- Politics and Social Issues
The Emergence of Global Civilization
What Is Civilization
We can go back to the Latin root of a world civilization: Ki – that means to be located/situated or in a place. And the related constellation of words such as: Civitas – the state having citizens, city-state; or citizenship, Civicus – belonging to a town, city state, Civilis – of a state (political), and Civilitas – politeness or politics. Thus we have got from common variants of those Latin roots the words such as city states, citizens and state politics.
However, there is great variance in understanding the basic definition of ‘civilization’. As per the contemporary definition it entails sophisticated and advanced level of human society, in which relatively high level of science, culture, government and industry have been realized. As against, what were the derivatives of the Latin root words, that are insufficient to encapsulate the broad understanding of the word.
According to the New Oxford America dictionary 2001: which refers to elements like, place, way of a life, and culture of a distinctive people in a particular area. In reality until this day, many civilizations have emerged and have gone extinct from the face of the earth, leaving behind only the traces to be reminiscent of their glories in past. According to a British historian and philosopher, Arnold Toynbee: there are 5 to 7 civilizations present today, while Samuel Huntington enumerated their numbers from 7 to 8.
The Ultimate Destiny of The Humanity
Almost every religion or ideology for that matter predicts that one day human beings would form a one single monolithic group. While such a state of utopia would be free from any distinction of religion, cast creed or ideology, which has not been the case throughout human history. Those varying school of thoughts so claim to continuation of journey to that 'Ultimate End'.
One of the most dominant ideologies of 20th century - Communism posits that as a result of its famous proletariat revolution – a class-less and state-less society would finally be established, and that was clearly the ultimate aim of communism. It was a "New World Order" on the part of Karl Marx that he so envisioned. Further, he believed that revolution would be achieved through an evolutionary period and through a bloody revolution at final stage. To Karl Marx, It would be an evolutionary advancement of former states, tribes, nations or civilizations. Similarly, two of the dominant religions of the world – both Christianity and Islam also paint a picture of utopia, each painting their own version though. Hence, each believing that someday whole humanity would finally come under the flag of one true religion. These two religions, however, believe over the cosmic and divine intrusion.
Some though have a very optimistic view as they contend that there is only one civilization at this point - a single global civilization. Clashes have existed though among civilizations and their sub-parts, while invariably those clashes became intense. However, it was a story of the past and in today's age of interdependence - chances of a huge clash are barely minimum. There difference of trivial nature can not have the capacity to prevent coming of one global civilization, which is an ultimate ‘human destiny’. It must however, be pointed out such an optimistic view point is constantly held by the proponents of liberalism and secular humanism.
Huntington said in his book, that there are 7 to 8 civilizations currently present on the face of earth. These are, Orthodox, Western, Japanese, Latin American, Hindu, Islamic and African. He believed that clashes and tensions between the elements within these civilizations would be a dominant theme after the end of cold war. However, our debate is not whether, there would be clash between civilizations, to draw out, if humanity has the capacity to gather under one umbrella and is it possible that a single global civilization would emerge out of varying cultures?
Supporters of such a viewpoint accept the presence of different civilizations. However they presume that there is an ever ongoing fusion between the cultures and sub-cultures of various civilizations. Thus, such a fusion is incessant, and is the cause of mushrooming similarities between those cultures and their various derivatives. Therefore, according to them there remains but one civilization.
Perhaps, they are right in concluding as in history there have been civilizations that have merged in one another. As a result of synthesis of two civilizations – a new civilization, to an extent different in outlook is formed. They go on to posit that contemporary modern civilization is a fusional entity of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization, which happened in 15 B.C. the fusion occurred in what is now called Syria, and ever since this entity has been evolving and expanding on the face of earth. It has been called various names, such as ‘Near Eastern’ in its earlier phase – ‘Middle Eastern’ in later phases and ‘Global’ in its final phase.
Commonalities Among Peoples
Kishore Mahbubani argued in his book, the great Convergence: that both technology and globalization are changing the world and there is a prevailing sense of ‘One World’ and of one civilization. Furthermore, like many political scientists and philosophers, he infers the weakening of nation state during period of globalization. It is important to know what causes the emergence of one monolithic group of human beings. Not long ago before modern era - human beings lived in their own countries and regions, and it looked as though this world is too big to ever come together. Modern communication tools were unavailable in those days and traveling was difficult. People of the world were somewhat insular to problems of their fellow human beings and most often they were not aware of world problem in general.
It is as if, before globalization, people lived in their separate boats, and the captains and crew of the ships made sure that their ships steer clear of sea storms. However, today, the world has shrunk, and there is so much inter-dependency between nations that you would not be justified to hold such a view point of isolation from the rest of the world.
Today’s people have more in common with one another than any time in the history of the world. As the number of people, who studied common curricula, exposed to technology and taught to use reason and logic form largest group than ever. Such group of people of the world forms a big middle class, which is believed to exploding as the time goes by. It is, furthermore, increasingly been thought of, that this emerging middle-class is in a process of forming a global community. While such a community would pave the way for a reasonable world order. In essence, this global community is believed to be homogeneous in lots of ways, in the sense, that they talk same language, attire similar clothes, like to live in houses of similar designs. In fact people of this community have a similar life-style. However, first and foremost, one should know as to how this ‘Global Community’ has come into being?
The Process of A Coming of World Civilization
Go back just one hundred years ago – hardly any of the world institutions, that we know today, were present back then. The Countries, which participated in 70th session of General Assembly were colonies of one European power or another, or simply did not exist. Thus, if you were women – to cast your vote you are required to travel to distant lands of New Zealand and Australia. Many of the civil rights organizations, radio, television or picture of earth from Mars was completely unheard of a century ago.
David Christian, who is a professor teaches ‘big history’ and went on to start a project in collaboration with Bill Gates, remarks that complexity and organization of life is evident after centuries of evolution of life of earth and of universe. There is thus a synchronization of evolution of universe and of life on earth: it was big bang then the coming of stars in early formative phase of universe and eventually of life on earth. Likewise, human history has also evolved over the course of centuries, from the nomadic tribes to small city-states and to eventual more matured and sophisticated form of civilization of the nation states. This until now has been considered high form of organization of human community. However, past century has witnessed another level of human organization, and one wonders, if we are at yet another threshold of historical evolution of human history?
This process of human evolution is fast changing the outlook of our world that we know, and trends are fast changing this globe until the ultimate dream of a ‘World Civilization’ is realized. How exciting mere the concept is, let alone coming of it eventually – humans never have experienced one world civilization. The Question is not about if It would come into being? But, how would it look like?
Does it imply that eating of fast food in MacDonald and wearing of similar clothes, etc., are likely to give consciousness of similarity with one another, or does it mean something more trans-formative and transcendental? It is affirmed by experts of international relations and global politics that nation state would still be a powerful tool in international politics. But there are chances that national patriotism in comparison with past, which caused two world wars – would be sane and comparatively more calculated in 21st century and onward. Thus, comity of a peaceful and prosperous nation states are going to survive in a global civilization, much in same way variety of flowers enhance beauty of a garden. In today's post-modern world the process of globalization of local cultures, styles, forms, literature, videos, recipes etc, is continued as ever.
People of the world are in contact with one another, through social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, instagram etc. But communication through social networks may not completely serve in giving people the very essence of a nature of fellow human being, belonging to a far-off land, with which one has so much in common. Preceding times of globalization were different – whereby stereotypes for different cultures existed. That resulted in widening cross-cultural divide, and people increasingly were ambivalent of ever coming close to a person from another cultural background, nationality or religion. However, things changed so quickly as a result of technology, as formerly it was difficult to travel from one town to another, and travel from one country to another was considered troublesome. In contrast, modern people consider travel a tool for enjoyment and are often keen to undertake it.
Travel is as one of the effective way to bridge cross-cultural divide, improve understanding and communication between various cultures and their people, and it helps to know about different and conflicting moral values, traditions and beliefs of people residing in different parts of the world. Traveling is not a new phenomenon; it’s done by the humans since the inception of human civilization.
Traveling was very difficult to do in past, where there were low means of communications, thus it was difficult for people to move from one place to another – forget a distant travel to another country which was done for especial work. However, industrial revolution and the ensuing modern age have made the travel ridiculously easy. This is era of ‘globalization’, and the whole world is believed to be a ‘global village’ now, where there is great inter-dependence between the countries and regions, and no country or a any region for that matter is isolated from rest of the world. Hence many avenues of communication with the alien cultures. By visiting other countries, people go on to embrace other peoples' ideas, communicate with them on what they believe and on what others believe; what are their cultural sensitivities and what are others’ cultural sensitivities, likewise.
‘Globalization’ has improved the life styles of people and has created a mutual interest between people of different cultures, in this way people wear similar clothes – that is Jeans, t-shirts, suit, etc., they talk same language – which is English, they tend to build and live in houses which are very modern in architecture, and they eat same food – fast food, continental, Chinese, etc.
This is to many modern thinkers and Sociologists; a birth of ‘global civilization’ and the people who are part of this whole are pretty similar in ways and characteristics. From modern thinkers’ viewpoints modern human being is traveling to his/her ultimate destiny, and eventually they would form one big monolithic, homogeneous group which would globally be civilized. However, people should also be varied of cross cultural-shock as before visiting any country they should also be aware of other peoples' respective customs, cultural heritage and traditions, etc. Traveling is one popular tool of understanding other countries and the cultures within and thus a way to lessen a cultural divide by empathizing with each others' viewpoints. And let’s travel to our final journey of a ‘globalized civilization’, in which countries/regions of the world would be a peaceful, tolerant, and prosperous.
Public Lecture by Noble nobel laureate - Joseph Stiglitz
Convergence of Global Governance
Experts on political science and international relations assert that democracy would be most acceptable form of governance in 21st century, as human beings have failed to create another suitable alternative of governance. Francis Fukuyama, in his landmark essay about 25 years ago – concluded that: of all forms of governance – democracy has proved to be the last man standing. It has proved its mettle over the years and is going to survive in this century. But one wonders: what about the nation state? Is it going to the leading factor in this century or is going to wither away? As Karl Marx would call it.
Similarly, what about the nationalistic fervor? If there is a nation state in place; there would always be nationalistic fervor, for nation states pursue ideologies. While ideologies have followers within and without a nation state. It remains to be seen to what an extent would there be changes as for as the nation states are concerned? These tendencies of national governance are big obstruction in the coming of a global civilization at a wider scale that has been visualized by various world views.
According to majority of political scientists: nation states would still be a strong factor of the international politics in 21st century. In addition, emerging global middle-class may prevent nation states to go to wars, as it is most stupid of a thing to do. Even if it fails to prevent a war, it may create an atmosphere of consensus to condemn those wars. Such a consensus among peoples of various nations and regions, in essence could be a driving theme to potentially forming a monolithic group – similar in thought and political behavior.
Moreover, wars are hated and free-trade agreements are liked and promoted between countries, which happen to be part of multilateral institutes. European Union is one such successful example in this regard. But it must be mentioned here, that the success that EU has had in political sphere, not in economic sphere. So far EU has achieved a rich civilization over the years, but on top there are a zero chances of war between any two of the EU states, which is in itself an amazing achievement. Thus in terms of achieving peace, EU is still a model to be emulated, economic shortcoming notwithstanding. Furthermore, if you can achieve zero prospect of war between: India and Pakistan, between Japan and china and in South-East region. This world would truly be a blessed place to live in.
Demand for Duly Represented World Institutions
There are many possibilities for coming of a true global civilization, at the same time. However, there are number of challenges that inherently impede those possibilities, such as unequal representation of various nations/regions of the world in global institutions. The West in this respect still holds control over world institutions in terms of representation, which is thought to be anachronistic. As 88% of the world’s population is non-Western, moreover, economic balance of power is shifting in Asian favor. Yet Asia is not duly represented in global institutions, such as IMF, World Bank and United Nations, etc. It would be utter foolish after a decade to look at the world, where U.K has a permanent seat in U.N Security Council and many of the emerging countries of the world, located in distant corners of the world, do not have a permanent seat.
However, at the same time the ‘New World Order’, which is envisaged, would not be hostile to the West but friendly to it and in a way a replicate of it. The goal of the ‘New World’ is not to dominate west, but in fact to create a society that is peaceful, prosperous and contains sizable middle-class, which West has successfully has able to accomplish. Another reason behind emergence of global civilization is imitation of mode of American MBAs. Such a model has been adopted by nations all around the world, which is a testament of success of American education system. MBAs, who happen to be corporate CEOs, prefer business with each other instead of wars.
Are we heading towards one global civilization?
There are challenges however to this phenomenon, which to many is a distant dream, or to some the process of global civilization is in an incipient phase; while to some it is in transient phase. Depending upon understanding of the very concept and if a real global civilization would ever come in to being. Weakening of America and the larger West is immediate challenge that this world faces. It is paradoxical to suggest weakening of the West as a threat to global civilization as its weakening has paved to way for emergence of global middle class and of strength of new centers of powers, economically, politically and technologically. Non-Western countries of the world area increasingly becoming powerful with the passage of time. Of those, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Turkey etc are such examples.
Liberal World argues over irresponsible attitude of China, which is supposed to fill vacuum left by America. Authors and political commentators, such as Mark Steyne is dismayed at the possibility of China ever becoming the global police man. As according to him, it perpetrates crimes against its own people - a closed society which could hardly be a model to imitate for the rest of the world and an inappropriate example to lead the world to new era of peace and prosperity.
Moreover, how would the world looks like, where west is no more in a dominant position? How would it accommodate itself in a new world in coming decades, which is a high possibility, and in a world which does not believe in values that it believes. By the same token, China and a larger Islamic world do not buy to its liberal world order of capitalist economic model. Furthermore, western countries find themselves increasingly involved with China over the issues of intellectual property rights, human rights, and over international norms and law.
It still remains to be seen over the future of world institutions – United Nations in particular as to what sort of consensus is made out among leading nations. The threat of Islamic fundamentalism is proving dangerous to the regional peace in Middle East. The competition in South east pacific, issue of cyber security between US and China specifically, rivalry between nuclear armed neighbors – both India and Pakistan, and Israeli Arab problem.
Human being may perhaps are headed to their ultimate destiny to a world civilization – dream yet to be come to fruition. However, there is no historical precedence of such a scenario to be observed like a growing child.