Cultural globalization and national interests

Learning from historical experience, we found that globalization not only contains the meaning of Karl Marx's thinking of “changing history to the history of the world” (Engels & Marx, 1972, p. 52), promoting the full opening and integration of nationalities and nations, but also demonstrates that early developed “civilized” society uses comparative costs to achieve capital expansion around the world and satisfy its national interest. From the perspective of international relations theory, globalization’s essence contains three elements: power struggle, institutional competition, and change of identity.

Practically speaking, the process of globalization also represents the globalization of power. It mainly refers to the leading countries taking economic globalization as a banner and comprehensively using diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, and even wars to achieve their national interests in international politics. From this perspective, there have been several waves of globalization in the history of modern

international relations. The first wave was in the 18th century when Britain began to ascend to world hegemony. The second wave came after the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century, in which Britain once again became the world hegemon. In the third wave, the United States continued to expand its economic aggregate through making a profit from WWII, and became the most powerful country at the end of the 1940s.1 After the end of the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States indeed became the only superpower.

Along with the in-depth development of globalization, the world also witnessed the globalization of international institutions and systems. Although institutions, power, and economy are closely related, there still exists a time lag between institutional globalization and the other two. However, we can still divide globalization into three historical stages in terms of institutional construction. During the first stage, powers established the Westphalian system and the overseas colonial system; in the second stage, the world established the gold standard system, free trade, and the capitalist system; and in the third stage, international society formulated a global institutional system centered on the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the International Monetary Fund.

Besides, globalization also motivates the exchange of different recognition systems and political cultures. Although the tenn "cultural globalization” remains controversial, it still represents an objective process. To be more specific, cultural globalization has been demonstrated as the spread of Western culture for a long time in history, mainly including the clashes and integrations of cultures inside Western society and between western and eastern civilizations. Although people are aware that the globalization of western culture does not make up the entire content of cultural globalization, and international society is not merely made up of Western society’s values, we still have to admit that it is western culture that dominates the process of cultural globalization. The established cultural globalization has been accomplished at the cost of the sovereignty of weaker cultures. However, it is undeniable that the globalization of culture has contributed significantly to the formulation of norms in international relations and international legislation, providing the necessary cultural order for human society. For instance, at the early stage, the major powers generally regarded “national independence”, "sovereign equality”, “compliance with treaties” (Liang & Hong, 2000), and "balance of power” (Hume, 1907), as recognized diplomatic principles, hi the following period, core identities among the great powers were constructed with the support of various principles stipulated by the Vienna system, such as the “Principle of Legitimacy” (counter-revolutionary principle), the "Status Quo Principle”, the “Compensation Principle”, and "Abolition of the Slave Trade” (Wang, 1995a). In the latest development of globalization, there emerged the concepts and principles of free navigation on the high seas, national self-determination, democratization, market economy, and opposition to environmental pollution and international terrorism, which can also be recognized as the result of the globalization of international political culture.

Entering the new era, new features of globalization have emerged, where the most prominent one refers to the expectations of international society to implement an inclusive, complementary, and representative global governance. Furthermore, the new features will be demonstrated in power, institutional, and cultural dimensions.

To be more specific, globalization in the power dimension requires a new leading power or leading authority to guide international governance. In terms of institutions, a new system of global governance regulations must be formulated to achieve the reform of the international governance system. As for cultural dimension, new order or paradigms in the field of cultural governance become increasingly necessary. As mentioned in the Prologue to this book, one of the remarkable connotations of “Major Unprecedented Change” lies in global governance, which has become the new pattern for modem international politics, with cultural governance as a critical aspect of maintaining world order. In this sense, leading powers should raise the awareness of improving cultural soft power, which therefore brings out a requirement of theoretical construction: how could leading countries achieve the coordination between domestic interests and the interests of international society? The answer to this question will determine which candidate powers will assume responsibilities in cultural globalization in the new era.

Domestic governance serves as the foundation of global governance, regardless of politics, economy, or culture. Meanwhile, any achievement in international interests should be based on the conditions of national interests. We have to admit that for a long time, national interests mainly referred to conditions necessary for the survival and development of a nation, as well as the basic principle and motivation followed by sovereign states in their diplomatic practices (Yu, 1996). However, if we discuss "national interests” in the context of current globalization, we have to redefine it in the realm of international society. In fact, national interests can be recognized as the fundamental requirement and pursuit of a country to gain admission, evolution, and development room in international society. Therefore, without considering the background of globalization, the pursuit of national interests would be empty rhetoric. Consequently, with the spillover of globalization and international governance into the cultural field, scholars must once again seriously consider the relations between culture and national interests under the new circumstances.

The influence and restrictive function of culture on the national interest seem increasingly prominent in the post-Cold War era. An outstanding example may refer to the Clash of Civilizations phrase argued by Samuel P. Huntington and its ensuing academic disputes on the relations between culture and international politics (Huntington, 1993; Wendt, 1999). However, similar to the “iceberg theory”, the role of "culture” has been underestimated by the international society for a long time, but now plays an increasingly significant role showing its great potential that was "buried under the sea surface” to the global community. In general, we could separate the term “culture” into international culture and unit culture (i.e., a sovereign nation-state). International culture in the sense of international relations mainly refers to international political culture, including various international mechanisms, norms, and identification among major countries; while unit culture includes factors such as domestic cultural traditions, cultural resources, concepts, and ideology.

Furthermore, we can still develop two perspectives on the significance of culture for national interests. From an ontological point of view, culture itself constructs national interests. On one hand, unit culture serves as the primary component of national interests. As individual existence essentially belongs to the realm of social existence, the important content of the social life for individuals (including nation-states) consists of the pursuit of social or international recognition, which therefore demonstrates that the collective national self-esteem and spiritual interests of unit culture are vital to a country's survival and development internationally. On the other hand, as a norm and a political culture in the sense of an international non-material structure, it stipulates the role of the international society in constructing the interests of individual countries. In other words, the national interest is constructed through learning from international society. Moreover, the trend of globalization also motivates countries to continually adjust their national interests from those of the closed pre-globalization era.2 From the perspective of instrumental rationality, culture plays the role of an invisible, long-term, and potentially far-reaching strategic resource and has made an outstanding contribution to China’s emergence. Meanwhile, the reality also shows that to better realize national interests for a super society with culture as its axis like China, it is necessary to properly study the role of cultural factors in fundamental national interests, analyzing the requirements for cultural modernization under new conditions. Hence, it is also a key focus in this chapter to study the function of culture on national interests from the perspective of instrumental rationality.

Although people recognize national interests as fundamentally objective, this objectivity contains the influence of consciousness construction (Guo, 2011). Therefore, the process of consciousness construction for national interests includes both the construction of international political culture, and the construction within unit cultures. The former emphasizes the role of international social concepts and identification symbols in affecting individual countries’ interests, reflecting the objectivity and inevitability of the political socialization in international society. At the same tune, the latter pays attention to the results of domestic ideological struggles, the interaction of department interests, and social movements, showing the subjectivity and contingency of domestic identification integration into national interests. Meanwhile, the nation-state's political culture has played a crucial role in the process of the integration of domestic identity into national interests. Here, the political culture refers to psychology, attitudes, or thoughts originating from a society’s long-term political practice, with national historical experience and value system as its two fundamental sources. It affects the judgment of national interests mainly by providing a conceptual framework and direction for policymakers’ practices. From the perspective of decision-making theory, the determination and realization of national interests are constrained by four objective factors, including the system structure and system process at both domestic and international levels. These objective factors mainly rely on decision-makers’ subjective efforts, in which the cultural consciousness of decision-makers often plays a decisive role. As some scholars suggest,

the so-called national interests and international interests can only be formulated through the interweaving of various interests within the country and among the nations, and only the interests recognized by leaders and elites under the framework of culture and ideology.

(Wang, 1996a, p. 191)

Therefore, from this perspective, some scholars also pointed out that,

Political leaders must form policies on the premise of conforming to national values. National values represent the collection of personal values, and it is these values that define national interests and national security.

(Wang, 1996b, p. 53)

In addition, according to author John T. Rourke, the role of a country's political culture in determining national interests can be described as follows: analyzing society’s role in maintaining the national core of the country, creating and maintaining world order, and spreading the concept of its own value system (Rourke, 1997). Moving forward to the specific case of China, it is precisely because of its long-term reunification and experience of colonial rule in modem times that China attaches great importance to maintaining political independence and sovereignty and territorial integrity as its primary national interest. The same scenario is in the economic field, learning from the painful history of being oppressed due to economic backwardness, China has thus recognized economic development as a key factor of its national interests. Meanwhile, the pursuit of establishing a fair and reasonable new world order has also become an integral part of China's national interests, which has been motivated primarily by its pursuit of Great Unity, Datong Society and Communist society, as well as its opposition to the unequal international treaty system. Last but not least, the philosophical and pacifist ideas in Confucian culture also contribute to China's will against the practice of imposing ideology on others, encouraging it to implement a foreign policy that follows the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. In comparison, different political cultures lead to different judgments on national interests. For example, in the determination of human rights interests, Eastern countries that advocate collectivism emphasize collective human rights and the right to national self-determination. In contrast. Western countries that advocate individualism pay more attention to the political and civil rights of individuals. Similar to the nature of cultures in all its sense, the essence of political cultures remains dynamic rather than static. In fact, through analyzing the development of political culture, we could understand the world's economic and political competition, conflicts, and cooperation, as well as the trend of global cultural diversity and the formulation of world culture.

 
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