From the mid-20th century to the beginning of the 21st century
With the world's colonial system completely falling apart, the Third World's power continued to grow in strength, which was accompanied by the continuous development of the democratization and multipolarization of international relations as well. Globalization had gradually become the core engine of world development, with more countries participating in the world system. Such phenomenon led to a new era calling for peaceful development and win-win cooperation. Furthermore, multilateralism, global governance, and regional integration became the primary pursuit of international cooperation with new characteristics that emerged in North-South and South-South relations. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the fierce ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism in Western civilization gradually calmed down. As the only superpower, after its victory in the Cold War, the United States attempted to establish a unified political, economic, and cultural order, but only soon to discover that the establishment of cultural hegemony was not easy. Honestly, the Cold War's victory did not represent the victory of civilization, for the Cold War mainly took place between the United States and the Soviet Union, and fundamentally speaking, Soviet culture belonged to the European culture. The bipolar system, to some extent, has repressed civilization tensions that had accumulated during the colonial era. However, with the collapse of the world's colonial system and the rise of nationalism, the Western civilization’s oppression of Eastern civilization should have been released, but the Cold War contributed to cultural tension worldwide. Therefore, the Cold War served the continuity of a Western-dominated cultural order under specific contexts.
“Cultural lag” in global governance
After the end of the Cold War, the United States proceeded vigorously to promote American culture worldwide and tried to establish global cultural hegemony in terms of its national interests. Among the mistakes related to America’s actions, the biggest one was underestimating the power released by the suppressed cultures
Dimension of international governance 19 globally. In the first decade after the Cold War, such power released in the form of national separatism that concentrated in Southeast Europe and the Transcaucasus region. In the second decade, it mainly illustrated through the global emergence of terrorism, with the Middle East as its base camp. In the third decade, terrorist groups established their own regime and state and spread from the Middle East to Europe, Asia, and other places. In particular, many terrorist attacks were consciously targeted at France and the United Kingdom, the symbolic countries of Western culture. During the spread of extreme terrorism in the Middle East, the United States still confined itself to the constraints of Western civilization and resorted to war to counter terrorism. Such temporary solution only treated the symptoms but not the root causes, which resulted in a greater degree of chaos.
This civilization dilemma and cultural order deficit, fundamentally speaking, originated from the uneven development of globalization. To be more specific, it is the unbalanced development between global politics, economy, and culture under certain conditions. According to Chinese anthropologist and sociologist Fei Xiaotong, this dilemma can be described as an evident disequilibrium of globalization. While globalization in the economic field generally was accomplished, the development in political and cultural sectors was still far behind or could never reach the same level as the economy. This, therefore, has led to a huge tension between economic interdependence and political independence, along with different cultural backgrounds, which created a massive contradiction in the early stage of the globalization process (Fei, 2005, p. 42). Furthermore, this contradiction also resulted in the "Cultural Lag” in global governance, which, on one hand, was affected by the natural deferment of the world’s politics, economy, and culture. On the other hand, and most importantly, “Cultural Lag” manifests a lack of public cultural goods provided by international society. The United Nations, however, has put forward the principle of cultural diversity and published several related documents, but in general, due to America’s cultural hegemony policy, the world cultural order remains dominated by the Western culture, which has been integrated perfectly with cultural globalization and ignores oriental cultures such as Islamic and Indian cultures. However, the international economy and international politics reality shows that the United States and its allies cannot maintain their past international status. This large misalignment of economic and cultural patterns, and large lags in economic and cultural development caused central instability and disorder in international politics.