This essay was published by our Italian magazine Reset n.97, Sept.-Oct. 2006The historical events that marked the years 1989-1990, the fall of the Berlin Wall and with it the Communist bloc, paved the way for radically new perspectives in schools of thought and the collective imagination. The famous statement made by former American President George Bush Sr. announcing the “end of the Cold War” and the birth of a “new world order” provided this perspective with an official seal of approval. The entire world expected a radical change in international relations. Hopes were expressed, optimistic forecasts were made; the “end of history” was even announced with the definitive triumph of liberalism and democracy. In Third World countries there was hope that the West would renounce the “logic of war” that had characterised its relations with the rest of the world, applying more inspired policies now motivated by the values of Enlightenment, those of “liberty, equality and fraternity.” Many members of the modern elites of these countries believed that the West, having won the Cold War, would encourage democratic change in the Third World. Some even stated that the West would certainly demand, as a starting point for all forms of cooperation with Third World governments, a real democratisation of political and social life as well as honest and real respect for human rights etc. Therefore, as far as people in the Third World were concerned, the West’s future relations with their countries would essentially have depended on making “new foreign policy” choices, continuing to manoeuvre within the framework of the same logic of war, or proceeding instead towards a real “reconstruction” of their own policies and strategies in order to allow relations with the South to be set within what was called the “post-Cold War” period.What has happened to those aspirations? In what way did the West perceive its future relations with the Third World in general and the Arab-Islamic world in particular? As far as politics are concerned, one must add that in the West, aspirations have now been replaced by scenarios created by professors of “strategic studies.” The observer preferring not to fall prey to the uncontrolled prejudices and reactions of fanatic and xenophobic right-wing environments, European and American, can satisfy all his curiosities by drawing on the self-proclaimed authoritative ideas of these professors.
Dialogue of Cultures
As the people of Israel were honoring the victims of the Holocaust (April 16) and in the rest of the world people were remembering the day in which the gates of Auschwitz were opened, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman chose to offend memory and narrative for mere political reasons. He, as other Israeli leaders including Yair Lapid of the centrist party Yesh Atid (“There is a future”) criticized the request by 16 European Union foreign ministers to label Israeli products made beyond the 1949 armistice line as “Made in the West Bank.” A legitimate attack (from the point of those that sustain the ongoing process of colonization of the Palestinian territories) if not for the idea offered by the man responsible for the foreign policy of that country.
“Prime Minister Erdoğan’s statement of condolence to the Armenians was a milestone in Turkey’s history.” This was the first sentence of my column in daily Hürriyet on April 26 last year. The then Prime Minister Erdoğan had made an unprecedented move in Turkish history by issuing an official statement offering condolences to Armenians on April 24, the 99th anniversary of the Armenian massacres. This year, however, April 24 arrives in Turkey in a totally different atmosphere. The declaration of Pope Francis last Sunday that “the Armenian Genocide is the first genocide of the 20th century” and the resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week urging Turkey to recognize the genocide have rekindled the longstanding genocide debate in the country.
I would like to warmly thank Bianchin and Del Bò for their careful analysis of my work and their constructive criticism. In a variety of ways they oblige me to specify more clearly what I meant and to once again reflect on my theses. I will start with the paper by Bianchin, who poses a fundamental problem concerning the strategy pursued in The Democratic Horizon. I will begin by clearing away a misunderstanding that luckily does not undermine the significance of his objection. On my part, there is no rejection of the “conjectural strategy” as stated on and then again on in his paper.
The centenary of the Armenian genocide will go down in history, if for no other reason that Pope Francis’ words will still echo powerfully over the days and years to come. Many things have been said and written about Jorge Bergoglio’s speech and there is no need to add anything. Here the issue of the genocide’s centenary starts from a different perspective, to be more specific from a location; Gallipoli.
In his most recent book, The Democratic Horizon, Alessando Ferrara discusses three ways in which contemporary political philosophy addresses pluralism in the “hyper-pluralist” context of contemporary societies. More specifically, he analyse Rawls’ political liberalism, the agonistic view of democracy of radical deliberative approaches, and a “conjectural” strategy that aims at including non-liberal comprehensive doctrines in the democratic process. The problem is that the justification of democracy in a “hyper-pluralistic” society differs greatly from that of classical liberalism.
Along with the idea of "secularization", the theory of "modernization" has been recently questioned as yet another by-product of the Englightenment linear view of history. Drawing on Max and Alfred Weber's comparative work, on Karl Jaspers' notion of an axial age which encompasses a plurality of ancient civilizations, Shmuel Eisenstadt, Johan Arnason, Jan Assman, Björn Wittrock and a number of other leading social theorists have put forward a new framework for making sense of global history, known under the heading of "multiple modernities". In this paper, I will highlight some of the questions that the "multiple modernities" approach can generate in the specific field of political philosophy. Assuming that we can distinguish formal democracy as a set of procedures that can merely ritually be paid lip service to from "democracy with a democratic spirit", can we disentangle the "spirit of democracy" from its original roots in the culture of radical protestantism and envisage a plurality of "cultures of democracy" anchored to various civilizational bedrocks? Are "multiple democracies" genuinely viable versions of the same model of political order, or are they way-stations towards the Western modern form of liberal democracy?
Alessandro Ferrara’s excellent essay on multiple modernities and democracies is an important stimulus for reflecting on a number of issues that go beyond the borders of the academic debate, overflowing into the public sphere. Allow me to randomly list a number of questions. What is democracy? Is democracy only applied in the West? So what are those forms of government and legitimisation of political power that have at least a few of the characteristics we have come to know in our experience in the West as democracy? Is democracy a universally desirable objective? If so, when necessary, should we march bearing arms towards “exporting democracy”?
Throughout its history, the Sicilian mafia has systematically adapted structure and modus operandi to changing times, and engaged in innovative, profitable activities, whilst maintaining largely consistent cultural codes and practices. Indeed, the links between the mafia and civil society are not based exclusively on economic and political ties, but also on a solid cultural framework that the mafia has adapted for its own needs to better disguise and penetrate the territory at a capillary level
Philosophical investigations in Delhi: about moral choices, intellectual honesty and political freedom
Delhi - In the weeks just before and after the new year, when the overall atmosphere of the capital was vitiated on account of the government’s attempts to override Christmas as a Christian observance and an official holiday, replacing it with a so-called “Good Governance Day” and the birth anniversaries of Madan Mohan Malaviya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, brief visits by two eminent philosophers provided some relief. The visitors were the Bengali philosopher, Arindam Chakrabarti, who teaches at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and the Iranian philosopher, Ramin Jahanbegloo, who teaches at York University in Canada. Both lectured at public fora, met with students and scholars, and brought to the denizens of beleaguered Delhi a much-needed reminder of the importance of philosophy as the core of humanistic intellectual inquiry and democratic dissent.
The publication of a posthumous book has obliged us to once again address the case involving Jacques Dupuis, the Belgian Catholic theologian of religious pluralism, treated and “notified” as a heretic by the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, all in 2000, the same year and days of the publication of the Declaration “Dominus Iesus”, the most criticised pontifical document of recent decades, acclaimed only by “devout atheists.”
Written on the occasion of his birthday (b. 27 December, 1936, in Figuig, eastern Morocco, d. 3 May 2010), this piece is an homage to a towering figure in modern Arab-Islamic thought, a figure that any serious scholar in the field cannot do without: Mohammed Abed Al Jabri. One has either to build on the heritage he has left, or overcome it with a more challenging one. In both cases, one cannot escape reading him. In the age of Arab turmoils, al Jabri must be in the library of every Arab house for one simple reason: he genuinely managed to classify Arab-Islamic thought, a thing that is still missing from Arab socio-political life.