In the world there are four and only four great powers. They are China, the EU, Russia, and the USA. Beyond the traditional economic and military capabilities, what makes an important power a great power is, arguably, its ability to project a world vision. A precondition for this is the ability to formulate a master frame of world order. I claim that, as of today, only four great powers have developed a fairly sophisticated model of world order and have attempted, with a certain degree of success, to spread its content worldwide so to make their national normative projection global.
Realigning Liberalism in the Context of Globalization and Cultural Pluralism
Today more than ever, cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic pluralism is a fact of life in European societies. Resetdoc believes that a great deal more work is still required in order to enable our liberal and democratic institutions to acknowledge this fact when implementing integration policies, not only to avoid the existing risks of exclusion and conflict, but also to counter cultural, biological and ideological generalizations that afflict the daily political debate and nourish the rhetoric of populist and xenophobic politicians. For our Essays series, Alain Touraine and Zygmunt Bauman explain why this necessary reconfiguration of politics could start with a new understanding and an broader concept of identity and citizenship.
In 2003 she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless work in defending human rights, a choice that resulted in her leading a complicated life and being separated from some members of her family. Ten years after winning this important international award, and four years after the controversial Iranian presidential elections, Shirin Ebadi lives in forced exile in London without seeing her husband and her sister who live in Tehran but are free on bail. Her two daughters are studying in Europe, although all her assets have been seized and sold at auction. “They tried to intimidate me. I told them I loved my family, but I love justice more.”
Al Jazeera has started to show signs of weakness and this has taken place in the network’s own country where the channel expressed offence and amazement when a Doha newspaper dared publish data that did not suit the Emir’s network. According to the most recent report on “Media use in the Middle East” by the Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), very few countries that experienced the Arab Spring consider Al Jazeera as a real source of information.
After long legal proceedings involving the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and novelist Elif Şafak, once again Turkey hits the headlines with news of a court order against one of the most illustrious personalities of the country - pianist Fazil Say. Virtuoso musician, he has played with some of the most important philharmonic orchestras in the world, including Tokyo’s, New York’s and Berlin’s. Proceedings against Say started last October when a prosecutor acted on complaints by individuals who said they had been offended by the musician’s comments on his Twitter account.
Egyptian Islamists do not have a sense of humour. While one of the Muslim Brotherhood government’s first provisions was to delete the anti-regime graffiti painted on the walls of central Cairo during the 2011 uprisings, in recent months censorship has been imposed on the independent press, films and lastly on the two best known Egyptian comedians. Adel Imam played a leading role in the history of the country’s cinema while Bassem Youssef implemented a new way of presenting political satire that was instantly a success.
The road towards an Euro-Mediterranean political partnership is currently facing a huge credibility problem, lying on the lack of a common regional stand up regarding the Israeli-Palestinian and the Syrian crises. While governments and regional organizations are facing an impasse, what has been first conceived as a corollary of the process has actually taken the initiative: civil society, in its non-for-profit, professional and academic constituents from all over the region, recently gathered in Marseille in order to identify and discuss possible solutions for the common challenges.
For our Essays series, Maeve Cooke and Sebastiano Maffettone discuss the philosophical-political tools required by liberalism in order to address the challenge posed by pluralism: openness to inclusive citizenship, a dialogue between cultures and governing fear in post-secular society. Cooke critically reanalyzes the Habermasian perspective presenting us with a more precise consideration of the burden posed by “translation” within the framework of an intercultural dialogue, while Maffettone addresses the nihilist consequences of post-modernism that make “impossible the construction of a post-colonial discourse through which discontent is transformed into a basis for a reasonable political action.” Earlier versions of both articles were presented at Istanbul Seminars 2010.
Maeve Cooke, University College Dublin
How to avoid the liaison dangereuse between post-colonialism and post-modernism
Sebastiano Maffettone, LUISS Rome
We are living in a historic and crucial moment for the building of real, genuine, and lasting democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. This is something that many of us have been waiting for decades if not centuries, and that will affect the future of the region, and perhaps the world, also for decades if not centuries. Tunisia has the best chance of success. It should be the easiest and quickest transition: Tunisia has a lot fewer problems and many more of the ingredients for successful democracy than any other country. Tunisia can then - more quickly and more easily - become a model and a showcase for democracy in the Arab world, than can encourage and inspire others throughout the region.
My objective in coming here today is to discuss the euro crisis. I think you will all agree that the crisis is far from resolved. It has already caused tremendous damage both financially and politically and taken an extensive human toll as well. It has transformed the European Union into something radically different from what was originally intended. The European Union was meant to be a voluntary association of equal states but the crisis has turned it into a creditor/debtor relationship from which there is no easy escape. The creditors stand to lose large sums of money should a member state exit the union, yet debtors are subjected to policies that deepen their depression, aggravate their debt burden and perpetuate their subordinate status.
The international attention given this month to the scourge of violence against women was highlighted in neon by the spike in physical and sexual attacks against women in streets and public squares in Egypt. Young women, along with outraged young men, are taking matters into their own hands trying to provide security and fighting back in the absence of efforts by the Islamist-headed state, which seems more involved safeguarding itself than its citizens. We see the Muslim Brothers fiercely protecting their headquarters under attack, including roughing up women, they who pretend to value women. Instead of joining efforts to stop violence against women, demonstrating genuine concern for women, the Muslim Brothers seized the occasion of the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting to blast these global efforts and flex their patriarchal muscle.
Stop and go is a continuous scenario in the relations between Turkey and Europe. For every step forward there is another one back. Doors wide open, then an impasse once again. Now we have reached a point in which the rope can no longer be pulled. Perhaps! Fifty years after taking the first step towards European integration Ankara could be prepared to let everything go up in smoke. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first to break this taboo by stating that entry into the European Union is no longer an essential objective for Turkey.
“Cultural pluralism” is a recent concept in Europe to the extent that many do not know what it means. While political pluralism and freedom of thought are deeply-rooted in our continent, and everyone is capable of distinguishing a democratic regime from one that is not, there are some extremely extravagant and vague opinions concerning pluralism of cultures and the relationship between the various religious, linguistic and ethnic cultures. Intellectuals and scholars from all over the world are helping Reset-DoC and its Intercultural Lexicon project to foster cultural pluralism with their contributions to our publications, debates and public conferences. Today, Anthony Appiah from Princeton explains what the evolution of honor codes can mean to cross-cultural understanding.
Cultural Pluralism, The Challenge of our Time
The Honor Code
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Little over a month has passed since Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), made a historic call to his followers to lay down their weapons and engage in negotiations with the Turkish government. The enthusiasm with which both Turks and Kurds had welcomed the resumption of dialogue has now been replaced by a more realistic and somber realization: the path to peace is long and there is no guarantee of success at the end of the road.
In the current debate between East and West, and, in that between Islamists and secular people, the emphasis on Islam raises a fundamental question: Can Islam tolerate equality between sexes and can it accept female citizenship? Answers to this question frequently give rise to ancestral fears and delirious spectres. At times the clash between Islam and female citizenship appears to be very marked. Like all religious traditions, Islam perceives itself as carrying a message of freedom and brotherhood in the name of a God conferring inalienable dignity to every human being. At the same time, however, the entire Islamic Sharia contributes to male preeminence.
There was national mourning and a ceremony in a Catholic church in Tehran to sanctify the ties with the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez, the president who, according to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “was the symbol of those who want justice, love and peace in the world.” This was an 'anti-imperialist and anti-American axis' created in the last 12 years and strengthened after 2005 by the victory of the current Iranian president. Chávez and Ahmadinejad were the enemies of the Great Satan as well as diplomatic, economic, trade and ideological partners. One has left the stage because of natural causes, and the other will soon have to depart his political residence in Pasteur Square. What will become of the relations between the two countries?