Essence and Forms of the “Eastern Renaissance” and the Transformation of the World

Since the late twentieth century the East has been experiencing a true religious renaissance with a subsequent steep rise in religion’s influence on the state and government. Affected by the rise of nationalism, religion has been assuming militant shapes among an enlarging mass of the marginalized layers of population, particularly in several segments of the Islamic world. Russia also appears to have been touched by this process. Ultimately, this process affected the West as well by means of immigrants’ influx from the East and rising nationalism among the autochthonic population. The restoration of traditional values and the alienation of the European civilization’s numerous values has been caused by a series of reasons. They are: the existence of formidable population masses in the traditional relations system living below the income poverty line, especially in the large countries of the East; efforts by part of the elite to attain their political goals on account of intimidation using the foreign enemy image; euphoria from the first incontestable successful modernization cases in the East and complexities of its further implementation; public consciousness traditionalization and archaization, engendered by looming intricacies in the course of social transformations and/or incompatibilities of this process with the prevalent cultural archetypes; blurring of the European civilization’s absolute supremacy; and difficulties in implementing the catch-up development model.

Having emerged, these processes carry on to self-reproduce. As a result, not only are multi-type national reproduction structures coming to the forefront, but also, at times purposefully, civilizational differences are becoming entrenched. The increased interdependence of the world seems to be affecting the economic and political environment represented by the globalization of economics and politics. The endogenic processes, especially in the cultural-civilizational sphere, are still distinct in their peculiarity. Although the ways to cultural-civilizational synthesis have been outlined, mankind in general has just embarked on this course. On a profound level across many regions of the world there is still no similarity in essence with what is accepted as the common basic norm of democracy (Chu Yun-nan et al. 2008). The political system provides the individual with political and economic freedom through open social-political access while law enforcement allows the society to self-organize, maintain stability and, simultaneously, intensively develop. An understanding of the necessity for common norms, providing for human rights, is underway, in particular, via intensive build-up of a supranational regional reality. From the perspective of human rights, economics and politics, the Western nations are as previously perceived as an etalon. Although this etalon is actively challenged in the context of national forms, albeit without touching upon its essential, universal, characteristics.

The synthesis of the converging Western and Eastern values and realities in the trans-culturalism concepts, especially in recent decades, is moving on ever more intensively. The conservation of traditionalism and archaism, civilizational nationalism and, ultimately, backwardness in regimes of the restrained social-political access is bringing on further economic backwardness and deterioration in living standards. It cannot be downplayed in the informational epoch of transnational mass media, television and the Internet. In the West, a re-articulation of both “Western” modernization models—the American and European ones—is swiftly taking place. They include both polar ideas from presidential candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties in the USA, and new socialist ideas and rightleaning movements in various states of the European Union. Currently, Eastern Asia, in contrast, is the world’s crucial testing platform for working out a political modernization model, synthesizing democratic forms of rule and the autochthonic political culture performance features. This, subsequently, shows the models that have impressive economic growth of the non-mobilizational type (Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and later India and China) and are inspired by further expansion of the cross-regional cooperation area. By the late twentieth century, Eastern Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, China) had discovered a successful form of economic and organic (non-violent) political modernization. They had shaken off inefficient, unviable and irrational components in the political system, simultaneously enhancing and speeding up the economic modernization process. They did this at first by constructing the economic foundations (with foreign aid or relying on its own forces depending on the specific environment in a country) and legislatively introducing economic liberalism. Then, they enforced rational norms and the application of constitutional liberalism ever more widely. Gradually and equally tightly, they encouraged a system of meritocracy and accountable open social-political access. They also established effective bureaucracy, afterwards carrying out further democratization depending on the political ability of a certain society to “digest” and master political changes and economically prosper in reliance on cross-regional cooperation. While going through such a model, there is no sense in using violent mobilization or forceful coercion of the population. Mindful that the conducted reforms are economically liberating people, increasing their freedom and raising their quality of life, economically and politically for the foreseeable span of an active life within one generation. The entire population of these countries has turned into a “modernization agent” and the simple intensification of their economic activity within the rational course of modernization has made such a model successful.

The economic crisis shook up the world, but the global system has proved its elasticity and the crisis did not breed a menace of a new universal military conflict. Rather, it enhanced international cooperation to overcome the aftermath of a crisis. The world order withstood, but it should and will transform evolutionally. However, the political and social- economic transformations of the late twentieth to early twenty-first centuries brought the world to a new phase of non-West-centric evolution. This new stage of global evolution implies that:

  • 1. Western nations are not alone anymore to determine the very parameters of social-political evolution, but also the scientific frameworks of its comprehension. The East has joined them in this path. At the same time, the theoretical comprehension of non-Western regions (Asia and Africa) and the particular traits from the comparative political analysis angle markedly lags behind an analysis of similar processes in the Western world. Such a situation has led to theoretical approaches based on Western realities automatically pertaining to the rest parts of the globe. It has, ultimately, brought about dramatic distortions in the interpretation of the political and economic processes in the East.
  • 2. Attention is now focused on understanding the global economy (and not just a Western part of it), political structure and the dynamics of the whole system (including the Eastern and its, at least, Asian subsystem), rather than just its Western parts. Consequently, the opinions of those who insist on the inclusion of the non-Western agenda in the political and political-economic analysis of international affairs are becoming ever more convincing. Nevertheless, such a statement requires closer attention be paid to global governance issues, converging political processes and understanding the quality of these issues.
  • 3. Bearing in mind the variation in global societies, we should also acknowledge the differences between the non-Western societies and the Western ones. Having agreed with a political culture pluralism, we can also admit the presence of various democracy modes—not only an American and European mode, but an Asian or African type as well. Other democracies are, evidently, able to differ greatly from the Western models but still keep a democratic essence, possibly better adjusted to tackling political issues in societies other than the Western one. Such an interpretation implies a comprehensive explanation of the transition issues from a natural to an open social-political access as a global requirement for successful development, but also as a compound and, possibly, protracted phase. It depends on the national conditions, and simultaneously the competition both in the transition to an open access social order and ways of building up the national versions of an open access social-political order. The process of transition to an open social-political access system has started to be perceived as the global constituent of the social-political processes progressive vector, being at the same time distinct in their own national traits, whereas those who rule out pursuing this path are the social-political losers.
  • 4. A methodologically correct comparative political-economic analysis shows that more competitive and less competitive social-political systems coexist. Less competitive ones are viewed as backward in the historical perspective, even if the population is violently (periodi- cally/cyclically) “urged” by the ruling elite. In various systems various institutions can implement similar functions; in different systems similar institutions can/will carry out different functions. These assumptions lead to the question of whether it is is possible to build a non-Western democracy. Hence, one can find intriguing explanations for the complexities building up in the so-called democratic transit theories. The modern political pattern of various countries brings remarkable conclusions, having far-reaching practical political implications depending on the ability or inability of various segments in political elites from certain countries to conceive of these tendencies.

Such a methodological statement implies (or at least does not reject) that a free, democratic, effective and economically prosperous society can be achieved with its own particular social-political system. This would be based on the understanding of common transformation models, taking into account the structural distinctness of this specific regional subsystem, in particular, its cultural-historical parameters and autochthonous cultural/ historical/confessional constants. However, in every case, the manifestations of national distinction in the arrangement of political, economic and social life will call for an explanation and substantiation from all countries. Particularly, those that have already set up the well-established system of democratic rule and that have a political system that corresponds to the common beliefs about democratic rule and their tangible embodiment. In this regard, just the affirmation of this fact by any part of the national political elite will be insufficient. Democratic rule, based on a system of open and equal social-political access, in the historical perspective is more competitive and universal because it rests upon open and equal access by representatives from all social-political, ethnic strata of the society and confessional movements to governance. In this sense, it is a universal rule and common tendency rather than its partial (regional) manifestation. Thus, the goal of improving the regional and national form of statehood can be articulated as a need for striking such a balance between the common tendencies and distinct traits, which keeps national democratic rule developing in its specific cultural-historical forms, living up to common tendencies by its content. Alternatively, the regressive movement of a society, and then its political and economic system, will follow. Such a situation quite swiftly will be reflected in the sphere of foreign-policy cooperation that, in its turn, will exacerbate the backwardness of certain countries.

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