition of the World

The Transposition of the World

No. 4, Mar.-Apr. 2017 » Bridging News

In his paper, Ideology, Religion and Politics: Evolution of a Concept (Ideologia, religia și politica: evoluția unui concept), Associate Professor of Comparative Government and Politics Jeffrey Evan Key said:

“Ideology, religion and politics all shape people's attitudes about the way that governments are organized and operate and the roles of rulers and citizens. Though they are related concepts, this relationship has evolved over time. Ideology, religion and politics have varied in their relative importance and sometimes become intertwined. Early in the 21st century, the ties between them are once again in a state of flux. Understanding this complex relationship is important to comprehend such issues as the recurrence of terrorist attacks in the Western world and the new political values ​​espoused during the US Presidential elections in 2016 and beyond. In this, I refer you to a recent article written by Dani Rodrik, a Harvard University professor, titled The Future of Europe remains uncertain (Viitorul Europei rămâne nesigur), published by the World Economic Forum[1]

One religion and coexistence 

The dynamics of inter-religious dialogue have accelerated over the past decades. This is necessary for the management of the negative externalities of religious diversity in order minimize or avoid the recurring violence that accompanies it.

The dynamics of inter-religious dialogue have accelerated over the past decades. This is necessary for the management of the negative externalities of religious diversity in order minimize or avoid the recurring violence that accompanies it. The issue may also be an intentional and / or unintended consequence of globalization to make religions more aware of their global value. Also, the increasingly violent expression of religious identity may also be an undesirable consequence of the disturbance of traditional communities after the dissolution of the old Cold War ideological borders, the challenges amplified by the economic marginalization that emerged as a result of the economic and financial crises at the end of the last decade, as well as the stress caused to individuals by these globalizing communities in the metropolitan spaces (those psychosocial disorders: from burn-out to borre-out), all of which lead to the amplification of cultural-religious characteristics and identities. In support of this, I submit to your attention the Global Terrorism Index (Indexul Terorismului la nivel Global) of 2016, by the Institute for Economics and Peace in Sydney, Australia. Therefore, the interaction between religion and globalization stimulates the emergence of new opportunities and challenges. For instance, as various cultural commentators decry the superficially American global cultural commoditization replacing local culture, so too have some specialists sounded an alarm for how globalization and the vast financial resources of certain actors enable extreme branches of the Islamic faith, such as Wahhabism, to displace locally evolved practices and variants of Islam. These variants had been adapted to the prior culture of the region and had grown in co-existence, sometimes happy, other times uneasy, with other groups. Through globalization, many more people visit the Holy Sites in Saudi Arabia and are exposed to Wahhabism and the attendant instruments for its spread and return to their communities with newfound social authority on the practice of religion derived from the status of pilgrim and with resources.

To support the meaning of this transformation through more practical examples, I will refer to Andrew Orton's study, titled Interconfessional Dialogue: Seven Key Questions for Theory, Politics and Practice (Dialogul interconfesional: șapte întrebări-cheie pentru teorie, politică și practică), in which he states that interconfessional dialogue is increasingly recognized by Governments in Europe as essential for the development of cohesive communities in the context of the heterogeneity of emerging demographics. 

Shifting paradigms 

The interaction between religion and globalization stimulates the emergence of new opportunities and challenges. For instance, as various cultural commentators decry the superficially American global cultural commoditization replacing local culture, so too have some specialists sounded an alarm for how globalization and the vast financial resources of certain actors enable extreme branches of the Islamic faith, such as Wahhabism, to displace locally evolved practices and variants of Islam.

Returning to the ideological dimension of evolutionary analysis, we must remind ourselves that the last decade of the prior century was strongly marked by two works: that of Francis Fukuyama who proclaimed in his book “The End of History” (1992) that the end of the Cold War marked the removal of ideological struggle with Western democratic liberalism as a historical apotheosis and endpoint, and Samuel P. Huntington's direct response in the form of the “The Conflict of Civilizations” (1993) and then his work in 1996, “...and the remodeling of the world order”, claiming that the distinctly modern and transitional conflict between ideologies of Western derivation is being replaced by the reasserting old conflict between civilizations. With the exception of Maoist ideologies, which continued to guide rebel groups in several remote countries, such as Peru and Nepal, the age of distinct ideology and its proselytizing seemed to be at an end.

However, at the same time, the religious phenomenon which had been steadily revived by most of the great organized religions of the world took center stage, bringing new vigor and motivations to human struggle. After being almost silenced in the history of the modern Western state by the increase and deepening of the role of politics and later technocracy in the definition of new state structures, and “undercut” globally through Western ideological imperialism, religion has in recent times been in tandem with the “demythization” of political leadership. After what we may term a “glacial period” brought on by the bipolar world, religion began to recover its place as a driver of political energy. Political movements from former colonies turned to religion to define their cultural identity, from which would flow a political identity (it is sufficient to remind readers of groups like the former Boko Haram or Al-Shabaab). Even in the West, the secular religion guiding, for instance, the American political establishment, was being undermined by an increasing disconnect between the elites and the voters and the gradual coarsening and cynicism of political dialogue and the political process in view of the voters themselves. This is a historic reversal of the trend where the secularization of the public sphere was accompanied by the added emphasis on “civil religions” as American sociologist Robert Bellah called the phenomenon in the US and France.

The last decade of the prior century was strongly marked by two works: that of Francis Fukuyama who proclaimed in his book “The End of History” (1992) that the end of the Cold War marked the removal of ideological struggle with Western democratic liberalism as a historical apotheosis and endpoint, and Samuel P. Huntington's direct response in the form of the “The Conflict of Civilizations” (1993) and then his work in 1996, “...and the remodeling of the world order”, claiming that the distinctly modern and transitional conflict between ideologies of Western derivation is being replaced by the reasserting old conflict between civilizations.

At a time when the phenomenon of globalization has not fully completed its process, the world's religions seek to use the advanced communication channels to focus on humanist and pluralist forms of their teachings, values ​​such as dignity and human freedom, religious diversity and avoiding violence. Nearly two decades ago, the UN launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a plan to improve human well-being. The MDGs set ambitious targets for poverty reduction, universal education, gender equality and much more. Religious communities play an essential role in promoting the achievement of the MDGs through the capacity of their members, their leaders, and the vast networks they can activate for support, education and action campaigns. In other words, religion should be open to all traditions. In fact, although they are framed by doctrines derived from sacred and well-defined texts and traditions, the great religions of the world do not espouse rigidity in interpretations of beliefs. This highlights the fact that their beliefs can be rediscovered, reinvented, and reconciled.

In 2014, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the publication of the essay, Fukuyama published an article in The Wall Street Journal, reiterating the hypothesis:

“Twenty-five years later, the most serious threat to the end-of-history hypothesis isn't that there is a higher, better model out there that will someday supersede liberal democracy; neither Islamist theocracy nor Chinese capitalism cuts it. Once societies get on the up escalator of industrialization, their social structure begins to change in ways that increase demands for political participation. If political elites accommodate these demands, we arrive at some version of democracy”.

The core of change 

After what we may term a “glacial period” brought on by the bipolar world, religion began to recover its place as a driver of political energy. Political movements from former colonies turned to religion to define their cultural identity, from which would flow a political identity.

Science and technology will play a critical global role in this transformation. The disruptive forces will include the rapid technological change, as well as the transition from the era of informatics to an age of life sciences, mapping and loading of the human brain, and the emergence of new materials, only to reference some of the dimensions that we can already anticipate in present times. These developments, combined with the changes we mentioned – economic, political, environmental and socio-demographic – will cause fundamental changes to society. Nowadays, we can no longer talk about science, innovation, economy, security and politics as independent concepts. All of them are more interconnected than we are even aware of at the moment.

Rohit Talwar, strategic consultant, futurist, author and editor of Fast Future, Accelerating Innovation, said: “The next 5-10 years could bring a higher level of change for individuals, society, business and government than the last fifty years”. On the same scale, Robert M. Goldman, Global President of the International Medical Commission, advanced a similar view, saying: “Software will cause disruption of traditional industries over the next 5-10 years”. His views were published within the LinkedIn social media network under the title Predictions about the Future, and influenced the agenda of numerous debates.

Both governments and companies develop prospective strategies, based on examples of practical cases. These companies, cities, and intelligent states use economic and scientific predictions to respond to the factors behind change and thus to create their future.           

Sectors such as IT & C, financial services, the emergence of new industrial materials along with education, transport, retail, tourism and professional services will mark the future of urban areas by generating a new, integrated, sustainable economic, social and ecological model.

Time will move from a traditional calendar, based on the relationship with external nature, to the one based on the project (we can say that this was launched by integrating the economic concept of Summer Time or, in its Anglo-Saxon version, of Daylight Saving Time (DST); returning to religious aspects, in some states, during the Ramadan period, this convention is not taken into account).

The rethinking of the institutional model is already happening. Last year, the day before the election in the United States, in a debate launched by the Aspen Institute, American advisors advanced the idea of a fundamental change that would take place in electoral systems in the future.

Organizations will be built in order to generate innovation in a rapidly changing world. Also, time will change the prospect of welfare and provide ways to improve the development and success rate of innovative start-ups within the new economy.

Venture capital (VC) is already financing innovation and will soon face the challenge of crowd funding, which will change access to capital and distribute the risk of venture capital.

As was already mentioned in prior articles, state actors, such as the Finnish government, are preparing and anticipating the new wave; and I would also refer readers to the prospective "100 Opportunities for Finland and the World", a Radical Technology Inquirer (RTI) for anticipating / evaluating technological breakthroughs. The study is already being analyzed to adapt to a European vision. 

Reflections for and from Romania 

So where is Romania's place? In Romania, we praise the intelligence and potential of our young people, but for the time being, we do not have a systemic vision of the way forward. In Romania, we still respond to archaic, ideological stimuli.

So where is Romania's place? In Romania, we praise the intelligence and potential of our young people, but for the time being, we do not have a systemic vision of the way forward. In Romania, we still respond to archaic, ideological stimuli.

Until now, the world has been running at two speeds: one of breakneck innovation and another of security threats, especially in the classical sense. Even though they are intrinsically linked, they represent two different worlds with different advocates and incentives. Which one will conquer or neutralize the other?

The choice of Trump in the United States and the major international impact of his decisions have generated a lot of rumors, uncertainty, restlessness: will America really change its optics or just reformulate its set of negotiating tools?

I will conclude this multifaceted observation by referring to the work of historian Timothy Snyder of Yale University, titled “20 Lessons of the Twentieth Century on how to defend the democracy of authoritarianism”:

1. Do not submit to aggressors in advance. 2. Defend an institution. 3. Recall your professional ethics and the professionalism. 4. When you listen to politicians, distinguish between words. 5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. 6. Be kind to our language. 7. Stand out. Someone has to. 8. Believe in truth. 9. Investigate. 10. Practice corporeal politics and do not engage just in front of the screen. 11. Make eye contact and small talk. 12. Take responsibility for the world. 13. Hinder the one-party state. 14. Give regularly to good causes. 15. Set up a private life. 16. Learn from others in other countries. 17. Beware of paramilitaries. 18. Be reflective if you must be armed. 19. Be as courageous as you can. 20. Be a patriot.

 


[1]
Just to give a simple example of understanding, in the extended and revised 2015 edition of the Marine Corps University, first published in 2011, author Michael Eisenstadt discusses Iran's unique approach to state, strategy and use of force. One of his insights – politics in the Islamic Theocratic Republic of Iran (IRI) is based, paradoxically, on the secular concept of raison d'etat, rather than on religious or ideological imperatives, although this pragmatic approach coexists unconditionally with the rigid doctrine of the "resistance".

 
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