Mariusz Turowski
"Exclusions", ethnic cleansings, and neutrality.
Nightmares of current politics, and hopes and failures of social and political ideas of liberal philosophy

 

 

1. Definition of liberalism
This part of the project focuses on the definitions of different traditions of 300-centuries old liberal philosophy. I'm trying to realize which "version" of liberalism has become the most important and dominant today. My point here is that there is certain coherence and continuity in liberal doctrine, from Hobbes, Locke, Kant and Mill to Rawls, Buchanan, Nozick, Dworkin, Galston, Waldron and others. Surely, some accounts that were present in 16th or 18th centuries are no longer considered to be a part of the "liberal mainstream" (for instance the question of the private property defined by reference to natural order established by God the Creator). Still, that "invalidation" of some themes has been performed during the process of the "reconstruction of the liberal tradition" (Rawls, Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia).

1.1. Classical liberalism
Representatives of this option (Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Mill) were focused on sizing the possibilities for protecting claims and rights of the individual (according to the idea of natural rights).

1.2. Reconstruction of liberalism, political liberalism
I would like to reconstruct here something that can be named as a mainstream of contemporary liberal thinking. Such authors like John Rawsl initiated a new way of searching for justification of values connected to theory and practice of liberalism. First distinction between the good and the right had been made. It was the basis on which traditional components of liberal idea had been reconstructed. Acccording to those considerations political and social order cannot be defined in reference to metaphysical concepts, such as natural rights or autonomy of the individual. Instead one must search for possibility of legitimization of political consensus, which would cover all conceptions of the good life, which exist in a given social and political reality (the state). Thus as the main important are stressed such values as political and civic liberty, idea of nautrality and tolerance.

1.3 Liberalism "in action"
In this point of my research I will focus on ways how to employ mentioned above ideas into practice of current politics. Liberalism becomes here a certain stream connected to special procedures and actions performed in the frame of reference of existence of modern international political institutions, and it functions as a basis of contemporary legislature, as an ideal and the warrant of building a "healthy" political organism (idea of liberal democracy). I will consider here two problems:
- universalization of political claims (the end of nation states; emergence of possibilities for existence of international organizations);
- conception of human rights as a "conscience of mankind".

Note:
I'm aware that, during my work on the first point, I will have to face a problem of the size of material that must be the subject of my research. But that part of my research has most of all a character of report from previous researches and fundamental claims made by such authors as George Sher, Stephen Gardbaum or Wojciech Sadurski.

2. The West and the"Clash of Civilizations"

2.1. Mastering the human rights theory and practice - an acme of development of liberal ideology (development of the West - "the End of History").
2.2. The West and Image of the Other.
2.2.1. The West as political, cultural, military, social and economic hegemony.
2.2.2. Contest the West, decline of the West.

The themes gathered in above points refer to the famous discussion regarding justification and consequences of distinguishing many civilizations in the world and defining their various "interests" and values they are based on. First I'm intorducing here the cathegory of "the West" as geographical and political one, and I'm examining consequences of such definition. Referring to works by Edward Said, Immanuel Wallerstein and Maria Todorova, I would like to render how the West has being created in opposition to "the other", geographically, politically and culturally. The process was hardly a neutral one. As Todorova noticed, division of world into the West and the East (Oriental) resulted in distinction between "civilized" and the "barbarian". For me, because of the subject of my project, the most significant is idea that just mentioned division, as Larry Wolff observed, corresponded with the development of the conception of modernization (or, following Fernand Braudel and I. Wallerstein, development of the modern, liberal society), and as such emerged relatively late, precisely in the period of the Enlightenment. What is even more interesting, it was connected at the same time with discovering Eastern Europe by Western Europe. This motive will be present in my project till the end.

This will be also the place in my research, where I would like to pay attention for Samuel P. Huntington's suggestions from his book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order". Is he right, or these are his critics who are correct, like for example Giovanni Arrighi, for whom the main line of division of different political and social "realities" is not the one marked by civilizations or cultures but the one which divides rich coutries from those of the third world, which (because of unfair global distribution of the capital) are doomed to exist in a permanent poverty.

This part of my studies will also have a form of "reconstruction" of some statements that has been already made in the recent history of social thinking. But the very way of arranging the material I will be working with, certain points (like the one about a need to rethink methods of perceptions of the "provincial" that remains outside the "center") must be treated as very important when we take under consideration recent discussions about political order and transformation that take place in the countries from Eastern Europe, also in Poland. Above note is valid when it comes to following parts of my project, where I would try to base my ideas only on my own reflections drawing some conclusions important for political theory developed in our country, as well as, more geeral, for cultural, political and social situation of Poland. Domestic studies still require here some further considerations and work. I'm hoping to offer one.

3. The Balkan challenge
3.1. Eastern Europe
3.1.1. From building of the civil society to remaining in the state of permanent "transformation"

It is the point, where I'm focusing on more concrete problems. Firstly I will ask a question about possibility of detailed, non-theoretical, considerations of particular issues. Then I would like to draw some conclusion from that attempt. The subject of my research here will be social and political reality of Eastern Europe (or Central-Eastern Europe). I will reflect following topics: perception and relationship of Western Europe to Eastern Europe, relationship of the European "East" to the Western "Center" (problems of modernization and westernization), "iron curtain" as legitimization of political division and distinction of the spheres of influences of two cold-war empires, building of civil societies and democratization of Eastern Europe, the fall of communism and idea of "return to Europe", critical characteristic of conception of "transition" (economic, political and cultural difficulties). The inclusion of the cathegory of "Eastern Europe" into part of the project with the title "The Balkan Challenge" is by no means an accident. I would like to offer here a definition of notions like "balkan" and "balkanization" as ones which function in western social sciences and, following Maria Todorova's abservations, try and search for their deeper reference, more than a merely regional one.

3.2. A Voice from the Balkans
- Destruction of Yugoslavia - Old Yugoslavia, New Yugoslavia, a question about political order after peace treatises.

3.3. Hopes and illusions of "civilizing" of the "Balkan powder keg"
- Politics of interventions.

3.3.1. "Balkanization" of the civil society
3.3.2. Practice of human rights in the former Yugoslavia
3.3.3. Decline of the idea of multicultural states

3.4. Who's to blame, who is the victim? Idea of liberal democracy distrusted.
3.4.1 Rationality of violence

Working on the points mentioned above I will have an occasion to discuss the crisis, that, in my opinion, emerged in political theory and practice, in a global sense, in the moment of dissolving of Yugoslavia. I will cope here with a lot of topics, which, I hope, will help to defend my thesis about a need to reconstruct liberal philosophy if we consider a "critical" situation in the Balkans. Again, certainly, there will be a place for a theoretical survey, but the main emphasis will be put on my own considerations and researches. I would like to ask question about differences between cultural and socio-political reasons of the conflict in Yugoslavia. Then I will center on the problem of "guilt"and perception, and connection of solutions, problem-resolutions, regulations and ways of overcoming of crisis in the former Yugoslavia with a certain political reality and a pattern of international relations. That connections shows us ambiguity of widely employed policies of a search for "objective" and "fair" "reasons". The main fragment of this part of my research will deal with the vagueness of global politics (Yugoslavia and countries guarding the world-order) and how that politics has become the only "recognized" way of dealing with international problems. That means a call for further question about what are the "real facts" of socio-political world-order and what is its future.

4. Liberalism as one of the ways of defining the good life

4.1. Limits of political liberalism

5. In search for possibilities of "social change"
In the last point of the project I will return for a moment to the motives I'm dealing with in the beginning of my research. First of all I will ask again a question concerning definition of liberalism as meta-politics, which was offered by J. Rawls. I will attempt to show how problematic is that idea. I will base both on works by philosophers mentioned in the beginning of the project and on conclusions from previous parts of the research.

That endeavour will serve as a possibility of introduction of another perspective in political philosophy. I would like to refer in this moment to results of studies by authors involved in a leftis criticism of the western democratic society. Thinkers gathered around the American journal, Dissent, as well as those more radical, connected with Z-Magazine, seek for perspectives and chances for existence of the modern society. Such intellectuals as Michael Albert and Stephen Shalom intensify their work when the world faces crises like the one in Kosovo in last few months.

 

 
 
Wroc³aw, 10.07.2000