The West and its Challenge
What Do We Understand By “The West”?
The term “the West” can be construed in different ways. Thus, we should first of all sharpen what we understand by that term and how the concept has evolved historically.
It is perfectly evident that “the West” is not a purely geographical term. The sphericity of the Earth makes such a definition simply incorrect: that which is for one point the West is for another the East. But nobody includes this sense in the concept of “the West.” Although on closer examination, we shall discover here one important circumstance: the conception of “the West” takes by default as its zero-line, from which are set its coordinates, precisely Europe. And it is by accident that the zero-line meridian passes through Greenwich, in accord with an international convention. Euro-centrism is already built in to this very procedure.
Although many ancient states (Babylon, China, Israel, Russia, Japan, Iran, Egypt, etc.) thought of themselves as “the centre of the world”, “middle empires”, “celestial”, “kingdoms under the sun”, in international practice, Europe became the central coordinate; more narrowly, Western Europe did. Precisely from there it is customary to set a vector in the direction of the East and a vector in the direction of the West. It happens, then, that even in the narrow geographical sense we see the world from a Euro-centric point of view, and that which it is accepted to call “the West” at the same time presents itself as the centre, “the middle.”
Europe and Modernity
In a historical sense, Europe became that territorial space where the transition from traditional society to the society of Modernity occurred. What's more, such a transition was accomplished thanks to the development of tendencies autochtonic to European culture and European civilization. Developing in a specific direction principles laid up in Greek philosophy and Roman law, through the interpretation of Christian teaching – at first in the Catholic-Scholastic, and later in the Protestant key – Europe came to create a model of society unique among other civilizations and cultures. This society in the first place:
• Was built on secular (atheistic) bases;
• Proclaimed the idea of social and technical progress;
• Created the foundations of the contemporary scientific view of the world;
• Developed and introduced a model of political democracy;
• Regarded as of paramount importance capitalistic (market) relations;
Transitioned from an agrarian to an industrial economy.
In one word, namely Europe became the space of the contemporary world.
Inasmuch as in the borders of Europe itself the more avant-garde zones of development of the paradigm of Modernity were such countries as England, Holland and France, finding themselves to the West of Central (and especially Eastern) Europe, the concepts “Europe” and “the West” gradually became synonyms: the properly speaking “European”, as different from other cultures, consisted precisely in the transition from traditional society to the society of Modernity, while this, in turn, occurred first of all in the European West.
Thus, the term “the West” from the 17th to the 18th centuries acquires a precise civilizational sense, becoming a synonym of “Modernity”, “modernization”, “progress”; social, industrial, economic and technological development. From now on, all that was involved in the processes of modernization was automatically attached to the West. “Modernization” and “Westernization” proved to be synonymous.
The Idea of “Progress” as the Basis for Political Colonization and Cultural Racism
The identity of “modernization” and “Westernization” requires some clarifications, which will lead us to very important practical conclusions. The thing is that the formation in Europe of the unprecedented civilization of the modern era [lit: the new time], the establishment of “Modernity”, led to a particular cultural arrangement, which at first formed the self-consciousness of the Europeans themselves, but later also of all those who found themselves under their influence. With this establishment is advanced the sincere conviction that the path of development of Western culture, and especially the transition from traditional society to contemporary society, is not only a peculiarity of Europe and the narods that populate it, but a universal law of development, obligatory for all other countries and narods. Europeans, “people of the West”, were the first to pass through this decisive phase, but all others are fatally doomed to go along the same path; inasmuch as such is the supposedly “objective” logic of world history, “progress” demands it.
The idea arises that the West is the obligatory model of the historical development of all mankind, and world history – as in the past, so in the present and future – is conceived of as a repetition of those stages that the West, in its development, already passed through or is presently approaching, in advance of all others. Everywhere where Europeans bumped into “non-Western” cultures, which preserved “traditional society” and its way, they made an unequivocal diagnosis: “barbarism”, “savagery”, “backwardness”, “absence of civilization”, “sub-normality.” Thus, gradually the West became the idea of a normative criteria for the evaluation of the narods and cultures of the entire world. The further they were from the West (in its newest historical phase), the more “defective” and “inferior” they were thought to be.
The Archaic Roots of Western Exclusiveness
It is interesting to analyze the origin of this universalist arrangement, in which the stages of development of the West and the generally obligatory logic of world history are identified.
The deepest and most archaic roots can be found in the cultures of ancient tribes. It is characteristic of ancient societies to identify the concept of “man” with the concept of “belonging to the tribe”, “to the ethnos”, which leads at times to their denying the member of another tribe the status of “man”, or placing him wittingly on an inferior hierarchical level. Tribesmen from other tribes or enslaved narods became by this logic the class of serfs, carried beyond the boundaries human society, deprived of all kinds of rights and privileges. This model – fellow tribesmen=people, foreign tribesmen=not people – lies at the foundation of the social, legal and political institutions of the past, which was analyzed in detail by Hegel (in particular, by the Hegelian A. Kojeve), examining the pair of figures, Master-Slave. The Master was everything; the Slave, nothing. The status of man belonged to the Master as a privilege. The Slave was equated, even legally, to domesticated livestock or to an object of production.
This model of domination proved much steadier than one could have thought, and it moved on in modified form into the modern era [lit: the new time]. Thus arose the complex of ideas, which paradoxically combined democracy and freedom within European societies themselves with rigid racist arrangements and cynical colonization in their relations with other - “less developed” - narods.
It is significant that the institution of slavery, and that on racial grounds, after more than a thousand year gap, returns in Western societies – in the first place in the USA, but also in the countries of Latin America – precisely in the modern era, in the epoch of the spreading of democratic and liberal ideas. Moreover, the theory of “progress” serves, actually, as a basis for the inhuman exploitation by Europeans and white Americans of aboriginals: Native Indians and African slaves.
An impression begins to form, that by the formation of the civilization of the modern era in Europe, the model of the Master-Slave is transferred from Europe itself to the rest of the world in the form of colonial politics.
Empire and its Influence on the Contemporary Westernization
Another important source of this influence was the idea of Empire, which Europeans explicitly rejected at the dawn of the modern era, but which penetrated into the unconscious of Western man. Empire – as the Roman, so later, also the Christian (the Byzantine in the East and the Holy Roman Empire of German nations in the West) – was thought of as the Universe, inside of which live people (citizens), while beyond its limits live “subhumans”, “barbarians”, “heretics”, “gentiles” or even fantastic objects: man-eaters, monsters, vampires, “Gog and Magog”, and so on. Here the tribal division between one's own (people) and strangers (non-people) is carried over to a higher and more abstract plane: citizens of empire (participants in the Universe) and non-citizens (inhabitants of the global periphery).
This stage of generalization concerning who is and who is not to be counted a person, can be looked at entirely as a transitional stage between the archaic and the contemporary West. Having formally rejected Empire, together with its religious foundations, contemporary Europe wholly preserved imperialism, only transferring it to the level of values and interests. Progress and technological development were henceforth thought of as a European mission, in the name of which a planetary colonization strategy was unfurled.
Thus, the modern era [lit: the new time], having broken away formally from traditional society, transferred some basic arrangements of precisely that traditional society (the archaic division into the pair person/non-person on ethnic grounds; the model of the Slave-Master; the imperialist identification of its civilization with the Universe and of all others with “savages”; and so on) to the new conditions of life. The West as an idea and as a planetary strategy became an ambitious project of the new establishment of a world government, this time raised to the status of the “enlightenment”, “development” and “progress” of all humanity. This is a kind of “humanitarian imperialism”.
It is important that the thesis about progress was not a simple cover for the egoistic predatory interests of Western people in their colonial expansion. Faith in the universalism of Western values and in the logic of historical development was entirely sincere. Interests and values coincided in this instance. This gave tremendous energy to the trailblazers, sailors, travellers and businessman of the West to settle the planet; they sought not only profits, but also carried enlightenment to the “savages.”
Cruel robbery, cynical exploitation and a new wave of slave holding, together with the modernization and technological development of colonial territories, all together formed the basis of the West as an idea and as global practice.
Modernization: Endogenous and Exogenous
Here we should make one important observation. Starting from the 16th century, the process of planetary modernization begins to unfold from the territory of Western Europe. It strictly coincides with the colonization by the West of new lands, where, as a rule, narods preserving the foundations of traditional society are living. But gradually modernization affects everyone: both Westerners and non-Westerners. In one way or another, everyone is modernized. But the essence of this process remains different in different cases.
In the West itself - in the first place in England, France, Holland and especially the USA, a country built as a laboratory experiment of the Modern Era [lit: the New Time] on supposedly “empty land”, “from a blank page” - modernization is distinguished by an endogenous character. It grows from the consistent development of cultural, social, religious and political processes, contained in the very foundations of European society. This does not come about everywhere simultaneously and with one and the same intensity – here there evidently lag behind such narodi as the Germans, Spaniards and Italians, with whom modernization proceeds in a somewhat slower rhythm than it does with their European neighbours from the West. Still, the modern era for European narodi ensues from their internal time-table and in correspondence with the natural logic of their development. The modernization of the countries and narodi of Europe emerges according to internal laws. Being unfolded from objective preconditions and corresponding to the will and mood of the majority of European people, it is endogenous – that is, having an internal principle.
It is a completely different matter with those countries and narodi that are pulled into the process of modernization despite their will, becoming victims of colonization or else being reluctant to oppose European expansion. Of course, conquering countries and narodi or sending black slaves to the USA, the people of the West further the process of modernization. Together with the colonial administration, they bring out new orders and foundations, and also the technique and logic of economic processes, mores, social-political structures, and legal institutions. Black slaves, especially after the victory of the abolitionist North, became members of a more developed society (although they also remain second-grade people) than the archaic tribes of Africa, from which they had been taken by slave traders. The fact of the modernization of colonies and of enslaved nations cannot be denied. The West even in this case proves to be the motor of modernization. But this last point is very specific. It can be called exogenous – that is, occurring from without, stuck on, brought in.
Non-Western narodi and cultures remain in the conditions of traditional society, developing in concord with their own cycles and their own inner logic. There, there are also periods of ascent and decline, religious reforms and internal discord, economic catastrophes and technical discoveries. But these rhythms correspond to a different, non-Western model of development, follow a different logic, are directed to different goals and decide different problems.
Exogenous modernization – and its foundational quality consists in this – does not emerge from the internal needs and natural development of traditional society, which, when left to itself, probably would never have come to those structures and models, which were put together in the West. In other words, such modernization is coerced and stuck on from without.
Consequently, the synonymous series modernization=Westernization can be continued: it is also colonization (the introduction of external authority). The oppressed majority of mankind, excluding the Europeans and the direct descendents of the colonizers of America, were subjected to precisely this violent, coerced, external modernization. It had an impact on the traumatic and internal inconsistencies of the majority of contemporary societies of Asia, the East and the Third World. This is sick Modernity, the caricatural West.
Two Types of Society with Exogenous Modernization
Now, in all societies exposed to exogenous modernization, one can distinguish two big classes:
• Those that have preserved political-economic independence (or which strove for it in anti-colonial wars);
• Those that lost political-economic independence.
If we consider the second case, we are dealing with a pure colony, which has completely lost its independence and which is no more participating in the values of the Modern Era than Indians on North American reservations. Such societies can be archaic (like some African, South American or Pacific tribes), but they in part intersect with higher technological and rather modernized structures, unfolded on that same territorial space by the colonizers. Here there is almost no semantic intersection between the indigenous folk and the modernizers: the status of local societies barely differs from the status of inhabitants of zoological gardens, or in the best case of a conservation area, populated by endangered species (marked in the “red book” of nature). In this situation, modernization does not concern the local population, which continues not to notice it, bumping up only against technical restrictions, in the guise of barbed wire and iron lattice cells.
When we are dealing with a society that has obligatorily traversed a specific path along the lines of Westernization and exogenous modernization, but has done this in response to the threat of colonization from Europe (the West) and managed to preserve its independence, the process of modernization (=Westernization) acquires a more complicated character. One can call this: “defensive modernization”.
Here the centre of attentions turns out to be the balance between values peculiar to traditional society, subject to preservation for the support of identity, and those imported models and systems, which it is necessary to import from the West for the creation of prerequisites and conditions for partial (defensive) modernization. At the same time, subjectivity is preserved in such societies, which determine their own interests, predetermining the keenness of opposition to the colonial initiatives of the West.
Thus, the following picture emerges: in order to defend its interests before the face of Western onslaught, a country (society) is compelled to adopt certain values from that very same West, but to combine them with their original values. Huntington called this phenomenon “modernization without Westernization”.
Incidentally, such a concept carries in itself a few contradictions: inasmuch as modernization and Westernization are essentially synonymous (The West=Modernity), it is impossible to built modernization in separation from the West and without the copying of its values. In traditional societies, remaining outside of the natural habitat of European culture, the preconditions for modernization are simply absent. That's why we are not talking about a complete rejection of “Westernization,” but of such a balance between one's values and those imposed from the West that would satisfy the conditions for the preservation of identity (difference from the West – what's most, on the level of principle!) and the development of defensive technologies, capable of competing with the West in basic vital regions (which is impossible to accomplish without an intensive inclusion in the “Western” context). It turns out, then, that such a variety of exogenous modernization is founded on presence of independent interests (principally different from those of the colonizing intentions of the West) and on the combination of one's own interests with the pragmatically imported values of the West. (We can say that this is “modernization+partial Westernization.”)
Into this category of exogenous modernization fall such countries as Russia (throughout the entire course of the Modern Era, which affords by itself a sufficiently unique case!), but also contemporary China, India, Brazil, Japan, some Islamic countries, the countries of the Pacific region (entering into this process much later – in the last century). Besides Russia, the rest of the countries travelling down this road were at specific times colonies of the West and received independence relatively recently, or (like Japan) they suffered defeat in war and were occupied.
In any case, this type of exogenous modernization brings to the forefront the question of the balance of one's own and foreign interests; that is, the problem of the proportion and quality of elements, belonging to two cultural-historical and civilizational forms, the local, conservative foundations of traditional society and the so-called “universal” and “progressive” models of Western civilization.
The most important thing consists in this proportion, which constitutes the essence of the relations between Russia and the West.
We shall return to this a little later, but will first make a few geopolitical observations.
The Conception of “West” and “East” in the Yalta Accords
Now let us consider the geopolitical aspects of the problems we've been discussing and the transformation of the concept of “the West” in the 20th century, which is related to them.
After the end of the Second World War the concept started to be applied geo-politically to the totality of developed countries that had set out on the capitalistic path of development. This was one correction of the concept. Such a “West” is practically identical with capitalism and liberal-democratic ideology. Those countries that moved forward along this path further than the others, were in fact thought of as “the West” in the construction of a two-poled world, called also “Yaltic” (from the location of the conference of the heads of those counties in the anti-Hitler coalition, who had foreordained the map of the world in the second half of the 20th century: Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill).
This time the concept of “the West” differs partially from the one we provided earlier. First, even the communist regimes belonged ideologically to “the West” in the broad sense – in the first place the USSR – insofar as they adopted “Western European” theories of socialism and communism (built on observations concerning the history of political-economic developments of namely Western societies, together with a corresponding faith in progress and the universalism of these regularities for all humanity). But Marxism, meanwhile, became the favourite model for the modernization of traditional societies; a model that could combine the maintenance of their own geopolitical interests and the partial preservation of local traditional values with the powerful, imported apparatus of modernizing and peculiarly Western ideas, structures, interests and theories. Thus, Marxism - Soviet, Chinese (Maoism), Vietnamese, North Korean, and so on – should be examined as variants of exogenous modernization, of which we spoke above. What's more, from the point of view of technological and ideological competition, this project proved relatively successful.
Although dogmatic Marxism pretended that it would replace capitalism with itself once capitalism had reached the critical stage in its implementation, in practice everything happened entirely differently: communist parties won in those societies where capitalism was in rudimentary condition, while traditional society (agrarian, in the first place) prevailed both in the economic and cultural sense. In other words, the realized, victorious Marxism was the refutation of the theory of its ideological founder, and on the other hand, the history of capitalist societies shows that the predictions of Marx that the inevitability in them of the proletarian revolution has been disproved by time. Marx insisted that the proletarian revolution could not occur in Russia (and in other countries with a predominance of “the Asian mode of production”), but it happened namely here. In societies with developed capitalism, nothing similar happened.
From this only one conclusion suggests itself: Marxism in communist regimes was not what it proclaimed of itself, but only a model of exogenous modernization, in which Western values were adopted only partially and were tacitly combined with local religious-eschatological and messianic tendencies. In whole, this procedure of specific modernization - alter-modernization along the socialistic (totalitarian), but not along capitalistic (democratic) path – served for the defence of the geopolitical and strategic interests of independent states, which were striving to repel the colonial attacks of Europe and (later) America.
The strategic block formed around the USSR, the avante-garde of this alter-modernization, was called, after the Second World War, “the East”. Although such talk was really about a variant of exogenous modernization, formally the Marxist system of values was based on the paradigm of the Modern Era in just such a degree as were capitalist societies. Sometimes, in the politology of the Yalta period, instead of the formula of “the East” (“the communist East”, “the Eastern Bloc”) the expression “the Second World” was used, which is more precise and embraces countries that took in accelerated industrialization with partial and rather specific modernization (of the communist kind), and – the most important! - managed to preserve geopolitical independence, having avoided (or freed themselves from) direct colonization.
In such a case, the concept “Third World” acquires significance.
“The First World,” that is, “the West” in the terminology of the post-War period, is the countries with endogenous modernization (Europe, America), and also the one case of exogenous, but extremely successful technological modernization in the guise of the occupation of Japan, which was able to direct the internal energies of a conquered nation to massive economic growth by Western standards. But at the same time Japan lost its geopolitical independence and in the strategic sense became a resigned and fractured colony of the USA.
“The Second World” signifies the countries of exogenous modernization that managed to avail themselves of the totalitarian-socialist methods of modernization, with the partial and relatively successful borrowing of Western technology and the preservation of independence from the capitalist West. This, in the understanding of the Yalta-based world, was called “the East.”
And finally, “the Third World” referred to countries of exogenous modernization that dropped behind the development of both the “First” and of the “Second” world, did not possess complete sovereignty, preserved the foundations of traditional society and were squeezed to rely on either “the West” or “the East,” thus representing in themselves colonies, subordinate to the one or the other.
And so, if we limit our considerations to the conditions of “the Cold War” (the two-poled world), then the concept of “the West” in this case will emerge as a synonymous with the capitalist camp, “the First World,” including the more developed and richer countries of North America, Europe and Japan.
The intellectual headquarters of the integration of “the First World,” “the West” in this concrete sense, was the Trilateral Commission, created on the foundations of the American Council on Foreign Relations, and composed of representatives of the elites of the USA, Europe and Japan. Thus, a specific segment of intellectuals, bankers, politicians, and scholars of “the West,” starting from the 1960s, took on itself historical responsibility for the process of globalization and the creation of a “world government” on the basis of the final victory of “the West” over the rest of the world, in the geopolitical, moral, economic and ideological senses.
In the 1990s “the West” Becomes Globalization
Still another transformation of the concept of “the West” was put to the test in the 1990s, when the architecture of the bi-polar (Yalta-based) world collapsed. From then on, the liberal-capitalist model became the most important and the only one, communism as a project of alter-modernization came to a crash, notwithstanding the competition, and the military-political and economic might of the USA irrefutably surpassed the positions of all other countries. The one-sided capitulation of the USSR and the Warsaw Bloc in “the Cold War” with the parallel dissolution opened the path of globalization and the construction of a unipolar world . The American philosopher, neoconservative Francis Fukuyama, started speaking of “the end of history,” of “the replacement of politics by economics,” and “the transformation of the planet into a unified and homogenous market”.
This meant that the concept “the West” transformed into a global and sole concept, inasmuch as nothing more contended against not only the very idea of modernization, but also its more orthodox, historically more “Western”, liberal-capitalist project. So successful and weighty a victory of “the West” over “the East” - that is, of “the First World” over “the Second” - essentially liquidated the alternatives to modernization, made it the one and only uncontested substance of world history. Everyone who wanted to remain plugged in to “the contemporary” had to recognize this unconditional preeminence of “the West,” to express loyalty to it, and also once and for all to repudiate all their own interests, even if different in some aspects, or – all the more so – going contrary to the interests of the USA (or, more broadly, the countries of the NATO bloc) as the flag-bearers of the unipolar world.
Henceforth the problem was put only in this way: into what segment of the global “West” will one or another country, one or another government, be integrated? If modernization and, correspondingly, Westernization were introduced successfully, then the opportunity appeared of integrating with “the golden billion” or the zone of “the Rich North”. If for some reason this did not turn out, there remained integration into the belt of the world periphery, into the zone of “the Poor South”. Meanwhile, the planetary differentiation of labour offered the promise of modernization even for “the Poor South”, but this time in accordance with the colonial scenario, when political slavery was replaced with economic slavery, while the import of Western cultural standards methodically eradicated indigenous values (thus, the residents of South Korea, having received a vigorous impulse of exogenous modernization of the colonial type, together with volatile economic growth, knocked together with an almost total dissemination of Protestantism amidst traditional, shamanistic, Buddhist and Confucian society). The plugging in of all countries into the global West did not guarantee anything, but it gave them a chance.
There occurred reforms in Russia, too, in this same vein; having appeared as a new organization after the fall of the USSR, which, in its turn, inherited the Russian Empire geopolitically. Russia also tried to integrate with the global West, counting on a place in “the Rich North” and hoping to “make communion” to modernization in its main (capitalist), but not roundabout (socialist) path. Meanwhile, Russia, like all other countries, was given the offer at first to reject global pretensions, and later even local ones, delighting in the role of strategic satellite of the USA among still less modernized nations, without any special privileges whatever. Essentially, external controls were brought into the country.
And, correspondingly, the ruling authority accommodated the colonial elite, reformers-Westerners and oligarchs, which thought of themselves as managers working for the global transnational corporations with headquarters on the other side of the Atlantic.
At the beginning of the 1990s, when “the end of history” seemed not only rather close at hand, but practically accomplished, the concept of “the West” almost overlapped with the concept “world”, which was nailed down in the term “globalization”.
Globalization represents the last point in the practical realization of the foundational pretensions of “the West” to the universality of its historical experience and its system of values.
Penetrating into various societies and cultures, combining humanitarian projects with colonial methods of satisfying their own interests (in the first place in the sphere of natural resources,) the process of globalization made “the West” a global concept. The world by leaps and bounds moved to a unipolar model, where the developed centre (USA the nucleus, trans-Atlantic society) concerned itself with the underdeveloped periphery .
At length, a model was built up, described in the classic text, Huntington's “Clash of Civilizations”, “the West and all the rest.” But in the model of globalization, these “all the rest” are looked at in no way other than in relation to “the West”; this is also “the West”, only underdeveloped and imperfect – a kind of “half-West.”
And here already in new historical conditions and across a line of transformations and semantic alterations we bump up anew against the cultural racism and liberal-democratic secular “messianism” that we discovered among the sources of the epoch of Modernity and in the initial definition of the concept of “the West.”
Post-Modernity and “the West”
One more interesting process occurred in the 1990s concerning the content of the concept “modernization”. Modernization, which was carried out at various speeds and with various characteristics in one way or another in the whole world from the start of the Modern Era in Western Europe, approached to its own logical completion at the end of the 20th century. What's more, this naturally happened in the West itself: the one who before others and according to natural principles proceeded to the modernization of traditional society reached the finish first. Thus, overcoming both the inertia of the resistance of conservative structures, and, at a specific time, and very effectively, competition from the side of socialist alter-modernization, Modernity in its liberal-capitalist form reached its determinate limits and the end of the implementation of its program: the direct opposition of alternative ideologies was broken, while the overcoming of the global periphery's passive resistance became a technical matter. And there, where it was still preserved, it could be equated to the “inertial reaction of objective surroundings”, but not to a competitive strategy. The battle against traditional society and its attempts to be presented in a new guise (alter-modernization, socialism) ended with the victory of liberalism. And in the West itself, modernization reached its internal limits, having reached the lowest point of Western culture.
This condition of the final exhaustion of the agenda for the process of modernization generated a rather specific phenomenon in the West: Post-Modernity.
The gist of Post-Modernity consists in the fact that the end of the modernization of traditional societies carries the people of the West into principally new conditions. One can liken this long process to the accomplishment of an intended purpose. People, arranged on a train, travelling to an incredibly distant station, become so used to the movement, which does not cease for a few generations, that they cannot imagine life differently. They see existence as development, turned to a distant reference point, about which all remember, to which all stream, but which all the time still remains very remote. And suddenly the train arrives at the final station. Platform, station-house...the goal has been reached, the problems, decided...but people have become so accustomed to moving all the time that they cannot come into themselves after the shock of colliding with their realized dream. When the goal is reached, there is nowhere else to strive for, nowhere to go, nothing to move toward. Progress reached its maximum point. Precisely this is “the end of history”, or “post-history” (A. Gelen, G. Vattimo, J. Baudrillard).
By this metaphor, one can completely describe the condition of Post-Modernity. Here, there is both the feeling of success of disappointment. In any case, this is no longer Modernity, nor the Enlightenment, nor the Modern Era. The critical faction of Post-Modern philosophers subjected to derision various stages of the movement to this goal, began to speak ironically of those illusions and hopes with which those who started the movement comforted themselves, not suspecting of what kind the realization of that goal would be. Others, on the contrary, offered to break with the critical feeling and to perceive “the brave new world” as it is, not going into details and doubts.
In any case, whether estimated with a minus sign or a plus sign, Post-Modernity represented a terminal state. Faith in progress finished its business and ceded its place to playful temporality . Reality, having earlier displaced myth, religion, and the sacred, itself transformed into virtuality. Man, at the dawn of the Modern Era, having overthrown God from the pedestal, is himself henceforth prepared to yield the king's place to a post-human breed – to cyborgs, mutants, clones, to all the products of “liberated technique” .
In the epoch of globalization, the West not only becomes global and omnipresent itself (as expressed in the uniformity of world fashions, the general diffusion of computer and information technologies, the ubiquitous establishment of the market economy and liberal-democratic political and legal systems), but in its nucleus, in the centre of a unipolar world, it qualitatively changes the “Rich North” from Modernity to Post-Modernity.
And henceforth the appeal to this nuclear West, the West in its highest manifestation, it could be, for the first time in history does not drag modernity behind it (of whatever kind, exogenous or endogenous), as the West itself is henceforth synonymous not with Modernity but with Post-Modernity. But Post-Modernity, with its ironies, pure technologicity, recycling of the old, and spent faith in progress, no longer offers its periphery even the distant prospect of development. “The end of history”, which came, raises absolutely different questions, before the weight and significance of which the pulling up by “the West” to its own level of “the Poor South” looks like an absolutely unnecessary, purposeless, and senseless task: if anything can be found there, the answers to the new problems of the Post-Modern epoch surely will not be one of those things.
Thus, those who relate by inertia to the rooted West in the search for modernization in new conditions are doomed to a colossal disappointment: having traversed the entire path of modernization to its end, the West has no more stimulus either to move in this direction itself or to entice others behind it. The West has moved on to a qualitatively new stage. Now it is no longer the West, but the Post-West; the peculiar, deeply modified West of the Post-Modern epoch.
Technically and technologically it dominates completely, and the processes of globalization develop at full speed, but this is no longer a progressive development, but a circular movement around an even more problematic centre. The architecture of Post-Modernity by its favourite process makes such constructions, where the styles and epochs are fancifully intermixed, while in the place of the central point of the architectural ensemble gapes a hole. This is the absentee centre, the pole of the circle, representing the downfall into non-being.
Such, too, is the substantial structure of the uni-polar world. In the centre of the global West – in the USA and the countries of the transatlantic alliance – there blazes the black, senseless hole of Post-Modernity, arrived.
The Gap Between the Theory and Practice of Globalism
The last metamorphosis of the West during its transformation to Post-Modernity, which we described above, is a purely theoretical construction. Such a picture was put together at the start of the 1990s, and so the logic of world history was thus conceptualized by those thinkers, who are still preserved in the West, before finally yielding the road to post-humanity (possibly to thinking automatons). But between this theoretical conception and its embodiment there remained a decisive gap. Reflection on the nature and structure of such a West and such Post-Modernity led even its own ardent apologists to a state of horror and despair. For instance, Francis Fukuyama at a certain moment started back from that ideological picture that he himself drew at the start of the 1990s and offered to give it back, keeping the West in that condition in which it found itself before it had arrived at its final station . The critics of Fukuyama, including Huntington, also overstated the quality and quantity of those barriers to be overcome by the West in order for it to become truly global and ubiquitous. From different points of view, everyone started to cling to the remains of Modernity, with its national governments, faith in progress, moralizations, mentorship and phobias, to which all have long ago become accustomed. Then it was decided to prolong the movement to the intended goal, or at least to simulate the rocking of the wagons and the banging of tires on the joints of the rails.
Today the West dwells precisely in this gap between that which it theoretically must become in the epoch of globalism and by the fact that it overcame all obstacles and defeated all alternatives, and that which it utterly does not want to recognize as the new global architecture of Post-Modernity – with a hole rather than a centre. However, in this gap, infinitely small and constantly contracting, there occur very important processes, which constantly change the general world picture.
All of this actively exerts an influence on Russia.